Best Toys for Outdoor Play {12-24 MONTHS}

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Since summer officially started in all parts of the northern hemisphere, I am sure that mommies of all kids all ages are trying to figure out ways of getting everyone outdoors, keeping them outdoors and keeping them entertained there. Usually, it doesn’t take much to have fun outside, if you’re willing to run around with your toddler, roll in the grass, throw the ball around.  But toys can always be an enhancement to a parent involved play or a welcome distraction for some alone time.

Unfortunately, in Florida,summer often means HOT (not always, but most of the time), so we are actually going back indoors. That’s fine by me, because we’ve spent months playing outside while others bundled up and stayed at home.

But I’d like to share some of the items that have been thoroughly enjoyed by Lexi while playing outdoors while summer is still in full swing everywhere else.




Technically this toy can be used as a walker, but we started using it after Lexi was walking confidently, so we didn’t get to experience it as one.

As a ride-on toy AND a walker, it is a bit different from what’s on the market currently. It has a wide set base and wheels that go over any surface and spin in any direction making it easy for toddlers to manipulate the toy. Before Pewi bike we had a Little Tikes unicorn, but Lexi displayed zero interest in it and couldn’t figure out how to make it move aside from pushing it. The issue was it was too low to the ground.

I figured we needed something where she would be sitting higher with her feet touching the floor. I assembled Pewi  myself  and to my surprise Lexi didn’t hesitate sitting down on it and instantly started riding it. I was floored: just two seconds ago she couldn’t ride the unicorn but there she was riding this Pewi toy with no problems. I was right about the height, having her legs in a more natural position for movement helped a lot. The funny part was that after riding Pewi, she was able to sort of figure out how to move on the unicorn.


I love that it’s really well made too, it’s not one of those really flimsy plastics that would make it less sturdy. It’s a good quality rider that will last even through some rough play, no doubt. So now she often “races” (she doesn’t go too fast yet) down the hallway on her Pewi and I can see that  it’s only the beginning. It is a really nice outdoor toy because it goes over uneven surfaces easily, so our paver driveway does not cause any issues like it would with some other toys.

I only wish we had it when Lexi was beginning to walk. I was so against traditional walkers that I didn’t even look into this other option where there are free to move however they want and are not encased in a box. The toy can take a baby from 9 months to 3 years and is very affordable which is always a plus.

Ybike, the company behind Pewi, has some pretty cool products for kids of older ages, like balance bikes and the new combination balance bike/trike.



Speaking of balance bikes….

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Strider Bike is another bike type toy. Lexi can’t ride hers yet, since I think she’s not ready for it yet, but I wanted to mention it here for anyone who has a kiddo slightly older than Alexis. Strider is a balance bike that is meant to teach little ones how to bike without using a tricycle by teaching how to balance. Apparently, pedaling isn’t an issue when it comes to learning to bike. It’s the balance that is difficult to achieve ( hence the widespread use of training wheels). However toddlers are able to balance on a bike and ride without having to pedal. I was skeptical at first but I’ve looked at some videos and it’s amazing that tiny toddlers like this can ride a balance bike. So we’re very excited to get started. It will take a long time, but it’s so much fun. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes. It’s supposed to be 18 months+

One of my readers told me about Axel Project, a non-profit that was created in loving memory of a little kid Axel who was killed in Mexico, that donates a Strider to a person in need for every purchased Strider bike from them.


This is a  no brainer, as an outdoor toy, so the only thing I want to mention is that I’ve tried 3 different push toys and Lexi seems to like this Plan Toys one the most. It pushes easily and makes nice sounds. She was obsessed with it from the day we bought it.



She’s sort of cooled down on the Badger stroller we bought her for her birthday, but it used to be her FAVORITE toy. Pushing books, toys and dolls in it was something she would do daily. It was actually quite funny because she would put one of the shapes from her shape sorter into the stroller and ride it around in a stroller.



Another obvious choice. She looooooves balls. But the issue here was to find a ball that wasn’t made of yucky PVC. I found out about these balls a long time ago and we stuck with that brand. You can find their assortment here.



I am torn on this particular purchase. On one hand she does like it and enjoys playing there. But at the same time I rarely see her going there on her own without my involvement. It also gets pretty dirty, considering it sits outdoors all the time. In the summer, the nasty spiders weave their webs around it. Technically, if you take the time to wash it it daily it’s a fun toy, but who has time for that? So while I don’t regret buying it, I think it maybe isn’t as fun as I thought it would be for her. The disappointment probably has more to do with my expectation than the actual value and usefulness of the toy, so I am going to wait till she’s a bit older and can utilize the climbing features that she has no interest in right now to make a final decision. You can find the playground here.




That’s a great inexpensive option for an outdoor toy. What toddler doesn’t like carting things around? I bought it after Alexis loved the cart at the Children’s museum. I can also see it being a fun toy for a while. SHe’s cooled down on it at the moment, abut I can tell it will come back.



A surprising toy, but Lexi is obsessed with copying mommy and pretend watering the plants. It’s really sooooo cute. I haven’t had a chance to buy a toy watering can, but I’ll be ordering this one from Hape shortly. Made of ABS plastics and is super cute in yellow.



I love chalk, Lexi likes chalk, who doesn’t like chalk? What I don’t like is her propensity to put things into her mouth when she’s teething.

Enter the world of non-toxic chalk.

Probably not necessary for older kids, but a toddler- yes! Awesome colors, smells like candy ( which doesn’t help the whole hand to mouth thing) and draws really well and it’s EDIBLE! It makes really fun swirl colors too!

chalk 2


And of course, let’s not forget about a bucket and a shovel,along with some sand. What toddler doesn’t like playing with that? We love our Green Toys set and I want to buy another one from Hape too. Both are completely non-toxic with Green Toys one being more so.


 What are some of your and your toddler’s favorite outdoor toys?

I love discovering new things.




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  • Reply
    July 10, 2013 at 2:00 AM

    Thank you for the toy post, I love to see what other kids are playing with outdoors. My daughter loves the tricycle (she has been using it for a few months) and is very much into the swing. She can stay in a swing for a very long time. When she was learning to walk, she absolutely loved pushing the toy shopping cart, but she has been over it for a while. We never got any toy strollers or other push toys for space considerations.

    Just out of curiosity – this can not be Lexi’s picture with the chalk? The little girl looks older and has completely different hair… I am just so conditioned to see Lexi’s pictures in the posts, and that picture looks so different.

    Also, for the balance bike: are you planning to use a helmet and if so, did you research any brands? Can you add this in the comments or to the post itself, if you have a chance, it would be very helpful. Thanks!!!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 10, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      It IS Lexi :))) I have her hair in a pony! 🙂

      Re: helmets, yes of course. I like nutcase helmets but it’s not something I researched per se. If I do I’ll let you’ll know.
      We haven’t tried a trike since she shows zero interest in it. How did you teach her to pedal?

      • Reply
        July 11, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        I think I know why it stands out – there’s no watermark on it. I’m so used to seeing “Art of Making A Baby” in the corner that it was throwing me off maybe?

        Plus, her hair looks so much darker in that one. Maybe because it’s in the shade?

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          July 11, 2013 at 11:12 PM

          Last minute addition- it was a screenshot from a video of Lexi I shot for a feature for Daily Mom since I had no other chalk pics. Hence the no watermark and weird brownish colors…
          You, cats, crack me up!

        • Reply
          July 12, 2013 at 5:34 PM

          Hair always looks darker wet and pulled into a ponytail. It doesn’t allow light to shine through the hair, which gives it a lighter look.

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            July 12, 2013 at 8:52 PM

            It’s actually not wet there, it’s just because it’s a screenshot from a video I took. But yeah technically you’re right about the light.

          • Corinne
            July 12, 2013 at 8:58 PM

            Oh no, I meant that as another example of when hair looks darker, not that her hair was wet there.
            But as far as the light goes, it’s absolutely true. Your photos of her with (especially natural) light is shining on her hair, it takes on a lighter look than when she’s in a shadowed area, or area with just less light.

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            July 12, 2013 at 9:50 PM

            Yeah her hair looks soooo different all the time! Sometimes it looks almost blonde and other time dark brown like when she was born.

          • Corinne
            July 12, 2013 at 10:28 PM

            I baffles me that people think you edit Lexi to look different than she really does. You obviously LOVE everything Lexi is, everything Lexi does and are just so proud of her, so what makes them think how Lexi looks isn’t something else about her you’re completely in love with? Baffles me, I tell you!

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            July 12, 2013 at 11:36 PM

            Ha! Join the club! There are a lot of things that baffle me 🙂

          • Irina
            July 12, 2013 at 10:43 PM

            sorry, you guys, did not mean to start the whole “mystery brown haired child with the chalk” debate – just did not look like Lexi, that’s all. Lexi does look very different in pictures, but I have always thought that it is because you often have a “compilation” of pictures that are from different ages, and toddlers grow so fast, that the differences are really obvious.

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            July 12, 2013 at 11:38 PM

            Oh it’s not a problem, Irina! I knew exactly what you meant:)

          • Corinne
            July 13, 2013 at 8:03 AM

            No it’s not you! I totally knew what you meant. Almost like “no way that can possibly be lexi!” There are people out there that think elena photoshops Lexi to be blonde, or thinner, or have bluer eyes, etc. There’s a major difference in editing a photo to be brighter or darker and actually changing the color of certain features of a child. I can’t speak for elena, but I highly doubt she changes lexi’s actually appearance when she says she edits her photos!

          • Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
            July 13, 2013 at 8:15 AM

            Ha! Thinner? I haven’t heard of that one. Lol
            Really funny! :))))

      • Reply
        July 12, 2013 at 8:47 AM

        thanks! nutcase helmets lol 🙂 – is this a brand or a type of helmet? i am sorry, i am clueless about helmets! Also, my daughter figured out the pedals from watching older kids in daycare, but she can not reach pedals on all models, so some get used as a sort of balance bike (minus the balancing part).

  • Reply
    July 10, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    My kids love watering cans too. I purchased $3 small metal ones at Target in that dollar section up front and my kids play for hours with them. We also have a sand/water table that they love!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 10, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      Be careful with the metal one. The paint on them can be questionable especially if they are not marketed as a toy.

      • Reply
        July 10, 2013 at 3:20 PM

        Thanks for the warning. I’m not too worried about it. My kids are old enough to be past the putting things in mouth phase and kind of like Lexi playing on a golf course with chemicals this is my give and take. Our outside toys take quite a beating so I’m not investing much into them as they are often replaced each year anyway.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    I’m surprised you don’t have a water table for her. Toddlers looooove them, and they are wonderful in hot weather.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    Fellow Floridian here and my kiddo is about to celebrate his first birthday. What do you think about those splash tables?

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 10, 2013 at 1:52 PM

      I think they can be great. Lexis problem was she’d try to drink from it using a scoop that comes with it. Plus more than half of the brand I have (little tikes) is defective and the ball dropper doesn’t work.

      • Reply
        July 10, 2013 at 3:23 PM

        We had problems with the Little Tykes one too so we got a different one (don’t remember the brand) but it’s much better. And when the temp cools in the fall/winter we switch it to a sand table.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    I just love seeing all the pictures of Lexi, she is such a photogenic little girl!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Edible chalk! That is incredible. Thanks for adding this I had no idea there was such a thing!

    My daughter is loving the kiddie pool these days. We have a little inflatable one that you only put a few inches of water in, it also has a little sun canopy. All she needs is the tiniest bit of water to sit in and splash and she’s happy. And cool.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    That ride-on looks pretty neat. We have the ladybug version of that unicorn & my poor child just slides off the back. I end up pushing her around in it & it’s not easy considering it doesn’t have a back for them to lean on. I hate that thing! Haha.

    My daughter loves all kind of water play so she’s been busy with a water table a small inflatable pool. I believe the table is a Little Tikes one that has section for sand & a section for water though we just use it for water right now. She climbs in it & can sit there all day splashing.

    & while we don’t have the space right now, I think she would really enjoy one of those play houses. She loves opening all kinds of doors, gates & windows, peeking through them, passing things through them. So I can see her being entertained by one.

    & thanks for reminding me to get a watering can! It was on my list & I completely forgot 🙂 & the shopping cart. That looks fun too 🙂 Thanks for posting!

  • Reply
    Sarah C.
    July 10, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    Just curious – do you have a baby pool for Lexi? I’m looking for one for my 17 month old little boy, wondering if you know of any non-toxic, or less toxic brands?

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 11, 2013 at 11:17 PM

      We used to have one when she was too little to be taken to the community pool. I know for a fact this one is not toxic. I know it says unavailable but if you can find a similar one, you should be good.
      Anything that blows up has pvc in it so stay away from those!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    I loooove her outfit in the sidewalk chalk picture. Where is it from?

  • Reply
    July 11, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    since you have a large playroom area, little tykes does make a cute swing/slide combo called the swing along castle. my cousin put her brand new one in her finished basement. she never had it outside. her kids loved it when they were toddlers.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 11, 2013 at 11:14 PM

      Oh I wish but our playroom is not that big and is all junked up with toys. That’s when I wish we had basements here!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2013 at 6:34 AM

    I love balance bikes. My little one is about a week older then Lexie, and I’ve had her on a balance bike since she was 15 months, so Lexie may be ready. They’re a great way to learn to bike without having to deal with training wheels. Using a balance bike will have them pedaling a two wheel by the time they’re 3 years old.

    Our other favorite outside activity is a sandbox. Although I’m disappointed that I couldn’t find any really good beach sand. Next year I’m going to bring some back with me from vacation.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 12, 2013 at 1:13 PM

      How did you get yours on a bike?
      After falling once Lexi is now afraid of it

      • Reply
        July 12, 2013 at 7:49 PM

        She’s been on and around bikes her entire life, I even biked to most of my OB appointments, so she already had a good idea of what it was and what to do with it. She started just walking while standing over it. She did tumble a few times, but she’s stubborn and would get right back up and keep going. Her first time on it I just had her stand over it, hold the handlebars and walk, while I was behind her holding the seat steady. It was a back killer, but I only had to do that the first day. Then she’d walk with it on her own and as she got more confident (and taller) she’d sit back and start to put her weight on the seat and “ride” instead of walk.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          July 12, 2013 at 8:53 PM

          That’s good to know! Thank you!!! We did the exact same thing and she walked around with it the first day, but then I let the seat go for a second ( my mistake) and she kinda fell and stopped using it 🙂 Not interested for now. I’ll let some time pass and try again )

  • Reply
    July 13, 2013 at 4:49 AM

    I´m from Germany and here just about every kid gets a Bobby Car for their first birthday. My son is 15 months old and he hasn´t figured out how to drive with ist yet but he will eventually. I had to by a new one because my nine-year-old daughter wouldn´t give up her´s – older kids can still drive with it putting one knee on the seat and pushing with the other leg. Bobby Car´s are so sturdy even adults can use them (and they do – here are often fun races with them).

    My son loves playing in the sand, we have a little kitchen there too (from my daughter) and with a little water he´s entertained for hours.

    For indoors both children love Lego´s, the little one has the baby pricks Primo which are no longer available, three boxes of Duplo are waiting for him and my daughter has the little Lego´s.

  • Reply
    July 13, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    i love the play structure !! i think my little one would be all over that! she is a few days older than lexi and just looooooves to climb on the playground and cant get enough of the slides. unfortunatly we have a condo and not even a balcony for a water table ;(

  • Reply
    July 26, 2013 at 1:39 AM

    Do you have any suggestions for non-toxic water/pool toys? Floaty tube things, floaty mattresses, noodles, etc? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      July 26, 2013 at 2:54 PM

      Yes, and you know what? I will write up a quick reference for that this weekend because I get asked a lot. Check for new posts, ok?

      • Reply
        July 26, 2013 at 5:06 PM

        Awesome, thank you so much!

  • Reply
    Angie Menegay
    November 3, 2013 at 11:34 PM

    I think I’ve purchased 50% of the toys you’ve recommended :). What dolls have you purchased for Lexi? I’m in love with the look of the Corolle dolls, but they’re vinyl, and I’m not sure if I want to get my daughter a vinyl doll. What are your doll recommendations?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      November 4, 2013 at 12:04 AM

      Oh I hate the whole doll situation! I have not gotten her traditional dolls due to pvc, even though Corolle ones are so cute. We have a cloth ikea one. She doesn’t seem to really care about dolls yet. Maybe because she doesn’t have a realistic on 🙂 I might eventually get one, but to date I have not found dolls that are made of plastic that isn’t PVC.
      I might buy a new “it’s a small world” doll, because she LOVES the ride and the song so much, but I am still waiting on Disney to get off their butt and email me back about phthalates because phone cs had no clue.

      • Reply
        Angie Menegay
        November 4, 2013 at 2:06 PM

        From some more Googling, a few people noted that Corolle and Gotz dolls are supposedly phtalate free vinyl. I might contact them myself and see :).

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          November 4, 2013 at 2:34 PM

          Oh I can tell you for a fact corolle is phthalate free. We are working on a feature on their dolls on daily mom so I made sure. But I’m still iffy about getting them for Lexi. I’ll probably see what she thinks of the Disney doll. In fact I trust corolle way more than Disney when it comes to toys.

          • Angie Menegay
            November 4, 2013 at 2:41 PM

            Thanks for the confirmation! So, would you happen to know what material they use as softener then? Look forward to the Daily Mom post on dolls!

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