I’m throwing up a super quick (and slightly minimal) gift guide, in case you are searching for those last minute Christmas presents for your littles! I’m a Prime girl by heart. I mean, if I can’t Prime it, do I even need it?! So, great news for you and yours, everything on this list is Prime-able!
These are the toys we have in our home, that our kids play with the most. These toys promote independent play, are WELL loved by our family, and, best part, are not annoying with all the noise and battery required drama (thank me later for this)!
The links in the post are a part of the Amazon Affiliates Program. This means I get a small percentage back from Amazon from any potential purchase. This is what keeps my blog running, and keeps me home with my babies every day. So thank you for your support, and for reading my blog! For more info, please visit my disclosure policies here.
Toys for the First Year
(or year-ish, because even I like to play with them, and I’m 30…ish)
I’m going to be real for real with y’all. Baby toys are a joke. They’re a waste of money and I honestly believe, three kids in, that baby toys are a huge marketing scam. Babies discover and learn through basic interactive play, daily communication, and curiosity.
With a few staple toys, you can easily get through the baby years. Once these are in your home, save your dough and invest in either bigger toy items for the future years, or throw that cash into a savings account. They won’t remember the closet full of blinking, light up nonsense they had when they were 8 months old. But they’ll appreciate those funds when they have a gas tank to fill at 16.
Staple Baby Toys Every Home Should Have
Wooden Shape Sorter – This toy never gets old. You can use it to learn colors, matching, shapes, sorting, stacking, grouping, fine motor skills. The list goes on. And this toy is a workhorse and will be used far through the baby years.
Stacking Cups – We love these, they’re SO inexpensive, and our preschooler still plays with them almost daily.
Manhattan Toys Skwish Rattle & Teether– If we could have only one rattle, this would be it. Great for chewing, color recognition, and the squish factory is simply sensory satisfying. Even for 30-ish year olds. 😂
Everyone is talking about Sophie the Giraffe (mold or not, people love her) and we do in our home too. But have you tried this amaze-balls Nuby Banana Teether? We didn’t discover her until the end of baby #2’s teething. But she is designed so impeccably. You guys, I can’t even tell you how amazing she is. Our just-six month old has been grasping and flawlessly chewing on her for two months now. She is well loved my friends, well loved. And you can buy a TWO PACK for under $10. That’s only half of a Sophie, FYI.
A set of wooden stacking rings is a timeless option. Anyone else pretend they were donuts their entire childhood? No? Just me? I guess I just really like donuts. Always have. Always will.
But If you are looking to change it up, I suggest this wooden rainbow stacking set. It’s super open ended and can be used all the way through childhood. You could splurge for the stellar Grimm’s 6 Piece Set (Grimm’s 12 Piece Set, GOAL status here my friends). Otherwise I found this awesome knock off that’s Prime worthy of your click.
Toys for the One and Up Club
I’m kicking this section off with our play work horse. This toy has been a fan favorite for our kids, and every visitor to our home, kids and adults alike. Something about the kid sized version of the most used room in your house just seems to captivate us all I guess!
All Things Play Kitchen
We have this massive beast from Kidkraft. I love that it has so many features, but doesn’t look kitschy (ha, see what I did there?!).
Our Kidkraft Corner Kitchen is large and in charge. I love that it fits in a corner, but can also be butted up against a flush wall, so the two service windows are accessible. If you can splurge for a realistic, wooden kitchen, I highly recommend it. We upgraded from a plastic Step2 to this bad boy, and our imaginative play took a major leap with the change.
Some other great options if you don’t have the room for the corner play kitchen:
This vintage white option, also by Kidkraft, is more compact, but still has a realistic look to it. The more realistic the kitchen looks to your child, the more engaged they will be during their playtime.
I love that this blue Kidkraft Retro Kitchen comes in two pieces, which is super flexible for smaller spaces!
This Felt Sandwich Set is one of our faves in our kitchen. The items are felt, which is a really nice sensory break from the normal plastic or wooden kitchen toys. And they’re also very open ended toys, as they are simply designed. Not only do we use them as sandwich ingredients, but we also use them as soups, paint, make up, blankets in our dollhouse, etc.
I kid you not (man, my puns are on point today!), our girls love this dish set. They LOVE the soap, sponge and drying rack that come with the set the most. I often find our four year old “washing dishes” in her play kitchen, because she “hasn’t washed the dishes in DAYS!“. The best part, this set is dishwasher safe, and can be used as real dishes. So if the moment strikes for an impromptu tea party with real crumpets, no worries mama, you can toss the set in the dish washer when you’re done!
This cookie baking set is also a fave. We mix and match frostings, we love how we can stack the dough, it velcro’s together, and we can use and develop our fine motor skills to cut the cookies apart. The cookies are simple unstained wooden pieces, and are awesome for open ended play. We use them as pancakes, coins, cookies, sandwiches, and so much more.
One thing kids love to do in their kitchen, is model your behaviors. We have this auto-drip Coffee Pot Set for our girls. They love it because it’s just like Mom and Dad’s! If you’re a Keurig family, this M&D Keurig Brew Set would also be so fun.
Real for real as I promised my peeps. We have about 6 other play sets that go with our kitchen. My kids use them about 1% of the time. So if I had to suggest an investment, these sets above would be it. If you are looking for some other options or ideas, These are the other ones we have, they just aren’t our FAVORITE favorites.
Dollhouses for All Genders
These dollhouses (I’m sorry, but again, Melissa & Doug) are also our fave. We have the fold up pink one, with the blue car family accessory set. But they also offer a few other (more gender neutral) sets.
I love Melissa & Doug because they have simple, quality toys that aren’t so “one and done.” So many of their toys are utilized in our home for things other than their intended purposes, because they’re designed so open-ended. And I love the most that they’re quality made.
We also really enjoy this magnetic ‘paper’ doll set. When the girls struggle with finding something to do, or when we want to have play time together, I’ll pull one of these sets out, sit on the floor with my babes, and we go to town dressing up our dolls and imagining away. Because it’s much easier to dress our dolls, this play set is great for all ages! There are so many options with these sets, so check this list out for a set that would work best with your kids!
Building Play Sets
Having two or three different types of building toy sets is super important for developing minds. These are our favorite sets in our home.
We love Magna-Tiles, or what we have in our home, Picasso-Tiles, because building with them is so open ended. You’ve probably seen these at your local Children’s Museum, and for good reason. They provoke so much creativity, and there is something oddly satisfying about the magnetic pull as you hook the tiles together. There are other knock off brands, but quality is lacking in those. We’ve done the research and I would highly recommend you stick to either of the two brands mentioned.
Classic Puzzle Sets
Adding just a few simple classic puzzle sets to your home is a great addition to your toy collection. These are our most reached for puzzles, and are on constant rotation in our home.
Hit multiple learning categories in your home with this wooden alphabet puzzle. You can stack and play, sort by color, learn your letters, or simply use it as a traditional puzzle for fine motor skills, memory and more.
We love these animal puzzles because they are dual purpose, use them as a puzzle, or as little animal figurines!
Wooden Train Sets
Even though we are a house of girls (besides Dad of course!) we still love a good train set. The goal here is to get one that has easy-to-hook tracks. So your kiddos can assemble their own train track creations, independently. Here are some awesome Prime-able options!
Not Your Average Dress Up Play
We have your average dress up items in our home, the doctor kit, the tutu’s, the hats. But this awesome and unique play accessory set our Nana & Papa gifted us is so much fun, and has opened up a world of hunting and exploring imaginative play.
This flashlight is THE PERFECT FLASHLIGHT for kids. It’s adorable, hello! And it’s not super bright. So when they flash it in their eyes (which they will, no matter. How. Many. Times. You. Tell. Them. Not. To.), you don’t have to worry about them going blind! Hey-yo, I’m calling that a win!
I cannot tell you how fun this magnifying glass is. I never thought to get my kids a magnifying glass. But it has provoked so much imaginative play, and it’s my new favorite thing to watch my girls play with.
BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS
I’m saving the best for last. Because if you follow my Instagram Stories, you know we are a house of books! We love books, we rotate books, we have a lot of books. So here are a few of our family faves in case you are looking for some additions to your own home library!
Okay, I lied. One more item. Because technically it could go under books because I subbed it for a “book.” I’m assuming if you have a toddler or preschooler, you’ve heard of the write and wipe books that are great for tracing and learning.
And yes, they are great, we love ours. They totally have their place in the scheme of it all. But they’re also messy sometimes. And they require lots of wipes/paper towel to clean and wipe between uses. Not always my fave.
Well, meet the Boogie Board. It’s one of our fave writing tools. We very often have kiddos fighting over it (great opportunity to practice sharing, amiright?!). It’s basically an LCD screen that you draw on, and erase with the click of a button. It’s proving to be an awesome tool for our preschooler who has developed a keen interest in letter drawing and recognition. But it is also just downright fun to scribble on!
Okay. Now I think I’m done. Whew. That was a long list. These are basically all the heavy hitters in our home, that our kids love. These toys have made the cut time and time again as new toys have come and gone. If you love this list, please share it!