10 Best Toys for Early Childhood Development this Holiday Season

With the holidays quickly approaching, we know you’re being inundated with commercials featuring the latest toys from Lego, Disney and Hot Wheels. Before you finalize your list, we wanted to share our gift guide that includes toys that are educational and help your child or grandchild developmentally. 

We believe in the power of play, and toys that made our list will help your little one learn along the way.

From babies to toddlers to school-aged kids, here are our favorite options this season.

Best for Babies and Kids 0-5

First Bead Maze from Melissa & Doug

We’re kicking off our list with an oldie, but goodie. If you’ve been to any of our locations, then you know we carry Melissa & Doug products. We love the mission of their company and the quality of their toys. Not to mention their toys are designed for development. This is their First Bead Maze and it’s suitable for babies 12 months and up. It features brightly colored, multi-shaped beads that spin and slide along red and yellow wire pathways anchored by a strong suction cup base. It encourages color recognition, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor development through play!

Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Piggy Bank from Fisher Price

The Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Piggy Bank from Fisher Price is great for both babies and toddlers. This toy plays more than 40 songs, tunes and phrases to engage your child. This toy assists with fine motor coordination skills while putting the coins into the bank. As children get older, they can use it to count and add as well.

Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog from Learning Resources

Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog helps kids build fine motor skills as they restore the chunky, peg-shaped quills to the back of this friendly hedgehog as well as develop color recognition, sorting, and counting skills. It includes a hedgehog, 12 pegs and activity guide with fine motor, counting, and color activities. You can purchase it directly from them, or buy it here at Target for less.

The Symphony Croc Music Set from Haba

The Symphony Croc is perfect for families with two kids under 5 because it contains two mallets and the drum can be easily removed from the crocodile base for playtime duets.

This playful reptile fosters children’s musical development and encourages a sense of rhythm while honing fine motor skills. 

Magformers Mastermind Building Set 

Containing a wide variety of new magnetic shapes, Magformers let kids explore magnetic construction through modular creative play. This set contains 13 Basic shapes, combine these with accessories to build Vehicles, Houses and more! Perfect for STEM learning, each geometric shape contains magnets that never reject, so you’ll always hear Magformers click. This is suitable for kids three and up. We spotted it here at Target.

Little Genius Starter Kit by Osmo

This kit from Osmo splits the difference between screen time and a learning toy, since kids use hand-held pieces in conjunction with an iPad. They can use the kit to learn how to form letters, make shapes that move on the screen, and mix and match outfits for different characters. This is ideal for kids 3 and up. It’s available on Amazon here.

Crayola Color Chemistry Set

The Crayola Color Chemistry set comes with 18 science experiments that kids can do right out of the box, and then there are ideas for 32 more experiments you can do with the set and some additional, common household items. There are two sets: a basic chemistry set and a winter-themed one.

Forest Friends Discovery Tree from Fat Brain

This Discovery Tree from Fat Brain is a whole ecosystem full of sensory exploration excitement! All around and throughout this entire treetop play structure are all kinds of fascinating things and activities just waiting for your little one’s little hands to discover. Kids can spin and slide the snail, butterfly, and ladybug blocks all along the winding cutout tracks. Just on the other side, those same blocks are apples, tumbling down the branches!

Milestone Play Kits by Lovevery

Starting at only $36 a month, Lovevery offers play kits by development milestones. This is a perfect option for Grandparents or relatives who may not know what to buy that the store. You can send one by yourself, or as a family or group through their website here.

Mindware Imagination Magnets

Your little one will discover hours of entertainment with the MindWare Imagination Patterns. This fun and colorful puzzle is a great way for children to boost their fine motor and visual thinking skills. This is available at buy buy Baby, and it is suitable for kid 4 and up.

Honorable Mention

TubeLox is a life-sized STEM construction toy for all ages that allows kids to use their creativity while designing and building their own play. With this toy, fabricate anything from sizeable sturdy structures, to usable cars, homes and rocket ships. According to NAEYC, things for pretending and building—many blocks for building complex structures, transportation toys and construction sets are ideal for kids 3-6.

The only reason it didn’t make our list, is because it was so popular that they’ve already sold out for Christmas. If you don’t mind waiting until January, head over to their site to order yours.

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