Few must-have toddler toys

Tulika Bhatnagar Children

baby girl on a giant merino sheep

When it comes to buying things for the little ones, or as I may say for Sayuri, I have always been very cautious, particular and selective. I feel that if something only holds value for six months, I can do without it. Case & point - I never got a bassinet (as adorable as they might be), baby rocker and a baby monitor. For the most part, I am very wary of consumerism and how brilliant advertising makes us believe that we need something even though we don't. But I can definitely say that there are some toys that I feel every single child should have. 

Needless to say, we never get plastic toys. Nor do we get toys that need batteries to be operated. The sounds that they make incessantly, the lights that they blink and the lack of imagination that is so intrinsic to their whole operation just drives me crazy. Sorry, I digress. I feel that toys should enhance thinking and imagination while being cute as a button. Remember the old school finger puppets that our mommies used to make from the left-over wool from back in the sweater-knitting days. 

Here are a few of my favorite toys from Sayuri's closet. 

Winding carousels and other winding toys-

Old school wooden winding carousel toy with horses from italy Ceramic vintage musical horse toy

Little baby and her toy poodle looking at a vintage winding toy with snowmanTin wind up toy ice cream man.

We all grew up with these, but then they disappeared. I still remember the excitement that four month old Sayuri couldn't contain while watching two snowmen dance in redundant circles with Für Elise from its winding music box. So adorable, pretty and simple. 

Jack in the Box -

Jack in the box, ugly dolls, cute children's tin toysThe number of laughter outbursts every single time "Jack" pops out will honestly make you become a child again. At times, I wondered how someone can be so easily amused but I guess that's what being a child is all about. Needless to say that good old Jack in the box is teaching them cause and effect while developing their fine motor skills. 

Any acoustic musical instrument -  

Acoustic accordian, musical kids toys, schylling toys

 Xylophone and a tin toy doctor's set. Cute children's toys. scohoenhut baby acoustic piano with a cute and laughing baby girlLittle cute baby girl playing a white acoustic pianoSmall acoustic vintage toys like music box, indian drums damroo

Be it a piano, xylophone, drums, accordion, guitar, or just a small music box, the accomplishment that they get when they hear a sound that they have created is magical. My personal opinion is that each child should be made to learn at least one form of music.  

Roll Play toys that come in tin boxes -

Liptons connoisseur tea in vintage tin, old era indiatin doctor set for kids, role-play toysTin Tea set with cute kettle. kitchen children's pretend play. children's kitchen toy kid kraft

How adorable are tin boxes. I think all Indians who were born in the 70s or 80s must remember this cute teal tea box that our parents kept on the shelf for their special Sunday teas. I suppose this box stayed in my mind and I have a thing for tin boxes. No wonder I always fall for role play sets that come in tins, be it the doctor set, carpenter set or a cute tea party set. I specially love the ones that have wooden toys in it. This is how we can teach our children sustainability from the start.  

Easel -  

Baby painting art on an easellittle girl painting with watercolors at home on an art easel.

Just as cool as it looks by it's presence in the corner of a room by adding to the aesthetics, it's a very genuine toy that every child must-must have. It's amazing how something so simple can bring so much creativity and skills. Of course, every time when my daughter wants to paint, I think twice before bringing it out. But those two cumbersome minutes are soon forgotten by the art she makes. Make sure to pick one that has a chalk board on the other side because they go between playing Van Gogh and their class teacher in a matter of hours. 

Ride on Toys -  

little girl with vintage tin car ride on toy from Pottery Barn KidsToddler girl on a Janod wooden cycle. Sustainable toys

Old school wooden toy horse with a little baby girlLittle toddler girl on a scooter

As a mom, I was very nervous when Sayuri got her first car. And I'm talking about a small pink tin car that I ordered from Pottery Barn. But gradually as they start maintaining balance, these toys are so much fun. I designed the rocking horse that Sayuri has and I kept it bare bone after my husband & I spent one wonderful evening cleaning the upholstered one that she already had. The fun you have when your daughter decides to serve the horse an orange popsicle. Recently, we got Sayuri a balance bike and I wasn't ready but she was. The fun she has been having is immense. 

Wooden Blocks -

Uncle Goose wooden alphabet blocksWooden blocks beautifully made uncle goose

Tegu magnetic wooden blocks sustainable and brilliant

Be it alphabet blocks that are fun for stacking and subtle learning of alphabets, or the magnetic blocks that help them use critical thinking, blocks are a must. I love the inscriptions on Uncle Goose blocks. The cool part, they recently started making Hindi blocks as one of the block sets. And with Tegu, sometimes I find myself building post modern castles. 

Childhood should be sublimely magical and I feel that teaching them right from the start about sustainability and picking few but brilliant toys goes a long way. Never underestimate the fun they can have with something as simple as a little magic wand and fairy cape. 

little baby fairy with magic wand and cape

Some toy brands that do a brilliant job at being sustainable while creating a wonderland for the little ones are. 

Uncle Goose Blocks - https://unclegoose.com How gorgeous are these blocks. And they also have hindi alphabet too. And let me tell you that they are virtually indestructible, just saying. 

Tegu Blocks - http://www.tegu.com These ones are very tricky, but there is nothing quite like them. It took some time for Sayuri to understand how they work but now she's a pro. 

Vilac - http://www.vilac.com/en/ The magical world that this brand creates is well worth the journey. 

Janod - http://www.janod.com Oh the cuteness of a simpler time. 

Hape - http://www.hapetoys.com/us/en/ These wonderfully sustainable toys have almost all toy genres covered. The best part - they are available in India. 

Schoenhut - http://www.toypiano.com If you are concerned with the accuracy of notes of your toddler's piano, then you should probably go for a Schoenhut. 

Schylling - http://www.schylling.com/c/categories_classic-toys Beautiful mechanical tin toys, tin kaleidoscope, pretend picnic sets and more. 

Pottery Barn Kids - http://www.potterybarnkids.com  They somehow never fail to amaze. 

Melissa & Doug -http://www.melissaanddoug.com Apart from cool and quirky wooden toys, finger puppets, puppet theaters, if you ever wanted a life size giraffe, this is the place to go.

Kid Kraft - https://www.kidkraft.com Imagine Janod, but Americanized.


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  • Sajjal on

    I really love the designs you have n I also love d fabric pattern .

    Can I have your contact number for some query regarding d same


  • Cordell Wanless on

    Peppa and her family did not wear seatbelts in car scenes the first two series. After receiving several complaints, Astley Baker Davies announced that all future animation would have characters wearing seat belts, and that the relevant scenes in the first two series would be re-animated to include them.

  • Shweta Verma on

    Hi Tulika! Of course,not a problem and thank you! I love the Ungle Goose Blocks too and was so excited when I saw the Hindi ones. Plan to get them when my daugher is a bit older. You have a beautiful house and adorable daughter.?

  • Tulika Bhatnagar on

    Hi Sumedha,
    Thank you so much for such nice words. So glad to know that you like my blogs. I still have to figure out how to reply directly. Stay in touch and thanks again. You really ,are my day.

  • Tulika Bhatnagar on

    Shweta ,
    Sorry for the late reply, I keep shuttling between my mommie duties and Parrot & Lily. The car in the picture is from pottery barn kids, but it was basically a Morgan cycle car, so you could also check them out directly http://www.morgancycle.com I forgot to mention this in my blog and they are so brilliant. As for the carousels, I try to pick one from each of my trips. One of the pictures is of one from Italy. Hope that helps. Take care.

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