So now that we’ve talked about where I’m coming from, let’s jump into the recommendations. It was difficult for me to narrow down to five, but I finally made my decisions. These are what I estimate to be the top five most played with toys in our household (four children ages infant through eight years old) in no particular order:
- Books – I know some of you are thinking these are not toys, but I think they are. My kids spend so much time reading and/or being read to that I couldn’t leave them out. Good literature has shaped our household and plays a major role in my childrens’ childhoods. My five- and eight-year-old daughters spend most of their days reading. I have to make them do other things. I can do another series of posts on favorite books for children, if you’d like. Just lemme know.
- Wooden blocks – simple, basic, classic. From your basic rectangular block to arches and cylinders to blocks painted with numbers and pictures, our blocks are very well loved. You can go crazy and spend lots of money on artisan-made blocks (that are gorgeous and would be worth the investment, for sure) or you can buy some 2x4s, a saw, and sandpaper and make your own.
- Baby dolls – our kids each have their own mama-made waldorf dolls, as well as various other assorted dolls that we’ve acquired over the years. We love the natural fiber dolls (cotton and wool) but have acquired a couple of vinyl-faced babies that we received as gifts (that admittedly make nice outside dolls for strollers and slings and such). I recommend natural fiber dolls highly, as they warm up to the skin of your child, and are handled a lot (so it’s important that they are made of safe materials). Vinyl isn’t a sustainable material, is downright horrible for the environment in its manufacture, and it’s not safe for your kids to chew on.
- Cars, Trucks, Trains, & Other Things With Wheels – (Also shopping carts, mail carts, etc.). Our kids love to pile stuff into carts and push them around. My sons adore their baskets of cars and trucks and Asher (3) spends all day playing with things with wheels. There are a lot of cars out there with suspect paint (lead paint is abundant in cheap painted cars) so we stick to wooden cars that are unpainted or painted with safe paint, and little metal painted cars from reputable companies (German brands are usually safe). We also have the plastic truck shown below that is made of recycled plastic milk jugs – very cool, and big enough for a big three-year-old to put all his weight and on and push all over the house.
- Legos – Hardly a day goes by when someone isn’t building something out of these creative block spinoffs. We mostly rock the Duplos right now, but we do have some of the smaller Legos to play with on the table (or when the baby’s sleeping and won’t try to eat them). While these are plastic, they are such great toys that we enjoy having them around as an exception to our “avoid plastic” rule. The kids make things like houses, towns, villages, roadways, zoos, towers, bridges, doll people beds, farms…the list goes on and on. We have so far avoided theme sets and have only bought generic sets, so as to encourage creativity. Also, many of the theme sets involve characters from movies and television that my children aren’t familiar with. I highly recommend the purchase of a Duplo base plate or Lego base plate as a solid base to build upon. They make building so much more enjoyable for all concerned.
Whew. That was tough. I’ve changed my mind several times during the creation of this post! But that’s the top five I came up with for today. I have lots of ideas for more top fives, perhaps starting with a post on art supplies? Art supplies really belong on my top five, but I couldn’t condense all I wanted to say into one bullet, so it gets a post of its own. Please let me know what other toy-related posts would be interesting/helpful to you.