After years of taking care of children toddler to preschool-aged, if I have learned anything it’s that they need to be constantly entertained. And while I’m not opposed to screen time I really try to not use electronics to entertain children when out and about. This has led me to try and be creative when it comes to toys and activities we do and use when visiting places around the city. Making kits specific to certain areas also has the added benefit of ensuring the toys don’t lose their appeal. If they’re not seen or used every day they’re much more interesting to play with.
I like to keep different materials for activities separate in storage containers so they’re easy to grab and go and sometimes even leave in the back of the car or stroller for when we have one of our outings. I’m all about being efficient and organized to help with those really full and chaotic days.
Park Toy Kit
The park is one of the best places to take a child when the weather permits. And of course, you want to bring some things with you to add to the experience, here are some of my favorite park items for toddler-aged children.
- Basket to hold toys
- Sand toy set
Let’s start at the basics. We need something to carry our toys in. And since its the park, we’re probably going to get a little dirty. That’s why I like to use something that has holes for sand drainage and is easy to clean. They’re also inexpensive. At $9 for 3, it’s a pretty good deal, we don’t want to buy something expensive just for it to get destroyed by our tiny tornadoes.
Personally, I find it better to buy a sand toy set that includes everything in it already so I don’t have to worry about piecing one together myself. This set includes everything you need to just head out the door and play. It also includes a carrying case so your plastic basket is free to hold other park essentials. I love that it includes more than one shovel and several molds so Jude can share them around and make some friends.
I’m a firm believer that every opportunity you have to encourage learning to a child you need to take it. So why stop at the cups they play with at the park? These colorful cups are not just great for stacking but also a wonderful way to sneak in learning colors.
I can’t tell you how much I love these trucks. Not only are they aesthetically appealing they’re also incredibly durable. Jude has dropped these trucks more times than I can count and they’re still doing great. They’re tall enough to handle being pushed in the sand and made in a way that lets you easily shake them out when its time to pack up. They’re also a lot of fun to roll down slides!
When I first picked up this ball it gave me that satisfying ping sound rubber balls give and I immediately knew this would be a great bouncy ball. Jude loved it! As soon as it was unboxed he wanted to practice kicking the ball while holding on to our hands as support. I am excited to see him develop more kicking milestones while playing outside with this ball.
Now, I’m not saying this is an essential toy to bring along to the park but if you want to be a big hit you need to bring this along. Nothing is more satisfying than the joy and laughter of our children’s faces as they play with bubbles, it’s just an added bonus that its battery operated so you can thankfully save your breath.
Now I know what you’re thinking, you’re wondering why I included a towel in my park toy kit. I included a towel because there is nothing worse than having your toddler slide down a slide only to find the bottom of it has a small puddle of water sitting on it. Sure, every once in a while they will shrug it off and not care that their entire butts are wet but most of the time its the end of the world and the entire trip is called off. Avoid that by bringing a small hand towel with you so you can quickly wipe off any surfaces, you will thank me later.
Care Toy Kit
Our children spend a lot of time in the back of the car so why not use that time to give them something to play with to pass the time. I like to cycle through the toys I pack in the travel tray so they’re like new and exciting again. Take advantage of a toddler’s forgetfulness while you can.
- Car Travel Tray
- Fine motor toy
- Toy animals
- Dress doll
- Mess-Free Coloring
Starting at the basics you’re going to need a tray and storage for your car kit. I like that this one holds several items at once and allows the child to have a surface to play on.
This book helps strengthen fine motor skills and allows Jude something to do while we’re driving when I can’t read the words to him. An alternative to bubble books are books with small toys included or books with sensory pages.
While they’re strapped in their car seats and unable to get up now is the perfect time to practice fine motor skills. I like this beautiful hedgehog with removable spikes as a fun toy activity for the older toddler to play with.
I have fond memories of playing with plastic toy animals when I was a small child so I love the idea of my son Jude having a set of his own. These are a good size for little hands and the perfect way to introduce animals to your little one.
I love this boy doll so much. It’s wonderful that they’re starting to include options for children that want both girl and boy dolls to play with. All the buttons, straps, ties, buckles and zippers make for fun and beneficial fine motor skill practice.
Since our little one is in the car and possibly alone behind us we don’t want to give them markers or crayons that might end up marking the upholstery of the car. That’s why a mess-free option like this doodle board is just perfect for on the go.
Where I live in Arizona you have about 5 months of good pool weather so a big part of every kid’s childhood is swimming in the pool all summer long. We like to introduce the pool early to our children and make sure they’re comfortable in it. Just don’t forget to reapply that sunscreen, always wear a hat and stay in the shade when possible.
- Swim diaper
- Flotation Device
You’re going to have to carry everything so you might as well look good doing it. I absolutely love this bag and all the wonderful patterns.
I love love love the idea of a poncho for a pool towel. I usually take the kids bathing suit shirts off when we get out of the pool or else they’re freezing. They NEVER want to carry their wet towels on top of their skin being exposed. This eliminates all those problems!
Speaking of wet bathing suits. What do you do with all those tiny toys or wet bathing suits once the kids change? Toss them in a wet bag and you can carry them with no worries. As a cloth diaper mom, I have a few of these lying around but they’re great for so much more.
This is a much more economical and eco-friendly alternative to swim diapers. They’re incredibly easy to use and your wet bag holds them perfectly until you’re able to wash them.
Again, I love the simple yet colorful design. I feel that solid colored toys help when teaching colors and the fact that they’re stackable helps with storing them.
This is a wonderful way to let your toddler swim in the pool safely while also letting them paddle and kick. Just remember, always stay with your child while they’re in the pool even if they are in a floating device.
All babies love Baby Shark the perfect toy for them to clutch and chew on while floating.
I get such anxiety taking small children out to eat because I know so many people get annoyed when they get upset or act too loud. I try and combat that by having toys specifically for the restaurant that do not have a million pieces, make obnoxious noises, or create too big of a mess at the table. However, my biggest tip for eating out with a toddler is to bring a small special snack for them to have while you play together. Between food and fun toys? You should be able to entertain them before the food comes out. Just keep your expectations in check. A 13-month-old won’t behave as well as a 3-year-old so go in knowing things might not go smoothly and that’s okay.
- Toy Holder
- No mess coloring
- Magnetic Maze
As always, we need something to hold our kits in. These bendy stackable trays let you easily carry toys around in containers that are washable.
Make learning fun with these beautiful tactile flashcards. Let your little ones feel each card and discuss the various animals names in different languages.
Older toddlers love coloring and what better way when you’re out in public than with mess-free coloring?
Books are the best when you need to pass time especially when they’re fun and educational but when you add in the extra effect of flaps or numbers and letters to trace than you really have a great interactive activity. Have your toddler use their finger to trace and familiarize themselves with numbers and letters.
This is a fun self-contained fine motor skill for kids. Better for the older toddler who is able to control the wand with their hands and navigate the ball. A younger toddler would love this Montessori inspired activity board.
This self-correcting puzzle is great for all toddler ages since you can’t accidentally put two wrong pieces together. If your baby is a younger toddler you can let them hold and become familiar with puzzle pieces while still introducing the concept of a puzzle. Older toddlers can do it themselves with a little bit of help. Give your child a few at a time to contain the mess and talk to them about the animal they’re forming.
These are a great jump start for items you can keep with you to entertain your curious little one!