Summer is almost here and it's right about now that mamas remember just how long the days are and how easily our sweet babies become very bored. And cranky. So toys that keep kids outside and having fun this summer are here for the win. 🙌
Buuuut, it's also about to get really hot outside. So, a game of Jenga on the back patio will quickly go awry for all involved because they're going to be too sticky to have any fun. (That said, if Jenga is your thing, we're obsessed with this oversized set!)
Enter: Water toys.
Whether you have a baby or big kid, water toys are the key to everyone's happiness this summer. They're going to keep your crew cool, busy and entertained for hours on end—with nary a "Mom, I'm booooored!" to be heard.
I scoured the market for water toys both trendy and tried-and-true, and swear by their safety, durability and fun-factor.
The best part? You don't have to leave your backyard! Oh, and you're about to have the most fun house on the block. Welcome to your most fun summer ever.
The water table
Here's a fact: Babies love water tables. Not as daunting as an entire pool, a water table allows babies and toddlers to belly up, splash around and engage with all the bells and whistles these tables typically offer. But, water tables tend not to last very long. In seven years, I've probably gone through half a dozen because those "bells and whistles" (cranking handles, spinning wheels and more) tend to break after a few months of constant use. But not so with the Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table!
Why we love it: I've been using this puppy for three straight summers because it's sturdy enough to support a non-walking baby's lean, and because its many accessories are still in place. The waterfall feature entertains kids big and small and the oblong shape allows for multiple babes to play side by side.
The sports toy
If you have a sport enthusiast on your hands who loves to throw balls all over your backyard, they'll love this Little Tikes Splash Hit Tennis set.
Why we love it: It grows with your child. Attached it to a standard garden hose (hose attachment included) for an automatic ball launch, or more advanced players can use the foot-activated lever to use it as a pop-up tee to practice their swing.
Tip: Make sure you adhere the funnel to catch loose balls so your kids (read: you) don't have to.
The baby pool
Unlike big kids, babies don't need much when it comes to a pool during the summer. Slides and water canons and climbing walls would be lost on them (not to mention unsafe). They're going to be thrilled just to be inside a tiny pool made just for their size! My favorite is this super simple, super cheap rainbow version from Intex.
Why we love it: With more than 1,000 reviews on Amazon, the pool is a favorite among parents with babies for one resounding reason: It's soft! My baby used this every day last summer and what did she do over and over and over? Climb in, climb out, repeat. With a standard kiddo pool made of hard plastic, she would have been covered in scrapes, but thanks to Intex's inflatable siding, her constant moving was gentle on her little body. The flooring is also inflatable, providing extra padding for when baby goes boom! Also, the price can't be beat. At $10, you won't feel guilty about throwing this out at the end of the season if you don't have the space to store it.
This 6-foot inflatable sprinkler will keep your kids engaged all summer
BigMouth is known for rolling out some pretty epic inflatables (like their giant unicorn sprinkler, that taco-shaped raft, the ubiquitous flamingo pool float and this rainbow water tunnel), and this season they're really bring their A-game when it comes to sprinklers. What is an inflatable sprinkler? It's a big plastic toy that you inflate and attach to a hose, shooting water up and out of the toy. Also, they are the hottest trend in outdoor water toys right now. If you want to win "parent of the year" you need one this summer.
Why we love it: If 2019 was the summer of the unicorn sprinkler, 2020 is decidedly the summer of the monster sprinkler. Already trending on the BigMouth site, this 6-foot tall monster will be a hit.
More to know: These don't come with a pump, so be sure to have a standard air pump on hand (electric ones are faster, but hand pumps work, too). The included anchor kit keeps your monster safely in place, and a wide-mouth air valve allows for deflation in under 30 seconds.
The water slide
Nothing beats a slip and slide. We'll never really know why a wet piece of plastic on grass is so much fun—it just is. And while there are hundreds of versions available online, the WOW Super Slide is our resounding favorite.
Why we love it: First, the bumpers. I've tested others and my kids were always careening off the sides of the slide before the reached the end (the lighter the kid, the higher the likelihood of this happening). Second, the WOW is made of ultra-thick PVC plastic that is far more durable than its competitors, which means it will actually you for multiple summers. Plus, it comes with handy connectors that allow you to attach multiple slides together. If that doesn't sound like fun, we don't know what does!
The inflatable slide
If you've got big kids at home—pre-schoolers and above—a baby pool just isn't going to cut it. Enter: The inflatable water slide. Like a mini waterpark in your backyard, there are myriad options on the market, but the Little Tikes Rocky Mountain River Race Inflatable Slide Bouncer is hands-down my favorite (and I've tested many).
Why we love it: It's incredibly durable and it needs to be! Kids are going to be racing up and down the climbing wall, slipping down the slides, splashing in the pool basin, and Little Tikes' ultra-thick plastic can withstand the wear and tear and doesn't bend or lean when being used by multiple people. Chock full of diversions, the dual-slide design is a lifesaver if you have more than one kiddo (no pushing at the top of the slide!) and the shallow pool at the bottom is ideal for babies and toddlers to splash around in.
Tip: Getting these suckers dry is a conundrum, and if you store them wet, you'll have a mold issue. Combat this by deflating and emptying out the water, then re-inflating and letting the slide dry in the sun while it's taut.
We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.