parent recs, product guides, toys

7 of the Best Baby/Toddler Toys You Haven’t Discovered Yet

Toys don’t feature prominently on the typical baby registry. There are too many more practical items to get, and, as we quickly discover, newborns aren’t that big on toys anyway. But as babies learn to grab, sit, and crawl, and eventually turn into curious toddlers, their interest in toys skyrockets, as do the options available – on Amazon, in Target, Toys R Us, arriving in packages from friends and family, until your house looks like it could double as a secondhand toy store. 
To help you sift among the options, I’d like to present 7 must-have toys. These are the toys that your child will love — and will continue loving for more than a week. These are the toys other parents will ask about when they come over, because they are just that awesome. These are the toys that will score you major brownie points if you surprise a niece, nephew, or friend’s baby with one. They include suggestions for older toddlers and babies, big-ticket items, small surprises, and everything in between. Happy playing!

7) B.Parum Pum Pum Drum

When Lana got this for her birthday, I thought it was a great drum. Then, I realized the top comes off to reveal a whole orchestra of other instruments! This set is super-easy to clean (I’ve even thrown some of the pieces in the dishwasher) and perfect for playdates (enough instruments for everyone!) And if you’re worried about buying yourself a headache, don’t be – none of the instruments are very loud.

6) Buckle Toy

Pick your child’s favorite animal from a half-dozen adorable choices, ranging from this turtle to a crab, lion, caterpillar, or puppy. At home or on the go, baby can buckle and unbuckle to her heart’s content. Perfect toy for buckling aficionados and a good learning toy for color matching.

5) Hape Pound and Tap Bench with Xylophone

Lots to love in this toy – practicing fine motor skills, making music, and (perhaps baby’s favorite) a mallet to hit things with and even use as a teething toy! Nice and sturdy to hold up against your toddler’s best efforts to destroy it.

4) Maracas

Get your own version of this baby music class mainstay and help your kid discover his inner percussionist. Even little babies who are too young for most other toys can enjoy these – if they can grasp an object, they can use these maracas!

Lana’s favorite toy by far is this giant bear she got shortly after she was born. At the time, I was skeptical. How many stuffed animals does a baby need? Especially huge ones that take up valuable real estate in the apartment! But, friends, this is no regular stuffed animal. It’s baby nirvana. Lana seeks out this bear for cuddling and wrestling and conversation several times a day. Her third word after Mama and Papa was “Bear”. Take my word for it – your home is not complete without this bear. It also comes in pink and brown 🙂

2) Surf ‘N Slide Inflatable Play Center

If you have an active toddler, you’ll appreciate this one. Just set it up in the backyard, sit back with a drink, and watch kid (or kids) slide down over and over again. Children have been known to self-entertain with this thing literally for hours!

1) Radio Flyer 4-in-1 Trike

This trike is truly an investment – it grows with your kid from 9 months to 5 years old. If your baby’s decided that she’s too cool for a stroller like Lana, she may prefer this mode of transportation. There’s a canopy for sun protection, a little storage compartment, handles for mom or dad to push before baby figures out independent pedaling. You can remove and adjust all these features as needed too. We’ve used this nearly every day since Lana received it for her birthday!

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