Experts say these will be the must-have toys for summer

While an old-fashioned sprinkler is hard to beat, these must-have toys will keep your children entertained all summer long.


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.

VTech Baby Lil' Critters Soothing Starlight Polar Bear Nursery Projector


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.

Ages: 0+


SwimWays Pinkfong Baby Shark Sun Canopy Baby Boat with Music


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 +


Blockaroo Magnetic Foam Building Blocks


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 +


Rushing River Falls Water Play Table


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 +


Step2 Water Bug Splash Pad


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.

Alex Snap-to-it Picnic


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.

Ages: 3+


Radio Flyer Backyard Bounce


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!

Ages: 3+


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.

Ages: 2-5


Melissa & Doug Wooden Grill & Serve BBQ Set


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.

Ages: 3+


Respect the Earth Ecologic Puzzle


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.

Ages: 2+


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.

PlayMonster Science 4 You Green Science Kit


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.

Ages: 5+


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!

Ages: 5+


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.

Ages 5+


Sand and Snow Castle Kit


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!

Ages 6+


Obstacle Course in a Box


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.

Ages: 7+


The HATCH Mama collection is everything your pregnant body needs right now

Their oil is the only thing that stopped my belly from itching as it grew bigger.

Conz Preti

Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of moisturizing. I hate being wet and sticky and after applying product to my body, I have to stand around awkwardly until I'm fully air-dried—a practice that is not compatible with having three kids under the age of 3. However, as someone who has carried three children in her body, I also know how much your belly needs hydration as the baby grows.

This was especially true with my second pregnancy. My belly popped way sooner (a thing that happens with subsequent pregnancies) and on top of that, I was carrying twins, which meant I became super pregnant super fast. My belly was itching constantly from the skin stretching (I checked with my doctor to make sure I didn't have Cholestasis) and there was no scratching in the world that could ease my discomfort. My doula recommended the HATCH Mama belly oil and changed my life. The oil is nourishing—but more important to me, quick-drying—so I could apply it all over my planet-sized twin belly and get dressed immediately after without having my clothes ruined nor stuck to my body. Because of how much I loved the oil, I tested other products, and let me tell you, they're all equally amazing.

Curious about the HATCH Mama collection? All of their products are non-toxic and mama-safe, designed to help pregnant people overcome the challenges unique to pregnancy. As their website claims, "from stretch marks to thinning hair, to sleepless nights, we're helping you tackle every prenatal and postnatal beauty issue head-on so you can continue to feel like the best version of you." I'm here for all of this. For the entire Hatch Beauty collection click here.

Here are my favorite products from HATCH Mama:

Belly oil


Intensely hydrating + fantastic at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, this will be your favorite through pregnancy + beyond.


Belly mask


Not only does it help to minimize the appearance of stretch masks + scars during pregnancy + postpartum, but there is a little non-toxic wink (and that's to you, mama.)


Nipple + lip ointment 


Calming + soothing, this magic sauce is lanolin-free & made of tropical butters and super fruits. I'm not lying when I say you will not want to stop using this, even way after birth.


Belly tattoos


A very rock and roll way to honor your bump. And non-toxic + plant-based at that!


This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

You've got this.

Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

The Motherly Birth Class


Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


This post is sponsored by BABYBJÖRN. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Secret Agent play set


This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Stepping Stones


Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Sensory play set


Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Foam pogo stick


Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.




Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.


Hopper ball

Hopper ball

Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.


Pull-along ducks


There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Rocking chair seesaw


This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


The ultimate back-to-school shopping list for busy moms

Use this list to prep for the best first day ever!

CasarsaGuru / Getty

After spending a summer reconnecting with friends and family, enjoying the outdoors and (hopefully!) making time for vacation, it's time for kids to head back to school. They're ready to learn, grow and get out of your hair again! But they'll need some help to get there. Before the exciting first day of school, you'll need to get all the gear together to make school a success.

As a parent, use this basic but essential school supply list to find everything your little ones need for their classes—even on a budget.

Loose Leaf Paper

Even though there won't be any tests or quizzes when school begins, kids take plenty of notes, complete assignments and do in-class exercises. Every student needs at least a few packets of loose-leaf paper for quick notes and doodles. Check with your child's school to find out if they require college ruled or wide ruled before you fill up your shopping cart — odds are they won't, but it's worth being sure.


Personal Planner

Your child will need a personal planner to kick off the school year and keep up with all of their assignments. It's an opportunity to invest in cute school supplies that motivate your kids every time they open their planners. Plus, planners help kids learn time management and responsible scheduling, which they can carry with them throughout their academic lives and into college and adulthood.


#2 Pencils

Most classes require #2 pencils because they show up easily on test bubble sheets that machines scan and grade. Add them to your child's school supply list before they sell out at local stores. A great deal on a large pack will likely last through the year.


Black Ink Pens

Teachers grade in red ink pens so their notes stand out as study tools. Your student should use black ink pens that don't bleed on the paper. Their work will stand out and never smudge if you use a tried-and-true brand that knows how to make a quality pen, like BIC.


Highlighters in Different Colors

Highlighters help students study if they outline notes in different colors. Get your child a pack so they have all the help they need for their study materials. If they're stressed about the tougher classwork, don't forget to break the tension with jokes that will put them at ease.


Big Pink Erasers

The erasers on the top of pencils won't last long in classes like calculus or trigonometry. Give your kids a backup by buying packs of big pink erasers. They last much longer and often do a better job of wiping mistakes away.


New Headphones

Headphones are one of the school supplies kids can use to express themselves. They'll wear them while studying in the library or riding the bus so they can focus or relieve stress between classes.


Lined Notebooks

Notebooks are cute school supplies that students always need. The spiral-bound pages are easy to flip through and lightweight in a backpack. They even help with virtual classes because each subject can have a different notebook and further organize notes that assist with online tests.


Three-Ring Binders

Students collect their loose-leaf notes in three-ring binders because they snap everything shut and keep notes safe. Find back-to-school binders that match your child's personality so they can stack everything safely in their locker without bending or crushing papers.


Locker Decorations

Most kids love decorating their lockers when they start middle school or junior high. Add locker decorations to your school supply list so they can personalize their storage unit and feel more at home.


New Lunch Box

Spoiled food ruins the first day of school. But a dual-compartment lunch box ensures your child's food stays fresh throughout the day by designating a special section for an ice pack. Your purchase could also start a new tradition of getting a different lunch box when the school year begins, easing your kids' nerves about beginning a new grade.


Upgraded Backpack

It's always fun to get a new backpack. Let your kids pick one that matches their size and expresses their personality with characters, colors, or other prints.


Colorful Markers

Young kids might need help adjusting to virtual school or having fun during in-person classes. Colorful markers are an easy way for them to relax while doodling, and they'll likely be part of daily assignments for elementary school students.


Reusable Water Bottle

Drinking out of water fountains helps spread illnesses. Your kids can avoid flu season by carrying a reusable water bottle in their backpack. Let them pick out whichever one they want and they'll look forward to using it instead of drinking from public fountains.



Every teenager needs a calculator when they go back to school. A TI-89 model assists with graphing functions and lasts throughout their academic careers. You won't have to buy another one if they keep it in its case between classes.

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