To my beautiful new mothers in my family and friends, if your reading this, ummmmm…. hahaha…now is the chance to look away if because you will most likely get something off this list. (I have three nephews, one-second cousin and a friend’s son under the age of one- or soon to be born).
If you’re looking for great toys for your toddler or for a gift for a first birthday, This list is not just any old list. This is a list of my son’s absolute favorite toys he loved from his first birthday onwards. Most of the toys I would think are pretty gender neutral. (This list does not include teddy’s or books as I feel these can be quite personal in taste).
Disclaimer: Please note that the prices mentioned were the prices as of June 2018. They may have changed so you will need to click the link to see the current price. I am not endorsed by any company or product that I have listed, I am simply stating my son’s favorite toys. If any company wants to pay me to review their products in the future…. well… hey, I am down for that if it is in line with what I believe would be a good fit.
Babies quickly outgrow their baby toys around one year of age.
Once my son Greyson turned one and was walking, he quickly outgrew most of his baby rattles and soft toys. By 14 months he had more concentration to play with more complex toys so I knew it was time to overhaul and upgrade his baby toys. Giving him developmentally appropriate toys, my one-year-olds could engage in more independent play for longer periods.
When choosing toys there were a few criteria that I looked out for:
- First I took notice of toys that he was drawn to when out of the house (for example, at his friend’s places, his library playroom or in toy stores).
- I also had to think about what milestones my son is going through, paying attention to his developing motor skills, specifically that he will be walking around on his own.
- I looked for toys he could sit and work on such as puzzles and tracking toys.
- I wanted a few open-ended toys in the sense that he can play many different games with them to spark his imagination and help him develop problem-solving and logical thinking skills. Block and animal play is often popular at this stage too.
- Toddlers are often interested in musical instruments and beginning to use art and craft materials.
- Some toddlers will also be ready to explore early literacy and numeracy materials.
I will mention which ones I have bought and will mention some other great options depending on usability or price options.
Quick note: I don’t usually follow “recommended age” for toys but follow my sons lead if he is skillfully ready for that toy. (If you don’t know what skills your baby’s brain is working on, The Milestone Marker can help!) But be aware, toys recommended for ages 3+ are usually because they have small parts that your little one can swallow. I always make sure that these toys are used with full supervision and stored in a safe place out of reach. If you have older kids in the house, create “baby free” zones so your older kids can enjoy toys without endangering your little explorer. By letting your baby’s current development (and not a box label) be your guide, you’re more likely to find a good toy match.
Toy and gift categories
Subscriptions and Vouchers
Fun home play.
I’m starting with the list off with Personalized gifts and then subscriptions and vouchers before traditional gifts because I think It’s more unique and personal.
I know a lot of mums take their nursery design very seriously but sadly most department stores have pretty stock standard designs. Carousel has some incredible and unique designs that are sure to make your crib the feature of your room. Oh, I wish I knew about this much earlier as I can’t tell you how many sleeping pictures I have taken of my boy fast asleep that would just look even cuter with some feature sheet underneath him.
Carousel does an amazing job with high-quality custom bedding. The do crib sheets, pillows, blankets, comforters ($129), skirts, bumpers, and rail covers. All the bedding is on organic 100% cotton and is fully washable.
Personalized Puzzle pieces:
Tinyme: How adorable is this custom name puzzle. Although they may not be able to spell for a few more years, this can make a cute present to start getting familiar with the letters of their name in a motor skill activity. It is recommended that you start teaching toddlers the letters of their name before the full alphabet. You can have up to 9 letters.
SUBSCRIPTIONS & VOUCHERS
Monti-Kids ($297- billed quarterly- cancel any time)
We got 6 different toys that we pulled out every week to two weeks. The toys were very high quality and looked so nice on our toy shelf. They also give you a discount code to receive a $100 toy shelf for free (free shipping). All the toys arrive neatly packaged in a box and you are given an online portal to learn and how to teach the toys to introduce them to your baby/toddler. I had to cancel my last box because when i looked ahead at the next box, my son already had more than half of those toys already.
My son has really begun enjoying baby/toddler classes since turning one. Most time, the first class is free but you can buy a package of a few classes as a great gift idea. There are so many great baby/toddler classes popping up everywhere. If you live in Los Angeles, here are a few to get you started:
Playspaces: Wiggle and Work: I’m not sure if this one is a gift for you or your baby. It’s an indoor playground providing classes and child care downstairs and upstairs a coworking area. It’s designed so parents can spend more time with their little ones and continue to develop their careers all in one space. Check out their prices here. I just checked this one out this week and it is incredible. I will be doing a full review on this one later. Stay tuned.
LemonTree Restaurant: This restaurant has an incredible 2000-sq.ft playground, including an indoor roller coaster, ball pit room, and jungle gym. For the little ones, there are walkers, play stations, books, and toys. From the dining area, there are TV screens watching over the playspace and staff watching the play area so parents can eat in peace. (Although, I never leave my son unattended being so young). For kids under two, they get to play for free. Snooknuk has a similar concept but on a very small scale with a little play area and a small cafe. In the back, they run many classes.
Pretend city: This one ‘may’ be better for older kids but Pretend City is a playspace of different themed rooms, such as art studio, bank, beach, construction, cafe, emergency services, farm, plus another 10 different themes.
Or you can try out KidsPass which most of the toddler activities and schedules under one roof provided by all the baby/toddler related businesses in your area. The packages start at $49 a month for you to try 2-3 Activities. You have 90 days to use your credits. The first month is FREE. Hooray!!!!
Memberships: Perhaps an annual membership to their local Zoo or Kids Museum or to a local swimming pool?
PLAY KITCHEN THEMED GIFTS
Ikea kitchen ($79)
Things that I noticed from 12 months onwards was my son began wanting to work alongside me in the kitchen, reorganizing my kitchen shelves, putting lids on things and banging on pots so getting him his own pretend kitchen was a big hit. when we bought it for him, he could be found playing for at least an hour opening and closing his own cupboards, “cooking” on the stove and washing his dishes. Ikea has a great kitchen with lots of accessories to go with it. The stove turns on and off with a glowing red light. It’s quick and easy to put together if you have an electric drill.
I store Ikea plastic tubs underneath it filled with more toys.
There are lots of Pinterest boards that show creative ways that you can customize the kitchen for the look of your house. Some look better than real kitchens.
If you want more high-end play kitchen versions and accessories, click here.
(see image above), This is a great toy to put next to their play kitchen to give them a more realistic experience.
It’s a bit bright at first, so once the battery is drained a bit the light is more appropriate for a little toddler to be staring into.
Children are social beings, developing their social skills every day, including learning self-identity. Mirrors are an important tool to use in the social and educational development of infants and toddlers. They also provide hours of interactive play for these young children.
When my son was able to start identifying his body parts, it was fun to do this in front of a mirror together. We also had lots of fun making silly faces, showing his dirty face in a mirror before I would clean it and do different silly hairstyles in the mirror.
Be sure the mirrors are placed at their level for height. Ikea has the most affordable mirrors I have found. They are made from plastic so you don’t have to worry about your little ones breaking it and getting hurt.
Fruit cutting set (By Melissa Doug. ($15.49)
This is a cheap toy but really impactful. When my son was younger he simply enjoyed just pulling the fruit pieces apart. They are connected by velcro. If he was restless while I was making dinner, I would sit him on the kitchen bench and give him these while I was cutting up my own vegetables. He would imitate me saying ‘Chop, chop, chop’. When you cut the food, it made this great loud “chop” sound and he would beg me to do it again and again.
It was not till around 18 months that he showed interest in pairing the matching halves together and an odd occasion will try chop with the wooden knife.
My son loved figuring out how objects in his world worked—like television remotes or light switches. He is also interested in playing with my “real” stuff.
These were so cute when my son took a huge interest in “helping” me clean the floors. I had to get his own because you could see he was really struggling to carry a full-size broom. By 18 months they became a godsend because he would try to snatch my broom off me midway and I could direct him to his own set. The duster is really soft and I like to tickle him with it sometimes. This set is by Melissa & Doug and is really great quality.
Doll bed with linen ($14.99)
This would be cute to give as a gift with a cute teddy or doll.
When my son started pretending to feed his teddy, and basic role play this bed for his teddies became a hit. We actually had this since he was a little baby and it was so cute taking pictures of him laying in it. Now we are starting to pretend to put our teddies to sleep and say goodnight to them. It really helps reinforces what he remembers for his own bedtime routine.
This bed is from IKEA
Doll Umbrella Stroller ($10)
Yes, even boys like to push strollers. In fact, out of all his toys, this one is my son’s MOST USED TOY! We got this when my son turned one year old because he was getting frustrated that his walkers were so bulky and heavy when he wanted to turn with it, or couldn’t lift it over something on the floor. These doll umbrella strollers are extremely light and fold up very small. When we go on our morning walks around the block we take this with us and he will usually want to push it the whole way. If not, it’s very easy to fold up and throw under my arm. He is always doing laps of the house with it too. Watch out, he is very possessive of it if another child comes to inspect it.
I bought my umbrella stroller (right) from Target in Australia, but there are great ones on Amazon USA almost as cheap as this one…
We have gone on quite a few vacations and this toy ALWAYS comes with us because the umbrella stroller folds up quite small.
- Doll Jogger Stroller ($25) that looks like a real one (middle).
- Delux stroller in pink ($69.99) that comes with its own diaper bag, bassinet cover, and storage basket at the bottom, In Plaid ($49.99), in Blue (79.99). These look incredible. (Left).
- Twin Doll Stroller ($49.99)
RIDE ON TOYS
Step2 Whisper Ride II ($55.99)
At some point getting my little boy into his stroller after being at the park became difficult because he didn’t want to be confined in his stroller. You should have seen his WOW face when this was waiting outside for him to become the mode of transport going to the park. No more difficulties EVER getting him to sit or leave the park.
(Before he could walk on his own he sometimes liked to hold on to the car and walk home. It was pretty cute.)
We found out about this toy from a playground. Another boy had one and my son took a keen interest in inspecting it and sitting in it. When the boy who owned it came back, my son was very disappointed. I asked the parent how much these things cost and scoffed at how cheap they were. I thought these things were clearly over $100. I went and bought one on Amazon that night!
This one is another big favorite of mine and I am looking at getting my son this for his 2nd birthday now (because I need a big wow factor gift). It’s four in one as its an infant trike, steering trike, learn-to-ride trike and classic trike that they can start using from 9 months and grow old with it. I love it because the wheels can be controlled from the handle at the back and it has a sun protection visor over the top.
Bentley Trike ($450)
If you love that, my husband has been looking into the Bentley Trike version. It sure looks super comfortable and snazzy. It’s pretty much the “Bentley of Trikes”, a true luxury trike. I believe my son would be just as happy with the Radio Flyer trike more than 5 times LESS than this Bentley trike. It makes me think to when I used to fly economy all the time and thought nothing of it…. then I tried First Class for a few long-haul flights with the better seating, the incredible service, the better food and it made my next economy trip feel so uncomfortable and miserable. HaHaHa. Better not get my boy too used to the good life to early!
This whiteboard- blackboard combo from Ikea is good quality. You can buy cheap rolls of paper that can sit on a rail next to the chalk holder. The board may be a little tall for a small toddler but you can trim the legs easily.
I started off having the whiteboard facing out, but he would struggle to get his marker lids off, so for now, we just have the blackboard facing out. With some quick educating him where he is allowed to draw and where he is not to draw and where his chalk goes when he is done, this toy is a real treat.
On the tray provided, I have 3 different colors of chalk (too much and he enjoys dumping them on the floor), and a no-spill cup filled with a bit of water and a paintbrush in case he wants to paint the blackboard (which he always wants to).
A great chalk set is The Paw Patrol Jumbo 5-Piece Jumbo Chalk Set and is one of the cheaper priced sets on Amazon. I love these because they come with chalk holders so they don’t get their hands grotty, and the chalk doesn’t break when they drop them. These chalk holders are also refillable.
He always initiates playing with this himself and will usually draw on it for 1-3 minutes.
These are excellent quality thick markers and they are easily washable off any surface. We have had a few accidents where he has drawn on our white couch with these and they very easily wiped off with one baby wipe.
My son does struggle to get the lids off them so expect to be helping your little one with this.
If you are going to get paint for your toddler, I recommend getting water-based paint so that it washes out super easy. The spill-proof paint cups have primary colored lids and paint handles so you can match the paint to the lids and brushes. Also, the best feature of these cups is that no paint will fall out if they tip over (if you put less than an inch of paint inside). For his age, I still blob paint on a paper plate because he can see the paint better and I know he likes watching the colors mix on his plate. I use the cups for putting water in and I leave it on his blackboard stand with a paint brush. When he feels like it, he wets his brush and paints the blackboard and over some of the drawings I have on there for him.
Art Smock with front pocket. ($8.99)
Even though we paint with waterbased paint, I will put my son in an art smock to protect his outfit so I don’t have to change him. This art smock is great because it has pockets at the front that can hold art supplies or just simply catch a gloop of paint from falling onto his pants when sitting down.
Toddler Table and chairs
From about 15 months old my son was really interested in small chairs and tables at the local library and friends houses that they thought it was time that he had his own. Now he is 20 months old and has used it every day for eating his snacks on, for doing artwork, and some games. He initiates sitting on here himself. I looked online for ages because I was super fussy about which table I got. It needed to still be stylish but have storage. Both tables I mention have great reviews on Amazon and are not overly expensive.
- Kid Kraft. I have this one (right) in a wood finish with white legs. They have a removable circle lid and a net under the table to store supplies. The legs are really short so really young ones can use them.
- UTEX: This is a table I am contemplating getting for his bedroom for train play. This table is a convertible table with a construction play top on one side and a smooth top on the other side. It features storage drawers that are perfect for storing their blocks, arts & crafts, doll houses pieces, puzzles, and more. This table does not come with any chairs.
PUZZLES & STACKING TOYS:
Toys like puzzles help children problem-solve, learn spatial relations (how things fit together), and develop fine motor skills (use of the small muscles in the hands and fingers).
Unlike a sound puzzle described next, real puzzles where the focus is to put the piece in the correct spot is one of the BEST toys you can get for a toddler at this age. It really gets their brain working.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Pet animals: Melissa & Doug Pet animals Knob Wooden Puzzle. ($9.99) This a great puzzle to START WITH. It has three chunky puzzle pieces to do which will not overwhelm your little one when first becoming exposed to puzzles.
- Shapes: Melissa & Doug Shapes Knob Wooden Puzzle. ($9.99) This puzzle is in the shape of a house and gets them learning shapes without even realizing it. This puzzle is chunky too for those little hands still working on their dexterity.
- Farm animals: Melissa & Doug Farm Wooden Chunky Puzzle. ($9.99) We talk about what sounds animals make and sing Old McDonald while putting this puzzle together. This puzzle is great for toddlers because its an activity that can really hold their attention for a while.
- Shapes: Melissa & Doug Shapes Wooden Chunky Puzzle. ($9.99) It has full-color pictures beneath the pieces to offer a visual clue and it encourages hand-eye coordination and imaginative play. These shapes can be used multi-purpose with other learning activities. They are great quality blocks.
Sound effect puzzles
Sound effect puzzles are best introduced after normal puzzles because all the excitement is in removing the puzzle pieces to hear the sound and not in putting them back.
Melissa & Doug Sound Puzzles. ($9.99- $12.99)
OMG, my son LOVES these puzzles so much. Each puzzle piece makes a sound when you remove it from the base. I like these but they do drive me nuts sometimes because they randomly play at random times when the puzzle is not put back in. I do not keep them in my sons room because of this. I sometimes hear one going off 5am in the morning, when we open our front door, or whatever. It’s weird. So put the puzzle pieces back in when finished to save your sanity.
The other annoying this about these is they are thick and do not fit in any of our puzzle storage racks.
My sons favorites are:
Around the House Sound Puzzle (e.g. The front door will play a “Ding Dong” sound).
The Wheels on the Bus (e.g. The wheels will play “The wheels on the bus verse).
Old McDonald Had a Farm. (e.g. The horse will play the corresponding horse verse).
But there are so many different ones because these are a very popular puzzle toy with the toddlers. You can also find Zoo animals, Farm Animals, Animal Sounds, Pet Sounds, Vehicles, Nursery Rhymes, Nursery Rhymes 2, Musical Instruments, Around the Fire Station. Fire Truck Sounds, Disney Micky Mouse & Friends.
Mini Knobbed Cylinders puzzle $28.49
Puzzles give children the chance to practice new skills over and over again. Toys that give kids a chance to figure something out on their own—or with a little coaching—build their logical thinking skills and help them become persistent problem-solvers. They also help children develop spatial relations skills (understanding how things fit together), hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills (using the small muscles in the hands and fingers).
This shape puzzle takes inspiration from the Montessori toys. It comes with 5 puzzles that challenge your child with depth, width and size. My son was very focused on this toy when I first sat him down with it. He was just over 12 months old and this kept him focused for over an hour, which was a first for him to be focused on one toy for so long.
Each day I would let him play with it after he finished his breakfast as that is when i felt he had the most attention for a toy like this. I have to supervise him playing with these as they are small toys and potentially a choking hazard. But I loved that they were small because they were great for his dexterity. He would sometimes see it on our kitchen bench and try to tell me that he wanted to play with it other times of the day also.
Fisher-Price shape sorter (19.99)
We had this toy since my son was about 6 months old but once he turned 12 months old he loved to use it ALL the time until he could master it. At first, all he could get in was the green circle but with a bit of coaching to turn the shapes around, he is managing all the shapes easily now.
Because he showed much interest in his shape sorting, I also got my son a Hape 3D shape and (hue) color sorter ($19.99) These are wooden which I love.
Stack and sorting toys. ($10-$20)
My son already liked dropping rings on a rod base so I thought I would up the ante and get him the same thing but one that encourages him to try to do it by shape or color. When he first got the Melissa & Doug Stack and Sort board (Bottom), I just kept out one of each color out and encouraged him to put a colored shape on each rod. As he got better, he began color sorting using all the pieces out and I will count out how many are on each rod.
This is a great toy if you want a toy to leave out that will stimulate and slightly challenge them depending on what they want to do with it. It’s quite open-ended. Sometimes I tie a ribbon on a round peg and encourage him to thread them through the hole to improve his fine motor skills.
My son had outgrown his plastic stacking ring toy so I needed another toy to stimulate and challenge him further. I got him the Geometric Stacker (top). Each stack is also a different shape but they change in size. When he was closer to 12 months I would start out by only having one of the rings or octagons shapes out and when he got a closer to 18 months old I introduced the square ones (which were more complex). They had to have two matching sized squares on top of each other to fit like a puzzle before the next row could go on top. I just don’t think my son was up to that skill level before 18 months old.
Pound a ball drop
Toddlers are learning to track things with their eyes and like to further discover cause and effect. I feel like this toy is great for early 12 months old but closer to 18 months old he was off exploring other versions of this like rolling his cars down his indoor slide.
Ball Drops initially helps your young one’s dexterity and repetition through playing then it encourage the development of your toddler’s hand-eye coordination and attention span. They will love this toy and play with parents or friends for ages.
I can’t find the ball drop we had online. It was given as a 12-month-old birthday present. But I found a very similar one (Right) by PlayKids (for $19.99). My son has never been interested in using the hammer and likes to use his own hands. I feel toys like this need to be secured against something to keep it upright when they are younger as it will most likely fall over all the time on them. I just zip-tied it to the side of my toddler’s crib. By 18 months they can pick it up themselves if they knock it over.
There is another cool version that I kinda wish we had over a ball drop. It has a ramp with little car racers (Left) by Top Bright ($19.99). My son loves cars and I feel he would keep playing with this much later in his years rather than a ball drop.
Lacing toys. ($8.94-$12.99)
Lacing is really good for their fine motor skills. I got the apple and worm wooden lacing toy ($12.99) because I knew my son would find the little worm cute. I give this to my son while he is in the car and by the time we arrive he has finished up all the string.
Magna Tiles ($49.99)
Magna Tiles are open-ended construction toy that really gets your little one thinking. They hold their attention and focus, teaches motor planning, spatial awareness and develops their fine motor skills. Using the Magnetic Tiles children can build something from their imagination. The colors, translucency, and magnets allow children to build and create in ways they can’t with standard building blocks.
It’s a toy that they will grow into. When my son was closer to 12 months old, he got very excited about pulling the pieces apart and smashing down towers I made from them. We also enjoyed looking at the world through each colored tile. Closer to 18 months, not much has changed but he is beginning to enjoy the magnetic pull when two tiles get close to each other.
I think that starting off with larger versions of lego, like these from Fisher-Price is much better for young ones. These blocks are easy to hold, stack and take apart. It’s much easier for them to handle. These chunky plastic interlocking blocks can be used to make a road, a zoo, a bridge, or a spaceship or whatever they imagine. We have put alphabet letter stickers on ours for letter identification and enjoy making towers, or making funny version cars.
If your child has not got a set of wooden blocks already, I would definitely get some. Stacking them on top of each other and pushing them over is so much fun for a young toddler. We contain our mess by having a tub out with about 10 of each shape and leaving the rest in storage until he gets older.
Sensory: If you have wooden blocks, you could buy some sensory blocks to add to the collection.
Beads: $47.09 We have this one which comes in 3 shapes and has a variety of different sound tones when shaken. The windows are Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Purple. It comes in an enclosed Box that all the shapes slide into. It also was the 2006 winner of the Silver Practical Pre-School Award and the National Parenting Publications Award in 2001. You can read more product reviews of it here.
What toy collection is without some animal toy figurines. You can get a starters pack of animals with Safari (18.00), farm, Ocean ($18.99), Jungle (16.99), Northern American (17.99), Australian (17.99), Insects (17.99). Schleich sells high-quality realistic animal figurines individually between the price of $5-$20 approximately. I have most of mine from Schleich.
Buying realistic looking figurines are a great tactile way for your child to examine and learn about the features of animals. My son learned so many animal names and sounds from playing together with them.
They are a great toy for a child to grow up with. When my boy was closer to one, he would enjoy looking at them and feeling them. Around 15 months old he would tip out the tub of animals and practice standing them all up on their feet. As he gets older he is starting to act out a story he makes up for them. We also use them in lots of sensory games.
From 12 months to 15 months my son didn’t really play with his cars or trucks. (He was only interested in steering wheels!). On my son’s own accord be became heavily interested in cars and trucks at 17 months old.
Once my son’s interest in cars, trucks, trains etc came out, it actually became hard to have my son play with any of his other toys. They lay perfectly in place on his shelf for days while his cards in a tub were always his go-to. He would play quietly for an hour easily running them over the couch. Any time we went to restaurants we knew to bring the cars too.
Wooden bus with passengers. ($15AUD)
My favorite school bus set is from Kmart in Australia. (Link above). It was the same type I remember playing with as a little girl. This toy is great quality and each little person has different features. There are a stop sign and door that opens.
My son enjoys pushing it around, putting the people in and out of the bus, playing with the door and me singing the wheels on the bus while acting out the parts with the bus.
Melissa & Doug have a similar bus ($18.85) but the people are cut out of flat wood which seems less exciting to play with. There is also other transportation themes like the airplane ($16.99) with 4 people and 4 pieces of luggage, and a firetruck ($16.99) with 3 firefighters and a roll-up hose (ribbon) and a lifting ladder. Again, all flat wood with people printed on them.
These wooden toys make great gifts and a toy that can grow old with your children. They also look great on your toy shelves.
Joytin makes a 6 piece set make a beautiful set for $19.99. Each vehicle has a different novelty while moving. They are nothing like the cheap pull-back cars. The plane’s propeller rotates, The car engine cover shakes, The train’s chimney rises and much more….
If your little one can bang on a pot with a wooden spoon, he’s a musician. Besides sheer glee at the sounds he’s producing, there are several benefits to letting your child drum (rattle, shake, clap, bang…) to his own beat. To name a few: Making music helps the body and mind work together, stimulates thinking and expressive skills, and enhances creativity; it also encourages socialization and builds self-esteem when your baby hears what he can do (and the applause from Mom and Dad that follows!).
- My son has a Little Tikes Piano/Xylophone ($27.99) and it’s a real treat when we are singing songs. He is actually playing his own version of chopsticks on the floor right now as I am typing this. This piano is surprisingly in-tune.
- Also, percussion instruments are really great for toddlers. There is a great quality twenty-three piece mini band set ($33.99) that is fantastic and would make a great gift. I just would be careful with a few bell toys if your little one is still mouthing things.
I got mine from Ikea for $14.99 but you can basically get cheap good quality ones from everywhere. There was the option to get the tent that went with it, but I did not have space in my house for that. What I love about these tunnels is that I don’t have to have it out every day and easily folds up in the cupboard securely. It’s not like one of those crazy tents where it’s flying in all directions trying to get it down. It’s really easy, thank god.
Caterpillar tunnel: ($20.99) This one is themed with legs and has little legs.
For a bigger configuration opportunity, there is an 8-in-1 with 4 play tents and 4 tunnels that can be configured in many different settings. Some tents could have different things in them (like a ball pit, water to splash in or play in sand etc) or used as Racing Tunnels, Mazes Or Magic Caves. It costs $59.95.
Slide/ Playground equipment
If a toddler does not burn off the energy they turn into a hot mess in the afternoons. I have the funniest memory of my son right before his bedtime bath doing at least 50 laps of going up and down his little slide that we have in his bedroom. He learned that if he lifts up his feet on the way down, he slides down faster and would run around and do it again. It was super adorable. My son is a bit nervous going down the big one at his park but this slide he has no issues with. He also loves to roll his trucks down it.
The slide we got was the Little Tikes First Slide (31.73). It’s 3 feet long. 44 inches tall. It’s a lot of fun to have the end of the slide land in a ball pit or baby pool.
Also if you have a beam for it, a swing is a fantastic item for any toddler!!! Eastern Jungle Gym has a full and a half bucket version.
Kiddie Pool for summer (or Ball pit for all year round)
Having a kiddie pool has been incredible in our home, for so many activities. I have a shallow pool by Intex Sunset Glow Baby Pool ($9.30) but there are deeper blow-up pool options. This one by Intex ($19.90) is perfect for 3-year-olds. Maybe one to grow into and only halfway fill up?
- I use it for cooling down as a pool in summer. I like to fill one bucket of hot water into the filled up pool so it’s nice and warm as my son hates cold water. Sometimes I will turn it into a bubble bath.
- I use it for sensory play to contain the mess.
- When it’s colder, we leave it filled up with balls ($19.99) and make a ball pit in his room.
Throwing a ball or kicking a ball is so much fun at this age. It’s so great watching them run after the ball and start trying to catch or kick it around the yard.
We started off with some 7″ indoor soft sensory balls by Edushape Senso ($11.99) and some squishy foam rubber sensory balls with a fuzzy tactile surface by Rubbabu ($12.99) that would not damage anything or hurt him. We eventually got a light plastic ball to play with outside. You don’t want anything too heavy or leather as it will feel like kicking around a brick for them.
Sand Pit toys
If the child lives near the beach or a sanded playground, get a Beach Toy Basics set ($9.89)
What baby or toddler does not like bubbles??!!
Bubbles are hard for 1-year-olds to catch. Their motor skills are not quite developed for that level yet. There is an amazing company called Gymboree that make bubbles that don’t pop! That’s right, you can come back an hour or even a day later and there will still be bubbles laying on your floor. They are great because it really allows your child to interact more with the bubbles. Also, the solution lasts much longer than a traditional solution. This stuff does not get sticky on your carpet or leave marks. They are a little expensive on Amazon ($39.99) but I hear that they are $3.60 on their website. As of June 2018, the Gymboree website is out of stock, which must be why they are so expensive on Amazon.
If you just want to stick to the traditional bubbles and get lots more for your money you can buy a 12 pack for $13.95 form Joytin which is great value.
Stepping Stones/ Balance beams
Education: Stepper. A Stepper improves balance and coordination. We pull these out at least twice a week and make different courses. I usually line when close to my couch or around my two logs have a slight gradient to serve as ramps on and off the balance logs. These are great to store in the wardrobe when not in use as they nest inside one another.
Bead maze: ($14.99)
Yes, I know what your thinking. This doesn’t look like a bath toy. Well, its actually intended for the table but we stick it to the side of the bathtub (above water level). This toy gets lots of play in here. Also to note is that the suction cups on here are VERY good quality. With my son’s full weight on the toy, it will not budge. I can’t say the same for most other bath toys on the market.
Foam alphabet numbers & letters ($6.99)
Daily exposure to numbers and letters is what has really helped my son learn his full alphabet and numbers by 15 months old. We had foam letters in his bath and would have them floating in the bath. As my son picked one up, we would say the letter/number and stick it to the side of the bath. He is 20 months old and does this all on his own now while I sit there watching and being the proudest mom in the world.