Here comes some brutal honesty! (And possibly an onslaught of judgement from the internet in general, but I just don’t care.) Sometimes we don’t get our kids certain toys because they’re plain old eyesores. We’re trying to hold off filling our home with big plastic monstrosities for as long as we possibly can. And the good news is that in all of our research, we’ve found some really rad toys that are not only beautiful but that our kids totally love and play with for hours.
After lots of research, we narrowed in on a few favorite brands or online shops that tend to have quality pieces that our kids respond really well to. A few of our favorite brands or shops are Janod, Vilac, Smallable, IKEA, Melissa + Doug, Bonjour Petit, and Land of Nod. They’re at a range of prices (IKEA toys are insanely affordable and really fun!) and age ranges but I guarantee you’ll fall in love with a few things whether you have kids or not. We tend to err on the side of wooden or die-cast toys as opposed to plastic; they just wear better and last longer. It does bear mentioning, though, that sometimes the really beautiful toys that you want your kids to love so much just don’t excite them. Kids love color. They just do. They love things that they can move and manipulate with their hands. They love things that are real-life and like the grownups use (like the ice cream scoops, below). But you can definitely find a happy medium between a beautiful toy and one that will get hours of use. So to give you an idea, here are a few of our kids’ current favorite toys. These are the ones that not only they love, but we love to use with them as grownups. Because if you’ve ever played with a kid for hours on end, you know that it makes a difference to be doing something that you actually enjoy too. Have fun! xoxo
Wooden Alphabet Puzzle The colors on this are so vibrant and happy! Maggie has loved chewing on the letters from about 4 months, and I love it because none of them are small enough to swallow. It’s great for teaching colors and letters.
IKEA Push Wagon Henry has been pushing this around since he could walk! Sometimes we store books in it, sometimes it holds cars or trucks. Great for toddlers and beyond.
Strawberry Teether This one is cute, small, and perfect for teething babies. It’s easy to grab and you can attach it to a leash and clip it to your little one.
Twistables Crayons Henry started to love coloring way before he understood that crayons are pretty breakable. So we tried these and they were a lifesaver. You can’t snap them in half, and they twist up instead of having to sharpen them. They also come in a zillion pretty colors.
Magnetic Ice Cream Set No exaggeration, every single kid who comes over to play makes a beeline for the ice cream set. Everything is magnetic so you can actually scoop up the ice cream with a scooper and put it on a cone (also magnetic). Henry and Maggie can actually play with this one together — he serves and she gnaws on the ice cream scoops. 😉
Wooden Barn (with a few extra animals) This has occupied us for hours upon hours. We play farm a lot around here. We supplemented a few extra animals, a farmer, and some miniature buckets and feed. I’d also recommend attaching a little latch to the exterior of the barn so that when you pick it up by the handles it doesn’t come open.
Counting Vegetable Garden We got this for Maggie but both kids really love it! It’s great for teaching counting, colors, and nature. You can stack the veggies all different ways.
Cinema Box I love this toy! It’s a mini projector with five different mini movies that you can project onto the inside of the box. You can sell tickets and write up receipts or movie stories on a little pad that comes with it. There aren’t any words to the stories so we kind of make them up each time. This one is probably for a 2-3 year old at the youngest, and a kid who is really into storytelling.
The Best Sidewalk Chalk If I’m gonna be outside on the ground coloring with chalk, it better be with this stuff. The colors are enough to keep grownups entertained while you draw your 47th car or rainbow.