Toddler Toy Recommendations

Toy Recommendations for Two Year Olds

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1. Playdough and Playdough tools

Playdough is always a big favorite at our house. And it always seems that we go through quite a bit of it. I also found that it is a great way to encourage fine motor movements and use of common objects like playdough scissors or tweezers. My little one also loves to use her playdough pizza cutter and rolling pin. If you prefer (for whatever reason) you can also make your own playdough at home. A quick google search reveals a variety of recipes. Another tip would be to use plastic silverware and plastic cookie cutters that you already have at home to supplement your playdough play.

2. Melissa and Doug Easel

We were fortunate to find this Melissa and Doug Easel at our favorite second hand children’s store here locally and we have used it almost every day since. We use it a multitude of ways, with chalk on the one side, with dry erase markers on the other, with the clips to hold up paper for painting or coloring. During the winter we put it out on the lanai and then don’t have to worry about how big a mess we make with the paint.

3. Boon Bathtub Toys

These bathtub toys have been such a huge hit at our house that I have given them as birthday gifts several times since. My little one loves pouring and catching water through them. Also they actually stick really well to the bathtub compared to some other similar toys. This is also a little bit of a negative as my little one is unable to move them herself.

4. LeapFrog Tad’s Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set

We got an older version of this toy as a hand me down from a friend and it has remained a favorite since I brought it home. My daughter loves to take the different letters in and out to hear the phonics. We use it on our metal exterior door as opposed to the refrigerator which gives her more space to play. We have also used the magnetic letters to work on letter recognition, matching games with capital and lowercase letters and to start working on simple spelling, like spelling her name. At the age of 2 she was able to correctly identify approximately 10 letters, even pointing out certain letters on products in the grocery store which I attribute partially to this toy.

5. Cozy Coupe

This classic has proven to be a fun addition to our outdoor toys. My little one loves to get in, open and close the doors and turn her key. Various baby dolls are also along for the ride. This toy is great because it gets her moving and works on reciprocal lower extremity movements. We found ours at our favorite used children’s store for more than half off the original price. Some times it pays to buy used and put the difference towards an item she will enjoy later when she is older.

6. Mr./Mrs. Potato Head

Another classic toy comes in next on our list. We used Mr. Potato Head a lot when she was attending speech therapy to work on a variety of words including more, please, thank you and different body parts. My daughter also loves to laugh and giggle when she puts the parts in the wrong order. We also used this toy when we were working on learning about Pablo Picasso and modern art. Check out our art history section for suggestions for introducing your little one to one of the greats!

7. Kinetic Sand

Kinetic Sand is another great indoor activity on a cold or rainy day. Our set came with miniature sand toys with which she can build small sand castles. My little one loves how the sand sticks together easier than regular sand and mom enjoys that it makes it easier to clean up. We play kinetic sand in her highchair in order to help keep it contained. This is another activity that you can DIY with several recipes available with a quick google search.

8. Water Beads

We were introduced to water beads at a friends first birthday party. They are a great sensory activity. I will hide small plastic toys in the water beads in order to add to the fun. We ordered one bag of water beads over a year ago and still have lots left as they expand so much.

9. Bubble Machine

My little one loves anything that has to do with bubbles. We did purchase a bubble machine to use while she is playing with her bubbles as it just helps to make so many more bubbles while she is blowing bubbles. It also cuts down on the amount of bubbles Mom and Dad have to blow!

10. Melissa and Doug Cutting Fruit

I found this set used and it has provided endless hours of fun. My little one loves “cutting” the fruit with the wooden knife and then sticking it back together with the Velcro. I also like that it works on a functional real world activity without the risk of a real knife.

What toys does your two year old love to play with? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Toddler Toy Recommendations

Toy Recommendations for One Year Olds

Building on my previous post here is the list of toys that were the most loved in our house when my daughter was one. (Disclaimer: is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Clicking on the photographs links you to

1. Mega Blocks

Blocks are a great way to work on midline play and bilateral coordination. We like the Mega Bloks as they are large enough to not have to worry about choking hazards but still work well with little hands. At first you will have to assist more but once your little one gets the hang of them they will be able to but them together themselves. We got lucky and found some Mega Bloks on clearance after Christmas at Bells and were able to use our Bells Bucks to get them for almost free. I’ve included a link to Amazon below as I have personally not run across that deal since. Has anyone found Mega Bloks on clearance anywhere? Leave us a comment and let us know.

2. Shape Sorter

My little one received the shape sorter below as a first birthday gift. It was perfect! The shapes are large enough to not worry about choking but the small overall size helped make it an easy toy to take along and did not take up too much space in the toy bin. I liked this toy to help work on shape recognition and matching.

3. Chunky Puzzles or Sound Puzzles

My little one loved puzzles at one and the large chunky puzzles by Melissa and Doug were just the right size for her little hands. We also loved the puzzles that made sounds, in particular the ones that made animal sounds as she was learning to talk. We would mimic the sounds while playing with the puzzles to help work on her speech and different sounds.

4. Egg Shakers

Little ones love to make music. We would use all kinds of household items to bang on especially our metal pots and pans. She also received a music set as a first birthday gift from a friend but by far her favorite instrument at one were shaker eggs like these. They fit just right in her little hands and she loved the sound they made. Check out these below on Amazon.

5. Toys that encourage pretending (Cleaning toys, cooking toys, baby dolls)

It’s never too early to introduce your child to playing pretend. Studies have shown that pretending is an important part of children’s development. My one year old loved to mimic what Mommy was doing around home. For her first birthday she received this Melissa and Doug set as a gift. She loved to mimic Mommy and sweep the floor.

Here she is using the broom (when I witnessed it Mommy couldn’t help but run and put on her bonnet to make her look like a sweet little “Little House” character. (If you have money to splurge and love classic children’s looks check out The Beaufort Bonnet Company at

Play Kitchens are another great idea. We were fortunate enough to get this model as a hand me down. It’s perfect for one year olds as it is height adjustable. My little one loved to take things in and out of the refrigerator and microwave at that age.

Baby dolls are another great idea. We particularly like plastic baby dolls like the one below as my daughter is able to take them with her into the bathtub and the pool. She has a very similar bathtub toy as this that she now plays with that she is older. It makes for a great hot day activity.

6. Push/Ride Toy

My daughter received this ride on toy as a birthday gift for her first birthday and it was perfect. She could sit and ride on it, stand and push it from behind and she loved pushing all the buttons and playing music. The seat also lifts up to a small storage area underneath and she enjoyed taking small toys in and out. It provided endless hours of fun.

7. Pounding Toy

What little one doesn’t love to bang? This toy helped with hand eye coordination. We also would use it when working with her speech, repeating up and down.

8. Sand/Water Table

While this is a more expensive pick it does make for a great one year old gift. All of my nieces and nephews also love to dig in the sand and play in the water. On a recent visit to a children’s museum the water table was the highlight and the busiest area. My family up north will put their sand and water table in the basement during the winter to allow the kids to continue to play. If you have the ability in your budget to accommodate such a item I would highly recommend it.

9. Dimpl

10. Wooden Rainbow Stacker

What is toys does your 1 year old love? What would you add or subtract from this list? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Toddler Toy Recommendations

Toy Recommendations for Infants

I know that a lot of people are working on a very different income level then normal but for those that are looking for ideas on how to keep their little ones occupied during all this time at home I thought I would start a series on recommended toys for different ages. These recommendations come from personal experience as well as from my experience with my daughter receiving rehab for torticollis as an infant. (Disclaimer: is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to If interested in the products click on the picture for a link to Amazon.

1. Baby Gym

So for those who are not familiar a baby gym refers to a mat with an overhand from which to hang toys. My personal favorite is the Skip Hop Explore & More Amazing Arch Baby Play Mat Activity Gym. While this baby gym is more expensive than several of it’s competitors I do feel it is worth the splurge due to the fact that it contains so many different functions compared to other baby gyms. The entire baby gym arch moves positions and comes down all the way to the side allowing your infant to look at the toys more closely in sidelying and during tummy time which works on core and neck strength. Regular baby gyms with stationary arches only encourage play on the infants back which is a position that most infants already spend a lot of time in. This particular baby gym also includes a mirror which can be a great source of motivation during tummy time as well as encouraging self awareness and social skills.

2. Plastic Links

My next suggestion would be plastic toy links such as those pictured below. They can be used in coordination with the baby gym listed above to bring toys down even lower and to add your own high contrast baby toys. They can also be used in coordination with your car seat or cart cover.

3. Soft Toys

To build upon the recommendations above I would also recommend 2-3 soft hanging toys. My first pick in this area would be Lamaze Freddy the Firefly. This was a direct recommendation from my daughter’s physical therapist and became a quick favorite. It crinkles, includes a small mirror and rings, all things that encouraged my little one to reach and grasp.

Other recommendations would be for high contrast toys which can be used with small infants while their vision is more limited. I personally like the Baby Einstein Primary Pages High Contrast Book as it also encourages an early love for reading.

My daughter also loved to look and coo at a stuffed zebra that her grandmother had purchased for her. Even at only two weeks old I could prop it along the edge of her bassinet for play time and she loved it. As with all infant toys I would only recommend that this be used for supervised play to avoid unintentional airway obstruction.

4. Ball Drop Toy

I purchased a ball drop toy after seeing my daughter respond well to it at physical therapy. This was a toy that I struggled to find used and wound up being one of the most expensive infant toys that I purchased for her. The particular one that we used was the Fisher Price Roll-a-Rounds Swirlin Surprise Gumballs. It was a great toy for us as it encouraged sitting, reaching and pushing on the lever. She loved the songs and lights which seem to motivate her to play. I also used the gumballs as a separate toy for tummy time by rolling the balls slightly away from her to encourage reaching in supine and unilateral upper extremity propping to encourage weight shifting prior to crawling.

This particular toy appears to no longer be in production. I have seen it at my local used children’s store if you are able to wait for things to open back up. If not I found a similar version on Amazon by clicking the image below.

5. Wrist/Ankle Rattles

I chose these wrist/ankle rattles due to the high contrast colors. We had a similar set when my daughter was an infant which encouraged extremity movement and her attempting to bring her hands to her mouth.

6. Ring Stacker

This classic toy was such a favorite in our household that I now often purchase it as a baby shower gift for friends. The large rings are just the right size for the baby to grasp and shake. They can encourage sitting, reaching across midline and bringing hands to the mouth. It also works on hand eye coordination and cause and effect.

7. LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table

There are a wide variety of these type of tables on the market. We received this particular one as a baby shower gift and it wound up being perfect for us. The biggest advantage of this particular table was the removable legs. I used it with her as a young infant by removing all the legs and placing the table on the floor for her to look at and listen to as I placed her on a swiss ball to encourage tummy time. As she got older and stronger I would have her prone prop on elbows with two legs removed in order to encourage her to lift her head. Later I placed it flat again to encourage trunk control during sitting and reaching.

As my daughter got older I replaced two legs in order to encourage tall kneeling.

Finally as she got older and stronger I placed all the legs back on the table and we used it to encourage pulling to standing and cruising.

8. VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker

I found one of these at my favorite used children’s store when my daughter was about 6 months old. We first used it with her sitting in front of it and pushing the buttons. She particularly loved the little phone. How is it that babies always seem to understand how phones work? It also encouraged wrist extension while working on a vertical surface which helps later in lift with things such as writing. Later she used it to push prior to learning how to walk on her own. You can find one on Amazon by clicking the picture below.

What toys does your infant love? Any other thoughts or suggestions. Leave us a comment below.

Toddler Toy Recommendations

What We’re Playing

Recently my daughter has started to really get into playing games and will frequent ask us to play. While she doesn’t always completely understand the point of the game I think that playing games helps to reinforcing things like taking turns. The other day she received the game The World of Eric Carle The Very Hungry Caterpillar Spin & Seek ABC Game from a friendly friend.

Click on the image below to check it out:

I like this game for a few reasons:

1. It includes one of our favorite book characters and I like anything that calls back to reading.

2. It contains an educational component that directly reflects back on things we have been learning, namely matching up letters.

3. Moving around the game board also allows us to practice her counting.

All in all it is an easy, no prep activity that makes learning her ABCs more fun for her and let’s mom feel good that she is learning something while playing.

Does your little one like board games? What is your go to game that you can pull out for a little undercover learning? Leave us a comment and let us know.