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The Best Creative Toys For Kids (from a mom who hates toys!)

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Inside: Here are my top 25 favorite creative toys for kids. As a mom who hates toys, these are the ones I actually want my kids to play with!

Let me be perfectly honest with you:

I hate toys.

I really, truly do.

They create clutter. They’re loud. They’re annoying. And they are expensive.

However, toys that actually promote creativity and open-ended play are essential to child development and learning.

And those are the only ones we have left in our house!

I walked through every inch of our home and took note of the toys we’ve kept (the ones that get the most use) and wrote those down for you.

So forget all of those other lists out there of the ‘best toys for kids’.

These are the only creative toys for kids you’ll want to get.

*(Note: Some of the toys photographed below light up and play music. They were gifts and if I were to buy them myself, they would be completely battery-less.)

Best Creative Toys For Babies

Babies are so fascinated with the world around them that they don’t need much to be entertained. However, there are a few creative toys we’ve gotten that all of our babies have loved.

Any of these would be great to get for your little one for Christmas or their birthday.

Activity Center

Baby girl plays in activity table.

We’ve had this activity center for all three of our babies and it’s been a favorite (for them and me!). I love that I can put baby in there when I need to make a meal or get something done and there are plenty of small toys to occupy them.

All of the different toys help with fine motor skills and the bouncer helps them strengthen those leg muscles.

An activity cube is another great option that will keep baby entertained and learning.

Learning Walker

Learning walker on the carpet.

A learning walker is perfect for babies no matter the age.

My daughter loved to listen to the music when she was under 3 months. Once she could sit up she loved to move the pieces. And when she was learning to walk she loved pushing the toy.

You definitely don’t have to get one that plays music, so I listed some wooden options below.

Puzzles

Three toddler puzzles on the floor.

Puzzles are perfect for babies who are learning hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

And they’re a toy that grows with the child. You can get puzzles for your kiddo no matter their age!

Bath Toys

Bath toys for baby in a bathtub.

Bathtime is usually a nice break for baby to play in the water and go diaper free, but a few little ones need some convincing.

Bath toys are a great way to distract a baby who doesn’t love getting in the water and to entertain and enhance bathtime for the babies who already love it.

Lovevery Box

Contents of a Lovevery play kit on the floor.

If choosing all of these creative toys for babies seems overwhelming, let Lovevery do the hard work!

They have play kits full of developmental and creative toys based on your child’s age.

Their toys are perfect for open-play and their kits even come with a booklet with ideas and explanations on how to use the toys to play with your baby.

They also have an adorable play gym and other cute playthings to have fun at every stage.

Best Creative Toys For ages 1-3

When your child hits their first birthday, they are usually mobile enough to start enjoying some of the fun toys! Because let’s face it, these toys are also for us parents too 😉

Below are some of my favorite creative toys for kids age 1-3.

Sports Toys

Sports toys standing in a basement.

Sports toys are a great introduction before organized team sports. If your child seems great with a ball and has good hand-eye coordination, getting them a few sports toys could help develop their skills before team play.

And if you get a variety you can see which sport they gravitate to, which could help to know which organized sport to sign them up for.

Ride-On Toys

Toy ride on motorcycle against a wall.

The kids who had ride-on toys were always the coolest ones growing up! I never had a ride-on toy, so I made a promise to myself that my kids would not be left out and they got a motorcycle and a small bike when they were 2 and 4.

Ride-on toys can also help with hand-eye coordination (think steering and pushing the pedal). Plus, they’re just pretty cool!

This is definitely a more pricey toy, so do your research on quality before purchasing. And I would also suggest getting one of the larger, double seat ride-on toys so it will accommodate your kids as they grow.

Dolls

Baby doll in a doll stroller.

Ages 1-3 is the perfect time to introduce dolls. These can be anything from soft dolls, baby dolls, or even character dolls. Children learn to love and nurture by playing with a miniature version of themselves.

Be sure to find dolls that appeal to both boys and girls, because both genders need to learn to nurture and show compassion. And consider introducing dolls that represent all nationalities and races.

Building Toys

Wooden blocks placed in the shape of a castle.

For this age, you’ll want to start with the bigger-piece building toys. Things like wooden blocks, Mega Bloks, and wooden train sets so kids can practice balancing large pieces.

These are also toys that will grow with the child. My older kids still like to play with the younger building toys and they are 4 and 6!

Ball Pit

What kid doesn’t love a good ball pit?? They are usually so unsanitary at public play places, so having a mini version in your home is the perfect alternative.

A ball pit can help develop fine and gross motor skills as well as teach sharing (when little brother takes their favorite ball!)

Best Creative Toys For Ages 3-5

The toys for ages 3-5 are probably my most favorite! This is the age when children start to play pretend and really use their imagination. It’s the best time for dress-ups, playing house, and building castles!

Dress-Ups

Girl twirls in front of her dress ups.

Dress-ups are a must-have for creative and open-ended play! It’s common to think of dresses for girls when you think dress-ups, but my son loves putting on capes and superhero costumes too!

You can get gender-neutral dress-ups with different occupations like a baker, firefighter, or police officer to see which jobs your children naturally gravitate to.

Dollhouse

Little People princess castle in a room.

A dollhouse is a perfect way to keep your kid’s imaginations growing as they pretend what life is like for their dolls. With all of the different rooms and sets that come with a dollhouse, there’s enough to keep them occupied for hours.

There are lots of gender-neutral dollhouses out there too that I linked below.

Building Toys

Duplo bricks on a table.

Fun building toys for this age range include Duplo bricks, magnet tiles, and more complicated block sets.

Play Kitchen

Two sisters play in front of a toy kitchen.

Kids love to imitate what they see you do, so a play kitchen is a perfect opportunity for them to practice things like making dinner and washing the dishes (skills they’ll need in the not-too-distant future!).

I love the play kitchen we got for my daughter because it comes with plates, cups, utensils, and pots and pans.

Along with a play kitchen, there’s also play fridges, washers and dryers, and even barbeques!

Cars

Several toy cars lined up to play.

Cars are usually fun for kids at any age, but once they are three, they are usually old enough to use the tracks and fun sets that you can use cars in.

Magnet Dolls

Elsa magnet doll on a white rug.

Magnet dolls are so fun for kids to mix and match. With the endless outfit options, this is a great toy to pack in your bag to keep your child entertained and away from screens when you’re out to dinner or waiting for appointments.

Pretend Play Toys

Little girl plays with pretend makeup.

Just like a play kitchen, pretend toys are a great way for kids to imitate things they see you do without hurting themselves (or wasting your favorite lipstick!).

These toys include pretend make-up kits, tea sets, tool sets, grocery shopping, and cleaning tools! There are so many fun options out there that would make great gift ideas.

Best Creative Toys For Ages 6+

Once your child gets to those older elementary ages, the fun, imaginative toys that they used to play with seem boring and uninteresting. Toys marketed to this age are often very expensive and very electronic.

But you don’t have to give in to the pressure!

There are still some creative options out there that will keep your child learning and developing without screens.

STEM Toys

Stem toys on a table.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. As parents, we can probably agree that all of those subjects are areas we would love for our children to excel in.

Well, there are toys out there that teach these subjects while still making it fun (your kids may not even know they’re learning something while they play!).

I’ve listed some great options below, including more difficult LEGO sets.

Best Creative Toys For All Ages

Below are creative toys for kids that work for all ages!

Most of these toys are focused on outside play, but I’ve also included some indoor options as well.

Bikes

Two bikes in front of a garage.

A bike is a classic gift, right? It’s even one you can give your toddler!

Options like a tricycle or balance bike are great options for your little ones to feel included when the older kids are riding a two-wheeler.

Scooters

Two scooters standing in a garage.

Along the lines of a bike, a scooter is another great gift to get your kids active and outside.

You can choose a three-wheel scooter for younger kids up to a motorized scooter for your older kids.

Water Toys

What kid doesn’t love to play in the water during the summer? Water toys are a great gift idea for a summer birthday or Christmas to get them excited for warmer days ahead.

Some of our favorite water toys include squirt guns, a splash pad, and slip n’ slide.

Playsets

I loved playing on our outdoor playset growing up. Giving your kids a playset means they always have a park in their back yard!

Playsets can get pretty expensive, so I’ve also included some indoor options that will give your kids hours of fun play without the hefty price tag.

Playhouses are another great option!

Trampolines

Mini trampoline in a basement.

Trampolines are another great outdoor toy that will give your kids hours of entertainment (and help get the wiggles out!).

We got our kids an indoor version for Christmas one year that they still love to jump on!

Sand Toys

If you have a playset, chances are you’ll also have some form of a sandbox. Even if you don’t, these toys still work in the dirt!

Kids will love building castles, making shapes, and digging with these sand toys.

Forts

Who didn’t love making blanket forts as a kid??

If you don’t love your kids pulling out all of the blankets in your house, then giving them an actual fort is a perfect alternative.

There are pop-up forts, cardboard forts, air forts, and even combination tunnel and ball pit forts!

Want More?

If you liked this post and are looking for more gift ideas that aren’t toys, check out my post with 7 foolproof non toy gifts for kids!

Your Turn

Which creative toys for kids are your favorites?

Are there any open-ended toys that your kids have loved that I missed?

Let me know in the comments.

And if you loved this post, please Pin it!

These are the best creative toys for kids!

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Ashley Ziegler

Saturday 14th of November 2020

My mom just got my daughter one of those walker things and she is loving it so far! She's still a little nervous when it moves because then she has to decide whether she wants to take a step or fall down but she's learning!

Jessica Ashcroft

Saturday 14th of November 2020

Yay! They are so fun!!