The dog days of summer are officially here—and if you have some little ones under your roof, keeping your family calm, cool, and collected can be a challenge. And I know the summer heat can be a total pain for kids. My childhood home is about a century old, so we didn’t have proper air conditioning until I was a preteen. (Translation? My summers were filled with a lot of fans and trips to dark movie theaters.)
However, thanks to today’s innovative minds who are totally over the heat and humidity, there are plenty of fun and creative ways to keep your kids engaged and cool during these sticky days. But where to begin? I turned to a few awesome parents for their favorite outdoor toys and accessories that save the season. Whether you have babies and toddlers or older children, there’s something here for every family.
According to Dustin Patrick Smith, content creator and husband to six-year-old twins, inflatable pools don’t have to be an eyesore. “Minnidip makes small blowup kiddie pools that the kids want to play in for hours, and their design is so brilliant,” he shares. “I have even had a celebrity stylist reach out to me asking where I found my kiddie pool when posting a picture on my social media.” Even better? These inflatable pools are available in an assortment of designs, colors, and patterns, so you won’t have to worry about cramping your style.
2. Step2 Duck Pond Water Table, $54.99
Annie Loynd Burton’s 20-month-old daughter loves Step2’s water table. “She loves to send the frogs and ducks down the slide and exclaim ‘wee!’ while I soak my feet in her kiddie pool nearby,” the freelance writer shares. “She has a blast with the strainer, scooping up the water and watching it trickle through. When she needs a little more entertainment, I pull out some extra measuring cups from the pantry so she can pour water from one vessel to another—endless fun!” A safe, stress-free way to splash around? Yes, please.
3. Razor A5 Lux Kick Scooter,
When it comes to getting from point A to point B in the summer heat, Rosie Nguyen’s family likes to embrace their need for speed. In fact, the founder and content creator of the Hustling Mama says that her two children—ages eight and 10—are particularly fond of their Razor scooters, a gift from the brand.
“It’s great for all ages and can quickly turn a leisurely stroll into a fun and easy ride that the entire family can enjoy,” shares Nguyen. “In a world diluted with technology and devices, it’s nice that scooting also encourages us to explore new places and to appreciate the outdoor elements.”
Think of this pick as the best of both worlds: It’s more creative than sitting in an icebox of an air-conditioned car, but not as labor-intensive as walking or running all day long.
4. Zuru Bunch O Balloons, $9.49+
Did someone say water balloon fight? Shaheen Khan, a dentist who also runs a blog called Lows to Luxe, has these on hand for her two kids, ages five and two. “We love these self sealing water balloons,” she shares. “They attach to your hose and instantly fill without leaks for the kids to play with for hours. My kids do everything from ‘plant them’ in a garden, toss them back and forth, or pop them!” Since these water balloons come on stems, it’s a breeze to fill them up all at once—and jump right into the fun.
Very few things are as painful as getting into a car that’s been baking in the direct sun for hours. That’s exactly why Christy Johnson swears by Little Bum Coolers’ car seat cooling pad for her two-year-old daughter and four-year-old son. “I love it,” the homemaker shares. “This car seat cooling pad you leave in the car to keep seats and buckles cool.”
6. Bogi Cooling Towel, $8.59
For an easy way to cool off on the go, Johnson also enlists Bogi’s Cooling Towels. “I keep an insulated ice-cold water bottle with me and pour the cold water on these towels to cool the kids off after the park or zoo,” she shares. But why limit this pick as a kid-friendly way to cool off? They’re also suitable to use after a long, sweaty run or hot-yoga class.
7. WiHoo Stroller Fan,
If a cool breeze is what you’re after, Caroline Myers cannot get enough of WiHoo’s stroller fan. “We love the flexible handle because it can work on the bucket seat, stroller, and beyond,” says the private-practice therapist and mom of two boys, ages one and two and a half. “The multiple settings can adapt to the sensory needs of the baby, and they aren't able to easily detach the fan due to the multiple feet that can be securely fastened to whatever you are attaching it to.” Lose power on the go? Don’t worry: Myers says this fan is compatible with her car’s USB port. That way, you won’t have to sweat the small stuff—literally.