“There’s actually been some research looking at kids using blocks with parents and it turns out that building blocks are a really good way to promote early STEM and math skills,” says Lytle. “Think about the language you’re using when you’re building blocks: bigger, smaller, shorter, taller. If you have kids and parents building bridges with blocks together, you’ll start talking about concepts like stability. Even if you don’t actually use the word stability, you’re still talking about complex engineering concepts.” The pastel-hued wooden building blocks in this 14-piece set have built-in magnets, so they won’t fall down as easily as regular blocks. Plus, they’re made in Honduras, with the goal of creating living-wage jobs for Tegucigalpa residents.
Based on Alicia Vikander’s likeness from the new Tomb Raider movie, Mattel has unveiled a special Tomb Raider Barbie for collectors and fans alike. The doll bears a striking resemblance to Lara Croft and comes complete with a map, axe, journal, doll stand, and certificate of authenticity. Lara is fully articulated for bringing your action scenes to life.

“A cape is a blank slate,” says Dr. Cornett, “a kid can use it to be royalty or a superhero or just as a blanket.” Again, you want to stay away from existent superhero logos to allow the maximum freedom for your kid. We dig this Lynda Sutton DIY Drawing Superhero Cape, which comes with a matching mask and, most importantly, can be washed after a hard day of superheroing.

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Take even a cursory glance at the regularly updated reports from the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission and you'll see toy recalls occurring at least on a monthly basis, and sometimes weekly. The CSPC notes for example a building playlet that posed a choking hazard despite being designed by a manufacturer reputed for safe toys. The agency tracked baby costumes recalled due to strangulation hazards. And they alerted consumers of a child's toy recalled due to the risk of it catching fire. All of these recalls occurred in a three month period -- as did dozens more.
This cute plush owl plays ten different lullabies and has an optional night light that projects a soothing starry light show. After 30 minutes, the owl automatically turns off — eliminating the need for parents to sneak back in to turn the unit off. It’s powered by batteries, so you will need to change them occasionally to keep the owl operational.
This adorable octopus can play music for baby in three languages. What a find for families that are bilingual! A great sensory toy with its plush, blue fur and satin designs on face and legs. Each leg teaches baby a new item, such as a leaf, star or flower. The Octoplush is a perfect size for a companion to snuggle and sleep with thus increasing the security level for baby.
Lights, camera, action! The Kidizoom Action Cam 180 is perfect for capturing life’s adventures as they happen. It features a 180-degree rotating camera allowing kids to shoot photos, selfies, and video. You can even mount the camera on your adventures. The water-resistant case even allows you to go on 6-feet deep underwater adventures so there’s no limit to your adventures.
Welp, Christmas is just around the corner (hooray?) and your kids are already asking for everything under the sun, so we’ve narrowed down their toy demands to the ones that are the most popular and must-haves of the 2018 season.  Why not stay on-trend and ahead of the curve all at the same time? Plus, if you’re running out of ideas on what toys to gift them this season (just in case you’re totally over giving them all kinds of candy), their birthday (geesh didn’t they just have one of those?!) or just want to pick them up a little something for no reason at all, we’ve got you covered.
Now’s the time to start them on a wonderfully classic set of wooden train tracks. “Kids love running cars on tracks,” says Dr. Golinkoff. “They’re not very sophisticated at putting the track together, but they love to take the different engines and cars to run them around. As they get older they grow with it and can start to rearrange the tracks themselves.”
This plush fish is one of our favorite toys for babies! It’s designed to intrigue your little one while helping them develop motor skills and more. The washable fabric toy is made of different fabrics and hidden features like mirrors and crinkling components to keep baby’s interest. Recommended for babies 1 month old to toddlers up to 3 years old. ($17; macys.com)

The Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe is an interactive learning system for toddlers. Jam-packed with 5 interactive activity pages, over 100 vocabulary words, over 20 learning activities, and over 20 songs and melodies, there’s plenty of engaging learning fun! The set includes a small stool. Expand the fun with expansion packs that expand the curriculum. The desk can even transform into a an easel and chalkboard for even more creative fun!
Sesame Street Let's Cook! is one of our favorite toddler gifts for Christmas. Fun and informative, this kids cookbook features the "ABCs of Healthy Foods," as well as 50 easy and healthy recipes for children ages 2 to 5 years old. Breakfasts, lunch, dinner and snacktime will be that much more delicious when your budding chef is learning all the most important cooking steps and nutrition tips, plus counting, matching, and alphabet skills. ($4; walmart.com)

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.

What happens when you combine a bicycle and motorcycle? You get the Razor Drift Rider! With colors straight out of Star Wars, the Razor Drift rider is for anybody who can’t learn to balance on the Razor Turbo Jetts. This 3-wheeled electric scooter has 360-degrees of steering. You can steer it left and right like a normal scooter but what makes it unique is that you can even tilt the steering wheel for some crazy cornering and drifting action.
Put away the clunky expensive VR headset, Merge is bringing affordable “virtual reality” to the toy market. Blending digital and physical play, the Merge 6DoF blaster immerses you in the game using just your phone and a blaster accessory. It delivers six degrees of freedom, meaning it tracks your position and orientation so when you move, it moves. It’s something you have to experience. The tracking felt surprisingly accurate, and it was a pure blast to play without any heavy headsets or cumbersome wires. There are many AR toys, but hands-down, it’s the best VR/AR toy we have seen and our Toy of the Show.

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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.
Tummy time will be so much more entertaining when you get down on the floor to play with baby with one of our best 2018 best baby toy picks. Choose from infant mainstays like sensory rollers, board books, colorful squishy blocks and more. Many of our best 2018 baby toy picks are also great for car trips and stroller rides. Pack the diaper bag with the top baby toy picks of the year and watch your baby smile.
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes: This product is a Baby Einstein all-time best seller, and was also named to Care.com’s “29 Best Toys for Babies Under 1.” Its large, easy-to-press button lets baby toggle through seven high-quality classical melodies. And — as the name suggests — a sturdy handle lets baby take this toy with them for music and fun on the go. It also grows with baby, giving them music and fun well after their grasping stage.
Teddy Ruxpin, the iconic story-telling teddy bear from the 80’s, is back with a tech makeover. He now features cool emotive LCD animated eyes and he’s lighter, softer, and more huggable than ever now that he’s gone all digital. And he even comes to life with a motorized mouth synched to the story. He has built-in storage with 10 stories – with three of them unlocked. Additional stories can be unlocked with a smart device. Kids can even sing along with Teddy. He’s the perfect bedtime companion. Kids can play with Teddy alone or interact with the stories via the app. It’s the perfect educational toy that combines story-telling, friendship, and reading into a fun kid-friendly package. You thought Teddy was cool before … now he’s even cooler than ever!

Muchin’ Rex is a pet baby dinosaur. Now kids can have their own pet dino! Coming this fall, Muchin’ Rex is chock full of excitement. He hops around and demands your attention if he needs to eat or is simply excited to see you. He loves nothing more than broccoli and caveman cookies. Feeding him his favorite food activates various responses like spitting sounds, slurps, and even burps. Rex features 35 sounds and motions that magically bring him to life, and he also responds to sound and touch.
SHIMMEEZ are adorable plush buddies that come as a variety of different animals. From unicorns and cats to dogs and more, there are so many lovely friends to choose from. The coolest part? These plush animals are made of pretty glittery and shiny sequins, so you can shift the color and create all sorts of fun and creative designs with the reversible two-tone sequins. Collect all your favorites and share the fun with your friends.
Step into the ring for epic bot battle action! The Vex Boxing Bots are a cross between Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots and a Segway. These buildable, self-balancing, boxing bots play to win. Your objective is to knock off your opponent’s bot’s head before they knock yours off using jabs and uppercuts. Control your bot with your smartphone and smash and bash your opponent until you’ve knocked their lights out. It’s win or go home with no-holds-barred action. What will it be? When you win, celebrate in style with an epic victory celebration. What’s not to love?
Choo-choo! All aboard the LEGO DUPLO Steam Train. Designed for ages 2 through 5, the Steam Train set now allows younger kids to build a moving train out of DUPLO blocks. What’s cool? It’s interactive and even teaches some basic programming concepts with special blocks that serve as pieces of code. An interactive app allows you to take control of the train – sending it in motion either forward or backward. Kids are encouraged to explore with cause-and-effect play.
SpinMaster has created the most realistic doll ever with Luvabella. She loves being tickled – tickle her feet or tummy. She’s a really happy baby and loves playing games like Peek-a-boo. She is extremely life-like with blinking eyes and an animated mouth, head, and arms. Her life-like expressions make her come to life. What makes her so special is that she features hundreds of responses. You can even hear her little heartbeat if you put your head to her chest. The cool part? The more you play with her, the more she learns. Bring home this loveable bundle of joy!
Things to create with—large and small crayons and markers, large and small paintbrushes and fingerpaint, large and small paper for drawing and painting, colored construction paper, preschooler-sized scissors, chalkboard and large and small chalk, modeling clay and playdough, modeling tools, paste, paper and cloth  scraps for collage, and instruments—rhythm instruments and keyboards, xylophones, maracas, and tambourines
The Wonder Crew Buddies are fantastic new action dolls. They merge action figures with the doll and stuffed animal play. Now kids get the best of both worlds – action, empathy, and nurturing play. Best of all, boys or girls can enjoy them and take them on fascinating adventures. They inspire endless creativity and spark the imagination. And your little kiddo can join in the fun with their own matching superhero mask and costume!
The innovative design allows the seat to be used as a rocker perfect for holding your little one in a safe, semi-upright position. Many parents find it ideal for feeding time and play-time. The vibration feature also has been known to work wonders for soothing fussy babies. But the real advantage of this rocker is the fact that it can become a toddler’s seat as your baby grows.
Get ready for fierce at your fingertips with UNTAMED T-Rex Iron Jaw. They’re the distant cousins of the Fingerlings. They’re interactive and respond to sound, motion, and touch like the original Fingerlings. Over 40 sounds help bring them to life. They also roar, chomp their jaws, and let out a little gas. Kids will love recreating their own exciting prehistoric adventures. Collect all your favorites.
With its blue very huggable body, the Octoplush is something that your newborn baby will surely love. The plush octopus is made of high quality satin patches that have been colorfully stitched on the octopus’ velour legs. The Octoplush plays soft children’s melodies in English, French, or Spanish. And while the manufacturer recommends the toy to children at least 3 months old, this can be used for younger babies as well.

You know how I love the idea of this kind of gift. Instead of getting a gift for your newborn who is happy to stare at jingling keys, why not get them something that will save kids in other countries? Some people may not like the “no gift to open” factor on this one, but some may love the gesture this brings. (For more gifts along this line, check out my Baby Gifts That Give Back post.)
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