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There is nothing worse than spending money on a toy, only to watch your toddler have a blast with the box.
Today I’m breaking down the most popular categories to offer the best toddler toys as determined by parents who have purchased before you.
TLDR: A Summary of the Best Toddler Toys
Want to skip to the good stuff? Here’s a quick list of all the best toddler toys this year.
- Best Toddler Toys for Boys: Dino Cars
- Best Ninja Turtle Toddler Toy: Ninja Turtle Capes & Masks
- Best Toddler Robot Toy: Ultimate Learning Bot
- Best Toddler Toys for Girls: Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart
- Best Toddler Toy for Sensory Play: The Zippee
- Best Toddler Climbing Toy: Avenlur Indoor Jungle Gym
- Best Toddler Jumping Toy: Bouncy Pals Inflatable Hopper
- Best Toddler Standing Toy: Little Office Learning Center
- Best Toddler Ride On Toy: Little Red Roadster
- Best Toddler Outdoor Toy: Bubble Mower
- Best Toddler Ball Toy: Pound-a-Ball
- Best Toddler Learning Toy: Learning Friends 100 Words
- Best Musical Toddler Toy: Mozart Magic Cube
- Best Toddler Bath Toy: Lovely Monkey Caterpillar
- Best Toddler Pool Toy: Pirate Floatie with Built-In Squirt Gun
- Best Toddler Travel Toy: Reusable Water-Reveal Activity Pads
What Makes the Best Toddler Toys, the BEST?
What is my criteria for deciding what makes the best toddler toys actually the best?
LOTS of research. (Seriously, I was seeing toddler toys in my sleep…) Here’s what I was looking for:
- High Reviews – If other parents haven’t declared it amazing, why would you?
- Durability – Toddlers are tough on their toys. I want these toys to be around when the next child is ready to abuse them.
- Cost Effective – Most of these toys fit snuggly in the affordable range. The only exception to that is the Avenlur Indoor Jungle Gym, but that is because a cheap indoor jungle gym would cost you more in medical bills.
- Developmentally Friendly – Your toddler is working on all kinds of developmental milestones. These toys are all chosen to help those motor skills along.
Ready to see what I’m predicting as this year’s best toddler toys?
The Best Toddler Toy for Boys
This toddler toy for boys combines your little one’s two favorite things: dinosaurs and cars! Here are the features that have made this one of the best toddler toys:
- Perfect size for tiny hands to grip and play
- 4-Pack makes sharing easier and minimizes tantrums (Yes, please!)
- Over 4,300 parents rated it 5-stars on Amazon
Great quality. Durable. Colors are bright. We’ve had them for about 3 months now and they’ve not only survived everything he’s put them through, but have come out completely unscathed! Thrown down hardwood stairs, sat on, stepped on, played with on the concrete driveway, etc. They are still looking like they did when he opened his present! Totally recommend for any dino-loving, car-loving kiddo!!!!Andrea B., Amazon
Best Toddler Toy for Girls
I sat through zillions of “meals” when my girls were toddlers. There was something about the process of choosing what to serve that got them all excited and slipped some more imaginative play into the day.
The Scoop and Learn Ice Cream Cart is a fantastically sneaky way to teach your kids not only colors and counting, but, when they are a little older, how to count money and make change.
I especially like the “order cards” that encourage your toddler to choose the right colors to make the perfect ice cream cone.
The magic scooper lets you actually scoop up the ice cream and place it on the cone (magnetic) which is so fun! There are two modes of play: free, and guided where you insert cards and the toy prompts the child to scoop different flavors and amounts or colors of ice cream. This could keep any child busy for hours – and they’re learning!Kaylyn Bair, Amazon
Best Toddler Robot Toy
The Fisher Price Ultimate Learning Bot is a step above most other toddler robot toys. Firstly, it comes apart easily, creating four different stage toys for your toddler to practice “building” a robot. (Which, let’s be honest, is cute.) It is a paradise of fine motor skill exercise.
They have packed all kinds of sensory activities into this little robot toy. Sounds, textures, movements, lights…Heck, even I find it fascinating to look at. When it comes to STEM, it’s definitely one of the best toddler toys!
I got this for my baby for Christmas, but I didn’t expect my 3 year old to be into it too! He loves taking it apart and putting it back together, and showing his baby brother how to play with it. It’s nice to see that this toy provides the opportunity for cooperative play.Lindsey Ghost, Amazon
Best Ninja Turtle Toddler Toy
I’ve talked about the importance of pretend play before on Mighty Moms, but recent studies have emphasized that these make-believe games are the forerunners for our kids to learn how to self-regulate, an important skill that reduces aggression, minimizing whining (delay of gratification) and teaches civility and empathy.
These ninja-turtle toddler capes provide exactly what your toddler (and three close friends or siblings) needs to launch those brain-cells into an imaginative feast.
I bought these for my three year old niece (she loves ninja turtles) so so cute and very well made. Definitely worth buying.Crystal H., Amazon
Best Toddler Toy for Sensory Play
When choosing the best sensory toy for toddlers, you want something that has interesting textures, colors, sounds, and vibrations to get the brain fully involved.
The Zippee has all of those things.
Although it’s made with food-grade silicone, it is not a teether, so keep that mind when purchasing. A great toy for toddlers…not so much for teething babies. Besides being fantastic for sensory stimulation, it will also go a long way in honing those fine motor skill finger movements so necessary for writing later.
I am an early childhood educator and I purchased this for my toddlers. This is highly entertaining to them, it works great as a restaurant/car toy, and it is PERFECT for “prewriting skills”. Before a kiddo can properly grasp a pencil they need to strengthen several hand muscles and this is a wonderful tool for that! I can’t say enough great things about it!Liz Gianessi, Amazon
Best Toddler Climbing Toy
The Avenlur Indoor Jungle Gym is my top pick for toddler climbing toys because…
- It is made of sturdy wood for long-term use.
- It has six different activities for toddlers and preschoolers to use as they practice their gross motor skill movements (Mini Rock Climbing Wall, Swedish Slide, Monkey Bars, Rope Ladder, Wood Ladder & Swing).
- It’s not an eye-sore in the house.
- Built using sustainable materials.
- Certified safe by ASTM and CPSIA
As with most toddler climbing toys inside, you’ll want to either put it on well-padded carpet or pick up a playmat to avoid any hard falls. This is one of the best toddler toys to get him worn out before naptime!
This is an absolutely amazing find!! My husband and son-in-law had it put together in about an hour. They had a dewalt drill and besides breaking a few drill bits it went together smoothly. My grandson is 18 months old . He loves the rock wall , the ladder and he has no problem with the swing. This is sturdy and well built!Grandma Sandy, Amazon
Best Toddler Jumping Toy
If you need a way to burn off some extra energy before naptime, the Bouncy Pals Inflatable Hopper is the perfect way to do it. The four sturdy legs keep it from rolling too much in one direction while your toddler is learning how to balance.
Don’t like unicorns? Here are the other options for the best toddler toys for young kids who love to bounce!
I swear, this is the cutest kid’s toy I’ve ever seen. I bought it for my daughter’s 2 years old birthday gift. I inflated the toy ahead of time and put the unicorn into a gift box. She was so exciting when she open the gift box. Unique style and perfect quality. Sturdy, beautifully made, so easy to set up!! Love it!!Susan Musgrave, Amazon
Best Toddler Standing Toy
Toddlers toddle. It’s why a standing toy like the Little Office Learning Center makes it to my “Best Toddler Toys” list. It gives them just enough enticing activities to make them forget they are balancing.
This particular toddler standing toy features a laptop, phone, globe, and over two dozen electronic touch points that introduce greetings and music from around the world.
My favorite thing about this toy compared to others is that it is FULLY bilingual. It doesn’t say that verde means green, but that verde is the color between blue and yellow. That is, everything it does in English it also does in Spanish, without it being a translation from English. The alphabet song in Spanish is even sung to a different tune than the English version so they can include the ñ! Overall this toy gets an A-plus from me.Justine Emily, Amazon
Best Toddler Ride On Toy
If you haven’t yet seen my full article review of toddler ride on toys (electronic and kid-powered), I recommend giving it a read-through.
Inside there, you’ll see that I gave the Little Red Roadster a full five-stars for durability, balance, and cost. Of all the kid-powered toddler ride on toys that I looked at, it had the longest-use and most durable construction.
Sturdy toy for active little boy. Has a very cool retro look and is mostly metal. Large 18 mo old jumped right on but also think he will still be on it in a couple of years. He was starting to get the hang of steering by the end of day. Couldn’t get him off of it.Susan C., Amazon
Best Toddler Outdoor Toy
This is my favorite toddler outdoor toy. First, it resembles a lawn mower. (Why not set chore expectations early?) Second, it encourages those walking skills your little one is so desperate to master. (On soft grass!)
Third, it creates a steady stream of giggle-worthy bubbles without me having to huff and puff like the Big Bad Wolf.
Evidently I’m not the only one who thinks those are three solid reasons to buy. Over 11,000 parents rated it 5-stars on Amazon.
Man, was it worth the $20+ I spent to entertain my toddler this summer. He used it every day until it was left in some pretty heavy rain and the battery compartment rusted. I might actually buy another just because it’s worth my sanity to not have a 2 year old rifling through the garage while I’m trying to garden.Desi R., Amazon
Best Toddler Ball Toy
One of the greatest milestones toddlers need to tackle is hand eye coordination. The ability to move your hand exactly where your eye wants it to go is required for writing and other important learning skills.
The Pound-a-Ball Montessori toddler ball toy provides a great way for your little one to practice exactly that. It is one of the best toddler toys for fine motor skill practice.
I knew my kid (2.5) would love this toy, even though he’s probably too old for it. I purchased it as a potty training item so he could play with it while trying to use the bathroom (lots and lots and lots of time spent in the bathroom). He liked it so much that I purchased it a second time for a 1st birthday party. It was immediately the first present opened that all the kids took turns playing with. It’s a great straight forward toy that I think any kid would love!Redhead, Amazon
When I see that a toy has over 91,000 parent reviews, I pay attention. Especially when 96% of those reviews are recommended.
This electronic book teaches over 100 bilingual words spread over 12 different categories like animals, food, colors, opposites, clothes, and being outside. Each word comes with a sound effect or fact to keep your child interested. One of the best toddler toys for quiet times!
What a great learning toy! My little boy loves it. It’s (light) touch sensitive and his little fingers don’t have to press it too hard. He already knows 75% of the words but hasn’t lost interest in it yet. I believe this book will be good for 3-4 more years when he enters K-1st grade and learns to spell some of the words in the book.Luciane D. Costa, Amazon
Best Music Toddler Toy
Don’t let the simplicity of the Mozart Magic Cube deceive you. It is a fantastic toddler music toy. Using a variety of instruments, your child can create eight Mozart classical pieces, learning tempo as the lights flash.
Durable enough to be dropped (repeatedly), it is one of my top recommendations when it comes to toddler music toys. (Click the link to see seven other examples of the best toddler toys for teaching music young!)
Least annoying baby music toy out there. I hate toys that make noise. And I throw most of them away. I’m more into wood toys, and toys that are “active” as opposed this “passive” (push button and listen) toy. However…. It’s the only toy my 3 year old plays with that she has been playing with since a baby. She jumps and dances to it and we’ve made up games to play with the buttons. In the dollar-per-hour-of-play formula I use to measure value… this one wins.Momofthree, Amazon
Best Toddler Bath Toy
Another fantastic hand-eye coordinating toy, the Lovely Monkey Caterpillar bath toy will capture your toddler’s attention in the bath, teaching the concept of cause and effect brilliantly. (If I put water there, it comes out there.)
The suction cups are dual-strong, and all the water is design to drain completely, so it can dry on its own, without mold or mildew taking hold.
I swear I get more of a kick out of this thing than my 2 yr old, and he also loves it!!! This will make bath time so much more fun, and it’s a great distraction for a kid who gets a little fussy when their hair is getting washed or rinsed. The cup it comes with is also a great rinse cup! I love it!! 5 stars!!!Regular Jane Schmo, Amazon
Best Toddler Pool Toy
Honestly, I was going to write a whole review about this Pirate Floatie, but this guy captures everything so perfectly, I decided to just cut and paste his instead for your reading enjoyment…
Gave this as a gift to a friend’s three year old son as a bday present and was not disappointed. The whole thing looks great and is thicker than I imagined though he was only three so I don’t think he’s heavy enough to really test the durability. That being said, once we managed to stick the tube through the hole in the front of the boat and hook up the turret man things started. At first it was the occasional guerrilla warfare. Dropping in like a privateer raiding port, hitting hard and fast before jettisoning back off into deeper waters to avoid the backlash. But man can this gun shoot. A three year old with a blast cannon accurate from 60 feet and unlimited pool ammo.
First it was the fathers, chatting away aimlessly, drinking beers nonchalantly by the poolside. Wham, the pirates struck. Water everywhere, tommy bahama shirts and cargo shorts soaked completely, men pushing through each other in a mad scramble to protect their phones from the onslaught. But the kid got more daring.
Then it was the ladies, thinking they were safe with their mom voices and sundresses, eating their cupcakes and finger sandwiches by the pool. Til the toddler pirate came to town. Like a full on warship of water the kid blasted away soaking mom after mom after aunt after grandma. It was pandemonium. Infinitely spraying every which way, fighting and winning a war on 360 degrees of the poolside patrons. The kid was a madlad. And it was his birthday so he got away with it. Worth every penny. 6/5 stars.C. Parker Griffith, Amazon
Best Toddler Travel Toy
Honestly, there are a number of items listed here in my “Best Toddler Toys” round-up that would work as great travel toys, but I felt like it would be useful to add this as a category, having suffered through many toddler melt-downs in the car (or on the airplane…)
The beauty of the Water Reveal Activity Pad toddler travel toy is how clean it is. The marker adds a little water to the reusable pads and voila! A fully colored picture is revealed!
Even better…once the water drives, the picture disappears, which means he can do it all again on the way home!
As a grandma to 9 grandkids, five of them aged 3 and under, I’ve purchased these many times to entertain the young ones when we’re on trips, out at restaurants or just having fun at home. The kids easily handle the chunky brush. I notice their dexterity improves, too, as they use it. On each page, there are items to “find” and count, which hones another skill for them. Even on a cross country flight, the only “mess” that could happen is for a little water to leak out if they’re zealously “painting.” No big deal. I recommend these Water Wow books… especially for fidgety 2 year olds!Beachcombers Studio, Amazon
Finding the Best Toddler Toys:
Let Other Parents Guide You
When it comes to finding the best toddler toys that will produce squeals of joy and claps of excitement, the best resource you’ll have is the experience of the parents who have bought these best toddler toys before you.
Hopefully the research I’ve done and the reviews I’ve shared will go a long way to getting you the responses you’re looking for as soon as the wrapping paper hits the floor.
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Research Citations for Best Toddler Toys
Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development. Springer.com
The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. AAP.org
10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play. NAEYC.org
Importance of Play in Early Childhood. ParentingforBrain.com
Developmental Milestones. AAPPublications.org
Predictors of Motor Developmental Milestones During the First Year of Life. Springer.com
The Importance of Pretend Play. Scholastic.com
The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development. ScientificAmerican.com