How Many Toys do Children Really Need?
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This is a given. As with legos, you can never have too many. There are countless sets out there, but I prefer the simple creative sets. Without any of the fancy single-purpose bricks (like a slide or window), tots can focus on using their imaginations.
3. Stacking Bowls
We bought the First Years stacking cups when my daughter was 6 months old, and they are still favorites. I splurged on the Grimm’s bowls once she stopped putting things in her mouth (the wood is not supposed to get wet). I can’t even count the number of times in a day that each of these are used. Toddlers love containers. A set of bowls or cups from your kitchen works as well!
4. Push and Pull Toys
Another thing toddlers love is pushing and pulling! When children visit my house for playgroups, these are usually the first toys snatched up! We have the following wagon, and a similar doll pram, and the kids use them equally. The wagon works great outdoors as well.
5. Baby Dolls
Dolls are an amazing toy for both boys and girls! They promote nurturing, empathy, language and early social skills. We own a couple soft dolls like Wee Baby Stella below, but also have a couple hard-bodied dolls. These are great for water table play, outdoor play or bath time.
6. Loose Parts
While not technically toys, these are essentials for play! The biggest benefit is their versatility, which encourages imagination and invention. And toddlers love them. Napkin rings, for example, can be bird nests, bracelets, beads, and likely, some sort of food. Endless possibilities.
Other great ideas for loose parts:
- Cut sections of plastic straws
- Plastic bottle tops
- Vase fillers
**With young toddlers, make sure no loose parts you give them are choking hazards, could fall apart, or are made of toxic materials. I like to look for larger, unfinished wood pieces.
7. Animal Figures
This is another obvious one. Kids love animals! They will play with these from babyhood on up to Elementary school! My favorite brands are Schleich and Safari, Ltd. for small animal figures. We like Folkmanis for puppets, and Ostheimer when we feel like splurging on an heirloom!
Pictured are the Schleich North America Forest Animal Babies Set. We don’t have these yet, but Christmas is coming. 🙂
Here is a beautiful Whitetail Buck from Safari Ltd.
Folkmanis has an adorable Hedgehog puppet!
And here’s a gorgeous Robin Redbreast from Ostheimer. They are expensive but the good news is that as long as you take care of them, they hold their value.
8. Sand and Water Table
We absolutely love playing with our sensory table every day. Beyond water, we fill it with snow, shaving cream, ice, kinetic sand, or play dough, to name a few. We chose this one from Step2 because it’s the right size and height for toddlers. It has two separate sections for sand and water. As a primary teacher, this was still popular with my first graders. So it definitely has some staying power!
9. Waldorf Play stands and Arches
This is the only toy on this list that I do not currently own (but wish I did). Most Waldorf Preschools and Kindergartens will have these. We currently own a toddler-size play kitchen, but we’d like to switch to something more open-ended. Play stands fit the bill. They can act as a kitchen, but they can also be a house, or a car, or anything your child dreams of. I would recommend getting two Play Stands, an Arch, a Rainbow Playsilk and some Clips. Even 8 and 9 year olds still enjoy pretend play, so these will get a lot of use over many years.
10. Pikler Triangle
Here’s one that is not available on Amazon. It’s called a Pikler triangle, it’s made for climbing, and it’s a Montessori staple! These aren’t cheap, but are well worth it. They’re fantastic for climbing, swinging, and fort building, and work for ages 1-6. There are many different shops on Etsy that make them. We bought ours from MaFabrique and couldn’t be happier. Check out the fun accessories available too!
That’s it! I hope you were able to find something useful here! Do you have any of these at home already? Are there some your toddler doesn’t play with, or something I’ve left out? Drop me a comment!