These iPlay Nest & Stack Buckets aren’t fancy, but prepare for baby to be obsessed with making towers with the cups and knocking them down. Putting the right shapes into the sorting lid helps baby learn and develop hand-eye coordination.
Buy it: $15, BuyBuyBaby.com
A doll inspires pretend play and might even help your toddler get used to the idea of a baby brother or sister. (And yes, it’s okay for little boys to play with dolls too!) This Baby Stella doll doesn’t talk or cry or pee or sing (thank goodness), but is still completely engaging.
Buy it: $30, Amazon.com
You can’t go wrong with a set of wooden blocks. Baby can rack up hours of stacking (and tumbling) without getting bored, and he’ll get more creative as he gets older (expect to have these around for a long time!). We especially love this whimsical set from Uncle Goose which lets you mix and match to create endless little creatures.
Buy it: $50, Amazon.com
Babies learn their shapes and practice their fine motor skills—and problem-solving skills!—when they put together puzzles. This colorful bug, a Multi-Solution Shape Puzzle by P’kolino, is extra cool, because the puzzle can be put back together several different ways.
Buy it: $20, Amazon.com
This collection of vibrant wooden instruments from Kids Preferred The World of Eric Carle is a fun way to introduce baby to music. Whether she waves the rhythm bells stick, toots on the recorder, bangs on the tambourine, or shakes the maraca baby will experiment with different sounds and teach herself a thing or two about cause and effect.
Buy it: From $9, Amazon.com
Get ready to get served up plenty of pretend meals! Kids love interacting (with you or with each other) by playing chef. And this colorful Fresh Fruit set by Hape Toys is perfect for reinforcing your teachings about healthy eating too.
Buy it: $16, Amazon.com
Your toddler will keep busy with this Melissa & Doug stuffed toolbox. And you never know: He just might become handy enough to fix stuff around the house one day!
Buy it: $20, Amazon.com
Trains and cars are great toys because, with a little imagination, almost any surface can become a road or track. Not to mention the fact that many kids go through an obsession with vehicles at some point! This Imaginarium Wooden Stacking Train is simple enough for a toddler to steer—and its stackable shapes offer more ways to play.
Buy it: $27, Amazon.com
Wondering what the Bilibo Minis are used for? Whatever your toddler decides! They’re beetles, boats, drums, doll’s cradles—or anything else she dreams up.
Buy it: $17 for pack of 6, Amazon.com
There's no better way to encourage creativity than with art supplies. Once your toddler is ready for crayons, give these Crayola washable ones a try. The triangular shape encourages proper grip (and doesn’t roll off the table!)—and you’ll love that the marks he makes will come off tables and walls.
Buy it: $5, ToysRUs.com
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