The best baby and toddler developmental toys

Babies/toddlers and toys go hand-in-hand. It’s a fundamental fact every parent-to-be and parent-who-is comes to terms with. And accepts and embraces. After all, babies learn through play (now how fun is that!) and we all want our li’l munchkins to learn and discover, don’t we? Not to mention, if the toy keeps baby/toddler occupied for even 15 minutes at a stretch, it’s a blessing.

So mums and dads go all out in getting the best toys for their budding brood. In the early months, it’s not much. The quintessential rattle, a colourful playmat, probably a soft toy or two. But as the months progress and baby needs to be entertained, the number – and scale – of toys shoots up. There’s no dearth of choice out there – from every possible super-hero to cartoon character to role-play (kitchen set, doctor set, doll- in-pram, train station) to creative play (play-doh, lego) – there is something for every child. But there are some that are all-time favourites. More like essentials, in fact. Every house that has a baby or a toddler will be in possession of at least some of them, if not all. Next time you go visiting a friend who has a child under five/ go for a playdate, look out for them, and let me know how many you find!

Sophie the Giraffe

Originally Sophie la Girafe, born in France in 1961, she’s now become a hit with mums and babies in London (as well as in other parts of the world). Sophie is ‘baby’s first toy’ as the makers rightly state on their website, and more often than not you will see the dainty rubber giraffe hanging on almost every baby’s buggy, unless baby is chewing on her long legs or horns or ears. Yes, Sophie is a godsend for teething babies! And a source of comfort and security for small babies as well.



Alphabet mat and alphabet blocks

Every parent wants his/her child to learn the alphabet and then hear them sing it, complete with ‘Now I know my ABC, next time won’t you sing with me?’ So, what better way to initiate the learning process than by letting baby play on a bright and colourful ABCD mat? Added advantage: the foam acts as a perfect padding for those soft bums!

And while you’re sitting on the mat, how about building a tower with ABC blocks? Choose from soft blocks for tender fingers or harder ones for toddlers with a better grip.


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The alpha-numeric singing red bus

If ‘The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round’ is a nursery rhyme that goes round and round in your house, 24/7, then the alpha-numeric singing red bus (yes, I coined the term; see it in the pic below) will be a favourite with your toddler. It’s multi-purpose too – to begin with, it’s a bus, and which toddler doesn’t like pretend-driving his/her own bus around the house? Plus, it’s educational: it teaches alphabets, numbers, basic words (a is for apple) and sings all the popular nursery rhymes too. No wonder it’s a hit with mums and toddlers alike.

A train set

Where there’s a bus, there will be a train. And tracks. And probably even a train station. Trains are an exciting mode of transport for those animated young minds – they make a fun ‘choo choo’ sound, emit steam from the engine, stop and go at every station… oh, it’s so much fun to be a train-driver or a station-master. Enter the toy train set. Entertainment guaranteed for toddler. Peace and quiet for mum.


Lego blocks

No house that has a child (of any age or sex) is complete without a Lego set. I grew up playing with Lego, Little Man enjoys his Lego and I’m sure it’s a toy (can I even call it that? It’s more like an entity, a mini universe) that I will see my grandkids enjoying. Only by then Lego would probably come in 7-D versions!

Pssst… Mega Bloks First Builders do their own take on Lego, and are immensely popular (and cheaper than Lego) for smaller babies owing to their large-sized blocks.

Rocking horse/ ride-ons

See any catalogue picture of a baby’s nursery or toddler’s room and chances are you will spot a rocking horse in it. Wooden or furry, with a neigh sound or without, this toy is almost vintage. Riding a pretend-horse is one of the most fun moments of childhood; hence the rocking horse lives on…
Other popular ride-ons include the bus (yet again), cars and bikes for the boys and the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe.



And last but not the least is the scooter. It’s a fun way for kids to go to school/ shopping/ the bank with you. Also great for the park.
Pssst: Invest in the Mini Micro Scooter with the trademark T-bar handle. Safe. Funky. Fit for all ages. No wonder it’s a bestseller!

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  1. To Arizona......and beyond

    We have been looking at toys for our first child, we already had Sophie the Giraffe and a play mat on our list. Thank you for the other ideas, it’s great to hear other peoples favourites!

  2. karthiga

    thanks for the tip Nicole, bought the red singing bus and four more to go:) the playmat is a “must have” on my list.

    1. Nicole

      Glad the post helped!:) Hope she enjoys the red bus!!!

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