The best garden and outdoor toys for babies and toddlers

garden and outdoor toys for babies and toddlers

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

Investing in the best garden and outdoor toys for your babies and toddlers is a great way of helping to keep them entertained in the garden, without having to carry all their toys from the living room outside. Garden and outdoor toys are a staple of the summer season, so if your little ones want some fun in the sun, some fun garden activities will definitely make their day.

No matter how old your little one is, creating a garden space for them to enjoy is a great way to encourage them to be outside and entertained, whilst also helping to reduce any screen time (such as watching nursery rhymes on TV). You just have to pick an outdoor activity that they'll love, and the garden fun can start.

Children love to learn and explore and the garden is the perfect place to do that. Garden and outdoor toys don't have to be big play areas that take up the whole space, they could be something simple like a mud kitchen, bubble machine, or even just a ride-on toy. They should also fit within your budget and child's interests. Even if it's a bit chilly outside, just wrap you and your little one up warm with the best toddler wellies and a good waterproof coat, and you can still have fun with some garden activities.

Editor's Choice:

Best overall garden and outdoor toys for babies and toddlers: Plum, My First Play Centre, £249.99
Best sand pit garden and outdoor toys for babies and toddlers: Store-it Wooden Sand Pit, £44.99
Best garden play tent for babies and toddlers: Kids Play Tent and Tunnel Set, £45.99
Best outdoor mud kitchen for babies and toddlers: TP Toys Junior chef mud kitchen, £94.99
Best outdoor rope ladder for babies and toddlers: Bigjigs kids rope ladder, £18.49

These toys can be truly versatile, so to help you find the right one for your little one, we've put together a list of the best garden and outdoor toys for babies and toddlers. We've considered price, design, and features when selection our favourites below.

The best outdoor toys and garden toys 2024

Best garden fountain water table for babies and toddlers

The Little Tikes Fountain Factory Water Table provides hours of fun. It's easy to assemble, and even has a convenient plug that helps to empty the water after use. It has loads of features that little ones can keep discovering, including adjustable plumbing pipes, different water filter spray settings and even a pump water fountain that splashes!

Our Product & Lifestyle writer and mum of two, Samantha said: "This water table was really easy to build, my six year old pretty much took over the whole assembly of it! The only tricky part was adding in the plug, but using plyers (as mentioned in the instructions) made it easier. I thought this was a great feature too, as I didn't have to tip the table over to empty the water! It literally provided hours of fun and kept discovering new features, such as the tap filter positions."

Pros

  • Provides hours of fun
  • Easy to assemble
  • Helps teach cause and effect

Cons

  • The fountain can empty pretty quick if you don't remember to close the taps
Suitable for:3+ years
Dimensions:74.93 x 95.25 x 74.93
  • 3 x accessories including boat, and two cups
  • Water plumbing pipes
  • Peek-a-boo character
  • Water fountain tower

Best overall garden and outdoor toy for babies and toddlers

The Plum My First Play Centre provides hours of fun! Made from high quality materials, it's perfect for helping little ones to develop skills, such as gross and fine motor, and they are encouraged to use their imaginations. With a climbing frame, ladder, climbing rock wall and hidden den, the fun is endless.

One reviewer said: "Love this climbing frame. The natural wood looks lovely in the garden, it’s hard wearing and good quality. The kids love it, the right amount of challenge for my 3 year old, and still fun for my 6 year old!
They especially love the den underneath."

Pros

  • Encourages developmental skills
  • Long lasting
  • Endless play opportunities

Cons

  • Some mentioned it was tricky to assemble
Dimensions:260 x 143 x 100cm
Suitable for ages:18 months - 12 years
  • Fabric netted den with Velcro door
  • Low wooden platform
  • Soft-feel scramble ned
  • 4ft slide

Best garden four in a row game

This giant wooden 4 in a row puzzle is not only great for children to play with, but the whole family can get involved with playing too. It's easy to use and helps children develop their critical thinking skills as they play the game.

Our writer said: "This four in a row game provided a lot of fun for my son. It helped us to encourage him on how to think tactfully and not rush. It's a lovely design and is not too big either, so it's easy to store away. You can also sit it on the floor or on a table to play."

Pros

  • Ideal size for playing with and storing away
  • Helps encourage thinking skills

Cons

  • Some thought it would be bigger than what it is
Suitable for ages:3+ years
Dimensions: 75 x 20 x 54cm
  • 42 piece set
  • Easy to use
  • Two players or more
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use

Best living world garden and outdoor toy for babies and toddlers

best-garden-and-outdoor-toys-for-babies-and-toddlers-living-world
Price: $38.30

This My Living Ant World is a great garden activity for younger children! Not only will it provide hours of fun, it's also an educational toy. Once the ant home is set up, all you need to do is find and add in the ants and you can watch them build their little homes and embrace nature.

One reviewer said: "This product is definitely child friendly. It’s easy to assemble and comes with a little booklet to tell you exactly what to do and how to do it. The book has basic instructions and then instructions in more detail which really helped. My ants and my tiny human love it, the other half who is 28 years old loves it too. It’s a nice kit for a beginner!"

Pros

  • Everything you need included
  • Clear and easy to follow instructions

Cons

  • You will need to find and safely collect ants from outside
Dimensions:20 x 30 x 7cm
Suitable for ages:4 years+
  • Plastic ant housing
  • Two shades
  • Scene stickers
  • Magnify bowl
  • Clear tubing
  • Feeding pipette
  • Tunnelling sand
  • Instruction booklet

Best outdoor flat water table for babies and toddlers

best garden and outdoor toys play table
Price: $78.12

This Little Tikes Splash Beach Water Table lays flat on the ground and is even big enough for a child to sit in, so you don't need to worry about a paddling pool! It has lots of features that can be moved, and has a hose attachment so that you can make a water fountain.

Our writer said: "My kids love anything to do with water. This water play table is absolutely brilliant because it lays completely flat on the floor, meaning they can sit or stand on the tray as well as play next to it! My daughter absolutely loved standing and splashing in the tray, and my son loved using all the accessories, and rolling the boat down the slide."

Pros

  • Sits on the floor and big enough to sit in too
  • Easy to fold up and store

Cons

  • Some features won't work without a hose pipe
Dimensions:73.66 x 58.42 x 22.86cm
Suitable for ages:2+ years
  • Waterfall lighthouse
  • 6 x accessories
  • 1 x slide
  • Lays flat
  • Hose attachment

Best outdoor playhouse for babies and toddlers

With the adorable Smoby Nature Playhouse, with Kitchen, little ones will love using their imagination to play house and kitchens. They can also stay sheltered from the sun when they're playing and it's made from sturdy plastic, so it won't blow over in the wind, and will last summer after summer.

One reviewer said: "We bought this playhouse for our grandchildren to play with when they visit. The design is excellent, and they play with it happily. The assembly instructions are a little tricky to understand, but with a little patience and resolve, they can be followed. Overall, very happy with this purchase."

Pros

  • Kitchen accessories included
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use

Cons

  • Some felt inside the house felt a little small
Dimensions:127 x 110 x 145cm
Suitable for ages:2 years+
  • Half door that opens and closes
  • Sliding window
  • 2 glasses
  • 2 plates
  • Cutlery

Best outdoor playmat for babies and toddlers

This lovely Chad Valley Numbers and Letters Foam Mats jigsaw is ideal for you to lay outside with your little ones as they enjoy tummy time or as a fun activity for toddlers. Help teach them the alphabet and numbers by fitting the letters in the correct position, then join the squares up.

One reviewer said: "Bought as we have a yard and wanted my daughter to be able to play outside. Doubled up, it's perfect and protects her from banging her head or cutting herself."

Another reviewer said: "I bought this for my granddaughter. She loved helping me to put it up and also used individual tiles to play run & stand still. lovely product for small ones."

Pros

  • Soft flooring alternate to blankets
  • Easy to store away

Cons

  • The pieces can unlock and move
Dimensions:Individual squares 25 x 25cm
Suitable for ages:1 years+
  • 36 pieces
  • Helps teach the alphabet
  • Helps teach numbers

Best ride-on garden and outdoor toy for babies and toddlers

Bring soft play home with this national treasure that has been enjoyed by children for generations. The Little Tikes Cozy Coupe will provide hours of fun and they'll get many years of use out of it - they’ll still be trying to squeeze into it aged seven! We are loving the nostalgia that this toy gives us. One reviewer said: "Great range of quality toys for children of all ages. Our grandson loves his little Tykes car but after being driven by many other children the time came for changing for a newer model once the door fell off. We ordered one from Smyths Friday afternoon and it was very promptly delivered the following morning! Our grandson is absolutely thrilled with his new car, he loves it!"

Pros

  • Safety floorboard for push along mode
  • 360 degree front wheel swivel

Cons

  • Difficult to build
Dimensions:75 x 42 x 85cm
Suitable for ages:18 months+
  • Removable floor and parent push handle
  • High seat back
  • Working horn and open-close fuel cap

Best garden bubble machine for babies and toddlers

Who doesn't love bubbles? This battery-operated Kids Automatic Bubble Making Machine will save your arms from constantly blowing bubbles and provides a fun sensory experience for little ones. Your babies will be glued to the bubbles floating around and toddlers will love chasing the bubbles trying to pop them. Just remember to keep stocked up on the bubble mix.

One reviewer said: "This is a fabulous bubble machine. I can’t fault it. It’s very slimline, lightweight, making it extremely portable and less bulky than some you find in the shops. I bought it for my niece's birthday and we were all impressed with the speed and how many bubbles were produced when we turned on the machine. I would highly recommend."

Pros

  • Battery operated
  • Small and lightweight

Cons

  • Needs to be at a good height to allow for bubbles to fall
Dimensions:10 x 8.5 x 13.5cm
Suitable for ages:3 years+
  • Portable
  • No-tip base

Best outdoor sandpit for babies and toddlers

Encouraging sensory outdoor play and hours of natural creativity, the Plum Store-it Wooden Sand Pit comes with a handy storage box for toys and a protective cover. It's ideal for building, digging and playing while enjoying an afternoon outdoors. We really like the design here.

One reviewer said: "Got this really discounted and it’s great. Son loves it and it looks nicer than the plastic ones in the garden. Seems sturdy and the little seats and storage are great for allowing him to sit and play and also store sandy toys neatly once playtime is over."

Pros

  • Includes protective cover and storage box
  • Hours of creative fun

Cons

  • Sand is sold separately
Dimensions:102 x 96 x 15cm
Suitable for ages:18 months+
  • Protective cover and groundsheet included
  • Attached storage box

Best garden play tent for babies and toddlers

Babies will love crawling through the play tunnel or laying in the play tent to keep cool. The Kids Play Tent and Tunnel The set is easy to assemble and pop away - you can even use it in your house for indoor fun on those rainy days. Each component can be used together or separately, making it a great option if your little one gets bored and there's a section you can add balls to for extra play.

One reviewer said: "What a lovely and huge toy for our baby. He loves it. He is so excited when sitting inside. Also, my dogs like to play in the tent. Very big. When it's summer, I will put the tent in our garden. Lovely colours. Perfect for small adventures."

Pros

  • Pop up design
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Ball pit balls not included
Dimensions:313 x 92 x 225cm
Suitable for ages:3 - 8 years
  • Pop up assembly
  • Crawl through tunnels
  • Big capacity ball pit

Best garden water table for babies and toddlers

This fun Little Tikes Spiralin' Seas Water Table is like a mini water park for your garden. With a scooping Ferris Wheel, water wheels and squirting character balls, your toddler will have so much fun keeping cool and developing their motor skills. When the temperatures rise, this will be lovely for your little one.

One reviewer said: "Bought for baby’s first birthday. The main water tray part was the perfect height for little ones and our almost seven-year-old loves slinging balls in the spiral and helping her with all the activity parts. Haven’t put water in yet due to the weather and they are still managing to have loads of fun with it! Really pleased with it and feel like it’s a toy with longevity!"

Pros

  • Six accessories included
  • Holds 32L water

Cons

  • Spilled water could make floor slippy
Dimensions:75 x 73.5 x 80cm
Suitable for ages:2 years+
  • Five character squirt toys
  • One scooping cup

Best outdoor mud kitchen for babies and toddlers

If your little one loves mud and some messy fun, then this TP Toys Junior Chef Wooden Mud Kitchen might just be the perfect thing to keep them entertained. It has a removable splash tub which is ideal for mixing mud, and also a dry area where little ones can cook up a (muddy) storm.

One reviewer said: "We recently purchased this for our children (aged 5 and 2) and they both love it! It has had a lot of use already. Great quality."

Another reviewer said: "This was a great build. Could feel the good quality as it was being built. Took around a hour to complete. Lovely smart looking kitchen. Bigger than we thought."

Pros

  • Compact design
  • Accessories included
  • Long lasting

Cons

  • Some found the door tricky to shut
Dimensions:95 x 38 x 88cm
Suitable for ages:36 months - 12 years
  • Two station kitchen
  • Removable splash tub
  • Four pans included

Best reusable water balloon garden and outdoor toys for babies and toddlers

best-garden-and-outdoor-toys-for-babies-and-toddlers-reusable-water-balloons
Price: $18.99

These Reusable Water Balloons really change the game! All you need is a bucket of water, drop your water ball in and close with the magnetic closure. No more picking up little plastic balloons off of your garden! Plus, they're better for the environment and are suitable and easier for smaller children to use.

One review said: "These have been great fun and have held up to daily use the last few weeks. No tap needed, just a bucket of water. They are even fun to play with in a bath tub to trap/ catch toys. Would definitely buy again. So much better than water balloons!"

Pros

  • No taps needed to fill
  • Magnetic closure
  • Perfect for garden or bath play

Cons

  • Clear one might be hard to spot
Suitable for:3 to 10 years
Dimensions:7.1 x 7.1 x 7.1cm
  • 1 x mesh bag for storing
  • Easy to fill and clean
  • 6 x pack
  • Magnetic closure

Best toddler climber garden and outdoor toys for babies and toddlers

This amazing 4-in-1 Toddler Climber and Swing Set features a widened slide, safe swing, basketball hoop and easy-to-climb ladder. The set is interesting and fun for little ones and also helps with her development. We like that it's also a non-slip design to help support little ones.

One reviewer said: "East to assemble and quite sturdy for up to 24 months I would say. Haven’t tried to take it down but can’t imagine an issue. Would be better if it came with a cover for outside - would pay extra"

Pros

  • 4-in-1 design
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • Cover not included
Dimensions:84 x 49.5 x 35cm
Suitable for ages:10 months+
  • Extended and widened slide
  • Non-slip design steps
  • Basketball net
  • T-shaped safety protection swing

Best balance and motor skills outdoor toys for babies and toddlers

While this can't be left outside, it's a great toy to let your child play with in the garden! They can use it as a bridge, a mini slide and can even practise their balancing skills. They can even relax on it with their teddies. The Size M Balance and Motor Skills Board is such a simple toy, but the play possibilities are endless.

One review said: "I bought this for our 3-year-old and both he and our 5-year-old love it. Endless play with lots of different ways it can be used."

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Help psychomotor development

Cons

  • Can't be left outside
Dimensions:93 x 30 x 19cm
Suitable for:1 to 6 years
  • Easy to use
  • Help psychomotor development

Best ring toss outdoor toys for babies and toddlers

The Wooden Hoop Ring Toss provides hours of fun for children, and is great at helping them to learn to aim. It meets the need of being able to throw, but gives them a target to work towards. It comes with a combination of rope and plastic rings to toss, and it can be played independently or with other family members to make it extra fun.

One reviewer, Craig, said: "We got this as a garden game for visiting children to play - it's really sturdy and easy to put together, and quickly and easily goes away again in the plastic carry bag. The bag itself is waterproof so it should be fine to leave in the garden shed over winter when we won't use it."

Pros

  • Sturdy design
  • Fun to play independently or in a group
Dimensions:51 x 21 x 8.5 cm
Suitable for:Not stated
Number of hoops: 13
  • 5 x rope hoops
  • 8 x plastic rings
  • Easy to assemble
  • Comes with clear waterproof storage case

Best rope ladder outdoor toy for babies and toddlers

Bigjigs rope ladderAmazon

If your little one loves climbing, they will love this traditional climbing rope ladder with 6 wooden rungs. It is 2.1m long with weight limit of 60kg and ideal for climbing frames, tree houses, dens & play houses. It can be used indoors and outdoors and will help improve climbing skills and balance.

One trusted reviewer said: "Hours for fun, builds core strength, my boys are not allowed to sit watching TV often so I have to constantly find new activities to keep them interested in being physically active. This ladder has been great for my 4 and 9 year old who were 2 and 7 when I bought it. This ladder has been everything and on every tree in the garden. It's been used in role plays and laid on the floor for them to walk over and has been strung from tree to tree to use as monkey bars. If you want healthy children buy this. It encourages natural play."

Pros

  • Sturdy and well made
  • Versatile, can be used indoors and outdoors

Cons

  • Some reviewers didn't think it was very weather proof
Dimensions: 2.2 x 30 x 210 cm
Recommended age: 6 - 10 years
Material: Wood
Max weight: 60kg
  • Made of sustainable wood
  • Sturdy and durable
  • 6 wooden rungs
  • Suitable for up to 60kg

What should you consider when buying garden or outdoor toys?

Design Features: Are there any added safety elements? Does it come with any fun accessories? Is it easy to pack away? Will it be easy for your child to use and enjoy?

The Size: Bigger isn't always better, especially if you have limited outdoor space. Consider what can easily fit into your garden and if it will fit into your storage space too.

Their Preferences: What kind of colours or patterns do they like? What do they typically like to play with? Can you get them involved in the choosing process?

The Cost: A quality garden or outdoor toy doesn't have to break the bank. There are lots of affordable options out there, so stick to your budget when you shop.

Can outdoor toys be left outside all the time?

This of course depends on the type of toy, but most outdoor toys, particularly playhouses, swing sets, and climbers are built with durability in mind. However, with the uncontrollable outdoor elements, constant exposure can lead to colour fading and damage, so investing in outdoor toy storage is worthwhile.

Keeping outdoor toys covered or indoors in the home or shed when not in use is for sure the best way to ensure you get the most out of your purchase.

How do you keep outside toys clean?

With summer only so long, the harsh and unpredictable weather conditions we get here in the UK are not the best for outdoor toys to stay clean outside. Here are some of our top tips to ensure you get the most out of your little one’s outdoor toys:

Cover up - The best way to ensure your outdoor toys stay clean when not in use is by covering them up. Garden furniture covers are a great way to ensure your toys are kept clean and dry in even the worst weather conditions.  If you’ve got the space, then of course bringing toys inside or placing them in a shed, playhouse, or garage is perfect until the weather warms up again.

Cleaning solution - Are toys already dirty and in a state that's too stubborn to hose down? No problem, baking soda is your best friend – so handy for almost any cleaning task, even cleaning wooden toys. Baking soda is great for removing grime, dirt, and even odour. Create a paste with baking soda and water, scrub the mixture onto the surface of the outdoor toys, and let it sit for a couple of hours. Then, using a clean cloth, wipe the residue and rinse with a hose – as easy as that, and works on the toughest of stains.

Do outdoor toys require maintenance?

Outdoor toys are built to be weather resistant for the most part and so require minimum maintenance. Basic maintenance could be oiling swing sets to avoid any squeaking and checking any nuts and bolts from time to time, to ensure the utmost safety for your little one.

Samantha Ball is a Product & Lifestyle Writer for Mother&Baby and freelanced for the website for two years before joining the team full time. She's a mum of two and loves browsing for the best products and cute outfits.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us
How we write our articles and reviews
Mother & Baby is dedicated to ensuring our information is always valuable and trustworthy, which is why we only use reputable resources such as the NHS, reviewed medical papers, or the advice of a credible doctor, GP, midwife, psychotherapist, gynaecologist or other medical professionals. Where possible, our articles are medically reviewed or contain expert advice. Our writers are all kept up to date on the latest safety advice for all the products we recommend and follow strict reporting guidelines to ensure our content comes from credible sources. Remember to always consult a medical professional if you have any worries. Our articles are not intended to replace professional advice from your GP or midwife.