It’s never too early to build baby’s awareness and appreciation of the outside world. Amid the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors, create additional opportunities for exploration, learning and fun with these must-have outdoor toys for baby.

1. Splash Mat
Introduce baby to the old-fashioned fun of playing in the sprinklers with a tot-sized splash mat. All the fun of a public splash pad—with none of the big-kid crowds—splash mats allow baby to discover water without having to be submerged. We love the HALOFUN Sprinkle and Splash Play Mat ($19.99) for its bright beach theme and gentle spraying action. 

2. Baby Pool
Here’s an equation for summer fun: an inflatable pool + a few inches of water = hours of (supervised!) fun for your little guppy. For wee ones, we like the Swim School at the Beach Baby Splash Mat ($13.49) for its built-in back rest and attached ring game. For bigger babes, the Intex Inflatable Count With Me Shaded Baby Pool ($14.99, pictured above) is a winner thanks to a built-in sunshade, cushioned floor and attached inflatable rings and squeakers.

3. Water Table
Made for fun in the sun, a water table is an ideal toy for encouraging little ones’ imagination, helping develop early motor skills and introducing water play. The Spill & Splash Seaway Water Table by Step2 ($69.99) offers a two-pool design for cool waterfall action. Baby will love splashing and scooping with the included accessory set, which features buckets, scoops and fish, along with an umbrella for relief from the sun.

4. Sand Table
Bring the beach to your baby with a sandbox. Not only do tots have a blast, but they’ll be touching, digging, burying and pouring their way into important sensory experiences. Add small tools like shovels, cars and miniature animals to up the fun—and learning—factor. This cute Crabbie Sand Table by Step2 ($42.99) will have baby feeling anything but crabby. 

5. Toy Ball
When it comes to your babe’s outdoor toy lineup, basic can be a good thing. There are few things more fun for a little one than tossing, bouncing or throwing a ball. (No wonder “ball” is a common first word!) The Edushape Sensory See-Me Ball ($10.82) fits the bill by being able to do all the things a conventional ball can do plus it has a nubby texture that makes it extra easy for tiny hands to grasp.

6. Toy Truck
Giving your child access to simple toys that encourage creativity and imagination is a smart parenting move. Plus, it’s a universally known fact that tots love filling up and dumping things out of a toy dump truck over and over (and over). And because you never know what a baby might put in their mouth, this Green Toys Dump Truck ($13.24) is made from recycled plastic that is free of BPA, PVC and phthalates.

7. Bubble Machine
No matter what stage of development your baby is in, we can guarantee one thing: They love bubbles. Blow a few into the air and watch your infant become mesmerized by the floating orbs or your older tot go into chase mode, complete with giggles and waving arms. Save your breath with a Little Kids® Fubbles™ Bubble Blastin’ Machine ($13.25). Because of the placement of the bubble wands within the design, bubbles tend to blow at baby’s level rather than high into the air out of reach. Because we all know that popping them is half the fun!

8. Baby Swing
Depending on their mood, your babe will go swinging into fun or chilled-out bliss with an outdoor swing. Swings give alert infants and older tots a chance to take in the sights and sounds of the surrounding world from a safe perch, and they give tired or fussy babes a dose of soothing comfort thanks to their gentle, back-and-forth rocking motion. We like the Simplay3 Snuggle Outdoor Swing ($54.99) for its cocoon-like shape, safety bar and straps, and easy-to-hang design.

9. Slide
A slide may seem like a simple toy, but it is actually a powerhouse in the outdoor toy lineup. Besides offering your little one a fun ride, slides help kids develop balance, coordination and visual skills. Choose a slide that’s low to the ground to keep things safe for just learning littles. The Little Tikes Hide and Seek Climber ($64.73) is an all-time favorite thanks to its gently sloping slide, rock wall and low-profile design.

10. Ball Pit
Babies don’t just have a ball in a ball pit, they also have the chance to work on their coordination and visual skills. The Playgro Pop and Drop Ball Activity Gym ($59.99) sets up and folds up easily and allows babies to exercise their hand-eye coordination by sliding, dropping and popping balls into the four activity stations.

What’s your favorite outdoor toy for babies? Let us know in the comments.

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— Suzanna Palmer

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