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  • Writer's pictureLynn

Our favorite toddler toys

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

Keeping a toddler happy and entertained is not always an easy task. For some reason it seemed to be ever harder while in the middle of a pandemic.

But these toys kept us busy and growing more curious as the months went on and little Emmy just went from a baby into a toddler.

I'm the type of person who doesn't like a lot of clutter (less is definitely more in the world of toys around here) so I try to look for toys that can stay and grow and change with us and that can be easily stored and put away each day. I also tend to rotate toys every month or so in the hopes that old toys seem new again and get more use and play. These all have been used that way and have been very successful.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

-Plastic Stacking Cups/Stars

Emmy got these stacking cups from a friend for her first birthday and they have been, and continue to be, a huge hit! We use them for telehealth occupational therapy, for playing with water and sand, by themselves and with other toys too. It has been a staple around here.

Not to mention... they are made from recycled plastic milk jugs. So they are cute and green at the same time

-Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket

This is a toy that we not only love but we love to give it as a gift as well. It is fun and educational at the same time. I am a sucker for anything that has that combo!

It was a great introduction to the idea of a tea party too. And that is something that we have really gotten into lately.

- Building Blocks / Lego duplos

When I was growing up legos were something that my brother and I couldn't get enough of. I was sad the day that my mom told us that she gave away all of our legos that she had been storing forever. Not that I could blame her, but we had quite the collection and it bummed me out that part of my childhood was gone.

What I love about so many companies now is that they have ways to build into a toy like the original lego. It's too small for Emmy to play with and really enjoy right now. And as we are still working on her dexterity with both hands they are just not quite right for her. But starting when she was really little with Mega Bloks and now moving into Lego duplos we have so much fun. They are good for creativity and letting her mind wander and also build those stem skills.

- Sports 3 in 1 (soccer, basketbal, bowling)

This was another first birthday gift that Emmy got and really came in to save the day toward the middle of the quarantine when she really started walking and exploring.

We are definitely a sports family so this was totally on brand. It is great for counting, colors, and also can make for a good dance party when you are on the right setting.

- Play-Doh and cutter set

Does it get much more classic than Play-Doh? I don't know a kid out there that doesn't enjoy a good old fashion play-doh creation session. The starter kit that Emerson's OT suggested was a great way to introduce it. Plus we started playing with this much earlier than I think I would have if it weren't for Emmy's therapy. So, chalk one up for OT setting the bar higher and reaching it!

- Baby Doll and Stroller

In this house we don't subscribe to only having toys that are boy/girl specific. All toys are fun. And we want to make sure that Emmy has the opportunity to find joy in whatever excites her. However, with that said... She absolutely adores her baby doll and stroller.

To be honest, it also makes my heart so full when I see her playing mommy to her doll and be so loving. Plus it was so great to watch her use the stroller when she was just learning to walk around the house.

- Roller Coaster

Oh man! Talk about a hit. We actually got this toy as a hand me down. But now that I know how awesome and fun this roller coaster is I totally would have spent the money to make sure we had one! A huge bonus is that it breaks down into a manageable stack so it doesn't have to be assembled at all times. Also, it's super lightweight and easy to put together.

- Indoor Trampoline

This trampoline was something we got late in the quarantine game, but man has it been a great way to get some energy out and keep her busy when the weather makes it impossible to go and play outside.

I know that kids don't learn to jump until 2-3 years old, but this is such a fun way to learn and also build muscle and tire out a 2 year old at the same time.

- Table and Chairs

Something I learned way too late was that if Emmy had surfaces that were her height she was much more likely to play on them and do more activities that she didn't "need" me for.

This is the best little set from IKEA. It's super cheap, super easy to put together and just the right size for a little one.

Plus as I quickly learned, it cleans up really easily when art projects don't quite stay on the paper.

- Play Kitchen

I have heard from parent after parent in my salon chair that the day their kid got a play kitchen was one of the best days ever! I can't say that they were wrong. Emerson woke up on her second birthday to her kitchen right in the same room as Mommy's kitchen. She was happier than I could have hoped for.

There are so many days that we make food together/simultaneously. It is so fun. Plus it keeps her busy and occupied more often that I can think of. It's definitely a winner in my book!

- Stickers

Stickers. Stickers are one of those things that I love and also love to hate. Haha. They are so cute and can be good for so many things. But they can also get into the hands of a toddler who thinks they belong everywhere that mom doesn't. lol. It was a great teaching tool for Emerson in her occupational therapy. And it was teaching tool for where things belong and where they don't.

Overall the good definitely outweighed the bad and I now keep a big back stock of them for any time we have a bad weather day and we need some inside activities.

- Wobble and Go Kitty and Doggie

The Christmas just after Emmy turned one Santa brought her this little puppy in her stocking. It was possibly her favorite thing she got that whole holiday. So when I realized that it had a matching kitty cat (at a time when she got obsessed with kitties and saying "meow") I just knew that it had to come home with us. It did not disappoint.

She still loves to play with them. And now we have elevated the games to races down the hall and in the kitchen. It's a good time had by all.

- Ball Pit (and extra balls)

What can I say? It's like Chuck E. Cheese without all the germs and bacteria! It's so fun. It started because my father in law gave Emmy just a small bag of balls meant for a ball pit, and she loved paying with them, but I hated that they didn't have anywhere to live and nothing to contain them. So, that Christmas we put a ball pit and extra balls on her wish list and she has been happily playing ever since. These are so great because they fold up like windshield screens. And the balls always come with a net bag to contain them! Now I will say that my first ask was for this tent, but I end up putting her in this one more often just because at the moment with her age, it's easier to contain her and the balls that way. But if I know that she is going to have me play with her and ask me to join her in in the tent then I use this one because we can both fit.

Oh! But I will give you the heads up that 200 or even 400 balls isn't as many as you would think it is. So, start with a big bag and then maybe keep adding.

- Boon Pipe Bath Toys

Bath time isn't a fight over here. So, it's not a headache to try and get Emmy all cleaned up from her days. But these sure do keep her entertained and contained in one spot. So it does help in getting her cleaned in an easier way for me. So that is saying something.

- Munchkin Music Magic Cube

This music cube is one of the things that Emmy got as a baby and has been rotated in and out and in and out over and over. It seems to be something that I can use for all different activities. A few months ago we started to use it as inspiration to bang out the same notes on the xylophone while the songs were singing on the cube. It was good in the beginning for just teaching about music and songs and colors. Plus it's basically just a cube of buttons and that was a hit all on its own.

-Water Table

When summer came and we were all still in quarantine, which I don't think anyone expected, one of the hardest things to find (next to toilet paper or paper towels) was a blow up pool or some kind of water toy for kids to play with. One day at Target I got crazy lucky and found ONE that was in stock and even crazier than that it was on sale! So I swooped it up, even though it wasn't on the list. This is the one I bought. But now a days its not quite the hot item it once was. And there are a ton of great options like this one.

- Hot Wheels and Track

My husband is into hot wheels. So much so that when we first met, I went to a party with his friends that was a hot wheels tournament! lol. Yup, grown men in their 30s (or around that age) racing hot wheels very seriously... also money was involved. (face palm)

But when my father in law gave us hot wheels every year at Christmas it wasn't a surprise because of this. I have to say, it's super fun. And now that he can do it with Emmy it is so cute. They can make tracks and play for hours! Emmy is getting to the point where she may have to get her own "garage" soon. But for now we will play with tracks like this and keep building the collection.

-Leap Frog Number Loving Oven

If you're a parent, I have a challenge for you... sing a song that one of your kids toys sings that you know by heart...

okay... go.

Me? This toy is regularly quoted and also sung without even being out or around.

And despite it's terribly catchy tunes it's still a really big hit around the house. (for all)

- Leap Frog 100 Words Book

I am a sucker for an educational toy that also keeps my kid busy. This awesome book also has the added bonus of being full of nothing but buttons and pictures that need to be pushed to make a sound or give a name. It's pretty impressive in how it works and also how it keeps Em's attention.

It's a winner in both the mom and kid categories. Plus it is another that makes for a great gift to give as well.

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