Honestly, I’m a mom that’s not a huge fan of toys. My kids do have toys… all kinds of toys in fact. But after over twelve years of parenting, I’ve come to learn a few things about toys. And the truth is, most toys just don’t get played with.
At least at my house! So my approach to buying toys is very simple. I ask myself these questions:
Is it terribly loud and annoying, no matter how educational it claims to be?
Is the toy basically all music, lights, and buttons?
Will it take up massive amounts of space?
If I answer yes to any of these questions, chances are, I’m not buying it.
Because in my personal experience, these toys are usually flash in the pan toys and don’t get played with more than a few times. I find this a waste of money and space in my home.
How I Choose My Toddler’s Toys
Instead of buying my toddler’s toys based on the Target toy catalog at Christmas or what commercials play over and over on TV, I do this instead…
I look for toys that will make him think, reason, and use his imagination and hands. Pushing buttons isn’t a skill that needs developing. It seems to already come quite naturally.
I want my kids to be able to build, create, mold, and make. Toys that allow kids to do that fit into what I consider learning or educational toys.
All the other loud, musical, light up, and other annoying toys can stay on the shelf. That doesn’t mean I don’t buy any toys that have buttons or play music, it’s just that it better have a focus that actually aims to teach something.
Here’s my best list of
Learning Toys for Toddlers
Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube
This bright and colorful shape sorting cube is really great. First, because it’s made of wood. Wooden toys are usually considered safer and non-toxic compared to a lot of plastic toys containing harmful chemicals.
It’s also very sturdy with an easy to open sliding lid that makes it easy for little hands to open without help. My son had a plastic shape sorter that was almost impossible for him to open without help. He almost never used it!
Lewo Wooden Geometric Puzzle
This pegboard style puzzle is so colorful and creative! It allows little hands to stack, sort, and even build limitless combinations on one board.
I love how challenging it is and allows them to create new projects each time they play as opposed to a standard “fill-in” puzzle. This puzzle is also small and quiet enough to be a great travel toy for long trips!
Play22 Magnetic Wooden Train Set
This wooden train set is adorable and so easy for toddlers to mix and match train cars on a whim. The trains are artfully crafted and painted to make them feel real to curious toddlers.
This is a great choice for any toddler who loves trains, cars, or making things move!
Water Doodle Drawing Pad
This is one of my favorite toys that kids love to play with because they can get as wild and creative as they want and they’re not actually making a mess!
This is also another great travel toy that folds flat in a suitcase. It’s probably too big for playing in the car but is great for keeping kids entertained in your hotel room. Here’s a water doodle pad that is perfect for traveling in the car.
VTech Smart Wheels Fire Station
These Smart Wheels sets are really fun and my 3-year-old son has a few sets. I plan to buy him at least one more set for Christmas. What I love about them is they are very easy for little hands to assemble their own sets on their own if needed.
He loves to build new tracks every time he plays with them and I love how it helps him to reason and think critically. They do take up a bit of extra room but I find it worth it and simply store all the sets together in a large cute basket like this one.
Mega Bloks ABC Learning Train Building Set
I really love Mega Bloks! I mean, I cringe when my little guy starts to dump them out all over the floor, but they’re a great toy for learning. This cute train set helps toddlers learn and practice their ABC’s.
Little Tikes 3′ Trampoline
If you have room for it, this trampoline will probably be your child’s favorite toy for sure! If you have a busy toddler who has lots of energy to burn, this is a sanity saver right before naptime.
It’s also a great way to get exercise indoors for those extremely hot or extremely cold weather days.
Hape Pound Bench with Slide Out Xylophone
This award-winning toy is loved by parents, pediatricians, and toddlers alike. It’s a multifunctional toy that allows toddlers to slide out the xylophone and play it separately or together as a ball hammering game.
Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks
This classic building block set is timeless in fun. Your little one can create endless towers, castles, and highways with the bright and colorful 100 block set.
Guidecraft Grippies Builders
These soft toddler sized rods and balls serve to introduce your little one to engineering as their very first STEM toy! The magnetic pieces connect together to create and build endless shapes and structures.
2017 Toy of the Year Finalist (TOTY) and received also all 5-star ratings!
ALEX Wooden Activity Cube
This colorful activity cube promises to keep curious toddlers happy and entertained with each of the many unique sides. Includes wooden cube with curvy wire rides, peek-a-boo doors, spin and match animals, turn and learn ABC word tiles, and racing rollers.
Best of all this toy is made of sturdy and non-toxic wood!
Melissa & Doug Let’s Play House Set
This wooden clean up play set is perfect for the little guy or girl who loves to help! When you’re cleaning up they can grab their own mop, broom, dustpan, and duster. They are very sturdy and will hold up for many afternoon cleaning sessions!
VTech Drill & Learn Toolbox
Munchkin Fishin’ Bath Toy
This adorable bath toy allows your toddler to go fishing in the bathtub. This is a must-have bath toy! The fishing pole works to catch the soft, magnetic fish.
BUCKLE TOY “Buddy” Backpack
This may not be considered an actual “toy” but this soft and vibrant backpack promises to be just as fun! The many child-friendly buckles help toddlers develop fine motor skills, cognitive skills, hand-eye coordination, and fun problem-solving.
These toys are all focused on helping your toddler learn, grow, and have fun! Which toy is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!