We purchase every product we review with our own funds—we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Want to pique a child’s interest and bring a smile to his face? Present him with a new, exciting toy.
Shopping for toys can be fun, but kids’ trends move so fast these days, it can be hard to keep up with them.
When you purchase a toy for a child, you of course want to select one that will be well-received.
Whether you’re shopping for a child, grandchild, niece, or nephew, you’ve come to the right place.
The guide below will give you an outline of the current toy landscape, and the matrix above will point you in the direction of five awesome toys we think would make that special kid in your life very happy indeed.
One might argue that age-appropriateness is the most important factor when selecting a toy for a child.
It’s not enough to just buy something that’s popular. A really cool robot might frustrate a six-year-old, and a talking stuffed animal might bore a 12-year-old.
Thankfully, most toys manufacturers specify an intended age range for the toys they sell.
If you’re considering buying a video game for a child, find out which game system (and which version) they have first. Some games don’t work across every platform, and some don’t work on all versions of a given system.
There are are number of categories from which to choose in the toy world. These categories include, but are not limited to, the following.
Kids love games. For that special child, you may be interested in purchasing a traditional board game, a card game, or even a video game.
Stuffed animals are a classic favorite. Young children typically love them, and older children have been known to enjoy them as well.
This category grows larger and larger as time marches on. The tech toy realm includes video game consoles, music players, robots, and STEM toys, which may focus on science, tech, engineering, and/or math.
Dolls and action figures change with time but are still appreciated by kids everywhere. Your choices range from baby dolls to Barbie dolls to Star Wars action figures. If you want to buy an action figure or doll for a child but aren’t sure which one, find out if the child has any favorite movies or TV shows. Often, you can find toys that coordinate with popular kids’ programming.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is tasked with determining the safety of children’s toys.
Kids love to get down on the floor and build things, whether it’s with the help of some old-fashioned blocks, classic Legos, or the newer K’NEX sets. Some of the most popular building toys these days are actually magnetic pieces that adhere to one another to create fascinating free-style architectural structures.
Children like to imitate what they know. Toys that emulate what they see happening in their everyday life often strike a chord with kids. Ideas include pretend tool sets for the aspiring woodworker and play kitchens for the aspiring chef.
Toys in this category range from the classic self-powered bicycle to electric riding cars to handheld cars and trucks. You could spend any amount of money you wish on a toy vehicle for a child. There are matchbox cars that sell for as little as one dollar and ride-on kids’ vehicles that sell for hundreds of dollars.
Sports toys encourage children to be active and learn about sportsmanship. If you’re thinking of a sports toy, consider a toy basketball hoop, golf set, or bowling set. And while playing with Nerf guns isn’t exactly a sport, it gets kids up, moving, and having fun.
Q. Where can I find educational toys?
A. Educational toys are sold in many places, including brick-and-mortar stores and online. Some of the best educational toys fall under the “STEM” category, but there are other toys that teach important lessons as well.
Q. At what age do children grow out of playing with toys?
A. Some children stop playing with traditional toys the moment they start playing video games on their tablets and computers. But some kids take a lot longer to outgrow their love of hands-on toys. It’s not unusual to see a tween playing with dolls or a teenager playing with K’NEX. The answer to this question really depends on the specific child.
Q. What are the general guidelines to follow to be sure toys are safe?
A. Toys that consist of fabric should be made of flame-resistant or flame-retardant material. Toys should be non-toxic and washable. Any paint found on any toy should be lead-free. Crayons and paints should be approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials. (You’ll know if the item has been approved because it will say “ASTM D-4236” on the package.)
Find the best toys
These are our top picks for toys.
Best L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls
Best Robot Dogs
Joy for All
Companion Pet Golden Pup
Best Board Games
Winning Moves Games
Classic Monopoly Board Game
Best Nerf Guns
N-Strike Mega Mega Mastodon
Best RC Cars
2WD Short Course Racing Truck
Self Balancing Hoverboard
Best Magic Kits
Uncle Bunny Magic
Kids Magic Set
Best Laser Tag Sets
Laser Tag Set for Kids
Best Train Sets
Polar Express Train Set
Best Fidget Spinners
Fidget Spinner Toy
Best Big Wheels
RipRider 360 Castor Trike
Best Lego Sets
City Trains Cargo Train Building Toy
Best Kids' Kitchens
Grand Walk-In Kitchen/Grill
Best VR Headsets
Vive Virtual Reality System
Best Video Game Consoles
PlayStation 4 Slim
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.