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21 Best Toddler Toys and Gifts Ideas Parents Will Appreciate Too

Best toddler toys and gifts ideas
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Updated April 29, 2024

Striking the perfect balance between fun and educational yet also aesthetically pleasing (or simply not annoying) can be tough when purchasing gifts and playthings for busy toddlers. You want toys that can grow with them, that will engage and won’t collect dust—and stuff parents won’t, well, hate.

Victoria Weatherspoon, Certified Play Expert (CPE) and Marketing Lead at American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, says to consider things like recent milestones or what type of play toddlers are focusing on at the moment, not just their age, when buying gifts. “For example, toys that promote the development of fine and gross motor skills, encourage language development, and stimulate the senses can be great for these early stages of development,” she says. “You can encourage exploration at this age by giving kids chunky puzzles, wooden blocks, toy cars, train sets, coloring books, dolls, playhouses, and a miscellaneous toy bin with age-appropriate musical instruments, kitchen utensils and missing parts and pieces of games.”

For the toddler who has way too many toys, you might consider a more practical gift, like new kicks, a cool backpack for preschool, or luggage for their first big trip. I’ve curated a list of the best toddler toys and gift ideas you can buy now.

The best toddler toys and gift ideas

Claymates Family of Four Gift Box

Claymates Family of Four Gift Box

Claymates Family of Four Gift Box

Let their imaginations run wild as they engage in sensory and role play all at once, building their own family (or friends) with these open-ended wooden figurines and non-hardening clay set. The clay never dries out so they can mold mom and dad, then start fresh and turn the figurines into their favorite superheroes, and repeat. My kids love these, and I like that you can choose from dark, light, and mixed wood tones to best represent your own family.

Price at time of publish: $43

Slumberkins Social Skills Set

Slumberkins Social Skills Set

Slumberkins Social Skills Set

Toddlers have a lot of big feelings, and they don’t always have the tools to cope with them. This sweet social skills board book and stuffie set helps kids learn to regulate their emotions and build self-esteem at the same time. It comes with two board books and matching stuffed animals (Bigfoot and a hammerhead shark) for kids to cuddle as parents read.

Price at time of publish: $96

Blue Squid Face & Body Crayons

Blue Squid Face & Body Crayons

Blue Squid Face & Body Crayons

If your toddler prefers to use their own body as an art canvas (and what toddler doesn’t?) then they’ll love these fun face and body paint crayons. They go on as easily as they wash off so you can let your toddler go to town without stressing about extra scrubbing in the tub. Just make sure they’re past the putting-everything-in-their–mouth phase, though these are non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and vegan. They’re also the perfect size for tiny hands to grip and draw.

Price at time of publish: $12.99

Funboy Convertible Kids Sleepover Air Mattress

Funboy Convertible Kids Sleepover Air Mattress

Funboy Convertible Kids Sleepover Air Mattress

Ideal for older toddlers three and up, they’ll be racing to bed when you whip out this ultra fun Funboy blowup mattress for sleepovers at grandma’s or on vacation. This cool convertible comes in pink and blue, and if your little princess prefers her own throne there’s a blowup castle bed too. There’s also a boat bed to rock them to sleep. The bed comes with a carry bag for easy storage and travel—and it’s really cozy.

Price at time of publish: $79

KidKraft Turtle Totter Balance Beam

KidKraft Turtle Totter Balance Beam

KidKraft Turtle Totter Balance Beam

“As babies phase into toddler age, balance and agility [are two] of the most important skills to master,” says Elizabeth Fraley, MEd, CEO and Founder of Kinder Ready™. “KidKraft makes the perfect toy for toddlers that incorporates balance and gross motor awareness. The beam’s fun turtle design grabs toddlers’ attention and makes walking and climbing exciting for this age group. Using a balance beam supports muscle development, enhances coordination abilities, and supports body awareness in toddlers.” She also notes it can encourage creativity, as there are many ways to use it, from jumping and walking to turning into a road for toy cars.

Price at time of publish: $143.06

Boon Pipes + Tubes + Cogs Bath Toy Bundle

Boon Pipes + Tubes + Cogs Bath Toy Bundle

Boon Pipes + Tubes + Cogs Bath Toy Bundle

This building toy is sure to make a big splash with your toddler. It comes with five pipes, three tubes, and five cogs that suction to the side of the tub and can be put together in tons of combinations for all the cause and effect water fun. They’ll love dumping water on each piece to see what happens, with all the tubes and pipes interacting with water differently to keep things interesting.

Price at time of publish: $29.99

Fat Brain Toys InnyBin

InnyBin - Baby Toys & Gifts for Babies - Fat Brain Toys

InnyBin - Baby Toys & Gifts for Babies - Fat Brain Toys

Fraley calls this toy “a winner” for any toddler ages two to three. “This unique and colorful toy promotes fine motor development, critical thinking, and perseverance,” she says. “Toddlers can enjoy a fun tactile experience while working on color and shape recognition with the shapes inside—diamond, sphere, triangle, and more! This unique toy has manipulatives that can be stored inside its cube, which makes it a perfect game for busy families on the go.”

Price at time of publish: $27.95

State Bags Logan Check-In Suitcase

State Bags Logan Check-In Suitcase

State Bags Logan Check-In Suitcase

They’ll be all smiles to have their very own suitcase, big enough to fit all the toys, stuffies, and random things they insist on bringing for your next vacation. I have this suitcase for my girl, and the quality is excellent—the prints are so cute, modern, and kid-friendly too while still being cool for parents.

It has two large interior compartments, including a zippered side to contain things, and it comes with a detachable drawstring laundry bag to toss their dirty clothes at your destination. There’s a TSA lock and a built-in weight indicator so you don’t have to stress about their bag being overweight at the airport. It also comes in a mini toddler size with plenty of other prints/colors if you want smaller, carry-on luggage instead.

Price at time of publish: $385

Super Smalls Time To Shine Dress Up Mega Trunk

Super Smalls Time To Shine Dress Up Mega Trunk

Super Smalls Time To Shine Dress Up Mega Trunk

“Toys that cultivate creativity, such as dress-up clothes and pretend play sets, can provide rich experiences for toddlers as they allow for open-ended play and multiple ways of exploration,” says psychotherapist, parenting coach, and Founder & CEO of Parenting Pathfinders, Michelle Felder, LCSW, MA. “Furthermore, these types of toys are beneficial because they encourage interactions with caregivers or peers, which promotes bonding and the development of their social skills,” she adds. This ultra-chic dress up box comes with a sparkly pink tiara, blinged-out lace gloves, garden fairy face gems, and two pairs of dress-up shoes to get them into character.

Price at time of publish: $98

Stonz Roamer Shoe

Stonz Roamer Shoe

Stonz Roamer Shoe

I love the style, simplicity, and flexibility of all Stonz shoes, and these little Roamers are perfect for summer, whether you’re headed to the beach, pool, park, or splash pad. They’re quick drying, extra cozy, and so easy to get off and on, which can be the most annoying part of dressing a toddler. They come in a chic pink, charcoal, or a neutral dune color that goes with everything.

Price at time of publish: $49.99

Kinetic Sand Soft Serve Station

Kinetic Sand, Soft Serve Station with 14oz of Play Sand (Blue, Pink and White), 2 Ice Cream Cones and 2 Tools, Sensory Toys for Kids Aged 5 and up

Kinetic Sand, Soft Serve Station with 14oz of Play Sand (Blue, Pink and White), 2 Ice Cream Cones and 2 Tools, Sensory Toys for Kids Aged 5 and up

This toy combines two toddler favorites: ice cream and kinetic sand. Kiddos can swirl, scoop, and decorate their own soft-serve sand creations in blue, pink, and white. There are two cones and more tools to perfect their sweet treats. When they’re done, they can pretend eat, or set up shop and “sell” some cones to mom, dad, and siblings.

Price at time of publish: $12.99

Cloud B Tranquil Whale Projector Sound Machine & Rattle Toy

Tranquil Whale Family Blue - Kids Toys | Cloud b from Maisonette

Tranquil Whale Family Blue - Kids Toys | Cloud b from Maisonette

For parents and kids who need more sleep, I can’t recommend this Tranquil Whale enough. It’s a night light, light show, and soothing sound machine all in one. It projects the waves of the ocean onto your child’s ceiling and plays a marine melody or white noise to help them drift off into dreamland so you can get a little peace and quiet post-bedtime. You can also adjust the brightness of the light, and it turns off automatically after 23 minutes, AKA after they’re already asleep. My son won’t sleep without his, and we even pack it for vacations to provide a sense of normalcy.

Price at time of publish: $64.99

BÉIS The Kids Backpack

BÉIS The Kids Backpack

BÉIS The Kids Backpack

Whether your toddler is headed to preschool or you just need something to contain all the snacks and toys for your next plane ride, this super cool kids’ backpack from BÉIS is packed with fun features. (Beis also made our lists for the best places to buy luggage online, best travel totes, and best backpacks for work.) There are two elastic water bottle holders, a trolley sleeve for travel, a large compartment to fit a change of clothes and other goodies, a sleeve for their tablet, plus a removable fanny pack to put their most precious belongings—or their most coveted snacks. As a parent, I also love the safety whistle on the strap!

Price at time of publish: $68

KiwiCo Pop-Up Shape Sorter Puzzle

KiwiCo Pop-Up Shape Sorter Puzzle

KiwiCo Pop-Up Shape Sorter Puzzle

My toddler is obsessed with this chunky pop-up puzzle and shape sorter all in one. Once a shape is in place, a face pops up with a different emotion toddlers can mirror or practice naming. This modern toy helps with fine motor skills, spatial reasoning, color and shape recognition, social emotional learning, and more. My toddler’s favorite thing to do is bop the little people and watch the shape go flying—he laughs every single time.

Price at time of publish: $54.95

Tonies Toniebox Starter Set

Toniebox Playtime Puppy Starter Set - Red

Toniebox Playtime Puppy Starter Set - Red

If you’re looking for a way to entertain toddlers without the screens, the Toniebox is a jamming good time. An audio system for kids, this box plays popular children’s songs, from Baby Shark to Wheels on the Bus. You can also personalize playtime by purchasing more Content-Tonies, including all the characters they’re currently obsessed with for storytime and extra audio adventures. There’s Blippi, Elsa, Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, Spidey, and many, many more!

Price at time of publish: $99.99

Strider 12” Classic Balance Bike

Strider 12 Classic Entry Balance Bike for Toddler Kids 18 - 36 Months Old Red

Strider 12 Classic Entry Balance Bike for Toddler Kids 18 - 36 Months Old Red

“Active toys like tricycles and balance bikes promote physical activity, balance, and coordination,” says Michelle Mintz, MS, CCC-SLP, an early childhood development expert and creator of Baby Blooming Moments. Get them moving and burn all that big toddler energy with this top-rated balance bike designed for children ages 18 to 36 months. It’s one of my favorite outdoor toys for two-year-olds and is sturdy, lightweight, well-built, and easy to adjust as your child grows.

Price at time of publish: $110

Sandy Beach Doll

Sandy Beach Doll Waterproof Clear, Fill with Sand for Swimming, Toddler Bath, Montessori Toy Gift for Water, Beach, Pool, Playground (Soft Pink)

Sandy Beach Doll Waterproof Clear, Fill with Sand for Swimming, Toddler Bath, Montessori Toy Gift for Water, Beach, Pool, Playground (Soft Pink)

If your toddler insists on dragging their dolls everywhere—the beach and pool included—Sandy is your secret weapon. She’s a clear, waterproof doll that toddlers can fill with sand or water for a sensory experience and pretend-play all in one—and she never gets soggy. “Toys, like dolls, that represent emotions can help children to recognize and respond to their own emotions and the emotions of others,” says Felder. Sandy comes with a shovel, stickers, a water-resistant tote, mini doll sunglasses, and matching sunnies for your toddler.

Price at time of publish: $75

Taf Toys Bunny Sorting Stacking Pegs

Taf Toys Bunny Sorting Stacking pegs. Toddler Toys Learning Montessori Toys for 18-36 Months

Taf Toys Bunny Sorting Stacking pegs. Toddler Toys Learning Montessori Toys for 18-36 Months

This Montessori sorting and stacking peg toy is chock full of fun and developmental benefits for toddlers. It works on hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as they try to clip the colorful bunnies to the side of the box, eventually matching them to the correct color as they grow, and then unclip them to do it all over again. The little bunny clips can be stored inside the numbered boxes too, and toddlers can practice counting and sorting them by color.

Price at time of publish: $19.99

Step2 Car Wash Splash Center

Step2 Car Wash Splash Center Blue Plastic Water Table for Toddlers

Step2 Car Wash Splash Center Blue Plastic Water Table for Toddlers

“Water and sand play tables offer sensory play, which is crucial for cognitive development and fine motor skills,” says Mintz. I love this cute car table that toddlers can get in and pretend to ride, and clean just like mom and dad—it even has a little squeaky windshield wiper. It comes with lots of accessories, including a spray bottle, rag, bucket, and much more to enhance playtime. Pour water into the gas tank, and they’ll hear a glug. Dump water on the top, and watch it rain down.

Price at time of publish: $112.97

Pottery Barn Kids My First Train Set

Pottery Barn Kids My First Train Set

Pottery Barn Kids My First Train Set

All aboard! For the toddler who is obsessed with planes, trains, and automobiles, you can’t go wrong with this gorgeous wooden train set from Pottery Barn Kids. It comes with 37 pieces, including trains, wooden tracks, and decor to surround their setup. This is one of those toys that’ll remain a staple in the playroom for years to come, and you can add on to it as they grow.

Price at time of publish: $49

Dreamland Baby Bamboo Classic Sleep Sack

Dreamland Baby Bamboo Classic Sleep Sack

Dreamland Baby Bamboo Classic Sleep Sack

Put them to bed in this ultra-soft, earth-conscious sleep sack in the cutest checkered print that parents will love too. This dreamy sack is available in sizes up to 36 months so you can keep them from climbing out of the crib for as long as possible. It’s moisture-wicking and breathable too, for a better night’s sleep all around. Shopping tip: If you’re also looking for gifts for little ones, check out our list of the top baby toys.

Price at time of publish: $49

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