Spending time outdoors is a great way to get Vitamin D and enjoy nature. When you have children, the outdoors may seem like a place you want to avoid because of all the safety hazards but it’s important for them to breathe that fresh air. As a child, getting safe sun exposure and playing in nature is very important so it’s crucial that you implement weekly outside time for them. Here are some of our favorite outdoor accessories for babies and toddlers so you can make the most of their time outside.
Why is Playing Outside Important for Children?
With sun protection, babies and toddlers can benefit from playing outside. They get to explore more than they ever could in the comfort of their home. Your young children can work on their motor skills while playing outside and even work on their spatial awareness. These skills are important for your child’s development and cannot always be taught inside your home. Whether your children are playing in the safety of your backyard or places you have to drive to, there are accessories that will make their time more fun and your life as a parent much easier.
There are certain toys and accessories that operate better and have a longer lifespan when used properly in your backyard. These items tend to be more permanent and are often a greater investment for your children. These are some of our top picks for accessories to have in your backyard:
1. Splash Pad
Splash pads are the perfect way to introduce water play to your babies and toddlers. While kiddie pools may require more caution and attention, splash pads are much safer for your little ones. They’re not deep as kiddie pools so it’s highly unlikely that your child could have a drowning incident when playing in one. Simply hook your hose up to the pad and sit your child in the middle. The soft streams of water will splash them and they’ll look like they’re having the time of their life! Make sure to always have adult supervision over children when there is water involved, even if it is very shallow. We suggest using kid-friendly sunscreen on your children when playing in the water!
2. Pack of Sidewalk Chalk
Use non-toxic infant sidewalk chalk to get your child’s creativity flowing. You can use them on your sidewalk, driveway, or on your back porch. Sidewalk chalk is a super fun way to let your child work on their motor skills and if they’re old enough, they can start to learn primary colors. If you want to get involved in the fun, you can outline drawings for your child to color in. It’ll feel like a huge coloring book for them and you’ll get to be included! The best part about using sidewalk chalk is that it can be washed off with a hose. Spray it down after you’re done and you’ll have the perfect blank canvas for the next time.
3. Playground Set
A playground may seem like a big investment at first but they’re a great way to bring the local park to your home. There’s no need to get every part of a playground but a slide, swings, and a climbing station will make your kids feel like they’ve hit the jackpot. As a baby, your child can use the swings and even go down the slide with an adult. As a toddler, the whole playground is fair game and it honestly might even turn into their own world with dragons and fairies. Playgrounds can be used for years and are super convenient to have at home so if you’re ready for a bigger commitment, this may be a perfect choice.
4. Mini Playhouse
The fun part of building a playhouse is you can use your own designs and tools if you’re handy or get one delivered straight to your door that has everything you need to set it up. Though building one yourself may feel like it could be a fun memory, we suggest getting one from the store if you aren’t into at-home projects. Playhouses don’t have to be a huge extravagant second home in your backyard, but you can still have fun with a more glorified fort. Allow your child to add what they like into the playhouse and you can even let them paint part of it. Babies can enjoy playhouses with you as you can both sit down inside and play with toys together. If you’re looking for a less permanent situation, there are playhouses that can be set up like a tent for easy assembly and takedown.
5. Kiddie Pool
If you’re ready to upgrade from your splash pad, a kiddie pool should be on your list. They are still more shallow than normal pools but will require more supervision. You can get a blow-up kiddie pool with a fun design or use a hard plastic one for more durability. If you have pets we suggest looking for a pool made with hard plastic so your pets won’t be able to pop it. You can fill the pool to your desired depth and it’s easy to clean out when it gets dirty. Add some waterproof toys and you can easily skip the crowded public pool.
If playing in your backyard doesn’t seem feasible then you’ll need different outdoor accessories. Travel-friendly accessories make playing outside so much easier and don’t require you to have a backyard to use them.
1. Mini PlayPen
It’s no secret that the grass in the parks or sand at the beaches is full of bacteria and sometimes even animal feces. Give your little one a clean space to sit down and play with a mini playpen. The Pop N’ Go Mini is easy to travel with and folds up nicely when it’s time to go. Playpens protect your child from any chemicals that may be in the grass and even help them keep their toys clean. Babies and toddlers are notorious for putting toys in their mouths so make your job easier by letting them play in a playpen. Set it up in a partially shaded area so they can get the warmth of the sunlight without overheating when playing.
2. Bottle of Bubbles
Everyone loves bubbles no matter how old they are. Babies and toddlers can play with bubbles for what feels like hours and it’s super easy to travel with. You can get wands in all different shapes and sizes and before you know it, you’ll be having a blast. Be sure to do this away from big crowds as some people may not want the bubble formula to get on their clothes or shoes. If you want to take it a step further, get a battery-powered bubble machine and a large bottle of bubbles so you can play in it with your children!
3. Sandcastle Bucket and Shovel
If your family frequents the beach, you should have a few beach essentials for your young ones. A small sandcastle bucket and shovel are the perfect combination to keep your baby or toddler busy. Just because they aren’t able to enjoy the beachy waves doesn’t mean they should miss out on the beach experience in general. Beach toys are another way your baby can work on their motor skills while playing outside. We love the bucket and shovel combination because they can easily fit into a beach bag and be rinsed off when you’re ready to leave.
4. Baby Float
Dip your child’s toes in the water with a safe and secure baby float. Those hot summer days can be tough on your child to play outside for over an hour so take a visit to your local public pool to cool off. Look for a baby float that has a canopy to ensure proper sun safety and keep your child away from prolonged sun exposure. When using a floatation device, it’s important to never leave your child unattended in the water. Since you have to be in the water with your child, it’s the perfect way to bond with them. For toddlers, you can start to teach them how to swim and transition them from the baby float to open water. Baby floats are lightweight and compact so they’re easy to throw in your pool bag when you’re ready to go.
Best Ways to Keep Your Child and Accessories Clean When Playing Outdoor
- Look for toys and accessories that don’t have small cracks and crevices in them where bacteria and dirt can hide. It’s no secret that babies and toddlers like to put everything in their mouths so it’s important to keep their accessories as clean as possible. These types of toys will also prevent mold from growing inside!
- Travel with a refillable bottle of water to quickly pour on waterproof accessories for easy clean-up. This bottle can be separate from the one you use for drinking and makes it easier to clean toys and accessories right when you’re done using them. This way, dirt won’t get in your bags or strollers.
- Pack an extra outfit for your child when leaving your house to play outside. If you’re playing at home, it’ll be easier to go inside and change when there’s an accident but an extra outfit while you’re out and about can be a lifesaver. Whether your child is completely covered in dirt or soaked through their diaper, just throw on the new outfit!
- Bring wipes and kid-friendly hand sanitizer to keep your child from putting dirty fingers in their mouth. When there’s no public restroom available, or let’s face it, it may be more difficult to bring your children into a public restroom, having extra wipes on hand makes cleaning up much easier.
Safety Tips When Playing Outside
- Practice safe sun exposure for your entire family. Look for sunscreen made with non-toxic ingredients and reapply it when you’re outside for a longer period of time. Find a sunscreen that is over 30 SPF and is sweat- and water-resistant. Plan your outdoor activities around the lower UV days of the week. You can bring a UV-protective hat and sunglasses for your child to wear while outside if you want to go the extra mile.
- Be mindful of the traffic in your area while your children are playing outside. When your kids are old enough to walk keep a watchful eye on them as they run around your yard, park, and beach. Keep your little ones as far from the road as possible for ultimate safety.
- Dress your kids for the day’s weather to keep them comfortable while they play. Look up the weather for your area and decide which attire works best for them. If the weather fluctuates throughout the day, you can dress them in layers so it’s easy to take on and off when it changes. You don’t want to dress them in winter clothes when it’s warm outside because they can overheat just like you don’t want to dress them in summer clothes for winter weather. If your child is going to be running around, use shoes that are equipped for those activities.
- When you’re with your baby or toddler, it can be tempting to look away and speak with other parents or go on your phone. It’s important to know where your child is at all times in case of an emergency and for overall safety. A lot can happen in less than a minute so make sure you’re being vigilant, especially in public areas.
Playing outside helps your child work on their motor skills, improve their spatial awareness, and breathe in the fresh air. Though playing inside your home can be fun, there is so much more to explore in the great outdoors. Babies and toddlers don’t have the ability to freely run around yet so playing outside requires more preparation. Your outdoor accessories can help enhance your child’s experience when playing outside and make it easier for you as a parent.