Okay, lets chat about toddler toys for a moment shall we? I was totally the mom who started out buying all the flashy, tech-y, music making toys for my baby. I would spend all this money on these toys that literally did everything you could imagine, the only thing they didn’t do was interest my baby. Right from the beginning she was more interested in playing with an empty water bottle, or a sock, than she was with any of these cool, flashy toys.
By the time she was about 15-16 months old, we had a house filled with toddler toys and gadgets that were rarely touched. Not that I expected her to sit and play for any length of time, a toddlers attention span is minimal at that age. But when she was literally more occupied an empty pot, I knew the pile of toys was basically trash. Okay, not really trash, we donated all of them, but you get the point!
It was right around Christmas in 2018 that I really started to look into the options out there for toddler toys, development, benefits, and start to be much more intentional in what I was buying for my toddler. Sure, there are still toys we buy that she just isn’t that into, but overall we now have a play space that is well loved and toys that are very much played with.
So today, I wanted to share the toys that my toddler plays with the most. These are toys that she has played with regularly, in some cases for years. Some of these items were purchased for Christmas in 2018 and are still loved and played with two years later, and will continue to be played with for at least 2-3 more. Everything on this list is played with weekly, at minimum.
One thing I will note is that I have found that open ended toys seems to be the most used, at least for us. I think it is obvious that becuase they are open ended, they can be played with in so many different ways, and so they are!
I also try to always follow my child’s interest to encourage better play, and also try to buy toys that will grow with my child.
Lastly, think it is important to note that this is what has been most popular with my toddler, however each child is different and will have different interests. I do believe this list is well rounded though, and I do think there will be at least one thing for every child listed within it!
1. ANIMAL FIGURES
Here are some ways we play with our animals:
2. BUILDING TOYS
Building toys have become such a favorite in our playroom. And while blocks may seem pretty straightforward, there are actually SO many different ways to use them. We have lots of different building toys and all of them are well loved and played with daily, in one way or another. Building is one way we play, but we also use our building toys is a variety of other ways as well. Here are a few of my favorite ways we have used them:
Building toys have become such a staple in our playroom. My daughter loved blocks from the beginning, and because I try my best to follow her lead in what interests her, we now have LOTS of different building toys! Here are a few of my favorites:
3. PLAY KITCHEN & ACCESSORIES
We bought Mia a play kitchen when she was about 18 months old, and each year that has passed (she is now 3.5) she just plays with it more and more. And I have a feeling it will be played with for at least a few more years as well. We bought the simple little kitchen from Ikea, nothing fancy. But we also have a really cute little fridge and lots of accessories to go along with it and promote even more dramatic play! I have included a few of our favorites kitchen accessories below:
4. ARTS & CRAFTS SUPPLIES
Without fail, arts & crafts supplies are one of the most used things in our playroom. I am talking not only crayons and paper, but dot stickers, craft sticks, pom poms, dot markers, washi tape, paint, coloring books, foam shapes, stickers, etc.
We use all of the above in such a variety of different ways, and probably at least once a day. My toddler is very into coloring, painting, and drawing right now. But even before now, we have always had craft supplies on hand. Just dot stickers and pom poms we have used in about a billion different ways!
My goal is to create a little “art corner” in our play area now that my daughter is a little bit older. I think it would be well loved! There are also so many benefits to arts & crafts for toddlers including fine motor and coordination skills, creativity, self expression, and productivity!
Here are a few of our favorite ways that we have played with our arts & crafts supplies:
I feel like the key with art supplies is good organization. I have seen “Art Carts” which I think are really awesome. We are in the middle of a bit of a playroom overhaul, so I promise to create a post about how our art corner turns out, along with any tips I have for organizing art supplies!
In the meantime, here are a few of our favorite arts & crafts items:
5. PLAY DOUGH
While we do make our own play dough, we also have lots of play dough tools that are well used and well loved! I also often create play dough trays, an example in the middle photo above. I love presenting play dough along with some loose parts and tools to extend the play. We use a simple divided serving tray, I will include the link below along with some of our other favorite play dough tools.
6. OTHER FAVORITES
This little wooden farm has gotten lots of love. It came with Animals and the quality is great. It will be used for years I am sure. We originally had the Little People farm, but I found she grew out of that one rather quickly, and I like the quality of the Melissa and Doug wooden barn better. This is one that can grow with the child.
Our wobble board is used way more than I would have ever thought. My toddler uses this thing as a slide, a rocker, a doll bed, a bridge, a cave for her animals, a rainbow, and more. You name it, she has probably used the woddle board for it. This is one of our most open ended toys and the possibilities are endless.
You know your toddler best. So follow their lead when it comes to choosing toys. Just because my toddler plays with all of these things, doesn’t mean your toddler will want to, and it definitely doesn’t mean they need to! Once you find a toy or two that your toddler loves, focus on that and build off of that. Similar to what I did with our building toys. We started out with the Mega Blocks, and when I seen how engaged she was with those, we invested in some good wooden block, and some magnetic tiles. Right now she is very into pretend play, so most of her Christmas gifts are toys that encourage pretend play.
The key is to keep it as open ended as you can, invest in long term toys that will grow with your child, and remember sometimes simple is best! The more things a toy does itself, the less the child needs to do, and they will actually get bored more quickly with a toy that does ALL the things as opposed to one that is simple and involves them using their imagination.
I hope this helps you a little bit in choosing toys and being intentional with what you buy for your child. If you have any additional tips, comments, or questions, I always love to see comments from readers below!