Help Me Out: Toy Recommendations

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Okay people. McKenna will be one in a little less than two months, which means it is time for me to start planning out her birthday presents 🙂

I am planning on getting her some more books because she loves them, I love them, everyone loves them…

I am also thinking I will get her a doll so she will have her own baby doll. And probably a new little stuffed animal.

But beyond that, I am looking for suggestions. What do your little ones from age 12-24 months like? She is tricky to shop for since she is my third child and second girl…I am not opposed to her getting something she isn’t quite old enough for yet…she can wait to play with it 🙂

Thanks everyone!

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. the Gardners
    February 6, 2010 / 10:19 PM

    I think the baby is a great idea. Maybe you could get/make the doll a blanket or something she could wrap her in.Every place we go, it seems like all the little girls love to just walk around and push those mini umbrella strollers. My daughter has loved those at her cousins' house since she could walk. I got her a plastic one because it came with a bassinet and stuff and she does not push it around as much as when she finds an umbrella stroller. The only problem with the umbrella strollers I have seen is that they all seem to have issues with their seats tearing and not attaching right to the frame and that drives her crazy!My daughter also seemed to enjoy those cheap plastic necklaces and bracelets. Her little cousins gave her some for her 1st bday and she spent a lot of time just putting them on and taking them off.

  2. Andrea
    February 6, 2010 / 10:48 PM

    My son just turned one last week and so far he really loves his Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Farm. I think they make a playhouse too. Basically it's an arch about 2 feet tall with lots of different learning tools and plenty of music! We also got him some of those Melissa and Doug beginner puzzles with the really big knobs and he LOVES those. And of course books.

  3. Evelynn's Mom
    February 6, 2010 / 10:54 PM

    Our favorites to give for first birthdays (and receive, who am I kidding?!) are Little People, Cabbage Patch newborn baby dolls, and the foam bath ABCs. If you are wanting to get something for later down the road…Potato Head and a Doctor's kit are always favorites! Let us know what you choose! Good luck!

  4. Silvy
    February 7, 2010 / 12:39 AM

    i think my son is like 1 day younger than mckenna! parker's birthday is april 3, and i just wrote a post today about how i can't believe his birthday is less than 2 months away and i have to start planning the party! :)i think a sweet present would be a shutterfly or snapfish book with pictures from mckenna's first year!

  5. Anonymous
    February 7, 2010 / 12:44 AM

    Along the lines of what Silvy said, my son's favorite 'toy' is a picture book with pictures of him and people he loves. It has helped him learn how to say names, and remember family that he doesn't see very often. He will sit and proudly tell everyone around who his friends are in his book. He is turning two and this book has been a favorite for almost an entire year; I can barely believe it!!!

  6. Sharon
    February 7, 2010 / 12:54 AM

    Our little one loved this Playskool Busy Ball Popper for her 1st Birthday. I wasn't sure about it, but she could use it and enjoyed the music it played. I agree with the other great suggestions too. We also got a set of the plastic covered twist up crayons a roll of tape and large index cards to color on the high chair. They look like real pens/crayons, but when they chew on them they get the plastic covering instead

  7. Laura
    February 7, 2010 / 3:22 AM

    My son is 11 mths. He loves the little car, etc, you can hold on to & walk behind (& it turns into a ride toy later). He also loves the Crawl & Cruise br Fisher Price. I want to get him a tunnel to play with inside on rainy/cold days.Can't believe our little ones are almost 1!!

  8. Janelle
    February 7, 2010 / 3:33 AM

    My son got the Leap Frog "My First Lap Top" for his 1st birthday and has played with it for a whole year now. (He will be 2 next month) His daddy is a computer programmer so that may have influenced him a bit, but it is a pretty fun toy as well!

  9. Brian and Jamie
    February 7, 2010 / 3:35 AM

    I recently found your blog and am loving it! My daugher turned 2 in December, and I have a 7 week old son.I tend to like traditional toys. Some of my daughter's favorites over the last year were Baby Stella, a wooden stack and sort toy, nesting blocks, Baby Einstein puppets, and the Little People farm.Her not-so-traditional favorites were the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn House (she still plays with this almost every day) and the Busy Ball Popper.Some of her favorite books were Llama Llama Red Pajama, Goodnight Gorilla, Where is the Green Sheep?, and Chugga Chugga Choo Choo.Happy shopping! I love taking the time to thoughtfully plan birthday and holiday gifts too.

  10. ys
    February 7, 2010 / 3:35 AM

    Yes, I have 2 girls and it's harder to shop for the 2nd as we really don't need much more:) But the doll is a great idea for each one to have their own. And my DD's favorite gift was the umbrella doll stroller (although that was her 2nd birthday…but she's used that toy by far the most of any toy..every day!) She also got a Fisher PRice Musical Teaset and we've had many tea parties with that!She has a Nemo ride-on/push and loves that (similar to PP).Little People sets are always good but it sounds like you have most already from your reviews of them:)DD1 got mainly books for her 1st birthday as she is a huge bookworm. Hits were lift-the-flap books (like Karen Katz or the Little People books), books where you'd press buttons for sound effects and/or animal noises,etc.

  11. The Cleary Family
    February 7, 2010 / 3:57 AM

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the Fisher Price Musical Tea Seat!!Do you guys already have a play kitchen?! Mine plays with hers ALL the time! Or one of those play shopping carts?

  12. Redheads
    February 7, 2010 / 12:17 PM

    My daughter got the musical tea set as well for her first birthday (2 weeks ago)and LOVES it!!! It is so cute! I will have to look into the toy umbrella stroller, because she already likes to push the "real" one we have!She really likes those Melissa and Doug Puzzles for 12 months and up. She is not into dolls or stuffed animals yet, but is slowly starting to show interest.

  13. Kristy Shreve Powers
    February 7, 2010 / 12:32 PM

    Love these other ideas. I think you have the Leap Frog Musical Table already–that seems to be a hit for almost every age! My older son used a homemade "toy" a lot at one year old, and my 8-month-old is loving it right now; we also gave it as a one-year present to a few people. I laminated pictures of babies' faces and parents' faces and kept them together in a homemade pouch. Our kids have been just fascinated looking at these, and since they are individual pieces, the baby loves to suck on the corners (we had to be careful of the size of the pictures and rounding the corners).

  14. the heller family
    February 7, 2010 / 6:59 PM

    The gifts from Christmas that my daughter plays with the most (18 months at that time) are a baby and stroller (she doesn't use the bed or high chair from the set as much yet), books, and an apron to help with cooking and for crafts. She also loves craft stuff(clay, crayons, markers)

  15. Molly O
    February 7, 2010 / 8:05 PM

    Any ideas for boys about the same age?

  16. Carey
    February 7, 2010 / 8:13 PM

    I have to second (or 8th or whatever!) the umbrella stroller for a doll. My daughter has LOVED this since before she could walk. I would never have guessed it… but man! It is the hotly contested toy at all times!My daughter is 19 months, and she really hasn't had a huge interest in toys all that much. She wants whatever big brother is playing with… or her dolls. I'm fascinated by her early affinity for baby dolls!I love the HABA dolls… I think they are so cool. Unfortunately…. once Cora received a realistic looking baby doll…. she has not ONCE picked up her haba doll. Not once… She received a nice Corolle doll for Christmas from us. The quality difference is very apparent. However, yet again, her preference is for the cheapie ones her grandparents have purchased for her!!! Oh, the frustration! We have also observed that she LIKES the ones that make noise.

  17. amy
    February 7, 2010 / 10:32 PM

    I think one is hard!!! My sone just turned one, and I also have a preschool daughter and I am not big on lots of toys (read plastic junk) and batteries…. so here goes: a baby doll is nice, my daughter was given a little bear with buttons and zippers. Her first "doll" was the Baby Stella which is wonderful, and when my son was born I gave her Carolee baby that goes into the bathtub. My kids LOVE these blocks with plastic figurines from Cubanimo. A big ball to chase around is a blast. My son has big knob Melissa and Doug puzzles he can actually do and a wooden M&D toy bench he can pound on. A play telephone is great. The best gift my daughter got at one year – a dozen balloons all blown up!!! whee! (And, she loved her party.) My son loved his bite of cake (a special applesauce and carrot cake I made him), and a little ride in car that can be pushed by big sis. (NO batteries!) I gave both a soft photo albm of "my first birthday" which they love to look at/chew. Have fun!!!!!

  18. rachelhockey
    February 8, 2010 / 12:04 AM

    My daughter, Adelaide, turned one a month ago and she also got a baby doll. At first she wasn't sure what to do with it, but she keeps it in her crib and even tucks it under the covers! So I think that is a great idea.The one toy that Adelaide got for her birthday that she loves the most is the Fisher Price Little People Music Parade Ride-On. It is a little pricey, but seems like it will have a long enough life that it could be worth it. It could be fun for McKenna, too, because her brother and sister could push her around on it!

  19. Jessica
    February 8, 2010 / 12:33 AM

    The Leap Frog table was mentioned, but like the poster, I believe you already have that. The Playskool Busy Ball Popper was a HUGE hit with Avery at 1 year. We were given the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn center right before Christmas, while Avery enjoyed it, it was too small for her to use as a "real" kitchen, etc. So, I think 1 year would be a good age…actually, maybe even earlier. We also had a Lion that your toddler pushes around or can ride on, she still plays with that. Books, like McKenna, are always a hit with Avery as well.My mother got Avery a doll for her 1st birthday and she didn't pay much attention to it until around 18 months. The doll is a nap and night necessity now! ;)Planning parties and presents are so much fun. I have just started Avery's party planning for her 2nd birthday! Ahh! We are going with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. 😉

  20. The Cibulas
    February 8, 2010 / 2:18 AM

    Busy Ball Popper hands down is always a favorite! And they seem to love it no matter how old they get! My almost 3 year old STILL loves his and he got it for his first birthday!Good Luck!

  21. Kelly
    February 8, 2010 / 12:40 PM

    I have to agree on the Fisher Price Learning Home. I wanted to get one for my niece for her 1st birthday. I found it used (in almost perfect condition) at a consignment store for $25 and was able to order the loose pieces (that were missing) from Fisher Price for $5. My sister said it is her favorite toy. Also, the Busy Ball Popper is a favorite of my son's. He got it for Christmas and he will be one in May. So except for the baby doll suggestions–I'm looking for ideas for his birthday, too. 🙂 Thanks everyone!!!!

  22. Erin Skubal
    February 8, 2010 / 5:38 PM

    My daughter is turning one in April, and I have been asking for lots of ideas from friends who have children. A huge recommendation came for the Step2 roller coaster ( It is recommended for ages 2-5 but I have heard that they can use it younger with help from mom and dad. I am getting one for my little girl. All the reviews say that it is used more and more as the kids get older, so it is a good investment.

  23. mmreeves
    February 8, 2010 / 6:59 PM

    My son loves his LeapFrog My Puppy Pal – Scout which can be both a stuff animal and toy. I highly recommend it.

  24. Kim
    February 9, 2010 / 7:13 PM

    For my daughter's first Christmas at 9 months I got her a musical/light up drum by I play. I think Leap Frog make a similar one, but this one is great, it has different musical sounds, and if you hit one of the buttons it plays a few different songs that are about 1 minute long. Now she is 3 and it is still played with daily, now for dance contests! My 6 month old daughter is loving it too! I think a shape sorter is great too, at first for hand eye coordination and fine motor skills, then later for teaching colours and shapes.

  25. Justin...&...Andrea
    February 11, 2010 / 6:29 PM

    Check out baby stella on amazon she comes with all kinds of cute accessories any little girl would love.

  26. Plowmanators
    February 22, 2010 / 9:19 PM

    Thanks everyone! Some of these are things we already have. I will look into the others! Thanks for the ideas!

  27. Plowmanators
    March 9, 2010 / 10:44 PM

    For those of you wanting boy suggestions, be sure to see the "best toys for baby" blog label. I have suggestions up through 2.5 years old for both genders.

  28. Karen
    March 15, 2010 / 8:34 PM

    Speaking of toys…how do you handle toy storage in your home? Are most toys stored in your children's bedrooms or in a more common space like the family room or a playroom? What about toys that are shared (like a play kitchen or basic blocks)? I love how organized you are and am sure that you have a well thought out answer to the best way to store toys!

  29. Plowmanators
    March 29, 2010 / 6:03 PM

    Karen, that is a good idea for a post. I will write one, but here are some answers:Toys are in kids rooms primarily. They play in their rooms. I am okay with them taking toys into the family room at times, but I am not okay with them all over the house. If we had an extra bedroom, I think toyrooms can be a great idea. Shared toys go into different bedrooms. Brayden has a very large bedroom, so most of the toys we own are in his room–even toys that are technically Kaitlyn's or McKenna's. This also works well because he isn't at a napping age, so it is nice for the toys to be away from the rooms where kids sleep. I will do a post, complete with photos. I am actually really excited about that!

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