Who doesn’t love a good puzzle? Puzzles are a challenging and fun way to help toddlers learn basic foundations like letter and number recognition, learning shapes and colors, and increasing fine motor skills.
And because the term toddler can mean anything between a 2, 3, or 4 year old, I’ve separated this list into helpful categories to help you find the perfect puzzle for your toddler. Because that’s a big range when it comes to puzzles!
There will be obvious overlap, so use your own judgment when it comes to choosing your own toddler’s puzzles from this list. And there’s also a general toddler puzzle section that features puzzles that are perfect for toddlers of any age!
Puzzles for Toddlers of All Ages
Custom Wooden Name Puzzle
This custom name puzzle is perfect for all ages because name recognition is so important early on. These brightly colored names are so cute to help your little one learn and recognize their own name. Plus, all names can be made!
This fun puzzle encourages toddlers to match up the colorful pegs and place them into the matching colored spaces in the puzzle. This is great for 3 and 4 year olds but be aware of the little pieces which can be a chocking hazard.
This is a great first jigsaw puzzle. Each puzzle in the set has 9 wooden, easy to hold pieces. This is great for older toddlers who can see pieces and combine into a big picture. Some 3-year-olds would also love this puzzle.
This amazing 3D form dinosaur puzzles brings the fun of these creatures to life. Toddlers get to put together their own 3D dinosaurs to play with. This is best for 3 and 4 year old toddler who are able to understand how the pieces fit together.
When you’re expecting your first baby or second or fifth there’s a lot of stuff to consider buying for your precious bundle of joy. And there also are a lot of things you absolutely do NOT need. And after having three kids, I’ve learned a few things!
And wasting money and taking up space in your home when adding to your family is totally unnecessary. You really can live the minimalist life and be mindful of your budget when having a baby.
This list will give you the goods on what goods you really need and which ones you need to leave at the store!
That’s because that super sweet and cuddly first year of your baby’s life is literally going to fly right by! And so much of the baby gear that’s usually recommended isn’t really going to get used that much or not at all.
Start with Your Baby Registry
One of the first things you need if you’re pregnant is a baby registry. Why? Umm, to tell all your family and friends what you really want so they can buy it for you! But you already knew that, so moving on.
Amazon is the largest retailer in the world and millions of people are ordering their every need on Amazon every single day. And that goes for gifts too!
So while you’ll definitely have fun signing up for your Target Baby Registry you may not know that Amazon has a Baby Registry too. It’s totally FREE to sign up and you get a really awesome free gift shipped to you as well.
This is a huge incentive for gift shopping because while your best friend is ordering her groceries to be shipped, she can add your baby shower gift and have it gift wrapped too. And you can add ALL of these amazing products so easy!
So it’s like doing her a favor! #winwin
Now on to our list of only the baby essentials you really need and the ones you don’t.
Baby Essentials You Must Have
1 – Newborn Pack and Plays
By the time I had my third baby, I didn’t want a bunch of large baby gear that I had to get rid of in the first year. I quickly realized that buying a sweet little bassinette isn’t necessary.
With the invention of beautifully designed newborn friendly pack and plays, this is all you need for your newborn’s first bed. They’re small enough to fit by most bedsides like a bassinette but will do so much more.
The reason I love these so much is that the newborn sleeper is perfect for snuggling your little one in softness while safely keeping them on their backs. As they get a few months older, it’s amazing how quickly they can start to roll in their sleep.
They also have a changing table that allows you to do quick changes in your room instead of needing to run to the baby’s nursery in the middle of the night.
And the best part is, as your baby gets older you can remove the newborn sleeper and changing table and have them sleep in the crib attachment. And finally, you’ll still get use out of them as a playpen for many years after! It’s simply one of the best new baby essentials I can think of!
We love convertible car seats because your infant car seat isn’t going to last you passed the first two years. And if we’re focusing on our budget here the convertible car seat is totally the way to go.
All of these car seats come with a newborn attachment that safely keeps your newborn snuggled while in their seat. And this particular seat is perfect because it transforms as your child grows up to 100 pounds!
The only time I would recommend buying an infant carrier car seat is if you have multiple children. And only if you feel that taking your baby out of her car seat every time would be too overwhelming.
We purchased a convertible car seat with my first daughter and loved it. We then purchased an infant carrier when we had our second daughter and it was convenient. But it was also very heavy to lug around too.
I would suggest investing in a comfortable baby carrier and wearing your little one everywhere. It’s super easy and keeps your baby close!
3 – Infant Carrier
I just love infant carriers! They are perfect for doing things in the house and comfortably getting around out of the house. And if you have multiple children they are a lifesaver!
There’s just one problem, many parents are getting it wrong. There’s a huge danger of hip dysplasia in babies and infants by using the wrong carrier.
Most of those carriers that dangle the baby either front or rear facing are usually the culprits. Read here to learn how to prevent hip dysplasia in infants with common baby products.
The good news is there are many great baby carriers to choose from that will keep your baby safe and comfortable and won’t wreck your back either.
I love Ergo because they’re all about the comfort of both baby and mama! This wrap style carriertakes some practice but once you get the hang of it you’ll never want to stop using it. Plus, it takes up almost no room which is a HUGE plus!
Though I loved wearing my baby’s everywhere, I still had plenty of opportunities to use our stroller! Especially as they got older and heavier.
We chose this particular stroller that we loved so much because it had all the storage and perks of the bigger strollers but you could basically lift and operate it with one hand. I had tons of jealous mom friends when they saw how light it was.
You can buy the stroller on its own or the infant carrier and stroller combo if you’re opting for an infant carrier car seat. And if you are, I highly recommend you purchase the matching stroller. You’ll thank me later!
Whether you are breastfeeding or not, chances are your baby at some point will need to drink from a bottle. And you want to be prepared!
There are many, many bottles to choose from and bottle feeding is very personal to each mom based on your feeding desires. If you are exclusively breastfeeding and want a bottle that’s very close to breast, you may want to invest in Comotomo Natural Feeding Bottles.
They are on the pricey side, but if you don’t plan to use bottles often, you could get by with just a few. And the benefits of avoiding nipple confusion likely outweigh the investment.
If you are exclusively pumping or are formula feeding like I did, you can feel free to choose a great bottle that focuses on helping baby drink and digest their milk without painful gas. I personally used these Philips Avent bottlesand loved them!
I recommend buying the larger 9 oz bottles instead of the newborn 4 oz bottles. It saves money and you can just change the nipples from slow flow for your newborn to the older stages as your baby is ready.
6 – Swaddling Wraps or Blankets
Swaddling wraps have certainly come a long way since just a few years ago. I used to be firmly on the swaddling blankets side of the swaddling debate.
That’s because the first swaddling wraps on the market didn’t really achieve that snug swaddled feel that the blankets did. However, these swaddling wraps are simply amazing and make swaddling a no-brainer for tired parents!
Check out this video if you’re feeling clueless about swaddling your little one to sleep.
7 – Breastfeeding Pillow
Whether or not you are planning to breastfeed, you need one of these breastfeeding pillows! I literally used this handy pillow to prop up my little newborns all day long. The Boppy pillow’s shape seems to make them feel snuggled and keeps them calm.
And because of its portability, you can take it anywhere you go. I actually pumped for the first month because he had to be admitted in the hospital for Jaundice at 4 days old.
This complicated our breastfeeding plan, and I ended up using this pillow to lay him on while I was pumping.
This pillow also gets a lot of mileage as it works perfectly for propping up your little sitter.
8 – Burp Clothes and Onesies
A couple of things that you simply can’t live without as a new mom are burp clothes and simple onesies. Your washing machine will be full of these every single load, so you can never have enough.
These burp clothes have a unique curved flap style that seems to stay in place on your shoulder better. Plus, the designs are very cute!
These simple gray uni-sex onesies are perfect because white seems to really hold on to spit up stains and they work perfectly under baby’s outfits when you actually leave the house.
9 – Must-Have Bath Time Essentials
Obviously bathing your baby is something you’ll be doing every day or at least every other day. So, having a simple bathtub is important. This baby seat is what I used for all three of my babies and it easily fits into your kitchen sink or bathtub.
It still cradles your newborn and when you’re done it folds flat. It ends up taking no room at all and it’s very inexpensive! Perfect for the minimalist mom on a budget.
This very cool tub dam is not something I’ve used but, wish I had one when my kids were babies. It saves a ton of money and water. Probably one of the coolest baby products I’ve ever seen!
What did we miss on this baby essentials list? Let us know in the comments below what your absolute must-have baby product is!
If you’re still in “mom-to-be” status, don’t forget your baby shower registry! Amazon has the largest registry on the planet and allows you to easily add any of these cool products to your registry without searching through retailers!
And you get a FREE sign up welcome box too!
The Coolest Baby Stuff You’ve Probably Never Seen!
1 – Free Hand Baby Bottle Holder
I know every mama has experienced feeding her baby and needing a free hand at the same time! We’ve tried every trick to prop up that bottle but nothing ever works.
This amazing bottle holder is a real problem solver and it almost makes me want another baby… almost.
And if you’re constantly looking for ways to prop up your baby’s bottle in the car, this car seat bottle holder is an answer to your prayers! Check it out here!
2 – First Years 4 in 1 Remote Bottle Warmer
The reason this bottle warmer is on my must-have list is that when my middle daughter was a baby, she would drink at least 3 bottles every night!
And our bedroom was upstairs so I pre-bottled her milk every evening and stored them in a cold pack on my nightstand. And when she started to get hungry, I would get my trusty coffee mug and fill it with hot water from the bathtub and nest her bottle inside to warm up.
This wasn’t the most effective way to heat up her bottles quickly at all. This warmer actually stores your bottles inside and warms the bottles in seconds! I would have jumped at this warmer back then.
This product is genius! And not only does it holds your little one in place, but it also saves gallons of water every single bath!
It easily snaps in place each bathtime and takes up very little space. In fact, it takes up way less space than those large infant tubs! The best part is, you can use this long after your baby grows out of the baby stage!
I remember changing crib sheets and the nightmare experience it was every time. These amazing sheets actually zip on and off easily without the need to remove the mattress from the crib or wreck your back!
5 – Cocoon Cam Plus – Baby Monitor with Breathing Monitoring
There are many baby monitor on the market that have helpful features that give parents that much needed peace of mind when their baby is sleeping.
However, this monitor takes the cake and actually monitors your infant’s breathing! This technology is revolutionary and the best part is it doesn’t require you to attach or stick anything to your baby like many monitors still do.
6 – Gripebelt Colic and Upset Stomach Swaddling Belt
If you’ve ever had a fussy or colicky baby, it’s really hard for mom and dad and baby too. But this adorable little belt actually works to lightly cradle your infant’s belly which is often the source of the fussiness.
It makes them feel safe and held and also has fun toys for baby to touch and hold.
This ear and forehead thermometer actually works and is highly recommended by other moms like you! There’s no need to take your baby’s temperature rectally anymore. Especially, as they grow older and strongly object.
This makes the process painless, easy, and accurate!
If you’ve ever experienced a diaper blowout, you know how disgusting and overwhelming it can be. My daughter had a blowout in the car seat while stuck in traffic heading to our hotel in Orlando.
I had to change her in the hotel bathroom and wasn’t prepared at all. I ended up washing her with wet paper towels and then wrapping her naked little body in more dry paper towels to carry her through the lobby. Itridiculousulous and only something I can laugh about now!
I luckily had a washing machine in our hotel. However, this isn’t the case most of the time and too often we’ve all just thrown away cute outfits because they were too soiled to keep. Until…
These cool bags allow you to throw those gross poop and pee covered items in their sealable plastic bags. Just add water and one of their detergent pods and seal up for later.
The detergent starts working on the stains and the water keeps the stains from setting until you can get home!
14 – Silicone Soft-Tip Training Spoon for Baby Led Weaning
As your little baby grows into a big baby, it’s time for the fun world of self-feeding! And whether you decide to go the route of baby led weaning, or stay the traditional course, these fun spoons will be your go-to!
The super soft and flexible silicon make scooping easier for baby and the unique shape help keep the food on the spoon and into their mouth. This totally reduces melt-downs. I mean, it’s really frustrating when you can’t get all that yummy food in your mouth!
I LOVE these adorable reusable pouches! We moms all love how food pouches are unbelievably convenient for feeding your babies, toddlers, and kids. In fact, I’d love to feed all my kids’ meals from a pouch! But those store-bought pouches are just so dang expensive.
And Squooshi doesn’t make the DIY filling process complicated at all! You simply fill the super-sealed pouches from the bottom and quickly seal them up. They clean up beautifully and can be used again and again.
Plus, they’re super cute so your kids will love them! And you’re saving tons of money, so that’s a total win-win.
I have a confession to make… I never used my Boppy Pillows for breastfeeding. They always made the BEST newborn loungers!
And now Boppy has recreated their amazing breastfeeding into a pillow made for lounging your new baby. These are literally must-have pillows for putting your baby down at a moment’s notice and still keeping them close.
I used mine when I was nursing or pumping to keep my baby close and happy when my arms weren’t available for snuggling.
Every year new amazing products for mom and baby come on the market, and I swear I wish I’d thought of them! But at least we can be thankful that someone (usually moms) have the smarts and guts to create these gems!
Let us know in the comments below which product is blowing your mind right now!
There’s nothing like a great game night to bring a family together! Growing up my family had frequent game nights and I honestly remember that they seemed to magically bring us together and reduce any stress lingering in the background.
Board games are a fun and less expensive way to spend time with each other. And if you choose the right game, your family will probably like it better than a day to the movies and your bank account will thank you!
I also wanted to share the top games that foster creativity, strategic thinking, and teamwork. I was recently disappointed when shopping for games for my kids over the holidays. There were an abundance of games that didn’t have these great qualities and instead highlighted gross stuff like poop, toilets and anything connected to potty humor, popping pimples, snot, and more disgusting themes.
So if you’re looking for “smarter” games that teach our kids fun and valuable lessons and skills, stay tuned. None of those gross and meaningless games here! Here are tons of great board games for kids that you can quickly order online from Amazon so no more endless searching.
Here are our favorite fun board games for kids that your family will want to play again and again!
This seriously is a favorite in our family. Even my 3-year-old jumps in and plays this game very well. It’s a game of strategy and you have to be paying close attention to your opponent’s moves. Sadly our game recently broke. However, one of my kids ended up getting the latest spinoff version of this game for Christmas this year. It’s totally different from the original but really lots of fun! You can check it out the new Connect 4 here!
This game is just like the highly popular bigger kids game Sequence which is very easy for smaller kids to understand. However, Sequence for Kids is perfect for ages 3-5 and uses pictures of fun and colorful animals to make the game more fun for them.
This board game is very similar to the concept of Scrabble but instead of letters, it uses colorful shape blocks. Players begin with a starting hand of six blocks and take turns placing multiple blocks in a column or in a row in either or all the same color or the same shape. Because of the endless combinations, this game can be played many, many times with lots of fun.
This is a really fun game for younger kids but is interesting enough for adults or older siblings to play. Plus, this game fosters a team spirit instead of simply beating your opponent! Using the six-foot game board, kids will work their way to Picnic Island, searching for hidden objects in an I-Spy style challenge. Along the way they’ll have to all work together to solve mysteries before getting to the end.
This game is a fun learning and dexterity game for kids and winner of the Kinderspiel des Jahres 2017 (Best Children’s Game 2017) award. Kids will work to move their penguins through the school in order to be the first to gather all their fish. Players flick these wobbly cute penguins through halls and corridors while trying to avoid the hall monitor who will end the round.
This is another cooperative game where all team players must work together instead of competing against each other to win. In this fun and colorful game players must help the owls fly back to their nest before the sun comes up. If they are successful everyone wins!
This is a fun game that’s challenging for adults but easy enough for kids to understand and love playing. You just play a card from your hand, and place a chip on a corresponding space on the game board. When you have five in a row, it’s a Sequence. There is also Sequence for Kids if all your kids are very young. It’s perfect for ages 3 and up.
This is a fun and easy to learn card game that’s really simple for all ages to play. Basically, when you get a matching set of assets, you can lay it down in front of you. But the only way to protect the set from being stolen by a teammate and added to their own stack is to cover it with another matching set. Getting the matching set and protecting your assets is the fun of this card game!
In this fun medieval style puzzle game, kids will work to use their fabric tiles to outdo their opponent in making the best, most beautiful quilt. These quilt pieces are laid out in a circle around the board, and on your turn, you only have access to the next three pieces to purchase and place on your board. This is a game of strategy because the game doesn’t just go back and forth. Some pieces advance you farther along a time track, which then allows your opponent to keep purchasing pieces until he or she passes you.
This game is a cooperative style game which means all players must work together and the game results in either an all-win or an all-lose game. In Forbidden Sky, you work as a team to assemble and connect power sources to launch a rocket ship and get off a floating platform. There are elements such as lightning and wind that try to hinder your work, and you have to team up so that no one gets blown off the platform or gets electrocuted.
This is a fun spin on the old classic telephone game. The twist is where players draw on their own erasable sketchbook the “secret word.” The timer gets turned and everyone draws their word. After 60 seconds, everyone passes their book to the player on their left. Then each player takes a few seconds to guess in words(s) what they see, and passes again. This continues until everyone’s sketch book passes by every player and returns back to its original owner, where it’s time for The Big Reveal.
This isn’t exactly a board game but my kids discovered it at a party and they loved it. It’s basically a building and balancing game where kids work to delicately hang and balance the notched, rubber-tipped wire pieces from the tabletop stand. With each added piece, the balance shifts and the sculpture transforms. One misplaced piece or wrong move could send it all crashing down!
This is a perfect game for older kids, teens, and even adults. The game works with two rival spymasters who know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their Codenames. Each Spymaster gives one-word clues to his or her teammates in order for them to pick the right clue. If teams pick the wrong clue, which are cards laid out on the table, they might accidentally uncover a clue for the opposing team or worse, pick the assassin, thereby ending the game.
This is a game that requires at least 5 players, so it’s a perfect party games. Some players will be resistance members (good guys) who need to complete missions to topple the evil government. Others will be spies sent to infiltrate the missions and make sure they fail. The spies are required to lie about their identity and all know who each other are, but the good guys are in the dark. The good guys have to figure out who the spies are and eliminate them from the missions in order to succeed, while the spies pretend to be good guys so they can continue their sabotage.
This game is a great strategy game played as the leader of one of the great 7 cities of the ancient world. You must carefully gather resources, develop commercial routes, and affirm your military supremacy. The game is set in 3 different ages and each game runs approximately 30 minutes. By the time the third age is over, players score the points given by their cards and their military conflicts. The winner is the player with the most points.
This is a fun and fantastic strategy game but the complicated rules can mean this game is much harder for younger children. Once you fully understand the game rules (requires a bit of time) the game is highly addictive. Many people who’ve played this game find it can be slow, but to speed up the time and the fun, simply use the “expansion pack”, which allows all players to trade and build at the end of EACH turn, instead of waiting for your OWN turn to do so. This shortens game time substantially (45 minutes instead of 60-90) and makes it much more exciting.
This game is easy to play with very fast paced rounds, and lots of fun bluffing make this game perfect for teens. The game works like this, the cards you hold in your hand determine your abilities: how many coins you can earn each round, whether you can steal cards, whether you can kill another player. Of course, the other players don’t know which cards you hold, so you could always do a little “acting.” And hope no one calls your bluff, or you’re the one who will end up dead.
This game is a hugely popular cooperative game which is honestly refreshing from always playing highly competitive games with your family. Pandemic is a really fun apocalyptic game that gets your family working together to stop the spread of diseases to save the world. This is an all-win or all-lose type of game so at the end of the game everyone feels connected and accomplished whether or not you win or lose.
This is a fun game that’s enjoyed by both players and those watching! This game can be played by individuals or teams and is pretty much appropriate for all ages groups. The game works when players drop shapes into the vertical game board. They earn points for the highest level that their shape reaches when it lands and extra points for touching bonus circles. But be careful: Don’t break a landing rule! The shape you dropped is not allowed to touch matching shapes or colors after it lands. The winner is the player or team with the most points at the end.
This game gets voted the easiest to learn for all ages and is really fun for everyone. The premise is all your 21 Tetris style pieces need to be placed carefully on the board but can only touch at the corners. The object of the game is to put as many of your shapes down as possible while blocking other players from putting down their pieces. The game is fun and fast, usually around 30 minutes a game.
This wildly popular game with the funny name is fun and simple enough for even younger kids to understand and exciting enough to keep your teens loving the fun. The play is simple: don’t be the one to draw an exploding kitten card, unless you happen to have a defuse card. All the other cards help you avoid an exploding kitten, or even give it to someone else. Game play is fast and unpredictable, meaning every game is different.
This game is similar to the concept of the hugely popular game Catch Phrase. Except that all the players (except the one in the hot seat) know what the guess word is (i.e. jacket). Everyone takes turns describing what theirs is like: “mine is warm” or “mine keeps me dry” or “I’m reminded it’s not summer every time I put mine on.” Games are fun and fast and are perfect for family game night!
If you’re planning a long road trip or even traveling on an airplane and you have a toddler or young kids, you need to be prepared! There are three things you won’t be able to live without on your trip – snacks, things to soothe your little one, and games to entertain them.
In this post, you’ll get all the best games and small toys that work like magic to keep your kids happy, occupied and entertained on a long trip.
I used many of these toys on my family’s 18-hour road trip to Michigan over a year and a half ago. Honestly, other than the grueling hours of driving in the mountains, the trip was very enjoyable.
At the time, my kids were 18 months, 7 years old, and 10 years old.
There weren’t endless crying sessions or even fighting with my three kiddos. I think my husband and I had the hardest time with our backs giving us trouble. But that’s a whole other issue!
I’ve separated the toys into a toddler list and a kids list for slightly older children.
Now on to the list…
Toddler Games to Survive a Road Trip
Bizzy Buckle Toy – We all know how much toddlers love pushing, buckling, and tinkering with things. This soft busy pillow will keep your little one occupied with endless buckling and unbuckling!
Wooden Montessori Lacing Toys – These cute little learning lacing toys will keep your little one learning while they weave the worms in and through the fruit and cheese. The worms are attached so no losing parts!
Travel AquaDoodle Pad– This is one toy that my little guy used a ton on our trip and I can’t say enough about it! They feel like their making a mess, but it’s only water. That’s a total win-win!
Travel sized toiletries are also a must for cleaning on the go.
On your road trip, you’ll likely see many restrooms and experience many gross emergencies in your car needing these supplies.
I strongly recommend you pack a large pack of kid-safe anti-bacterial wipes, a few rolls of toilet paper, and a large bottle of hand sanitizer.
Books and Magazines are perfect for keeping kids entertained and learning.
I remember reading during very long car rides as a kid and my books were my best friend! Sure, those were the days before tablets and smartphones, but I’d like to believe that my books would still be my favorite.
Here’s a list of great books that will keep your kid happy and quiet but also learning about kindness, compassion, friendship, and diversity. Those are all great things!
What did we miss? Add your best travel tips and tricks in the comments below!
I’ll be really honest, when I was a kid for some reason my stocking was my favorite part of the Christmas morning experience. It was something about pulling so many presents out of a single stocking. It was really magical to me!
As a mom though, stockings became a struggle for me and I hated buying things that seemed like junk just so I could throw it in their stockings at the last minute.
Not cool. So I got more intentional last Christmas in an effort to give my kids the same magical experience I had growing up.
My gift expedition was actually a lot of fun and I want to share with you many of the big hits and many more stocking stuffer ideas for kids. These stocking stuffer ideas will NOT be junk and may end up being your kids’ favorite toys this Christmas.
And the best part is… they are all under $10 each! I mean, stocking stuffers are supposed to be cheap.
Vintage Mirrored Aviator Sunglasses – These super stylish aviator sunglasses will score you serious points for Christmas.
Kanoodle Brain Twisting Solitaire Game – This tiny game set offers kids over 200 brain-teasing puzzles in one compact little kit. Your kids will be using their brains and happily off their electronics for hours! This may be the best gift yet!
Superhero Cape – If you have a little superhero in your house like mine, this cute little cape and mask setis perfect. No more using all the blankets in the house! Available in many colors too.
Munchkin Fishin’ Bath Toy – This fishing bath toy is wonderful for developing hand-eye coordination in younger kids. Plus, it’s really fun to fish!
Mattel Games Blink – From the makers of Uno, this new card game promises to be the world’s fastest game! Plus, it’s a non-screen activity!
LED Star Projector – Turn your kid’s room into their own planetarium with this LED star projector!
Projectables Nightlights – These cool nightlights aren’t any ordinary nightlight. These project your child’s favorite TV or movie characters right on their ceiling, wall, or floor. The soft light comes on automatically at dusk and turns off at dawn.
LOL Suprise Bling Series – We couldn’t resist adding one of the year’s hottest toys to our list. These small LOL mystery balls promise to bring a smile to your little kiddo this Christmas.
Marvel Themed Socks – Marvel is the hottest right now and these cool socks will be a great stocking stuffer for your little Marvel fan.
Honestly, I’m a mom that’s not a huge fan of toys. My kids do have toys… all kinds of toys in fact. But after over twelve years of parenting, I’ve come to learn a few things about toys. And the truth is, most toys just don’t get played with.
At least at my house! So my approach to buying toys is very simple. I ask myself these questions:
Is it terribly loud and annoying, no matter how educational it claims to be?
Is the toy basically all music, lights, and buttons?
Will it take up massive amounts of space?
If I answer yes to any of these questions, chances are, I’m not buying it.
Because in my personal experience, these toys are usually flash in the pan toys and don’t get played with more than a few times. I find this a waste of money and space in my home.
How I Choose My Toddler’s Toys
Instead of buying my toddler’s toys based on the Target toy catalog at Christmas or what commercials play over and over on TV, I do this instead…
I look for toys that will make him think, reason, and use his imagination and hands. Pushing buttons isn’t a skill that needs developing. It seems to already come quite naturally.
I want my kids to be able to build, create, mold, and make. Toys that allow kids to do that fit into what I consider learning or educational toys.
All the other loud, musical, light up, and other annoying toys can stay on the shelf. That doesn’t mean I don’t buy any toys that have buttons or play music, it’s just that it better have a focus that actually aims to teach something.
Here’s my best list of learning toys for toddlers.
Best Learning Toys for Toddlers
Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube
This bright and colorful shape sorting cube is really great. First, because it’s made of wood. Wooden toys are usually considered safer and non-toxic compared to a lot of plastic toys containing harmful chemicals.
It’s also very sturdy with an easy to open sliding lid that makes it easy for little hands to open without help. My son had a plastic shape sorter that was almost impossible for him to open without help. He almost never used it!
This pegboard style puzzle is so colorful and creative! It allows little hands to stack, sort, and even build limitless combinations on one board.
I love how challenging it is and allows them to create new projects each time they play as opposed to a standard “fill-in” puzzle. This puzzle is also small and quiet enough to be a great travel toy for long trips!
This is one of my favorite toys that kids love to play with because they can get as wild and creative as they want and they’re not actually making a mess!
This is also another great travel toy that folds flat in a suitcase. It’s probably too big for playing in the car but is great for keeping kids entertained in your hotel room. Here’s a water doodle pad that is perfect for traveling in the car.
These Smart Wheels sets are really fun and my 3-year-old son has a few sets. I plan to buy him at least one more set for Christmas. What I love about them is they are very easy for little hands to assemble their own sets on their own if needed.
He loves to build new tracks every time he plays with them and I love how it helps him to reason and think critically. They do take up a bit of extra room but I find it worth it and simply store all the sets together in a large cute basket like this one.
I really love Mega Bloks! I mean, I cringe when my little guy starts to dump them out all over the floor, but they’re a great toy for learning. This cute train set helps toddlers learn and practice their ABC’s.
This award-winning toy is loved by parents, pediatricians, and toddlers alike. It’s a multifunctional toy that allows toddlers to slide out the xylophone and play it separately or together as a ball hammering game.
These soft toddler sized rods and balls serve to introduce your little one to engineering as their very first STEM toy! The magnetic pieces connect together to create and build endless shapes and structures.
2017 Toy of the Year Finalist (TOTY) and received also all 5-star ratings!
This colorful activity cube promises to keep curious toddlers happy and entertained with each of the many unique sides. Includes wooden cube with curvy wire rides, peek-a-boo doors, spin and match animals, turn and learn ABC word tiles, and racing rollers.
Best of all this toy is made of sturdy and non-toxic wood!
This wooden clean up play set is perfect for the little guy or girl who loves to help! When you’re cleaning up they can grab their own mop, broom, dustpan, and duster. They are very sturdy and will hold up for many afternoon cleaning sessions!
This is one of those musical button pushing toys that I’m not fond of, however, my son has this toolbox and he plays with it a lot. There is a learning aspect that allows toddlers to hammer and drill into double-sided instruction cards and learn about colors and numbers while pretending to make repairs.
This may not be considered an actual “toy” but this soft and vibrant backpack promises to be just as fun! The many child-friendly buckles help toddlers develop fine motor skills, cognitive skills, hand-eye coordination, and fun problem-solving.
Screen time can be a huge addiction for kids and a major struggle for parents including myself. Right now we are on the summer break and it’s increasingly challenging to find non-screen kids activities to keep my kids occupied and entertained.
I’m not the “no-screen” police and allow my kids time to watch TV or play on their tablets more during long school breaks than I do during the school year. However, I see a clear difference in my kids when they’ve spent too much time in front of a screen and I don’t like it.
I saw how these ideas worked so well and wanted to build on that creativity with some amazing resources that my kids love. Enter, subscription boxes for kids! Think of these little boxes of joy as a mom’s helper or done-for-you activities that you no longer need to plan out or pull together! That’s a win in my book.
Plus, I’ve found that I actually saved money because I wasn’t buying tons of full-sized crafting or kitchen supplies when they only needed a little bit for one project. With kits, you only pay for what you’ll need.
3 Amazing Subscription Boxes for Kids
Here are 3 activity based subscription boxes for kids that will have your kids forgetting about screen-time… for a little while at least!
1 – Kiwi Co Crates
I just can’t say enough about Kiwi Crates. I learned about these adorable little activity kits from another blogger and decided to try them out with my kids. I’m so glad I did!
They make Krates in all ages from babies up to age 13 or so. They specialize in imaginative play and science and STEM-focused projects. My first Crate was for my 3-year-old son to try it out. He loved it so much I was happy to keep the subscription going. Here he is opening his first one:
This Crate was all about rainbows and there are 3 individual activities in one box plus an activity book to read with even more activities to try! And let’s talk about quality for a moment. I absolutely hate cheaply made products for kids!
Kiwi Co doesn’t make cheap stuff for sure. I was blown away by the quality of every element in the box and the high level of detail and care put into this product.
And guess what happened? I had to buy another subscription for my 8-year-old daughter. She got a Tinker Crate and was able to build her own tie-dye painting station. This was an actual machine with batteries and wires. I’ll be honest, I was intimidated to put it together thinking it was going to be too hard or we’d mess it up.
Let me tell you, I had a full work day when it arrived and wasn’t able to work on it with her and we were going to work on it the day after. Well, my very excited child was too curious and took it to her room and spent the afternoon putting it together and actually completed it on her own! I was very impressed. She had a blast and her older sister could resist jumping in too. #sisterbondingwin!
This was definitely time and money well spent and something I could never have put together on my own.
BookRoo is a monthly book subscription servicethat sends carefully curated books to your child every month. What I love about this subscription service, in particular, is the care put into their shipping which makes such a difference.
When my son received his box I didn’t know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised to see tissue paper was in the box and each book was wrapped in birthday-esc wrapping! He thought it was his birthday and that simple touch really added to the whimsical fun of receiving books in the mail.
And this book subscription service isn’t just for the little ones, they also have a chapter book selection too!
Little Passports is renowned and loved learning activity-based subscription service that takes your child on an adventure all around the world! Each month your child will learn about different and exciting parts of the world.
The goal is to fully immerse them into the culture and each month is a traveling adventure. Each new kit comes with a signature blue suitcase, a wall map, a passport, and a boarding pass for fun games. As they get a new kit each month, they’ll learn all about that part of the world and mark their map and passports with stickers for that region.
They also have science exploration kits for ages 9+ and kits to learn all about the USA.
Do you have a favorite subscription or even a favorite activity that your kids love doing instead of watching TV or playing on their tablet? We’d love to hear it so please leave your best tips in the comments below!