Top Ten Toys for Mini Toddlers
As your "baby" approaches the age of two, you realise their favourite toys aren't cutting it anymore. It's time to move on to bigger kid's things but a lot of toys on the toddler market say 'suitable from age 3+'. Two is a difficult age to buy for so, put the kettle on, we've done the searching for you.
(At this age, children will steadily grow in to their toys. So don't worry if they can't operate the product by themselves immediately. There will be a wow factor when they open the gift and you can help them play until they are ready).
1. Little Tykes Car. You can't go wrong with this (except if you live in an apartment where noise could be a problem). Alison's family kept theirs inside during winter and her children spent hours just climbing in and out. Every child who comes to your house will make a bee line for this! Warning: it takes a whole evening to put together so build in advance to avoid disappointment.
2. Children's kitchen. Everyone has a favourite kid's kitchen but the Ikea DUKTIG Play kitchen is universally loved. And value for money wise, you can't beat it. Besides the Little Tykes car, the toy kitchen has been the most well used, unisex toy in Alison and Kate's houses. You can find some great ones on the second hand market too.
3. Tea sets. Everyone loves a tea party. As your child moves towards 2.5 years you can buy her (or him) a lovely tin tea set. Alison bought a pretty one by Sass & Belle. It comes with a beautiful carry case which we must say is made of board so, sadly, it won't last forever. But it makes a great gift and the tin cups and tea pot have been very durable with no sharp edges which we like.
4. Brio wooden train set. Oh, Brio. How we love thee. Kate's and Alison's boys got their first pieces of Brio at 18 months and it's kept both of them occupied for hours on end. Girls like them too. Although pricey, our relatives love to buy bits like railway crossings, bridges and additional track. There's also the option of buying a train table later. Other stores do wooden track sets like IKEA and Early Learning Centre. We just love the craftsmanship of Brio but, cleverly, you can mix and match with other brands. We've suggested a good starter set.
5. Dolls Pushchair. There are so many toy strollers on the market with wildly varying prices. This was one of our most difficult searches. Kate's daughter had a pricey “McLaren” stroller originally, which broke on day two. Alison got a Baby Born On the Go which is a nice lightweight one but the seat cover kept coming off. The Molly Dolly My First 3 Wheel came recommended by Kate's sister who'd road tested it with her own daughter. Kate bought it and liked it! And we give this one our Five Little Stars. The Molly Dolly looks good, is well made and is great value for money.
6. Le Toy Van Wooden Ice Lollies. Alison's daughter spotted these at a friend's house. They are terrific; wooden, cute and colourful. Children will love playing ice cream shops in their toy kitchen. Just be careful with small toddlers because there are sticks on the bottom. Supervise until 3 years.
7. Green Toys My First Bath Submarine. This is a little known gem of a bath toy. It's made from recycled plastic and it's just amazing. The top lifts up so kids can put little bath toys inside. It doesn't get mouldy because there are big holes for the water to come out. A surprise bonus is you can use the spout to wash your kid's hair. Love it!
8. Melissa and Doug Lacing Beads. A beautiful wooden toy which comes with its own storage tray. These help with fine motor skills and have been a real hit in Kate's house. Her 17 month old road tester is just getting the idea and her nearly 3 year old still loves playing with the different colours, shapes and numbers on some of the beads. Fortunately for two siblings, they come with two laces.
9. Games and puzzles. It hard to believe your "baby" is ready for such grown up things but you'll believe it when they play the Hasbro Elefun Game. Utterly brilliant and universally loved. Catch the butterflies that come out of the elephants trunk with nets. It will have longevity: Kate has guests aged 6 - 8 years who come and want to repeatedly play this. Great for siblings.
Colorino. Colorino is a colour matching game/toy that we would definitely recommend, where the child completes pictures by placing big coloured buttons on a board.
Also, age appropriate puzzles capture a toddler’s imagination and problem solving desire, and they are a lovely thing to do together. Choose one that you like and a subject matter that your toddler will enjoy and you cant really go wrong.
10. Balance bike. Bikes for kids deserve a whole post on their own, but for these purposes we will keep the recommendation short. Kate says: "My two were both about 17 months old when they started with their balance bikes and they adore them. Balance bikes are the best place to start because your child should be able to progress straight from these to a normal bike with pedals because they have already learnt how to balance, making stabilisers unnecessary. Now a couple of months away from his 3rd birthday the boy is a pro. My cycling fanatic husband is terribly picky but he's been impressed with the children’s Puky balance bikes that we chose. He's had complete reign on the next level of bike purchase - but that's a post for another day!"
And one more quick bonus item because we couldn't resist:
11. No home would be complete without a doctor's kit. The toy that's stood the test of time. Early Learning Centre do a nice Medical Case. And the Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Medical Kit is really durable with a handy bag to put it all in.
Alison & Kate x
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