Fun Toys for 1-3 year olds! Gift Guide for Toddlers
Have you started your Christmas shopping already? Get an early start with these must have toys for toys for 1-3 year olds! I am sharing 15 must have toys – ones that both my kids love and have played with the most. They make great birthday or Christmas presents. All have been well worth the money spent.
Interactive Toddler Toys: Fun Toys for Ages 1 – 3
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1. Little Tikes EasyScore Basketball Set
I love this basketball hoop because it grows with the kids (it adjusts to six different heights!). The bottom can be filled with sand or even water to keep it sturdy and from falling over easily. We kept our in my son’s bedroom and recently took it outside to the patio – it’s perfect for indoors and outdoors!
My husband had just as much fun playing basketball with it as our son, LOL! It has definitely made for a great bonding experience for the two of them. It easily moves from room to room and comes with a ball. Both kids love it!
2. LEGO Duplo Building Set
This is one of those toys that got brought out multiple times a day with both my kids when they were younger and still play with it weekly. So much that I ended up buying more! The kids I babysit for are also always playing with it over the years.
They love creating the picture on the side of the Duplo container and making their own creations, None of the kids seem to tire of building towers as high as possible. My favorite creations by my son where the Bellagio Water Fountain Show and this past year he has been creating Wipeout (tv game show) with mini figurines.
3. LEGO Green Building Plate (10″ x 10″)
This is the perfect complement to the Lego Duplos above. It is a must have for sure. Kids can build cities or anything they can think up. Their creations will be attached to the building plate instead of just on the table or floor. Definitely worth the price!
4. Melissa & Doug Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks
Kids love stacking at this age! I got these for my daughter, but my son also plays with them. They like to pretend play magic tricks or guess which one has the toy under it. At age 2, my daughter was fascinated by finding things to place inside each box. We have also lined them up in a row and made a game from it. The kids had to try to throw different sized balls into them.
The sides feature the entire alphabet with a small image that starts with the same letter. Kids can practice learning the alphabet by looking at them and finding which set of letters comes next. They will also learn biggest to smallest when building the block tower and also when they nest them together.
5. Melissa & Doug Stacking Train
I love this wooden stacking train so much that I bought one to give my son’s buddy for a birthday gift when he turned two. I was shocked with how much both my kids have played with it. It works on their visual coordination and problem-solving when trying to get them all to fit right. The quality is awesome – none of the paint has chipped 5 years later.
Toddlers and preschoolers will have fun driving their ‘Choo Choo’ train across the floor.
6. Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube
A shape sorter is a must have toy! Kids learn so much from them. It works their visual coordination plus they will have fun trying to figure out which shape fits in each hole. Our shape sorter is probably the most used/played with toy.
This toy and the shape sorting train are what got me to fall in love with Melissa and Doug Toys. It is a great quality. The paint has not chipped off, however, there are a few small dents (tiny!) in the shapes which is to be expected. It’s also a great way for them to begin learning the names of shapes and colors.
My little guy used to do table bowling with them. He would stack 3 of them on top of each other and use a small ball to knock them down.
7. Step2 Push Around Buggy
This was such a huge hit! We actually got ours before the recommended age. Both my kids were early walkers (8 & 10 months) so they loved it at age 1 already. One my my favorite photos of my son is the one of him receiving this car buggy for his 1st birthday, I just love the look on his face and his cute chubby cheeked smile while he sat in it for the first time.
His cousins loved to push him around in it. There’s a horn plus the yellow part lifts up for storage. They love placing things in there to go for a drive…tee, hee. We used to get looks everywhere we went with him where we used it instead of a stroller. Everyone thought it was the cutest thing ever and would always be pointing, oohing and awwing, and laughing (in a good way).
My daughter also loves it. The handle comes off and my crazy hubby likes to take it with to the park and have her drive down the grass hills in it. She laughs and screams with delight every time! I have even caught her throwing up her arms like when in a roller coaster. She will be 4 later this year and still thinks it’s the coolest toy.
8. Step2 WaterWheel Activity Play Table
Besides the obvious water play time fun, we use our water table for so many things! Here are just some of the ones that we have used it for and blogged about.
- Dinosaur Small World Play
- Water Balloon Games
- Playing and Learning with a Bead Sensory Bin
- Bubbly Soap Foam
- Cool Fizzing Science Experiment
- Oobleck Playdate
9. LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Alphabet Set
These alphabet phonics magnets are my favorite toy purchase to date. My then toddler would always play with them at playdates where the moms had them and eventually got our own. Unlike the magnets I grew up with, they aren’t cheaply made or have the tiny magnet that can fall out. They are safer and look a lot nicer.
When the child places the magnetic letter inside the dog house, it sings a catchy phrase that includes that letter’s sound. It makes learning letters and the sounds they make so much fun. Plus, it sings the alphabet!
Here is a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom activity I set up for my son using these awesome magnets!
10. Foam Alphabet Puzzle Mat
This popular kids toy also has multiple uses. Besides being a jumbo floor puzzle that teaches the alphabet, it doubles as a floor mat. Fun for babies to crawl on or for kids to play on or even dance on top of. We purchased our from Michael’s Arts & Crafts Store using a 50% off coupon so we got a great deal on them!
A few other ways we have played with them:
- As a walking path for them to run on or as part of an obstacle course. They put it together in all different directions.
- Alphabet Hunt – Beginning Sounds Activity
- Alphabet Tracing with Chalk Outside
- Making jumbo blocks or wearing them as a necklace… hee, hee.
- Alphabet Water Tracing – outdoor fun!
- My then toddler used to have a blast bringing different ones up to us so he could learn what it was.
11. Jumbo ABC Chunky Puzzle
This wood puzzle is perfect for small hands since the letters are chunky. It’s a bit hard to see in the photo, but they are thick enough that they can stand up which I think is neat. It makes it easy to change up regular puzzle playing. We have also used the letters to go on alphabet hunts. One of us hides the letters everywhere and then we go hunting with the kids butterfly nets.
There are endless ways to play and learn with these jumbo letters!
12. Wood Alphabet Blocks
I purchase these alphabet blocks for my son for Christmas when he was 1 year old. He still plays with these at now 7 years old plus Little Sister loves them. When he was younger, we did a matching letters activity, I Spy, and ‘reading’ the pictures on the sides. As he got older, he could spell things using them. They also are fun to use in photos!
These past couple of years, my son mainly uses them for bowling. He loves to stack them all different heights and knock them over with a ball. In the past, he used to drive his Tonka Truck into them.
13. Melissa and Doug Farm Cube Puzzle
When we got this puzzle, I had no idea what a hit it would be! While it’s a bit challenging at first (ages 3 and up) it’s still fun for them to try to do the puzzle or have you help them create the pictured farm animal. There are more themes besides farm animals. Each can be made into 6 different puzzles.
My littles ones have enjoyed turning the puzzle pieces to find one that resembles the animal they choose to make. The edges are color coded to help little learners like my daughter who is 3. She has been playing with it since aged 2 by pretending to make the animal, but now she knows to look for the colors if she is having troubles.
14. B. toys toulouse–laptrec
When my son was ages 1, 2, and 3 he played with this non-stop! He constantly asked us to draw things for him. We taught him letters and shapes with it and how to trace his hands and feet (which he did literally everyday for awhile!). He taught himself how to draw people (just the face) telling us they wear Momma, Papa, Grandma, himself, and so on.
The backside is a bean bag for placing on your lap. It comes with 4 animal shapes to stamp on.
15. B. H2-Whoa
If you’re a parent who prefers art activities that aren’t messy and toys that don’t require batteries, then this toy is for you! There are 4 pens that are filled with water to draw on the H2-Whoa surface. When they are finished on one side, they can flip it over to use the other side and that one dries in the meantime. It dries quickly. This is the perfect toy to take along while traveling since it is mess-free.
We’ve used it for drawing shapes, faces, the alphabet in both Spanish and English…..and scribbles!
What interactive toys for 1-3 year olds are on your ‘Must Have’ list?
All great ideas. We have a few of these.