(Side note: Take our poll! On the right side of the page, you’ll find a poll asking whether you’re saving for your kids’ college or not. Please vote and I’ll highlight the results in a related post a few weeks from now. Thank you!)
We don’t give our toddler too many toys; we much prefer that he has a few that he really likes and not clutter him with too many options. And even the ones we assume he’ll love aren’t hits with him; for instance, I bought him a toy phone thinking he’d love pressing the buttons and pretend like he was talking on the phone. But other than a few times when he’s held the phone to his ear (at my insistence), the phone sits on the floor waiting to be played with.
That said, there are quite a few toys that he’ll easily devour. And while anything can be considered a toy, from craft materials to household items (colander, anyone?), I wanted to list the more standard toys that have kept him happily occupied (pictures and reviews below the list):
- Magnetic letter and number links
- Textured foam balls
- Block crayons
- Bowling set
- Art easel desk
- Latches board
- Shape sorter
- Magna doodle
- Hammering toy
- Blankies and lovies
- Magnetic letters and numbers
- Play Doh
- Sophie the giraffe
- Activity triangle
- Riding fire truck
- Alphabet animals flash cards
- Stacking and nesting blocks
- Farm animals
1. Magnetic letter and number links
This was our toddler’s Christmas gift, and for a measly $16 he got hours of fun in return. He liked identifying the letters and math symbols (particularly the minus sign, for some weird reason).
Pros: Alphabet, numbers and math exposure
Cons: Not all pieces fit well with each other, I wish they were more conscious of color-coordinating (for instance, all numbers are red, all consonants are blue, all vowels are yellow, etc)
2. Textured foam balls
These balls are probably one of those toys that will age well with any child. When he was a baby, LO liked squishing these, and now that he’s older, it’s all about throwing the balls everywhere.
Pros: Versatile, interesting shapes and textures, bounces well
3. Block crayons
I thought this toy was so unique because they’re crayons and stackable blocks, there are numbers and letters inscribed on the sides, and they even have animal- and people-shaped blocks.
Pros: Unique way to stack, multi-use
Cons: Crayon-quality isn’t all that great
4. Bowling set
My two-year-old doesn’t really use this toy to bowl per say, other than knocking down maybe one or two pins at a time, but he likes matching the colors and inspecting the holes on the bowling ball.
Pros: Good quality foam toys (the bowling ball even has weight to it)
5. Art easel desk
LO has since declared this desk as a “rocket ship” where he says he flies to the moon. Can’t beat that! He also likes to lift the desk up and down.
Pros: One side is an easel while the other side is a desk
Cons: The desk part is a little bit small for large art activities
6. Latches board
The first day LO played with this toy, I was blessed with 45 minutes straight of uninterrupted silence as he tried to figure out how to lock and unlock all these doors. He paused for dinner but resumed for another 15 minutes after he was done.
Pros: Encourages problem-solving, interesting animals, numbers and colors
7. Shape sorter
Nothing beats the first time a kid figures out how to sort shapes through their correct holes. It’s like a light bulb just switched on in their heads. He received this toy over two years ago and he still plays with it now (just today, in fact). After the shapes are sorted inside the elephant, he can press down on its ears and out come the shapes.
Pros: Sorting skills, the elephant spins
Cons: Sometimes the shapes can get stuck inside the elephant
8. Magna doodle
You know a toy is good when you yourself played with something similar as a kid. I loved magna doodles and so does my kid. We like to write and draw shapes, and he especially enjoys erasing what we just wrote.
Pros: Encourages writing and drawing
Cons: This particular toy has a small frame to write on
9. Hammering toy
Melissa and Doug put a spin on a classic toy and made a pounding tower with balls instead of a bench with pegs. My toddler doesn’t really care too much for the hammering part but loves to push the balls through the holes with his hands and watch it move down the tower.
Pros: Good quality
I love open-ended toys like Legos that let you build and imagine anything. Seriously, anything. As of today, these Logos have been: feet, slides, pasta, road hazard lights, airplanes and garage doors. Somehow my kid has conjured all those images from a bunch of squares and rectangles.
Pros: Encourages imagination
Cons: Some Legos don’t stick well to each other to withstand toddler manhandling
We wanted to give LO a special lovey to help ease him into sleeping through the night, and this little duck has delivered and then some. This is the toy that he’ll grow up with and spend practically every waking and sleeping moment with.
Pros: Great for young infants (we bought this as a safe toy to avoid SIDS), soft, washes easily
12. Magnetic letters and numbers
As if we couldn’t get enough of magnetic letters, we bought these to stick up on the fridge. I credit this toy for helping my toddler overcome his speech delay. He would play with the letters and he learned the sounds to each one first (“buh”) before finally sounding out the letters (“B”).
Pros: Alphabet and number exposure, helps kids easily assemble words
Cons: Again, I wish they were more purposeful with their colors so that all numbers were one color and all consonants were another, etc.
13. Play Doh
Another open-ended toy that I am in love with. My toddler first started out with picking bits and pieces from the balls of play doh. Now he likes to poke things into them and pretend that they’re food for his stuffed animals.
Pros: Limitless ways to play, good practice for fine motor skills
Cons: Play Doh needs to make products that don’t dry up when left out of their cups!
14. Sophie the giraffe
We blamed teething for every crying fit our baby had, never mind that not a single tooth popped out until one week after his first birthday. Still, Sophie the teething giraffe came in handy because he really did like to chew on her. Now he also likes to squish her and hear the funny sounds she makes.
Pros: Durable, great for teething and biting
Cons: The orange spots are starting to fade
15. Activity triangle
Our toddler still plays with this toy even though he’s had it since he was a few months old. He likes spinning the beads and shapes.
Pros: Interesting shapes, lightweight
16. Riding fire truck
When he first received this toy, we were a bit disappointed that he didn’t exactly ride on the truck and play “the right way.” We quickly realized though that he loved inspecting everything else about it: the seat that goes up and down, the siren and bell sounds, and the wheels that spin underneath. Oh, and yeah, he now likes to ride it too.
Pros: Little compartment can be a fun place for kids to stash smaller toys in, simple and small for easy riding
17. Alphabet animals flash cards
Flash cards have such a bad rap these days, and I was never one to use them, at least in their intended use. These cards, however, feature artwork and would probably work just as well in a book format. I think flash cards aren’t popular when used as a quizzing tool, but when left lying around the house for toddlers to stack and identify letters and animals, I figure they can’t be all that bad.
Pros: Durable cardstock, well-designed container
Cons: Some drawings are super modern that it’s hard to identify the animals
18. Stacking and nesting blocks
When my little guy was younger he played with these blocks by stacking them up and nesting the smaller blocks into the larger ones. Now he also likes to read the numbers and words as well as identify the pictures.
Pros: Stacking and nesting skills, comparing big and small, sturdy material
19. Farm animals
This particular toy not only features farm animals, but each animal is divided into two pieces so that you can hide them under egg halves for a matching game. Our toddler prefers a simpler game of “Let’s just connect and disconnect the farm animals.”
Pros: Unique game, matching skills
Cons: I wish the egg halves actually connected the way the animals do
Not only does my kid love scribbling and drawing, he also likes organizing the actual crayons in his little box. Seriously, I don’t know how interesting this can be, but the boy can play crayons for half the day. He especially likes the triangle-shaped Crayola crayons.
Pros: Open-ended toy, creative uses, color identification
What are your kids’ favorite toys that keep them occupied for a long time? Which ones have lasted the test of time?
p.s. If you liked what you read, you can subscribe and receive free full-text posts from Sleeping Should Be Easy in your email inbox. Or, tell us what you think about this post on Facebook and Twitter.