Only a year ago you were googling the health quality of various shades of baby poop, waging war with your breast pump’s suction settings, and attending to your indignant newborn at all hours of the night. But now, you’re well into the fun of the toddler stage.
That anxiety-inducing, into-to-everything, can’t-turn-your-back-for-one-second toddler stage. It doesn’t last forever, but it can help to redirect some of your child’s boundless energy with a few activity toys for toddlers. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you. Truly Mama has rounded up the best toys for active toddlers, from rocking horses they can actually reach to tried-and-true classics that might just buy you enough time to drink your coffee while it’s hot.
In this article:
- Excellerations Fun Pop Linking Beads
- Little Tikes Rocking Horse
- KidKraft Kitchen Set
- Little Tikes First Slide
- V-tech Kidi Beats Drumset
- Toysmith’s Kids Miniature Shopping Cart
- Melissa & Doug Giddy Buggy Crawl-Through Tunnel
- Toys Inflatable Bee Bouncer Bouncy Boing
- Play 22 Keyboard Playmat
- PlaySkool Sit ‘n Spin
These brightly colored Excellerations Fun Pop Linking Beads are interlocking beads that are sure to capture your toddler’s full attention (quick—enjoy that cup of coffee!), plus they help build your toddler’s fine motor skills as well as their hand-eye coordination. Blocks are always a hit with toddlers, but these are especially fun because they “snap” in and out of place.
Because they are oversized and plastic, Excellerations Pop Beads are safe and easy to clean and come with a storage container that makes it easier for your child to pick them up after they’re done playing.
Rock `n Roll
The Little Tikes Rocking Horse is popular with so many families because it’s low to the ground, meaning your toddler can climb on it by themselves, which is absolutely key for a toy that involves minimal parental effort. Plus, toddlers go absolutely bananas rocking it.
A rocking horse is a big toy for your little one, but it’s affordably priced as well, giving you lots of fun for less money. The Little Tikes Rocking Horse is a safe way for your child to burn off tons of energy all while building their gross motor skills. And with a solid plastic bottom, the Little Tikes Rocking Horse can work on a variety of surfaces and won’t destroy your floors, which will make your child’s fun a lot less anxiety-inducing for you.
Let’s Get Cooking
On the upper end of affordable, this highly reviewed KidKraft Kitchen Set is a bit of an investment, but kitchen sets are a go-to toddler toy for a reason, so you are investing in your toddler’s imagination as well as your own free time. Your toddler will get lost in a world of make-believe where they’re in charge of dinner, and pretending to eat the hamburger they offer you is some traditional and low-key parent-child bonding time as well.
Not to mention, pretend play is a great way to build their social skills. What better way to model those “pleases” and “thank yous” than by accepting the food your toddler has so generously prepared for you? Just don’t forget to tip for that excellent customer service.
Sliding Into Fun
Perfect for indoor and outdoor play, the Little Tikes First Slide is a way to bring playground fun into the house, but you can take it out to the yard too! Easy to hose down and too low to present much danger from a fall, your toddler is sure to spend at least five full minutes climbing up and sliding down before they insist on another round of snack time. And think of all the things you can accomplish in five minutes. You might even be able to sneak in a private trip to the restroom!
Okay, so getting your toddler a drum set may not contribute to a very quiet coffee hour, but let’s be honest—peace and quiet is pretty much the price of parenthood. That said, your kid is sure to be enthralled by the full-body musical experience of this V-tech Kidi Beats Drumset and who knows? Building those early musical skills could be just what your toddler needs to become the next Ringo Starr!
And even if they don’t, they will still enjoy the more common benefits of early exposure to music: coordination, memory, speech, and so much more. Another, more immediate benefit of a toddler drum kit might be the independent-play it facilitates. A few foot taps and a “Wow! So cool, honey!” and you’re free to enjoy a mug of hot coffee and a scroll through Instagram.
If you think your toddler would enjoy shuttling their favorite possessions around the house (and who wouldn’t?), another great option is this Toysmith’s Kids Miniature Shopping Cart. Perfect for imaginative play as well as gross motor skills and spatial awareness, your toddler will most likely leave you to take a phone call in peace, only interrupting to periodically dump the contents of their bedroom at your feet. And I’m sure we can all agree that’s a relatively low price to pay for a professional-sounding conversation with your employer.
We love the Melissa & Doug Giddy Buggy Crawl-Through Tunnel for its major energy burn feature. Hands-and-knee crawling through this five-foot tunnel is sure to wear your active toddler out and provide loads of fun in the process.
And while this tunnel works great for independent play, it could also be a fun addition to a family game of Hide-and-Seek, and develop your child’s gross motor skills and problem-solving abilities! If you have any concerns over the durability of a nylon toy, I can assure you that I owned this tunnel for three separate toddlers and can personally attest to its impressive durability through the years. And if your toddler decides it’s the perfect location for a picnic of bananas and applesauce like mine did, it’s easy to wipe down too.
Bounce, Baby, Bounce
Bright and bouncy, the B. Toys Inflatable Bee Bouncer Bouncy Boing is sure to help your toddler get their wiggles out. Affordable and fun, the Bee Bouncer is the best possible cross between a ride-on toy and a bouncy ball. The Bee bouncer is easy to clean and sturdy enough to hold your child’s weight.
Reviewers also agree that the Bee Bouncer stays inflated and bouncy over time, but in case it does begin to lose air, it comes with its own an air pump. A particularly fun and reassuring feature of the Bee Bouncer is the Bee antennae that serve as the perfect hand grips for toddlers to stay safely seated while bouncing and helping them strengthen those important hand muscles at the same time!
Play It Again
You know that famous scene in Big where Tom Hanks plays “Chopsticks” with his boss on that gigantic floor piano? Yeah, your toddler can actually have one of those (well, a slightly smaller version), and it’s just as magical as it seemed in the movie! Like the drum set, the Play 22 Keyboard Playmat is another full-body musical experience that will allow your toddler to burn some energy while getting in touch with their musical side.
And come on, you know you’re going to want to hop on and try it too. Who wouldn’t? And since toddlers are notoriously messy and hard on their toys, it’s worth noting that this also will wipe down easily and reviewers agree it holds up over time as well.
Sit `n Spin
No list enumerating activity toys for toddlers would be complete without the PlaySkool Sit ‘n Spin. This classic toy could very well be dubbed the Godfather of independent play because your toddler is fully in charge of their own fun, thanks to a seat that revolves around a solid middle. This busy, dizzy toy will develop your child’s coordination and strength, as well as provide hours of giggling.
With a simple design, the PlaySkool Sit ‘n Spin is plastic and easy to wipe down. So pour yourself a mug of coffee, place a Sit ‘n Spin on a solid surface (it won’t function well on carpet), and watch your toddler spin themselves silly while you drink at least half of your morning joe uninterrupted.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of toys do toddlers play with?
Toddlers are always on the go and always learning, and while they are certainly getting bigger, they’re still likely to pop things in their mouths. So the best toys for active toddlers are ones that will satisfy their curiosity and energy while keeping them safe. Look for ride-on toys like push cars, toys that encourage imaginative play, and toys that will allow them to explore their creativity.
What can I do to keep my toddler entertained?
Entertaining your toddler is challenging because while they are entertained by just about anything, nothing seems to hold their attention long. Stick to activity and educational forms of play like art, music, and story time, as well as pretend play like dress-up and dolls.
How do I entertain my toddler while working from home?
First, find a toy or game that your toddler loves and can play with independently (think coloring, play dough, or blocks) and set them somewhere nearby so you can see them and they won’t feel alone. Second, your toddler won’t understand or likely cooperate with your conference call, so keep your finger on the mute button and remember that your child is an important and non-negotiable part of your life that in no way discredits or disqualifies the quality of your work. And when in doubt, look for the humor in working from home with a toddler, because really, somedays all you can do is laugh.
8 Things Every Overdue Mom Actually WANTS to Hear
Because “You haven’t had that baby yet?” is just not helpful.