15 amazing toys every toddler parent should know about!
Christmas is coming up and in the Low Countries, where I’m from, we’ve got Sint Nicholas swinging by even sooner. So a list of fun toys will come in handy!
When we first had Elliot we had a pristine living room, not a plastic toy in sight. All of Elliot’s things fit our fashionable pastel color pallet perfectly. Why, I thought, do other parents let themselves go like that – having ugly plastic toys lying around the house? That is until, we had a second baby. Amelia and Elliot are 18 months apart and so having toys to keep Elliot busy while I was tending to Amelia and breastfeeding her twenty thousand times a day, became more important than the hipster factor of our living room.
We were never going to have a play corner I used to say,… But during many a sleepless nights (thanks Amelia!) I started pinteresting ideas to set up a play corner in the house we had only recently moved to. We settled on ikea IVAR cupboards and painted them in the same color as our wall. Actually I wanted them to float but for safety reasons and the condition of our wall we had to attach steel legs. (still not to happy about that but now that the kids are bigger and often hanging from the cupboard doors, I’m happy we went for safety).
So what are Elliot and Amelia’s favorites at 3 and 1,5?
1. Finding Dory Coffeepot Play Set from Goliath
This robo fish is one of our all time favorites. Fill up the (plastic) coffee pot with water and tap to make Dory swim like an actual fish. Dory joins the kids in the bath tub and has gone on several swimming outings with us!
2. Pushcart/Workbench Redsmaster Bricolo from Janod
This pushcart has been a hit ever since the kids were starting to walk. It is really wobbly so it won’t have them walking before they have found their balance (walking behind pushcarts earlier might cause tiptoewalkers). Years later both Elliot and Amelia play with it every single day. They love to hammer away at the pegs and knobs. Bonus: it’s a pretty wooden toy to look at.
3. Singing Picknick Basket from V-tech
This cute basket is filled with plastic food, cups, plates and anything you’d need for a picknick. Every time you open the basket, the basket sings or asks you for a particular item. Still one of the kids’ favorites, and easy to take along on an outing to a friend’s house.
4. Musical work bench from Kiddieland Toy Ltd.
This work bench is loud. We got it second hand and to be honest I wasn’t very happy to invite it to our home but,… I have grown to love it. The kids play with this toy every single day. They use it as a jukebox, puzzle with it, hammer and saw with it. We’ve had it for two years now and there hasn’t been a day that it has been left in the cupboard untouched.
5. Tractor by Kiddieland Toys
You must have seen this one around, so many people seem to have it. No wonder because every kid like it! Even as a little babies the kids loved this toy. When you push down the farmer’s head, the tractor makes its way through the living room, singing “Old Mc Donald’s Farm” and if you press down the cattle on his wagon, they make their signature animal noises. Years later it’s still a hit!
6. Ikea Plufsig Folding Gym Mat
This is a must-have in the play corner! Our kids learned to crawl on it (I wanted them to be able to practice all they wanted but we had cold floor), they do gymnastics on it now, use it as a wall in the camps they like to build, the options are endless,… It’s great and again easy to take with you somewhere too, as it folds up easily.
7. Ikea Stadsdel
Now that we’re talking Ikea,… we are also very happy with the play road map Stadsdel. It’s a little warmer than playing on the floor but not too thik so that the kids can still build towers and play with their train tracks.
8. Ikea Duktig kitchen
Need I say more? This is a classic of course and it is so much fun to hack! We actually bought it second hand and all the hacking had been done for us. The sink, handles and other silver items have been sprayed in bronze and the back was made extra cute with marble print sticky paper (I hacked our bedside tables with this stuff to and the result is amazing!). This cute kitchen is our latest addition to the play corner and it has seen a looooot of action. No regrets here.
9. Boogie board Play ‘n Trace from Kent Displays
This is an eye-catcher to take along to family gatherings. It’s a drawing board that wipes clean with the press of a button. It’s like magic! It’s also perfect for longer car rides. Older kids can trace prints, numbers and letters.
I discovered this one when we were in Italy but they have it everywhere from different brands. It’s the parent-friendly version of play-doh. There’s no mess,… these sticky little balls can be moulded in all sorts of shapes, but they don’t dry out, the colors don’t mix, it’s gluten free, it doesn’t crumble and it doesn’t stick to everything. Our kids can easily play with their clay for half an hour without interruption. They also like to use it in their play kitchen to make pancakes or meat balls for us.
11.Search and Find Book
I just love this concept and they come for all ages. In these books you have to look for several items on the page. Elliot started to enjoy it from the age of two.
12.Haba Fish Catching
The boutique I went to for Amelia’s baby register had one of these and Elliot would sit there catching fish with the magnet rod every time. My mom would join us on these trips and it was she who ended up getting Elliot one as a gift. It’s such a pretty toy and it’s such fun!
13.Pop Up Toy from Galt
This toy is perfect to develop your baby’s hand-eye coordination. It is so simple but Elliot and Amelia love it. Push down the peg in the hole and (thanks to the spring inside) it flies off. Later it’s good to learn colors with as well.
14.Le Grand Garage from Le Toy Van
This beautiful wooden play garage is one of the kids’ favorites. It has three floors and comes with a helicopter, firetruck, police car, bus,… There’s a gas station, an elevator and a helipad. Now add some imagination and you’ve got yourself hours of fun. Bonus: it’s pretty to look at.
15.All Natural Sheep on wheels
This sheep is our pride and glory. We were given it as a present and will treasure it forever. It’s handmade from beech wood, wool and leather and has pretty much become part of our family! The kids roll around on it every day and pet its soft woollen fur. The fact that it’s pink makes it even more fun!
There’s so much more to say about the toys our kids love but that didn’t make the list. Add a mirror to your play corner, it will give them endless fun (we have a sticky mirror from Ikea on the inside of the cupboard door), Elliot is also in love with his Thomas the Tank Engine collection we are borrowing from relatives,… And remember: there are so many toys out there, preloved toys your family could give a home. Be sure to check the pawn shop, second hand store, facebook marketplace, ask family and friends,… before you go out to buy new ones. Did you know that you can wash little toys (non-electronic) in the washing machine? Other items will be germ- free and look like new after a wipe-down with anti-bacterial detergent. What are your kids’ favorites? Let’s continue the conversation on Instagram!