By Victoria Arya, Founder and Editor, Life Starring the Kids and Me!

As a mom of a two year old and a one year old, I know how difficult it can be to find age appropriate summertime activities for babies and toddlers. Many of the organized activities during the summer are geared toward children who are five and older, and many of the summertime products are geared toward children who are older as well. So, keeping those issues in mind, I have learned to be creative in trying to come up with activities that will keep the kiddos occupied, happy and safe…thus keeping me sane!

One of the things that I suggest to moms who have younger children is to invest in one or two activity products that you can use at your own home. What do I mean? I happen to be a big fan of sand and water tables, both of my girls love them and they can provide hours of entertainment; the Step2 Water Rush Quarry or the Step2 Naturally Playful Sand and Water Activity Center are great options. I also recommend grabbing some kind of kiddie pool to keep at your home; while it may be fun to occasionally go to the splash grounds, lakes, or pools in your area, I have never found it practical to pack both the girls and all their gear up three times a week during the hot summer to go to a place crowded with other kids. There are several pool options out there to fit any budget, from the hard shell pools you can pick up at Wal-Mart to the inflatable pools that come complete with canopy or waterslide; you can get whichever product fits your budgetary and family needs (if you are on a tight budget be sure to check your local Freecycle, Craigslist, or rummage/ garage sales).

There are several other activities I like to do with the kiddos in the summer; these activities include making chalk paint (ground up chalk and water) and letting them “paint” all over the deck and sidewalk, to stripping them down and giving them finger paints and a very large piece of paper to decorate to their messy hearts’ desire. During the extremely hot parts of the summer when taking young children outside for an extended period of time isn’t safe, I like to find indoor play groups or activities. Check your local paper to see if a movie theater in your area offers a family movie time (usually in the morning with PG or G rated movies) and check your local library to see when their story time and children’s groups are. And if the kids need to run off some energy, see if there are any stores or coffee shops in your area that have an indoor play structure where the kiddos can run while you chill out and relax.

During the summer I think it is important to invest in one or two key pieces of summertime fun equipment if you have a baby or toddler; this way you can assure that your child has a good summer while staying safe and you can also assure that you have a good summer without having to run all over the place looking for age appropriate activities and parks. I also suggest that you check out what sort of activities your local town or city plans for kiddos; this is a great way to socialize the kids and get them out of the house and heat.

For more ideas, advice, giveaways and product reviews from Victoria Arya, be sure to check out her site Life Starring the Kids and Me!, and start following her at @VictoriaArya on Twitter.

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