Want your backyard to be like an amusement park oasis full of the best summer toys for toddlers so they are entertained easily outside with little effort from you? Don’t have the money to shell out hundreds or even thousands on big backyard play sets and other fancy toddler toys? You’re in the right place! These 10 best budget outdoor toddler toys are sure to entertain your toddler, but not break your bank!
You don’t need a thousand dollar swing set to have an awesome play space your toddler or preschooler will absolutely love! There’s a reason why the stick was inducted in the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2008!
Here you’ll find a list of the best budget outdoor toddler toys that little kids to play with for hours! That means hours of awesome fun, learning and development for your kiddo.
It also means hours of less stress for you too mama as they happily play in the backyard!
Best Budget Outdoor Toddler Toys Criteria:
This is NOT one of those “Buy This, It’s Great!” lists that seem made by someone who just picked the first 5 things they saw come up in the ads section on a Google search.
This is a list of the best budget outdoor toddler toys that I’ve curated over the last 4 years of having a child and knowing lots of moms like you on that journey with me. Everything on this list comes recommended through actual real life toddlers having fun.
These best budget outdoor toddler toys fit into one of the following categories:
- I own it and my toddler and preschooler love playing with it in our backyard.
- My kids have played with it at a friend’s house, loved it and keep bugging me to get one too.
- A mom friend has told me her kids love the toy and she keeps telling me I should get it for my kids too.
- The toy is on our wish list for our yard, but we just haven’t gotten it yet. I’m a big fan of adding things in one at a time, slowly over the summer(s) to keep things fresh and fun.
What exactly makes these the best budget outdoor toddler toys?
Everyone’s budget is different. That makes these lists so tricky! What someone may consider a splurge is cheap for someone else.
To be considered budget on this list I’m considering not only the actual price but what is the outdoor toddler toy’s true VALUE. This means asking three questions:
- Is it a play once and done outdoor toddler toy or one that will last the whole summer? Maybe even multiple summers?
- Is there learning value in it or is it just flashy fun?
- Can multiple kids use it at once? I will pay a little more for fewer fights!
That being said, most of the best outdoor toddler toys on this list are under $30 US. The most expensive is $47US and only qualifies because truly it fits in the value area of multiple summers, multiple kids and is non-flashy fun!
The List: Real Mom Recommended Best Budget Outdoor Toddler Toys
In order, from most expensive (but with lots of value) to the least, here are the best budget outdoor toddler toys.
Make sure you read to the end to get to the outdoor toddler toys that are my favourite price of all: FREE!
*All prices are accurate as of the time of publishing (July 13,2021).
*Some links are affiliate links meaning I may earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, but like I said earlier everything is a genuine personal recommendation that I would give a friend. As an Amazon Associate I earn on qualifying purchases. Read my full disclosure here. Thanks for your support!
This is the priciest item on the list, but its actual life value makes it totally worth it!! For a toddler, there is nothing better than some cold water splashing on a hot day. From a mom perspective, cold water splashing that doesn’t require swimsuits, swim diapers, life jackets and all the potential meltdowns that go with pools is awesome!
We bought a water table 2 years ago and it is still in great shape! We will easily get another year or two use out of it until our youngest outgrows it. That means each year was $12.50 for a $50 water table. Definitely worth it!!
With budget in mind though, my advice is don’t bother with the giant fancy ones!
There is no need to spend $100+ on a water table! The circular tables are just fine for toddler fun and splashing and easily fit two children playing at once and run from $35US-$60US.
You’re better off buying that and later on buying some new cheap bath toys to use in it to keep the fun fresh!
Not in the market to spend $50 on one toy right now? Go the super budget DIY route by using a plastic container with bath toys or stacking cups likethese. Actually, one of the best budget friendly plastic containers we used when our oldest was one was her baby bath tub brought outside!
Not quite ready for a trike or bike? Don’t want to spend big bucks on those trikes you can push first – because yikes, those can be expensive?!
Get a super cute ride-on toy! Your toddler can ride it along the sidewalk or in your driveway and have so much fun on their own or keeping up with older siblings.
Your toddler will have so much fun getting lots of exercise and you’ll hopefully nap well afterwards!!
There are so many options for play tents and many of them are actually quite inexpensive! Who says it can’t be an outdoor toddler toy?! It is the perfect budget replacement for the expensive play houses that you see for a hundred dollars or more!
Instead of paying $100 for one play house, you can get three different tents for that price and help start up lots of different pretend play scenarios. Lots just fold into themselves, no poles or anything so it’s easy to just take them down for storage indoors when not in use.
You name it, you can probably find a play tent for it! Here are some of our favourites (yes, we own multiple!)
One safety thing to keep in mind for these tents is they may not vent air well and can get hot inside on a hot day. Put them in the shade, turn them so the open door is pointed up and hot air can escape from time to time and don’t leave toddlers in them extended periods of time without checking temperature!
This is one of the absolute best budget outdoor toddler toys in the world! Skip the fancy, cutesy sandbox container and just make your own sand area.
It can be as simple as finding a spot in your yard, put down some landscape fabric (or just use a piece of a dollar store picnic tablecloth – the thicker ones with the fabric backing) so the dirt below doesn’t get mixed in, make a rock border to keep the sand in and pour down some play sand! Make sure you have a tarp (again, dollar store!) to cover it up when not in use so animals don’t make it gross!
Play sand is about $5 a bag and 2 or 3 bags is all you’ll need! You could probably get the whole thing made for $30 and some elbow grease! If you want to be fancy, finish it off with some awesome sand toys or frugal and use some old baking pans and cups!
Now you’ve got a toddler space that’ll be used for hours and hours for years and years! Sooo much value!!
You don’t need a whole swing set to entertain a toddler! If you’ve got a tree or somewhere else (pergola or carport?) to hang a swing, this is one of the best budget toddler outdoor toys you can buy!!
Not only is your child entertained happily outside, they are contained in one spot doing it! Swing time is perfect for when it has been quite the day and you need a few minutes of calm!
Just because they’re in one spot doesn’t mean they aren’t having fun or learning a lot. Think of all the sensory experiences of swinging in the breeze watching the leaves in the trees, the changing perspectives up and down, hearing the birds and chatting with you!
Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you need more!!! It’s called a kiddie pool for a reason – it’s the perfect size for little kids! Yes, a real pool is obviously awesome, but for toddlers and preschoolers it’s a totally different type of playing.
I truly believe that for the under 5 set a kiddie pool is as much fun as a big pool. Little kids have a blast splashing and playing, while also keeping cool in the hot summer weather. The only downside is that they can be a pain to fill and empty so often as you need to so you don’t have your kids playing in a bacteria bath!
We make it an event where the kids and I all get our watering cans (or water squirt toys!) and use the pool water to keep our flowers looking good!
Happy Moments Mom Tip: If you’ve got a pump go with inflatable! Easy to store between seasons, easy to get home from the store plus in our experience, the bottom is way less slippery than the hard plastic pools.
Swing Set Accessories
Don’t have hundreds for a big swing set?! Get the best imaginary play of swing sets for SO MUCH LESS!!!
It is so, so simple to add a steering wheel and/or a telescope to your back deck and suddenly it’s a pirate ship, a spaceship, a car, a super secret spy-mobile…anything they can imagine!! Hours of the best budget outdoor toddler fun!
This has got to be my favourite outdoor toddler toy. It is one of the cheapest things on this list but is the most creative so can be used in so many different ways!!! The value of this toy is undeniable, it checks all the boxes – kids play for a long time with it, there’s enough for everyone so fewer fights, and it’s super cheap!
That’s why it’s definitely one of my favourites on my toddler summer fun checklist game you can download here.
Bubbles are another amazing and amazingly cheap toy. They definitely deserve to be on the best budget outdoor toddler toys list! This 12 pack may last the whole summer – and if it doesn’t, make your own bubbles and just refill the awesome containers you now have! There’s a good recipe here!
Making your own, you can actually just buy a small $5 pack of bubbles then refill which is why it’s down this far on the list!
Whether toddlers are chasing them or trying to blow them on their own, bubbles are so much fun on a summer day!
Giant Building Blocks
This one is one of my absolute favourite additions to our backyard. Loose parts play research has shown for awhile the value of toys that can be moved around and used in multiple ways. These blocks are a perfect example! Some of the ways ours have been used include:
- normal building blocks – towers, houses, walls, you name it my kids have made it!
- roads for cars & diggers (in the grass and the sandbox)
- rocks for when the ground is lava
- obstacle course markers & obstacles
- treasure hunt markers
So much fun, so much developmental goodness – so little money!! Seriously, the main reason we even have these is because we had leftover bits of 2×4 after a reno. SO for us it was free (kind of) but a 2.4 costs It was early in the first Covid lockdown in April 2020 and I was always on the lookout for something fresh and fun that we already had.
This is the absolute best budget outdoor toddler toy addition to a backyard. Other than the awesome developmental play they encourage, the best part is they can be absolutely FREE!!!
These tree stumps have been a favourite toy for the last two months with my kiddos. The stumps have been played on as they were meant to be – jumping, crawling and walking across like a jungle gym play area. They have also been:
- seats and a table for snack
- rolled around the yard
- made a fort
- made a bird nest
- been part of an obstacle course
- many more imaginative things…too many to list (plus I don’t always understand what my kids are pretending lol)
All you have to do is check your local Facebook marketplace or whatever buy and sell site is popular and in the spring when people are cutting trees down. You will likely find ads for free firewood, just come and take it! Take it, but instead of burning it let your toddler and preschooler are burn calories all summer playing with them constantly and having soooo much fun!!
These toys are also well-loved, but got pushed out of the top list of the best budget outdoor toddler toys.
- Push mower – So cute when the kiddos “help” mow the lawn, but doesn’t always get used much otherwise around here.
- Beach Ball – One of the best dollar’s you’ll spend this summer. Didn’t make the cut because they also bust easily meaning tears and tantrums.
- Toddler Slide – This one almost made it, but if I was going to spend the $35 on something it would be the ride-on or tent.
Get a Deal:
A post about the best budget outdoor toddler toys isn’t complete without mentioning some of the best ways to turn almost anything into a budget toy:
Buy it used – kids outgrow things all the time, including toys. Check your local buy and sell or fb marketplace!
Buy it on sale – Certain stores, like Toys R Us here in Canada, I just refuse to pay full price for anything. Everything goes on sale, and sometimes those sales are big! Our water table was originally $90 CDN and we paid $60 CDN.
Buy it end of season – This is perfect for those toys that your current little baby isn’t ready for but next year your now toddler kiddo will love! Plan ahead and get them at the end of summer when stores want them gone! Or double up on bargains – check out the used buy and sell groups end of August. Parents don’t want to store things they know their current age child will outgrow before next summer!
Phew, that was a long one! SO much to consider, but now hopefully I’ve made it easier for you with this list of the best budget outdoor toddler toys!
Are there any that I missed that have been popular at your house?? Let me know in the comments! I’m always on the lookout for a good deal and new things to help my kiddos have fun!
Want more outdoor toddler fun?
Check out my Toddler Summer Activities List Bingo Game to help your kiddo have the best summer ever!!!