Children learn through play and, as parents, we want to make sure that they have the very best toys and environment for learning. We don’t care for “hot” toys or fleeting fads. We look for high quality, well-made toys that will have staying power for your child. There are so many options so we’ve put together our Very Best Toys guides to help you choose the very best for your child.
Our 10 Very Best Toys for Babies & Toddlers
We love natural materials like wood which is a sensory treat for your child. It looks great, feels great, sounds great when rattled, stacked and knocked over and sometimes even smells great! As long as it is natural or colored with non-toxic stains/paints, it will be safe for your little one to chew or suck on. It’s not an accident that all of our picks are either made in the USA or in Germany!
Rattles & Clutching Toys
At this age, rattles and clutching toys help improve grasping skills and eye-hand coordination.
1. Our Haba clutching toys such as the adorable Flapsi Rattle and the Magica clutching toy are made in Germany of sustainable wood and non-toxic water-based stains. My Very Own Rattle is a classic rattle made in Vermont of a single piece of maple. Generations of parents have chosen this as their favorite.
Educators and child development experts agree that if you are going to get one toy for your child it should be a wooden block set. It’s the perfect open-ended, creative activity for kids of any age – it also helps with spatial, eye-hand and motor skills. It promotes problem-solving, social and verbal skills and is a great way to learn architectural and engineering principles. Kids can create, share and tell stories using wooden blocks. Here are our favorites:
When is a block not a block? When it has bells, mirrors, rattling balls and buttons! Each set comes with six colored wooden blocks. The Patience Blocks have wooden balls and track behind a plexiglass window and the Discovery Blocks have cubes with a bell, kaleidoscope lens, push button, mirror, yellow lens, and rattling ball. These first stacking toys encourage sensory observation and fine motor skills.
3. Haba Baby’s First Blocks (ages 6 months+)
The perfect first set of simple blocks for your baby! These 12 simple cubes are in 6 basic colors that your child can hold and stack. Blocks are a wonderful way for your baby to develop fine motor skills and learn about stacking and cause and effect. Use them to teach colors and matching. Like these other Haba toys, they are made in Germany of beechwood from sustainably grown forests. The blocks are colored with non-toxic water-based stains.
4. Alphabet Blocks from Uncle Goose (ages 24 months+)
Uncle Goose’s 28-piece English Wooden Alphabet Block Set is patterned after blocks from the turn-of-the-century and printed in the safest inks available. Each block features a unique animal picture, a number or math symbol, and four upper case letters (two embossed), for a total of four complete alphabets.The blocks are made of basswood that is sustainably grown in the USA.
5. Haba Fantasy Blocks (ages 1-5)
6. Haba Stick Together Blocks (Ages 1+)
These are one of the most popular block sets. The colorful blocks have pegs on top and recesses on bottom so stacked blocks stay in place. Great for eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. Perfect for the young architect in your household. 13 pieces. Made in Germany.
7. Haba My First Ball Track (Ages 18 months+)
We’re big fans of ball track and marble runs and this is a great introduction to the world of ball track for your toddler. Get an early start on developing spatial sense, fine motor skills and patience. The colorful connecting blocks come with pivots that easily lock into place on the bottom of the ball track pieces. This makes constructing easy and keeps the track in place even if your little one bumps against it! Your child will love the ding of the bell on the finishing block and the special effects ball that glitters, rings or rattles when it rolls. As you child gets older, this set will nicely complement any of Haba’s ball track sets. Made in Germany. Ages 1-1/2 – 5.
8. Lighthouse Stacking Toy (Ages 1+)
Stacking toys are a staple of childhood. Haba’s Lighthouse Stacking Game stacks easily and is stable as the pieces have lugs on the top and sockets on the bottom. Your child will have hours of fun stacking the blocks in different order. Made in Germany of beechwood and non-toxic water-based stains.
9. Haba Noah’s Ark Building Block Set (Ages 3+)
This HABA Noah’s Ark wooden block set has unlimited play value. Your child can act out the story of Noah and the Flood, of course. Or – how about settlers in a new land, or an expedition searching for rare animals? Made in Germany. Recipient of Dr. Toy Best Classic Toy award and Spiel Gut Toy award.
10. Roy Toy 250-piece Deluxe Log Cabin Building Set (Ages 3+)
These are the original log cabin logs and they’re still made in the USA! This deluxe set is made of 100% pine from Maine. The wooden pieces even smell great! The set comes with enough parts to build many structures: farmhouse, forts, barn with silo & corral, treehouse, and any structure that young minds and hands can devise. I love that the set comes in a large, sturdy canvas bag with rope tie.
Any of these are great toys for your child. What are your favorites?