Best Toys For Young Children

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With Christmas just a month away I’m getting the question, “What do your kids want?” a bunch. Couldn’t they just ask, “What do YOU want for your kids?” Sigh. The answer is almost always “clothes.” Oh, and diapers. Tuition to preschool?

Because, quite frankly, my kids don’t really need any more toys. While they don’t have a TON of toys, they also don’t need a ton of toys. 632 square feet means that we are very selective with what enters this home. And really I believe with toys, less is more.

Like most children, my kids will squeal in the toy aisle and say, “Mommy! Mommy! I NEED that! Can we please buy it?!!” Ok, sometimes they don’t even say please. The nerve.

But I know better. I know that they have plenty, and more than that, I know what they will play with. I don’t get sidetracked by all the bells and whistles and Barney songs like they do. You see, I understand that my kiddos, like all kiddos, are pretty basic in what they will want to play with.

Wanna know what I say are the top ten toys for young kids? Too late. I’m telling you anyways. And no, this isn’t a sponsored post, I just wanna share what I’ve found to be the best toys for fun, growth, and learning. And wow, I really sound like Barney.

1.)  Blocks. My favorite are the Uncle Goose Classic ones. These are fundamental, basic, and have no gimmicks whatsoever.

Ok, so they might try to coax your kid into learning the ABCs, colors, and shapes—you know, like squares.

2.)  A baby doll. It doesn’t need to say “Mama,” shouldn’t have the “pee” feature, and definitely shouldn’t have hair. These suckers LAST and your kids—girl or boy—will love them. Plus, they teach them how to be nurturing and good stuff like that. Unless they use them as footballs or play zombie baby or something weird like that. My kids never do such things.

3.)  A phone. It can be a Barbie, Elmo, Fischer Price or whatever blows your bloomers up. Heck. You don’t even have to buy one of those fancy kid phones. You don’t. My kids are most happy with a discarded phone.

Although, for her birthday this year Coco did ask for a “real” phone that “works,” and a “real laptop” so she could get her “work done.” She’s a blogger in the making, just watch.

4.)  Tonka truck. Tried and true, these suckers withstand the ages. My bro and sis-in-law got Chaucer one last year for Christmas. I was excited to see such a manly little toy enter our household.


What I didn’t know was how versatile a Tonka Truck is for all ages. Coco plays with it, the older neighbors confiscate it, and even the babies toddle after it.

My kids use them quite literally to gather rocks, leaves, and sand for building projects. Chaucer sometimes uses it as a stool or skateboard—not really recommended for that, but like I said, VERSATILE!

5.)  A ball. You can’t get more basic than a ball, can you? Yet, this is the most fought over item on the playground. And why not? Sports are serious subjects and most begin with a ball.

Whenever anyone asks me what to get Chaucer I immediately say, “A ball.” Because I know he will use it, love it, and, like a puppy, will never tire of it.

6.)  A stroller. Not a big one, but a kid sized one.

You can read about Coco’s obsession with them here. Chaucer is no different. He loves “Styollers.” Yes, he will put his ball and Tonka Truck in there but still, it brings him so much joy.

7.) Dress-up clothes. When I was a kid, my favorite possessions were my dress up clothes. I pillaged my mom and grandma’s closets to find old prom dresses, roller-derby costumes (yes) and square dance skirts.

My daughter is no different than I. She’s obsessed with dress-up clothes. Have you seen the infamous Pink Dress on Instagram?, She still asks to sleep in it from time to time.

There are so many dress-up clothes on the market, but if you ask me a thrift store is the place to find the best pieces. Coco will ooh and ahh over the sparkly princess dresses at a major store, but they itch the heck out of her. She can’t stand to wear them unless they’re over a full set of clothes, and that’s kind of annoying.

Even boys need dress-up clothes. They need to “try on” different concepts, and play at real life occupations. It’s absolutely delightful to see your little guy be a superhero or police officer, doctor or fireman.

Sometimes he might want to wear a tutu, and uh…well, never pass up the opportunity to score future blackmail. And, who knows. You may have the next Fred Astaire on your hands.

8.) Mailboxes. Huh? You say. My kids go nuts over their Melissa and Doug Stamp and Sort MailBox. I’ll admit, I bought it at a thrift store, but I would certainly pay full-price for this baby.


9.) Kitchen stuff. Of course, a fancy tike kitchen is a great toy to have, but I have found that kids will play “kitchen” just about anywhere and with anything. A dirt clod can be a cookie. A twig can be a spoon.

Still, it’s really fun for them to get to play with little dishes and pretend food. There are many options out there but my kids have these pots and pans from Ikea and love what is left of their stash of toy food.

Keep an eye on toy food. It has a way of sneaking off.

10.) Crafty stuff. Finger paints, crayons, pens, bath crayons, stickers…kids eat this stuff up.

Sure, it’s a mess. If your kids are anything like mine then it’s a BIG mess. But its way fun and you’ll get great photos. Oh, and I think I heard somewhere that it makes them smarter. Huh.

Well, there you have it. What are your favorite toys for the little ones? What is your policy on the amount of toys allowed in the house?

15 thoughts on “Best Toys For Young Children

  1. Jeanne

    Great list for kids! Makes me kind of miss Christmas shopping for kids. Tonka trucks are the best!

  2. ilene

    We have lost virtually all of our toy food. Why is that? I love your picks! All tried and tested good stuff over here as well!

    1. hillary

      where does it go??? I am thinking that maybe they really do eat it.

  3. Meredith

    I just ordered this mailbox for my kids and I’m so glad to know it is a hit! I wasn’t sure if they would like it, so this is great to hear. And good reminder to stock up on my dress-up gear too. Thanks for sharing this list!

    1. hillary

      That mailbox was the find of the year for my kids! They play with it for hours at a time and just LOVE it!

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  5. hollow tree ventures

    Awesome list – so true, you gotta love the classics.

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  7. Kim@Co-Pilot Mom

    Great list! Those are some awesome, never-go-out-of-style toys. My youngest is a total ball player, too. It is the toy he chooses most often, over all the other fancy bells and whistles ones.

    1. hilljean

      I know! If you think about it (with the exception of the phone) these are toys that kids have played with for centuries. I think the classic toys contribute so much to a child’s development and education.


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