"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links."
Shopping for kids toys can be tough. You want to find games and toys that are developmentally appropriate and educational but also ones that will keep your little one engaged during playtime. For example, you're not going to expect your 2-year-old to play with the same toys as your 7-year-old. But then add that to the fact that new toys are always coming out, and "what's trending" is constantly changing, meaning your child's tastes are constantly evolving to whatever toys and games are being promoted at the current time—and many of those aren't educational! It's enough to make you want to throw in the towel and just pick up whatever is on the shelves next time you're at the supermarket, right?
Despite how overwhelming it can be initially, finding the best toy for your child is probably a lot easier than you think. For starters, you can find what's developmentally appropriate for your child easily online. We love the National Association for the Education of Young Children's list of age-appropriate toys and play styles. As for the exact toys that'll keep your kiddo entertained while they learn, that's where we come in!
We consulted the experts on both ends of the spectrum: parents, to hear what toys they think have helped their child's development, and kids, to listen to what toys they actually enjoy playing with. Everything that made the cut can be found here. These toys range for kids aged newborn to 10 years old and up, with more than one fun game the entire family can get in on together. And each and every one has been approved by our editors to make sure they're developmentally appropriate and engaging. Say goodbye to the days of watching your kids play with that $100 toy for ten minutes and then tossing it. These toys will have them occupied for quite some time. And if you're looking for a more age-specific guide, then check out the many curated lists we have:
Wooden Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter
This all-in-one ice cream counter grows well with kids, teaching them hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as toddlers and then helping them learn to count as they grow. It comes with an incredible 28 pieces, with most large enough to not be considered a choke hazard of any kind.
Editor review: "My son loves playing with this! We've had it for a while but he's just now figured out how to stack the ice cream cones, etc. It's a lot of fun to play with accepting with money and him serving me for a change."
Play kitchens are far from new, and there's a reason these classic sets have been around for so long: kids love them. This option includes life-like sounds and lights and has everything your little one has come to expect in the kitchen, from the microwave to the vent hood.
Editor review: "My toddler loves this little kitchen. The oven light turns out and the eyes on the stove glow and play sizzling sounds. It's very hands-on and interactive."
A working camera that doesn't cost a fortune and can withstand the trauma induced by a toddler? We thought it didn't exist, and then we came across this highly rated little gadget. It comes with a MicroSD card so you can actually download the pictures and videos your little one takes. Just don't expect much though — first off, because he/she is a toddler, and second because the photo quality isn't on-par with your phone.
Race Track Toy
Trust us, they don't have to be obsessed with cars to find this toy super amusing. It encourages toddler's motor and STEM skills by giving them different challenges to overcome on the track by rearranging, lifting, and escalating.
Editor review: "This cause-and-effect race track is so popular with my own four-year-old and her friends that we had to buy a second one. It's by far the most popular toy when people come visit — even parents think it's cool."
Water Doodle Mat
Sometimes a single sheet of paper just won't cut it when that artistic strike catches a kid. Also, who wants to actually let their toddler play with real markers or paint? This water doodle mat will allow them to bring their imagination to life with nothing more than a specialized pen filled with water.
Baby Balance Bike
Have you ever tried to teach a toddler balance and coordination skills? If so, then you know it's not an easy feat, but this balance bike makes learning fun for you and your little one. The best part? The seat is adjustable, so it really will keep up with those insane growth spurts.
Editor review: "My son loves this little balance bike. It's his first one and he loves taking it up and down the sidewalk. We also took on our beach vacation because he's easily entertained riding it."
Ages 12-36 months
Designed by You Fashion Studio
Is she a budding fashion designer? Encourage that creativity and pursuit of a passion with this inexpensive toy that'll keep her busy for hours. She can start by sketching her creations and then using the included swatches and sewing kit to watch it come to life. And the fun doesn't have to end when she runs out of swatches. Just go grab her some more fabric and additional sewing materials and watch her keep creating.
Reusable Water Balloons
These reusable water balloons might win every parent's top toy award for the summer of 2023. Because is there anything worse than cleaning up little plastic bits of balloon for days after you let the kids have fun?
Editor review: "The newest cool toy I know about are these reusable magnetic water balloons. They’re a little expensive (a 12-pack is $25) but they genuinely work! We busted them out for a front yard water balloon fight a couple weeks back. They fill super quickly in a bowl of water, they’re great for throwing and splashing, and there’s no pile of tiny broken rubber balloons to find/clean up for weeks after."
Hop 'n Go Inflatable Bouncing Ride-On
There are few toys we love more than those that get kids active and outdoors, like these fun inflatable ride-on bouncers. It comes in a horse (shown), dinosaur, and unicorn, and includes a weighted bottom so kids have an easier time balancing. It also holds up to 200 pounds in case Mom or Dad wants to hop in on the fun.
We'd take bets that if you grew up from the 80's-early aughts, you probably loved a weaving loom just like this at one point. Your parents may even still use some of those potholders you made them! Because we love a classic that never goes out of style with kids, we had to include this favorite here.
Editor review: "We like (try) to go old-school with our toys. (I’ve tried, with limited success, to have a “no batteries, lights or sounds” rule. I’m not 100% on it though.) So I was delighted when my 8-year-old dug this potholder projects set out of a neighbor’s giveaway pile. She went to town on it, and now we have 327 gorgeous potholders in a variety of fun colors. The potholder sales side gig she briefly envisioned, however, has failed to find a market."
Soar like Amelia Textured Wall Art Weaving Kit
We love a toy that not only encourages kids to pursue hands-on activities instead of those with screens, but also ones that inspire, and this craft kit hits both. Each Kids Craft educates girls on inspiring female leaders through the use of a fun new craft they can do. The best part? These crafts become pieces they'll want to display in their rooms, so they have a constant reminder of women to look up to.
A game that requires silence?! Say no more; we're sold! Snag this card game for a chill family game night that everyone actually enjoys.
Editor review: "I can’t recommend The Mind highly enough. It’s super easy to learn. There are 100 cards, and players just have to lay them down in ascending order, from smallest to largest. But the trick is: you don’t know what cards the other players have, and you can’t talk during play. The thing I love about it is that you either all win the round together, or you all lose together, so the game doesn’t devolve into tears and fighting."
Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table
Even the hottest summer day can tamper the fun of a water table for a toddler. Not only is this one great for teaching fine motor skills and early STEM skills, but it also comes with tons of accessories, so you won't have to worry about buying any. We like to think of this as a few toys all in one—take all the little toys and use them for bath time or at the beach, pool, or lake.
Ages 18 months+
Toniebox Audio Player Starter Set
Need to distract your little ones but don't want to resort to screen time? This Toniebox gives your child the freedom to select which stories, songs, and customizable sounds they want to hear — without the use of buttons or screens! All they have to do is swap out the Tonie (the figurine included) on top of the Toniebox to change what they're listening to. These audio boxes were designed specifically for use by little hands and are incredibly durable.
Vera The Vet Doll
Getting sick of all the Disney princess dolls? Then snag a Surprise Powerz one that teaches your girl all the fun people she can grow up to be, from a vet (shown) to a coder to an astronaut. Each doll includes accessories to encourage your little ones learning and says phrases directly related to their "profession," so she can already start nailing that lingo.
Your budding musician might not be ready for the actual guitar, but that doesn't mean they can't start getting those toes wet. Tinkertars are made with only one string but are still able to produce music and give kids a starting point to actually learn guitar. You know, instead of just running their hands over every string at once and making general racket.
This might just be the best Barbie Dreamhouse yet, and, no, it's not just because we see so much of the cinematic house in this one. This year's Dreamhouse includes the usual pool and elevator, but also a special puppy play area and even more life-like appliance sounds, including the oven, stovetop, and toilet.
Gray Plush Elephant Stuffed Animal
You can never go wrong with a classic stuffed animal. We love that he's 100% baby-safe, with no hard pieces (like eyes) that little ones can get ahold of and potentially swallow. Bonus: he's also machine-washable, so if he becomes your kiddo's new favorite there's no need to buy that second back-up toy when this one gets too dingy.
Editor review: "This is my youngest daughter’s new favorite carry-everywhere toy. She calls him 'Elephanté' (short for Elephanté Gerald) and he’s a pretty amazingly soft, cuddle-able little dude. If you’ve got a kid into stuffed animals still, he’s sturdy, easy to care for, and just all around loveable."
Pickleball Paddle for Kids
Pickleball isn't just the hottest game for adults. Because, after all, they want to do everything we do, don't they? This pickleball set was designed specifically for kids, with a smaller strike face and lighter weight core that's easier for them to handle. It's a great starter set to get that love of the game blossoming before you're ready to move them up to an adult paddle.
Nighthawk Electric Ride-On Toy
Is it just us, or does every kid want to be on-the-go 24/7 once they get into kindergarten? This ride-on scooter will have them moving but at a pace that Mom and Dad can handle. It includes handles for them to hold onto and a battery to power the scooter to go up to 6.5 mph. There's also a version for kids aged 4-6 that tops out at 4 mph.
Artie Max The Coding, Drawing Robot
Most parents know that there's a little bit of trickery that has to happen to really get kids interested in learning, and the best form is by disguising that education as a toy, like with Artie Max, The Coding Robot. Kids use the compatible website to program Artie Max to draw whatever they want, developing STEM skills they'll use into adulthood.
Oh, yes, they're back and better than ever. The new and improved Furbys now come with over 600 interactive sounds and reactions but with an even more fun appearance. And, now, they can even recognize their bestie's (aka your) voice and when another Furby is around.
Disney the Little Mermaid Ariel Doll
If your little one was as obsessed with the newest Disney princess movie released this year as we were, then you'll definitely want to get her this realistic-looking Ariel doll. We can't get over just how accurately she's depicted, down to the braids in the hair.
ArmoGear Laser Tag
Say so long to the days of having to pay a fortune every time your little guy wants to play laser tag. This fun game set includes four laser guns and four vests so he and his friends can play wherever they please—preferably not near anything breakable!
Koala Tummy-time High Contrast Activity Book
While you might have thought that newborns don't need toys, you couldn't be more wrong! High-contrast black-and-white items like this activity book are easiest for newborns to make out with their still-developing eyes. We love this one because it grows with baby, with the reverse side showing images that will appeal to their eyes past 3 months.
Playful Pony Wooden Toddler Activity Center
The word "activity center" might just be every parent's dream, because nothing keeps a baby occupied like one item that has tons of different do-dads for them to play with. This one includes bead runs, peg mazes, mini-abacus tracks, counting beads, and dials — and it comes in the cutest package.
Ages 12 months+
This STEM toy is a parent's best friend. Kids can start playing with it as young as 3 and continue to love it for years to come! We love these smaller packs to keep in the car and have on-hand when traveling, whether to a play date or across the country.
Red Roof Cozy Cottage
If finding Barbies littering your floor doesn't sound ideal, then consider getting a Calico Critters set, instead. These cute little animals are a great size for toddlers to grasp and play with but still bring in all the educational benefits of playing imagination games.
Wooden Expressions Toy
Identifying and responding to different emotional responses is an often-overlooked milestone that many parents forget to nurture! This set can help walk your little one through learning about all their different feelings and how to respond to others when they might feel a certain way.
Ages 12 months-5 years
If you're really stuck on what toys are appropriate for your child's education and development, then consider investing in a Lovevery subscription. They'll send your child toys every few months (depending on your their age) that are designed to aid in their development, starting at the newborn stage through five years old. You'll never have to worry about buying another toy again!
Ages newborn-5 years
Why trust us?
We used three main resources as our guide for finding the best new toys of 2023: parents, children, and reviews.
Parents know best when it comes to their child's development. They can see not only what helps their kids progress but also what toys don't seem to provide any sort of educational value at all. That's why we entrusted a group of parents of children aged 3-10 to provide their input on what toys they'd highly recommend.
While parents might know what's developmentally appropriate, kids know what's actually fun and cool. After all, what good is that brand new educational toy if your child has zero interest in it? These kids were honest and told us what they really like to play with—and we were pleasantly surprised by more than a few! Turns out the classics we loved growing up are still just as much fun for many kids today.
Finally, not every kid is going to love every toy, which is why we consulted online reviews as a final test of what made the cut for this list. We're confident that while every single child might not find a toy on this entertaining, the vast majority will.
You Might Also Like