Toys That Will Grow with Your Tot

Toys that last.

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March 09, 2020

Toys that Transform in Stages

Adding fun things to your child’s toy collection can get expensive, and take up a ton of space. For parents who want to save a little extra cash and cut down on toy clutter, here are 10 great picks that will grow with your kids.

Liki Trike

The Liki Trike is a clever contraption with four different settings that are appropriate for ages 10 months to 3 years. Made by the minds behind Doona, everyone’s favorite convertible car seat-to-stroller, this tricycle features a UPF 50+ sun protection canopy, a five-point harness and high-durability soft wheels. The trike starts in parent mode, where it’s more like a stroller with an armrest and canopy, and transitions to push mode, where the parent still has control with a steering bar, but the child is a bit freer to move around. Your little one can start pedaling in tricycle mode at 24 months, and the trike can turn into a bike when are 30 months old. Bradley Cooper and Irina Shayk are fans of the popular convertible trike, which folds into a compact shape that is perfect for travel at the mere click of a button.

BUY IT: Amazon, $250

4-in-1 Step ‘n Play Piano

This entertaining musical toy isn’t just a piano, it’s more like a one-baby band. There are four different modes. First, you spread out the tummy time play mat so your little one can bang on the drums and shake the tambourine, which are detachable from the main frame. Next, you put the light-up drums and tambourine rattle back in the entertainer, which features a spinning, height-adjustable seat from which baby can access all the instruments, as well as a microphone rattle and headphones. The third stage is a stationary walker that helps baby learn to take his/her first steps. The fourth stage is as a toddler activity table. There are two pianos: one under baby’s feet and one at baby’s hands. Music can be set to short play, long play or baby-made. This is a long-lasting toy that’ll pique your baby’s musical interest, and it’s well worth the space it takes up since it has so many functions.

BUY IT: Fisher-Price, $120

The Nugget

Maybe you know and love Nugget as a play couch. If you don’t, it’s a sofa that comes in pieces but requires zero assembly. In fact, letting your kids assemble it is the point. You and your tots can arrange the pieces into as many different play configurations as you can imagine. If your baby is crawling, you can let him/her crawl on it with supervision. Even if your baby isn’t crawling, this can be a fun play surface to practice tummy time on. For toddlers, it’s great as a fort, a short slide or a bouncy platform, and it’s made of a microsuede-covered foam, so it will last for years.

BUY IT: Nugget, $229

Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Learn with Sis Walker

We love all of Fisher-Price’s smart stages toys. Now that our son is in the pivotal growth period of 6 to 12 months, he needs toys that can keep up with the massive changes happening in his brain and body. Since he’s already familiar with and loves the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Puppy, which has the same voice as this toy, this walker has fascinated him from the start. The walker is for ages 6 to 36 months, so it starts with a sitting baby and transitions for a walking baby.

Just like the puppy toy, there are three stages that change what Sis says at the flip of a switch: explore, encourage and pretend. When your baby is sitting facing the front panel, he’ll be entertained by the roller ball, flip-able pages, number keys and shape panels. Over 75 songs, sounds and phrases introduce the alphabet, shapes, colors, counting and even Spanish words. When he’s ready to stand, the other side is a walker that he can push with encouragement from Sis, who tells him he’s doing great as he goes.

BUY IT: Amazon, $26

Sort & Spin Yeti

This fun little toy is just so dang cute! The Yeti's large size and bright shapes captivates my son. In addition to keeping your baby fascinated, Yeti will help them learn hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, problem solving and cause and effect. Here’s how it works: Yeti is recommended for kids ages 9 to 36 months, during which you can explore three stages of learning. The first stage is exploration.During this, the shapes embedded in Yeti's body will light up when you press them, and the toy will says the shape’s name. During stage two, Yeti spins and pops out shapes, which your baby can place back in the matching spots. If baby gets them correct, he or she is rewarded with lights and music. During stage three, Yeti plays a game with your toddler, asking him or her to find specific shapes and colors. After placing the shapes correctly, Yeti will tell them they did a great job. This favorite features over 50 songs, sounds and phrases, and giggles mischievously when you press its hair.

BUY IT: Skip Hop, $30

Spoon and Fork Set

Hey fans of baby-led weaning, meet your new favorite toy-meets-tool for weaning. We started my son on the 2-in-1 Silicone Teether and Spoon, which allows him to teeth on one side and spoon foods on the other. Now, at over six months, he’s ready for the spoon and fork set, which contains utensils with short handles that are proportionate to babies’ hands and fingers so they can grip them easily. Baby can start by teething and chewing on the silicone utensils and move on to using them to eat.

All of the Grabease utensils are BPA-free and phthalate-free silicone, and have a choke guard that’s almost three inches, so I feel comfortable letting baby chew on them without worrying. Watching him practice his motor skills by grabbing the teal fork and trying to spear soft food is the cutest; and, when he’s a big boy toddler, I know he’ll be ready for bigger utensils. I seldom throw it in the dishwasher, but you can put these utensils in the top rack if you don’t feel like handwashing them.

BUY IT: Amazon, $13

Sit-to-Step Highchair

This is such a clever chair. It starts as a highchair that’s really fabulous because it was clearly created by a designer with children. Unlike our highchair, this is a delight to look at with its beechwood accents (because, if you’ve got to have a highchair in your dining room, it might as well be a pretty one.) The seat is cushy and comes with an infant insert; there’s a five-point harness that stops my baby from flailing but is also washable; and there’s even a bib hook on the back of the chair.

One of the coolest things about the chair? It reclines in three angled positions that are perfect for babies who eat solids, purees and milk. When he’s older, we’ll turn it into a stool that he’ll use to wash his hands at the sink and when cooking simple foods with me. When you’re done, the highchair folds flat and goes against the wall. Genius!

BUY IT: Skip Hop, $200

Infant-to-Toddler Rocker

This is an adorable option that will last until your toddler is 40 pounds. What starts out as a colorful infant rocker or stationary seat turns into a toddler chair that lets your little one feel like he’s a grown up. Before six months, we really enjoyed letting our little guy chill in the rocker with vibrations that soothed him while the visually stimulating elephant and tiger toys offered entertainment. The coolest part? We could turn it into a stationary seat by pulling out the kickstand.

When he’s a toddler, we’ll remove the toy bar above him and convert it to a toddler chair with two reclining positions and the same relaxing vibrations. Of course, the seat pad is washable in case of blowouts, and the design is composed of pretty yellow, blue and gray triangles.

BUY IT: Amazon, $29

Activity Cube

This is an impressive activity cube for home that houses just as much amusement as the huge activity cubes and bead mazes at playspaces and doctors’ offices. When I first took my son to play with an activity cube at the library when he was 4 months old, I doubted that he’d be that interested. I was wrong! Though he wasn’t large enough to reach the top and wasn’t standing yet, he couldn’t get enough of the activities at the bottom. When I got him this cube, he could reach everything on it because it was adjusted to his height. At 15.7 x 14 x 15.9 inches, it comes fully assembled and ready to use. The six sides of activities include geometric shape sorting, bead counting, sliding animals, spinning gears and a wire bead maze. The bead maze promotes grasping skills, teaches cause and effect and encourages motor skills and reach. And it’s made of natural hardwood and stained with non-toxic water-based paint.

BUY IT: Amazon, $87

Float-Alongs

If you’re looking for a bath toy that can last the ages, here’s an educational addition to the classic rubber ducky. These two clever float-along books are completely waterproof and are accompanied by an attached container that holds themed toys. The Tiny Tugboats book comes with three little tugboats that float in the bath with baby and, as they grow older, they’ll start to correlate the three tugboats in the bath with the three tugboats in the story. The same goes for the Baby Dolphins book, which teaches colors and encourages water familiarity for babies who might be scared of baths. As baby gets older, they’ll be able to read the books themselves as you encourage them to pronounce the words.

BUY IT: Melissa and Doug, $10

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