“Get them outside!” Is the motto in my household every blissful and warm summer day. Around the country, many communities have kept their pools closed, with no plans of opening this season. Splash pads may also be canceled, leaving families to figure out ways to keep their kids entertained, active and cool in their own backyards. Maybe, like me, you have neighbors who opted to erect a 55,000-gallon swimming pool (lucky them), but you’re not going there. You’ll keep it simple with a water sprinkler for your kids. It’s still a lot of fun — if their shrieks and giggles are any indication. (My 2-year-old calls it a “water monster.”)
Water sprinklers for kids have come a long way. You no longer need to set up the regular backyard sprinkler that waters your yard — you can now set one up that’s in the shape of a unicorn, dinosaur, rainbow or other bright and fun shape. They’re also relatively inexpensive and the return — hours of fun — can make them a solid investment.
Better yet, a sprinkler specifically designed for kid use tends to be safer for them, says Larry Stone, president of SafetyMatters.com and a childproofing and safety expert from Deerfield, Illinois. Traditional (non-kid) water sprinklers can serve as a tripping hazard — some also spin quickly or have sharp edges, which can bruise or cut little feet if they jump over it wrong, Stone notes. No matter what sprinkler you’re choosing for your kids (or yourself), do a quick scan to make sure the backyard is safe otherwise. Cover window wells, block stairs, move yard tools and lawnmowers to a locked space and block off grills, advises Stone. Then, well, let them have at it.
Best sprinklers to shop right now
These seven sprinklers are perfect for your kids to cool off with this summer — and maybe they can even have a nice socially-distanced playdate with friends.
Best sprinkler with lights: Tidal Storm
1. Tidal Storm Light Show Spinning Sprinkler
This crazy sprinkler has a spinning water-spouting dome, plus wiggle tubes to spray the water around in unexpected ways. Turn it on at dusk to see the light up effects.
Best sprinkler in a safe shape: Wet ‘N Wild
2. Wet ‘N Wild Mega Melon Ball Jumbo Sprinkler
Stake this large, inflatable watermelon-shaped sprinkler into the ground and let kids run around it. The sprinkler doesn’t have attachments that can hurt their feet, making it a safe option for day-long fun. It’s also easy to blow up with a pump or even a hair dryer.
Best splash pad sprinkler: Neteast
3. Neteast Dinosaur Themed Splash Pad
This splash pad has an inflatable ring at the edge and its bottom slightly inflates for a soft landing. Water shoots out around the ring of this dinosaur sprinkler. Keep in mind that water collects at the bottom. That’s certainly fun (more splashes), but it also requires adult supervision for little kids. As little as a half-inch of water that collects can pose a risk of drowning to little ones. Just as you’d monitor them in a pool, keep an eye on them with a splash pad-type sprinkler.
Best sprinkler for big spaces: BigMouth
4. BigMouth Inc. Inflatable Unicorn Sprinkler
This happy unicorn inflatable sprinkler stands at more than six feet tall. The water shoots out of her horn, which means that it sprays from the top (rather than the ground), making it unique among standard sprinklers. It connects to a regular garden hose for easy set-up and also comes in other shapes, like a snake and a pink elephant.
Best sprinkler with a tunnel: Hammacher Schlemmer
5. Hammacher Schlemmer The Inflatable Rainbow Arch Sprinkler (pre-order)
The rainbow is 5-and-a-half feet tall and sprays water under the arch, so kids can take turns running through it — you can buy the electric air pump separately if you don’t have one for easy install. When filled with sand or water, the clouds at the base help the sprinkler stay put.
Best sprinkler with easy set up: Melissa & Doug
6. Melissa & Doug Splash Patrol Sprinkler
Just hook up the hose and the caterpillars will get to work squirting water around. It’s lightweight (just one pound), has a small profile so it won’t take up much space in the yard and you can set it so that it sprays low or high — it’s designed for kids ages 3 to 6.
Best high-spray sprinkler: Matty’s Toy Stop
7. Matty’s Toy Stop Henry the Hydrant Water Sprinkler for Kids
The sprinkler may stand at just under 11-inches tall but it’s got some power to it, spraying up to 10 feet high and 16 feet on the sides. The spray is adjustable, too, so you can tone it down to make it less intimidating for little kids.