Summer vacation will be here before we know it, and parents are already on the lookout for summer must-have toys to keep their kids entertained. An editorial team of experts at the Toy Insider, the go-to destination for all things happening in the toy industry, have released their latest findings for upcoming toy trends, and sufficed to say, your kids are going to have a lot of fun this summer.
Notable trends include over-the-top toys for the backyard, educational toys to prevent the summer slide after a year of remote or blended learning, new toys inspired by your child’s favorite movies, TV shows and YouTube channels, and creative toys and games that will bring the best of summer camp to your home.
As families turned to their backyards and outdoor spaces due to the pandemic in 2020, the outdoor and sports toy category saw a major uptick in sales, as reported by the NPD Group. Considering family travel may take another hit this summer, the same may be true again. Regardless, parents will still be looking for ways to keep their kids engaged and entertained, and the Toy Insider has infants through tweens covered. Offering a variety of price points and never separating by gender, there is truly something for every kid’s interest.
From infants through age 7, here are some of our favorites from the hottest toys of summer list, according to the experts:
Infants to age 2
Your baby is learning and growing so much, and it’s important that their toys reflect the developmental changes that are occurring during this pivotal time. From a starlight nursery projector to splash time at a water table, your baby is sure to have a magical summer ahead!
To view the Toy Insider’s full list for 0-2, click here .
According to the Toy Insider, this polar bear by VTech projects a soothing starry night sky onto the ceiling in four different colors and plays seven nursery rhymes, nature sounds, and lullabies. Colorful rhythmic light effects enhance visual awareness, while the comforting sounds and songs help soothe babies to sleep.
This inflatable, PVC baby boat features child safety valves, outriggers for stability, and a detachable sun canopy. Toddlers can tap it to activate the music and listen to the “Baby Shark” song (which might be the only unfortunate part for parents – that song is still an earworm!)
Ages: 9 mos +
Created by teachers, these soft, foam, magnetic blocks easily click together, rotate 360 degrees, and always attract each other, which creates a multisensory experience. Children will be able to build all types of vehicles and explore shapes, colors, and frustration-free stacking (and they can even be used as a tub toy!)
Ages: 18mos +
This water makes the list for its option to fill with water once or attach to a hose for continuous water flow and fill-and-spill play. Two tipping buckets and flowing channels encourage “cause-and-effect play”, which splashes the water down all three levels, pushing waves and boats down to the next level.
Ages: 18mos +
Bring the splash pad to your backyard with this adorable froggy water toy from Step2. As the Toy Insider writes, “Hook up the splash pad to a hose to turn on the sprinkler, and toddlers will have a blast running through it. They can also sit in the splash pad with their water toys for imaginative playtime.”
Ages: 18mos +
3 to 4 years old
Between ages 3 and 4, your child is fully embracing the magical, imaginative time of childhood. These toys encourage “pretend play”, adventure and learning about the world around them!
To view the Toy Insider’s full list for age 3-4, click here .
Kids snap, button, zip, and lace felt objects to the background to practice their fine motor skills. The set includes 16 different felt food and insect shapes, all of which store inside the picnic-basket-themed carrying case.
Don’t you just want to be a kid again sometimes? Equipped with an extra-wide slide, this inflatable bounce house fits up to three kids. It features durable, long-lasting material and high, mesh safety walls. The bouncer comes with anchors and stakes and a heavy-duty air blower to inflate it in minutes. So fun!
WowWee Toddler Playground
Perfect for rainy days, parents can assemble these pop-up playsets in less than five minutes and fold them flat for easy storage. Each set is made with a durable, eco-friendly, StrongFold cardboard material that can hold up to 50 pounds. Available in slides, play cars, kitchens, and more.
Summer eats are kind of the best, right? This 20-piece, wooden food set from classic toy company Melissa & Doug includes double-sided, wooden versions of grilling favorites like burgers and corn alongside toppings and utensils. The box flips over to become the grill, complete with four self-stick tabs to hold the food.
Introduce the conversation of taking care of Earth while building these mini puzzles. Players match pairs with the help of self-correcting joints and the backgrounds and characters depicted on the pieces. As your child learns about protecting the planet, they’ll also work on visual memory, right-wrong logical association ability and hand-eye coordination.
5-7 years old
During this period, children are beginning to learn skills needed to become self-sufficient and are slowly developing their own personality. In a time of tremendous growth, these toys embrace physical activity, problem solving and mindfulness.
To view the Toy Insider’s full list for age 5-7, click here .
Explore science with this collection of 12 different kits which invite kids to learn through play and fun experiments. Kits include Discovering 5 Senses, Little Farmer, Coding Lab, Green Science, Explosive Foams, Monster Factory and are sold separately.
Wham-O Foam Party Slip N Slide Single Lane
Among the most classic of all summer outdoor activities, this slip n’ side connects to any standard garden hose to make a 14-inch cloud of foam in 5 minutes. The longer it’s on, the more foam it produces (for up to 75 minutes). Kids slide into the foam, and voila, fun ensues!
GeoMag Supercolor Magnetic Sticks and Balls Building Set
Made from 100% recycled plastic, the Geomag Classic line has gotten an eco-friendly upgrade. The construction possibilities are endless as children can build magnetic structures with Geomag’s signature rods and spheres, along with triangle, square, and pentagon-shaped panels.
Here’s an award-winning two season toy that’s a great buy if you get snow during the winter months. Create a Castle’s modular split mold sand castle system allows you to build sand or snow structures in a short amount of time. Just buckle it, fill it and “create a castle.” This premium turret/tower kit includes everything you need to build a super cool sand castle or snow castle, depending on the season. I also love that it comes with a mesh backpack for simple transportation and cleanup. Fun for the whole family!
While this game is not available in July, I want to go ahead and put it on your radar now. Designed to play outside or inside (yay rainy day activity!), this game is packed with physical challenges designed to keep kids active, healthy, and fit. It comes with 27 floor tiles, a stopwatch, a jump rope, a booklet filled with obstacle course ideas, and a drawstring bag for easy storage and travel.