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Best Toddler Toys of 2021

Updated
Fifty ideas for the best toy for your toddler.

Finding the best toddler toys isn’t as straightforward as it seems. By age one, their curiosity is expanding, and their need for exploring grows quickly.

For this age, toys that make noise and mimic the world around them are wonderful. If they’re starting to walk, a toy that supports their new mobility is a good pick. You have lots of options to choose from, so we’ll help you narrow it down.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features
Product Image of the Step2 Naturally Playful Sand & Water Activity Center | Kids Sand & Water Table...
Best Outdoor Playhouse
Step2 Naturally Playful
  • Social and interactive play
  • Sand & water features
  • Includes a sunshade
Product Image of the Kidzlane Color Matching Egg Set - Toddler Toys - Educational Color & Number...
Best Color Match Toy
Kidzlane Color Matching Egg Set
  • Improve hand dexterity
  • Child-safe materials
  • Quick & easy storage
Product Image of the ORWINE Inertia Toy Early Educational Toddler Baby Toy Friction Powered Cars Push...
Best for Car-Loving Tots
Orwine Inertia Powered Cars
  • Stimulates creativity
  • Promotes focus
  • Eco-friendly
Product Image of the KIDZALLIENT Montessori Toy for Toddlers - Essential and Basic Fine Motor Skills...
Best for Travel
Busy Activity Board
  • Montessori inspired
  • Develops motor skills
  • Invokes creativity
Product Image of the fisher-price Little People Travel Together Friend Ship [Amazon Exclusive]
Best Figurine Toy
Fisher-Price Friend Ship
  • Plays realistic sounds
  • Stimulates imagination
  • Strengthens dexterity
Product Image of the Little Tikes Easy Score Basketball Set, Blue, 3 Balls - Amazon Exclusive
Best Basketball Set
Little Tikes Basketball Set
  • Indoor & outdoor play
  • Develop motor skills
  • Develop balance & coordination
Product Image of the The Original Mood Flipbook for Kids; 20 Different Moods/Emotions; Autism; ADHD;...
Best for Understanding Moods
The Original Mood Flipbook
  • Helpful for Autism & ADHD
  • Fun & educational
  • Solid construction
Product Image of the Slotic Wooden Puzzles for Toddlers - Animal Jigsaw Puzzles for 1 2 3 Years Old...
Best for Christmas
Slotic Wooden Puzzles
  • Develop color recognition
  • Interactive game
  • Eco-friendly materials
Product Image of the Melissa & Doug K's Kids Take-Along Shape Sorter Baby Toy With 2-Sided Activity...
Best Traveling Shape Sorter
Melissa & Doug Take-Along
  • Develop sensory skills
  • Sparks creativity
  • Develop communication skills
Product Image of the LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book
Best Digital Word Book
LeapFrog Learning Friends Book
  • Develop language skills
  • Builds vocabulary
  • Exciting sound effects

Are Toys Good for Toddlers?

Playtime is a crucial part of childhood — it’s one way that children learn. While toys aren’t always necessary, they often spark imagination for further play. Finding the right toys can aid a child’s development, help them talk and better their understanding of the world.

Toddlers need opportunities to play with different types of toys. They must be made of suitable materials and should promote imagination. Since children this age like to put things in their mouths, you must be sure the toys you choose don’t present any choking hazards (1).

What Kind of Toys Do Toddlers Play With?

Toddlers will play with almost anything and they don’t know whether a toy is safe, so it’s essential to pay attention to potential hazards.

The best toddler toys are those that let them discover the world. Here are a few examples:

How to Choose Toys for Toddlers

Need a cheat sheet on picking the best toddler toys? Follow these tips and you’ll be in the clear.

Choose Something Flexible

Try to pick an open-ended toy — one they can play with in various ways.

Encourage Problem-Solving and Exploration

Toys that give children a chance to figure something out will promote their development. Such toys include puzzles and building blocks.

No Choking Hazard

With toddlers, you want to ensure that everything is large enough so it won’t be a choking hazard (2). Tug on pieces to verify they don’t come loose. A general rule-of-thumb is that you shouldn’t give a toddler under the age of three a toy with parts that are small enough to fit through a toilet roll tube.

Sparks Imagination

The second and third year is where a child’s imagination takes off. Choose something your little one seems interested in, such as toy cars or dress-up costumes.


The Best Toddler Toys of 2021

Here are 50 great toy ideas for toddlers.

Best Toddler Toys for Outdoors

1. Step2 Naturally Playful Sand & Water Activity Center

If you have room in the backyard, this playhouse from Step2 is worth a look. It’s a pavilion-style playhouse, designed for outdoors. It resembles a miniature table, that includes two compartments for sand and water. When fully covered, it can be used as a snack table, perfect for summer outdoor fun without being exposed to the sun, thanks to its 60-inches umbrella for shade.

The activity center provides ample room for several toddlers to play at once. One of the stations included has a small sand and water area, which comes with fun accessories for pretend play. Moreover, your little one receives seven molders which he can use in imaginative play.


2. Little Tikes Easy Score Basketball Set

Best Toddler Basketball Set

My little one loves playing with balls, especially throwing them. This basketball hoop from Little Tikes has received stellar reviews, suggesting it’s worthy of a high ranking on our list. While it’s great outside, on a rainy day or for the winter you can set it up inside instead.

The set is suitable for children aged 18 months to 5 years. In the collection, you’ll receive a basketball hoop, stand, and three balls. You can set six height settings, measuring between 2.5 to 4 feet.


3. Step2 Splash N Scoop for Toddlers

Best Sand Table for Toddlers

Toddlers love playing with sand — they can sieve it, dig in it, mold, and toss it. This sand table from Step2 grabbed our attention thanks to its ultra-cute design. It can hold several pounds of sand, enough for hours of inventive play.

The table comes with water and sandbox. It also includes a lid to protect the sand from rain and cats.


4. Step2 Play & Shade Pool

Best Kiddie Pool for Toddlers

This little pool is suitable for toddlers aged 24 months, right up to 6-year-olds. The pool is made of a hard plastic molding, so there’s no inflating required.

It comes with a 40-inch umbrella, which provides shade for your little ones while they splash. For more play, you can attach the included funnel cups and spinning water wheels to the umbrella post.


5. Intex Mushroom Baby Pool

Best Inflatable Baby Pool

The Intex Mushroom baby pool is cute and super fun for small toddlers.

The inflatable baby pool is big enough for one or two toddlers aged one to three years. Overhead is a mushroom-style sun canopy that gives some protection from the sun.

The pool has a 5-inch wall and can hold up to 12 gallons of water. It measures 40 by 35 inches, and even includes a repair patch.


6. Little Tikes First Slide

Best Toddler Slide

The Little Tikes First Slide is a popular pick among parents. It has a comfortable height of 39 inches with a 38-inch slide, suitable for ages 18 months to 6 years. At the top are removable handrails that snap into place.


7. Little Tikes Cook 'n Play Outdoor BBQ

Best Outdoor Cooking Station

This play kitchen from Little Tikes is your toddler’s own outdoor grill station. Your little one can host their own cookout alongside mom and dad.

On the BBQ stand, there’s a sink and prep station as well as an oven and shelves. You can also choose to include play food and utensils.


8. Step2 Sports-Tastic Activity Center Playset for Toddlers

Best Backyard Climber for Toddlers

For hours of outdoor fun, a climber such as this one from Step2 is a good choice. It’s a toddler-friendly sports climber, suitable for ages 12 months to 3 years.

It has a slide, and once on the ground, they can engage in basketball, football, and soccer. The climber can hold up to 45 pounds.


9. Lydaz Bubble Mower for Toddlers

Best Bubble Machine for Toddlers

This bubble maker from Lydaz puts a fun spin on the old bubbles by including a toy lawnmower. The mower provides realistic engine and gear sounds.

While your child pushes the mower, the bubble maker sitting on the inside will blow hundreds of bubbles. Included are three bubble sticks and three solutions.


10. SplashEZ 3-in-1 Sprinkler for Kids

Best Toddler Sprinkler

This inflatable pool comes with low walls and built-in sprinklers. You connect your water hose, thus activating the water feature.

The bottom of the pool sports an interactive ABC and animal design. This fun toy is for children aged 12 months and up.


Best Toddler Toys for Development

1. Kidzlane Color Matching Egg Set

Best Color Match Toy

This pack contains 12 plastic eggs. When opened up, they reveal their number and color. Each has a specific pattern of pegs that only suits its other half.

The user must coordinate the colors and numbers to match the halves and put the eggs back together.


2. The Original Mood Flipbook for Kids

Best Book for Understanding Moods

For older toddlers, this Mood flipbook is an outstanding tool for developing an understanding of different emotions. The book includes 20 moods. As you explore each, you’ll also see ways to handle such feelings by using counting, exercise, or breathing.

It’s sturdy, too, designed with laminated pages, which are easy to wipe in case of spills or sticky hands.


3. Coogam Toddler Fine Motor Skill Toy

Best Toddler Toy for Fine Motor Skills Development

Coogam has developed probably the cutest toy for practicing fine motor skills and matching up colors. This small beehive calls for your little one to place each bee into the right cell.

In the package, you’ll receive seven chubby bees, the hive, and a tweezer.


4. Skoolzy Nuts and Bolts Fine Motor Skills

Best Nuts and Bolts Toddler Toy

Another excellent way of practicing fine motor skills is by using nuts and bolts, and this set from Skoolzy is ideal for that. The bundle consists of 24 pieces in four various shapes and colors which the player must coordinate. It’s suitable for ages 3 and up.

The toy encourages your little one to sort and count while learning about the nature of screws. Included is also a tote bag for storage or transportation.


5. Battat - Sort & Stack - Educational Stacking Cups

Best Stacking Toy

Stacking, shapes, and buckets — this toy has it all. My little one loves buckets at the moment, as do many other toddlers. The package includes ten stacking cups, eight shapes, and fun stickers that encourage counting.

With the toy, a child stacks the cups, while unconsciously exercising problem-solving skills, as they need to figure out what goes where.

Next is the lid, where the shapes must match to fill the holes. On each cup is a sticker with a number and a design such as rockets or starfish.


6. Lego Duplo Creative Picnic Building Set

Best LEGO Duplo Set

If you’re searching for toys that promote creative and tactile play, Duplo is a solid choice. Duplo is almost iconic, and this picnic-inspired bundle is outstanding. It consists of 52 pieces, providing opportunities to create various sandwiches, milk cartons, fruits and vegetables.

The pieces are large and suitable for ages 1.5 to 5 years. It all arrives in a sturdy Duplo box, which you can retain to use for storage.


7. Melissa & Doug Match & Roll Shape-Sorter

Best Toddler Toy with Shapes

With outstanding reviews from parents, we had to include this Melissa and Doug toy. You can teach about shapes and construction as your little one must navigate it to fit the shapes.

It’s durable and toddler-proof, made with non-toxic materials. The toy suits children ages 12 months and up.


8. ToyerBee Bead Maze

Best Bead Maze Toy for Toddlers

This bead maze toy from ToyerBee provides lots of fun. Parents praise the size, saying it’s great for toddlers.

The maze is a high-quality wood construction with non-toxic paint. It also sports vibrant, enticing colors.

Around the maze are cute animals, and on the bottom is a bead counting game. Underneath the base, ToyerBee attached two 2-by-2-inch suction cups, so the bead maze doesn’t slide around.


9. Baby Activity Cube Toddler Toys

Best Activity Cube for Toddlers

Activity cubes, such as this one from Sytle-Carry, are excellent for toddlers. This toy has six different sides, each providing an activity.

You can open the cube and alter it to fit the current activity. It’s made of non-toxic, BPA-free ABS plastic and complies with ASTM and CPSIA safety standards. The cube is suitable for babies aged 12 months and up.


10. Kenley Montessori Basic Skills Activity Board

Best Toddler Toy for Development While Traveling

This Montessori-inspired busy board is ready to take on the road. It provides hands-on learning of basic tasks and fine motor skills. The board consists of several different everyday activities that your toddler must execute.

The board has a soft felt wool coating and measures roughly 11 by 12.5 inches. It weighs less than half of a pound, so it’s easy to bring while traveling.


Best Toddler Toys for Christmas

1. Orwine Inertia Toy Friction Powered Cars

Best Toy for Car-Loving Tots

For toddlers who love cars, we found this set of four vehicles. In the bundle, they’ll receive a bulldozer, tractor and trailer, cement mixer, and dumper. All are suitable for ages 18 months and up.

The cars have a push friction design, so they require minimal effort to gain speed. Although simple, parents praise their vibrant appearance and how intriguing they are. The cars are safe, too, constructed from ABS plastic that’s up to ASTM F963 and EN71 standards.


2. Slotic Wooden Puzzles for Toddlers

Best Toddler Puzzle for Christmas

These fantastic yet straightforward jigsaw puzzles make an awesome gift for a toddler. The set includes six boards with animal designs.

The material used is great too. It’s high-end, eco-friendly wood that is BPA-free. The puzzle is suitable for children aged 12 months and up.


3. Melissa & Doug Countdown to Christmas

Best Pre-Christmas Gift for Toddlers

If you’re searching for a way to get your little one more excited about Christmas, then this toy from Melissa and Doug is perfect. The Christmas Ornament set will help you countdown the last days before Christmas.

The tree has a magnetic board where you attach an ornament for each day until you reach the star at the top. This is an excellent way of practicing communication skills as well as teaching about numbers. This toy will suit children aged 3 to 7 years.


4. Little Blue Truck’s Christmas

Best Christmas Book for Toddlers

Engage your toddler in this enchanting Christmas story about the Little Blue Truck. In the book, the truck is busy spreading Christmas cheer as he hands out trees to his friends.

Throughout the story, you get to engage with your toddler as you count and make noises. The book is sturdy and includes bright colors. At the back, there are flashing Christmas lights.


5. Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles

Best Christmas-Themed Puzzle

A Christmas-themed puzzle is excellent for toddlers who are in the Christmas spirit. Puzzles are a great introduction to developing problem-solving skill and work to exercise fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

The puzzle is composed of 1000 wooden pieces. The board is sturdy and toddler-friendly, while the plastic pegs are easy to grab onto.


6. Elmo’s Countdown to Christmas (Lift-the-Flap Book)

Best Sesame Street Christmas Book for Toddlers

Count down the days to Christmas with this flip-the-flap book from Sesame Street. In the book, little ones can discover fun surprises under each flap as they explore the world of Elmo and friends. There are over 30 flaps, and the book has received stellar reviews from parents.


7. VTech KidiBeats Kids Drum Set

Best Drum Set for Toddlers

Toddlers love toys that make noise, and with this drum set from VTech, they can make some sounds of their own. The set consists of three drum pads and a cymbal. Drum sticks are included so your toddler can play along to nine melodies in different genres, including pop, rock, and dance.

The set offers four modes of play — Free Play, Numbers, Follow-Along, and Letters. As they hit the pads, they’ll activate flashing LED lights.


8. Betheaces Water Drawing Mat

Best Drawing Board for Toddlers

Once a toddler discovers how to use a pen, no wall or bookcase is safe. This Doodle Drawing mat can help keep their attention away from the walls and onto a safe surface. The mat is a soft polyester that is non-toxic.

It works with water markers. Fill them with clean water, then have the tot draw on the mat. After three to ten minutes, the doodles magically disappear, allowing your little one to draw more.

The mat measures 34.5 by 22.5 inches, and it’s suitable for ages 24 months and up.


9. RenFox Kids Musical Mat

Best Musical Mat for Toddlers

If your little ones love making noises and music, then you can’t go wrong with a musical mat, and this one from RenFox is a good example. This mat measures 14.2 by 43.3 inches and contains eight instrument sounds. Along with the sounds, there are various modes, even a record and playback.

The musical mat is soft and comfortable to play with and easy to clean. The material is a high-quality, non-toxic fabric. There’s even a volume control to save your ears.


10. Radio Flyer My 1st Wagon

Best Toy Wagon for Toddlers

Many toddlers love hauling their stuff around, so a classic red wagon is a popular choice. This one from Radio Flyer doesn’t disappoint — it’s a miniature version of the original cart. It includes a steel stamped body, no-scratch edges, and molded wheels for added durability.

The wagon is small and suitable for children aged 18 months and up. There’s enough room for a few toys as the interior measures 15 by 7.5 inches.


Best Toddler Toys for Travel

1. Busy Activity Board for Toddlers

Best Toddler Activity Board for Travel

A brilliant solution to those long car rides is an activity board. This two-sided board from Kidzallient can keep your little one entertained for at least a few miles.

It’s Montessori-inspired and includes snaps, laces, buckles, and squeakers. There’s also a transparent pocket for phones or tablets and even a coloring board. It’s suitable for toddlers aged 18 months to 6 years.


2. Melissa & Doug Take-Along Shape-Sorter

Best Traveling Shape Sorter

This padded shape sorter from Melissa and Doug is ready to hit the road. It includes two sides — one shape sorter with nine textured blocks in various colors and shapes. The other side has crinkly flaps where your little one can discover everyday items and matching shapes.


3. Buckle Toys - Belle Turtle

Best Road Buckle Toy for Toddlers

This adorable plush turtle is a fantastic tool for mastering the art of buckles. The turtle consists of six toddler-friendly fasteners in different clasp styles. Your child can exercise fine motor skills while also familiarizing themselves with numbers and shapes, thanks to the decorated pocket.

The turtle measures 9-by-6 inches. It’s easy to hang on the stroller or car seat.


4. Playskool Explore 'N Grow Busy Gears

Best Travel-Friendly Gears for Toddlers

Gears are lots of fun for toddlers, and this board has 11 of them. Toddlers can turn the gears and watch them swirl and whirl while playing sounds, as well as lighting up. The board includes a convenient carry handle, and it’s recommended for ages 1 year and up.


5. Number Maze Magnetic Game by Haba

Best Maze Toy for Traveling Toddlers

My toddler is into magnetic toys at the moment, so I had to include this. The Haba Number Maze has received outstanding reviews from parents, praising how great it is for traveling.

The toy is made of laminated wood and comes with a pen and safely contained magnets, so there are no choking hazards.

Toddlers must use the included wand to match the balls with the corresponding animals. It’s excellent for ages 2 years and up.


6. Dot to Dot for Tiny Tots

Best Drawing Toy for Travel

Give a toddler a marker, and they can entertain themselves for hours. This activity book is fantastic since it has a wipe-clean design. Kids can draw and then wipe it off to start again — it also saves a ton of paper.

In the activity book, there are numbers, mazes, and puzzles. Users can practice problem-solving skills and number recognition. The dry erase marker comes included, too.


7. Fisher-Price My First Fidget Cube

Best Fidget Cube for Travel

With an activity block such as this one from Fisher-Price, toddlers can explore different textures, keeping their fingers busy. The cube consists of six sides with metal and rubber buttons. It’s a good size for traveling.


8. Playskool Classic Dressy Kids Boy Plush Toy

Best Plush Toy for Travel

This plush toy offers five getting-dressed activities that your toddler can practice. The toy is soft and includes zippers, buttons, laces, and buckles.

When on the go, there’s a travel clip to fasten the toy onto a seat or diaper bag. He’s machine washable and suitable for ages 2 years and up.


9. The deMoca Quiet Book for Toddlers

Best Soft Book for Travel

This soft and quiet activity book is excellent for long journeys. It’s Montessori-inspired and includes nine activities, including matching, buckling, and telling time. Along with the book, you’ll receive a zippered washing bag so you can throw it in the washer when needed.


10. Wellchild Magnetic Drawing Board for Toddlers

Best Magnetic Drawing Board for Travel

This magnetic drawing board is great for traveling. Your toddler can stay busy without you worrying about the car’s upholstery.

Included is the magnet pen, three stampers, and a carry bag. The board is a non-toxic, BPA-free material.


Best Toys for Toddlers Who Have Everything

1. Fisher-Price Little People Travel Together Friend Ship

Best Figurine Toy for Toddlers

Your toddler can set sail on the seven seas with Little People from Fisher-Price. The Friend Ship is full of treasures that will keep your little one busy — there are realistic sounds and songs, plus fun figurines. All pieces are large and suitable for ages 1 to 5 years.


2. LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book

Best Digital Word Book

In the book, Tiger, Turtle, and Monkey will introduce the reader to 100 age-appropriate words. There are various categories, including animals, pets, mealtime, colors, food, and activities

It’s suitable for children 18 months to 4 years.


3. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Pull & Play Learning Wagon

Best Play Wagon for Toddlers

This Pull and Play toy wagon from Fisher-Price is a good pick for children aged 6 to 36 months. The cart has educational and hands-on play content, including ABCs, shapes, sounds, and light-up buttons. The pull-along wagon can even speak Spanish for bilingual children.


4. VTech Touch and Learn Activity Desk Deluxe

Best Toddler Activity Desk

The Touch and Learn activity desk from VTech is amazing. It includes the desk and stool. Your toddler can sit and draw, learn words, and engage in 20 activities and songs.

Under the desk is a hidden chalkboard that flips up when needed. The activity desk will suit children aged 2 and up.


5. Munchkin Fishin’ Bath Toy

Best Bathtime Toy for Toddlers

This fishing rod is a beloved bath accessory for toddlers. The set contains a magnetic fishing rod and three underwater characters that float with the magnet pointing upwards for an easy catch.

The toy is suitable for ages 24 months and up. However, remember to air dry the rod to prevent rust in the screw.


6. Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube

Best Magic Cube for Toddlers

The Mozart Magic Cube is excellent for music-loving parents. It consists of eight sides, each representing a musical instrument, including a French horn, harp, piano, and violin. It will play up to eight Mozart masterpieces for the user to enjoy while it lights up in bright colors.


7. Wooden Race Track Car Ramp

Best Toddler Racetrack

This wooden ramp race track stands out from the other toys on today’s list. It consists of four brightly-colored ramps that the included cars must race down. At the top, there’s a parking lot to gather the vehicles.

It’s a high-quality wood and BPA-free toy that uses non-toxic paint. The cars are sturdy enough to withstand the rough-and-tumble nature of toddlers.


8. Blue Horse Hopper

Best Bouncer for Toddlers

This Blue Horse Hopper from AppleRound is terrific for toddlers who have some extra energy to burn off.

It measures about 11 inches in height and 23 inches in length. It’s stable, and parents praise how much fun it is. The toy includes a pump for inflation.


9. VTech Touch & Teach Word Book

Best Activity Book for Toddlers

With this activity book from VTech, your little one can learn about words and the alphabet. It includes touch-sensitive pages and six categories of words, making it a fantastic introduction to early education.

Cody and Cora, two tech smart cubs, guide the reader through the book.


10. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Light-up Learning Vacuum

Best Vacuum Toy for Toddlers

Getting toddlers interested in vacuuming is the dream for any busy parent. Who doesn’t want a child who pitches in with the cleaning around the house?

Fisher-Price has the toy for that — this learning vacuum is vibrant and fun. It includes an “on/off” switch and canister just like a real vacuum, but this one will play music and sounds.


The Takeaway

Toys play a crucial part in a child’s life — playing is a way they learn and develop various skills. Finding the best toddler toys isn’t always easy — there are loads to choose from, and many aren’t worth your time.

When looking for toys, it’s essential to pick something safe and one that benefits your little one physically and mentally. Flashing lights and sounds aren’t a necessity — simple building blocks can easily do.

Headshot of Shannon Serpette

Edited by

Shannon Serpette

Shannon Serpette is an award-winning writer and editor, who regularly contributes to various newspapers, magazines, and websites. Shannon has been featured on Insider, Fatherly, SheKnows, and other high profile publications. As a mother of two, she loves to write about parenting issues and is dedicated to educating other parents at every stage of their child's development.

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