1. Baby Doll Paul
It's anatomically correct and will "pee" water after you feed him his bottle (but you don't have to use that function). You can also get a baby girl doll but this one came with a doll stroller I was buying at a consignment store so I couldn't pass on the deal. I actually like her having a boy doll. It provides a nice element of difference. The best thing about this doll is it's realism and the craftsmanship. The eyes open and close when it's laid down, the face has significant detail, the weight and size of the doll is a good balance.
2. Doll Stroller
After encountering a doll stroller over at a friend's house, Sidney couldn't get enough of it. It remains a hit with her and friends who come over to visit.
3. Fisher-Price Doodle Pro
Excellent travel and quiet time magnetic toy that has no caps or paper to manage.
4. Kidkraft Play Kitchen
As I like to joke, Sidney has a play kitchen and so does Mommy--no real food gets made in either. This unit is made of wood, is compact, classic and not obnoxious like other plastic-y kitchen sets. While providing creative imaginative play, it doesn't have stickers/decals or obnoxious visuals so it can be displayed without fracturing your decor too much.
5. Playskool Busy Ball Popper
I never thought Sidney would like this as much as she does. At 18 months old, she wanted nothing to do with it. One day, something changed and it became the "IT" toy for play dates and solo time. Once she was able to activate the unit herself, there was no end to the fascination. One word of caution, as is, it does play an annoying circus-themed song over and over again. Not fans of this, Ken opened it up and snipped the wire that powers the speaker.
6. Buckle Toy
We call this "Mr. Buckles" in our house. This is one of the best toys I've ever seen. Period. Our kid and her friends are obsessed with buckling buckles in the high chair, car seat, back packs, etc. This toy is amazingly simple but utterly captivating. Perfect for traveling and quiet playtime. It's the kind of thing you wish you had invented yourself.
When the novelty of the magnetic easel fades, the next step is to allow them markers that won't get on everything. These pens can't make marks on anything except the special paper of the same brand. It's like magic for parents.
8. Kiddi-o Trike
Childhood's major milestone of your first trike is nostalgically captured in German-made tricycle brand Kettler and Kiddio-o. These trikes are known for their quality and durability. They maintain high resale value and are always in demand.
9. Step 2 Playhouse
When we would go to the community centers for playtimes, I was always struck by how delighted Sidney was to be in the tiny playhouses they had available. She loved being inside it and playing with the other children. We now love that having one at our house means she has a special place outside to take her toys or play with friends. But I especially like this one because I can keep an eye on what's going on inside of it because of the open design but can still give her a little space.
10. Water table
I would consider this a mandatory summer toy. Considering we have a child who has major aversions to being sprayed, sprinkled, misted or showered with water, the only other way to keep cool is to have a receptacle of water. With pools of any size being more maintenance and something you have to keep eyes on at all moments with children, a water table is a great compromise. Given that Sidney loves to pour water over and over again with her ever present "cup," we couldn't ask for a better summer toy.
11. Kid-sized Picnic Table
This is as much for our daughter as it is for her little friends. Kids need someplace to sit outside when the weather is nice or you want to BBQ. It's such a drag to try and get a tot to sit in a regular sized chair or at an adult picnic table.
Kids love to build. These sets give them lots of ways to do that. The pieces don't snap so tight together that it takes forever to separate but they also provide a lot of variety for imaginative play.
13. Sand toys
Beloved "cup" came from a sand toy collection and resembles that light blue cup pictured. Why does it capture Sidney's imagination and have to go everywhere with us? Is it the square shape? The orange color? The cubed detailing? Whatever it is, digging in the sand and sand toys are the bomb. Buckets, shovels and sand molds are the best.
14. Wood Peg Farm Puzzle
I believe some one gave this to us at our shower and I was wondering when it would interest her. We've had it out for over a year but just now she will pull out the piece and match it up with where it belongs and do it over and over. Before she just liked the duck piece and wanted to chew on it.
15. Large Piece Jigsaw Puzzle
One of our PEPS friends reported that their daughter really loved big-piece wood puzzle jigsaws. We got this one and sure enough the fascination of pulling something apart and putting it back together to reveal a picture is delightful every time.
16. Rocking Chair
Chairs of any sort that are their size seem to dazzle kids at this age. A rocking chair presents it's own challenge by not being completely stable and inspires especially non-traditional ways of getting into it.
17. Kid-sized Adirondack Chair
We've seen a few of these at summer parties this year. They do make great gifts since they are not top of mind for most parents but a welcome and stylish addition to any patio or yard. Fun to sit in, of course.
18. Toy Dinosaurs
Sidney used to b-line for the plastic dinos at the library and there would be tears when we had to leave them. My mother gave Sidney her own set just recently and dinos at home are a huge hit. They play with her in the living room and in the water table. My husband looked up the proper names of each dino and we practice saying them with her. This set has a great variety.
19. Magnetic Fishing Puzzle
Friends of ours were about to take their toddler to Hawaii and bought this puzzle for him. They let Sidney test it out before they left and she was hooked. The magnetic aspect helps with coordination but that feeling when you "hook" a fish is so satisfying.
20. Books, Books, Books! What list of favorite toys would be complete without books? Maybe they are not technically toys but Sidney spends a huge part of her days looking at the pictures in her books. These are the favorites. (Direct links to Amazon.com are clickable from the images.)