Have you started Christmas shopping for your toddler yet? On Instagram last week I asked if you’d rather see gift guides or reviews of our favorite toddler toys and you overwhelmingly voted for reviews of our favorite toys. So, here are my favorite toddler toys right now:
(note: Lincoln is almost 5 And Adelaide just turned 3 – most of these we have loved since she was 1)
Favorite Toddler Toys over $50
#1 pick: Magna Tiles:
Either you own these or you’re wondering if they’re worth the hefty price tag. The answer is 100% yes! We got these for Lincoln’s second birthday and they have been a huge hit in our family for the last three years. I love playing with them. Lincoln loves playing with them. And while she mostly loves tearing them down, recently Adelaide has started getting them out when playing by herself. These are great for teaching patience, dexterity, and coordination. We use them for building towers, building roads, building parking garages, building barns, building mazes, and building ramps. We also use them for counting and colors. This is my favorite toy purchase we’ve made yet. We loved them so much that after a year and a half we added a second set and these cars/trains. We also have this polygon set and one of the kids is getting this house expansion set for Christmas.
This has been a favorite for years as well. It gained the most interest when kids turned 3 (before that they loved to play but needed some help building tracks). We use a more elaborate Melissa and Doug set in the playroom and the Ikea set at my parents and both are great. It’s good for coordination as little hands learn how to connect the rails and develop spatial awareness as they try to build larger connected tracks.
This is a game that will provide YEARS of entertainment. It can keep Lincoln (age 4) happily playing alone for HOURS. We have it up at my parents house and whenever he’s there he escapes off to the bedroom. At age 4, he usually asks for help building the initial run but can adjust it on his own.
It is so well loved I’m planning on getting this wooden set as Lincoln’s big Christmas gift to keep at our house.
Aside from Magnatiles, this is the best money we have spent on toys. Is the price of the more expensive scooter worth it? Yes. Absolutely. The micros manage better for little kids and they hold up super well. We’ve played on lots of different scooters between the gym + living on campus and these are worth the price difference. You can read my full review on the scooters here.
Lincoln and Adelaide each have one of these tablets and they use them daily during quiet time to listen to audiobooks (using the Audible or Scribd app). We also use them on long car rides or plane rides to watch movies. There’s a lot more you can do with the tablets but so far we’ve just used them for the last year to listen to books. Lincoln (then almost 4) was not super excited about it when he unwrapped it last Christmas morning but I should have opened it and pre-loaded some audiobooks on it so he understood. They’ve also been a big hit for “watching books,” audiobooks that have synchronized images and I love letting them watch books while I make dinner (or any other time I’d be tempted to throw on a show to keep them occupied).
Favorite Toddler Toys under $50
For Halloween this year we got little costume add-on pieces to go over pajamas and now we have a bin of dress ups that my kids love playing with! A couple times a week they’ll dress up as various animals and crawl around their room. Fostering imaginative play is so important at this age and I love that simple costume pieces (as opposed to full costumes) let toddlers put them on and take them off all on their own.
I ordered ours from Hanna Andersson (they have lots of options) and this pair of elephant ears on Amazon. I found a few other headbands on amazon and we also love the coat dress ups (image above) that we use in the playroom. The kids can’t quite get the coats on by themselves yet but they’re moving toward it and enjoy playing with all the little gadgets they come with.
This touch and go set was a huge favorite for a lot of years. The friction power set moves on it’s own after you give it a little push forward. The colors are fun and this would be a great stocking stuffer for kids ages 1,2, or 3.
My parents still have huge classroom sets of Duplos from when I was younger and my kids love playing with them whenever we’re home (a couple times a month). We like using them for imaginative play, building structures for Lincoln’s vehicles, and just practicing putting together and taking apart blocks. (more tips for imaginative play and duplos in this post)
While it’s not quite as popular as the mini stroller right now, for some reason my children love pretending to do one of my dreaded chores. This is fun for imaginative play, especially coupled with the play food I’ll talk about below.
There are two of these cars between the playground and playroom at our apartment complex and they’re my kids very favorite. They’ll push each other around, push their toys around, or just scoot themselves around. If we had more space in our actual apartment I’d get one for here two. Both of my kids love playing with this and while I can’t find the exact purple one, I think this is basically the same one.
We ordered a few different kits of food from Wayfair last month for my mom’s basement and the kids LOVE playing with them. Adelaide (at 17 months) struggles to cut the food by herself but loves to do it with my help. Lincoln can do it all on his own and spends half an hour at a time mixing salads and serving them to people at his little table.
We love the simple cutting board sets for improving coordination.
I also love the salad kit (Lincoln’s favorite) because I’d like to think it gets them interested and excited about eating vegetables.
Second to the mini car, the mini stroller is the most sought after toy on the playground, in the playroom, and in my parent’s basement. My kids push each other around, push their toys around, or just walk around with it. It was great for when Lincoln and Adelaide were just learning to walk and now it is still lots of fun as they make-believe with it.
It was so loved we got one for Adelaide for her third birthday (a low cost toy with big impact!).
Favorite Toddler Toys under $15
I love these for a few reasons. First, they’re easy to color with than regular crayons (it takes less pressure on the crayon and the paper to get the color to come off so younger and less coordinated kids can color with these easier). Second, you can draw with them and then grab a sponge paint brush and use it as a base to do watercolor-like painting. Two activities in one and they’re super easy to clean up.
**We had the Alex colors first and then I bought the Faber-Castelle at a toy store. I like coloring with the Faber Castelle ones better for strictly drawing but the Alex creamy crayons are better for painting (and come with a paint brush in the set I linked). Right now the Alex ones are sold out everywhere online that I can find.
We also got these sparkly ones for Adelaide for her birthday in June and they have been a big hit.
It’s possible every kid is different or that mine will grow into coloring books, but between the ages of 1 and 3, they prefer big blank art books to color in than actual coloring books. We’re on our second of these big blanks book and I love that the paper is thick enough to do painting with the creamy crayons.
I ordered this big sticker set off of Amazon for under $7 and it comes with over 500 stickers of all types/ themes. The kids love a sticker sheet to go along with art time (almost always painting with creamy crayons). I usually cut one or two sheets in half for the kids to use while they color. They would also be great to pullout for plane rides, long car rides, church meetings, or an activity table during Christmas dinner. I’ll be adding a sheet or two to each of their stockings this holiday, too.
My kids were gifted these last year for Christmas (at 2.5 and almost 4) and they’ve been bit hits in this house. Adelaide has the dress-up one and Lincoln has the farm animal one. Adelaide has played with hers more than Lincoln has and was most interested in it once she turned three (and she could more easily “dress” the figures by herself). We use them during quiet time when the kids play separately by themselves for some time each afternoon.
My only qualm with these is there are a ton of little stickers. I finally got a big ziplock bag to keep with the pads and the kids put all of their unused stickers in the bag when they cleanup.
I initially got these for our church bag a few years ago to keep Lincoln busy and quiet during the meeting but we use them all the time. They have held up remarkably well over the years, too. We still have the original ones we bought although the kids are most excited about the “fairy” book and “ocean” book I got a few months ago. You fill the little paintbrush up with water and then as they “paint” the black and white drawing turns into a colorful painting. Once the water dries, you’re ready to paint again. They’re reusable and kids as old as 6 or 7 ask to play with them at our house.
Of all the vehicles he has ever owned, this is Lincoln’s favorite one. A friend gave it to us before we moved from Ohio (from their house, because Lincoln played with it every time we visited for a solid year) and last week I got him this similar recycling truck while we were shopping at Target (because I’m a sucker). He loves loading the back with small toys and tiny pieces of trash 😛
We’ve owned the smaller version of this and had a membership to a playroom with the bigger six car version and both have seen so much use from both of my kids.
Lincoln was gifted this truck for Christmas when he was almost two and it was well loved for years 2 and 3. It came outside to dump mulch. It transported toys and other cars through the house. Right now it’s on sale for under $15 (which is a great deal for such a big truck!)
What about you? What are your favorite toddler toys? Let me know in the comments below!