• Tue, Jun 10 - 1:00 pm ET

8 Toys Your Toddler Will Actually Play With

My toddler has a room full of toys. I promise you, we don’t even buy him that much – I’m just really bad at getting rid of things he doesn’t play with and most toys hold his interest for about two minutes. That’s why I felt compelled to write this post. I finally found some toys he loves, and if any of you out there also have a finicky child who turns his head up at everything, I thought you might be able to use these recommendations.

This could be a complete waste of time since all kids are different – but I know how hard it is to find something your child likes, so it can’t hurt. These recommendations are really for the three-plus crowd. I think our biggest problem with our first child and certain toys, was buying them before he was ready for them.

Dave The Minion

toddler-toys

Amazon

I know everyone has moved on from this movie and is still all about Frozen fever, but this toy rocks. We got this for my son for Christmas and he’s still totally entertained by it. I’m thinking it’s because it farts. Who knows. All I know is, it’s been six months and the thing still hasn’t lost it’s luster. Plus, it’s adorable. It says a few nonsense minion words, giggles, farts and says “banana.” Also, his eyes move when you squeeze him. So even if the movie is kind of “old” now – it’s still a fun doll.

Imaginext Stuff

batman-toy

Amazon

These are great toys, because you can start small and relatively inexpensively to see if your kid has any interest. We bought him the Batmobile to start and when he didn’t put it down, we added to his collection. Now he has this Batcave and Wonder Woman’s invisible plane and he seriously plays with these things for very long stretches of time. They have a ton of other characters, too – like Jake and the Pirates, Monster’s Inc.

Balance Bike

balance-bike

princelionheart.com

This thing was sent to me before Christmas by a company that wanted me to review it.  I wanted to get on this bike – it was so beautiful. My son took no interest. Sorry, company. Here I will add that my son took no interest in anything that rolls or moves until about a month ago – at which point he began loving this bike. These bikes are great because unlike bikes with training wheels or three wheels, your child actually pushes, lifts his legs up and then rides along balancing himself (hence the name). Seems like this will be a way easier transition to regular bike. We’ll see.

Mega Blocks

toddler-toys

Amazon

I know – you’re probably thinking booorrrrinnnng. These giant lego-type blocks are owned by pretty much everyone for a reason. Kids like to build things.

Ikea Train Set

toddler-toys

Ikea.com

I guess any train set would work here – I’m just choosing Ikea’s because it’s affordable, it’s made of wood, and it’s easy to put together. This is one of those toys I thought was a fail because I gave it to my child too early. He loves it now.

Picasso Tiles

toddler-toys

Amazon

These are like blocks that encourage your child to think outside the box. They are magnetic – and as you can see from the pics that means a lot more building options are available. It’s not just the same old stack-to-build toy.

V-Reader

toddler-toys

Amazon

I know some of you may not be into electronic toys for your kids, but this thing is awesome. The reader comes with built in word puzzles and games, but you can buy cartridges to mix it up for your child. We have the Toy Story and Mickey Mouse ones – and they are interactive and terrific. The word games help kids recognize letters, put sounds together, and identify word combinations.

Toy Kitchen

toddler-toys

Ikea.com

Okay – kids love these. We have a membership to the Orlando Science Museum. There is a kids section, and even though the museum is filled with all kinds of amazing things – the kitchen is always full of kids. I didn’t actually believe this toy could possibly be this entertaining, but I do now. I’m investing in one because my youngest will be able to enjoy it, too. I linked the Ikea one because it’s pretty affordable as these kitchens go.

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  • http://overthecuckoonest.blogspot.com/ Kay_Sue

    I’m thinking it’s because it farts

    As a mom of two boys, I think you’re right.

    I love the magnetic tiles. I remember playing with the old pattern blocks that my mom kept in her classroom–they were so much fun. I’d create really intricate designs. And those weren’t magnetic–you couldn’t really build up–but still provided so many hours of entertainment, for such a long time.

    I second the train sets wholeheartedly. We have the Imaginarium train table in my kids’ room–my mom bought it–and it actually does provide hours of entertainment. It was super annoying when they were little, because guess who has two thumbs and was constantly putting it together? This guy. As they are older, it’s more fun because when they want me to engage with it, I can, but they are able to build it by themselves the rest of the time. I am thinking of passing on the table itself because they get as much enjoyment out of building the sets on the floor, but it actually has a lot of storage too, so I’m torn…

    Be careful with Megablocks because in my experience they are gateway drugs to the hell that is Legos. Of course, I’m being hyperbolic–as much as I bitch about Legos, I enjoy spending an afternoon building as much as my kids do actually…

    Anyway, before this turns into a much longer post, I totally agree with the vast majority of these. The only ones we haven’t owned are the Balance Bike and the V Reader.

    • itpainsme2say

      Omg i used to make huge mosaics with those block things and I’m pretty sure thats the sole reason I got into the gifted program. I promised myself that would be the first thing I bought after I was sure my kids wouldn’t choke themselves with them. How can you not love legos?

    • http://overthecuckoonest.blogspot.com/ Kay_Sue

      I do love legos, actually. I mentioned that. ;) I do not, however, love stepping on them and my kids are terrible about leaving them everywhere.

    • itpainsme2say

      haha true I had to crochet one of those lego blanket bags for my cousin cause she got so tired of stepping on them

    • http://overthecuckoonest.blogspot.com/ Kay_Sue

      They are little bastards when they get loose.

  • Effervescent Pheasant

    My toddlers currently fight over a 2002 “sassy” baby toy from a Burger King kids meal.. I’ve even had to hide the damn thing because of the fighting… That and the insane “catch me kitty” from Vtech… it’s currently sitting on top of my fridge in a time out!
    Sometimes you never know what they heck they will play with. LOVE magnetic tiles and even just plain wooden building blocks.

  • Allie

    Kitchen! Balance bike! And for us, matchbox cars and – for the past 18 months straight – couch cushions! (Recently bought a cheap twin air mattress to save the couch. Wondering why I didn’t think of it sooner.)

  • Katherine Handcock

    I find that the less “directed” the play, the more kids play with it. A lot of the fancy-schmancy toddler toys are pretty limited – press this button, it makes this noise. Blocks and train sets and play kitchens are so great because they can be whatever your kids wants. There are three naked Barbies swimming (I hope they’re swimming) in the sink in our play kitchen right now.

    I wish in retrospect that I’d gotten a balance bike. Now my daughter is 3 1/2 and she wants the real thing or nothing!

    • AnettaBiolettimso

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    • Kelly

      Yeah, I agree about open-ended toys. It’s tricky though because I feel like sometimes the timing has to be just right, more so than if your toy is thinking for you. I have more losses than wins in the toy-picking department but I shall keep trying.

    • Katherine Handcock

      If all else fails, a pot and spoon for baby and earplugs for the adults work well most times ;-)

  • Lee

    The play kitchen Santa brought has to be the favorite toy in our house. That thing was well worth whatever I spent on it. If you don’t have room for the kitchen just get some food and bowls. Half the time my son brings the play food out to the living room to make plates up.

    Play clothes are a favorite in our house. I keep my eyes out for in the dollar bin at target, sales after holidays, and the sale section at party city.

  • Drstephaniedvm

    Play kitchen and play food for the win here too! Ikea’s soft play food is awesome! The salmon that has velcroed on fillets is cool. The expensive wood food that velcroed together and you “cut” with a wood knife is also a favorite in our house

    • Katherine Handcock

      If there was an Ikea near us, we would have owned all the play food and I would have been broke. Instead, I settled for what my in-laws could bring on their trips to visit :-) The metal pots-and-pans set is probably the best thing they’ve ever brought.

    • Lee

      If you have pets that shed the felt Ikea food is more of a headache than anything else.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    My kid is 3 and the toy she probably plays with the most is the $10 doll stroller she got for xmas last year from my mother-in-law. Mostly she likes to load up the back with whatever bags she can find around the house (she’s absconded all of my tiny little wedding purses!) and put things in them, then stick a doll in the front and walk around the apartment pretending she’s a daycare teacher.

  • Kelly

    My daughter will be two in a few weeks. We’ve found the following things have staying power:
    -Melissa & Doug giant cardboard blocks
    -Leapfrog Baby Laptop
    -Lauri foam puzzles & stacker pegs
    -pom poms from the craft store & plastic cups from the dollar bin
    -purses/wallets (I just give her my old ones and fill them with business cards or paint chips)

    • simoneutecht

      The cheapest place I’ve found yo get Melissa & Doug products is Home Goods. The usually have them for below list price.

  • Ro

    If you want inexpensive, good quality toys, look for the old retro Little People stuff at garage sales. You can usually find it for cheap, it lasts forever and kids love it! The bonus is that it’s actually starting to be worth decent money for collectors, so at the very least, you should be able to get back what you spend. Be careful if you have babies though as the people that come with it can pose a choking hazard. My kids play with it all the time! The new Little People stuff is good too.

    • Lee

      We have tons of little people. I got most of it at thrift stores for very little money.

  • AugustW

    Agreed about the play kitchen. It is just about the only time my daughter will play make believe.

  • kay

    Fact: if you remove the pedles ANY bike is a balance bike. I learned on a normal bike with them removed, then just reattached and I was ready to go. Saves you buying two bikes.

  • Valerie

    My kids both loved the play kitchen at that age. It was a mainstay in our playroom for a good 4 years before I got sick of looking at it (well, and they got sick of playing with it!)