There's no better way to get kids excited about science than with hands-on activities. The GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope can help preschoolers explore hidden worlds at a range of magnifications, from 2.5x to 8x. The two large eyepieces and chunky focusing knob are specially designed for little learners, and the large, fixed sample tray can hold flat and 3D objects. (Recommended ages: 3+ years)
Ready to take your battles to the next level? With the Switchstrike Battle Tower launching this fall, players can choose two or even four-player epic battles with multi-tiered battling action. One side is designed for two players, while the flip side supports up to 4 players! This set is compatible with the companion Beyblade Burst app. This set comes with one Beyblade Burst Switchstrike Battletower, 2 Beyblade Burst Switchstrike right-spin launchers, and 2 Beyblade Burst Switchstrike right-spin tops.
Just when you thought the Fingerlings couldn’t get any cuter, we get the new Fingerlings Glitter Panda. Isn’t Archie the Panda so adorable? Like the original Fingerlings, Archie features over 40 interactive sounds and motions to bring him to life. Other colors are available too. Blow Archie a kiss, and he’ll blow some back! Aww … isn’t that so cute!
Now this is the house of all doll houses! Your kiddos loved their LOL Surprise Dolls all last year (and this year too), but this year it’s all about the giant 3-foot by 3-foot 3-story LOL Surprise House that has a working toilet, lamp, outdoor patio that changes from day to night, a helipad, a swimming pool they can fill with water, a sandbox, and so much more!  Plus, it even comes with an exclusive new family.  Learn more details here.
Babies between the ages of 6 to 12 months are beginning to explore and interact with people and their surroundings, like crawling and walking across the living room. New teeth pop up through their gums, so finding durable and safe toys for them to mouth, bite and chew are important. Parents also get a little window into their thoughts, watching their baby touch and activate buttons, or place blocks into a container, or begin to turn the pages of a cardboard book.
Storytime is a beloved activity for many young children. Listening to stories and looking at pictures can be mesmerizing for little ones and is a time-honored bedtime tradition. Read books to your toddlers while they’re young to help them develop a love of reading in the future. Board books are a must for younger toddlers who are still learning to be gentle with books.
Another example of what Dr. Cornett calls “real life” toys, this food encourages kids to go shopping and to cook. We’re big fans of the Learning Resources Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Set which, unlike many of the other options, is not just french fries (high in sodium and easily lost) and cheeseburgers. In addition, it can do double duty as a color sorting tool.
These app-enabled droids are perfect for the Star Wars enthusiast. Welcome to the Dark Side with BB-9E App-Enabled Droid from Sphero! The droids look spectacular with incredible detailing to make them look life-like. He’s probably not as friendly as BB-8, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have fun playing with it and taking it on your own adventures. Download the app to bring BB-9E to life. Use it to control him, draw paths to follow, and even interact with a cool augmented reality function that allows you to view different ships from the perspective of BB-9E. You can even watch the Star Wars films with BB-9E.
There more than likely isn’t a more adorable teether than Sophie the Giraffe. Composed of natural rubber and colored with natural dyes, this giraffe is perfectly safe to go into your child’s mouth. She is designed with two teething rings, each with a different texture. The ring near Sophie's head is designed with raised bumps, while the ring near her feet is designed with ridges. This teether arrives in an adorable gift box which makes it the perfect baby shower gift.
Just when you thought the Fingerlings couldn’t get any cuter, we get the new Fingerlings Glitter Panda. Isn’t Archie the Panda so adorable? Like the original Fingerlings, Archie features over 40 interactive sounds and motions to bring him to life. Other colors are available too. Blow Archie a kiss, and he’ll blow some back! Aww … isn’t that so cute!
Simply stick the suction cup to any flat surface and watch your child become mesmerized by the spinning wheel. The centerpiece spinners enhance visual tracking and strengthen fine motor wheels, while also encouraging your baby to reach, tug, and bat, which helps develop hand-eye coordination. The colorful beads within the clear structure of the toy also help baby connect the idea of sound to sight. Multiple texture points are optimal for baby’s developed play, as well. This toy is recommended for kids six months and up.
Bright Starts 3-in-1 Step ‘n Ride Lion: With this fun, game-inspired toy, baby can sit and play, walk behind, or sit and ride. Even the youngest baby can sit and feed balls into the lion’s mouth, then lift the door to rediscover them. It easily converts to a ride-on with a sturdy seat and easy-to-grip handles, and it plays sounds and music to keep baby even more entertained. The Step ‘n Ride Lion received the UK's “Highly Recommended Rainbow Toy” award.
Collaborate and use the family’s abilities and powers to construct massive LEGO structures in LEGO Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles. The game offers an open-world experience and you’ll tackle iconic villains and action-packed side missions along your adventure. What’s cool? Players can even customize their look and abilities in the game. The game will be available on Switch, PS4, and Xbox One.
Give your newborn a brand new, ultra plush pal to cuddle up with while they dream. These forest furries will keep your infant warm and comfortable. Each plush doll comes with a color-coordinated blanket. Bunnies, owls, puppies, racoons, reindeer, hippos, bears, ducks, giraffes, monkeys, lambs, and elephants all line the shelves, waiting for the chance to move into their favorite baby’s crib. The combination of the extra-soft material, sweet pastel colors, and darling baby animal lovvies will have babies reaching and grasping for their favorite blanket and buddy duo in no time. Infants develop and flex fine-motor skills when presented with the proper inspiration, and this gift is one such example of a toy they’ll want to hold onto for as long as they can. The stuffed animal is not reinforced heavily and so easily detaches from its blanket if you would prefer that they be usable as separates. Both items can be machine washed at 40 degrees Celsius, and then air-dried. BENEFITS Encourage baby to continue developing their fine-motor skills by giving them something they can’t wait to grab. These cute stuffies and blankets are the perfect security blanket for nap-happy newborns. PROS
Capture the speed, thrills, and excitement of a roller coaster with this awesome Creator Expert set from LEGO. This 4,124-piece set features incredible details, such as a working rollercoaster, ticket booth, cotton candy cart, concession stand, and more to bring the experience to life. Fans will love watching these gravity-driven cars hurtle through the twists and turns. What’s cool? You can even upgrade to a manual or automated chain lift with LEGO Power Functions or LEGO Boost, respectively. Get ready for thrilling, high speed fun ahead!
Is anything cuter or cozier than a Squishmallow? When it comes to Christmas gifts for toddlers, this stuffed animal pillow named Hans the Hedgehog has stolen our hearts. He's more than just a bedtime buddy: super soft, easily washable and oversized for extra comfort, Hans and pals are made from marshmallow-like material, perfect for comfort, support and warmth at home, at a sleepover, while traveling in the car and beyond. ($26; amazon.com)
Toy shopping can be similar. The makers of baby products can slap an "educational" or "developmental" label on their toys without oversight and certainly without any research or evidence to support their claims. And you may be surprised to find that many of the most popular toys on the market aren't the most beneficial for development. Luckily, most baby toys aren't harmful, per se, but there are certainly some that are more developmentally helpful for our kiddos than others.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
Super Mario Odyssey is the big holiday title for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a hotly anticipated title that will allow gamers to play Mario on the big screen as well as on the go for the very first time. The game will return to the sandbox-style gameplay made popular by Super Mario 64. Fans are eagerly awaiting to get their hands on what could the best Mario since Mario 64 and the Galaxy series. Expect one incredible adventure traversing through new worlds and expect a few new moves and surprises along the way.
Step into the driver’s seat with the On-The-Go Baby Driver set. Get into the fast lane of fun with a toy that promotes learning and development. Develop you child’s motor skills by having them turn the ignition key, steer the soft fabric wheel, or shift gears. It introduces baby to letters, colors, and more with twinkling traffic lights and more than 30 upbeat sing-along songs, melodies, sounds effect, and fun phrases to capture your baby’s attention. The horn and mirror are really fun features. This toy is sure to keep your baby busy with endless fun learning and stimulation. It can be used on the floor or even attached to a stroller.
This toy grows with baby from when he’s just learning to sit upright to when he’s walking with ease. Once laid flat, baby can bang and spin the attachments, and when raised, he can use it for crawling or to aid him in learning to walk. There are so many buttons with sounds and music that he’ll be sure to stay interested in this for much longer than his other toys.
You’ll be surprised by how long your baby will play with this – both in one sitting and how old he’ll be before he loses interest. This will be his go-to drool contraption, and the colors and cords will engage him. When he ages a bit more, he’ll love to try to figure it out – where does this cord go? And tracing the path of each cord will give him a whole new way … to chew it.

New for 2018, fans can now build their own Brick Headz with this 708-piece Go Brick Me set. Go Brick Me is a blank Brick Headz that you can turn into any character that you want. You could make yourself or your favorite character from a movie or TV show. It has a variety of parts in a full range of colors and allows you to get creative by allowing you to customize your very own BrickHeadz buildable figure to show off to all your friends. Look for Go Brick Me to hit store shelves this April.
This wonderful play mat has a lot to offer the newborn baby in your life. The multi-textured toys that hang for baby to reach help with teething and feeling different objects. The musical element of the gym is special because not only does it detach for versatility, but it has two play modes. Baby can kick to play one note or music for several minutes. With its variations in positions, baby can play, nap, or sit and enjoy the many levels of this first toy.
Who knew it could be so hard to chow down? Chow Crown from Hasbro Games is a new game that puts a twist on viral food eating challenges. You start by loading the six hanging forks with various food items, like candy and such, and place the crown on your head. Your challenge is to eat as many snacks before the music stops to keep the crown. It’s simple and wacky fun! Who will be the Chow Crown Champ?
Boost his energy and his brain. This plug-and-play learning mat will encourage your little one to walk, run, jump, and stomp through 18 different learning games and races. Let him customize his on-screen character and control its actions through the mat. He'll be having so much fun, he won't even notice that this game is focused on learning letters, numbers, shapes, and colors.
The endless loop rings and facets will keep the baby constantly engaged in trying to find the end point!  The quiet rattle has a subdued effect that’s just enough as a teaching tool in understanding cause and effect, while not loud to annoy parents and other adults.  Manhattan has been a trusted manufacturer since 1979, and makes this teething toy BPA-Free, so safety and health are never a main concern.
Toys that begin to awaken baby’s visual, auditory, and tactile senses will stimulate the development of neural pathways in a baby’s rapidly expanding brain. Our panel of experts, which includes parents, childcare and education professionals and child psychologists have endorsed the following 19 products as some of the best toys for newborn babies. Consider adding them to your own baby registry, purchasing one for your newborn or gifting one to someone expecting or a set of new parents.
LOL dolls continue to be popular. There is something that is so fun about revealing the layered surprises inside. The latest series is the Eye Spy series, which is Series 4. The Series has secret messages on each layer that can be revealed with the included spy glass. Kids will feel like spies as they try to decode what surprises are hidden inside.
The colorful Bead Buddy Giraffe is a wonderful sensory toy for baby that offers many textures to explore and teething opportunities on the giraffe’s ears and nose. The rattle tummy filled with beautiful beads will keep baby mesmerized for long periods, plus the neck made of rings that clink together are sure to please even the youngest baby. This toy is a perfect size for grabbing and chewing and and all-around buddy toy.
The Cozy Duet Baby Swing from Graco is great for a new baby. Equipped with multiple swing speeds, vibration settings, and a mobile, the swing provides entertainment as well as a comfy place for your baby to fall asleep. Keep your baby close in this swing that doubles as a rocker when you need your hands free. Bonus: It also includes five songs and sounds to soothe your little one. ($99+; hayneedle.com)

Once you open this package and put the rings on the octopus’s tentacles, they may never connect again, but that works out just fine with this toy. Baby may want to spend hours in the tub putting the rings back on, or if she keeps them apart, the rings still make great teething toys. The octopus will engage baby with its bright colors, and with curled tentacles you can expect it will get plenty of teething on as well.
Who doesn’t love superheroes? There are several figures in the True-Moves series including everybody’s favorite cape crusade. This Batman figure stands 12 inches tall! Batman features a ton of moving joints for kids to create all sorts of epic battle poses. The best part? You can bend Batman’s arms and legs in almost any direction. Designed for kids 3 and up, it’s designed for rough play.
This is a great combination toy pack for babies just sitting up. The puzzle box of shapes introduces baby to colors and teaches problem solving from a very early age. And the stacked rings will help baby work on motor skills by putting the rings back on the stand. Both of these toys are trusted standbys for parents, and getting them both at once is just convenient.
Love laser tag? Then you’ll love the Nerf Laser Ops Pro. This blaster boots up quickly and it’s very easy to use right out of the box. Although the app is not required, it does enhance your gameplay by allowing players to level-up the blaster to make it stronger, better defense, check the scoreboard and more. Using the laser guns without the app is great for light-hearted fun. But if you’re competitive and want to kick someone’s tail, you’ll want to get into the app.

Proceed with caution. Most products that make these claims have not been proven to increase children’s intelligence. In fact, safe household items (plastic bowls for filling and dumping, pillows for climbing and piling up to make a cave, old clothing for dress-up) are often the best learning tools. Remember, the more your child has to use her mind and body to problem solve and develop her own ideas, the more she learns.
This book will engage your baby by the different 3D pictures and sew-ons with which he can play. A lot of people will refer to this cloth book as a “Quiet Book,” and while it doesn’t have the music and lights that some other books have, it will make some noises (like crinkling), so beware. It’s fine for a church cry room, but you wouldn’t want to sit front row at a funeral with it.
A vigilant parent therefore must take the time to research a toy carefully before its purchase, but should also check in with manufacturer and government agency reports periodically to make sure the toy is still considered safe after it has been in real world situations for an extended period of time. Infancy does not last long; it's well worth the time and effort to ensure that a young child is safe during this precious but occasionally fraught period of life.

LEGO DC Super Villains now allows players to play as the villians. How cool is that?! There are over 100 villains included in this game, and you’ll even be able to create your own villain to play with and level-up in the game. Players can expect a first-rate story written with DC that’s funny and engaging. The story revolves around the bad guys trying to be the good guys. Kids will have a blast reprising the role of the villain.
It’s Christmas on the farm! Babies will love playing with and trying to help identify the various animals as they stack the turtle, cow, pig, hen and lamb. The Pottery Barn Kids Fun on the Farm Stacker has various fabrics and colors, so it's a baby and toddler toy that is sure to entertain for years to come, helping to develop their cognitive skills and dexterity. ($39; potterybarnkids.com)
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