Best Sandbox for Kids & Toddlers in 2017 – Quick Buying Guide

Most parents today will still vaguely remember their time spent in sandboxes. These play areas have been such integral parts of many people’s childhoods that a lot of us can claim to have spent hundreds of hours in them, whether at school, in a park, or in the backyard.

While sandboxes still exist nowadays, not a lot of parents are too keen on letting their little ones roll around in a public sandbox. With so many germs and bacteria that can be lurking around in playground sandboxes, not every parent is willing to risk their little one’s health when they can recreate the fun experience at home. If you’re one of these folks, then my list of the best kids' sandboxes is for you.

My Favorite Kids' and Toddlers' Sandbox Models 

1. Step2 Naturally Playful Sandbox

If you're looking for a sandbox that will look nice in your rock garden, this Step2 product might just do the trick. Designed with stone boulders and a sandstone coloring, this product looks like an actual landscaping element. It also comes with an ornate lid in the same color so you can keep the sand inside clean and safe from contamination when not in use.

What's Great About It: This sandbox can hold up to 200 pounds of sand. It also has molded-in cornerstones that can serve as seating surfaces for a young child so you can be sure that your little one will be comfortable while playing. I also like that it can double as a small pool or function as a lily pond or fountain.

2. Step2 Naturally Playful Sand Table

Some people prefer a raised sand play area for their kids, as they can be a lot easier to clean and keep out of reach of pets. If this is what you have in mind, then this option from Step2 might also work out well for you. This sand table comes with a lid designed with molded-in roadways, so it can still be used as a play surface.

What's Great About It: The table design can be a good option for toddlers, as it keeps them on their feet and helps them with their balance. It’s also lightweight, so you can move it anywhere with ease.

3. Little Tikes Big Digger Sandbox

The Little Tikes Big Digger gives you a little extra with your sandbox. This playset doesn’t just offer a solid sandbox, but also has two accompanying heavy equipment toys that quickly turn the sandbox into a quarry site.

What's Great About It: I'm particularly fond of the working excavator toy that comes attached to the sandbox, as it opens up a certain way to play with the set. A dump truck also comes with the unit, and the lid can double as a ramp for the truck to get into the box. There are also pockets for the accessories, so you don’t have to worry about where to store them when not in use.

​4. Little Tikes Turtle Sandbox

For kids who love animals, a turtle sandbox may just pique their interest. This sandbox has a smiling turtle design with its shell serving as a lid, offering an adorable space for sand play. Equipped to hold up to 150 pounds of sand, it’s also deep enough to double as a mini pool for your tiny tots.

What's Great About It: This sandbox has a nice size that two or three toddlers can fit in. It also has two outside seats on the front legs of the turtle, ensuring comfort for your little one.

​5. KidKraft Backyard Sandbox

If your goal in buying a sandbox is to bring home the fun playtimes your child enjoys in the sandbox at the local playground, this KidKraft product is something you should consider getting. This sandbox is very large, so both your child and her friends can play inside. It’s also made of wood, so you can be sure that it’s built to last.

What's Great About It: Designed with corner seats, your child won’t have to crouch down to play with the sand in this product. It’s also 8.5 inches deep, so your child can have a blast digging and moving sand around.

​6. Little Tikes Castle Adventures Sandbox

A cute sandbox option for kids who love fairy tales, this Little Tikes product may not be one of the biggest in this list, but it is certainly packed with fun features that will make playtime more fun. This variant features a horse-riding prince on his way to a princess inside a castle.

What's Great About It: The castle has a drawbridge and two removable turrets with escape chute/slides that can add another way to play with the set. It also comes with a series of accessories, so your little one can enjoy different ways of playing with sand.

7. Be Good Company My Little Sandbox – Big Builder

Folks who have small homes and yards don’t have to skip sand play, as toys like these may be small, but they’re big in fun. At only 10 inches on each side, Be Good Company’s My Little Sandbox is a miniature sandbox that can fit on top of a table and has tiny toys, including a dump truck, a few blocks, and three construction worker figures that create a mini construction site. It even won a Dr. Toy Top Toy award, so you’re guaranteed good quality and great playtimes.

What's Great About It: While the sandbox itself doesn’t come with a lid, the box that comes with it is very sturdy and has a velcro closure, so you can still securely keep everything in place when not in use.

​8. Step2 Crabbie Sandbox

If your little one loves sea creatures, then she might also enjoy playing in this Step2 Crabbie Sandbox. Fashioned like a cute cartoon crab, this sandbox can hold up to 300 pounds of sand, allowing your kid to enjoy sand play in many different ways.

What's Great About It: Its claws are molded in to provide seating surfaces to provide some comfort for your little one. Its simple design will also surely encourage a lot of pretend play in the garden.

​9. Be Good Company Executive Sandbox – A Day at the Beach

Being just 8 inches by 10 inches in size, this Be Good Company’s product is basically a desktop zen garden for kids and adults alike. It replicates a beach scenario with its beach chair, umbrella, sea shells, and plastic mini castle. It can be a great pick for little kids who love the beach, or adults who always long for some sand between their toes.

What's Great About It: Its small size makes it a great desktop ornament that can help stressed-out adults to relax. It can also be a great choice for kids who live in small homes, so they can still enjoy the benefits of sand play without having to eat up most of the limited space.

​10. KidKraft Pirate Sandboat

Pirate-loving kids will get excited at the prospect of having their very own pirate-themed play area. It’s a unique sandbox because it’s actually a “sandboat,” as the whole structure is shaped like a boat.

What's Great About It: This sandboat will easily fuel your child’s pirate-themed roleplaying games. They can sail the high seas or have fun in a beached pirate ship with this wonderful product. I also love that it has actual seats, a canopy, and a steering wheel so your child’s make-believe games with friends can get quite realistic.

​11. Badger Basket Covered Convertible Cedar Sandbox

This sandbox from Badger Basket may seem like an overly simplistic sandbox, but once you get to the nitty gritty of this product, it’s actually quite nifty. Made with heat-treated and stained cedar wood, this sandbox is built to last. It also has two benches that run across the length of two sides to provide ample seating for your tiny players. It requires an open bottom, however, so some folks might want to create a makeshift flooring for it.

What's Great About It: My favorite part about this sandbox is the fact that the seats can be unfolded to create a solid cover to protect the sand inside while not in use. It can also hold up to 750 pounds, which attests to just how big this sand play area is.

12. Step2 Splash ‘n Scoop Bay

For a versatile activity center, Step2’s Splash ‘n Scoop Bay can be a great choice. This product is designed for both water and sand, so your child can get more sensory experience out of it.

The table is partitioned into two. One area is plain and flat for the sand and the other has a water tower attachment with a basin for water. It also comes with a specially designed lid that can be used for additional gameplay.

What's Great About It: The water tower can do a lot of things. It has a slide, a spinner, and a Rube Goldberg machine, so it’s guaranteed to entertain your little one. Additional accessories also come with the unit to make sand and water play more enjoyable.

​13. Brookstone sandbox

Minimalist parents will find themselves gravitating to this Brookstone sandbox, mostly because of its simplicity. While it is small — it measures roughly 10 inches on each side — it looks great with its clean wooden design and a matching wooden spatula and cylindrical mold.

What's Great About It: This sandbox can be a great compact sand play toy for kids and adults. It can also double as a decorative piece in any modern minimalist home. As it also comes with kinetic sand, it guarantees hours of fun and educational playtimes.

​14. KidKraft Outdoor Cabana Sandbox with Canopy

If you're looking for something with a nice roof to keep your kids shielded from the harsh UV rays, KidKraft’s Outdoor Cabana Sandbox is a great option. It comes with a nice canopy that can add an elegant touch to any backyard play area. It can hold up to 500 pounds of sand, offering a lot of room and opportunities for your child’s sand play sessions.

What's Great About It: While I adore the canopy, I also like that it comes with three storage bins. It also has a mesh cover with windows to keep animals and bugs out.

​15. Tierra Garden Large Children’s Wooden Sandbox with Roof

Another large sandbox option, this product from Tierra Garden is roughly 5 feet on all sides, guaranteeing ample room for a couple of kids. It also has a roof, so your kids will be able to play in the shade, even when the sun is out. Made with durable and recyclable carbon neutral wood, it’s safe for kids and waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about leaving it outside.

What's Great About It: What makes some people call it an engineering marvel is the impressive retractable roofing. This allows the roof to double as a cover. It also has bench-like seats on each side, so there will be plenty of seating surface for young folks.

How Sandbox Play Can Benefit Your Child

While adults may have tons of reservations about sandboxes. We’ve seen what goes on in there, and it's not always pretty.

However, there’s no denying that sand is one of the best nature-made toys. Having a sandbox at home can be the quickest way to get your child close to nature, especially if you live in a highly urbanized locale.

Why exactly should you let your child play in a sandbox? Here are a few great reasons that you can consider.

It’s an excellent form of sensory play.

Like water, sand has its own texture that can be a whole new experience for your child. For many, it can be quite soothing. It also offers a great way for your child to engage in sensory play.

Sensory play may seem like some hippie way of letting children play, but in reality, it’s a very useful way to help your child’s brain develop. The exposure to a unique material will stimulate your child’s mind and engage his senses in a new way.

Since kids learn best through the simultaneous use of different senses, encouraging the use of their senses all at once will help boost their cognitive learning. Some clear evidence of this is the phase where kids try to make sense of everything by putting the objects in their mouths.

Sand play will give them an opportunity to explore a new texture. What’s even better is that the material is so flexible that they can do so many things with it. All of these will help develop their keen understanding of the things around them, and even of their own bodies.

It can help develop their motor skills.

Playing with sand can be a physical activity for your little one, as well, so it’s also a great activity to develop their motor skills. Large muscles are used to dig, scoop, rake, and sweep. Smaller muscles, on the other hand, are utilized as your child uses small sand accessories.

This makes sand play excellent exercise, strengthening and refining your little one’s movements as they enjoy a fun playtime.

It can help give young kids some independence.

Another often-overlooked benefit of sand play happens when you let your child spend time on their own inside a sandbox.

Experts say that the contained space these playthings offer can provide a natural and casual separation between the child and her caregiver. The box creates a separate space for a young child, giving her her own area to roam. It offers independence for a child, without undermining her safety, as their caregiver is still able to see her, and vice versa.

The child won’t feel alone or left behind, but will still have her own space within the sandbox, so she can still feel quite independent. The caregiver won’t have to worry either, because he can still supervise her with great ease. This can help build trust and confidence between the two, which can help reduce separation anxiety and make the attachment between the two healthier.

It allows kids to be creative.

There is no wrong way to play with sand, which allows a child to explore different possibilities. She can do almost anything with sand. She can create a multitude of different things and use the sand in many different ways to entertain herself and explore new possibilities.

She can unleash her imagination with sand and have a great time trying various things with this medium, giving her the freedom to express herself in many ways.

It teaches kids some scientific and mathematical concepts.

Sand can also be an excellent material that you can use to introduce simple scientific and mathematical concepts to your child. You can teach them about magnets, quantities, sizes, shapes, and a wide array of other things, with the help of other tools and objects. With a little creativity (or research) on your part, you’ll be able to make sand an educational toy without breaking a sweat.

It’s an excellent material to hone their problem-solving skills.

Finding ways to make sand do what you want to do can be tricky, especially for kids. With this challenge, young children can hone their problem-solving skills. They might find themselves looking for effective ways to shape their creations, move the sand around, or quickly tear down what they built.

It can help develop your child’s social, emotional, and language skills.

Sand play can also be a great opportunity for kids to be in contact with other kids.

At playgrounds and beaches, they will surely have to share the space with other kids, so they can learn how to interact with peers around their age. This will help refine their social and language skills, as they will need to communicate with playmates if they want to build something together. Even if they don’t, they will still need to interact with others to express their intent to play alone.

Since there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy sand play, it can also provide chances for children to feel good about themselves and explore different emotions. Their playtimes can help boost their self-confidence as they can conjure different things with ease. It can also help develop their self-concept effectively.

What to Remember when Introducing Sand to Kids

Not every child is ready to explore new things. This is why sand can be an overwhelming thing for them, as it looks and feels different. If they’re completely unfamiliar with it, it’s best to introduce them to the material carefully. Some kids will not be too thrilled to touch sand right away, so you shouldn’t force your little one to play with it right away.

When introducing sand to your child, take little steps to avoid shocking their senses. If they don’t want to even get near the sand, make it less threatening by exposing them to small amounts with something they’re familiar with, like a spoon, shovel, or bucket.

Encourage them to touch the sand by playing with them. This will demonstrate that sand isn’t something hostile or scary, and that it's actually a fun material that they will enjoy playing with.

You also have to make sure to only use child-friendly, non-toxic sand. The stuff can get anywhere, so you’ll want to make sure that playing with it won’t harm your little one in any way. Covering the sandbox when it’s not in use is essential as well, so you can prevent animals and bugs from contaminating the sand.

Conclusion

Your child’s own sandbox is a whole new world waiting to be explored. By buying a good one, you can also be sure that your child will enjoy the benefits of sand play without you having to worry about the icky things other people may introduce to the sand.

Your little one’s sandbox can be a controlled environment as long as you pay close attention to keeping it spick and span. With the right unit and proper maintenance, you can be sure that your child’s sandbox will offer opportunities to learn, grow, and develop in a healthy manner.

    Sandra Cobain
     

    Mum of two. Child psychologist. Ardent admirer of art, crafts and cooking. She is the head of content for BestForTheKids. When she's not busy crafting posts & researching about compelling content ideas, she can be spotted playing outdoors with her two adorable children.

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