Between hand-me-downs, gifts, and items that my husband and I buy for our growing, developing 2-year-old, we've got a lot of toys in our house. It's hard to say no to a well-intended gift or pass up on something that is designed and marketed with the promise to make our child smarter, happier, more clever, empathetic, and well-rounded. At this point, the last thing I want to do is make our home more cluttered, but there are some toys I loved from the New York Toy Fair that I really wouldn't mind letting into our home.
This is only my second time visiting the Toy Fair, a beast of an exhibition staged at the Javits convention center in New York City. Last year was my first, and with a 1-year-old at home, my approach towards toys in general was a bit more... simplified. I mostly focused on toys that would either be a) good for her development or b) look really cute in her room. Now that she's a strong-willed, opinionated 2-year-old, I have to consider not only what I want her to have, but what she might actually want (even if it physically hurts my eyes to look at them). You know, the type of thing that she knows will spark some major joy in her tiny body just from one glance across the room.
If your toddler likes animals, Elmo, pretend play, and crawling into your lap for bedtime stories, and you're a parent who actually does give a crap about what your kids' toys look like, this list might speak to you. Heads up, most of these toys won't be available to purchase until later this year, but that only makes it easier on my wallet (and sanity) to space them all apart.
Fisher-Price Soothe 'N Snuggle Otter
If you're not following @instaotters on Instagram (or similar sea otter-centric account), please do so immediately. There's a reason why people are drawn to these adorable marine creatures — they're stinkin cute and they hold hands while sleeping so that they don't float away from each other. This sleeping sea otter from Fisher-Price is super cute, cuddly, and mimics snoozing sounds and motions (the chest falls up and down). My tot doesn't need it to help her sleep, but I know she'll get a kick out of pretending to sleep with it and tucking it in at bedtime.
Available fall 2019 for $40.
Plan Toys Dentist Set
We already have a few Plan Toys products at home (their doctor kit, string-along puppy which we named Peanut, kaleidoscope camera), and this dentist set is next on my wish list. Velcro keeps the "teeth" in place, so kids can actually extract them using the extracting tool. Not sure if this is supposed to be fun/scary, but I think it's hilarious.
Available fall 2019.
Plan Toys Dollhouse
I'm in the market for a dollhouse, but all the options I'm drawn to are so... big. This minimal set from Plan Toys comes with all the furniture (it's such a bummer when you have to buy them all separately), and the side wings slide into the center, main frame or storage. The beam across the roof is a handle, so you can carry it around with one hand.
Available fall 2019.
WowWee Baby Shark Singing Hand Puppet
My child is not immune to "Baby Shark." You can control the speed in which this puppet sings the popular song by moving the mouth slowly or quickly. I guess it's pretty fun until it's not.
Available August 2019 for $20.
Baby Stella Time To Eat Table Chair
My husband and I pitched the highchair we kept tripping over and started using the Inglesina fast table chair that attaches to the tabletop surface instead. I'm obsessed with this Baby Stella version, and I know she will be more than happy to have her favorite toys sitting next to her during mealtime. Maybe then she'll stop tucking them behind her back and accidentally getting food all over them.
Hasbro Love To Hug Elmo
It's all about Elmo at our house. Oh, yours too? I had a Tickle-Me-Elmo growing up (still can't fathom how my mom pulled that off), so it only feels appropriate that my kid has the modern equivalent.
Teamson Kids Kitchen
I've been planning on getting her a pretend kitchen for a while, but I'm so adverse to getting an ugly one. It's ridiculous, I know, but I haven't found one that I'm ready to fully commit to yet. It's a big purchase, will take up a lot of space that our NYC apartment doesn't necessarily have, and will likely stay around for a while. Teamson Kids has uber modern or retro styles, and they're way more affordable than similar models from other big-box retailers.
Fat Brain Toys Smarty Cube 1-2-3
I'm all about small toys that will challenge my tot's brain. This plastic cube from Fat Brain Co is slightly more complicated than it looks, and something I can throw in my purse or diaper bag which means I can take it on the road.
Hape Baby Grand Piano
Music lessons are definitely in my daughter's future. I personally played the piano growing up, so this white baby grand really speaks to me, but really, I'd buy the whole set (piano, drums, guitar, and microphone) if I had the space... and a soundproof room.
Hape Checkout Counter
This purchase probably isn't going to happen anytime soon because we literally have no place to put it, but the things we could do with this set up! We could play store, teach her some organization skills (well, try to), and basically use it as toy storage.
Green Toys Elmo's Wagon & Sesame Street Party Dough Activity Set
Did you know that Sesame Street is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year? My toddler probably couldn't care less, but she would love having an Elmo-themed wagon and dough decorating kit where she can make Cookie Monster and Elmo-shaped "cookies" and a birthday cake. The "Happy Birthday" song is actually her favorite tune of the moment. Not kidding.
Hasbro Disney Princess Dolls
My daughter doesn't have any dolls that even slightly resemble these princesses, and not for any reason other than the fact that she simply hasn't asked for one when given the opportunity to get one if she wanted (i.e. in a toy store). What I have recently noticed though, is that when she sees kids with dolls in pretty dresses and flowing hair, she'll just kind of absorb and stare. These Disney princess dolls are only $10, so even if she's not that into them, it won't feel like we shelled out big bucks. And if she is, we won't stress out about letting her collect a few.
Haba Rotisserie Chicken
Ok, this one is purely for me. I just find it utterly hilarious. She'll probably like it too, TBH, especially since you can deconstruct the chicken (the limbs are connected by velcro). I can teach her my perfect roast chicken recipe, if she wants, in her new pretend kitchen.
Duplo Mickey & Minnie
It's not pictured, but there's a Minnie version too. This simple Duplo set, shaped like her favorite mouse character, is another great on-the-go toy that is lightweight and will keep her occupied for a decent amount of time.
Should we just move to the suburbs? How fun is this camper that provides 360-degree play, with multiple stations all along the interior and exterior walls? On the other side there's a storage and sitting bench, craft area, and within there is a tool station, kitchen, and more. The entire surface (inside and out) is magnetic, so they can have even more fun sticking their favorite magnets to it. The front half of the mobile also slides back into the main frame to take up less space, but really, if you're buying something like this for your home, is space really an issue?
Available fall 2019 for $399.
National Geographic Kids 'This Book Is Cute'
Does this need any explanation at all? Obviously just as much for mom as it is for toddler. I can totally see myself reading it to her while she sits on the potty, waiting an eternity for something to happen.
'Nipper and the Lunchbox' by Lucy Dillamore
Here's an adorable picture book about a dog who is trying to return his owner's forgotten lunch box to him at work. I'm not going to lie: I breezed through the pages loving the story and illustrations, and accidentally cried at the end.