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Monday, November 25, 2013

Things that are Awesome: Young Toddler Edition

(This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.)

We are definitely in the "young toddler" phase right now.  Everything has to be done "Self!" but she is very clingy and wants me to watch her do everything and pick her up pretty frequently.  She is fascinated by lights and music and textures, but her attention span is still pretty short unless I'm right there with her to keep her engaged.  She asks for something and then immediately bursts into tears when I hand it to her.

It's crazy times.

Here are some products that are on the awesome list right now at my house.  They keep her attention, they encourage learning, or she just loves them.  I included affiliate links, but I am not otherwise compensated for these recommendations.  These are just things that I use and love.

Butterflies Dolls

Butterflies(TM) Dolls (Photo: Business Wire)

Cricket's Grandma introduced me to these dolls, and they are awesome.  They are made in the spirit of an old timey rag doll, so they are soft.  No plastic faces to bang your kids in the head.  They have soft yarn hair and sweet clothes that you can take off (but they don't come off easily, so you don't have a mysteriously naked doll lying around.)

I love these dolls.  They are everything a doll should be, and nothing it shouldn't.  They don't talk, laugh, poop, walk, feed themselves, or do calculus.  They don't have an online "avatar" you can use play games with.  They aren't a hundred bucks a piece, like some other dolls.  They're not overly sexualized and they don't have unrealistic body types.  They are just a sweet, soft, cuddly doll.

Cricket loves them, too.  We have two of them, and she absolutely has to take one with her wherever we go.

The downside is, the only place you can buy these is at Cracker Barrel, so I don't have a link to give you, other that that press release.  Still, it's totally worth a drive to your local Cracker Barrel to pick one up.  Shoot, get two!  At $20 a piece, they're a steal!

Poke a Dot Book

This is such a cool book!  It's a big board book, and it has these plastic bubbles in the pages, and when you poke them, the turn inside out and make a "pop" sound!  Then you turn the page and poke it again to make it pop back! Basically, it's like a book that contains reusable bubble wrap.

Yeah.  Mind blowing.

Cricket things this is the most fun thing since they invented the swing.  Best of all, it's a counting book, using the song about the monkeys jumping on the bed, so we pop the buttons and practice our counting at the same time!

There are apparently a couple of other books in this series, so I'm putting those on the wishlist for sure.

Plan Toys


Cricket's Aunt Mallary got her these two, and I don't know who loves them more, me or her.  First of all, they are the most well-made toys ever.  They are made with no chemicals, and they use organic wood, soy-based inks, non-toxic glues, and a whole bunch of other awesome kid-friendly stuff.  The company uses sustainable manufacturing practices, which makes moms happy, too.

But the best part is the toys themselves.  They are fun and open-ended, and they are so dang cute, you'll want to play with them, too!  The flower toy has a little seed you plant in the pot, and little tiny garden sheers!  The veggies have Velcro to hold the two sides together so you can "cut" them with the little wooden knife!  Precious!

These are toys that grow with kids, and as an educator, I see lots of potential in them for learning as she gets older.

Melissa and Doug Puzzles

These might be the most-used items in Cricket's room, especially the alphabet puzzle.  They are bright colors, and the pieces have pegs, so they are easy for tiny hands to hold onto.  They have pictures underneath the pieces, too, for bonus teaching and fun!  I get so excited watching Cricket do these puzzles, knowing she is learning vocabulary, beginning literacy awareness, and practicing spacial skills all at the same time!  And she just thinks she is having a blast!

Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Tea Set

Cricket's Gigi got this for her recently, and she just ADORES it.  I don't usually go in for super girly, overly pink things, so I wouldn't necessarily have picked it out for her, but it's great.  It has three settings, one of which helps teach kids to say please and thank you, which is a kind of unique thing for a toy.  I mean, lots of toys teach ABC's or like, colors, but manners?  That's cool.  Another setting plays music, but Cricket's favorite setting is the one that just makes the sounds of pouring water when she tips it over.  It's cute.

The set also comes with a plate and some little cookies that teach shape recognition and sorting, as an added bonus.

Fisher Price Nativity

You guys, I have been waiting and waiting to get this!  I saw it last Christmas but decided to hold off on it until Cricket was a little older, but now I got it!  It's just awesome.  It's a ton of figures, and they really thought of all the details.  And the star lights up and plays, "Away in a Manger."

I will say though, the link above doesn't have the full set.  As far as I know, you can only get the full set, with the shepherds and everything, at Walmart.  Last year they were in the stores, but this year I had to order mine online.  Otherwise, you have to order the basic set and then order the shepherds separately, which is crazy expensive.  Why would they not just put that all together?

But still, it's awesome.  My sister and I played with our (porcelain) nativity set every year when we were kids, and if we'd had one that was specifically built for us, it would have been our favorite toy.

Mr. (and Mrs.) Potato Head

Cricket's Aunt and Uncle introduced her to this classic when we were in Portland.  She studied it carefully and figured out how to put the pieces in the holes on her own, which she was very proud of.  She loves putting the pieces in and out of the little trap door, too.  There are tons of sets, in basically any theme you can imagine, so you are sure to find something that will make you smile as well.  (Darth Tater, anyone?)

So those are the most popular toys in our world right now.  If you have a toddler, or friends or family with a toddler, any of these would make great Christmas gifts!  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some playing to do...

For more awesome gift ideas for young children, check out these other posts:

Awesome Music for Babies and Toddlers

Awesome Books for Babies and Toddlers

Things that are Awesome:  Summer Baby Edition


  1. Oh, I've SO wanted the Little People Nativity since last year! I didn't know they carried it at Walmart....that's going on the Christmas list, pronto! This is a great list...we love many of the same/similar toys here at our house, and you gave me some good ideas for a couple smaller gifts. :) Putting the "pop" books on her wish list right now, too!!!

    1. Yeah, the Nativity is Ah-mazing! I'm like, "No, come back and let's play with this some more!" Glad you got some good ideas! :o)