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10 best toys for babies & toddlers 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.

Wooden Blocks

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:

2. Haba Patience Blocks & Discovery Blocks  (ages 1+)

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)

This is one of the most beautiful block sets that I’ve ever seen. This unique 26-piece block set adds a new twist to block play with vivid colors, patterns and designs. The Fantasy Block set includes different shapes and features – including staircases, roof tops, hidden bells, holograms – even the sun!  Great for stacking, building and story-telling. Winner of Dr. Toy’s Best Classic Toy Award  Made in Germany of sustainably-grown beechwood and colored with non-toxic water-based stains. Some blocks are embellished with high quality acrylic or foil.

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.

Building Toys

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?




As promised in my previous post, Best Toys for Children’s Fine Motor Abilities, here are more preschool fine motor activities: lacing toys!  kids lacing toys for fine motor skills

These wonderful lacing toys will help your toddler or preschooler develop their fine motor abilities. As you know, fine motor skills are huge in your child’s development.

Ryan's room shoe lace manipulative toy for preschoolers

What are fine motor skills?

Small muscle ability to do things like: tying shoes, writing, zipping zippers or picking anything up! 

Without developmentally appropriate fine motor skills your child will struggle with all of these fine motor activities.

Preschool fine motor activities – why lacing toys?

Lacing toys are great manipulative toys that help with eye-hand coordination, finger dexterity, are tactile, strengthen spatial and visual abilities (colors, shapes) and foster patience and concentration.

We offer only durable, high quality lacing toys – toys that will hold up under a lot of use and can be passed down to your younger kids or neighbors’ kids. 

  • Wooden lacing “cards”

    preschool fine motor activity Maple Landmark Animal Lace-a-Shapes Activity

    Maple Landmark Animal Lace-a-Shapes Activity

We love anything from our Vermont neighbor, Maple Landmark!  These Maple Landmark Animal Lace-a-Shapes Activity Toys feature 4 different animals (monkey, fish, butterfly and bear) in different colors (good opportunity to learn about animals, colors and shapes).   These are made of environmentally friendly wood and have a great heft for kids to work with.   For kids 4+

  • 3-D blocks or cylinders

Another opportunity for your child to hold and work with different shapes while they

sew & sew stitching block lacing toy

Sew & Sew Stiching Block

practice their lacing.  Our Ryan’s Room One, Two, Tie Your Shoe Lacing Toy is a wooden shoe that your child can lace and practice their shoe tying.  For 3+

Sew & Sew Stitching Block  One of our most popular manipulative toys!  A chunky wooden cylinder to sew through.  For 3+ (or 2+ with a little help from a grown up)

Ryan's Room lace em dragon manipulative toy fine motor skills

Ryan’s Room Lace ‘Em Up Dragon Lacing Toy

  • Beading activities 

 It’s really important to think about the size of the beads and to make sure that they are appropriate for your child. We like Ryan’s Room Lace ‘Em Up Dragon Lacing Toy because the over-sized beads are easy for little hands to thread.  Plus, the 12 wooden beads come in different shapes, colors and patterns and building the dragon really engages imaginations! For 18m+

How did your child learn to tie shoes?

Photo credit: woodleywonderworks / Foter / CC BY

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