1. Alex Toys’ ‘ROUND THE FARM : Suitable for ages 6 months+, this award-winning toy is great for helping babies learn better motor skills (i.e. catching, rolling, grabbing, etc.). Little kids will especially enjoy hearing the different animal (dog, cat, pig and frog) sounds as they learn to press each animal’s ear.
2. baby Zoobies : The perfect size for children under 2, these stuffed plush animals are adorable. They convert to very comfortable pillows. Also, there are very soft, warm blankets inside that can be used separately (the blankets feature a “comfort corner”).
3. Fisher-Price‘s Laugh & Learn™ Learning Home™ : For ages 6 months to 36 months, this little house will help your little one learn in a variety of ways. It not only teaches academics (letters, numbers, colors, shapes, etc.) but also everyday experiences (dropping, spinning, sorting, etc.). Both sides of the house are filled with activities including 21 “sing along” songs. Note: 3 “C” alkaline batteries are required for this toy.
*4. Infantino’s Play Time Activity Center: For newborns +, this 4-sided center will grow with your baby. It’s great for playing on the floor during “tummy time”. It’s also fun for infants to play with as they grow older. Activities include a peek-a-boo mirror, put-and-take bird’s nest and more. There are many different variations of this type of toy (for obviously good reasons!) but this is my pick for 2008.
5. International Playthings’ Yookidoo Discovery Playhouse: Ages 12+ months will love this roomy playhouse. They will have fun playing with the various built-in games (i.e. ball play, sorting shapes, peek-a-boo, etc.) on both the inside and outside. It is also a great hiding place for when the kids get a bit older (there’s space for several children to play in it). One of the things that I like the most about the playhouse (as a city dweller) is that it’s sturdy but easily folds up so that you can tuck it away.
6. Leap Frog’s Learn & Groove® Counting Maracas: Appropriate for ages 6 months to 3 years, these little maracas are a lot of fun for the kids. There are three different “modes”: 1.Counting – each shake allows the child to count to 10 in both English and Spanish. 2. Colors – introduces the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple in English and Spanish. 3. Music Play – music plays when the infant shakes the maracas. This is another toy that parents can see their kids grow with. (Initially my kids would just mouth the maracas, look at the lights and enjoy the music. As they grew older, the playtime became more meaningful. This is one of my favorite gifts to give to parents of small children.)
7. Melissa & Doug’s ABC Blocks : Recommended for ages 1+, these three plush blocks are great starter toys for the little ones. I especially like their bright colors, the different textures and the jingling sounds. (Moms will also appreciate that the blocks’ carrying case is phthalate-free.)
8. VTECH’s Sit to Stand Alphabet Train™ : For ages 12 months to 24 months, this little train teaches a lot! There are letter blocks, a small book, number buttons and much more. I like that this toy can grow with your child. When they’re younger, they can play with the different parts on the floor. Later, they can use it as a walker or as a ride-on toy. Once again, there are many different variations of this type of toy (for obviously good reasons!) but this is my pick for 2008. Note: 3AA batteries are required for this toy.
*Mom in the City newsletter subscribers can enter to win Infantino’s Play Time Activity Center by leaving one of their personal top infant toy picks in the “Comments” section below or in an email to [email protected] with “Infants” in the Subject line by November 30th.