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There's something about playing in the sand that is very appealing to young children. They love to shovel it, rake it, and pour it into containers and onto themselves. That's why many parents choose to purchase sandboxes for their backyards. They love to see the delight in their children's faces as they plop themselves down on the beach-like sand and sift through it with their tiny little fingers. Sandboxes promote creative play and are a great way for children to dig tunnels or build castles with their siblings or friends. They also help them learn social skills and how to play properly with other children. If you think a sandbox is a good idea and want to find the best one for your son or daughter, check out our list of the top sandboxes on the market.
CREATIVE CEDAR DESIGNS Octagon Wooden Sandbox
This traditional-looking sandbox has an octagon shape and is made of cedar. It holds 500 pounds of sand and is 84 x 78 inches.
- Wide boards for sitting
- Sturdy construction
- Eco-friendly cover
- Sand is not included
- Cover is a little thin
Little Tikes Big Digger Sandbox
Children play around this sandbox instead of inside of it. It can hold 100 pounds of sand and features a fun construction/roadway design.
- Lid cover sand and is a fun accessory
- Seven accessories included
- Can be used indoors
- Smaller than other options
- Can be tough to keep clean
KidKraft Pirate Sandboat
Shaped like a pirate ship, this sandbox is 78.5 x 44.25 x 59.5 inches. It can accommodate up to four children.
- Includes a shade canopy
- Kids can “steer” the ship
- Weather-resistant materials
- Detailed instructions
- Time-consuming to assemble
- Liner isn’t the best quality
Benefits of a Sandbox
- It’s fun. If your child loves the outdoors or playing at the beach, he or she will have a lot of fun in a sandbox. Many kids enjoy digging, dumping, and sifting through sand using just their hands or buckets, scoops, and other toys.
- It's good for development. Playing in a sandbox can enhance a child's fine motor skills and help them develop problem-solving skills. It's also a good way for him or her to socialize with other kids.
- It's cleaner to play in than garden dirt. As long as the sandbox has a lid, it's protected from animals that may soil its contents. Kids who play in the dirt in the yard may be exposed to animal feces and other contaminants.
Types of Sandboxes
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Typically when you envision a sandbox, you think of one in which a child sits in and on the sand inside of it. Sit-in sandboxes can be made of wood, plastic, or other materials. They allow boys and girls to fully immerse themselves and play as though they were at an actual beach.
Sand Table Sandbox
Another type of sandbox is a sand table. Children interact with the sand using their hands, but they do not sit on it. Instead, they sit next to it. These sandboxes are typically smaller than traditional sandboxes, but they are just as fun to use. Some include accessories and built-in ramps for trucks and other toys.
Creative Cedar Designs
Based in Chattanooga, Tenn., Creative Cedar Designs makes a variety of wooden items, including sandboxes, swing sets, and picnic tables. We recommend the CREATIVE CEDAR DESIGNS Octagon Wooden Sandbox.
Little Tikes got its start in 1969 in Aurora, Ohio, on the same day the first episode of Sesame Street premiered. It's widely recognized for its molded plastic toys geared towards babies and young kids, including the party kitchen and turtle sandbox. It also makes the Little Tikes Big Digger Sandbox.
KidKraft has been making dollhouses, play kitchens, swing sets, and sandboxes for more than 50 years. Based in Dallas, Texas, the company's products can be found in more than 90 countries. Check out the KidKraft Pirate Sandboat.
Initially a veneer factory, Badger Basket has been in business since 1911 and makes a variety of baby and children's products, such as the Badger Basket Covered Convertible Cedar Sandbox with Two Bench Seats.
Best Sandboxes Pricing
- Under $50: Smaller sand tables/sandboxes are less expensive than their sit-in counterparts. Children can play with sand and related accessories, yet the experience is a little less immersive. Some families keep this type of sandbox in their homes because of their smaller size, yet they can still be a little messy.
- $75 and up: Larger, sit-in sandboxes are a little pricier, depending on their dimensions and added accessories. Products on the upper end of the price range have fun designs and extras such as storage, seating options, canopies, etc. These sandboxes also accommodate more sand, and it's not uncommon for them to hold several hundred pounds of it.
Sandboxes are made of several different types of materials. Choose one that you know is high quality and going to last. For example, if you want a wooden sandbox, cedar timber is a good option because it's very durable. Fir is also a good choice. Other sandboxes are made of plastic, which depending on the construction can also hold up well over time.
Before choosing a sandbox, determine where you plan on putting it in your yard or indoors. Most traditional sandboxes are designed for outdoor use, although sand tables can be used inside. Bigger sandboxes can accommodate more children. Some smaller plastic ones can fit just a child or two, while larger wooden ones can easily fit multiple kids.
Some sandboxes, such as those made of single-molded plastic, are super easy to set up. They're ready to go out of the box. Other sandboxes can require a bit of assembly, depending on their design. A pirate-shaped sandbox compared to a rectangular-shaped sandbox, for example, may require more time, skills, and tools.
A sandbox cover is one of its most important features because you want to keep animals, moisture, and debris out. Check to see if the cover is hardwood, plastic, or another material. It shouldn't be too flimsy as it will not last very long, and you'll need to replace it.
- Accessories. Some sandboxes are fairly basic and only include a seat or two. Others have seats as well as storage space and/or a canopy. Still more come with fun accessories such as buckets, scoops, and dump trucks. The more extras a sandbox has, the more expensive it will likely be, so keep that in mind.
Best Sandboxes Reviews & Recommendations 2021
This Octagon Wood Sandbox from Creative Cedar Designs is a great addition to any backyard. It measures 84 inches long by 78 inches wide and 9 inches high and features 3/4-inch-thick timbers. It holds a maximum of 500 pounds of sand and has wide seat boards for children to use. It's designed to last several years due to its strong wooden construction, and it's quick and easy to assemble. It includes an eco-friendly polyethylene cover that takes seconds to install and keeps out moisture and animals. The package also includes hardware and a ground liner. Users report that this sandbox is very spacious and can accommodate two to four children.
Unfortunately, the sand is not included, although this is not unusual. Also, the cover isn't the best quality and is a little thin.
The Little Tikes Big Digger Sandbox is designed to resemble a construction work site. It's different from some other sandboxes in that the children do not sit inside of it. The sandbox is made of plastic, measures 61.74 by 47 by 13 inches, and holds up to 100 pounds of sand, which is not included. While smaller than some other options, it still allows children to build sandcastles, roads, and other structures. The lid transforms into a molded road and ramp, and there's an excavator that is attached to the side that allows kids to scoop and dump sand wherever they choose. It comes with a total of seven accessories, including a dump truck, shovel, sand cup, and rake. Some families even choose to keep it inside their homes.
The biggest downside with this sandbox is that it's a little small, and children can only gather around it to play with it. The lid also accumulates water when it rains, and it can be a little tough to clean.
The KidKraft Wooden Backyard Sandbox is a classic-style sandbox that features built-in corner seating, so kids can play over the sand instead of directly on top of it if they choose. One of the best things about this sandbox is that several children can use it at once as it is 59.13 by 59 by 8.38 inches. It's made of sturdy, reinforced wooden panels that are designed to resist warping and weathering. It also comes with a mesh cover to protect the sand when it's not in use. The assembly is straightforward because it comes with detailed instructions.
While it comes with a heavy plastic bottom with drainage holes, it may get wet during heavy rain. Some users have rectified this issue by covering it with a tarp for extra protection.
The Best Choice Products 47x47in Kids Large Wooden Sandbox features two benches that can accommodate four children or two adults with a 200-pound weight capacity. The benches have backrests, so occupants won't accidentally fall backwards. The sandbox is made of heat-treated cedar that is sturdy and durable, and it comes with a fold-down split cover and a liner that provides drainage and ventilation. It's light enough to move around after assembly, and the color is appealing. The cover keeps leaves and debris from intruding, and there's plenty of room for two children to play separately.
One downside is that it can be a bit of a hassle to assemble the sandbox because the instructions are a little lacking, and the pieces aren't labeled. Also, it can be a little challenging leveling the sandbox using the liner.
Young children love the Little Tikes Turtle Sandbox, which is bright green and resembles a sea turtle. Made of plastic, this sandbox is designed for children aged 12 months to 6 years old and holds up to 150 pounds of sand, which is not included. It measures 38.75 x 43.25 x 12 inches. It weighs just 12.1 pounds when not filled with sand. The sandbox has molded detail on the bottom, which encourages kids to dig and play. There are also a couple of spots near the turtle's legs where kids can sit. It comes with a removable lid that stays firmly in place when the sandbox is not in use. Plus, no assembly is required.
Unfortunately, it may not be as thick or sturdy as you expect, and it's a little small compared to some other options.
If turtles aren't your thing, maybe the Sandbox Crab Shape Playset is a better alternative. Similar to the turtle sandbox, this one features two front claws that act as seats for kids (they’re not meant for adults). It can accommodate twice as much sand (300 pounds) compared to the turtle sandbox. Children love the fun, bright-colored design of this sandbox, which comes with a sculptured shell lid that keeps moisture and pets out. Older kids have no problem removing and replacing the light lid when they want to play. The sandbox also has a few tiny vents so sand won't mold if kids use water with their sand creations. There's enough room for two small children to play comfortably, and overall it's quite sturdy.
There are few complaints about this sandbox except that the lid may move in high winds.
The Activity Sandbox with Canopy is on the larger side and measures 64.25 by 60.25 by 51 inches, so multiple children can use it at once. It's different from some other options in that it includes two plastic sand and water bins on one side. There is also covered storage for toys and other items. It even includes a shade canopy to protect kids from dangerous UV rays. It's made of weather-resistant wood, and the wooden panels are reinforced to minimize warping and weathering. It also comes with a plastic liner and a mesh cover. Overall, it's sturdy, durable, and perfect for toddlers.
One downside is that the canopy holds water after it rains, and you have to carefully remove it so the material doesn't stretch out. Also, the liner isn't the best quality.
- Always cover the sandbox when your child is finished using it. This prevents animals from getting inside of it and making a mess or defecating in it, which can be unsanitary.
- Put play sand, not builder's sand, inside the sandbox. Play sand is better because it has been specially cleaned and sifted, so it's safer for use by children.
- Regularly remove debris from the sandbox by sifting through the sand. Allow it to dry if it gets wet from the rain or during playtime. Change the sand once a year, and disinfect the sandbox.
Q. What is the best sand for a sandbox?
A: Play sand or table sand are the best options and are designed for use by children. Some children may accidentally or intentionally ingest the sand, so you want something that won't harm them.
Q. Are sandboxes unsanitary?
A: They can be if they are not properly cared for and maintained. You must cover the sandbox when it's not in use to prevent animals from relieving themselves in it. Also, seal the bottom, and sift through the sand regularly to remove any unwanted debris.
Q. What is a good age for a sandbox?
A: Children as young as 1 year old may enjoy using a sandbox. It's also a popular pastime for toddlers and older children.
Our pick for the best sandbox is the CREATIVE CEDAR DESIGNS Octagon Wooden Sandbox. It's made by a reputable company and can hold up to 500 pounds of sand, which is more than enough to entertain a child and his or her friends. Plus, it's simple to assemble. For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Little Tikes Big Digger Sandbox.