Recommendations from our Readers

Baby Astronaut/Oceanographer and Botanist Board Books by Dr. Laura Gehl and Daniel Wiseman

These three board books tell stories of science-based careers with colorful pictures.  Sturdy enough for little hands, with simple language and interesting facts and adventures.  For all ages.

Play & Grow Freddie the Firefly


For ages 0+.  This toy has a lot of sensory features in one bug-shaped package. There’s a squeaker, clinking rings, a textured ladybug teether, and knotted antennae to touch and mouth. The wings have mirrors, soft shapes, textures to explore, while the tummy is made of soft velour.  The firefly has black and white patterns on its back and bright colors on the front—the high contrast patterns help stimulate your baby’s vision, while bold, solid colors give the baby’s eyes a place to rest. The big eyes encourage your baby to practice focused looking as well. A clip the top lets you attach it to strollers, carriers, and diaper bags.

Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic Rattle and Teether Grasping Activity Toy


The wooden beads produce a muted, pleasant sound when rattled – loud enough for babies to explore auditory cause and effect, but never annoying for caregivers. With no repetitive, distracting electronic chirps and beeps, everybody loves Skwish.  Recommended for babies 6 months and up.

First Years Stacking Cups


When building baby’s toy collection, start with these classics! Nesting cups are popular for offering simple-yet-fun ways to play. Children love to fit them together, stack them up, turn them over and hide things underneath. These eight colorful toy cups have large numbers embossed on the base so an older child can practice counting and begin building number recognition skills. Each cup has unique holes in the bottom for water play fun. Fill them up and watch the water trickle out of the bottom!

Activity Cube


Bright and cheerful solid wooden activity cube with five sides of fun, curvy wirer rides, peek a boo doors, spin and match animals, turn and learn ABC word tiles, and racing rollers.  Recommended for children 1 year old and older.

Playskool Explore ‘N Grow Busy Gears

This fun toy has 11 interchangeable gears that spin, plus music, sounds, and twinkling lights.  It is recommended for children 12 months and up.   Press the button and make the gears swirl and whirl. And there’s a convenient carry handle for toddlers on the move.  Moving and stacking the gears can help them explore spatial relationships and cause and effect.

Hape Pound and Tap Bench


This award-winning toy was the winner of the 2018 Cribsie Award of favorite first musical toy suitable for ages 12 months to 3 years.  It is a fun xylophone that can be played in a variety of ways.  Promotes dexterity, hand eye coordination, manipulation, arm movement, cause and effect, and encourages musical development and exploration and audio recognition.

Boon Building Bath Pipes


For children 12 months +.  These pipes suction to your bathtub and can be used individually or put together to make a chain for water to flow through.  Hours of fun!

Klickity by Fat Brain Toys


Perfect for ages 12 months to 2 years.  Encourages sensory exploration; helps teach cause-and-effect; strengthens fine motor skills and coordination skills; sounds, movements, and bright colors stimulate the eyes and ears.

Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog


For Toddlers 18 months +.  Colorful quills help kids build color recognition, sorting, and counting skills through fine motor skill games. Spike is also a great toy for visually impaired children!

Melissa and Doug Magnetic Animal Puzzle


For Toddlers 2-4.  Easily packed up for on the go, these pieces can be used to make stories, explore animal sounds and talk about what each animal does.

Melissa and Doug Nesting and Sorting Garage


For Ages 2-4.  This Melissa & Doug stacking garage gives kids multiple ways to organize the set. The colorful garages feature counting pictures on the back walls, which inspires kids to pair the pieces by color, size, and number.

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