Do you have an active 2-year-old—or an inquisitive 3-year-old? These toddler toys will keep them happy and engaged.
When it comes to shopping for toddlers, they are (admittedly) an easy sell: Kids in this age group gravitate towards toys which are shiny and new, making it easy to win them over right out of the box. But that doesn't mean all toys deserve a spot in your child's toy chest(s). Some toddler toys get (and keep) kids interested for long periods of time, and might even encourage movement, social skills, or creative thinking. Others just become perennial favorites. They become "the toy" your little returns to again and again. But with so many toddler toys on the market, where does a gift giver even begin?
To help take the guesswork out of your search, our parent testers and resident experts reviewed—ehem, played with–dozens of options. These are the winners of the 2023 Parents Best Toy Awards in the toddler category.
Parents' 2023 Best Toy Awards features 47 toys for children of all ages, from babies and toddlers to big kids, tweens, and teens. The products selected were vetted and tested by Parents Editor's and real life testers. This year's winners highlight some of the latest and greatest toys on the market and you'll find toys for every budget. Learn more about how we chose this year's winners and explore our top picks in each category:
Best Outdoor Toy for Toddlers
Crayola 3-Wheel Kick Scooter
Only Crayola could release a scooter that encourages self-expression alongside fitness. Sold at Kohl's, kids will love customizing their scooter with colorful, unique stickers. Being able to take their crayons and chalk on-the-go with a handy carrying case is obviously a plus, and with three wheels for stability, an adjustable handlebar, and glowing wheel lights, this is the perfect mode of transportation for budding artists. “I love the carry case and glitter wheels,” said one 3-year-old tester, who couldn’t get enough of their new ride. “Can we go to the playground please?” The scooter was parent-approved too. “Big smiles all around.”
Best Game for Toddlers
Slumberkins Feelings Adventure Board Game
Take your toddler on a journey to the "feelings tree" with this cooperative board game by Slumberkins. Work together to get the animals or Kins to the end of the path. Engage in a wide variety of activities, from affirmations and stretches to other like movements. And explore your feelings. One 15-minute round will have your whole family onboard. “Even though we have only played it once, I absolutely adore this game,” one parent said. “It helps toddlers and young children better understand emotions and feelings. It encourages communication, and it even promotes movement, through light stretching and yoga poses.”
Best Stuffed Toy for Toddlers
Blippi: My Friend Meekah
The My Friend Meekah plush toy is a must-have gift for any Blippi fan. Parents will love that the doll is ready to go right out of the box, so you don’t have to bother with batteries. Toddlers will love that Meekah is just the right size for their little hands, and the sound button is easy to push. There’s also a wide variety of sounds for entertainment. “The toy has lots of different phrases which encourage using language,” one parent told Parents.
Best Musical Instrument for Toddlers
Sing-Along Crew Uni Queen
This toy will be love at first sight for toddlers who have a flare for music. The adorable, plush unicorn backpack comes equipped with a mini microphone, pre-loaded songs, and sound effects. There are a ton of different sound options, volume control, and you can adjust the backpack straps. Best of all, the mic is attached, preventing lost parts. “I liked that it encouraged my child to embrace her musical side, and that it kept her entertained for long stretches of time,” a parent of a child tester said. “She even used the recording function to record herself reading her books, which was cute and also helped her practice her reading skills.”
Best Learning Toy for Toddlers
LeapFrog® Touch & Learn Wooden Activity Cube
You know how your toddler absolutely loves the giant activity cube at the pediatrician’s office? Well, here’s a smaller version for your home. LeapFrog has thought of everything: shape sorter, sounds, twisting, turning, colors, lights, music—the list goes on and on. The cube is one of those toys that can always stay out, allowing your toddler to pick it up at ease for playing and learning. It's sturdy for safety, but light enough that it can be pushed around on the floor, making this toy a prescription for fun. “I really liked this toy because there are multiple ways to play with it and multiple modes of play,” a parent told Parents. “My child can't speak yet (13 months!) but she likes to play with the shape sorter as well as the light up keys!”
Best Toy from a Hit TV Show
CoComelon Peek-A-Boo JJ
This sweet, plush toy is perfect for any CoComelon lover, which is (nearly) every toddler on the planet. JJ hides behind a soft watermelon and magically surprises your little ones when his foot is pressed. Easy to play with and easy to love, Peek-a-Boo JJ features 17 sounds and phrases for hours of entertainment. Just like the show. He also sings the fan-favorite song, "Peek a Boo!" And he is the ideal gift for any CoComelon crazed little.
Best Playset for Toddlers
Gabby’s Dollhouse Gabby Cat Friend Ship
If you toddler is a fan of Gabby’s Dollhouse than be warned: There will be squealing when they unwrap the Gabby Cat Friend Ship. The Friend Ship connects seamlessly to Gabby’s Purrfect Dollhouse, which you might have from last holiday season, or it can work as a standalone toy. The Friend Ship comes with Gabby, MerCat, and several pieces of dollhouse furniture, and it encourages hours of creative play, which is a win-win for parents. “It is a cute activity toy using one of my daughter's favorite characters,” a product testing parent said.
Best Toy for Open Ended Play
Stapelstein® Rainbow Set
With a durable design, Stapelstein’s Rainbow stack set will be a toy that’s sure to stay in your house for many years to come. These stackable, colorful stones can transform any room into a stimulating obstacle course. From stacking and rolling to throwing, spinning, sorting, and balancing, the play possibilities are endless. It’s a great toy for siblings of varying ages, and grownups will appreciate that the multi-use toy looks aesthetically pleasing when stacked in the corner of their living room. “This is a great toy that promotes creativity,” one parent told Parents.
Best Wooden Toy for Toddlers
Melissa and Doug Wooden Work & Play Desktop
Kids love impersonating their parents, and nothing will make them feel more grown up than having their own personal computer. This wooden desktop—and activity board—has a laptop that reveals a peek-a-boo mirror and an appealing array of buttons and shapes to help develop your child's fine motor skills. There are no loose pieces, which makes this a great toy for road trips or when parents have to actually get to work. It also has an adorable little “mouse.” “I like this toy because my child seems to find it interesting,” one parent said. “There are a couple different sounds and textures which keeps her attention too.”
Best Educational Toy for Toddlers
Little Tikes Story Dream Machine
Even the most sleep-deprived parents will find the Little Tikes Story Dream Machine easy to use. Storytime comes to life via this handy projector, allowing children to watch, listen, and read along to their favorite stories. As if that weren’t magical enough, it doubles as a night light/white noise machine, making it perfect for sleepovers or travel. “My 4-year-old asks for this almost every night,” one Parents' editor told us. "We are all in love with the projector," echo'd another. The story collection is also always expanding and can be purchased separately so your child can have sweet, sweet dreams.
Best Building Blocks for Toddlers
Mega BLOKS Musical Farm Band
Mega BLOKS are a must-have toy in any playroom, and now you can add the musical farm to the collection. Each animal “BLOK” has its own adorable musical feature, and they all join together to play nursery songs. There are 45 building blocks in all, allowing for endless fun, and older siblings will definitely want to get in on the action. The set also includes color-coded music sheets, which makes it a wonderful introduction to music. You’ll definitely hit the right note with this gift. One 3-year old tester exclaimed “Mami, this is going to be my favorite toy!”
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