Sports toys are not only so much fun to play with, they are also educational toys that can greatly benefit your children. Active play with sports toys is great for children’s development because of the physical activity, problem-solving skills, and gross motor skills involved. Because of all the different sports out there, there’s also so many great sports toys options to choose from, but here’s our narrowed down list of the best sports toys for inside and outside your home.
Benefits of Sports Toys
Sports toys for toddlers do more than just teach children how to play sports. They are one of the top toys to build gross motor skills as well as for pretend play. These toys also help your child burn off excess energy and keep themselves entertained for hours.
Stronger Muscles and Bones
Physical activity helps children physical development as they grow big and strong. Active kids strengthen their bones and muscles as they play without even realizing it.
From full body to hand-eye coordination, using sports toys helps children use multiple muscles at the same time to achieve their intended goal. At first, toddlers have little to no coordination and may struggle with the toys. But the best ways to use these toys is through lots of practice.
So many sports toys rely on balance. Toddlers build balance when they have to do one thing with the feet and a different motion with their arms or when they have to reach outside their center of balance. They can also help their balance with toys that require climbing or jumping.
So many sports toys can be used with other people even if toddlers don’t get the point or objective of the actual sport yet. The whole family can play games and sports together, even if it’s not too competitive with a toddler. A great way to start is talking through how to use each toy first and demonstrating for your toddler.
Best Indoor Sports Toys
We often think of sports toys as only outdoor toys, but there’s lots of great toys for indoors as well. There’s times, like the cold winter, when children are stuck playing inside. Check out the top 5 indoor sports toys for toddlers that make great gifts for birthdays, Christmas, or other holidays.
This was the first sports toy that my husband ever bought our son. And it’s one of the best selling toys for a reason. This basketball hoop is a classic toy that children absolutely love and makes one of the best gifts!
One of the best parts of this toy is that it grows with your toddler because of the adjustable height. My husband said he used his into his teenage years for fun indoor games with his brothers.
For toddlers just starting with sports toys, this is a great toy to start with. The lights, music, and sound effects helps make the sports part more fun when it can be frustrating for beginners. It can also help your child learn numbers and counting.
As beginners, you’ll have to show your child how to use this toy as with any sports toy. They don’t understand the concept of kicking into a goal or shooting a basket.
Let you children jump out all their energy on this small trampoline that can easily fit inside. Trampolines help children stay active, build endurance, and are a blast to play on. And this one has a support bar to help young kids with their balance while jumping.
To help your children with new gross motor skills by trying new things on the trampoline. Have them jump on one leg or try to jump and do the splits in the air.
Another fun activity we like to do on our trampoline is have a dance party! Put on some of their favorite music, and let them dance it out on the trampoline.
An assortment of sports balls is the key to any sports toys. The best part of balls are that they are open-ended toys and can be used for so many different activities beyond their actual sport. These are great for any game or imaginative play your child can come up with.
This set is all foam and a little softer than regular sports balls. Because of that, we let my son use them inside the house (within reason). Just watch out when they first discover they can actually throw decently.
These balls also come with a bag for easy storage and take up relatively little room. This is the perfect gift for any toddler.
Okay, you may be saying that it’s not an indoor toy, but my toddler would disagree. He loves golfing through the kitchen and living room. Luckily, this golf set comes with soft, light weight balls that don’t go very far.
Once he can hit better and harder, we’ll have to move it outside. But golf is a great gross motor activity for kids because it builds muscles, depth perception, and coordination of the full body.
Because of the challenge of using the club to accurately hit a small ball, golf is challenging for many kids at first. We recommend starting with a big baller until they get the hang of swinging the club. For toddlers, you can even start with something as easy as a beach ball.
Best Outdoor Sports Toys
As your child gets older and stronger, you’ll most likely need more outdoor toys. These toys either take up too much room inside or are likely to break something in the house. But it’s a good idea to have both.
We encourage all kids to try soccer to change up the activities they’re doing. Most sports and toys use mainly upper body, especially arm muscles. Soccer helps them build lower body muscles, foot coordination, and balance.
Soccer is usually more frustrating for young children at first because they’re not used to using their feet. At the beginning, they’ll probably even trip over the soccer ball multiple times. This is normal, so just keep encouraging them.
Once they get a little older and more coordinated, you could also use the net for hockey or other games.
Like the name suggests, this bike is the ultimate toy to help your child with balance. Riding a bike is a fun sport for kids of all ages, but the hard part of learning to ride is the balance. This bike is made to teach balance, so that kids can naturally move on to a bigger bike with pedals with ease.
These balance bikes are great toys for building leg muscles and gross motor skills. There are different age recommendations based on size, so check which one fits your child best.
Here’s a great outdoor toy that’s a sports toy and a climbing toy. Your child can play basketball and go down the slide, too. This one is kid favorite because of all the things you can do with it.
This play set is a great idea for any developmental stage and even older children to play on. Climbing toys are great for their balance, gross motor skills, and even fine motor skills as their little hands get used to gripping things and pulling themselves up.
This t-ball tee is a classic sports toy that’s been around for years and is still one of the most popular. Get your child ready for little league or just playing outside with this beginner tee. Swinging a bat helps with many skills including coordination and balance.
You can also help build more gross motor skills by having them run after they hit the ball like in a real baseball game. If it’s too hard at first, start with a bigger ball on the tee.
This ball set is better made to be used outside. Get your child a multi pack of sports balls like this one that they can use for numerous activities. This one even comes with an air pump, so you can keep reusing the balls after they start getting flat.
You can also get the dollar store or a thrift store like Goodwill for miscellaneous balls to make your own assortment. Any balls- tennis balls, soccer balls, beach balls- will work.
Encourage your child to try new ways to play with the balls like throwing in different directions, kicking into a goal, or using their non dominate hand. Balls are also some of the best toys for open-ended play as they can be used for whatever your child’s imagination is thinking.
Choosing New Toys
By no means do you need all these toys. Just a few of them is more than enough for hours of fun gross motor activity. If you’re looking for gross motor activities with minimal to no toys, try these.
And every child will not like every sports toys out there or even every type of sport or game. Observe your child play to see what they’re having the most fun with, what’s in their developmental skill level, and what keeps their interest.
If a toy is too difficult, a child will likely give up and may or may not come back to it. Alternatively, if a toy is too easy, a child may get bored with it and move on. You’re looking for something right in the middle that challenges them but is still achievable.
Finding Sports Toys
If you’re on a tight budget, keep checking garage sales, the thrift store, or facebook marketplace. We’ve found a lot of these exact toys secondhand. And even the knock off versions are great if you can find them.
Using Sports Toys
Our biggest tip with sports toys is not to expect or force your toddler to play the sport ‘the right way’. Rarely will little kids listen let alone have a fun time only swinging a bat or shooting a basketball with correct form. All these toys are great options for learning the sport eventually, but at the this age it’s just about having fun.
One of the best things you can do for your toddlers with these toys is let them have fun and explore them in their own way. Don’t try to force anything and encourage the imaginary play if they use the toy in different ways.
Check out these awesome climbing toys
Climbing toys are another great way to work on balance, coordination and gross motor skills. These toys have more great developmental benefits for young kids and can be used right alongside the sports toys. We also put together a list of the best climbing toys for inside and outside your home here.
Check out the best gifts for toddlers
If you came looking for gifts for toddlers, check out our entire list of the best toys for young kids (including sports toys). The full list is here.