Best of… Toddler Toys

With the holidays coming up I thought it’d be a great time to share some of our daughter’s favorite toys. Most of these are all toys she has had from about 22 months (some younger) through now (about 34 months). Please be sure to double check that a toy will be appropriate for your child, all kids are different and you know your child best. 

Blocks: FAO Schwarz ABC Block Wagon

This is a nice set. Sofie started off working in her stacking skills when she was younger. Now she makes more intricate structures (like pyramids) and loves identifying the pictures and letters. She also likes to pull it around the house, though the string is a bit short. 

This Christmas we’ll probably be adding some blocks like those at Community Playthings (the brand they have at well equipped preschools) or Melissa and Doug’s Standard Blocks.

Books, here are a few of our favorites:

Doll House – Travel: Calico Critters Carry Case, Kitchen Set and Children’s Bedroom Set

IMG_0250I can’t say enough good things about this set. We wanted to get some sort of travel doll house for our daughter last Christmas since  immediately after Christmas we were going to be on the road for two weeks as we visited with family and moved from Boston, MA to Palo Alto, CA. I found this Calico Critters Carry Case, which is basically, a smallish portable doll house, with drawers for storing accessories while it is packed up. The case comes empty. Currently on Amazon it is only $24.99 and eligible for Prime. We also bought the Kitchen Set & AccessoriesBunk Beds and some critters, the Wilder Panda Bear Family and  Hopscotch Rabbit Twins. If you poke around on Amazon you’ll see a bunch of other furniture sets and critters to choose from. All of their things are very cute and very detailed. I think the combo of the Kitchen Set, the Bunk Beds and one critter family are perfect for assortment for the size of the house. One word of warning is that the sets do some with some very small pieces, for example, the kitchen set has 2 very very small tomatoes. So be sure to open them up ahead of time to remove any items that are too small and save them for when your child is older. I just recently brought out some of the smaller kitchen produce items for Sofie.

Sofie played with it through our travels (the photo above was taken while we waited in our empty house for the movers to arrive with our things) and on a few other trips since (most recently up to Napa for a 4 day weekend). She also plays with it a lot at home! She pulls it out herself, plops it on her play table and set everything up. We recently got her the bathroom set so she has been having fun giving all her critters baths.

We’ll be looking for a full size doll house soon, and will be deciding between getting a larger Calico Critters house or something from a company like Plan Toys.


Farm Play: Little People Farm Mega Set

Now, I think I got this set when they were having an anniversary special because I swear I only paid about $75 for the entire set, whereas it lists for $299.99 on Amazon right now through a reseller. I think the mega set is also hard to come by now. The mega set was just that, mega! You got the barn, silo, stable, coupe, well, tractor, wagon, truck and farmer, 2 kids and many animals. It was great, one of Sofie’s most played with toys when she first got it for her first Christmas. It helped her learn animals and the sounds they make, though that was all through my playing with her. We never put batteries in it! She still plays with it now, though her level of play has evolved which is fun to see. We often bring a few animals out with us to restaurants as they are great distractions. They do offer a basic set now, which has the barn, silo, farmer and a few animals, which retails for $32 on Amazon.

Kitchen Play

Plan Toys Kitchen


To help our new home feel fun and exciting for Sofie, we got her the Plan Toys Kitchen Set, Dishwasher and Refrigerator a few days after we got here. Since we moved in the very beginning of January, they were actually part of her Christmas presents. She fell in love right away. The knobs were a little hard for her to turn at that point (she was a month shy of 2 years old), but she was soon able to. 11 months later she still plays with them almost everyday. I liked that they had no odor when we unpacked them, I felt good about giving her good quality, non-toxic toys. I am sure they will continue to get a lot of use throughout the next few years and since they are so sturdy, we’ll be able to give them away for other kids to enjoy when she has outgrown them. You can buy them through Amazon.

Melissa and Doug Chef Role Play Costume Set

IMG_5588This set is adorable! Sofie lit up when my brother gave it to her last May. I still love hearing her say, “Oh, I have to put on my chef hat” as she goes off to make me one of her signature dishes in her play kitchen.



Plan Toys Food and Beverage Set

Very cute set that works perfectly with the Plan Toys Refrigerator.

Tea SetGreen Toys Tea Set

Sofie’s aunt got her this set for her birthday and she plays with it all the time. She makes tea for herself and her “friends” (toys), and often makes tea for my husband and I. Great set. No phthalates or BPA. Made from recycled milk containers!

Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Kitchen Accessory Set

Sofie got this set last Christmas and plays with it often in her kitchen. She often cooks up pretend concoctions for us to try out. Just the right size for the Plan Toys kitchen.

Melissa and Doug Stir Fry Slicing Set

Another present from last Christmas (Thanks Uncle Pete!) that Sofie loves and still plays with all the time in her play kitchen. I love that I regularly hear her talking about bok choy, mushrooms and shrimp because they are all in this set.

Melissa and Doug Pizza Party

This is a fun set to. Sofie enjoys making us pizza slices with custom toppings. One word of warning though, the toppings will end up everywhere, they can be hard to keep track up. I think we only have 2 sausage slices left…I have to hunt the rest down.

She has a number of other food sets but those are the ones I wanted to be sure to share!

Legos – Duplo Legos

The Duplo sized legos are a good size for her. They are larger than traditional legos so they are easier for a toddler to handle and build confidence with. We have the 71 piece set which is a great starter set and comes in a nice case to hold all the pieces. Right now she can put them together and pull them apart to build things. She loves building things with Dad. He tends to get more creative than I do with them. She is also very into the TV show, Kai Lan, and you can get Mega Bloks Kai Lan sets which work with the Duplo legos! The sets are cute as they have the characters she likes and scenes from the show like a dragon boat, flowers, trees which all help encourage imaginative play. I actually broke out different pieces of the Mega Bloks Dragon Boat set at different times on our last trip to add to the basic duplo legos and they kept very well occupied! I do prefer to Duplo legos to the Mega Bloks, but like that they work together so we can get the fun character sets.

For Christmas we just ordered a Building Plate so she has a foundations for her creations and may get a larger set for her.

Magnetic Letters

These aren’t too complicated, and I’m sure there are a lot of options out there. We found this cute set at a store in Japantown in San Francisco. I like that is has a nice compact carrying case and it came with a cute sheet with the alphabet and pictures printed on it. Sofie likes to match up the plastic letters with the letters in the printed sheet. She plays with them on the dishwasher but also just on her play table. I’d recommend getting a set like this for an toddler eager to learn letters. We don’t pressure her, but she loves identifying letters right now…which makes this perfect.


    Outdoor fun
    While winter may not be the best time to break this one out, Sofie loves it and has for so long that I had to include it. She and all of her friends love this table. And what’s not to love? Sand on one side and water on the other?! We got her it for when she was about a year and a half and she still asks to go outside to play with it all the time. Highly recommended. Right now we have sand in both sides and if it is warm enough out I fill some buckets with water for her to play with in the sand…messy, but loads of fun. I love that is has a lid so we don’t have to worry about nighttime critters getting into it. The umbrella was a toss away though. When I bought it I thought it would be great, but in actuality, it is more of a hazard as slightly taller kids could easily be poked in the face if not careful.
    A functional set that is cute and eco-friendly. It includes a good sized bucket, spade and rake and sand mold.
    Sofie loves all sidewalk chalk, it is a great activity for toddlers. We recently tried out Crayola’s 3-D chalk, and it is pretty cool. I think I may get a slightly bigger kick of of it then my daughter but she still likes playing with them (a nice size and shape) and she has fun wearing the glasses.

Pottery Barn Kids My First Anywhere Chair

We got this chair for Sofie for her 1st birthday and she continues to use it regularly now at almost 3 years old. She sits in it to read books, to lounge and, while I don’t approve, she has even napped in it a couple times. She loves that it is just her size. It has proven to be very durable. Be sure to get the smaller version of the Anywhere chair for a young toddler, it will fit them better and be easier for them to move around by themselves. We may get her the regular sized one for her 3rd birthday.

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