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Lasting baby/toddler toys guaranteed to please through the ages

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The list author says: "When my kids were younger I used to wonder what toys would have lasting appeal and durability as they got older. Now that my kids are older, I can say this is that list! Get toys earlier as they may surprise you with how early they can appreciate it. By the time you realize you want a ___ for them, you might have missed half the window of opportunity for them to enjoy it! This could also be a great gift or wish list.

You may want to yawn as you look over the list, but see your child play with these much more than the fancy electronic toys and you may be pleasantly surprised. And a major benefit of classics is that many can be found cheap used. Shop craigslist, eBay, second hand stores, yard sales (often best deal) before you consider paying full price. There is evidence that the best thing you can do for your child is to buy fewer things. It turns out that kids who are more creative actually have fewer toys. Having a small number of simple, basic toys helps children develop their imagination and resourcefulness.

FYI, if a toy entertains a child for 30 minutes that is phenomenal so don't set your expectations too high. The good ones are the ones they will play with again and again over the years. Many toys will not have initial appeal (my kids didn't take to blocks at first) so don't get discouraged too soon. While many good toys can be had for reasonable prices, others are worth the extra cost. These are toys that will truly last the years in enjoyment as well as durability. They are also the best bargain when you calculate hours played. You could have fewer, well-loved toys over too many toys rarely played with.

Finally, imagine being told that half of all toys are OFF LIMITS. Don't you think it would just make the other toys even more tempting? I've found it's normal for boys and girls to want to play with toys of both genders, and ultimately, it's much easier just to let them. :)"
Tot Tutors Kids' Table and 4-Chair Set, Primary Wood
Tot Tutors Kids' Table and 4-Chair Set, Primary Wood
"Get the quality wood table & chairs, or find it used on craigslist.  Spend the money on the quality one -- this will give your kids the best play experiences."
Pacific Play Tents Super Duper 4 Kids Tent
Pacific Play Tents Super Duper 4 Kids Tent
"Smaller tents are cozy and space efficient.  A bigger tent can double as a small playroom or child's personal space. It could even end up replacing those expensive outdoor plastic playhouses, and be easier to put away.  Add the tunnel and the crawling helps wire right and left brains."
LEGO Hand Crank Dynamo Flash Light Torch Giant Lego Man Stands 7.5" Tall (Colors May Vary)
LEGO Hand Crank Dynamo Flash Light Torch Giant Lego Man Stands 7.5" Tall (Colors May Vary)
"What's a tent without a flashlight?  Save a fortune on batteries with crank flashlights.  Practical, useful for home and car, and teaches cause & effect, physics and environmental awareness.  Also, in case of emergencies, you won't run out of batteries!"
Step2 Play Up Fun-Fold Jr. Picnic Table "Colors Vary"
Step2 Play Up Fun-Fold Jr. Picnic Table "Colors Vary"
"Picnic tables, like bath toys, entice kids to eat, and they also reduce mess in the house.  My kids love eating outside during the spring and summer and it makes cleanup much easier for me!"
Cloud b Twilight Constellation Night Light, Turtle
Cloud b Twilight Constellation Night Light, Turtle
"The most comforting diffused night light, it also teaches 8 major constellations.  Can help babies & kids through the fear-of-dark phase or entertain older kids."
Radio Flyer Pathfinder Wagon Red
Radio Flyer Pathfinder Wagon Red
"A forever toy.  Even small wagons make great indoor/outdoor/sand toys."
PlasmaCar Blue
PlasmaCar Blue
"$37 at Costco.  Pulling motion on handle moves the car smoothly and easily.  Super fun indoors & outdoors which really entertains them for hours.  Can comfortably fit two kids.  All ages.  This is worth buying!"
YBIKE Balance Bike
YBIKE Balance Bike
"This is an excellent pre-balance bike for toddlers and even preschoolers. Using balance bikes kids learn to ride a bicycle in just weeks to months. With training wheels it can take years. I love the Bell Faction helmet. Next step: Zum bike which adjusts from 12-17 in - quite a range for balance bikes."
Child's Print Collection  Jr. Child, Pink Flower
Child's Print Collection Jr. Child, Pink Flower
"Bean bags make comfy cozy reading chairs and are fun to play with.  They are also safe and visually appealing, and not to mention good feng shui. :)"
Folkmanis Monkey Hand Puppet
Folkmanis Monkey Hand Puppet
"Imaginative role play, baby and parent/child bonding, puppets are lovable toys. Folkmanis puppets are wonderful."
Fisher-Price TRIO Building Set with storage
Fisher-Price TRIO Building Set with storage
"A building toy that has appeal to all ages. Easy to put together, endless possibilities, easy to clean up."
LEGO Duplo Basic Bricks (80 Pcs.)
LEGO Duplo Basic Bricks (80 Pcs.)
"Legos, Duplos and Megablocks are great for young to older kids."
Play-Doh Creativity Center
Play-Doh Creativity Center
"Play doh, like Legos, grows with kids and has add-able accessories.  Calms them down, develops fine motor skills.  Making play dough is early cooking fun and bonding. Clay is also a medium for a budding sculpturist."
Original Gertie Ball-Colors May Vary
Original Gertie Ball-Colors May Vary
"Soccer balls, basketballs, baseballs, footballs, bouncy balls.  Your child will never tire of wanting another ball. Each ball is a new toy to them, don't ask me why.  I think having a variety of balls keeps them engaged too. This is a nice soft one."
Kite - Large Easy Flyer - Sparky Dog (46*91.5 inch / 117*231 cm) Test Kite String and Winder
Kite - Large Easy Flyer - Sparky Dog (46*91.5 inch / 117*231 cm) Test Kite String and Winder
"You can get the two dollar kite esp. for younger children.  Watching a kite is just as fun for an infant toddler."
Gazillion 32 oz Bubbles
Gazillion 32 oz Bubbles
"Distract a teething baby, give a toddler incentive to bathe, get a kid outside to play. The bubble machine by this company will break easily, but their bubble solution is the best. Or use lightly diluted dishwashing liquid."
Backyard Safari Explorer Kit
Backyard Safari Explorer Kit
"Magnifying glasses encourage curiosity, but get a quality one if you want it to last.  The telescope in this set also works!  Also recommend the GeoSafari Binoculars."
Melissa & Doug Band in a Box
Melissa & Doug Band in a Box
"Musical instruments will stay in the toybox longer than most other toys. My kids liked bumpy hollow wood tube thing that you rub the stick with or hit it with to make noise.  Egg shakers are easy to make by taping plastic easter eggs together with rice, beans, etc."
Schylling Musical Hand Bells
Schylling Musical Hand Bells
"All ages, color coded, have fun ringing or try to make tunes.  This is a particularly great musical toy."
Piano Horn by Schylling
Piano Horn by Schylling
"A piano, a horn, your child's first musical instrument to practice on, all in one."
Sports Hoop® - Trim Hoop® 3B - 3.1lb (Dia.41") Large, Weighted Hula Hoop for Workout with 50 minutes Workout Lesson DVD
Sports Hoop® - Trim Hoop® 3B - 3.1lb (Dia.41") Large, Weighted Hula Hoop for Workout with 50 minutes Workout Lesson DVD
"Hula hoops are not just for older kids.  Crawl/walk in them.  Toss bean bags in them.  They are also good energy and babies are calmed by a 'tent' of varying sized hula hoops!  Either get the inexpensive ones at your local store or splurge on a nice one for the whole family to use."
Kidkraft Fire Station Set
Kidkraft Fire Station Set
"Dollhouses must be wooden! This is a more unisex version of a dollhouse.  There are amazing and varied wooden dollhouses out there.  Dollhouses might actually be worth spending a small fortune on."
Plan Toys Breakfast Menu (Solid Wood Version)
Plan Toys Breakfast Menu (Solid Wood Version)
"For some reason, the eggs -- both fried and whole -- are still favorites with my kids.  I also like how toy foods can help them to let you know what they feel like eating when they are pre-verbal.  The Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Parlor Set are also big, lasting hit."
Kidkraft Retro Kitchen and Refrigerator in Pink
Kidkraft Retro Kitchen and Refrigerator in Pink
"Any kitchen toy with food will do.  Wood kitchens were more appealing to my kids than the plastic ones (we owned both plastic and wood).  See also the smaller kitchen, Plan Toy Doll House Kitchen, by Plan Toys.  Smaller can be just as good or better depending on child."
Little Helper Broom Set
Little Helper Broom Set
"Mini brooms.  Your child will want to sweep when you do, and it's an extra set in a pinch.  Get the extra help while you can, unlikely to hold appeal during the teen years, but you can always cross your fingers."
Blokus Game
Blokus Game
"It says it's for older kids and adults, but if you supervise, younger kids have great fun too just putting the pieces on the board.  One of the greatest board games ever, and develops mathematical and geometric thinking."
CooCoo
CooCoo
"Good for age 2 up, balancing fun which can be enjoyed among kids of various ages, and a game which mom & dad will love, and won't make them go insane (Chutes & Ladders, Candyland can make a parent insane with boredom.)"
Love You Forever
Love You Forever
"Although a tear-jerker, you and your child may love this book forever in your hearts and minds, even if it does not last forever physically.  You can't go wrong with books, or ever have too many!  Board books make great early reading tools.  Also check out "Even Firefighters Go to the Potty" - amazing and superfun, durable potty training book!"
Fisher Price Learning Home
Fisher Price Learning Home
"Okay, this may be good only until they are 3 or so but it may be one of your best toy investments. I got this used on craigslist for $25.  Twelve or more toys in one, this combination is much greater than the sum of the parts.  Has optional phone. Phones are an essential car distraction for baby."