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Ten Toys for Toddlers

Updated on March 25, 2012

The Wiggles 'Go Bananas'

Susy Dorn's 'Cantemos en Espanol'

B. Meowsic Keyboard

Munchkin Bath Letters and Numbers

These Toys Are Worth A Look

With Christmas rapidly approaching, many parents are on the hunt for the perfect gift for their toddler. Although I have not yet settled on exactly what Santa will be dropping off at our house this year, I thought it might be useful to mention some of the toys we've bought in the past that have a) captured and maintained the attention of our children, b) promoted education or exercise, and rather importantly, c) been economical. In fact, most of these items were under $25, and the ones that were a bit more, well, they were worth the expenditure.

10. Fisher Price Snap-Lock Beads. Coming in at number ten, this item can be found for less than $10 and will grab and hold the attention of any one- or two-year-old, as they repetitively take the beads apart and snap them back together again. When the beads are pulled apart, they are easily stuck into a backpack or other container, which is perhaps one of my son's favorite activities. In addition to these basics, the beads are different colors and serve as an excellent learning tool. Even my three-year-old uses them to quiz my twenty-month-old on his colors, so it is reinforcing for both children. It is also an excellent night-time activity that my son enjoys by himself in his crib before falling asleep . . . quietly!

9. Little Tikes Cozy Coup. Ok, so this one might not be as cheap or educational as some of the other items listed here, but it has not been overlooked by a single child that has ever entered my house or back patio. This little car costs about $50 and provides a sort of 'first-steps' pushing toy as well as climbing structure with a door that opens, closes and locks. The steering wheel actually turns the wheels and there is a key to put in and take out as well as a functional horn. It also serves as a transportation device: I often use it to push my son down the street to the neighborhood park. My daughter enjoys taking the floor board out (very simple) and propelling it around using her own foot-power. It is small enough to have in the house, yet durable enough to take outside on sidewalks or even dirt paths. We've had this for almost two years and still use it on a regular basis.

8. My Sunshine Family Pool. I realize that people are not necessarily thinking about swimming at Christmas time, however it might be the perfect time to find one of these 80 inch inflatable pools at a discounted price. We bought ours in the middle of summer for $25. It is large enough for one or two adults to sit in, but makes for a lot more fun when toddlers are using it. It is deep enough to teach swimming basics, something every toddler should learn if not for fun then at least for the potential life-saving benefit. This pool is sturdy yet soft and allows toddlers to climb in and out quite easily. My kids have never once said they did not want to go swimming, and after playing in this pool for an hour or two on a sunny morning, my kids devour their lunches and take long, peaceful naps.

7. Radio Flyer Deluxe Steer and Stroll Trike. This modern version of the classic tricycle we all grew up with costs around $70 but is well worth the money. The steering handle makes pushing easy on the parent and learning to pedal easy on the child. It is extremely durable and the colors are suitable for both boys and girls so you can count on it lasting through more than one child. The 'trunk' on the back is great fun to pack and unpack even for kids who cannot quite pedal yet, as is the bell on the handle bar.

6. Ozark Trail Airbed. No one said I had to stick to things that were actually designed for children, right? We recently moved and used these airbeds while waiting for our furniture to arrive at our new house. The airbeds now live in our sparsely-decorated extra bedroom, which has become a full time bounce room for our toddlers and their friends, who range in age from one to eight years old. I have read some less-than-impressive reviews for this particular brand of air mattress, however ours have lasted for several months so far, and that's with kids jumping on them every day. And for $20, who cares if they eventually pop? It may be worth it to search out a more durable brand, but in any case, this is a much cheaper alternative than the bounce houses that are currently marketed for children.

5. The Wiggles 'Go Bananas.' I am not a big fan of television, however with the right DVD, you can teach your kids to appreciate music and get a great workout dancing. This collection of short video clips has my kids singing and dancing along for 30-45 minutes at a time while introducing them to animals and animal sounds of all sorts. It is only one of many excellent videos by the Wiggles and can be found on the internet for less than $20.

4. The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale Collections. Again, for less than $20, any of these classic books are an excellent way to introduce your children to fairy tales, the full versions of which have been long forgotten by many. Many of these books are also enhanced with intricate illustrations. Beware, however, the original tales can be quite a bit more gruesome than those modified by Disney!

3. Susy Dorn's 'Cantemos En Espanol.' Like the DVD by the Wiggles mentioned above, this is a collection of short video clips, however they are all done in Spanish. The toddler years are the perfect time to introduce your children to a foreign language (if Spanish is indeed foreign to you) because their brains are forming new connections and absorbing phonemes and rhythms like sponges! This video puts letters, numbers, colors, shapes, animals and much much more to short memorable songs that will have your children singing along in Spanish in no time! I found ours on the internet for $22, and there are a couple more advanced videos available for a similar price. We will definitely be adding them to our collection shortly!

2. B. Meowsic Keyboard. This is a great first piano, and it only costs around $20. It is small, durable and easy to carry: it fits on your toddler's lap. It has keys that make it possible to teach your toddler how to move the fingers separately, but it also has a variety of fun buttons that change the sound of the keys and elicit different auto beats. Outgoing children love the functional microphone too (it's not unreasonably loud).

1. Munchkin Bath Letters and Numbers. This item is rated number one because it is an excellent way to teach letters, numbers and colors using soft durable pieces that can be found for less than $5. Children can show you the 'A' or the '1' or 'something that is blue' well before they are able to speak. They can also independently put the pieces into and take them out of a variety of different household containers, or stick them on the sides of a bathtub or pool. My kids actually also enjoyed gnawing on them a bit while teething. What a bargain! I have often wished I had invented them myself.


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