I’ve been a parent for 14 years now, so I’ve gone through pretty much every stage of toys. Some items have been one hit wonders, providing little entertainment for my kids before being broken or sidelined. And then there are some play items that have been used over and over and over again, engaging my children through the years. If I could go back to myself, I would say, don’t hesitate Kelly, build a collection of these items or go for quality because they are gold!
You’ll notice there aren’t any dedicated baby toys on this list because even though there are great things on the market for the baby age group, they grow out of those sorts of toys very fast, and I would invest less in baby toys and do more carrying, and talking and interacting with them. Do it heaps and heaps and heaps, and worry less about toys. The toys I would mention for the under ones age group that I loved are:
Feely texture toy like these sensory blankets from Finlee and Me
Noise/Peek blocks. I liked the Peek-a-Blocks by Fisher & Price.
Bruin Stacking Cups – These are great for bath toys too
Another thing you’ll notice, there are NO flashing light battery toys on this list. NO PARENT WANTS BATTERY TOYS! Haha. Below are the list of toys/play items that have stood out to me over the years for these reasons:
- ability to engage my kids for more than a 3-year age period
- kids either create elaborate games around these items or they are inspiration for play and/or movement
I would say get a good safe one. They are expensive but the trampoline is the BEST thing I’ve bought for my kids. It would have to be number one. A swing set is something that some people ask about, but I have found the regular sets you can buy don’t really grow with the kids well (only really suitable for pre-school/early school age) so looking back, it’s not something I would invest in again.
2. LEGO / DUPLO
I loved Lego as a kid, and I STILL love Lego. I love seeing my kids enjoy it now too. Can’t have too much. Duplo is really great too, and even though the kids do grow out of it, my kids were still enjoying it well into the 7s and 8s. There are other great construction toys available too, but for me Lego stands out.
- Organising Lego
- DIY Huge Lego Table
- Lego Matchbox Bed Printable
- Lego Inspired Toilet Roll Character Printable
3. Wooden Blocks/Toys
Buy heaps and heaps! There are so many wonderful ones, from your classic alphabet square blocks and rainbow rectangle blocks to rainbow window blocks and to children around the world blocks. The kids add this to their play and make all kinds of things. Wooden train tracks and vehicles are also a great addition to play.
You can never have too many books. That’s all.
5. Plastic Figurines
I rave about these, because they last so well and are such a versatile toy. Even though they aren’t a dedicated bath toy, they are brilliant for the bath because they are solid and water doesn’t get stuck inside. They are easy to take places and are fab for imaginative play scenes. Mini Zoo has a big range in Australia.
Once the kids are old enough for bikes and scooters, they are a great way for the kids to stay active and have fun. My kids ride around the house for hours!
7. Matchbox Cars / Wheel Toys
Another inexpensive, portable toy that has lasted the distance are matchbox cars.
- Car Wash
- Paver Roads
- Construction Sand Box
- Wood Roads
- Construction Play Dough Kit
- Cereal Box Ramp
- Fun Handbag Ideas
I think kids are either into Barbie or not (not all my kids are into them), but for the 2 of my children that are into the dolls, I have found Barbie to be a wonderful tool for imaginative play. I have noticed over the years that the toys are engaging for long time, from when they are about 4 to 5 right up to the tween years. None of my kids were into playing with baby dolls interestingly.
- DIY Barbie Shoebox Bed
- DIY Barbie Dollhouse
- DIY Barbie Tote Handbag
- No Sew Barbie Clothes
- DIY Barbie Ribbon Tutu
9. Drawing Materials
I tend to buy more expensive stationery items and drawing pens/pencils and they are always out and accessible for the kids to use. Draw, draw, draw.
- Meanings behind my kids drawings
- Storing and Organising Children’s Artwork
- Children’s drawing and development
- Make a Drawing Kit
- Drawing out and about
10. Floor cushions
Not really a toy, but having floor cushions has been GOLD for family life. The kids use them heaps during play and for general relaxing. I purchased mine from a small company but they don’t make them anymore (which is such a shame!). The cushions I have are essentially 4 regular cushion sized slots that are sewn together to make one big cushion (see them pictured under the ‘books’ section above also). You can also buy regular floor cushions from places like Ikea but I really like the home made ones that are bigger, and yet easy to fold down too. Other places to look for these are ETSY and Madeit. Usually you can find someone to make it for you and you’re giving money to a person rather than a big company and I love finding ways to do that. In any case, these cushions have become central to family life and have added so much value so that is why they are on the list.