10 of the best sandpits for toddlers and kids 2023
From the popular sand turtle to a boat and epic digging pit, we reveal the best wooden and plastic sandpits on the market that suit a range of outdoor spaces starting from £30
Sandpits are a great way to bring some of the sandy fun of the beach, playgroup or playpark to your own home. We’ve researched, tried and tested a huge variety of sandpits to suit different spaces and budgets, from traditional plastic and wooden sandpits to imaginative designs with extra accessories such as toys, seats and even sunshades.
As well as being a great way to keep your child entertained, playing with sand has lots of benefits when it comes to child development. “Through sand play, children are able to develop gross motor skills through pouring, shovelling and mixing," explains Ruth Lue-Quee, an educational consultant and founder of My Mummy Teacher. "Sand play also helps to build fine motor skills through digging with their fingers, mark making in the sand and adding little details to their sand creations.”
Best sandpits at a glance
- Best for sand and water play: Little Tikes Turtle Sandpit, £59.99
- Best for durability: Hexagonal Wooden Sandpit, £64.99
- Best budget buy: Chad Valley Sand and Water Pit, £30
- Best for imaginative play: TP Ahoy Wooden Playboat, £199.99
- Best for accessories: Little Tikes Builders Bay, £164.99
- Best for classic style: Chad Valley Wooden Sandpit, £40
- Best for space-saving: ELC Sand and Water Table, £89.99
- Best for large gardens: Tectake sandpit with play deck and canopy, £116.99
- Best for sustainability: Plum Store-it, £89.99
- Best for shade: OutSunny Kids Cabana Sandbox, £110.99
What to look for when choosing a sandpit
How big is the sand area? – Sandpits come in a variety of sizes but it’s important to take note of the actual size of the space which holds the sand. Some sandpits have a large surrounding but only a small area for the sand. If you have multiple children and want them to be able to sit and play together, it’s worth making sure this area will be big enough.
How much sand do I need to fill it? – Unfortunately, sandpits don’t come with the sand included. In order to fill your chosen pit, you will need to buy a few bags of the stuff. There’s nothing worse than getting the sandpit home and realising the amount of sand you’ve bought barely covers the base, so we’ve done the hard work for you and given you an idea of the amount of sand needed. This will also help you figure out how much extra it's going to cost you with sand bags included.
Does it have a cover? – If you're keeping your sandpit outside, you're going to need a cover for it. As well as protecting the sand from dirt, leaves and rainwater, covers also protect your sandpit from becoming the local WC for cats, foxes and other creatures. We all have watched in horror as our children have shoved a handful of sand in their mouths, so keeping it clean is well worth the effort.
Does it have a base? – You’ll find some sandpits come without a base and rely on the space that you put it on to act as the base, such as paving stones. Those without bases can’t be moved unless you empty the sand and re-fill it, which is tricky and time-consuming. You may also find that damp or weeds will come through the sand over time. If there isn't a base, you can buy a separate liner to put under the sandpit, but be warned that liners that aren't fixed can slip.
Does the sandpit have any shade? – Some sandpits have UV protection in the form of sunshades and canopies. Thinking ahead about where you might place your sandpit will determine whether you need one of these options. If you have a shady outside area then you may not need anything extra.
Is it durable? – Like all garden toys, you should choose an option with the (British) weather in mind. Sandpits are usually a permanent fixture in the garden so need to be durable. Most of the options here have been made with plastic or solid wood which is weatherproof. Some of the smaller options could be stored in a shed when out of use.
What type of sand do I need?
Regardless of the age of your child, always use child-safe play sand that has been washed, graded and blended accordingly. Play sand is softer and safer than builder’s sand, is non-toxic and won’t stain your children’s clothes. Most outdoor toy retailers will stock play sand that you can buy alongside your chosen sandpit. You can also often pick it up at your local supermarket or garden centre during the summer months.
When is the right time to buy a sandpit for my child?
Education consultant Ruth suggests sandpits are most suitable from around 18 months old. “Some children will show an interest before then, however, the main thing is that they are developmentally ready and won’t just sit and eat the sand. Once your child is happy sitting, feeling the texture of the sand and using it to explore, then – with adult supervision – go for it!”
Best sandpits for kids as recommended by child and parent testers
1. Little Tikes Turtle Sandpit, £59.99
– Best for toddlers
Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 18 months to 3 years | Size: H30.1cm x W108.5cm x L95.6cm | Sand needed: 68kg or 3 x 25kg bags | Base included: Yes | Cover included: Yes | Accessories included: None
This super cute turtle sandpit comes with 2 front flipper seating areas, so kids can perch comfortably while building their sandcastles. It has a lid shaped as a turtle’s shell which is a fun way of protecting the sand, and looks great when not in use. However, you'll need space to store the lid when the sandpit is in use.
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It's been a really popular choice for our parent tester Amanda and her 3 children. "I bought this when my eldest was 3 – he’s now 6 and I also have a 5-year-old and almost 3-year-old. There’s plenty of room for them all to play and it’s definitely paid for itself, it’s one of our most played with outdoor toys."
The one drawback is that the lid doesn't firmly attach and, on windy days, the lid tends to fly off. Most families we spoke to use a brick or heavy stone to keep it in place.
The sandpit can also double up as a mini paddling or ball pool for toddlers, if you don’t want to use it as a sandpit. Made from durable plastic, it is easy to clean but the bright green can fade a bit when left out in all weathers.
Pros: Cute turtle design, in-built seats, can also be used as a paddling pool
Cons: Big sandpit to store, lid doesn't fix on securely
2. Big Game Hunters Hexagonal Wooden Sandpit, £64.99
– Best for durability
Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for ages: 2-5 years | Size: 150cm x 150cm x 20cm | Sand needed: Approx 9 x 25kg bags | Base included: Yes | Cover included: Yes (material cover included)| Accessories included: None
A gorgeous looking large sandpit, this needs a good-sized area outdoors to house it. If you do have the space, this is a head-turning garden feature that is built to last. Made from strong, smooth, durable wood, the sandpit features a flat edge running around the top, big enough for several kids to sit on as they play.
The sandpit requires construction and is a little tricky to put together. Once built, it is lightweight enough (before you put sand in it) to move around your outdoor space.
Included is a geo-textile underlay to prevent weeds from growing up through the sand and a thick fabric cover which fits over the top when it isn’t in use. There is also the option of buying a hexagonal wooden lid which fits on the top, offers wider seating, and looks more attractive than the included cover, for an extra £49.99.
Pros: Sturdy, attractive, smooth wood finish
Cons: Needs big outdoor area, requires lots of sand
3. Chad Valley Sand and Water Pit, £30 (pink) and £30 (blue)
– Best budget buy
Age: 12 months+ | Best for ages: 18 months to 3 years | Size: H23.5cm x W106cm x L92cm | Sand needed: 4-5 x 15kg bags | Base included: Yes | Cover included: Yes (folds over) | Accessories included: None
This dual sand and water pit from Chad Valley is great value for money (for some reason the pink version is currently considerably cheaper). There are 2 apple-shaped spaces with room for a small child in each and it's a design that's proved a big seller for several years.
As it’s made from polypropylene, it can be left outside in all weather conditions and is easy to wipe down. You can also maximise its play potential by using it indoors during the winter months as a ball pit. It may not have some of the fancy features of others in our round-up, but it packs a punch as a sand and water multi-tasker.
Corinne, mum of child testers Blake, 5 and Lyla, 16 months, says, “We love it. We fill it with sand and warm water for the little one, so it’s not so chilly. We’ve had this sandpit for nearly 5 years now and it’s still in such great condition”.
It features a clever design where you can use one part as a lid. Our families found they didn't always stay attached, and Corinne cable ties hers together while others use a brick or heavy stone to stop it blowing away. If both are empty, you can also stack one half inside the other, making it easier to store.
Pros: Excellent value for money, option to play with water as well as sand
Cons: Basic design, no seating area, lid doesn't fix on securely
4. TP Ahoy Wooden Playboat, £199.99
– Best for imaginative play
Age suitability: From 2 years | Best for age: 3+ years | Size: H118cm x W92cm x L112cm (compact) or L180cm (extended) | Sandpit dimensions: Sandpit dimensions: 62cm x 78cm| Sand needed: 79kg or 5 x 15kg bags | Base included: Yes | Cover included: Yes | Accessories included: Removable play tray, ship wheel and sunshade
If you have the budget, this wooden playboat provides a fantastic outdoor play area with a sandpit. Indeed the sandpit cleverly slides underneath the captain's deck area to protect it when it's not being played with - but still keeps the ship's shape.
There’s a whole host of features for your money. Kids can steer the ship's wheel, play with both sand and water (with the small plastic tray), keep play tools in a handy little storage area, and use a sail that doubles up as a UV resistant sunshade.
There’s even a little blackboard where your child can practise their writing and drawing skills. Made from FSC-certified sustainable wood, it has been treated to make it suitable for outdoor use and has a 12-month guarantee.
Pros: Multiple uses, includes UV canopy
Cons: Expensive, needs big outdoor space, small sandpit area
5. Little Tikes Builders Bay, £164.99
– Best for accessories
Age suitability: 2 years+ | Best for ages: 2 to 5 years | Size: H110cm x W126cm | Sand needed: 23kg or 1x 25kg bag | Base included: Yes | Cover included: Yes | Accessories included: Large umbrella and toys including boat dump, bridge, crane and crane retainer, dump truck, excavator, spinner, trailer and truck cab
If you’re looking for an all-in-one toy that your toddler can use for sand and water play without needing to buy anything else, Little Tikes Builders Bay could be just the investment.
As a sand pit, it's fairly light on sand (23kg) but it’s still big enough for several children to play with, and low enough to the ground for everyone to get involved by standing around it.
It's an expensive purchase for a sand and water table, but it comes with lots of diggers and vehicles to dig the sand and move it around. There's also a large umbrella to keep children shaded from the sun. Self-assembly can be a little complicated, especially attaching the table legs.
Rachael, mum of our child testers Jaxon, 8, Noah, 7, Cole, 5 and Bodhi, 3, says: “It’s the perfect height and my children love the digger feature. The umbrella is perfect for in the summer to keep them out of the sunshine.”
Made from strong, durable plastic, the set comes with 2 lids which fit over the top to protect the sand and add another play surface if your child wants to play with just the vehicles. While the construction theme won’t be to everyone’s taste, if you’ve a youngster who can’t get enough of diggers and cranes, this is a serious entertainment centre.
Pros: Lots of toys included, offers shade, sturdy, can be used indoors
Cons: Expensive, sand area is quite small, tricky self-assembly
Available at: Very
6. Chad Valley Wooden Sandpit, £40
– Best for classic style
Age suitability: 18 months+ | Best for: 18 months to 3 years | Size: H16cm x W90cm x L90 cm | Sand needed: 6 x 15kg bags | Base included: Yes | Cover included: Yes | Accessories included: none
This no-frills sandpit could be the answer for those with a small space or budget. It’s easy to put together and basically does what it says on the tin. At £40, it offers a more affordable option for those wanting a wooden sandpit.
It comes with 4 small colourful seats on the corners and its compact size means it may be better suited to small children.
The sandpit comes with a protective cover and a groundsheet base. But keep in mind that the base isn’t solid so it will be tricky to move once filled with sand. It also isn’t as robust as sandpits with a hard wooden or plastic base.
Pros: Good value, decent area of sand, relatively easy to build (needs a drill)
Cons: Basic design, no base to sandpit, material rather than wooden cover
Available at: Argos
7. Early Learning Centre Sand and Water Table, £89.99
– Best for space-saving
Age suitability: 18 months+ | Best for ages: 2 to 3 years | Size: H68cm x W68cm x H42cm | Sand needed: 10-20kg or 1x 15 kg bag | Base included: Yes | Cover included: Yes | Accessories included: boat, star mould, 2 funnels, 2 spinning wheels, 1 rocker and wheel set, 1 scoop, 1 rake and 1 spade
If you’ve not got the outdoor space for a proper sandpit, you might want to consider this sand and water table from the Early Learning Centre. Small enough to keep indoors or move into a shed or garage when it isn’t in use, this colourful plastic table comes with 10 different toys which can be stored inside.
There’s a lid to keep your sand clean, which neatly also doubles up as a car track. You do have to take some of the accessories off to fit the lid on and some families found this a little fiddly when they were covered in sand.
All the tools are great for developing your toddler’s fine motor skills, but the small size may mean your child outgrows it quicker than they would a larger sandpit. We liked the fact you could play with water as well as sand and you won’t need to buy any extra accessories. It’s simple to put together and ready to play with as soon as it is assembled – just add sand, water or both!
Pros: Can fit in small outside area, tools and toys included
Cons: Too small for older children, lid won’t fit on with all the accessories in place
8. Tectake Sandpit with Play Deck and Canopy, £116.99
– Best for large gardens
Age suitability: 3+ |Best for ages: 3-6 years | Size: H137cm x W105cm x L106cm | Sand needed: Approx 3 x 10kg bags | Base included: No | Cover included: No| Accessories included: comes with canopy and play deck
If you’ve ever wanted a veranda in the garden for those long summer days, here is your chance. This beautiful sandpit by TecTake is made up of a large solid square sandbox for all the messy fun, as well as an elevated veranda/play deck that makes for the perfect picnic spot, playhouse, or kids’ reading area. It also doubles up as a handy seat when your child is building sandcastles and the canopy will give them some shade from the sun in the summer.
Once the sand play is over, the play deck can be pushed over the sandpit with its handy wheels.
Keep in mind that there isn’t a base to the pit – this means you will need to find a permanent spot for the sandbox so that the veranda can slide over it. It would work well in a larger garden where you can leave it in position for as long as you want. You may also want to invest in a liner or something you can use as a base.
Pros: Attractive design, multiple uses for play deck, deck rolls over sandpit
Cons: No base to sandpit, sandpit itself is quite small
9. Plum Store-it, £89.99
– Best for sustainability
Age suitability: 3 years+ | Best for ages: 3-5 years | Size: H16cm x W96cm x L100cm | Sand needed: 100kg or approx 4 x 25kg bags | Base included: Yes | Cover included: Yes| Accessories included: Lidded storage space
One of the downsides of having a sandpit is finding somewhere to store all the sandy toys when they’re not being used. The Store-it comes with a handy storage compartment for your buckets, spades and rakes and there’s a colourful wooden lid to keep them covered. This can also be used as a bench seat when your little one is playing in the sand, along with the two corner seats.
Made from FSC certified sustainably sourced timber, it is an attractive wooden sandpit and includes a fabric groundsheet and a protective cover.
One thing to bear in mind is that choosing a sandpit without a solid base means you will probably have to empty it if you want to move it somewhere else, so decide on the perfect spot before you fill it up with sand.
Assembly takes around 45 minutes so allow yourself plenty of time to build it before your child wants to play.
Pros: FSC wood, storage for toys, stylish wooden design, bench seating
Cons: Tricky to move when filled, assembly takes a while, material rather than wooden cover
10. OutSunny Kids Cabana Sandbox, £110.99
– Best for sun protection
Age suitability: 3+ Best for ages: 3-7 years | Size: H121cm x W106cm x L106cm | Sand needed: Can hold up to 160kg | Base included: Yes | Cover included: Yes | Accessories included: Canopy
This wooden sandpit, reminiscent of a classic ice cream cart with its attractive striped canopy, is ideal if you’re looking for something that’ll blend into your garden and look great all year round.
We love the fact that the sandpit cover opens up into benches to sit on, with a stable backrest to stop kids from falling back. The benches are also removable to allow more children to all dig together and they can stay protected from the sun thanks to the adjustable canopy included.
The canopy is large so provides a safe shady area to play in and you can easily change its height and angle, to get maximum protection according to the position of the sun. The polished cedar wood is solid and sturdy, making it a long-term investment rather than a cheap toy which will only last one summer. Non-gimmicky and oh-so chic, we love it!
Pros: Large, adjustable canopy for shade, lid doubles up as seating, durable
Cons: Needs a big outdoor space, difficult to store when not in use
How we tested
When choosing and testing these sandpits we considered size, price, assembly, whether or not it had a cover or lid, included accessories, special features, durability and play value.
Out 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our testing during the MadeForMums awards and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club.
Each year, 1000s of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, but instead a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we aim to help you discover what is best for your family.
About the author
Catherine Ball is a parenting journalist and mum of four girls aged between 4 and 13. She’s written for national newspapers and magazines as well as writing parenting features and reviews for MadeForMums, Mother & Baby, The Evening Standard and Parents.com.
Catherine Ball is a freelance journalist who specialises in writing about parenting and health. She has been a journalist for 20 years, writing for a wide range of regional and national publications.
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