[Note: This is a guest post written by Kimberly Stephens, founder of Red Jellies, a fully independent review service that helps you discover the very best books and toys on the market.]
Everyone wants to give thoughtful children’s gifts, but many of us don’t have time to spend wading through product reviews or shuffling their kids through the mall.
That’s where Red Jellies comes in! We provide truly independent, easily accessible advice on knockout children’s items based on our rigorous product research and testing.
Our mission is to help you find quality gifts without spending a gazillion hours typing “best toys for X-year-olds” in Internet search engines or losing hours of time reading online product reviews. We scour the market so you don’t have to.
To get you started, we selected a few of our very favorite toys by age. For even more gift ideas sorted by age, category, or product type, check out the Red Jellies website.
All kinds of easels, reviewed!
Best Toys for New Babies
Why We Love It: Ultra soft, super cute, 18-inch teddy bear. This Gund plush makes for an adorable nursery decoration and eventual first lovey.
Pirate Rattle & Teething Set
Why We Love It: With a crinkly pirate’s hat, interesting stripe pattern, and (pleasantly!) musical parrot, this rattle and teething set is stimulating and engaging.
Why We Love It: High contrast books like My Dreams stimulate infants. I-spy and cause-and effect books like Each Peach Pear Plum and Touch the Brightest Star engage older babies and toddlers. Also recommended: Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?, I Kissed the Baby!, and That’s Not My Duck.
Best Toys for 1-Year-Olds
Fat Brain Toys
Why We Love It: This crowd-pleasing stacking toy helps develop eye-hand coordination. The fast spin is an extra (mesmerizing) bonus!
Manhattan Toy Co.
Why We Love It: 15-inch, super soft doll with embroidered features, removable clothes and diaper, and a magnetized pacifier. Perfect first doll.
Ultimate Alphabet Train
MSRP: Around $50
Why We Love It: Great for riding or pushing, this colorful toy train is perfect for little ones one the verge of walking. Includes alphabet blocks, a walkie-talkie, and a storybook that teaches singalong songs.
Best Toys for 2-Year-Olds
Wooden Farm Magnets
MSRP: Around $24
Why We Love It: Adorable magnets spark creative play and develop gross motor skills as little ones move them around to create farm scenes. Highly durable.
Why We Love It: Durable, lightweight tea set for four encourages pretend play. Made from recycled materials. Dishwasher safe.
Camper Van Playset
Why We Love It: Camper van, interior table, and detachable surfboard offer a variety of pretend play possibilities. Four peg figures and a dog. Pricey but high quality.
Best Toys for 3-Year-Olds
Day at the Beach
Build & Imagine
Why We Love It: Awesome building and pretend play combo. Use illustrated magnetic pieces to design the surf shop and cafe. Comes with two characters and 42 magnetized accessories.
Mini Deluxe Scooter
Why We Love It: Let’s get moving! Littles steer this well-made scooter by leaning in the direction they want to go. Smooth ride. Adjustable T-bar height. Develops balance and coordination.
Fire Chief Costume
Melissa & Doug
Why We Love It: Cute costume inspires independent and cooperative play. Well-made, durable, and machine washable.
Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds
Why We Love It: A great art project that leads to dramatic play.
Why We Love It: A beautiful 3D wooden puzzle that promotes problem solving and spatial reasoning. With 48 challenges of varying difficulty, it continues to engage kids as they grow.
Why We Love It: Draw cards and match colors to complete the most snakes. Boosts matching, spatial logic, and turn-taking. Great first game.
Best Toys for 5-Year-Olds
Why We Love It: Different colored blocks have different functions, encouraging spatial reasoning and logic as little engineers construct marble runs. Includes model design suggestions.
Blue Orange Games
Why We Love It: A twist on the classic tic-tac-toe game: larger pieces can “gobble” smaller ones! Builds memory and strategic thinking. Quick play.
Fossil Hunter Lottie
Why We Love It: Calling all paleontologists! This high quality doll is ready for the dig. Small size convenient for travel. Bonus that Lottie looks like a kid (no makeup, jewelry, or high heels).
Best Toys for 6-Year-Olds
Go Go Gelato
Blue Orange Games
Why We Love It: Little shop owners must plan ahead to match their customers’ gelato orders by passing scoops between cones. Great beginning logic game with sweet components.
Why We Love It: High quality inline skates for youth rollerbladers. Adjustable length allows skate to grow with your little one’s feet.
Fort Building Kit
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Why We Love It: Little adventurers build the forts they’ve always imagined with this high quality kit. Excellent for planning and motor skills. Note: Fabric not included. Use blankets or sheets.
Giveaway: For a chance to win your choice of one toy from a selection provided by Red Jellies, simply leave a comment below telling me what item tops your child’s holiday gift wish list. (Easels, marble runs, math games, and more are among the selection from which the winner can choose for a prize that’s age appropriate for their child.) Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page, too! This giveaway will run through December, 17, 2017, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!