It’s heeere…toy shopping season. What’s that, you say? There’s still plenty of time to find the best toys? Not if these popular toys are on your child’s wish list for Santa. We gathered intel from leading retailers and toy industry experts to put together a guide of what’s almost certainly going to be the most popular toys this holiday season, age by age.
Among the big 2017 trends are collectibles (we’re looking at you, Fingerlings), virtual pets and robotics (cue FurReal Friends) and, thankfully for parents still trying to figure out the difference between a Fingerling and a FurReal Friend, there’s a sprinkling of classic learning toys that tap into your child’s inner creativity and teach problem-solving. The bottom line? These are the best toys that have buzz and brains.
Take a look to see why they’ve captured your children’s imaginations in 2017.
Best Toys for 6 Month Olds
While infants aren’t exactly begging for the top toys (at least not yet, anyway), they love to mimic what mom, dad or older siblings are doing, says Adrienne Appell, Toy Trend Specialist for The Toy Association. “That’s why [trending] products trickle down to children of all ages.” These best toys hold major parent and baby appeal, boosting fine motor skills, language development and understanding of cause and effect.
Dolce Activity Zebra. This savannah dweller is ready to romp, with rattles, rings, mirrors and ribbons. He plays songs when his tail is pulled, making him among the top toys for babies in this age group who are endlessly tickled by making things happen.
Buy it: $40, Magformers.com
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn First Words Smart Puppy. An interactive pup that teaches first words, songs, numbers and shapes. Before you know it, your little one will be building a vocabulary along with developing fine motor skills.
Buy it: $40, Fisher-Price.com
Lamaze Repeat Petey. Among the best toys for babies learning their first words is this plush parrot, aptly named Repeat Petey. While the back and forth of those first babbly “conversations” are adorably cute, they’re also important for language development.
Buy it: $30, Amazon.com
Best Toys for 1 Year Olds
More, more, more! That pretty much describes your now very-busy baby: more mobile, more vocal and more curious than ever. Here are the top toys that’ll keep your new toddler learning and growing all day through play.
Fisher-Price Little People Animal Rescue. “The Little People brand has been around for decades, and kids can enjoy rescuing neighborhood animals with the firefighter in this adorable two-sided set,” says Marissa DiBartolo, senior editor at The Toy Insider. Tots turn the crank to spin the helicopter propellers and activate lights, sounds, songs and phrases.
Buy it: $40, Amazon.com
Hape Pound & Tap Bench. This first instrument lets your mini Mozart make music by pounding away on the balls (when they drop through the bench, they play notes). As she fine tunes her motor skills, slide out the xylophone for more mellow sounds rather than an all-out rock concert.
Buy it: $30, Amazon.com
Little Tikes Light n Go 3-in-1 Sports Zone. He shoots…he scores! “Little ones can enjoy soccer, basketball and bowling in this compact mini play set,” DiBartolo says. “Plus, it teaches colors, numbers and shapes.”
Buy it: $55, Amazon.com
Best Toys for 2 Year Olds
You know what they say about the twos…they’re terrific! Okay, that’s not what they say, but what do “they” know anyway? Two year olds are full of energy and a growing independence. He’s picking up new skills so quickly, he can’t wait to put them to use. These best toddler toys encourage him to test out his skills through creative play.
Playskool New Tickle Me Elmo. He’s back! When your tot presses Elmo’s tummy or squeezes his feet, he giggles. Tickle him again, and he becomes downright hysterical, shimmying and jiggling. While our favorite Muppet is delighting your child, she’s learning cause and effect.
Buy it: $24.50, Amazon.com
Wicked Cool Toys New Teddy Ruxpin. Did we mention nostalgia is another trend among the top toys on our list? This storytelling bear is ready to enchant the children of those who remember him from their own preschool days in the mid-80s. The new and improved Ruxpin 2.0 is powered by an app, is Bluetooth-ready and sports LCD eyes that show 40 emotions—in color!—as he tells his tales.
Buy it: $100, Target.com has an exclusive one in a special outfit
Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart. Are you melting over just how stinkin’ cute this ice cream cart is? And full of educational lessons too! Something so seemingly simple as ordering two scoops of chocolate ice cream with caramel sauce and whip cream is actually helping children build memory, sequencing, fine motor and social skills.
Buy it: $40, LeapFrog.com
Best Toys for 3 Year Olds
Two words: Pretend play. With imagination kicking in full force, 3 year olds are all about make-believe. Not only does this stage represent a big leap in development, it’s also going to be a lot of fun with these best toys that fuel your preschooler to create their own world of fun.
Just Play Disney Junior Doc McStuffins All-in-One Nursery. Is there a doctor in the house? Yep: your sweetie’s on call to perform a checkup, from listening to her baby doll’s heartbeat with a stethoscope, measuring her height and weight and providing a diagnosis on the portable electronic patient laptop. This popular toy even boasts a bandage dispenser.
Buy it: $80, ToysRUs.com
Jada Toys Mickey Transforming Roadster Racer RC. His imagination will be fired up with this shape-shifting car, manned by none other than the big cheese himself. It’s easy to steer forward, in reverse and in circles with this authentic R/C. Is he at the Indy 500, NASCAR or Test Track at Disney World today? It’s all up to him.
Buy it: $26, Amazon.com
Hasbro Baby Alive Sweet Tears. Always a perennial favorite among popular toys, dolls have come a long way from just sitting pretty. Hasbro’s Baby Alive utters more than 35 sounds and phrases (in English and Spanish, no less), cries real tears and addresses her caretaker as mommy or daddy.
Buy it: $50, ToysRUs.com
Best Toys for 4 Year Olds
Preschool upperclassmen are starting to develop their first friendships, thanks to improving social skills. They also have a longer attention span, sharper problem-solving skills and there’s no limit to their imaginative play. Here, the best toys to make the most of this wondrous year.
FurReal Roarin’ Tyler the Playful Tiger. Sort of like your kid, Tyler’s favorite way to play is to roar! This clever cub responds to noises and touch with more than 100 sound-and-motion combinations of his own. Bonus: this animatronic pet comes with his own little chicken toy. (We’re not sure why, exactly, but it’s adorable.)
Buy it: $130, Hasbro.com
Spin Master Soggy Doggy Board Game. As far as board games go, it’s easy to see why this one is rising in the ranks of the popular toys for the holidays. It involves young players getting wet and, yes, a damp dog. Enough said.
Buy it: $20, Amazon.com
Star Wars Luke Skywalker Landspeeder. This may be the biggest holiday for top toys with movie tie-ins. Modeled after the X-34 craft from Star Wars: A New Hope, this dream gift takes two riders for a 5 mph spin helming an interactive dashboard with lights and real sounds from the movie. Alas, intergalactic rides don’t come cheap, so perhaps the entire family might want to chip in.
Buy it: $500, RadioFlyer.com
Best Toys for 5 Year Olds
Now that you have a kindergartener, expect to regularly hear about all the popular toys the other kids have and she wants. While there’s little chance of escaping the power of what’s hot and what’s not, you can fulfill your child’s holiday or birthday wish list with best toys that are both coveted and support learning and emotional development.
WowWee Fingerlings. Kids love having a little sidekick, and this one attaches to their fingers wherever they go. But more than looking cute, these simian collectibles are interactive: they blink, turn their heads, blow kisses and swing by their tails. Clap twice, and Fingerlings sing together on command too.
Buy it: $15 each, Amazon.com
Spin Master Hatchimals Surprise Puppadee. Hatchimals—mysterious eggs that slowly hatch sweet-silly creatures—were the Cabbage Patch Dolls of holiday 2016. A year later, Hatchimals are releasing twins with rainbow eyes. Already ToysRUs.com is anticipating these will be uber popular toys, noting that Hatchimals will be sold “one per customer.” You’ve been warned.
Buy it: $70, ToysRUs.com
Oonies. They’re not balls. Not exactly balloons. Whatever you choose to call them, though, the important thing is Oonies inspire creativity. These top toys magically stick together to make virtually anything your child dreams up, and can be embellished with special Oonie Deco Bits.
Buy it: $29, Amazon.com
Updated October 2017