Summer Activities for Babies and Toddlers

Summer activities for babies and toddlers look a lot different than what’s fun for bigger kids. I still remember taking our then-nine-month-old to a pool play area last summer… and dashing to snatch him out from under a giant water-dumping bucket. A year later, he still seems to toddle right in the path of the big kids running around, and those kids are a whole lot bigger now that school’s out!

But if you know where to look, there are plenty of great summer activities for babies and toddlers in the Western suburbs. Here are some fun ideas to get you started.

Smiling baby in park swing

Summer Activities for Babies and Toddlers

Parks and Splash Pads

Check out our round-up of the Best Parks for Toddlers for our top picks for the littlest crowd! You can also head to Mud-Free Playgrounds that have a soft, rubbery surface, which is easier on little knees than mulch (and less tempting to the put-everything-in-my-mouth crowd). And Fenced in Parks for Toddlers are more relaxing if your little one is inclined to bolt.

Pirate’s Cove in Elk Grove Village is a small theme park designed especially for kids 1–9, with tons of activities great for smaller kids.

For water fun, try Splash Pads, Spray Parks, and Fountains. Little kids can have more freedom to explore here than at the big pool. Here are a few that are especially great for littles:

  • The Burr Ridge Village Center Fountain has little fountains where kids can run through the water or fill up buckets. (Free)
  • Harvester Park in Burr Ridge has a smaller splash pad with a few fountain sprays, as well as a water feature in the sand pit area. (Free)
  • Hobson Corner Park in Woodridge has jets of water that spray up. Crawlers may not want to brave the concrete (but my son didn’t mind last year). (Free)
  • Maryknoll Park in Glen Ellyn has tons of smaller sprays great for littles. (Paid)
  • Spray Ground at The Hub at Berens Park in Elmhurst has a variety of water spouts with plenty of smaller jets. (Paid)
  • Splash Island in Oak Brook has a great play space for babies and tots with small fountains and sea animals that spray water, as well as a small playground in a zero-depth-entry pool. (Paid)
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Zoos and Nature

At Brookfield Zoo, check out the Hamill Family Play Zoo. Admission is an extra $3 (kids two and under are free). The entire area is fenced in and features hands-on activities, misters, a nursing room, and a chance to cool off in the air conditioning.

Cosley Zoo in Wheaton is one of our favorite spots. It’s much smaller than Brookfield, with less hassle to park and less walking. It features farm animals, such as cows and pigs, as well as animals native to Illinois, including deer and bobcats. Because the exhibits are smaller, it’s easier for kids to spot the animals inside. My son went crazy over seeing so many ducks paddling in the pond. All kids get in free, too! (Non-resident adults are $7).

Nature Centers are awesome for tots because you can usually play outside on the playground or explore a trail, then come inside for hands-on activities and cool down for a bit. Many offer free story or craft times, too, so check out the list to find one near you.

Family outings don’t have to be at kid-specific spots to be fun for little ones, either. If there’s an outing you’re personally interested in, consider bringing your tot along—just make sure you have realistic expectations and a solid plan. Check out our tips for taking kids to Starved Rock or a baseball game.

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Summer Activities for Babies and Toddlers at Home

Don’t forget to enjoy the sunshine at home, too. Try these ideas with your little one, or invite some friends over to play together.

Summer Classes

Our list of classes for kids 0–5 is great inspiration for adding some structure to long summer days. Many park districts and community pools also offer outdoor swim lessons for babies and toddlers, too, so check with the one near you for availability.

We hope you enjoyed our ideas for summer activities for babies and toddlers! Check out our list of indoor places to go with a baby or toddler, too.

About the Author

Rachel Matuch
Rachel is a writer and mom of two boys who lives in Woodridge. She recently moved from Downers Grove and grew up in Naperville, but she and her husband have been discovering new things to do now that they’ve got a toddler and baby in tow. Rachel loves cooking, playing board games, and regularly raiding the Woodridge library. She also volunteers with teens at Four Corners Community Church, which makes her feel like an old geezer.

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