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10 of the best toddler toys

Stacking toys, activity toys, push-along or chase-after toys, first construction sets and bouncy ride-ons: we've found – and tested – the top toys for boys and girls aged 1 to 3 years

best toddler toys

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

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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, as tested by children and rated by parents…

1. Grimms Green & Blue Stacking Wobble Tower, £14.89

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A 13cm high wooden toy with 5 stacking discs and a curved base that makes the tower wobble. Made from limewood and finished with a non-toxic water-based stain. Also comes in Red & Pink.

Why we love it: It’s beautifully and sustainably made, and the wooden rings feel lovely to hold. We really like how the small, wobbly base adds an extra challenge to the stacking – particularly if you start stacking with the smallest ring first. Our child testers also liked playing with the rings separately: because they’re slightly flat around the edges, you roll them and stack them independently of the tower.

Available at: Babipur and Kidly

2. Fisher-Price Bounce and Spin Unicorn, £70


Age: 12 months+

What it is: A 72cm-high musical, ride-on unicorn with a light-up rattle roller, ABC sounds, buttons with numbers on, and multicoloured lights. It also spins 360° and bounces, and has easy-grip handles. Requires 3 x AA batteries (not included). Some self-assembly required.

Why we love it: It’s easy to put together, feels nice and sturdy and bounces really nicely. And it’s a good height for a toddler to clamber on and off on their own. Our toddler testers were immediately attracted by the bright colours, and loved all the lights and sounds. Sarah-Jayne, mum to Shelby, 14 months was impressed by how educational it is – for a ride-on toy. “I’m amazed with how many things there are for Shelby to learn while playing on this!”she said. “Also, she’s been a bit delayed with her walking and this is helping her build her strength and coordination – especially when hopping on and off.”

Available from: Smyths ToysAmazon and Argos

3. LEGO DUPLO Classic Deluxe Brick Box Building Set 10914, £44.99

Age: 18 months+

What it is: A giant (37cm x 18 cm x 26cm) LEGO brick containing 85 plastic bricks in a range of bright colours, including a window, 1-2-3 number bricks, a car, a slide, flowers, a shovel and bucket, 2 people figures and a dog. Comes with a building guide.

Why we love it: It’s a great, brightly coloured construction-brick starter set, with a good pile of nice chunky, varied pieces and plenty of scope for imaginative,open-ended play. We really like the slide and the flowers and our toddler testers had a lot of fun stacking bricks on the car and opening and shutting the window.

Available at: Smyths Toys, Argos and LEGO

4. Lamaze Airtivity Centre, £69.99

Age: 6 months+

What it is: A 47cm-high air-powered, sea-themed, lights and sounds baby activity centre, with waving seaweed, a spinning starfish, a swimming fish and a whale with a spinning spout of ‘water’. Can also be used as a floor toy. Requires 4 x C 1.5V batteries (not included).

Why we love it: This lovely-looking activity centre is full of sensory-play fun, with loads to look at, feel, touch and hear (blessedly with a 2-level volume control and a no-sound play mode). It’s also designed to be played with by babies (in floor toy mode) but we think it comes into its own as a table toddler toy. Our 18-month-old child tester was transfixed by the bright colours and the waving seaweed. And she, likes us, loved using the fish tail to play ‘air hockey’ with the sea creatures that hover over the centre of the table. We chose this for our Top 100 Xmas Toys list.

Available at: ArgosAmazon and Very

5. LEGO DUPLO Submarine Adventure, £17.99


Age: 2+

What it is: A 24-piece brick-building set that features 2 diver figures, a clownfish, a whale, seagull figures and a 10cm x 17cm x 3cm submarine. The submarine and fish both blow bubbles when submerged in water. Comes with accessories including swim fins, snorkel, and an underwater camera.

Why we love it: We make no apologies for including 2 Duplo sets on our list – they’re quite different. This one is a well-thought-out, themed set – and you can play with in the bath: awesome! The bubble-blowing as the submarine submerges is great.  Jina, mum of our toddler tester Amrita, 2, said, “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 whole set is great for eye-hand coordination and the bright colours are a fun way for kids to learn colours!”

Available from: Argos and Lego

6. Waddles the Waddle Duck, £19.99


Age: 12 months+

What it is: A 50cm-high push-along toy that makes a “quack” noise and flip-flops his webbed feet as it waddles along.

Why we love it: He’s such fun, and we love that the faster you push him, the faster he quacks. Charlotte, mum of our child tester Kora, 14 months, found his bright colours and quacky waddle really motivated Kora to walk more independently. “My daughter can walk but preferred to bum-shuffle,” she said. “But as soon as she got Waddles, she has wanted to walk with my hand in one hand and Waddles in the other, so it’s really got her walking around. She also loves us to push this around behind her like she is being chased by the duck!”

Available from: Very and Amazon

7. Peek-a-Boo House, £25


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 comes with 3 solid beechwood animals, who fit inside the houses.

Why we love it: The design is lovely (the box it comes in doubles as the biggest block and is beautifully decorated inside with vegetable-ink colours) and the blocks stack up really nice and high. It’s great to see a non-plastic toy that really does grab toddlers’ attention. Becky, mum of one of our  toddler testers Heidi, 22 months, said, “It kept her entertained for ages. She has fun standing the houses and hiding the animals inside – and then knocking the houses down again! I also like how it all packs up inside the house for easy storage.”

Available from: Amazon and Kidly

8. VTech Chase Me Casey, £39.99


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. Requires 4 AA batteries (included).

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.

Available from: Smyths and The Entertainer

9. Hape Take-Along Activity Box, £32.49

Age: 10 months+

What it is: A 21cm-high, 5-sided activity box with moving gears, balls, blocks, a maze, and a mirror. Made from wood and finished with water-based paint.

Why we love it: It’s a well-thought-through, compact activity centre, with enough moving parts to satisfy curious toddlers while being robust enough to withstand being knocked over and – dare we say – even thrown about. We particularly like the side with the maze on and our child tester was very taken with the twisty-turny painted-animal gears.

Available at: Huggle, Precious Little One and Amazon

10. John Lewis & Partners Musical Activity House, £18

Age: 12 months+

What it is: An 18cm-high plastic house with a shape-sorter roof, push buttons with light and sound effects, cogs, wheels, opening loft doors and key-locking front door. Comes with a carry handle.

Why we love it: It’s nice and compact but not at all flimsy and there’s masses to play with. Our child tester spent most of his time carrying it around and taking the shapes out through the front door. We do like the push-button tunes (sweet rather than blaring), and fitting and turning the key in the door is a good fine-finger challenge for an older toddler.

Available at: John Lewis

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We’ve more top-rated, child-tested toys:

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