Have you noticed all those holiday-themed ads in your mailbox yet? As parents, we’re about to be inundated with the onslaught of the hottest Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa toys. I’ve even heard of some parents purchasing those “must-have” toys NOW - a full six weeks before Christmas day! They don’t want to worry about their little one not getting that popular hit toy because it’s been sold out. Since my kids are both under age three, I’m not getting that pressure to buy the “cool toy” for Christmas - yet! But I have noticed a few big trends in baby toys and toddler toys in 2018! My guess is that the best holiday gifts for little ones will fit into one of these big toy trends. Let’s recap those 2018 toy trends!
Like an ongoing Throwback Thursday, millennial parents are seeking out those vintage toys to pass on to their kids. The most hardcore parents are looking for actual true antiques, but most major toy makers are creating their own vintage versions of their best-sellers. My kids even have one of those Fisher Price Chatter telephones that you drag along behind you on a string! Fisher Price made many updated versions over the decades of this toy’s popularity, but they are now marketing a throwback design, too! This phone looks EXACTLY like the one I played with at my grandma’s house as a kid - but without the wear and tear of dozens of grandkids.
Fisher Price Chatter Telephone
• It's a great toy for any young baby and encourages mobility for early walkers, too! Little ones can practice verbalizing on the phone.
• Safety recommendations limit this to kids aged 12 months to three years - littler fingers could possibly get caught in the phone's rotary dial.
• I'll be honest - I probably love this toy because it looks the same as the one I grew up with. It doesn't hurt that it's relatively quiet!
• These cups are inexpensive, great for fine motor skills, and don't make noise or require batteries! Open play means these cups will grow with your child's developmental interests.
• While they're safe for young infants, kids age one and up will be most interested.
• We love these stacking cups because they're regarded as a great developmental diagnostic tool - can your toddler stack them yet?
Stacking Ring Sets
• High-contrast colors make these rings ideal for baby as their vision develops over time. My kids both loved chewing on these rings, too!
• Safety guidelines say that babies as young as six months can safely use stacking rings! Play becomes more complex as the child gains more motor skills and conceptual development.
• You might notice a theme - I really love toys that don't require any batteries or make a lot of noise. Stacking rings are no exception!
Baby and toddler classics like stacking cups, stacking ring sets, or the Chatter Telephone toy have been having a heyday in 2018! Christmas season will be another chance to grab your favorite retro playthings!
Maybe it’s because every other parent is a crunchy-type these days (hey, I’m moderately crunchy myself!), but wooden toys have had a huge year in 2018. From teethers to rattles, blocks to puzzles - wooden toys are the cool gift to wrap and place under your tree. Parents choose wooden toys for a variety of reasons - the vintage appeal, the hip aesthetic, limiting exposure to plastics/BPA, and more.
•The heft of a wooden toy often offers more strength-training opportunities than their lightweight plastic counterparts.
•Because they’re sturdier, wooden toys can be safer (no small parts to break and swallow) - and they’re definitely more durable!
• I love wooden toys because we were able to pass toys down to our youngest! As a bonus, wooden toys are more eco-friendly than plastic mass-produced options.
Sensory Busy Books
Busy books are one of my favorite toys! I’m hoping to put one together for my own two-year-old this year for Christmas - but don’t despair! Even parents who don’t sew can pick up a custom busy book on Etsy! What’s a busy book? It’s a sensory experience to titillate your toddler’s tactile tendencies! Sometimes the pages are themed - like farm animals that snap to a circle that matches their color, and a barn with flaps to store all the animals when they’re not snapped down. Other pages might include basic letters, numbers, traffic signs, or trucks. What makes busy books so great?
• Busy books often promote basic life skills motor development - like zipping zippers, buttoning buttons, or snapping snaps.
• They’re really soothing for sensory-seeking kids AND they’re awesome for fine motor development for ANY kid! Great for long car rides and safe for any toddler who is past the stage of putting everything in their mouth. Made safer if all parts are firmly attached to the book.
• Bonus: they’re so stinkin’ cute! If your little tyke is really into dinosaurs, you can even make a whole dinosaur-themed book for them! Dinos attached with “rawr-strips” hook-and-loop, dinosaur shaped buttons that button into a dinosaur party scene, felt T Rexes that stick to their matching squares of felt. Maybe even dino teeth that zip open and closed! Seriously, get your kid a busy book for the holidays!
High Tech Dupes
Welcome to 2018 - we’re raising one of the first generations of social media natives, people! Technology has seeped its way into nearly every part of our lives and our kids notice. I have yet to find a toddler that doesn’t know exactly how to hack into their parents’ phones. As a matter of routine, when I get a text from a friend that reads: “wspeiotuWAHBASIFHN23405T8UISVQ”, I respond with “Hi Kash!” Because I know, inevitably, a kiddo was monkey-see, monkey-do’ing their parent.
2018 is a high-tech year, and technology isn’t just for adults anymore! For a little while at least, most kids will accept a duplicate or mock-up of our high-tech devices. My own son has his own “cell phone” that has since been passed down to his little sister. It names colors and makes beeping sounds when you press the buttons, and it looks like a cell phone made for chunky hands.
Fisher Price Laugh And Learn Smartphone Toy
• Like the Chatter phone, this toy promotes early communication and listening. This smartphone teaches numbers, music, and even short greetings.
• Babies six months and up can play with this phone - the older they get, the more "talk time" the phone gets, in my experience!
• We love watching the imaginative play - who will our baby call next? Grandma? Maybe Uncle Micah?
VTech's Baby Learning Laptop
• V-Tech makes learning laptops and tablets for older kids, but they also produce a BABY laptop! It’s made to look like a computer, but it’s really just a series of spinning balls and noisy buttons that provide sensory input for curious babies.
• Babies as young as six months can get their own personal computer for playtime!
• We love that this laptop is jam-packed with 90 songs and phrases. As children develop more complex skills, they can teach shapes, objects, and even feelings!
What other toys have you noticed this year? Tell me what's going to be under your tree on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3 with #TopBabyToyTrends2018.