2018 Top Five Developmental Toys

Santa from Mall of America

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… unless you have no idea what to put on your children’s shopping list. Should you get something they have watched other kids unwrap on YouTube a million times? What about something educational? Or maybe that new toy that’s trending, that you can only get on craigslist at 5x the retail price? Holiday shopping can be fun and stressful at the same time. So I have come up with a list of educational and developmental toys I think your kids will love. All of these have been given the seal of approval from my family.

Simplay 3 Track Table
Simplay 3 Track Table, showing both sides
  1. Simplay 3 Carry and Go Track Table $39.99

There comes a time in every parent’s life when they see their child engrossed in play on a train table. The smile on their face melts your heart, until you see the price tag and realize that your living room will permanently become Thomas Town. Well this toy is the solution to that. It is light weight and portable. You can sit it on the floor or on top of a table you already have. It is made in the USA of sturdy, durable plastic. And bonus, no assembly required. Take it outdoors or indoors and then slide it under the bed or in the closet when you are done. Not only is this an awesome train table that works with all brands, but when your flip it over it has a monster truck race track on the other side. My favorite feature is that because it is plastic we can use it for sensory play. We love to pile up shaving cream for the trucks to run through or fill the pits up with beans for them to trek across.  This is a great present that will make you look like a hero and will not break your wallet.

Sequin Hedgehog
Sequin Unicorn

2. Creativity For Kids stuffed Animals $19.99

A hot trend this year for kids is reversible sequins.  They are a great way to calm anxiety and distract fidgeters. There are several brands on the market but this one stood out as the best value to me. Not only do you get the fun sequin play it is also weighted for added sensory stimulation. If you have looked for weighed animals in the past then you know they can cost upwards of $50. This cute buddy is half that. Another great feature is that it comes with customizable patches that your child can put on and off of their new friend. These fun pets are available as a unicorn and a gender neutral hedgehog. 

Big and Fun Microscope


Includes prepared slides


3.Thames & Kosmos Kids First Big & Fun Microscope Science Experiment Kit $29.99

STEM is a big deal in kids toys now, but I find some of the toys fall flat for younger kids or those who aren’t particularly interested in that field. This toy helps bridge that gap. It is durable and easy to use right out of the box. The microscope comes with prepared slides and a colorful storybook to guide them on their scientific journey. We do have a regular microscope at home but, this one is so much easy for younger kids and its great for items you find outside that you want to get a closer look at. It is targeted to younger children but my entire family has fun discovering with this together. PRO TIP: On Ebay you can buy fossils, shark teeth, rocks, and preserved specimens for $1.  These look amazing under the scope.


Gorilla Gym


4.  Door way Gym Set  Starting at $79.00

Over the summer my 4yr old son who is Autistic was blessed with the gift of a sensory room. One of the items that came with it was a door way gym set. There are tons of brands, Gorilla Gym is probably the most popular, but we got the Bonobo brand from Amazon. Let me tell you the whole family loves this. It is used by far the most out of anything. My husband works out with it. My daughters swing on it. My son climbs on it.  Most sets come with several attachments that allow you to use it in different ways. And while this is a pricey item, you will get good use out of it for the entire family. It would most certianly be a nice surprise for everyone in the house. 


Close up of Beaker Creatures
5. Beaker Creatures $9.99 and up
I have been wavering on this toy. It is really cool and I know the kids will love it but I want to be sure that a toy will get good use and not end up in our growing toy grave yard. So I looked at other science kits and nothing similar came close to value and fun. The number one thing about this toy is that it takes something my kids love and makes it educational.  My children love bath bombs and essentially that what these are. Inside each egg is a silly monster to keep or trade.  Kids have to complete fun experiments to dissolve the eggs and get their prize. Also I feel like that the beakers and tongs can be used to complete other at home DIY experiments after you recuse the creatures.  So it’s a winner in my book.
Previous articleHow do you teach your toddler about terror?
Next articleThe Lie: I Should Have It Together by Now
Lanae is lifelong Pittsburgh resident with a brief stint in Ohio for her high school and middle school years. Most of her life she lived in Wilkinsburg but recently became a resident of the north boroughs. Lanae holds an associates’ degree in fashion merchandising and a bachelor’s degree in business management. After college, Lanae, entered the insurance and financial services industry by becoming a licensed agent and a claims specialist. Lanae also is an advocate for cloth diapering and baby wearing. Through her website drybabies.org she offers information and sources offering cloth diapering to all women and families in need. With two boys and 3 girls ranging in ages from 18- 2 most of her time is spent traveling to ballet lessons, band practice, and cello lessons. Also, two of her children are special needs and require various appointments and therapy. When there is time left, she enjoys writing, sewing and cooking. She is currently finishing up her first novel with more already in the works. With a love for travel, Lanae and her family have been to 5 different Caribbean islands and 2 countries in South America. So, look to hear more about the organized chaos that is traveling with 5 kids.