The Best Stacking Toys for Babies and Tots

Stacking toys help with hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
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By Martina Garvey, E-Commerce Editor
Updated April 4, 2023
best stacking toys for babies and toddlers 2023
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Sure, you could buy expensive toys with all the bells and whistles, but you also run the risk of overstimulating your little one. Turns out, when it comes to toys, simplicity often wins. The best toys for infants and toddlers allow for open-ended play and help them master new skills at their own pace. We’re talking blocks, balls and stacking toys, of course.

They may be simple, but stacking toys offer a host of developmental benefits. Stackable blocks or rings help babies and tots work on fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Plus, stacking toys gives parents a chance to interact with baby through play. What’s more, stacking toys are endlessly fascinating to young children.

Stacking toys come in all shapes, sizes and materials. To help you determine which option is right for your child, we’ve consulted the experts and compiled a list of the best stacking toys on the market.

When Can Baby Play With Stacking Toys?

Once baby is sitting upright and has developed the ability to reach and grasp objects, they can start to use stacking toys. According to Laura Purdy, MD, MBA, a family doctor in Nashville, Tennessee, most children hit this milestone between 6 to 9 months. However, it may take longer for baby to independently play with a stacking toy. Before moving onto this type of advanced play, kids need to develop the necessary core strength, stability and fine motor skills. “By 12 months, most children can put a block inside a larger stacking cup, and by 15 months, they should be able to stack multiple items, like two or three blocks, which is a more difficult skill than stacking cups inside each other,” explains Jana Sarno, BCBA, a board-certified behavior analyst and the chief clinical officer of Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers.

The type of stacking toy you choose depends on baby’s age and stage of development. “For infants, soft stacking toys and stacking rings are great options. As the child gets older, they can move on to stacking cups and blocks,” says Purdy. Before investing in a new toy check the manufacturer guidelines to ensure that it’s age-appropriate and safe.

Benefits of Stacking Toys

Stacking toys have many developmental benefits for children. As baby reaches, grasps and manipulates each stackable piece into position, the precise movements work to refine fine motor skills. Stacking objects also foster problem-solving skills: “As children play with the toys, they are challenged to figure out how to stack them in various ways, which helps to develop their problem-solving abilities,” explains Purdy. What’s more, stacking toys with various colors, shapes and textures help children expand their cognitive skills. Stacking toys help with physical development too. “Infants strengthen their core muscles and ability to cross the midline—both important for fine and gross motor skills—by using stacking toys,” says Sarno.

While stacking the shapes is the end goal, there’s no “wrong” or “right” way to play. Use stacking activities as an opportunity to bond with baby and build on language skills by calling out the color and size of each piece.

Best Stacking Toys

Ready to start stacking? Here find our picks of the best stacking toys for babies and toddlers, from nesting cups to stackable teethers and classic stacking ring toys.

Best classic stacking rings toy

Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack Ring Stacking Toy for Infants
Image: Walmart

This Fisher-Price stacking ring toy is a tried and true classic. It has five chunky yet lightweight rings in bright primary colors that are easy to grasp and manipulate. The base is designed to rock from side to side when baby bats at it for wobbly fun. Plus, the top tier doubles as a rattle, for another layer of sensory stimulation.

Specs at a glance:

  • Age range: 6 months +
  • Dimensions: 8.5 (H) x 7.63 (W) x 5.25 (D) inches
  • Product weight: 2 pounds
What We Love
  • Affordable price point
  • No batteries required
  • Rocking base
Things To Consider
  • Smaller than the original version

Best soft stacking toy

Some toddlers have a tendency to throw anything they can get their hands on. Sound familiar? If so, you may want to go for a plush stacking toy. Purdy’s a fan of soft stacking rings for younger infants as they’re “easy to grasp and manipulate, and are also safe for young children who may be prone to putting things in their mouths.” This tropical-themed plaything by Melissa & Doug lets kids safely sort, stack and topple the pineapple rings while working their fine motor skills. Plus, each layer has a different sensory element including crinkly leaves, textured rings and soft ribbons.

Specs at a glance:

  • Age range: 6 to 12 months
  • Dimensions: 9.25 (H) x 6.5 (W) x 6.5 (D) inches
  • Product weight: 0.5 pounds
What We Love
  • Safe for young infants
  • Lightweight plush rings
  • Introduces baby to new textures and sounds
Things To Consider
  • Some parents say the stacking pole is too short

Best Montessori stacking toy

Lovevery Montessori Wobble Stacker
Image: Target
Buying Options
Target | $17.99

Lovevery combines neuroscience and Montessori principles to create simple yet educational toys for babies and toddlers. Case in point: The Wobble Stacker. The graduated rings are the perfect size for little hands to grasp and place. But the angled base that gently wobbles as baby tries to stack the rings, makes the task a little more challenging to encourage problem-solving skills. Bonus: This toy comes with a free digital play guide for parents.

Specs at a glance:

  • Age range: 7 to 12 months
  • Dimensions: 5.46 (H) x 3.94 (W) x 3.94 (D) inches
  • Product weight: 0.7 pounds
What We Love
  • Easy to grasp rings
  • Rocking base helps build hand-eye coordination
  • Made from FSC-certified wood and baby-safe plastic
Things To Consider
  • It only comes with three stackable rings

Best multi-sensory stacking toy

fat brain toys Tobbles Neo stacking toy
Image: Fat Brain Toys

The best stacking toys for toddlers aren’t all about, well, stacking. With the Tobbles Neo, littles can use the unique weighted pieces in any way they like. Spin, stack, nest or topple them—whatever option you choose is equally fun and fascinating.

Specs at a glance:

  • Age range: 6 months +
  • Dimensions: 5.91 (H) x 5.12 (W) x 5.12 (D) inches
  • Product weight: 1.51 pounds
What We Love
  • Easy to grip surface
  • Pieces spin, stack and nest
  • Unique design allows for open-ended play
Things To Consider
  • Bottom two segments are heavy

Best stacking cups

Fisher Price Stack & Roll Cups Toy
Image: Target

Next up is a set of expert-approved stacking cups. “These cups are colorful and easy to stack, and they also come with a ball that can be rolled through the cups,” says Purdy. This stacking toy offers multiple ways to play, stack the numbered cups to create a tall tower, nest them inside one another or snap two cups together to create a ball. Fun times all round!

Specs at a glance:

  • Age range: 6 months +
  • Dimensions: 6 (H) x 4 (W) x 3 (D) inches
  • Product weight: 0.75 pounds
What We Love
  • Multiple ways to play
  • Cups nest inside one another for easy storage
  • Numbered cups present opportunities to develop early counting skills
Things To Consider
  • Limited reviews

Best parent-approved stacking toy

This stacking ring toy is beloved by parents and kids alike. Don’t believe us? Check out the glowing reviews on Amazon (there are literally thousands). Each stackable piece is chunky and easy to grasp—and features a different color and texture for oodles of sensory stimulation. Ready for the real standout feature? The stacking post is straight and the center of each ring is the same size, meaning they can be placed in any configuration your child likes for frustration-free play.

Specs at a glance:

  • Age range: 6 to 24 months
  • Dimensions: 8 (H) x 4.25 (W) x 4.25 (D) inches
  • Product weight: 0.6 pounds
What We Love
  • Affordable price point
  • Multiple textures and colors
  • Rings can be stacked in any order
Things To Consider
  • Some of the rings are made from soft plastic that baby may chew through

Best musical stacking toy

Stack-A-Roos Zebra
Image: Maisonette

Think your toddler is ready to move onto something more complex? Check out Stack-A-Roos. These unique stacking toys challenge little builders to create an animal friend (in this case a cute zebra) by placing the individual pieces in the correct order. Pegged as a top holiday toy by Toy Insider, these 3D puzzles help develop hand-eye coordination and core motor skills. Once the final piece is added, the base lights up and plays celebratory trumpet sounds to give your kiddo a real sense of accomplishment.

Specs at a glance:

  • Age range: 12 months +
  • Dimensions: 8.5 (H) x 6 (W) x 6 (D) inches
  • Product weight: 1.37 pounds
What We Love
  • Cute animal character
  • Lights up and plays music
  • Numbers on the back encourage early numeracy skills
Things To Consider
  • More expensive than other stacking toys

Best wooden stacking toy

As toddlers develop, they can move onto more complex stacking toys and blocks. According to Purdy, blocks or interlocking building sets provide additional opportunities for imaginative play and also require more advanced problem-solving skills. Our top pick is this chunky set of wooden blocks by HABA. Designed for slightly older toddlers, this set comes with nine forest-themed blocks that can be stacked in many different ways. Your kiddo can either try to copy the templates offering different levels of difficulty or create an arrangement of their own.

Specs at a glance:

  • Age range: 2 to 5 years
  • Dimensions: 8 (H) x 8 (W) x 8 (D) inches
  • Product weight: 1.25 pounds
What We Love
  • Building templates
  • Cute woodland theme
  • Made from sustainable beech wood and finished with water-based stains
Things To Consider
  • Not suitable for younger toddlers

Best stackable teether toy

Curious babies often explore the world with their mouths—especially when they’re teething. While they can (and will) gnaw on wooden toys or soft stacking rings, it may be worthwhile investing in a stackable teether. This rainbow stacking toy by Chewbeads is made from 100 percent silicone that’s safe for baby to chew, gum on or handle.

Specs at a glance:

  • Age range: 18 months +
  • Dimensions: 4.53 (H) x 3.75 (W) x 1.58 (D) inches
  • Product weight: 0.56 pounds
What We Love
  • Dishwasher safe
  • No BPA, phthalates, cadmium or lead
  • Great for color-recognition and early counting skills
Things To Consider
  • Some parents say this toy was smaller than expected

Best open-ended stacking toy

Guidecraft Wood Stackers River Stones
Image: The Tot

Open your child up to endless play possibilities with this river stone set by Guidecraft. The set includes 20 “stones” made from FSC-certified wood that have been sanded smooth, so there’s no need to worry about splinters! Perfect for use indoors or outdoors, the stacking stones help kids gain an understanding of weight, gravity and spatial relationships.

Specs at a glance:

  • Age range: 2 years +
  • Dimensions: 3.25 (H) x 11.25 (W) x 11.25 (L) inches
  • Product weight: 1.52 pounds
What We Love
  • Natural materials
  • Open-ended play opportunities
  • Set comes with building inspiration cards
Things To Consider
  • High price point

Best eco-friendly stacking cups

Green Sprouts Sprout Ware Stacking Cups
Image: Green Sprouts

These stacking cups are simple but awesome. They vary in size so baby can nest them inside one another or use them to build a tall tower. But the fun doesn’t stop there, patterned holes on the base of each cup are perfect for sprinkling water in the tub or sifting sand at the beach. Plus, this stacking toy is made from plant-based plastic, so it's an eco-friendly option to boot.

Specs at a glance:

  • Age range: 6 months +
  • Dimensions: 12 (H) x 6.3 (W) x 2.8 (D) inches
  • Product weight: 0.22 pounds
What We Love
  • Plant-based plastic
  • Doubles as a beach and bath toy
  • Colorful cups nest inside one another for easy storage
Things To Consider
  • Parents say they are smaller than expected (11 inches when stacked)

How We Chose the Best Stacking Toys

We get it—kids require a lot of toys, and it can be hard to find the best fit for your family. To streamline your decision-making process, our goal is to do the bulk of the research for you, so you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through online retailers. We do this by considering a list of criteria when sourcing products, including durability, value, entertainment value and, last but definitely not least, safety. This way you can count on getting the best bang for your buck, while also having a toy that will meet your child’s developmental needs.

To decide which stacking toys are the best options on the market, we leverage our familiarity with leading baby brands to make sure items are from reliable manufacturers. We read user reviews to get the lowdown on how these products work for families, and typically don’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating (unless an item has been recommended by an expert source). And since many of us are also parents, we rely on our writers’ and editors’ experience using these products with their own families.

To make sure we’re highlighting products that are safe and effective, we spoke with a family physician and a board-certified behavior analyst to understand baby’s developmental needs to keep top of mind when you’re shopping. We also follow the toy safety recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.

About the expert:

Laura Purdy, MD, MBA, is a family physician and digital health expert based in Nashville, Tennessee. She earned her medical degree from Uniformed Services University.

Jana Sarno, BCBA, is a board-certified behavior analyst and the chief clinical officer of Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers.

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