400+ Stimulating & Engaging Toys
Arranged by Age & Interest
How great would it be to feel confident your kids (or your kids’ friends) are not only going to love their birthday and Christmas gifts, they’ll keep returning to play with them again and again?
This is the only resource you’re going to need to nab the perfect gift for every child on your list, every time.
Pin it to your favorite gift or toy board or bookmark it (and share it with your mom friends – they’ll thank you!).
This is not your run of the mill gift guide. I work on these babies all year long, every year, researching, cultivating, and fine tuning the gift guides until they’re just right.
Tens of Thousands of Parents Use These Guides to Buy Their Kids High Quality Toys Each Year.
Where do I research? Everywhere.
I’ve spent hours upon hours talking to friends, school teachers and even toy store owners as well as reading reviews, polling our readers, and scouring toy award lists to come up with these finds.
“Which toys should I spend my money on?,” is probably the question I get asked most often by you guys.
So I’m so excited to introduce this year’s Gift Guides! I’ve been working like mad on them (see above) and, although I will admit that all the researching, photo-editing and linking can be more than a bit tedious, every year the process also gets me incredibly excited about what I want to get my own kids!
When I first started these annual guides, I considered just grouping our picks by age, or gender, or even benefit – but then I got to thinking about how I shop for my own kids. Ultimately, it’s what my littles are into that most motivates my purchases.
If they’re going through a constructing stage, then I want the goods on the most stimulating building toys out there. If their creativity is blooming, I’m looking for info. on the highest quality and longest lasting art supplies. And if they can’t get enough of role playing, that means I’m on the search for toys that do a superb job in supporting dramatic play.
In addition, I’ve got a few goals of my own when it comes to toy shopping – getting in some solid independent play during quiet time, burning off steam when stuck indoors, and feeding their little brains in a fun way to name a few.
So this year we’ve got a couple of different ways for you to shop:
- Scroll through each of our gift guides categorized by interest and find the perfect thing for your art/building/outdoor/S.T.E.M./game/doll/etc. loving kid!
- NEW! and perfect for finding birthday party gifts – Scroll all the way to the bottom and check out our gift guides by age (0-18 months, 2 year-olds, preschoolers, kindergartners, and elementary aged kids).
Just click on the photos below for the complete guide… Happy shopping!
GUIDES BY INTEREST
An absolute parent favorite – this one contains the best toys out there to get your kids moving, indoors or out!
Part 1 is dedicated to outdoor toys and, like everything on our list, each of these toys have huge play power.
Which means that instead of tiring of them after a few days, they’ll return to them for active, stimulating play again and again!
Part 2, our selection of active toys for indoor use, will help your kids safely burn off some steam when they’re stuck indoors.
That means a pick or two of this list will keep the family happy (sane!) and feeling good all year long.
With all the talk I do on the blog about the importance of fostering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills, the STEM themed gift guide is always a star of the show.
I just keep hearing over and over how important cultivating innovation is in our kids’ future success. So watching both my so and daughter excitedly engage with open-ended toys to construct, engineer, explore and experiment fills my heart with joy.
I’m on a continued mission to find the absolute best toys to keep the innovations coming.
Babies and young toddlers can be especially tough to shop for – it’s not like we can just ask them what they want. Plus, kids develop differently and at different rates at this age.
Your best bet is to go for the tried-and-true toys that aim to build hand-eye coordination and fine and gross motor skills in an engaging but not over-stimulating way. Music is always good too.
Here you’ll find my top picks for babies and young toddlers. They all cover a variety of developmental skills and ages and you should find plenty of options to make baby happy!
Having a regular family game night is a great tradition to strengthen the family unit.
Not only does it ensure time for connecting with each other each week, it also gets your kids in the habit of communicating with you – something that will pay-off big time when they’re older.
Plus, with the right game, it can be really fun!
Here you’ll find a selection of games the whole family will love, including some to help you start a game night ritual even with your youngest kiddos.
Building and construction toys, blocks in particular, are my absolute favorite toy for both my sons AND my daughter.
They are the ultimate open-ended creativity toy and I love that my children play with them for huge chunks of time, all while developing math, problem-solving, and spatial thinking skills.
Because of this immense love for building toys, we have tried (and likely will continue to try) more than our fair share of sets. This list is filled with those that have led to hours upon hours of innovative building fun.
Of course, no building gift guide would be complete without a dedicated LEGO section.
Whether your child is just starting out with these wonderful little bricks or is already completely obsessed with The LEGO Movie and quickly on the way to becoming a “master builder”, we’ve got just the picks for you.
In an effort to get a few minutes of one-on-one time with each child, as well as to get some stuff done myself, I stock my arsenal with quiet time toys so awesome my kids won’t even mind being shooed away to play with them.
Even if you have one child, how great would it feel to set her up with an engaging and educational activity they love while you check some things off your to-do list?
Why am I so enthusiastic about this list, and dramatic play in general? Because I truly believe that this type of play is absolutely VITAL to kids’ development.
It teaches so many wonderful things – literacy through vocabulary and story-telling practice as well as social skills such as empathy, turn taking, and the identification of emotions.
It can even incorporate lots of practical mathematical problem solving skills, and much, much more. Plus kids absolutely love it, which means carefully selected, engaging toys can lead to hours upon hours of both independent and cooperative play.
I believe every house with kids should have a stocked art drawer (in a perfect world, an entire art closet!)
I absolutely love gifting my kids art supplies because I know that while using them they’ll be flexing their creative thinking skills and likely spending a lot of time doing so independently.
Plus – big bonus – because these supplies get used up, they don’t contribute to a huge pile of toys that will inevitably lead to power struggles between me and the kids over clean-up time.
Dolls are wonderful for dramatic play, teaching emotions, and fostering nurturing and empathetic qualities in children.
With the awesome variety of dolls out there made with boys in mind too, there’s no reason not to take advantage of those benefits for all of our kids.
These are our favorite dolls for all different kinds of play (and, of course, their accessories too).
Of course, there really is no way to make a complete gift guide around dolls without a section on princesses, castles, and all things Elsa and Anna too.
If my son actually saw this list he’d be sure to beg me for every item on it.
And, honestly, it would be hard for me to resist. I’ve found that a dozen matchbox cars, a good quality truck with some interesting moving parts, etc. can usually buy me a good chunk of independent play from the kids.
Whether your child gets most excited about cars, trucks, trains, planes, or construction vehicles – you’ll find something for them to love here.
GUIDES BY AGE
One of the things I’ve really been wanting to do with the gift guides – and that I’ve heard from you guys that you really want me to do – is to lay out our top picks by age.
As much as I love having our 350+ toy recommendations organized by interest, I know it could be really useful to parents and other gift givers to also have them organized by age, especially when shopping for a birthday!