16 Best Toys to Grow with Baby

The Best Toys to Grow with Baby

October 17, 2019

The Best Toys to Grow with Baby

The Best Toys to Grow with Baby
The Best Toys to Grow with Baby

When it comes to holiday gift giving and kids, sometimes less is actually more. Choosing toys that will grow with your little one—open-ended, heirloom-quality toys that spark creativity and inspire imaginative play–means your gifts will go the distance from the baby days through the big kid years. Here are 16 of our favorite, tried-and-true toys that will grow right alongside your little one.

It may look like a simple piece of wood, but it’s so much more. Balance boards check two big boxes when it comes to kids + play. They’re great for gross motor skills and sensory integration—think things like balance and body awareness—and for imaginative, open-ended play (is it a balance board, a bridge or a table?). From toddlers to bigger kids, a balance board will get a ton of playroom use as your little ones’ play needs grow and change over the years.

Open-ended doll play has so many benefits for children. (Things like processing emotions, empathy and responsibility, just to name a few.) This IKEA dollhouse merges form with function at a price that won’t break the bank. And when your little ones are done with doll play, it can be hung as a wall shelf.

If we had to choose one heirloom quality, open-ended toy to invest in, unit blocks would be it. Babies, toddlers and even bigger kids all benefit from block play; it’s great for hand-eye coordination, sorting, early math concepts, imaginative play and more. This set from Melissa and Doug comes with 60 hardwood blocks that all fit neatly into the included box for easy storage.

We’ve yet to meet a kid who didn’t love Play-Doh. There’s nothing better for creative, hands-on fun that givers toddlers and big kids alike the opportunity to make whatever they can dream up. This 10-pack is the perfect starter kit for kicking off some creativity.

It’s a couch. It’s a play fort. It’s a pirate ship. It’s…whatever your child wants it to be. And that’s the point. The nugget is a comfy, creative space where your little one can relax, play and imagine. It’s the perfect addition to a family room or play space that every member of the family can enjoy for years.

There are so many things to love about Magna-Tiles that it’s tough to pick just one. Other than being super fun (which is pretty important), these 3D magnetic building tiles help kids from toddlerhood all the way through grade school develop STEAM skills, spacial awareness, tactile skills and imaginative play. The best part? They’ll likely be having such a good time that they won’t even notice.

Adorably perfect in every way, there’s no detail left unturned in these miniature mice complete with hand stitched eyes, hand knit clothing and the cutest little accessories you ever did see. Younger children will love to use the mice to engage in imaginative play while older kids may incorporate them in world building, dollhouse play or whatever else they can think up. And they’re the perfect size for stocking stuffers!

A family-owned German company long known for their natural, handmade toys and a favorite for fans of Montessori and Waldorf, Grimm’s makes beautiful toys that will grow with your little one from the baby days all the way through childhood. The rainbow stacker is one of our favorites for its endless open play potential—and how great it looks on any playroom shelf.

A play kitchen is one of the best holiday gifts you can give if you’re looking for a toy that’s going to go the distance. This KidKraft model has tons of real-life features like turning knobs, doors that open and close, a sliding oven tray and even a pretend ice machine on the refrigerator door. Fair warning that this model does take some time to assemble, but we think a few hours of work is well worth the years of play you’ll get out of it.

If you’re looking for a holiday gift that sparks artistic creativity, an easel is an excellent choice. This double-sided wooden one features a magnetic whiteboard on one side and an erasable chalkboard on the other. It’s height-adjustable, so it will grow right along with your little one, and comes with a refillable paper roll.

Kids of all ages love curling up in a space of their own to play, read or just chill out. This cotton canvas play house has fun, colorful illustrations and is big enough to use for awhile (note: these are the dimension, 72” x 58” x 51.5”).

To us these may look like just scarves, but to a kid, they can be whatever they imagine. Perfect for dress up, fort building, juggling or whatever else your little one can think up, these play scarves are simple objects that will inspire hours (and even years) of creative play.

One of our favorite open-ended brands that works for kids little and big, the Dutch company Way to Play makes toy roads that can turn any play space into a bustling highway. The easy-to-connect road segments are made of rubber, which means kids can play with them just about anywhere—indoors and out, on a rug or on the sand, and even in the tub. The sets can be added to over time, and although cars aren’t included, the roads are compatible with just about any vehicle you already have on hand.

There are so many ways to use this sturdy play table. It’s perfect for train tracks, blocks, LEGO, art projects and more. We love the basic, durable design and the affordable price compared to other similar activity tables on the market.

Bring the jungle right to your little one’s playroom with these realistic-looking animals. Figurines inspire imaginative play and help spark kids’ curiosity about the natural world. This oversized set is perfect for tiny hands, but works just as well for older children, too.

If you have the room for a rocker board in your play space, there are so many benefits to this unique—and fun—piece of play equipment. Rockers are great for helping older babies and toddlers practice balance, climbing, and rocking. For the older set, they’re perfect for fort-building and imaginative play. Just note that this rocker does require assembly, but there’s a video to help.

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