Best Toddler Toys & Gifts 2021 (Budget-Friendly, Durable, So Fun!)

best toddler toys in grid of 6


Find the best toddler toys and gifts across the most popular categories to make shopping for the kids so much easier—and faster. With budget-friendly bikes, play kitchens, play food, tea sets, dollhouses, magna tiles, bath toys, cooking sets, and more, this is a great place to start for the holidays and birthdays.

best toddler toys in grid of 6

Toddler Toys

I’m on a mission to narrow down the most common toddler toy categories to the top picks to help all of us busy parents be able to make fast choices that deliver on quality and affordability. Because shopping for toys and gifts is fun, but shouldn’t require a rabbit hole of internet searching every time we want to pick up a new set of bath toys!

Here are my very favorite toys for toddlers for gifts, toddler Christmas gifts, kids birthday gifts, outdoor play, getting kids in the kitchen, and more.

They’ve all been vetted by real parents to ensure they work and last. And by kids for maximum fun.

Hape kitchen set red

Best Play Kitchen

Hape Gourmet Kitchen Kid’s Play Kitchen

Priced at under $70, this kitchen set manages to be both modern and retro. So f you want something with a burst of color, but that’s not too bright and flashy, this is a good option.

I love Hape products as they are made of solid wood, are super durable, and are easy to clean.

TIP: Find more options for kids play kitchen sets here.

Melissa and Doug food groups play set

Best Play Food

Melissa & Doug Food Groups Set

Learning about food groups while having fun? That’s a definite win! This set of 21 hand-painted foods–including cheese, watermelon, tomatoes, fish, and much more–comes with four wooden crates for sorting and storing.

And it’s usually under $20.

TIP: Find my full list, with felt and cutting sets, of the best play food here.


Best Play Dishes

Green Toys Dish Set

Party of four, your table is ready! This set of four place settings includes cups, plates, bowls, forks, spoons, and knives—so your kids have everything they need to set a table that looks just like the real deal.

It’s all also BPA, phthalates, and PVC-free and made from recycled plastic. (They’re even dishwasher safe, in case your kiddo happens to eat a real snack off them, too.)

TIP: Find my full list of toddler play dishes here and pots and pans picks.


Best Toddler Shopping Cart

HAPE Kids Wooden Shopping Cart

If you’re looking for a wooden cart, you can’t beat this one from Hape. The frame is made from certified-sustainable wood that’s colored with water-based paint, and the wide-set wheels and heavier construction make it a great buy for beginner walkers.

I love the design and the colors! (And the price–it’s usually less than $50.)

TIP: Find my 6 top toddler shopping carts here.


Best Toddler Tea Set

Green Toys Tea Set

With two color ways available, including this one above and a red and blue one, this plastic tea set is made with recycled, BPA-Free, and Phthalates-Free material so it’s safe for the kids. It includes 17 pieces in total with a tea pot, sugar bowl with lid, 4 tea cups and saucers, a creamer cup, and 4 spoons.

It’s incredibly durable, perfectly sized for toddlers, and inexpensive. I love it because you can use it for pretend AND real play! 

TIP: Find my full list of the best toddler tea sets here.


Toddler Dollhouse

Hape Wooden Kids Dollhouse

This is my favorite dollhouse and the one that we’ve had for four years. It’s incredibly durable with its wood construction, easy to wipe clean, and has a lot of options for play with all of the included accessories.

It may be an investment, but it’s one that will last.

I also love that it’s seriously easy to pick up and move—you can hold it with one hand through the two little holes at the top. There are a ton of accessories to go with it too.

TIP: Find my full list of toddler dollhouses for every budget here.


Best Manga Tiles

Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 100 Piece Set

These magnetic tiles are my absolute favorite kids toy. I love them because they are insanely durable and impossible to break, are incredibly versatile, are easy for kids of all ages to use, and inspire so much creativity.

This is a great starter set to have a lot of pieces to build and create with priced at just over $100. (They also make less expensive smaller sets like this 32 piece one too.)

TIP: If you already have Magna Tiles and are looking for a fun add on, these square Magna Tile Qubix are RAD. My kids use them in pretend play and building almost daily.


Best Toddler Balance Bike


This sustainably made bike is less than $80 and works as a trike and balance bike so a one year old can safely use it and grow with it until they’re at least 3. This is a perfect pick for a little one who’s eager to ride, but isn’t quite big or coordinated enough for a regular balance bike.

My youngest has been OBSESSED with this since 14 months!

TIP: Find my full list of toddler balance bikes here. I also have picks for toddler scooters and push bikes!


Toddler Trampoline


Here’s a fun, multi-use addition to your playroom! This indoor trampoline, with its covered springs and cushioned handlebar, also features a plush ladybug design that comes off and can be used as a floor pillow.

We love how useful that is for taking your kids from playtime to movie night.

TIP: Find more toddler trampolines here (with safety tips).


Best Toddler Cookbook

Busy Little Hands: Food Play!

You know I had to add my new cookbook to this list! Each of these easy recipes helps teach kids to have fun and play with food, while laying a foundation for basic kitchen skills and food exposure. It’s bright, easy to understand, and a perfect way to keep the kids busy and well nourished!

Order your copy AmazonBarnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, Bookshop or through your favorite independent bookstore.

TIP: Find all of my favorite kids cookbooks, including picks for older kids.


Best Kids Cooking Tools

Zig Zag Cutter and Nylon Kids Knives

I had to make this category a tie since I love both of these very much. You can use the wooden spoons and bowls you already have with kids, but having kid-sized and safe cutting tools is super helpful.

The zig zag cutter is great for the first introduction to slicing and chopping starting after 16 months and the knives are great for kiddos 2.5 and up.

TIP: Find all of my favorite kids cooking tools here.

Guide Craft Kitchen Helper

Best Learning Tower

Guidecraft Kitchen Helper

This is affordable and well-made and is durable enough to last for years through multiple kids. It’s slim in design, but sturdy enough to resist being pulled over. And it has a mesh back to help prevent falls.

It comes in a few color options too, so you can coordinate with your kitchen.

TIP: Find all of my favorite learning towers here.


Best Toddler Apron

Baprons Baby

With two sizes available (including one that fits 6 m-3 years and then 3-5 years), these wipe-clean bib/aprons are so versatile—you can use them for both mealtimes and for having the kids in the kitchen since they are long enough to cover their laps.

I love their range of designs and how comfy they are for the kids to wear.

TIP: Find my full list of kids aprons here.


Best Kids Apron

Minted Personalized Kids Aprons, $42

I adore the range of prints and styles that Minted offers with their kids aprons and their holiday prints are adorable. These are great for older toddlers and elementary aged kids.

TIP: Find more kids aprons, with a range of picks.


Best Novelty Plates for Kids

Dyl Bug Plates, starting at $16

With the ability to personalize the plates with your child’s name and a range of design options, these plates make mealtimes so fun! (The “Linden” plate we have is actually how my oldest kiddo learned how to spell her name.)

They come as individual plates or as a set with a placemat and a bowl.

NOTE: Order by mid-November for personalized products to ensure there is time for them to be produced and shipped.


Best Kids Waterbottle and Reusable Pouch

Kids Hydroflask and Squeasy Gear Reusable Pouch

Sometimes gifts can be fun and functional! These are some of my most used toddler products and I have found them to last for years and be incredibly durable. The water bottle is insulated and easy to clean. (It’s also proved to be pretty unbreakable.)

We use the pouch almost daily for smoothies and applesauce. They make great stocking stuffers!


Top Toddler Craft Kit

Kiwi Co

My four year old LOVES the Koala Crate from Kiwi Co. It’s a monthly craft box that comes with 2-3 projects or games, a little booklet to read about the topic of the box, and illustrated instructions.

I love that everything we need is right in the box and that we can play with the projects for weeks and weeks!

TIP: Find more of my kids craft box picks here.


Best Toddler Bath Toys

Skip Hop Stack & Pour Buckets

We LOVE this set since each has holes on the bottom, which are fun to drip out, and they’re pretty indestructible. (We also love to use these outside in our toddler pool!)

TIP: Find my full list of the best safe toddler bath toys here.

toddler books in grid of 6

Best Toddler Book about Food

Frankie’s Favorite Food

This book is my favorite book about food because it’s not preachy or actually even about nutrition, but is a fun story about kids dressing up as their favorite foods—which are fairly random and silly.

It’s a great, low pressure way to talk about food away from the table that just might inspire some curiosity at mealtime.

TIP: Find my full list of favorite 30 toddler books about food here.

creative stocking stuffers for toddlers in grid

Best Kids Stocking Stuffers

I can’t pick just one favorite toddler stocking stuffer—it’s so dependent on what the kids like! But I have 30+ picks of affordable options for toddler Christmas gifts to help streamline things for you.

TIP: Find my full list of the best Stocking Stuffers here.

I will be updating this post throughout the season, so feel free to pin it and check back regularly. You can also see all of my toddler toys and gifts posts here.


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