Little ones don't need much more than some sand and their own imaginations to enjoy the outdoors. There are some extra odds and ends, though, that can further fire your child's imagination and make summer days extra special.
1. Diggers and Dump Trucks
If you have sand or a dirt pile than you need a good foot-long stuck. Tonka trucks (compare prices
) are the classic favorite for kids looking to make a mess, get dirty, and be kids.
Little sunglasses are more than just cool for kids. They serve a very important function -- protecting your toddler's eyes
. Look for glasses that will shield harmful UV rays, which young children are more sensitive to. Go for flexible frames and shatter proof lenses that will stand up to the tough handling of toddlers. It also might be a good idea to invest in more than one pair of sunglasses for the season -- because accidents do happen/
3. Full coverage hat
Forget the baseball hat or a visor. They may be cute, but you want something that your child can play in all day long without worrying about burns to your little one's head, neck, or easr (because, OUCH!, that hurts). Choose a hat with UPF 50+
flaps that come down to protect the side and back of your child's head in addition to having a good visor to shield her face. A second best pick is a wide brim hat that doens't come down but offers a good amount of shade for a young one's entire head.
4. Water shooters
Of course, summer isn't all about protecting and hiding your tot from the evils of the sun -- it is first and foremost about having fun. Noting spurs giggles quite the way a good water squirter does. A good alterntie to water guns -- which, in addition to being a social concern for some parents, is hard for little fingers to work -- shooters let toddlers easily fill up their weapon with water and push it out... just beware where your child is aiming or you may end up soaking wet. A personalized foam squirter
is a great option since water toys can easily get lost or mixed up at the beach or park (resulting in tears and tantrums that you're probably happy to avoid).
5. Water shoes
To have a really good time, comfort is key. Going from seashore to playground to water park to grassy field can be hard on tiny toes. A good pair of water shoes
that keep put the ocean or pool water and have strong treads to take your tot through a run amok playground session is well worth the money
Up there with comfort is being able to enjoy a sunny day without pain. Your child doesn't have to be as freckled and palely pasty as my kids to be at risk for sunburn
. It may take as little as little as 15 minutes exposure for a child who has no protection to start developing red, painful sunburn symptoms. Be sure to use a child-friendly sunscreen
with 50+ to 100+ SPF protection. Reapply the sunscreen every two hours. It's also best to avoid spending the majority of your time outdoors when the sun is at it's strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you have trouble getting your tot to stay still every few hours and letting you lather her up, be sure to use a beach shelter (compare prices
when you're at the shore or par.
7. Sand and Water Table
For backyard fun, a good sand and water table
offers the simplest way to keep kids outdoors and having fun while engaging their senses and building some essential skills. You can choose an elaborate table -- complet with working pirate ship and (literally) all the bells and whistles you can imagine, but a basic table is just as much fun for little ones.