Updated January 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Best of the Best
K'NEX 35 Model Building Set
35 Model Building Set
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Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

This toy set is perfect for creative children and allows them to make 35 unique models.


This buildable set comes with 480 parts, rods, and connectors that can be attached in different ways. Kids can make vehicles such as trucks, airplanes, helicopters, and auto parts such as wheels, wings, rotors, and tracks. Plus, it comes with a handy chest for convenient storage.


Small parts and pieces make it unsuitable for children under 8.

Best Bang for the Buck
Skoolzy Montessori Peg Board Set
Montessori Peg Board Set
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Fun Spin on Stacking
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A portable stacking toy that earns praise for its well-designed interlocking pegs that aid in developing fine motor skills.


Board and pegs feature rounded edges, which are easy to manipulate for little hands. Can be used for individual play as well as shared play with friends or siblings. All pieces fit inside a convenient drawstring backpack.


Pegs can't stack as high as other stacking toys or blocks. Board may break down over time.

Barbie Dreamtopia Sparkle Lights Mermaid
Dreamtopia Sparkle Lights Mermaid
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Unique Barbie Doll
Bottom Line

This toy is a nice option for kids who love dolls and Barbie, although immersing it in water may reduce the longevity of its functions.


Barbie with a twist, as this pretty doll lights up and has mermaid fins that make swimming movements. Her outfit has bold colors and shimmery effects that kids love. Affordable.


Moisture may cause the batteries to malfunction, making the lights fail to work.

WowWee Baby Shark Official Dancing Doll
Baby Shark Official Dancing Doll
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Best for Toddlers
Bottom Line

A sweet toy that will be appreciated by toddlers or Baby Shark fans of all ages.


Soft Baby Shark doll that's inspired by the popular children's song. Dances and sings when touched on the head. Also plays songs when the fins are pressed. Kids love to sing along with it.


Some quit working after several weeks or months, while others didn't do all of the actions they were supposed to.

National Geographic Mega Gemstone Dig Kit
National Geographic
Mega Gemstone Dig Kit
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Educational and Fun
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A fun STEM activities kit that draws on fundamental geologist principles for digging and cleaning.


Includes 15 different gemstones that you can identify and learn more about as you find them. The digging block is durable enough to encourage hours of play. The included tools are easy to use and they can be reused with other toys.


Some users noted that not all of the gemstone types are included.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best toys

Want to pique a child’s interest and bring a smile to his face? Present them 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.

When you select a toy for a child, you of course want to choose one that will be well-received. Whether you’re shopping for a child, grandchild, niece, or nephew, you’ll want to consider the current toy landscape.

A child with long hair plays excitedly with a red toy train.
Children learn through play. When you give toys to kids, you’re not just entertaining them; you’re helping them learn about and explore the world.

Finding an age-appropriate toy

One might argue that age-appropriateness is the most important factor when selecting a toy for a child.

It’s not enough to just get 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.

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Expert Tip
If you’re considering 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.

Toy categories

There are a 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 choosing a traditional board game, a card game, or even a video game.

Stuffed animals

Stuffed animals are a classic favorite. Young children typically love them, and older children have been known to enjoy them as well.

Tech toys

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/action figures

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 get 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.

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Did you know?
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is tasked with determining the safety of children’s toys.

Building 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.

“Home life” toys

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.

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Toys can be like the flavor-of-the-month for kids; they can tire of them rather quickly. Before a holiday or a birthday, teach children about charity by having them donate their unwanted toys to a charitable cause.


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.)

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