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Parenthood related topics written by the founders of charlotte+asher.

Filtering by Tag: best toys

Best Toys for Kids: Toddlers 1-2

Chantal Standafer


We try to be very selective in our toy choices and not to have too many at home, especially since space is limited when living in the city. Fortunately, Gaby loves copying everything we do and has just as much fun playing with (safe) things around the house as with her toys--at one point anything she was holding became a phone! But here’s a list of toys for 1-2 year old toddlers (and beyond) that we’ve bought or been gifted (or played with at friends’ houses) that we love:

  • Wooden Puzzles: At this age, the large wooden shapes are easy for small hands to grab, plus they can’t be torn apart like cardboard puzzles. They’re good tools for learning colors and objects, as well as developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

  • Blocks: We have so many favorite kinds of blocks, including traditional wooden blocks, nesting blocks, and bristle blocks. All are great for building. The nesting ones also help teach order while the bristle blocks encourage problem solving because they have to go together in certain orientations.

  • Shape Sorting Blocks: Perfect for teaching shapes and colors, as well as working on hand-eye coordination.  

  • Bubbles: These seem magical to little ones, and sticking the wand into the bottle is great for working on hand-eye coordination. They’re also great because it gets us outside even more for playtime.

  • Crayons+Easel: Helps children get started toward coloring and writing, even if nothing they make is recognizable for quite a while. Also, it’s a great way to teach colors, shapes, etc., and it helps develop fine motor skills. We have a table-top easel whose compact size is very convenient to tuck away when not in use. We found that using jumbo crayons helps prevent the tiny broken pieces of the regular sized crayons. If you prefer, you can go with colored pencils, markers, or paint, but the latter two can be a bit messier.

  • Books: We love reading books! They help with language acquisition, plus we can talk about the pictures. Gaby has had many favorites over the course of the year, including Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (alphabet), Ten Little Ladybugs (counting), Brown Bear (colors and animals) and Little Blue Truck (animals and sounds). At this age, we still use both board books and paperbacks, with the latter used more under adult supervision in order to prevent them being ripped apart.

  • Bath Toys: Bath time is great for so many reasons--contained area for the toddler to play, gets the child clean, plus time to learn about water. There are so many options for bath toys. We love cups or ones with holes to teach the little ones about water flow, as well as animal squirters and foam ones that stick to the wall.

  • Magnetic Letters: These are great for teaching the different letters of the alphabet, plus you can also use these to teach colors. Also, because only one side is magnetic, they force children to work on their problem solving skills. They’re also great for occupying the little one while mom or dad is busy in the kitchen! Some versions repeat the names of the letters, the sounds they make and sing songs. You can’t go wrong either way, the kids love this activity!

  • Play Instruments: A great way to introduce more music into their lives. It’s even possible to teach a few songs since some of them have songs programmed into them or come with instructions for playing simple songs. Most children love music and a play instrument is a great toy to get their creative juices flowing.

Which is your favorite? What other toys does your young toddler love?


Best Toys for Kids: Infants Under 1 Year

Laura Hahn

There are so many toys out there for kids, and as a parent it can be overwhelming choosing which ones to get for your child. We tend to gravitate toward more educational toys that will be actively used for at least a few months and have a few purposes; unfortunately you never know what your child will end up liking. Here’s a list of our top 10 favorite toys for infants up to a year old. Check back next week for the top toys we like for age 1-2, and the week after for 2-3 years.

  1. Baby Activity Gym. This is great for infants to practice tummy time starting on day 1, especially if it comes with a small pillow they can prop up on. Ideally the gym has loops to attach toys to practice grabbing, as well as a mirror. This can be used for several months as baby starts to roll over, reach and grab for things, and sit up.

  2. Plastic teething rings. These are super cheap and very versatile. Baby can gnaw on these as she pre-teeths starting as early as 3-4 months, and if you link them together they make a great rattle as well. These are super easy to attach to a car seat or stroller and (bonus!) won’t be thrown to the ground since they stay attached.

  3. O-ball with rattle. This is super easy for babies to grasp and shake due to the holes, and the rattle makes a fun noise. It also makes another great teething toy, and you can even start teaching baby about the flow of communication by rolling the ball back and forth with her. Perfect for developing hand-eye coordination.

  4. Sophie the Giraffe. There’s a reason Sophie has been around for almost 60 years--her ridges and legs specifically are a great teething toy (see a theme here?) for incoming 1-year-old molars. She’s also great for practicing grasping and playing, since she also squeaks.

  5. Board Books. The AAP recommends reading to children when they are infants to promote language skills and literacy development. As baby gets older, encourage him to help turn the pages (board book pages are easier to turn and more durable than paper books). Interactive books that have flaps baby can pull like this are super fun for them around 9-12 months.

  6. Mozart Cube. This cube is a fantastic way to help baby learn to sit up, as it is the perfect height and shape. Leaning on the cube helped my LO work on his ab muscles and go from a tripod sit starting at 4 months to eventual full sitting up soon thereafter. The cube also has lights (an obsession for many babies), big push buttons, and a variety of (not annoying) music, which is stimulating for baby.

  7. Stacking Rings. There are so many versions of this, including stacking cups, but whichever you choose will still be a great toy. Help baby start learning about size and order, along with hand-eye coordination and depth perception.

  8. High Chair Suction Toy. This has saved us during mealtime to help baby sit long enough to finish eating. We’ve even used it into early toddlerhood to help our son sit while the adults finish up their dinner. The suction works well so it doesn’t keep falling off the tray (just make sure to wet it before attaching), and the bright colors, movement, and rattle noises are stimulating for baby. Because it’s fairly small and light, you can even use it (without suction) as a take along toy when out and about.

  9. Soft Blocks. These are a great toy for baby to grab, chew, and throw. They love the crinkly or bell sounds, and as she gets older, eventually she will learn to stack the blocks herself.

  10. Push Walker. This toy is perfect to encourage babies to start walking. Many of them have toys or little extras on the front that baby can play with, both before and during the walking stage. If propped against a hard surface so it can’t move, it encourages the pre-walker to sit, kneel, or even stand while playing with it. Once he’s cruising and steadier on his feet, it’s a great tool to help get those first steps going, though it can roll pretty fast on non-carpeted floors, so be sure to supervise him.

Do you have any other favorite toys for infants that you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments!