The Best New Toddler Toys: Award-Winning Products 2018

Finding the most captivating toddler toys can seem like a difficult task, even for the most careful shopper. Who hasn't spent hours wandering up and down the toddler toy aisle, searching for the perfect gift for that special boy or girl in our lives? And who hasn't proudly presented the toy they spent hours agonizing over to a toddler, only to have the small recipient wander off to play with the box? Who among us hasn't spent more money than we could afford on a toy that we could never quite figure out how to assemble? Worse still, who hasn't seen a child fall madly in love with a toy that we picked out, only to have it break after ten minutes of play? These are the things of nightmares.

Have no fear. We've done a wealth of research on this year's most captivating toys for toddlers. The result of our effort is in this unique collection of products, all award-winning and expert recommended.

How the Experts Define Toddler Toys

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How the Experts Define Toddler Toys

Pediatricians define “toddler” as a child who is between the ages of 12 and 36 months. Many people think of a toddler as a child who is learning to walk. Regardless of a child's physical capabilities, during this stage, a child will practice muscle control and develop coordination needed to master all kinds of life skills, from feeding themselves to drinking from a cup. While a child may enter this stage crawling, they're sure to be off-and-running by the time they leave it.

During this stage of life, a child is also building a host of other skills. Most children can say a few words when they enter the toddler stage. By the time this stage is over, he or she will be learning the alphabet, learning to count, and practicing early-reading skills. That's a lot of growth in just a couple short years.

Understanding the importance of these early years of development and growth, experts have spent years designing products to help children build the skills they need. It is important to note that different toy manufacturers may define “toddler toys” differently. For example, some toddler toys are appropriate for children as young as six to nine months. Likewise, a toddler toy may also be recommended for children as old as four.

What experts look for in toddler toys

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What experts look for in toddler toys

One of the best ways to avoid wasting money on toddler toys that disappoint is to determine what the experts look for when they're selecting the “best toys.” Aside from things like safety and durability, pediatric experts also recommend choosing toys which help toddlers build specific skills, depending on the stage of toddlerhood they are in.

For example, children who are between the ages of 12 and 18 months are just beginning to grasp the idea of cause and effect. (This is why every one-year-old insists on knocking over the block tower you're trying to build.) Toys that respond to a toddler's actions are great for this age group. Children at this age are also building memory skills, so toys that encourage repetition can be great for kids at this stage, too.

By the time a toddler reaches the 18-month mark, they have generally gained a great deal of independence. This later stage of toddlerhood is an endless period of exploration. As the toddler ventures further out into the world that surrounds them, their little hands are eager to touch, grasp, push, pull, feel, and experience every new object they encounter. Children at this stage will benefit most from toys that engage them with hands-on, multisensory activities.

GearZooz™ Roll & Roar Animal Train™ by VTech

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What child wouldn't love this adorable, and durable train set designed especially for small hands? Made by VTech, the GearZooz Animal Train can be assembled by an adult or even an older toddler. The easy snap-together design means no frustration for your little one as they build critical fine motor skills. Once the train is assembled, you can watch your child take off behind it as it slowly chugs its way along. Or let your toddler use the pull string to test their understanding of cause and effect.

The GearZooz Animal Train was among eight finalists for the U.S. Toy Association's 2018 Toy Of The Year Award. It's recommended for children ages 18 months and up. It requires two double-A batteries for the sound and lights to work. Here's a short video featuring the GearZooz Animal Train, courtesy of VTech Toys on YouTube:

This adorable toddler toy sells for less than thirty dollars. You can find out more about the VTech GearZooz Animal Train by following this link.

Mega Bloks® Building Basics Elephant Parade

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The Elephant parade building blocks set from Mega Bloks is a toy that toddlers and parents will love. Easy-to-build interlocking blocks make it possible for your toddler to build a  giraffe, hippopotamus, monkey, and toucan. Parents will appreciate the big, blue elephant storage, which smartly doubles as a rolling pull-toy.

You can find the Elephant Parade building blocks set at most major department stores and retail outlets. As a final bonus, this product doesn't require batteries. Watch the video below to find out more about the Mega Bloks Building Basics Elephant Parade, courtesy of TTPM Toy Reviews of YouTube.

To find out more about the Mega Blok Elephant Parade, or to make a purchase, visit this link.

Yvolution™ Y Strolly Bike

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Another award-winning toddler toy, the Strolly tricycle runs on either adult or kid power. While it may not look like a toddler toy at first glance, the Strolly is a stroller, a push-bike, a tricycle, and more — it can even convert to become a two-wheeled balance bike. The lightweight stroller is easy to push and steer, making it the perfect vehicle for a leisurely stroll in the park with your little one. As the child grows, this unique and functional toy will grow with them.

The Strolly features a puncture-resistant, wipe clean vinyl interior. The Strolly bike was a 2018 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Award recipient from The Toy Association. When you consider that you get four different products in one convenient package, the price seems well worth the money you'll spend.

Watch the video below, courtesy of TTPM on YouTube, to learn more about how this fantastic stroller bike works.

Squigz By Fat Brain Toys

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One of the most highly recommended toys, Squigz are fun for kids of all ages. The brightly-colored building materials are soft and pliable. Their suction-cup design makes them easy to stick to each other, or to surfaces like tables or walls. Stick some on your toddlers high-tray and let the fun begin!

Watch the video below, courtesy of Fat Brain Toys on YouTube, to find out more about these modern construction toys for toddlers.

Go Go Smart Wheels

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Fans of VTech's Go Go Smart Wheels playsets for toddlers will love the new vehicles just released for 2018. Little ones are sure to love the chubby police car, complete with flashing lights and blaring siren. There is also a blue pickup truck, which helps toddlers learn the sound of the letter “T”. This three-car set also includes a little red helicopter which plays music and lights up with the touch of a finger.

While VTech Go Go Smart Wheels vehicles can work in conjunction with other Smart Wheels playsets, they don't have to be. The vehicles are made to work with or without other playsets. Each of the vehicles requires two AA batteries. You can purchase the three-car set at most major department stores or toy stores in the US for less than fifteen dollars. 

Toddler Corner House

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Known for quality, safety and durability, Step Two is a brand parents know and trust. The toddler corner house from Step Two provides an array of educational and motor-sensory activities to keep any active toddler occupied during those early, explorative years.

The corner house features an easy-open, kid-friendly gate that is safe for little fingers. The garden wall is adorned with a removable play panel with chunky, toddler-size gears to turn, and an easy-carry handle. A pass-thru mailbox with a working flag provides lots of opportunity for imaginative play. The mailbox also doubles as a shape-sorter. Once inside kids will find a miniature kitchen, complete with kid-friendly pots and pans. A ball maze and ball launcher help round out the fun.

Watch the video below from Step Two to find out more about the Toddler Corner House:

Just Have Fun

It can be tempting to want to rush to the store to buy the newest and most highly-recommended toys for toddlers the minute that they hit the shelves. Experts say that we grown-ups really don't need to do that. In fact, too many toys can actually overwhelm a young child, making it difficult for them to focus on any one thing. What that means is that, in an effort to give their children the best of everything, some parents may actually be hampering their child's development by offering too much.

Instead of buying out the toy store, consider investing in a few age-appropriate, multi-purpose toys such as those shown above. When you make your selections, look for award-winning products and products that are educator-recommended. You may also want to seek out toddler toys that feature the “Parent's Choice” seal. Toys with this seal have been tested and approved by thousands of parents and caregivers from all areas of the country.

Remember, the most important feature of any toddler toy is that it is to be fun for the child. Bright colors, flashing lights, bells, buzzers and bangs aside, a toy should be able to capture a child's attention and keep their busy minds and fingers actively engaged. Strive for a balanced assortment of battery-operated and quiet toys.

Play Together

Experts tell us that a child's most valuable plaything at this age is an actively involved adult. For this reason, toys that encourage adult-child interaction are great. It can be hard to find new toys that fit this bill. Don't hesitate to round out any toddler's toy box with tried and true toddler toys too. Look for chunky puzzles, textured books, brightly colored balls (bouncy and plush) and other inexpensive toddler toys that adults and children can play with together.

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