Ever wanted to buy a baby or toddler a toy that wouldn’t collect dust in the toy bin? A unisex baby/toddler toy?
In the few short years since we had our first child, we have gone through a truly enormous number of toys. With the benefit of hindsight, there really weren’t that many toys for babies/toddlers that were worth it. But a few stood out as great values based on how much use both kids (boy and girl) got out of them. (I’ll have to update in a couple of years depending on what our third child thinks of these!)
1. Light-Up Plastic Stacker. We’ve long since lost the lion but both of our son and our daughter loved this toy (and completely ignored the fabric and non-light up plastic versions).
2. Play Gym – our kids loved this one. It’s bigger and taller than many so it can be played with even after the baby can sit on his or her own.
3. Parking Garage with Ramp, Manual Elevator and Roofdeck. I wish I could find a link to ours, marked Spectra 1988, that a neighbor passed down to us, because it included a car wash room at the bottom with separate entrances and exits that the kids loved, not just the typical multi-floor garage. Here are a couple of pictures to give you the idea:
5. Coffee Table with rounded edges, a shelf for books underneath (AKA the kid tunnel – see picture below), and a little rim on each side to help keep toys/crayons on top. Perfect toddler (and preschooler) play table. We got ours from Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams but they don’t sell it anymore, or anything comparable, unfortunately.
6. Toy phones/remotes, but only ones that look similar to modern devices (not the old rotary-style ones like this one that I loved as a kid, sadly) and that have buttons (preferably that make some noise or response when pushed).
7. Mirrors of all kinds (soft flexible ones meant for babies like this one; our full length mirror hung low enough for a toddler to admire him or herself in; etc).
8. Wooden rocking horse. You have to help the baby rock and stay on, of course.
9. Foam bath letters, numbers, and animal shapes, like these and these. They’ve lasted for years without getting gross, unlike bath squirt toys. The kids also like the big plastic buckets they come in. The ones with holes on the bottom are better for letting the water out (and to make it harder for them to dump large amounts on each other or me or on the bathroom floor).
10. Wooden blocks of all kinds, but particularly colorful cubes and rectangles that are easy to stack.
11. Crinkly paper like granola bar wrappers and wipes packaging.
12. Activity cube (the kind with the bead maze of wires on top like they often have at doctors’ offices), like this.
13. Musical play table: this is the one that we have.
Then there are the toys that both kids loved but I can’t list because they are totally choking hazards: Duplos, Russian nesting dolls, bottles and similar containers with screw-on tops…
A lot of these are pretty old school — I guess they are classics for a reason. But I’m planning to go to the Toy Fair next month and am looking forward to seeing all the new toys too!