Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Welcome to our big sand toy test 2021. Here we present all the sand toys that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best sand toys.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of when buying sand toys.




Summary

  • When choosing a sand toy, the most important thing is the development and interest of your child and not too much the age. Sand toy sets, which are offered by various manufacturers, are very popular.
  • Sand toys can be made of different materials. Whether you prefer something cheaper, sand toys without harmful substances, made of wood etc. is also your decision. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, as you can see below.
  • Once purchased, however, you should also take care of the toy, store it safely over the winter or clean it.

The Best Sand Toy: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask before buying a sand toy

As a parent, when can you start thinking about buying your child its first sand toy? And which toy is most suitable? Which sand toys are among the top themes and where can you buy them?

Play fun in the fresh air - bucket, shovel, sand and off you go! (Image source: pixabay.com / congerdesign)

We try to clarify the most important questions here, whether they concern the purchase, offers or alternatives, and thus give you a brief but detailed impression.

For whom and from what age is a sand toy suitable?

Basically, this cannot be defined exactly, as every child develops at a different pace and therefore has different interests at different times.

As a general rule, however, toddlers often begin to enjoy playing in the sand - or sandbox - before they reach the age of 1, even though they may not yet be using any toys.

As a parent, you should also be especially careful with children under 1 year of age and not leave the baby alone with the sand.

From the age of 12-24 months, the little ones can usually do a lot more with very simple sand toys, such as a shovel, bucket, watering can, ... so we can say that the recommended age is probably 1 year.

What is considered the best sand toy?

Here, too, it is difficult to say what is "the" best sand toy for your child, as this depends not only very much on the age, but also on your child's favourite motifs or figures.

For children under 1 year of age, such toys are often superfluous or a simple shovel or a single rake is enough to keep them entertained.

From 12-24 months, the first small sets consisting of a bucket, sieve, shovel, rake and other shapes could become interesting. Castles and other works of art are built for the first time, which go beyond just grabbing and digging around.

This is usually also the age when children begin to make social contacts with others through play.

Depending on your child's development, you can consider buying a more complicated set or adding to the existing set from the age of 2 or earlier/later.

Age Toys
Under 12 months Simple shovel as an uncomplicated toy
12-24 months Shape sets / buckets / sieves / shovels
Over 2 years Additional diggers or play figures as more complicated toys

What are the most popular motifs that sand toys embody?

In addition to the 5-8-piece bucket sets, there are many different motifs that are very popular with children.

There are, for example:

  • a tractor
  • a tractor with trailer
  • an excavator
  • a lorry
  • a train
  • a ship
  • a roller
  • a wagon

How much does a sand toy cost?

As a rule, a sand toy costs between 5-20€, but here too, of course, it depends on the manufacturer, the size and the number of parts.

Here is a short comparison of different manufacturers of the same product:

type/set brand price in €
6-piece Disney Princess bucket set SMOBY very cheap(under 10€)
6-piece sand wagon bucket set SIMBA rather cheap
7-piece road building sand toy LENA a bit more expensive
7-piece sand toy with rucksack HAPE rather expensive (about 20€)

What alternatives are there to sand toys?

Basically, there are no real alternatives to sand toys, unless you take normal toys (e.g. Playmobil, dolls, etc.) and play with them in the sand.

With good sand toys, you can also play in the water or in fine gravel. However, if you are looking for another option to sand toys, you will have a hard time finding something that can be used as such in a similar way.

A bucket set for two! Sand toys for fun on holiday! (Image source: pixabay.com / Cocoparisienne)

Sand toys should not be missing in any household with a toddler, especially if you are planning your first family holiday at the seaside with a sandy beach!

Since the toy is not very heavy, it can easily be taken on holiday or on excursions, where it can be comfortably transported in the pram.

Decision: What types of sand toys are there and which one is right for you?

When buying a sand toy, there are a few things to consider. On the one hand, you may prefer one brand/manufacturer, on the other hand, the toys are made of different materials.

As with most toys, the materials from which sand toys are made vary. Some parents are more concerned with price, others with sustainability, and others with stability and long-term use.

The cheaper the toy, the more likely it is to be made of hard plastic, but it doesn't have to be worse - as I said, it's all about your own needs.

In the meantime, however, there are many other materials from which sand toys are made.

To name just a few, sand toys can be made of the following materials (in addition to hard plastic/plastic):

  • Sand toys made of wood
  • Sand toys made of metal
  • Sand toys made of plastic
  • Sand toys made of silicone

In the following, we will explain different types of sand toys and their advantages and disadvantages.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of wooden sand toys?

With wooden sand toys, the focus is naturally on sustainability, quality and environmental friendliness.

Advantages
  • Organic
  • sustainable
  • stable
  • environmentally friendly
Disadvantages
  • Expensive
  • somewhat heavier
  • more difficult to clean

Nevertheless, wooden toys are also heavier than plastic, for example, and therefore not only more unwieldy, but can also cause injuries more quickly due to their hardness.

Did you know that wooden sand toys are becoming more and more popular?

When buying toys, parents are paying more and more attention to high-quality, robust and, above all, low-pollutant toys. Wood is therefore particularly popular.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of metal sand toys?

Metal sand toys are only advisable if your child is a little older, as they are heavier, more unwieldy and much more dangerous than toys made of other materials.

It may be more stable and therefore usable for longer than other toys, but the sharp edges make it all the more dangerous for small children.
Enclosed is a brief overview:

Advantages
  • very stable
  • can be used for a long time
Disadvantages
  • dangerous for small children
  • expensive
  • not easy to clean

What are the characteristics of plastic sand toys and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

A plastic sand toy is highly recommended, especially for beginners and small children, because it is not only quite cheap to buy, but also quite light and less dangerous for small children.

It is not exactly ideal for the economic fingerprint, but you have to decide that for yourself.
Here again is your summary of the plastic sand toy:

Advantages
  • easy to clean
  • cheap
  • readily available
  • suitable for young children
Disadvantages
  • not very stable
  • not environmentally friendly
  • xn

What are the characteristics of silicone sand toys and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

But a sand toy made of silicone is also very suitable for small children, as it is also very light and can also be easily deformed - thus very suitable for transport.

Unlike plastic, it has hardly any sharp edges, but is usually a little more expensive and more difficult to obtain.
Below is a table to help you decide:

Advantages
  • easy to shape - easy to transport
  • not sharp-edged
  • suitable for small children
  • easy
Disadvantages
  • rather expensive
  • more difficult to obtain
  • not organic

Ideally, a sand toy should be a mixture of wood and plastic or silicone, and from an advanced age, you can possibly think about a toy made of wood and metal.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate sand toys

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many possible types of sand toys.

Below you will find the criteria that will help you to distinguish between the different sand toys. These include:

  • Material
  • Age recommendation
  • Shapes
  • Colour

Material

The following materials are differentiated here:

  • plain plastic
  • PP (polypropylene) - thermoelastic plastic
  • Wood
  • Silicone
  • Metal

More and more emphasis is being placed on sustainability and environmentally friendly production of toys, and this also applies to sand toys.

Age recommendation

As a rule, there is no clear age limit for sand toys.

As already mentioned above, it depends very much on the individual development of your child, whether he or she is already interested in playing in the sand under 12 months of age or whether he or she can already do something with toys such as shovels.

We can only go by experience reports, which say that children usually enjoy using sand toys between 12-24 months.

Children start playing with sand toys at around 1 year of age. (Image source: pixabay.com / MIH83)

If sand toys - for example, those with metal - should not be accessible without restriction to children of any age, they are always labelled with age labels.

Shapes

Today, there are countless different shapes, figures and motifs of sand toys. To list them all here would probably not only be far too detailed, but it would simply not be possible to cover this extent.

We just want to present you with a short list of the 5 most popular shapes according to the ranking:

  1. the dear seven (7-piece bucket set)
  2. Truck (with trailer)
  3. Tractor (with trailer)
  4. Excavator
  5. Train

Colour

Especially in this day and age of striving for gender equality, you might want to start at the beginning and not try to get girl or boy specific sand toys.

Sand toys are usually colourful, especially in a set, the different shapes usually also have different colours. Which colour or which shape is more suitable for boys and which for girls should not be the question here.

In fact, it's up to you to decide which From will probably give your child the most pleasure, and this choice can't simply be lumped together.

Especially at this age, there is no need to distinguish between sand toys for girls and sand toys for boys. (Image source: pixabay.com / RitaE)

Facts worth knowing about sand toys

Where is the best place to store sand toys?

Of course, that depends entirely on the circumstances.
There is the possibility to buy a kind of carrying bag, which is often included in the set and is big enough to fit the whole set.

Another option would be to buy a storage box or to put the sand toys in an existing box. There are also storage boxes made of different materials, such as wood, plastic, aluminium,...

Or, if you not only have sand toys but also a sandbox with a cover, simply cover the toys and leave them there.

Where and in what environment can sand toys be used?

In principle, sand toys can be used anywhere. Of course, they are best suited for playing in the sand, as the name suggests.

Since the sand toys are not very heavy, they can easily be taken to the public or even your own playground or the play tower in the garden, where the child can romp around not only in the sand but also on other play equipment and get enough fresh air and exercise.

But it can also be used to play in fine gravel, on the lawn or even indoors (especially with the bucket, where the child can carry things around).

Sand toys are also very popular in kindergartens, daycare centres, etc., especially in summer. Not only because the children are busy, but also because they train their motor skills and, among other things, because the social component is strengthened.

Did you know that day-care centres and kindergartens in particular rely on sand toys?

Because children can get creative in the sand and play alone as well as in groups.

What is the most effective way to clean sand toys?

Sand toys can basically be cleaned in the same way as all other toys. The best way is to wash them with warm water and a little washing-up liquid (organic washing-up liquid is best).

If that doesn't seem clean enough, you can also treat the whole thing again with a not so aggressive disinfectant.

Depending on the material, you can also simply put the toy in the dishwasher for a short time, but in general, your child will sooner or later put one or the other toy in its mouth, which can also happen while it is playing.

Being overly cautious and disinfecting everything is often overdone with young children, as they come into contact with loads of bacteria anyway, whether disinfected or not.

Where can you sell used sand toys?

One platform where you can safely find used sand toys is ebay. But other selling and reselling sites, such as willhaben, also offer used sand toys.

Whether it is advisable to buy already used toys or not is something you have to decide for yourself. From an environmental point of view, it is certainly beneficial to pass on and reuse the toys.

On the other hand, sand toys are not terribly expensive to buy, so you won't save much money if you buy used ones.

Image source: pixabay.com / Elsemargriet

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