Are you still insecure what toys to buy your baby or toddler, and worried to fall for fake reviews, where people receive the items for free and write favorably about them in exchange? Ever noticed that when you buy toys online, there aren’t very often children photographed next to the toys, so you can’t really tell how big they are? (I fell into that trap and bought the wrong sizes before.) Want to hear an upright opinion supported with photos and videos of how well a child really received a toy? I was a first-time mom, too, and read what other moms thought before making an informed decision.
Here, you’ll find Lyons Cub’s favorite toys; those that worked out of all the things I bought for him or he got as presents. There are so many things that are dust catchers and hardly ever get used, but then there are those that withstand many seasons and are loved beyond measure; those that last through many summers; those that survive the wear and tear although being used by several wild toddlers; those that don’t break the first time a little fist twists them the wrong way, and those that don’t cause tears on Christmas Day because they didn’t last longer than a few hours. These are our honest opinions. You can see the joy in Lyons Cub’s face.
We hope that there are some good ideas for you, too! Below are the snippets; for a longer review with more pictures and occasional videos of Lyons Cub enjoying his toys, click on the links. If you want to see just the recommendations for babies, go to the right side bar and look under “categories” for the baby toy reviews. If you want to peruse just the recommendations for toddler toys, go to “categories” on the right side bar and check out the reviews for toddlers.
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Yay!!! Off we go!!!
This is the Simplay3 Young Explorers Adventure Climber. One of the best investments I’ve ever made. Lyons Cub used it from when he could barely walk, to practice his climbing and sliding skills, until he was almost three years old and we moved. His friends ages 2-13 came over to play on it, and it is so sturdy, even Lyoness was able to stand on it! He climbed on it in the summer heat and in the winter snow. Nothing could deter him from running outside and playing on his favorite toy! It looks like a car inside, with a steering wheel. It has a climbing tower and a slide. You can use it indoors or outdoors, and it did not lose color in the sun. Neither did it become brittle or cracked in the winter. Year long, Lyons Cub had fun with it! Even the cat loved to lounge on the tower. Click here for more of our photos.
My home is my castle!
Come have teatime with your little guests in the Little Tikes Cape Cottage Play House! If I had known it also exists in blue, I would have gotten that one, but I bought the red one instead. Lyons Cub and his friends loved it to pieces! It is cheaper than many more bulky houses, but it looks so much nicer! This was his first house (well, apart from the one we lived in, of course). Lyons Cub loved to open and shut the windows, to go through the red doors, and to put up the two little American flags (those don’t come with it, but you can buy them cheaply). The play house can be used inside or in the yard, and it’s big enough to put a children’s chair inside. Even adults can go inside! We anchored it down with four iron anchors in the four corners, and it withstood every storm. One of Lyons Cub’s favorite socializing sites and hiding places 😉
Creepy crawly friend
The ECR4Kids Peek-A-Boo Caterpillar was our back yard attraction. Doggies and kitties loved to hide in its underbelly, and Lions Cub went straight for the head. It’s big and sturdy, so the older neighborhood kids could play on it, too. Don’t worry about assembly, everything snaps together, and those little yellow screws are easy to fasten by just one mommy alone. Your friendly looking wormy will be the highlight of every birthday party and would also be a great motor activity for a daycare. Just look at the colorful tootsies. Click here for more pics.
Doodledoo, rattle, scrunch!
This is Lyons Cub’s first activity toy, the Fisher-Price 2-in-1 Sit-to-Stand Activity Center! Perfect for infants who can’t walk yet, to strengthen their muscles and practice standing. It went along with us on trips and into hotels, to keep Lyons Cub busy on mom’s travels. Half an hour of entertainment for kiddo and a welcome break for hectic moms! Doesn’t topple over, is easy to assemble, and the coolest thing ever is that you can take the seat in the middle out and put a table in, which has a slide for balls and toy cars to roll down. Daddy Lyons was a pianist, and I was glad our cub could try out his first keyboard skills with this activity center 🙂
Splash, splosh, bubble trouble!
What to do when your kiddo can’t sit yet, the baby bathtub is too small, but the adults’ tub is too big? Fear not, the Summer My Bath Seat (Aqua) comes to the rescue. Baby can’t fall over and swallow water, but you can still wash his back, and he has plenty of room to kick his feet and play with his rubber duckies. Look here for more pics.
The Brilliant Beginnings – Ride On Learning Train – what a fun toy for your little conductor! We got this one as a present for Lyons Cub’s first birthday, but you can get it cheap from Walmart, and my German friends can get it for a little more from ROFU. Lyons Cub has loved it for three years now.
We all live in a…
yellow submarine! And what’s more, the Yookidoo Baby Bathtime Toy – Submarine Spray Whale is connected with a hose to an awesome sprinkler that can wash your hair, massage your back, drench mommy, and – if she’s not careful – flood the tiles outside the bathtub! What fun!
Tiny tootsies, music makers
The Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym & Maracas was Lyons Cub’s first activity mat when he was 2-4 months old and learning how to grab things and focus his eyes on toys. Right from the beginning, he was very interested in the colorful hanging toys!
Who loves bath time?
The Angel Care Bath Support (which exists in blue, pink, and gray) was a great thing to have when Lyons Cub was about 3-6 months old. It’s soft, comfy, keeps baby in a good position, and allows splashing with the legs. It filled the gap just right between the newborn baby bathtub and the support seat we used from 6-8 months. He evidently had fun in it!
Topsy Turtle & Sand
What could be better in the hot summer? Nice warm sand on your feet, a bucket of water, some shovels, a few trucks, and colorful molds to bake sand cake. The Little Tikes Turtle Round Sandbox makes it possible. Lyons Cub had his turtle sandbox before he could walk, and the older he got, the more sophisticated the games became…
Baby, you can drive my car…
It’s called the Step2 Whisper Ride II Ride On Push Car, and although it doesn’t exactly whisper but is so loud that you can barely hear grandma on your cell phone when walking around on asphalt, it’s one of Lyons Cub’s favorite toys, used year round and being the subject of envy by his friends. He got it when he was about one and still rides in it at three.
Have you lost your marbles?
Actually, it was grandma Lion who convinced me to invest in expensive wooden toys – so Lyoness got Lyons Cub a wood marble run from Eichhorn. In the U.S., you can find a similar one from STOBOK. Let’s just say, they are more fun for the adults than the preschool kids!! This is a MENTAL CHALLENGE!!! My tip: get a plastic marble race if your kiddo is as impatient as mine. If you have a genius or favor Montessori toys, get this one ;).
Plastic Marble Run
“Success is a relative thing―and the victory of a boy at marbles is equal to the victory of an Octavius at Actium when measured by the scale of cosmic infinity.”
― H.P. Lovecraft
This was the ultimate fun! TWO HOURS!!! Lyons Cub has never been able to focus this long on anything other than Paw Patrol 😉 The Meland Marble Run was a great success. There are different sellers on Amazon that seem to sell the same product, so we just need to make sure we pick the same one or a compatible one when we extend our set. Lyons Cub is planning something big….
Swim Like a Fish…
in a fish! This is a cute, orange baby pool that we used from 4 months on until about 1.5 years. I’m not sure whether it’s still being sold, but I was able to find a similar snail pool. You can use it to float in a bigger pool, or on the lawn like we did. First splashing adventure for the littlest ones!
Water, Sand, and Dinos…
What could be better??? If you have a cruising or already walking baby or even a bigger toddler who loves dinos, then the Step2 Dino Dig Sand & Water Table is for you! Fill one half with water, the other with sand, and let the dinos climb the rock formation. Lyons Cub loved it! When he got older, he planted his veggies in it.
Hello Little Pirate, Argh!
The LBN Tot Crawl Climb Pirate Ship was one of the main attractions in our basement and later in the back yard. When used outside, it’s probably safer to anchor it to the ground, but it never toppled with just one small toddler on it. Lyons Cub loved climbing on it or hiding in its belly.
Wooden Horse Swing
For his first Christmas, Lyons Cub got a beautiful natural wood horse swing. It comes unstained, so if you want to use it outside, it’s better to stain it to protect it from the elements. We had it inside for about a year, and then it went under the back deck. Lyons Cub loved to ride his horsey! It was so much more interesting than the plastic swings, but we rotated it. If grandparents want to make a present that’s on the nicer side or are Montessori fans, this would be a good choice, hint, hint…!
Teamson Kids Play Kitchen
For some reason, I was really attracted to wooden toy kitchens, so Lyons Cub got this beautiful blue one. It was just a tad difficult for me to build, but every evening, he fixes mommy some wooden toast with butter, or he pours his real milk into one of the pots on his little stove. Check out the Teamson store with a big array of differently colored kitchens.
Baby Bath with Sling
Of course, you can wash a newborn in the sink – been there, done that. But how much more comfy is a little plastic bathtub you can place in your big tub: The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn to Toddler Tub. Lyons Cub had grown out of it by 6 months, but while it lasted, he enjoyed it! And it was a relief for mommy.
Ding dong! You got visitors!
Yes, you heard right, this cute Neat and Tidy Cottage Play House from Step 2 has a REAL door bell!!! It also has a fire place, a clock, a lantern, and a letter box to push mail through. It was very easy to assemble by mommy. Lyons Cub loved to open and shut the door and window, and to “wash” his hands in the sink. There’s even a little built-in chair to sit beside the blue table. Plus, it has a planter for real flowers on the front wall! It has a floor, so if you use it on the lawn, it’s nice and clean inside. We took this house with us to Europe, and it stands on the balcony now. The bell is still ringing!
The Boppy Nursing Pillow…
No kidding, but this donut-shaped pillow was by far the most useful thing I bought for Lyons Cub when he was a newborn. I used it for nursing, I placed him in it for bottle feeding, and he slept on it next to me while I was pumping. The Boppy Nursing Pillow had just the right size to fit my tiny baby. I covered it with a burp cloth, so it wouldn’t be hit with milk and spit up all the time. Worked like a charm. What would I have done without it??? This is an absolute must for any mommy. Kitty loved to sleep in it, too…
Double trouble, boil and bubble…
or something like that! Have a kiddo who loves to play with streaming water? The Yookidoo Flow ‘n Fill baby bath toy might be just the right thing for you then. The three wheels are indestructible and provided bath fun for a long time. The suction cups are very strong and don’t fall off the wall. Your baby can stack the colorful cups or take the yellow one with the green wheel out and fill it by itself to make its wheel turn. Oh, what fun it is!
A boy and his dolls…
He’s not the gentlest father, but Lyons Cub passionately pushes his Caucasian and Hispanic dolls through the back yard and up and down the driveway in their Hape wooden babydoll stroller. He learned to walk with this stroller, but he had the most fun with it when he was two years old, could steer better and didn’t bump into every wall and corner. It’s sustainable and sturdier than many plastic strollers. We still have it; I’m sure it will last him until he’s 5 or 6. It also has a matching cradle!
Lyons Cub loves cars. He already had a push car where mommy decides where to go, so he needed one where he was in charge. The Jeep Cherokee Ride on Push Car was just the right, low-budget toy to practice his gross motor skills, such as getting up and off, and keeping going forward and down the hill.
Basketball, soccer, and loops – 3 in 1!
Do you have a tiny baby? Lyons Cub could barely walk when he already wanted to shoot goals. This little blue giraffe made it possible: the lowest setting was perfect for a 1-year-old to reach, and the higher settings will still be a challenge for 3-4-year-olds. We used this basketball set, which also sports a soccer goal and loops for throwing, both indoors and outdoors. Here, you see him cheating 😉
Magnetic Drawing Board
What’s better than a drawing board that can be erased without messes? Lyons Cub loved and still loves to draw on his magnetic drawing board. Lyoness has to draw bears, cats, dinos, caves, volcanoes, and other things for him, and he fills them in. They show up in red, green, blue, and yellow, depending on which corner he draws in. A bonus are the stamps that come with the board. Lyons Cub is also doing his own artwork, as you can see. Plus, it’s an easy way to trace letters without wasting any paper. You can’t lose the pen, because it is attached with a string! How quiet a car trip can be when this board comes along! And if little Picasso is chewing on the pen while thinking about his wondrous creation, who cares, as it has no color he could get in his mouth 😉
Before Lyons Cub was tall enough to use a big-kid trampoline outdoors with his cousins, he trained on a small indoor trampoline from Little Tikes. We picked this one because it was small, ideal for a 2-year-old, sturdy, and easy to assemble. He had these without handles at his local gym where he was taking lessons with other children, and they were always his favorite activity besides their huge offer of balance boards, foam blocks, balls, ropes, cloths, etc. This trampoline is for one little toddler at a time. It will cause big crocodile tears if more than one want on it at the same time! If you have more kids or a bigger child, get the next level up!
LED Star Light Projector
Does your kiddo need a baby night light? Lyons Cub is still afraid of monsters. When he saw that his cousins got this beautiful Delicacy LED Star Light Projector for Christmas, he wanted one, too. Isn’t his room magical? He can use the remote control all by himself and choose between blue, green, red, and white light, and a mixture of them, including green laser beam stars that come and go. It’s a “breathing” light and can be dimmed. The waves created on the ceiling are fantastic! We are not even using the music feature. Falling asleep has never been that easy. We can also use it as a party light, once friends can come over again after Corona. I bought three of those so far, as presents. Come to think of it, mommy wants one, too!
Puppy Activity Home
Lyons Cub grew up with two real doggies, Honey and Sally. So it was only natural that for his first Christmas, he got a musical puppy activity home from fisher Price. He could open the door, twist the yellow button, turn the light on and off, rotate the roll, and listen to songs. A voice told him,
“thank you for making the door shut,” and “thank you for making the door open,” etc. The toy has three levels of difficulty, so with more speech ability, baby can advance to the next level. It also speaks Spanish, which Lyons Cub learned in his Montessori kindergarten. What a perfect toy for kiddos under 1! And there’s also a next level for kiddos with more dexterity, where baby can put a doggy inside.
Gopher Splash Mat
It’s summer, it’s hot, and what’s more fun than to step on a water-filled gopher that sprays you wet? This gopher mat is a great activity for little toddlers and bigger kids alike. It’s connected to a water hose, but even when it’s switched off, there’s still enough water in there to provide fun for the littlest. It’s not as scary to them as a deeper pool with full submersion; Lyons Cub loved the sprinkles! Invite the neighborhood kids over and make a contest who can flatten the most gophers 😉
When he thinks tadpoles become sharks…
Doing science with Lyons Cub is so fun! We collected tiny tadpoles and some frog eggs from our garden pond and put them into his Aqueon Betta Castle Kit. He put the little red flags up all by himself, and then, he admired his babies. We had them until the froglets had legs and were ready to go back into the garden pond to hop out. What a lesson he learned! When I asked him what tadpoles become when they grow up, he said, “sharks!” 😉
Well, ideally, you’d have two children for that, but it works alone, too! 😉 Lyons Cub’s first seesaw, which he shared willingly with the neighborhood girls, was just right for a small toddler, especially for one who loves horses. It was sturdy, but easy to carry around. Ours held kids up to 9 years of age, but was ideal for the 2-3-year-old children. You can use it in the playroom or outside. Ours was strictly outdoors, and it didn’t fade or crack in the sun, of which we have plenty in Tennessee. It was essential for Lyons Cub to develop his balancing skills.
Can’t start early enough…
… to make your child a good housekeeper 😉 This cool Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Light-up Learning Vacuum sings happily, “Clean up, clean up!” while your toddler follows mommy with her grown-up vacuum cleaner around the house with the toy one. Too cute! Lyons Cub still loved it as a three-year-old. It can make vacuum sucking noises or songs and phrases. And if mommy gets fed up, she can switch off the sound altogether and enjoy quiet housecleaning by her offspring. For some reason, Lyons Cub was in love with vacuum cleaning, especially between 1 and 2 years of age. The next passion will probably be a lawn mower 😉
Tummy Time a Problem?
Well, not anymore with this Splashin’kids Inflatable Tummy Time Premium Water mat. We actually did it for gross motor delays during our Early Intervention practices, and Lyons Cub managed to strengthen his arms for crawling. But also for non-IUGR babies who need extra tummy time or who just like squishy things, this water mat is fun. There are cool sea creatures floating inside it. If it isn’t dried out well, it will get moldy after several months, but by then, ours had served its purpose well.
The right high chair…
… is hard to find. I feel we made a good choice with our Graco Blossom 6 in 1 Convertible High Chair. Lyons Cub started using it between 5-6 months of age, when he began eating baby food in addition to milk. It can recline, you can take out the inner cushion part for very little babies (we did not use it at all), and when kiddo is bigger, you can use the black, hard seat underneath separately in the scaffold, or tie it to an adult chair, which is what we did. This way, the high chair lasts for a long time and serves as a transition for your child to sit on a standard chair, while still being able to see the table. Our Graco Blossom was easy to set up and to clean. The tray has an upper part that can be taken off. This mommy was very satisfied!
Paw Patrol skates for little fans
Have a child who loves Paw Patrol? Yes? Maybe it’s time to start acquiring new balancing skills, and what better way to use veeeeery slow, nice, safe toddler skates? They grow with the foot, are adjustable without tools, have sturdy frames and secure buckles, and the knee pads for safety are a great addition. If your kiddo is a huge fan, there’s a matching helmet, too. The instructions say “ages 2-6,” but come on, at age 3, Lyons Cub outgrew the slowness of those beginner skates. He still loved them but definitely required a bit more action. It’s amazing how sportive my little dude who once got Early Intervention for gross motor delay has gotten! Those skates definitely helped with self-esteem and coordination.
Cool dude with sunglasses
Also have a light sensitive toddler? Lyons Cub was blinking, and most of all, he wanted to look as cool as mommy, so he got his first Baby BANZ Ultimate Polarized Sunglasses. He won’t lose them, as they stay safely on his head with the adjustable straps. They fit perfectly and look nice, don’t they?
Summer is in the air…
… and a pool becomes a welcome relief from the heat. Lyons Cub loved his Inflatable Pool with 2 Seats, Headrest, and Cup Holder. It was big enough for mommy or nanny to join him, and he could bring his swim toys, too. Tip: put rubber yoga mats underneath to make the bottom nice and soft! This high-quality pool is durable and not easy to break and promises splashing fun for the whole family – or the neighborhood friends. It measures about 213 x 207 x 69 cm (83.86 x 81.50 x 27.17 inches) and is quite roomy. You will need an electric pump to inflate it; took me at least half an hour. The best thing is that if one layer gets a hole, it won’t affect the other layers. Lyons Cub spent lots of hours in this pool during the summer when he was 1.5. And if that pool is still too small for you, look at the upgrade below…
Giant pool with bench
When Lyons Cub was 2.5, we upgraded to the next level pool: 229 x 218 x 76 cm (90 x 86 x 31 inches), with a long bench for mommy to lie on or him to jump on. This pool is Lyoness’ favorite. It was so roomy, he swam around in it with his inflatable pelican. The Intex Swim Center Inflatable Family Lounge Pool is THE summer sensation for bigger kids or a whole family. Have no money to make vacations on the beach? Staycation will be a HIT with this lounge pool!
Before the balance bike comes the push trike…. With his first tricycle with sun shade, Lyons Cub was very satisfied. He got it at 1.5 years old, when he was still too short to reach the pedals, but there are foot rests he could use while mommy pushed him. I remember how I had to push him in circles through the basement; he enjoyed it that much! At three years of age, he learned how to ride by himself and drove through the whole park. The sun shade can be removed; we leave it at home most of the time. We love the basket in the back, which is big enough to hold his food bag with a change of clothes. At the handle, it has a bag for mommy’s cell phone, drink, and wallet. Perfect for long walks!
Dinosaur Rocker for Baby
Lyons Cub loves dinos! The Fossil Dinosaur Rocker was his first rocking chair, which we used for gross motor training with Early Intervention when he was sitting up around 8 months. It has 4 different songs, which are very agreeable and not like the usual plastic music that gets on parents’ nerves. One is about the ABC, one about numbers, one about colors – and that’s the one that Lyons Cub and Lyoness liked most, the rainbow song. “Rainbows are red, rainbows are blue….” The dino rocker is very soft, comfy, has crinkly crests and two squeaky horns. Very nice for baby to train his hands. He can choose the 4 songs himself by pressing four buttons on the back of its head. This dino is a keeper, meaning mommy will hold on to it when the boy is off to college 😉
My Yellow Digger
Lyons Cub was excited to dig through the sandbox with his little helper riding his Mobby Dig, while he was shoveling caves and heaping up volcanoes. The digger is sturdy to sit on and perfect for 3-year-olds, and the shovel is very strong and doesn’t break like so many of the flimsy ones. This guarantees hours of happy play and can be shared with a friend, so each one is content. The helmet fits the head of the 3-year-old well and looks very professional. The stickers hold up well, too. The digger is not too heavy or big to carry along to playgrounds. Great for pretend play!
Waterproof Painting Apron
Especially during Corona, one has to do many things at home with the toddlers. We are always doing crafts and painting. Here, Lyons Cub is protecting his clothes with a long-sleeved painting apron, so mommy doesn’t have to wash clothes right after. There are three in a package, they fit 2 to 8-year-olds, and they can be easily cleaned. Kids have fun, and parents can relax!
June 2021 – Get your ALDI Balancing Bike Right Now!
By coincidence, Lyons Cub and Lyoness went shopping at ALDI South on June 12th and found this adorable balancing bike for EUR 24.99. He wanted the pink one. They’re either pink or baby blue, with a brown saddle and brown handles. Mounting it together was quick and easy, and of course, the height can be changed for saddle and handlebar. Nice bike for the transition to the real deal! Can’t beat that price.
Toddler Slide & Rocker
Still looking for a 1st birthday present for an active toddler? We chose the 2-in-1 slide and rocker. Turn the slide around, and you’ll get a motorcycle rocker. It’s as simple as that. This was one of our activities for Early Intervention. Lyons Cub was able to climb, rock, and slide. Three things in one, actually. It’s also a nice addition for a day care or kindergarten. Kiddos won’t get bored that quickly if their toy is a “transformer” 😉
Short Sleeve Toddler Swimsuit
Worried your tot might burn his shoulders? I got this short-sleeved toddler swimsuit for Lyons Cub for the hot days in the yard. It’s well made, comfy, and looks great. It prevented him from getting cool, while he could also get a little tan (with sunscreen, of course). This swimsuit dried quickly, felt good on the skin, had tight stitches that would not rip open, and the material was elastic and gave way. YOU want this!
Great Pretenders Dragon Cape
A whole-body dragon costume is too hot for summer (Lyons Cub had one of those for Halloween as a baby), so he got a Great Pretenders dragon cape he could put over his shoulders and head. It’s light, glittering, and beautiful. Here comes the big, dangerous dragon; fear, ye people! ROAAAAR!!!
Toothless with Light, Sound, and Projectile
Look at that little dragon trainer here! Lyons Cub loves his cousin’s Toothless and Storm Arrow dragons from DreamWorks Dragons. At 3.5 years old, he is interested in the toys of his older cousins and loves pretend play with the “big, dangerous dragons” that can hiss, light up, and shoot projectiles. Watch his video to see the fun!