You can feel it in the air! The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer. It won’t be much longer and your kids will be busting out those swimsuits (if they haven’t already) and ready to take on Summer. Go ahead and get prepared with these go-to Summer Toys & Gear favorites for families.
7 Must Have Summer Toys & Summer Gear for Little Texans
1. The “Best” Squirt Guns & Water Balloons
Check Costco, Amazon, or your local pool supply stores for a Stream Machine that will provide hours upon hours of fun in the sun. They’re easy to use and don’t require a water tank that screws on and off until one day it finally breaks! My son has had his for a year and it continues to be his favorite water toy. Even more importantly, these squirt guns are sturdy.
Ever heard of self-tying, easy-to-fill water balloons? Neither had I until researching for an upcoming summer pool birthday party. BunchOBalloons fills up to 100 water balloons in 60 seconds. They’re self-sealing, recyclable, AND biodegradable.
2. Pool Noodles
Kroger has noodles for under $2 (at least in my area), but these can easily be found just about anywhere; just be careful driving home if two littles have noodles poking at you from the back seat.
Pool Noodles not only serve their intended purpose in the pool, but can also make for some really fun arts & crafts activities. Just search Pinterest and you’ll find all you need to know!
3. Floats for Baby & Child
Our favorite floats are ones that provide an optimal amount of shade for baby’s delicate skin. Swimways & Aqua Leisure fabric floats come equipped with shades and a canopy for keeping the sun at bay. I tend to stay away from the plastic inflatables as they sometimes can get too hot and the leg holes get scratchy at times on their delicate skin. Side note: My kids also had the chunkiest thighs, so the leg holes scratched quite a bit.
Puddle jumpers and life vests are essential to a safe summer. The ones you probably see the most are Stearns The Original Puddle Jumper. These Coast Guard-approved Puddle Jumpers have a minimum weight requirement of 30 pounds. Under 30, and you’ll need to find something a little more upright so the child doesn’t get disoriented or even fall out of the jumper. Stearns offers an infant puddle jumper for those under 30 pounds and it resembles more of a life vest.
The only downside to the puddle jumper is around age three, when swim lessons start and they need to use their shoulders to find a nice rotation to swim. We switched our three-year-old into a Swimways Life Vest and while it isn’t as buoyant as a puddle jumper, it does provide him with safety while working on treading water to keep afloat. Speedo also makes an adorable (and safe) life vest.
4. Sand Tables & Water Tables
Sand tables can be both wonderful and painful. I recommend checking out sand tables instead of sandboxes. They provide for a cleaner sand experience and bugs, critters and ants can’t find their way in there as easily. Look into Kinetic beach sand. It’s a bit of a splurge depending on how many pounds you need, but it sticks together, creating more of a mess-free sand environment.
I don’t know what we would do without a water table. It provides hours of play and entertainment in a safe space. Be mindful of where the water table will go and if you need an umbrella, I would highly recommend splurging for the umbrella.
Also, make sure it has a drain. Our water table last summer didn’t have a drain and it was a nuisance to have to tip it over each time to drain. I really love the Step2 Splish Splash Seas Water Table. The palm tree and little swimmer people continue to be my kids’ favorite.
5. Picnic Tables
We waited way too long to get the kids a picnic table. We finally found one with wide bench seats and an umbrella that didn’t break the bank. A sturdy umbrella is definitely worth the investment.
6. Wooden Play Houses
Playsets can be as handmade or as intricately designed as you are willing to pay. Costco, Sam’s Club, and Walmart all have do-it-yourself play set packages of different designs that you build at home. For an extra charge, they will assemble them.
Fairview play set company, Tree Frogs, came highly recommended to us and we decided to purchase one of their smaller models, the Orangutan. It is a wonderful little set with a slide, rings, rock wall, and ladder. All of their products are assembled and even moved by their staff; for example, say you put in a pool and had to relocate the playset or move, they’ll do it for you. Be prepared to spend quite a bit for these…sets range from $799-$23,000. (No, that isn’t a typo!)
Walgreens has an excellent selection of bubbles, bubble machines, and bubble guns.
The Frisco Public Library used a bubble machine and, of course, we had to go out and buy one after our bubbly experience during storytime. Gazillion Bubbles Machine can be found on Amazon or Target. Sadly, they don’t last too long. One good drop and it’s pretty much toast, but it can provide hours and hours of outdoor fun!
7. Sprinklers & Gardening Tools
Target has a wonderful selection of sprinklers and gardening tools that range from shovels, rakes, watering cans, and even bug boxes. Check Calloways for kid-friendly garden tools, bird feeders, live ladybugs, and easy-to-grow veggie and fruit plants.
8. Kids’ SPF Clothing & Swimwear
My go-tos for kids’ SPF clothing and swimsuits are Target & Old Navy. Both retailers have a wonderful supply of SPF swimsuits and clothing that range from 20-50 SPF.
Snapper Rock & Shade Critters are a bit of splurge but are definitely quality-made, SPF 30+ clothing and swimwear that keep kids’ delicate skin safe and cool in the Texas heat, on the beach, and of course, at the splash pad or poolside. I love the option of long sleeves for sun protection (blocks out 98% of UV rays/UPF 50 rating) while still being an adorable pattern.