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The Best Toddler Toys, According to My Toddler

Graphic: Shep McAllister

Does anyone out there also have a kid that is kinda like a cat? Our one-year-old son goes crazy when he sees a cardboard box and can play with it for hours, despite having piles of toys to play with.

That said, since he was born, there’s been a group of select toys that cause tears if they go missing. So according to our toddler, these are the must have toys in every house.

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Infantino Wrist Rattles, $6

Infantino Wrist Rattles, $6
Photo: Amazon

These rattles are meant to help newborns start noticing their extremities, but Ozzy was SO OBSESSED with these when he was tiny that still today he giggles when he sees them. We joke that these probably have baby catnip in them because there is no other explanation as to why he just smiles and giggles and hugs them with his whole self every single time he sees them. We also used to clip these onto his newborn bucket seat and he’d be entertained for hours “talking” to Mr Monkey and Mrs Bear (unofficial names).

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Egg Shakers, $8

Egg Shakers, $8
Graphic: Shep McAllister
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These little eggs are great for tiny hands. We got them for Ozzy when he was teeny tiny, and he loved to just hold them in his hands as he figured out gripping. Now he’s a pro at shaking them and making sound with them, and he can even shake two at a time (I know, he’s basically a genius). We up the fun level by by putting them in containers—like the cardboard boxes he loves—or using them during bath time.

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Green Sprout Stacking Cubes, $9

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These stacking cubes are the perfect travel toy for every parent and kid out there. They’re great for the beach to play with sand and water, and they’re great for the plane because they don’t take up much space when stacked. We even use them during bath time, because they some have little holes for water to come through so you can rinse your kid and play at the same time. They are super colorful, totally wonderful, and you must get them for your children because they are the best. Plus, they’re made out of plants. Sold? I hope so. They are recommended for 6+ months.

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Baby Einstein Music Toy, $9
Photo: Amazon
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Baby Einstein Music Toy, $9

Before our son was born, I told my husband that we were going to have a strict “no battery-operated toys” rule in the house because I just cannot stand the noise most make. Well, that rule went out the window when our family gave us this Baby Einstein musical toy. The first time Ozzy played with it, his eyes glowed with the lights and music and I knew it was a keeper. Here’s why I allow it despite breaking our rule: it plays seven different classical music tunes instead of random, annoying noises. It also comes with a switch that allows you to control the volume, or simply turn it off when you’ve had enough. It’s recommended for ages 3 to 36 months.

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Playskool Poppin’ Friends, $21

Playskool Poppin’ Friends, $21
Graphic: Shep McAllister
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These was another one of those toys where I was like “eh” because it’s not wooden, but our family had two, and we had literally no toys when Ozzy was a baby, so we accepted it. It has been kind of crazy to see how Ozzy slowly has been figuring out how to make each animal pop through the different buttons. He’s also learned what each animal is, and now we’re working on animal noises. The toy is intended for 9 months and up, and there are so many more layers to add as your kid starts to figure it out.

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Fat Brain Name Puzzle, $27

Fat Brain Name Puzzle, $27
Photo: Amazon
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We got this as a present, and what a hit it still is! This puzzle is great because not only is it engaging for kids as they try to figure out shapes and which letter goes where, but you can also use it to start teaching them the concepts of letters and sounds, and even how to spell their names. I also love love love love that it’s gender neutra,l and it has bright colors regardless of what name you get.

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Melissa & Doug Piano, $54

Melissa & Doug Piano, $54
Photo: Amazon
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Do you see a pattern here? Yes we are trying to make him into a musical prodigy. That said, this is our most recent purchase after we saw Ozzy playing a toy piano for HOURS at a friend’s house. All the kids were running around playing, and he was just mesmerized by pressing keys and having sound come out. I do have to say, the piano is completely out of tune, so if that annoys you, this is not the thing for you. But it does come with a cute little song book for your kid to learn how to play popular songs. I am very proud to announce that I can play Mary Had A Little Lamb without even peeking at the booklet.

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Zany Zoo, $83
Graphic: Shep McAllister

Zany Zoo, $83

This is the mother of all toys. The Zany Zoo has so many things to keep your child entertained. Puzzles, surprise doors, beads...you name it! Plus it helps the little ones learn how to stand up and pull up, making those little muscles work in coordination. No wonder they have these at every pediatrician I’ve been in New York city. It’s like a magnet! The age recommendation is 12+ months, but Ozzy has been playing with one since before that no problem.

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Do you have any toys your kids love? Leave them in the comments because I’m always looking for the next thing - hopefully without batteries - to entertain Ozzy with.

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