What do 2-Year-Olds like to play with outside?
Outside play is essential for toddlers’ development and physical health. Two-year-olds love to run around and explore nature but they will also enjoy playing with a variety of outdoor toys.
At age two, toddlers will start to become more precise in their motor skills. Two-year-olds will also begin to show more independence and start playing simple make-believe games.
The best outside toys for 2-year-olds are ones that encourage motor skills development and promote creative and imaginative play.
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The Best Outside Toys For Two-Year-Olds
Outdoor Sports toys For 2-Year Olds
Sports-related outside toys for two-year-olds are great because they help them practice fine motor skills (kicking, throwing, swinging) and can help kids with following directions and turn-taking.
This is a great basketball hoop for two-year-olds that can be used inside and outside. The hoop is adjustable so it can grow as they grow. Learning to throw a ball into a hoop helps with the development of hand-eye coordination and playing “basketball” can encourage turn-taking.
2. Soccer Net
Kicking a ball is an important motor skill that develops gradually for kids. Using a soccer net can help two-year-olds practice kicking a ball. This is also another fun way to practice turn-taking with young toddlers.
3. T-Ball Set
Per the manufacturer, this T ball set can be used from 18 months to six years so it can grow with your child. The plastic bat is light enough that most two year olds will be able to swing it (even if they can’t quite hit the ball just yet)!
Ride-On Toys For 2 Year Olds
Ride-on toys will encourage kids to use big muscle groups to build strength, balance, and coordination.
4. Cozy Coupe
This ride-in car has a removable floorboard so kids can either ride in it while being pushed by an adult OR push themselves along using their feet.
We bought my daughter a scooter for her third birthday and it’s still one of her favorite outside toys almost two years later.
For younger kids, I love that this scooter has a ride-on option until they’ve gained the balance needed to stand and ride. When they’re ready, it converts into a full-size scooter that can be used up to age 5.
6. Balance Bike
A balance bike has no pedals and is low to the ground so kids can move the bike with their feet. The purpose is to help them learn how to balance while riding a bike so they can easily transition to a pedal bike when older (no training wheels needed).
If you’re looking for a more traditional bike for your two-year-old, both my kids love to pedal around on their Radio Flyer trike. They especially like the storage bin on the back for storing all kinds of “treasures”.
This is the ultimate ride-on toddler toy. Your two-year-old will love playing on this roller coaster over and over and over.
Outside Water Play Toys
Water play is fascinating and fun for toddlers. Playing with water can be a great sensory experience for kids and also introduces them to early science concepts (volume, motion, sinking/floating, etc.).
9. Water Table
My kids love to splash in water, whether it’s in the tub or the kitchen sink. A water table is a fantastic outside toy for two-year-olds. This two-sided table has a separate area to play with sand.
10. Sensory Table
This is a small and simple plastic sensory table that toddlers can use outdoors. You can fill it with water and sand as suggested or use it for any other kind of sensory play — rocks, shells, water beads, shaving cream, Oobleck, etc.
11. Inflatable Pool
A simple blow-up or inflatable pool can entertain your two-year-old for hours. Playing in their ‘kiddie’ pool is one of my littles favorite summertime activities.
A sprinkler is an under-rated outside toy for young kids. Toddlers will love running back and forth under the spray from a sprinkler on hot summer days.
Toddler Toys For Outdoor Activities
Both structured and unstructured play are important during outdoor time. Parents can help kids with the following activities while playing outside.
Let your two-year-old help in the garden (or just play in the dirt) with their own gardening set.
14. Colorful Kites
Kids will need an adult to fly these kites for them but they’ll love watching and chasing them as they soar through the sky.
15. Sidewalk Chalk
Two-year-olds will start to become more creative with their drawing skills and will love creating shapes and designs outside using sidewalk chalk.
Bubbles are a fun outside activity for all children. Two-year-olds will probably want a turn blowing the bubbles themselves. Bubbles trays are a great option for two-year-olds who will be able to dip the big wand into the tray by themselves to make their own bubbles.
Other Outside Toys That Two Year Olds Will Love
These outdoor toys will encourage motor development and imaginative play as well as social skills when toddlers are playing with other children.
Slides are perfect for allowing two-year-olds to practice their climbing skills. They will love climbing up and sliding down over and over again.
18. Stepping Logs
These connected stepping logs can help kids improve their balance and coordination. Combine the balance beam with some of their other outside toys to make a fun obstacle course.
A playhouse is fun for toddlers to have their own space outside. It’s perfect for encouraging all kinds of creative play and imaginative games.
Let your active toddler get out some energy by jumping on a trampoline while playing outside. This five-foot trampoline can be used indoors or outdoors and has a mesh protective net around it to keep kids safe while jumping.
21. Climbing Gym
Most outdoor climbing gyms are built for older children but the Quadro brand is made specifically for toddlers and young kids. You can build several different designs with one kit (or combine kits) so your two-year-old will never get bored using this outside climbing toy.
Why Is Outdoor Play Important For Toddlers?
There are many benefits to playing outside for toddlers.
It may play a role in preventing childhood obesity. Kids are naturally more active when they are outside versus inside. Providing them with ample time to play outside and engage in physical activity can help reduce the risk of childhood obesity.
Physical activity in young children is also associated with other benefits including improved motor and cognitive development and bone and skeletal health.
Studies have shown that access to green spaces (parks, fields, gardens, etc.) has mental health benefits for children. Green space exposure particularly benefits behavioral issues such as hyperactivity and inattention.
Outdoor play also has an effect on preventing vitamin D deficiency. Sunlight helps the body synthesize vitamin D, which is important for bone strength.
How Often Should 2-Year-Olds Play Outside?
Regular physical activity for toddlers helps promote healthy habits for the future. Playing outside is an easy way for two-year-olds to be active as the outdoors provides the space and freedom for running, jumping, kicking, throwing, and other big movements.
The current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services does not provide recommendations for children younger than 3.
However, this article from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least 180 minutes per day of physical activity for toddlers aged 1 to 3 years.
Age-appropriate activities include ones that develop gross motor skills like taking walks, visiting a playground, or unstructured play outside.
What Makes a Good Outside Toy for Toddlers?
A great outdoor toy for a two-year-old will ideally have all, or most of, the following characteristics:
- Versatile: The best toys for toddlers can be used in a variety of different ways. These are often referred to as “open-ended” toys. This is true for outdoor toys as well. A good outside toy for a 2-year-old is one that is versatile and can be used in multiple ways.
- Safe: Outdoor toys should be age-appropriate and safe for two year olds to use.
- Durable: Young kids aren’t always very careful with their toys so it’s important for outdoor toys to be well-made and durable if you want to be able to use them over and over again.
- Weatherproof or easy to store: If toys are being kept outside, you’ll want them to be weather-resistant to protect them against rain, wind, and the sun. Alternatively, if you don’t want to keep outdoor toys outside all the time, it’s ideal to find toys that are easy to store inside when they’re not being used.
Final Thoughts On The Best Outside Toys For Two Year Olds
Two years old is an extremely fun age. It can also be challenging as toddlers start to develop BIG personalities and struggle for more independence.
Two-year-olds have A LOT of energy. Getting them outside as often as possible is helpful for their physical and mental health (and for your sanity as a parent).
The best toys for two-year-olds to play with outside are ones that allow them to be active and engage in imaginative play.
Invest in outdoor toys that are weather-resistant or easy to store inside, safe for young kids to play with, and will grow with your toddlers so they can play with them for multiple years.