It’s a question that gets asked so often… “What are the most used toys over time?”. And it’s a great question, especially for new parents and parents that want to be a bit more minimalistic. It’s a part of being intentional, but also in reducing the clutter at home.
The short and simple answer is going to be the toys that have multiple uses and prompt open-ended and imaginative play and/or anything that encourages practical life skills. For instance, Tinker Toys can be used to build castles, cars, and more and is a multi-faceted toy. So what are the most used, most played-with, and most loved toys from our home from birth to 18 months? We have ten, keep reading to find out!
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Top 10 toys for Newborns and Young Toddlers
1. Blocks – This one is a no brainer and you probably saw it coming. Whether they are the classic letter blocks or classic building blocks, both encourage open-ended and imaginative play. Our absolute favorite blocks are Maxim Wooden ABC Blocks as they have letters in both upper and lower case, images to correspond with the letters, numbers, mathematics signs, and even images like doors and windows to build structures.
2. Play Kitchen – Food is a part of our everyday lives. Cooking is a practical life skill and being in the kitchen is an inevitable part of daily life. We have a very small PLAN toys kitchen that does its job. It gets played with so often and is always a distraction when I need to do something quick in the kitchen.
3. Mini pots, pans, and utensils – Of course with any play kitchen a great cooking set should probably go with it. We love our metal set from Alex toys. Surprisingly, we have gotten a lot of use out of all of them beyond being a part of the kitchen. They have made great bath toys, small drums, sand box fun, and more.
4. Tin Top – Every baby and toddler is fascinated by thing that spin and things that make noise and everyone that comes to our house, young and old, seems to play with and be mesmerized by this simple toy. Schylling makes an old-fashioned big metal top that is beautiful, spins, and makes an interesting train-like sound. This is a toy that has never gotten old even for the adults who are kids at heart.
5. Sensory Board – Though it has gone through some adjustments over time, my daughter has loved our homemade sensory board from the day it entered the scene. It has always been a great distraction and learning tool for every stage of development she goes through.
6. Ring Stacker – Not only has it been most applicable in tot school our wooden ring stacker from IKEA has always been well-loved. Before she could even stack or unstuck, the bright colors have been alluring and grasping the rings has been a fun game!
7. Shape Sorter – We have two and the first one was originally given to my daughter around 4 months. She obviously could not get the shapes in and out at the time, but playing with them was great fun and practice for her. (Research suggests that we subconsciously evaluate how heavy something is and how to place our hand on an object to pick it up and this is a key part of developing our grip and pincer grasp).
Today it’s a fun game to play the way that it was intended. Or if you’re my daughter and are constantly told to think outside the box, she slides them in the back door when they don’t fit. Well played…
8. Wooden Water Blocks – not only are they large and easily to manage with little hands, they’re mesmerizing. The water inside is a fun aspect to building with these blocks and they are so vibrant on a light table. Both my girls have loved these and still do beyond the 18 month mark.
9. Musical Instruments – music is a crucial part of development and it’s also the universal language. And again, kids love sounds. Any type of instrument from bells and drums to clapping sticks and maracas, and more are awesome toys. Whether you buy instruments or make your own, they are such a classic option for children and babies of all ages.
10. Puzzles – They are called puzzles for a reason – they require thought and brain-building skills. They have prompted developmental learning and have grown with us. Now our chunky puzzles are less about grasp and more about animal and shape identification. They are also now more about spatial awareness than motor function. We also really love sorting and sequence types of puzzles because the pieces have more the one use in that they can be stacked and used in other learning games.
Moral of the story:
Those were our top 10 most used toys and games used from birth to 18 months of age and many of them are still very popular with our now toddler and preschooler. The best advice in collecting toys or giving toys as gift is that if it encourages creativity, imagination, open-ended play, and is durable… it’s probably a great toy.
What was your number one and longest lasting toy for your infant or young toddler?
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!