10 of the best toddler toys

Looking for top toys for boys and girls aged 1 to 3? These great picks include our 2019 Toy Awards winners and have been tested by toddlers themselves

Toy Awards toddler toys

MadeForMums reviews are independent and based on expertise and testing. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our product choices.

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Toddlers are such fast-learning and energetic little explorers that the best toys for 1- to 3-year-olds must challenge, entertain and stimulate – both mentally and physically.

We’ve tested the best of the best, from light-up musical wonders to classic building and pushing toys.

Here’s our pick for the top 10 toys for toddlers…

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1. Fisher-Price Bounce and Spin Unicorn, £69.99 – best for multiuse

Age: 12 months +
Awards: MadeforMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Toddler Toy – Gold

What it is: A musical, ride-on unicorn (measuring 53cm x 72cm x 72cm) with a light-up rattle roller, ABC sounds, buttons with numbers on, and multicoloured lights. Babies can also spin 360 degrees or bounce on it. It has easy-grip handles and a comfortable saddle. Batteries required – 3 x AA (not included).

Why we love it: Once made, this toy is really sturdy. We love that it has letter and number songs, to help children learn.

Sarah-Jayne, MFM tester and mum to Shelby, 14 months, says, “One of my twins is a bit delayed with her walking and this is helping her build her strength and coordination – especially when hopping on and off! It’s very educational, I’m amazed with how many things there is for Shelby to learn while playing with the toy, and the batteries last quite a long time, too.”

Available from: Smyths Toys and Argos

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2. Duplo Submarine Adventure, £16.99 – best for bathtime

Age: 2+
Awards: MadeforMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Toddler Toy – Joint Silver

What it is: This 24-piece Duplo set includes 2 diver figures, a clownfish, a whale, seagull figures and a submarine (10cm x 17cm x 3cm). It also comes with accessories such as swim fins, snorkel, and an underwater camera. The submarine and fish both blow bubbles when submerged in water – making this a great toy for bathtime, too.

Why we love it: Duplo is always a brilliant toddler toy – colourful, fun and great for building up fine-motor control. But this toy has the added advantage of being fun during water-play or bath-time, too.

Jina, MFM tester and mum to Amrita, age 2, says “My daughter built it with my nephew and they both had fun putting it together and then playing with it in the paddling pool. The added bonus of it being a water-themed toy is great. The whole set is great for eye-hand coordination and the bright colours are a fun way for kids to learn colours!”

Available from: Smyths Toys, Amazon and Lego

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3. Turbo Track Baby Go!, £39.97 – best for car fans

Age: 10 months +
Awards: MadeforMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Toddler Toy – Joint Silver

What it is: This race track (9cm x 58cm x 38cm) comes with a talking car. You press the driver’s head and it races down the track and counts the laps. It has realistic sound effects and knows where the finishing line is. At the “pit stop”, the petrol pump moves automatically. Batteries required: 2AA (not included).

Why we love it: It is really easy to build, and we love that it helps children learn their numbers. Rhiannon, MFM tester and mum to Joseph, 11 months, and Dylan, 4, says, “If the barrier of the pit stop is down then the car wheels spin the dogs around. My boys loved making this happen. If the car is on but your child is holding it, it tells you to put it down. The only thing I would say is to put the stickers on before you build it as some are a bit fiddly and I had to take bits apart to apply the stickers.”

Sian, MFM tester and mum to Kaliyah, 11 months, says, “Children younger than 12 months would have to have an older child or adult play with them to show them how the car races around the track. My 12-month-old took the car off the track repeatedly to look at it.”

We love that it also has a dual language function – English and Spanish – too. 

Available from: Smyths Toys

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4. LEGO Duplo Farm Adventures, £54.99 – best for toddlers who like to build

Age: 2+

What it is: A farmyard-themed Duplo set with a mighty 104 pieces, including a farmer and 2 children, a sheep, cow, goat, rooster and a rabbit, plus a farmhouse with a bedroom, barn, tractor, picnic bench and slide.

Why we love it: The working pulley on the side of the barn is a proper toddler magnet. And we also really rate the attention to detail in this chunky, small-finger-friendly set: accessories include a pitchfork and waffles for the farm kitchen – and there’s even a loo in the farmhouse!

Joanne, MFM tester and mum of Heidi, 2, says, “The quality is absolutely fantastic, the detail is amazing, and it’s not gender-specific so it appeals to all children. Heidi loved playing with the pulley: it’s her favourite piece out of the box and she got very excited the first time she was able to successfully loosen it and then rewind it.”

Available from: John Lewis and Smyths Toys

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5. Waddles the Waddle Duck, £19.99 – best for a classic toy

Age: 12 months +
Awards: MadeforMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Toddler Toy – Bronze

What it is: This classic push-along toy (50cm x 40cm x 28cm) is brightly coloured and makes a “quack” noise and flip-flops his webbed feet when pushed.

Why we love it: We love that the faster you push him, the faster he quacks. It’s a real classic toy, they don’t go out of fashion.

Charlotte, MFM tester and mum to Kora, 14 months, says, “My daughter is a bum shuffler, but she has wanted to hold our hand and the duck in the other so it has encouraged her to walk around. She also loves us to push this around behind her like she is being chased by the duck, shuffling quicker as the quacks get quicker.”

Available from: Very and Amazon

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6. Peek-a-Boo House, £25 – best for an eco take on a classic

Age: 18 months+

What it is: A set of 5 nesting/stackable recycled-cardboard blocks, decorated to look like houses – with doors and windows. It comes with 3 solid beechwood animals.

Why we love it: The design is lovely (the box it comes in doubles as the biggest block and is beautifully decorated inside) and the blocks stack up really nice and high. It’s great to see a non-plastic toy that really does grab toddlers’ attention. Extra marks for the vegetable-ink printing.

Becky, MFM tester and mum to Heidi, 22 months, says, “It kept Heidi entertained for ages! I like how it all packs up inside the house for easy storage. Heidi had fun standing the houses and hiding the animals inside – and then knocking the houses down again!”

Available from: Hurn & Hurn

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7. LeapBuilders Phonics House, £34.99 – best for teaching phonics

Age: 18 months+

What it is: A set of 60 blocks that build into a colourful house with windows, doors, flower blocks and play characters, and has buttons to press to play songs and hear numbers. Includes 20 special blocks that you slide into the ‘Smart Star’ unit to hear 40 sounds and phrases that introduce letters. Requires 2 AAA batteries.

Why we love it: It’s a nicely designed toddler construction set – with a whole load of electronic educational extras. Our child testers all found it good fun to play with.

Emma, MFM tester and mum to Thomas, age 2, says, “It’s great for teaching sounds, phrases and letters, and Thomas understood how the toy worked without any instruction, which was great. The building blocks are great and are fantastic for making conversation about as they are illustrated with different animals, letters and shapes.”

Available from: Amazon

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8. VTech Chase Me Casey, £39.99 – best for interactive fun

Age: 9 months+

What it is: A 35cm-high electronic dancing and skating monkey toy with 2 play modes: Catch Me and Dancing. Includes front and back sensors that detect when your child is near, so it can scoot away to be chased. It also features 5 shape buttons to introduce letters, numbers, body parts, music and more to your child. Needs 4 AA batteries.

Why we love it: This toy really got our child testers smiling and moving – and their parents, too! And we love how he says, “Excuse me” when he bumps into things. He moves well on all surfaces, from carpet to paving slabs, too.

Available from: Smyths and The Entertainer

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9. TOMY Toomies Sort ‘N’ Pop UFO, £15 – best for shape-sorting

Age: 10 months+

What it is: A spaceship (17.8cm x 17.8cm x 17.8cm) shape sorter with a spin – quite literally. Press the top to see the toy spin and then – surprise! – scatter the 5 different coloured shape pieces all over the place. No batteries needed.

Why we love it: This UFO really grabs a toddler’s attention! Much more engaging than a standard shape sorter while still having all the educational benefits. It had our tiny testers in fits of giggles.

Available from: PreciousLittleOne and Boots

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10. Magicube Safari Park, £35 – best for using imagination

Age: 18 months+

What it is: A magnetic building blocks set with 14 cubes in 4 brightly coloured animal designs: lion, giraffe, bird and camel.

Why we love it: This set is lovely quality – as it should be for the price. We really liked its portability and the smooth rounded corners on the blocks. The magnetism makes piling the blocks up much easier for still-learning-to-stack toddler fingers.

Available from: Amazon

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