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A list of 18 toddler summer essentials for outdoor play including water play, toddler activities, and toddler-must have gear for the sun and water.

Summer often means warmer weather and more time spent outside with your toddlers, babies, and young kids. We defintetly flock outside in the summer as my boys love exploring, playing in the water, and digging in the dirt.

I’m sharing a list of some of our favorite toddler summer essentials that help get us through the dog days of summer! I have a medium-sized back yard and two toddlers with a whole lot of energy. They both love being outside so I need ways to entertain them and keep them safe (from the sun and bugs) during summer time.

Some of the items in this post are sponsored, but all of the thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Toddler Summer Essential #1: Sunscreen

It’s important to protect your toddler’s skin (and your own) when you spend time outside. Look for a sunscreen with a physical or mineral barrier like zinc oxide to protect their sensitive skin from getting sun burned. Mineral sunscreens work by sitting on top of your skin and physically blocking the damaging UV rays, are are often more effective and better for young kids. Our favorite is the Hello Bello Kids SPF 50 Sunscreen and their new SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Spray.

Shop Hello Bello Sunscreen

Summer Play Essential #2: Water Table

If you don’t have a water table, run and go grab one before summer is over! Water tables are the perfect way for toddlers to splash, cool down, and do a fun sensory activity without getting fully wet (my boys normally wear their swimsuits, but if your toddler isn’t too wild they could wear regular clothes). I’m also loving this post by Happy Toddler Play Time that shows 40+ activities for your water table!

Swimsuits: Vive La Fete Royal Stripe Swimtrunks

Water Table: Little Tikes Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark

Toddler Summer Play Essential #3: Water Shoes

If your toddler loves water play, water shoes are a must! They will protect your little one’s feet when outside, but are also sturdy and slip-resistant when the ground gets wet. We love these Native Water Shoes and find that my boys love to wear them all summer long, even if they aren’t in the water.

Shop Native Water Shoes on Amazon

Summer Essential #4: Bug Spray

Our favorite option for bug spray is the Hello Bello Mosquito Repellant. We love it because it’s hypoallergenic and DEET-free!

Shop Hello Bello Mosquito Repellant

Toddler Summer Must-Have #5: Sun Hat

A sun hat will keep your toddler’s head and face safe from the sun (you should still apply facial sunscreen) and will help keep them a little cooler on those hot sunny days. Green Sprouts Sun Protection Hats are SPF 50+, light weight, plus come in such cute colors and patterns and have a tie to easily secure to your toddler’s head.

Brim Sun Protection Hat

Shop Green Sprouts Sun Protection Hats

Summer Play Essential #6: Waterproof Play Mat

A Toki Mat Everywhere Playmat is perfect for all your toddler’s outdoor adventures! We love to use ours for picnics or place at the bottom of our outdoor slide. It’s also perfect for arts and crafts or tummy time for littles. We love it because its vegan, non-toxic, and WASHABLE!

Pebble | Standard | Padded Everywhere Mat

Shop Toki Mat Everywhere Playmat

Toddler Summer Essential #7: Playground

Our favorite activity this summer has been our EZPlay Toys Panda Playground! We normally keep it inside in our playroom (check out all our favorite playroom toys here: Must-Haves for your Toddler Playroom), but it’s also weather resistant and can be placed outside as well (the company recommends you move the playground inside at night or during inclement weather). It’s very durable and sturdy but also folds up easily so you can move it inside during the rain or if it gets too hot.

Shop EZPlay Toys Panda Playground

Toddler Summer Play Essential #8: Splash Pad

My boy’s favorite water activity for hot days is a Toddler Splash Pad! This one is on our wish list, but we have played with it at a friend’s house and it’s tested, tried and true. This splash pad in particular is on our list because its a 3-in-1 splash pad, sprinkler, and wading pool and has over 10k 5-star reviews on Amazon.

Shop Toddler Splash Pad on Amazon

Summer Play Essential #9: Balance Bike

My two (almost-three) year old has been loving his Strider Balance Bike recently and can’t stop riding it around our drive way and down the street. Some toddlers will be able to pick up a balance bike closer to 18 months, while other more cautious toddlers may not like a balance bike until after 3 years old. A balance bike is a great first bike and transition to a real bike witout training wheels.

Shop Strider Balance Bike on Amazon

Summer Essential #10: Sunglasses

Ensure that your toddler’s eyes are protected from the sun with Toddler Babiators Sunglasses we love these because the frame is made of rubber instead of plastic so they are toddler-proof and long-lasting!

Shop Toddler Babiators Sunglasses on Amazon

Toddler Summer Essential #11: Diggers

My toddlers love spending much of their time outside digging in the dirt (a sandbox or play table works too if your toddlers aren’t so into getting dirty). We have tried multiple sets of digger toys and these CAT Construction Toys are some of the best quality toys we have found.

Shop CAT Construction Toys on Amazon

Toddler Play Essential #12: Scooter

A Posh Baby & Kids QPlay Scooter is on my toddler’s birthday list this year and we are so excited for him to try it out! We have had lots of friends and family recommend this scooter for as young as 2 years old.

Blue Future LED light scooter

Shop Posh Baby & Kids QPlay Scooter

Toddler Summer Play Essential #13: Toddler Trampoline

The Little Tikes 3′ Trampoline is another toddler favorite that is great for getting out plenty of energy indoors or outdoors!

Shop Little Tikes 3′ Trampoline on Amazon

Summer Play Essential #14: Bubble Machine

If you are tired of blowing bubbles for what seems like hours at a time, my best advice is to get an Automatic Bubble Machine! This will save you from becoming light-headed and will also provide so much entertainment for your babies and young toddlers.

Shop Automatic Bubble Machine on Amazon

Toddler Summer Essential #15: Rash Guard

My boys almost always wear A Swimsuit Rash Guard when they are swimming or playing in the water outside. Its great for protecting against sunburn and also keeps them a little warmer when there is wind or when the weather is chilly.

Shop Swimsuit Rash Guard on Amazon

Toddler Play Essential #16: Toy Lawn Mower

Once your toddler is walking a Bubble Blower Toy Lawn Mower is a great gift to let them feel like they are helping during the summer!

Shop Bubble Blower Toy Lawn Mower on Amazon

Summer Play Essential #17: Toddler Pool

If you don’t have a pool (or even if you do) a Toddler Pool and Play Center is a great for beating the heat and letting your toddler have a little fun splashing and sliding. This is on our wish list but comes highly recommended and we are so excited to get one this summer!

Shop Toddler Pool and Play Center on Instagram

Summer Time Essential #18: Play House

If you have the space, a Backyard Discovery Columbus All Cedar Wood Playhouse would be the perfect addition to your backyard! Our friends have this playhouse and our boys loving going over and playing in it during the summer.

Shop Backyard Discovery Columbus All Cedar Wood Playhouse

Which of these would your toddler run to first? Let me know in the comments below and pin this for later!

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