10 of the best toddler toys

Looking for top toys for boys and girls aged 1 to 3? These great picks have been tested by toddlers themselves

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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.

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

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1. LEGO Duplo Farm Adventures, £54.99

GOLD winner, Best Toddler Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

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!

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘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.’ Joanne, mum of Heidi, 2
  • ‘It’s perfect for the age range given: Charlie spent a long time playing with it and his sister, who’s 4, was able to construct the farm using the instructions, which gave her a huge sense of accomplishment. Then they played with it together: they think the little toilet is great and it’s caused many giggles.’ Lindsey, mum to Charlie, 2

Available from: John Lewis and Smyths Toys


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2. Toomies Sora Pic & Pop, £19.99

SILVER winner, Best Toddler Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 18 months+

What it is: A colourful push-along toy with 4 balls: when you push the handles, a ball pops out, and when you roll over the ball, it’s scooped back up – ready to pop back out again. No batteries required.

Why we love it: It’s a just the right height and weight for toddlers,and every child we’ve seen with it has been completely entranced by the ball-popping mechanims. It’s also great value for money.

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘Well-made, simple and easy to use. Oscar loves it, and played with it straightaway. It’s solid, good-quality, and it’s easy for little ones to know what to do.’ Amy, mum of Oscar, 16 months
  • ‘Charlie loves this. He hasn’t quite grasped scooping the balls back up yet, so collects them instead and pushes them all back into the tube before walking along and popping them again. It’s a great height for him and the buttons to release the balls are easy for him to press. Very good value for money and I’ve not seen anything similar – which I think makes it even more fun!’ Amanda, mum to Charlie, 22 months

Available from: Smyths Toys and Amazon


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3. Peek-a-Boo House, £25

BRONZE winner, Best Toddler Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 18 months+

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

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘Great toy: 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!’ Becky, mum to Heidi, 22 months
  • ‘A lovely, well-made toy for imaginative play. The design is cute, and it’s really easy to store away.’ Lisa, mum to Jack, 22 months

Available from: Hurn & Hurn


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4. LeapBuilders Phonics House, £34.99

BRONZE winner, Best Toddler Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

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.

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘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.’ Emma, mum of Thomas, 2
  • ‘Rose really enjoys this toy – she loves the sounds and music. You get a lot for your money – and it is very entertaining.’  Sharley, mum of Rose, 19 months

Available from: Amazon and John Lewis


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5. VTech Chase Me Casey, £39.99

Age: 9 months+

What it is: An 35cm-high electronic dancing and skating monkey toy with 2 play modes: Catch Me and Dancing. Includes front and back sensors which detect when your child is near, so it can scoot away to be chased. 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 won Gold in our 2017 Toy Awards for its stand-out feel-good factor: he 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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6. TOMY Toomies Sort ‘N’ Pop UFO, £17.99

Age: 10 months+

What it is: A spaceship 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 stilling having all the educational benefits. A 2017 Silver Toy Awards winner, it had our tiny testers in fits of giggles.

Available from: PreciousLittleOne and Boots


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7. Magicube Safari Park, £34.99

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 a 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. It won Bronze in 2017, with our child testers’ parents really rating its portability.

Available from: Amazon


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8. My 1st JCB Stacking Stanley Mega Truck, £20

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A 43cm truck with a smiley front bumper, 6 large wheels and 5 numbered shape-sorting blocks to stack up or fit into right spaces on the tipper bucket.

Why we love it: We really like the well-judged simplicity of this toy: it’s not flashy but it’s big, friendly, sturdy, bright and well-made. The tipping feature was an enormous hit with our toddler judges in the 2016 MadeForMums Toy Awards (it won Gold), as were the differently-sized blocks that were great fun to stack up and push over.

Available from: Argos


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9. Little Tikes Activity Garden Treehouse, £89.99

Age: 6 months+

What it is: A large (77cm high, 68cm wide and 71cm deep), flexibly shaped indoor activity gym with umpteen play features, including peek-a-boo shutters, firefly lantern, ball feeder, mailbox, shape sorter, ball-spinner, ladybird clickers, door bell and swinging doors. Requires a fair bit of home assembly.

Why we love it: You’d need a large sitting room for this one but there’s certainly plenty to keep a small child entertained, which is why it won Bronze in the 2016 Toy Awards. Our toddlers really did spent ages playing with it – dancing, pressing buttons, sorting shapes, opening and closing doors and ringing bells.

Available from: Adventure Toys and Amazon


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10. Chicco Mr Ring Hedgehog, £19.99

Age: 2+               

What it is: An 25cm-high electronic ‘hedgehog’ with a base that rotates at 2 different speeds. The idea is to try to hook or throw the rings over the spikes as he moves round. Comes with 8 coloured rings, and plays 6 songs. Requires AA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: It’s a fun, toddler-friendly twist on the traditional hoopla toy. We love the addition of music and different speeds to make it more exciting. Great for your child’s spatial awareness and throwing skills.

Available from: Very and Amazon

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