The summer months are coming up, and here in Texas, the heat has already begun. Now that my little boy is officially a toddler, I am excited to create some memories and participate in some fun summer activities with him. Are you wanting some ideas for things to do this summer with your little ones? Here are 30 simple and fun summer activities that you can do with your toddler.
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When is it too hot to take my toddler outside?
Pediatricians and other childcare experts agree that toddlers and babies should avoid long periods of time outside if the heat index is greater than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are out in extreme heat, be sure to watch for signs of your child overheating: extreme fatigue or drowsiness, disinterest in feeding/drinking, flushed face, and sweating (may be more apparent in older children).
If your toddler exhibits signs of overheating, immediately take them indoors into a cool space and apply cool washcloths or offer a cool bath. Replace sweaty clothes with a clean, cool outfit, and offer milk or water (if they’re over one) to help them rehydrate. If your toddler still seems hot after these steps and they haven’t had a wet diaper in a few hours and/or your baby is vomiting, having muscle spasms or breathing quickly, call your pediatrician. These could be signs of dehydration or heat illness, and you may need to get your little one seen as quickly as possible.
How can I protect my child in the heat if I have to go out?
If you absolutely have to go out in the heat, there are some steps that you can take to protect your toddler. Limit the sun exposure your little one gets as much as possible between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. These are usually the hottest hours of the day.
Dress your child appropriately with a light colored, short-sleeved onesie or shirt, a hat (especially if they have light colored or little to no hair), and be sure to apply sunscreen all over at least 30 minutes before going out. While out, seek as much shade as you can, and drink plenty of fluids. After your time outside, be sure to allow for rest or nap time, as the heat usually makes toddlers feel more exhausted.
30 Fun Summer Activities with Your Toddler
Now for the fun! Instead of being bored and playing with the same old toys at home, here are 30 exciting and engaging activities that you can do with your toddler during the summer months.
Indoor Summer Activities
Gather all the pillows in the house into the living room and put together the largest pillow fort you can make.
Create puppets from old socks and put together a puppet show for the family. Make it as silly as you can for the best laughs!
Movie and popcorn on the floor
Movie nights are always fun, but try to make it extra special with makeshift pallets of pillows and blankets on the floor, and everyone (yes, including you) are chilled out on the floor with extra buttery popcorn in a large bowl.
Play a game of mini golf! You can either buy a mini golf set for your home like this, or create your own out of cups and various household items.
You can also buy a cool indoor bowling set like this, or you can DIY your bowling experience with either toilet paper rolls or water bottles and paint/markers. Make it even more fun by adding glow sticks into water bottles and play in the dark!
Again, you can always buy a ring toss game, or create your own. All you need are some paper plates, paper towel rolls, and paint/markers. Crayola provides great step by step instructions to DIY a ring toss game.
Indoor obstacle course
Use what you have around your home to create an indoor obstacle course for your little one! Some things you could use are: pillows for stepping stones, a box or a table with a blanket over it to crawl under, tape between walls and doorways to create a “laser” maze, and items for your toddler to zigzag around.
Set up camp in the living room with sleeping bags (or simple blanket and pillows), a pretend campfire, and some camping food and treats (perfectly okay to make in your kitchen). Bonus: Set up a projection of stars on the ceiling, and play campfire sounds from your phone or tv to feel more authentic.
Some art museums have a kid friendly area where your little one can play to their heart’s content. The Dallas Museum of Art provides toddler friendly programming called Toddler Tuesdays, where they can “enjoy thematic art-making activities, story times, performances, and gallery activities”. They also provide other free family fun activities that you can check out here.
As a librarian, I couldn’t recommend visiting the library more! Most local public libraries have so many wonderful things to offer your toddler – books, toys, puzzles, STEAM bags and activities, various fun events (sometimes even movies), storytimes, and their summer reading program. Just go to your public library and check out (pun intended) what they have!
My son loves turtles, so I’m excited to take him to the Dallas Aquarium this summer. Aquariums are great because they’re like the zoo, but indoors (hello air conditioning)! Your little one is sure to love being introduced to so many underwater creatures.
Outdoor Summer Activities
Blow bubbles or get a bubble machine to entertain your little one and hear him giggle.
Have a picnic together! Just remember to keep it simple – sandwiches, maybe some macaroni and cheese or potato salad (or whatever your child likes), with some paper plates, cups, napkins, and cutlery, your little’s sippy cup, and a blanket to lay it all out on. Just make sure it’s a sunny day without any wind.
A fun way to bond with your toddler is by getting in the dirt together. Not only do they enjoy getting dirty, but it’s a great time to educate your littles about flowers, herbs, vegetables, and how things grow.
Water and sand play
I got this sand and water table for my son and he absolutely loves playing in it. It’s a fun way for him to be occupied outside.
Have sprinklers or a sprinkler pad? Turn them on and have your little one run around in the sprinklers! They are sure to have plenty of giggles and laughs.
Wading pool with toys
If you have a small blow up pool, you can fill it with just an inch or so of water with some of their favorite water toys.
Fill your wading pool up a bit more, or go to a bigger pool, with your toddler’s floaties, and go for a swim!
Water Balloon Play
Fill up some water balloons and go out to the backyard and play a game of toss.
Sidewalk chalk drawing
Take your toddler out on the sidewalk with some colorful chalk and show them how to draw. Once your little one understands that the chalk isn’t for eating, they’ll enjoy creating fun artwork.
Go outside with cardboard, stock paper or plain paper, and some washable, nontoxic finger paint, and let your toddler go wild!
Take your little one for a walk in your neighborhood, park, or local small trail to enjoy some fresh air and see nature.
Muddy trucks and car wash
Take some of your child’s favorite trucks and cars and put them in a plastic bin filled with either some dirt mixed with water or edible mud, and then have another bin filled with soapy water (with the same soap you use to wash their body and hair with). Then let your child run their own car wash!
Outdoor Sensory bins
Outdoor Tree Bark Rubbing
Not only is this simple activity a great sensory experience for your toddler, but it connects your child to nature in a fun and unique way.
Visit a botanical garden! Your little one will appreciate the open space and plenty of opportunities to smell the flowers. Don’t forget to bring your stroller just in case they get too tired.
Visit your local zoo and enjoy introducing your toddler to new creatures. Some zoos even have a petting zoo. Take advantage of that and let your child interact with the animals in the petting zoo.
Go to a splash park if you have one. Let your kid run around the splash pad and enjoy the wading pool, under your supervision of course.
Go to the Park
Finally, a simple, yet fun activity for your toddler on a nice, summer day – going to the park! Don’t underestimate the simple enjoyment of sliding down a slide together or pushing your little one on a swing.