Set up a backyard festival

When Julian was a toddler, entertaining him in the afternoon was best done outside. Inside he was totally crabby from about 3 to 6 pm. I discovered outdoor toys and activities that kept him busy, and was lazy enough to just put them all in the backyard at once so that he could roam from activity to activity over the course of an hour. It worked so well that I have invited other people to bring their babies over to enjoy our backyard festival.

10 ideas for backyard fun with toddlers

Here are the ingredients I rely on for backyard play.

  1. The key to the party is water. I have had enormous success entertaining a little dude as young as 10 months with a large plastic mixing bowl full of water and some measuring cups or spoons. That’s the first station.
    A list of backyard activities for toddlers
  2. The tunnel. You’ll use this thing for YEARS. That happy kid is Holden – he’s a tunnel man. (Great deal on a play tunnel from our affiliate Amazon.)
  3. Level up with a kiddie pool. You can get away with putting just a few inches of water in it. (And once you do that, you are now on lifeguard duty, so I would only do it with two adults present. And if you do have two adults present, one of them can drink a margarita with her feet in the pool.)
    Must-have backyard toys for toddlers
  4. Bubbles. These require some actual effort on your part. Unless of course you buy an automatic bubble blower. Which is fun until it’s not. It’s not fun when the batteries die or the bubble juice spills out and you don’t have anymore. Ready yourself for a tantrum in that case. But before that? Bliss!
  5. If you like the tunnel idea, or already have one, kick it up a notch with a tent. We have one that is made for kids for this crawling around purpose. You might have a real tent that you don’t use too often. If so, consider setting it up in the backyard and leaving it for a few weeks of summer fun. The one in this picture pops open with no effort and collapses down to store against the wall in your garage. My eight-year old still uses it.Backyard activities for toddlers
  6. Other features of my festival are a large inflatable ball and some push toys. The Little Tikes Push & Ride Racer is good because it rolls well over grass and is pretty durable. Also, if you have two toddlers at your festival, one can push and one can ride. When this gets boring, marry your water station with the car, and let the kids “wash it”. (See our car wash activity >)
  7. For older toddlers, chalk is a lot of fun. It costs around a dollar for a box. Pour a pitcher of water over the drawings to erase. Julian likes this part just as much as the scribbling. Crayola has made all sorts of variations on chalk with kits that promise to be 3-D, glittery, and other advancements, but I have found those are usually disappointing. Stick with plain old sidewalk chalk.

What do you get the most use out of in your backyard?

7 fun backyard activities for toddlers

Putting the kibosh on the Me, Me, Me Epidemic

Me Me Me Epidemic book

After listening to a webinar with parenting coach Amy McCready in which she was suggesting what we might say when our children are devastated by the consequences of their actions, Whitney and I both joked that we were going get tattoos that read, “I’m confident you’ll make a better choice next time” so that we […]

BYOLG (Bring your own labor gown)

Giving birth or having a psychotic breakdown?

It is an uncommonly known fact that you can wear whatever you want during labor as long as it doesn’t obstruct your caregiver’s access to your relevant body parts. Regardless, most women wear the standard issue unisex hospital gown that opens in the back. This way, you cannot distinguish a laboring mom-to-be from a psychiatric […]

Warrior Moms are good moms

Warrior Moms short film by Jill Krause for Post Partum Progress

Friend and fellow blogger, Jill Krause from BabyRabies, traveled to three cities to meet with these seven women to help tell their stories and put faces to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She says, “I could not be more proud of this video, or more humbled to have listened to these women tell their stories […]

New skateboard-stroller allows parents to move faster — and be rad.

Quinny Longboard Stroller

Quinny, the stroller folks who brought us the Quinny Buzz and other slick folding strollers, has introduced something new: a longboard stroller. How rad is that? Skater moms, rejoice! Or, at least skaters in the European Union, because currently that’s the only place you can order the product. Quinny is producing a limited run of […]