We were fortunate recipients of a large number of new and hand-me-down baby toys for Eli, both during our baby showers and as he has grown and gone through a full year of holidays. In his 18 months, we’ve only bought a handful of toys ourselves, and we have several boxes of toys stashed away in our garage for future babies. This past weekend, when we were cleaning out toys, I realized that there were several toys Eli has played with for months and months and still hasn’t lost interest in, and they aren’t necessarily the toys that people talk about all the time. In fact, many of the more popular baby toys were largely ignored in this house.
I frequently have friends with young babies and parents of patients ask what toys are best for babies and will grow with them! Here are 10 are the toys that have grown with Eli and that we’ve gotten the biggest bang for our buck from.
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Click through for the 10 best bang for your buck baby toys!
Push/Ride on Car 2 of 11
We asked Eli's grandparents for a push toy for Chanukah last year, and this was the awesome gift they gave us. For the first few months, it was primarily a means to walk across the room since he was pretty far from independent walking. Then he discovered the music buttons and spent, I kid you not, hours dancing by this car.
And now that he's walking by himself, he loves to sit in it, push the buttons and drive himself around the room (with his feet). He's much better at going backwards than forwards, but we love that even at 18 months, he still uses this car daily.
Get this toy at Amazon for $79.99
Activity Table 3 of 11
This was also a gift Eli received last Chanukah, and I will admit, I didn't expect it to go over as well as it did — or for as long as it has. We started it off as a toy on the floor to help Eli practice sitting and reaching. Even at 7 months, he was able to figure out how to open and close the hippo's mouth and had the best time with it.
Later we attached the legs and he did a lot of standing practice with it. And now, at 18 months, he still regularly plays with the music and we love that in some small way, it's also helping him begin to learn his colors.
Get this toy at Amazon for $26.99
Rocking Horse 4 of 11
I think we got this gift at one of Eli's baby showers, and admittedly, it didn't get a whole lot of use at first. When he was old enough to sit by himself (really well), we would sit him on it and turn the music on, and he got a big kick out of it.
Slowly but surely, he learned how to climb on without help and how to start the music. Now he climbs on and will rock and rock and rock. It's by far one of his favorites.
Get this toy at Amazon for $119.99
Alphabet Train 5 of 11
Yet another toy we got last year at the holidays that continues to get use every day. We definitely pulled this one out before the recommended age (we did a risk analysis of sorts first), but it's been a hit since day one. Eli loved and continues to love the music, the book he can flip pages with, dropping letters into the shoot and the elephant on top.
Now that he's older, he loves to climb on the caboose and push himself around. And the best part for me is the heavy emphasis on the alphabet and learning letters.
Get this toy at Amazon for $37.49
Play Tent 6 of 11
Several months ago, we started to have an issue with Eli climbing on a low couch and using it as a platform to climb to scarier places. When the couch broke, we realized we needed something else to fill the space, and when we came across this tent, we decided to give it a go. From my perspective, one of the best parts is that it can be broken down into as few as 1 piece, or as many as 6.
Eli's favorite part is unquestionably the ball pit. It's small enough that it doesn't take up our entire living room (which is pretty small), but it's big enough that my husband and I can fit in it to play with Eli too. It's also very easy to fold up and stash if you have company coming over, and don't want a tent in your living room!
Get this toy at Amazon for $59.99
Sesame Street Piano 7 of 11
When Eli was younger, he received some great hand-me-down musical toys, and after about 6 months of use they died. When we looked into replacing them, we discovered that they didn't make them anymore and so we went on the hunt for new musical toys.
Because Eli is a huge Sesame Street lover, we were thrilled when we found this keyboard and a matching guitar. Eli can now switch to different modes (one mode Cookie Monster sings the ABCs, one mode is free play on the piano) and loves to dance along with the music. The guitar is equally wonderful.
Get this toy at Amazon for $17.97
Crawl Around Car 8 of 11
So, I should preface this with, we don't actually own it, my sister does, but both my niece (who just turned 1) and my son are completely obsessed with it. They spend their time together both trying to fit into the car at the same time and cannot get enough time in it.
It's stationary, so you don't need to clear much space for it and it has a great shape sorter in it as well.
Get this toy at Amazon for $44.88
Peekaboo Barn 9 of 11
I'm not going to say that you need to buy your child a tablet, phone or other electronic device, but if you happen to have one at your disposal (they make it for iphone, ipad, kindle, and android devices), this might be the best 2 bucks you ever spent.
We seriously limit Eli's screen time for a lot of reasons, but when he's having a lousy day or the park isn't an option or for whatever reason he needs a pick-me-up, Peekaboo is one of the best tools at our disposal. I'm not going to pretend like it's entirely educational, but Eli now knows how to say dog, cat, donkey and baboon (from a different Peekaboo game, they're all awesome) and knows what a cat and dog say, partially because of Peekaboo (and partially because we've worked on it a lot).
Angel Dear Lovie 10 of 11
This is a toy we've had from day one that is loved more than ever now. Eli never goes anywhere without his "ga-gog" (we call him Glen, for what it's worth) and sleeps with him for naps and bedtime.
We actually have 3 of them just in case one gets dirty, and it's something I see continuing to get major use of as he moves further into toddlerhood.
Get this at Amazon for $10.40
Pretend Smart Phone 11 of 11
I remember I picked this toy up on a whim months ago because Eli loves our phones, and we don't love when he plays with them. I didn't imagine it would get a ton of use, but for the past 6 months, it has been one of his favorite toys, especially for car rides or stroller trips.
Now that he's older, he doesn't just push the buttons, he pretends to talk on it, which is probably the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life. Bonus points for this one because it's actually really quiet, which cannot be said for a lot of electronic baby toys.
Get this toy from Amazon for $9.79
What are your favorite “bang for your buck” baby toys?