December 2, 2013

A Time For Toys: Our 2013 Holiday Toy Guide

Fun and festive holiday toys for all the little sugar plums (of all ages) on your nice list

By Chrissy Makris

The holidays are right around the corner, and that means little ones will have visions of shiny new playthings dancing in their eyes. To help harried parents shop, we’ve rounded up the hottest educational, developmental, and just-plain-fun toys—from old-school wooden gems to the newest techie trinkets—of the 2013 holiday season.

And to shop for moms & dad, check out our grownup gift guide here!

  • Animals Twist & Fold Playgym: Great for on-the-go playtime, this portable activity mat by Infantino will keep your little one comfortable and entertained (so you can relax a little). The Twist & Fold features playful dangling animal characters, a teether, a soft, cushioned mattress, and an unbreakable baby mirror for developmental learning through reflection. For newborns+$39.99,

  • Riley the TeddyRiley the Teddy: Nothing compares to baby’s first teddy. This adorable handmade knit bear is made of soft, baby blue acrylic wool and felt and is super cuddly and huggable. Perfect for babes to snuggle all the way through toddler-hood. For newborns+, $12.50,

  • Mozart Magic Cube: This award-winning toy will transform your kiddo into a musical maven! Featuring five instruments and the classic works of Munchkin’s Mozart, the Magic Cube allows kids to create compositions with the touch of a button. Fun, creative, and inspirational, this toy is sure to provide hours of interactive play. For newborns+, $27.99,

  • Nemo Activity Toy: This cute little Nemo toy, by Kids Preferred for Disney Baby, brings the magic of Disney to life. Hang this colorful plush fish from your baby’s stroller or crib and watch as they marvel in sensory discovery. Including a teether tail, clear bead rattle, textured ring, crinkle texture, and chime, this little guy helps encourage growth during playtime. For newborns+, $18,

  • Bird Stuf Plush Toys: Looking to add some hipster flair to your newborn’s crib? Why not “put a bird on it?” Stuf’s plush birdies—which come in owl, robin, greenback, and bluebird designs—feature artistic ornithological cartoon illustrations silkscreened onto organic cotton. For newborns+, $9.50 each,

  • Sleep Sheep: Counting sheep takes on a new meaning with this cozy companion. Cloud B’s Sleep Sheep has a sound box that plays three gentle nature sounds, as well as the soothing sound of a mother’s heartbeat, helpful for those fussy nights. This cuddly audio pacifier is ideal for at-home use and travel. For ages 0-3, $30.95,

  • Wooden Stacking Tower Boat: With bold, beautiful colors and an appealing minimalist design, Land of Nod’s wooden boat stacker is not only a building toy, but also a work of art. Children will have tons of fun as they develop spatial aptitude and improve their construction skills. For ages 0-3, $79,

  • Stack & Scare Blocks: Say goodbye to boring blocks! With Stack & Scare blocks by Uncle Goose, kids can let their imaginations run wild while they create comic book-style monsters. These four sets of monster blocks boast a fun, modern aesthetic and will provide hours of playtime fun. For ages 0-3, $48,

  • Cup Stacker: Bath, beach, and play time just got a little cuter! The adorable duck that sits on top of Piyo Piyo’s brightly colored and BPA-free stacking cups will surely keep baby interested while also teaching hand and vision development from 9 months through 2 years. For ages 0-3, $14.95,

  • Sångtrast Soft Toy: Add a little magic to the holidays—and celebrate the true spirit of the season—with IKEA’s huggable plush fairy (recommended for age 1 and up), part of the iconic retailer’s Soft Toy line. This toy is extra special because, for every IKEA Soft Toy sold, one euro (or about $1.34) is donated to UNICEF and Save the Children to support quality education programs across the globe. For ages 0-3, $4.99,

  • Wheely Bug: This award-winning activity toy from Prince Lionheart promises to be “wheely, wheely fun” while also encouraging motor skills.The brand new hedgehog design appeals to both boys and girls, and, at only 4-5 lbs, provides great mobility without being cumbersome.The Wheely Bug is padded with a layer of soft sponge and is made of 100 percent non-toxic material. For ages 3-5, $64.99,

  • Wooden Hamburger & Fries: While we don’t suggest doing so, these hand-painted wooden hamburger and fries by Kukkai look almost good enough to eat. Made in Japan from sustainable materials, this adorable play set also doubles as a musical instrument. For ages 3-5, $34,

  • Plush Jamboree Acoustic Guitar: Get in tune with your inner rock star with this plush guitar from Land of Nod. Parents and kids alike will love this funky, soft, and silent instrument that leaves playtime (or band practice) up to the imagination. Equipped with adjustable shoulder straps so you can customize the fit as kids grow. For ages 3-5, $39,

  • Build-A-Robot: Your preschooler will learn about human emotions and improve their fine motor skills with this modern art robot toy from the MoMA Design Store—complete with interchangeable heads. Each head offers a different tactile and auditory experience, as well as different “emotions” for children to relate to. For ages 3-5, $30,

  • Crocodile Xylophone: Combine the delight of the animal kingdom with the joy of music with this musical croc from Skip Hop. Kiddos can play eight unique notes on the croc’s back and also have a great time tugging him around the house on the handy rope pull. For ages 3-5, $25,

  • FirstBIKE Balance Bike: A Balance bike can help little ones ages 22 months to 4 years learn how to balance and steer. FirstBIKE’s version—described as the “limo” of balance bikes—prepares them for their first regular bicycle, while giving them the thrill of feeling like they’re riding their own big-kid bike already. For ages 3-5, $159.99,

  • InnoTab 3S Wi-Fi Learning Tablet: The newest addition to VTech’s innovative line of children’s WiFi-enabled learning tablets features VTech Kid Connect—a communication app through which kids can connect with their parents and friends. In addition to its communication options, the toy includes a kid-safe browser, a rechargeable battery pack, and 20 free apps. For ages 5-8, $99.99,

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shellraiser RC Car: Cowabunga, dude! Your little ninja will have a blast playing with this awesome remote controlled car complete with a spring-loaded and fire-able sewer cover cannon. The Shellraiser is compatible with all basic action figures. For ages 5-8, $49.99,

  • Grizzly Bear Puppet: Have no fear, this fierce-looking grizzly is actually a big softy! The furry grizzly bear hand puppet by Folkmanis is made of top-quality fabrics and has a moveable mouth for plenty of imaginative puppet show fun. For ages 5-8, $39.99,

  • Playfully Delicious Coffee Maker Play Set: Perk up your child’s playtime with this caffeine-free version of the real deal. The wooden, play coffee maker by Hape comes with all of the accessories needed to brew the perfect, imaginary cup of joe. For ages 5-8, $24.99,

  • SpongeBob SquarePants’ Bikini Bottom Bus: Fisher-Price’s playful take on Bikini Bottom transportation is a splash of fun during the cold winter months. Play along with SpongeBob and his friends with their rolling bus that even has a mechanism to eject crabby passengers. For ages 5-8,  $17,

  • Global Glowball: Take a journey around the world without ever leaving your living room! Young geographers will delight in the 39 cultural songs that play when corresponding continents are pushed. Turn on the “lights only” mode and the B. toys learning tool turns into a multicultural nightlight. For age 5-8, $24.99,

  • Melt ‘N Mold Crayon Factory: Finally, a solution to all those pesky broken crayon pieces floating around in your child’s art supplies. Crayola’s Melt ‘N Mold Crayon Factory allows kids to safely melt down broken crayon fragments into re-purposed marbleized crayons shaped like rings, animals, cars, and more. For ages 8-12, $54.99,

  • Robot Swedish Nesting Dolls: Traditional matryoshka nesting dolls get a modern twist with a futuristic robot design from Molly Meg, perfect for both general playtime as well as for storing precious trinkets. Children will love the funky, fresh look of these timeless toys. For ages 8-12, $21.99,

  • Flying Clown Fish: Air Swimmers allow kids to bring the ocean right into their living room. These extra-large helium balloons by Vat19 feature remote-controlled fins that allow kids to guide them through the air. Each balloon is made with durable nylon and can be re-filled with ease. For ages 8-12, $39.99,

  • Ugly Dolls Shhhhhhhh Comic Book: As longtime fans of the Ugly Dolls get older and become avid readers, delight their playful side with the newest cartoon installment from everyone’s favorite quirkily cute gang of creatures. Join Ice Bat, Jeero, and their friends as they get into artfully rendered mischief. For ages 8-12, $7.99,

  • Furby BOOM: Ah, Furbys—who could forget when they took the toy world by storm back in the late ‘90s? Well, whip out your Furbish dictionary, because they’re back and cooler than ever with Hasbro’s Furby BOOM line. The BOOM allows kids to interact with their toy virtually through an accompanying app, so activity options, like the opportunity to hatch and raise digital Furblings, are boundless! For ages 8-12, $64.99,

  • Little Passports Global Adventure: Global Passports’ subscription kits—available in USA (for ages 7-12) and World (for ages 5-10) editions—ensure that the joy of exploration can take place right at home. The kits include maps, souvenirs, activities, and more, themed to a different locale each month. The first month’s shipment includes a cool suitcase for storing goodies. For ages 5-12, $10.95-13.95 per month,

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