Top Awards for Toys: 2022 Good Housekeeping Best Toy Awards
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For our annual Best Toy Awards, we don't just pick the coolest toys; we dig deeper to find out which ones are safe and easy to put together and will help your child learn and grow.
If you're a caregiver, you know how challenging finding the perfect gift for that special child in your life can be. Of course, you want it to be something they'll be excited to open and play with. But more than that, you want something that's safe, that's not a pain to unbox, that's relatively easy to assemble (if necessary) and that's going to keep a child's attention for more than a few minutes. And if it offers some kind of educational and developmental strengthening, even better.
It's a tall order, but that's why the Good Housekeeping Institute team comes in. Our long-standing Toy Awards program — this is our fifteenth year! — was created to help ease this often overwhelming process. The Good Housekeeping Institute Parenting and Pets Lab combs the marketplace for the entire year, keeping track of new toy releases and staying on top of trends. The Lab then takes the top toys and calls them in for testing, where experts, parents and — most importantly — kids get to weigh in and choose the winners.
Our team of experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute got hands-on with every product submission. And the evaluation started before the toys were even played with, by physically unboxing each entrant and seeing how easy or difficult it was. Then it was on to assembly, and notes were made on how simple or complex that task was too. After that, our experts checked for quality. How well constructed was each toy? Did they pass all the necessary safety checks? We verified compliance with ASTM testing standards, and also performed our own in Lab and at-home assessments.
After that came the true test: Kids played with the toys! We sent submissions to more than 450 kids of all ages, all across the country, to help us assess them and find the best of the best.
What this list delivers are toys that are safe, well-designed and well–constructed; that inspire a child's imagination and creativity; that foster problem-solving skills; that encourage social play; that build skills (fine-motor, gross-motor, math, science, artistic and more); and that are just plain fun.
Even after this thorough evaluation, there are reasons a top-tested toy may not make it onto our list even if kids find it completely enjoyable. Sometimes, through assembly and use, we found out that toys (like science kits with certain dyes and craft sets that use colored dough) can stain the floor or kids’ clothing and skin. Sometimes we discovered that a toy isn't very durable and may not hold up to repeated use. And sometimes we learned that a toy required intense supervision or that a parent had to expend a significant amount of time or effort to assemble it. All these factors and many more go into our decision process in finding the best toys.
The picks here are arranged in price ranges, in age order within each, to help you ID the perfect gift for every kid on your list.
Toy Awards by Price: Under $30 | $30–$60 | $60 and Above
Babies are treated to a feast for the senses each time they pull something out of this soft tissue box. It's loaded with 15 different scarves, which come with a range of colors with textures to feel and sounds to explore. Plus, grabbing and pulling the scarves helps babies practice their fine-motor coordination.
Lab Results: "All the different materials are great!" one tester raved. "Everything is soft, but some are crinkly or velvety." Others mentioned that their babies liked the colors of the scarves and the sounds they made. Ages 0+
This block set is great for tiny builders, thanks to the large size and engaging tactile elements. Notable features of the blocks include stimulating elements like a bee slider and a door that opens and closes. The set comes with 16 pieces that are also compatible with other block systems. Bonus: The packaging doubles as a cute storage box!
Lab Results: Unlike traditional building blocks, these incorporate different interactive elements and textures onto the blocks. Our parent testers noted how even older siblings enjoyed getting in on the fun. Ages: 1+
This building set comes with 89 big blocks that incorporate sustainability learning in cute and engaging ways. There are garden elements, an electric car, solar panels and even wind turbines.
Lab Results: Our kid testers raved about the motorbikes and the car blocks, and while they're designed for kids as young as 1, we found that those a bit older were able to better construct the full set on their own in meaningful ways. Regardless, this set starts the conversation around green principles, which our pros love! Ages: 1+
This magnetic fishing set doubles as a fun way to learn colors and letters, as each of the 26 fish has a letter of the alphabet on it. The "water" underlay is a double-sided play board, one side with letters, the other with colors to match.
Lab Results: Parents appreciated that kids could level up the play and use the included alphabet cards to practice spelling after they had a good grasp on the motor skills and more basic letter play. Ages 2+
This unmistakable John Deere tractor comes with a battery-powered drill. Toddlers can assemble the pieces, create the tractor and then use it as a push toy before taking it apart again. The pieces are interchangeable with those of other Tomy Build-a-Buddy toys, all of which will get kids working on their STEM skills.
Lab Results: Kid testers felt accomplished when they could build the tractor by themselves. Ages 2+
Crack open these eggs to reveal three surprise dinosaurs embedded in lava slime along with other surprises like a game that pits dinosaurs against each other in battle. It's perfect for any kid who became obsessed with the Jurassic Park series after Jurassic World Dominion this summer.
Lab Results: Kids adored digging through the slime to unearth the dinosaurs. The Zoom Rider car was also a big hit. And while the game is included, many chose just to use the dinosaurs for open-ended play. Ages 3+
The Fresh Dolls and their male counterparts, The Fresh Squad, are fashion dolls with plenty of personality and amazing clothes. The line is known for its dolls' range of skin tones and washable hair in various textures. New this year is the Fresh Fierce Collection, with characters from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Lab Results: Kids appreciated the cool outfits and accessories and especially loved the dolls’ hair. Ages 3+
The Naturalistas line of 12-inch fashion dolls with natural hair is designed to encourage children to embrace and appreciate hair of all styles and textures.
Lab Results: Our kid and parent testers not only loved the realistic hair and story of these dolls, but also adored the interchangeable, fashion-forward outfits and accessories. Ages: 3+
In designing these fun dough packs with plant-based colors and paper packaging, the Crazy Aaron's team considered ways to minimize the environmental impact .
Lab Results: Our kid testers loved the smell of the dough, and many mentioned the fun scenes atop the packages. Parents highlighted the soft texture of the dough and how it stayed that way even with repeated use. Ages: 3+
This fun mosaic set features numbered patterns you match with the thick magnetic pieces, with 300 shapes included. Besides being bright and cute, it's designed to help develop color-matching and fine motor skills.
Lab Results: Parents loved that the box doubles as storage and has a built-in pop-up easel to use as a play surface. While some kid testers enjoyed the 10 included dinosaur patterns, others liked the create-your-own backgrounds. Ages: 3+
This set with four sensory bottles is designed to help kids identify and connect with their emotions: happy, angry, sad and scared. The included guide helps facilitate discussion to foster safe emotional regulation.
Lab Results: Since each bottle had a different effect, speed and style, kids were able to utilize them in in different ways depending on the input they needed at the time. Parents just wished there were more than four to help express more feelings! Ages: 3+
This cute 12" plush panda brings to life phrases and sounds from this year's beloved Pixar film Turning Red. As you press Red Panda Mei's hand you get cute phrases (I’m calm!), gnarly sounds (growling) and music inspired by the film.
Lab Results: Parents appreciated the social-emotional learning (SEL) aspect of this toy, which is designed to help kids discuss their emotions from a young age. Ages: 3+
This rainbow-inspired collection is great for young builders who can either follow the step-by-step guided ideas or build their own designs. It comes with 20 pieces, just enough to get kids started on small projects.
Lab Results: Our engineering pros love that this sturdy magnetic construction set allows kids the opportunity to develop early STEM skills, including geometry, color combining and spatial awareness, in an open-ended manner. Ages 3+
This snow-themed set adds color-changing tech to the popular Scribble Scrubbie pets. When the snow animals — including a walrus, a penguin and a polar bear — are cold (chill them in the freezer!) their fur turns blue, and when they warm up again they turn white. Either way, they’re ready for kids to draw on them!
Lab Results: Kids enjoyed drawing with the six included markers, and parents appreciated how the toy could be washed and reused for continued play. Ages: 3+
Baby Annabell is a realistic baby doll who giggles and babbles, cries real tears, snores at bedtime and wets her diaper after drinking her bottle.
Lab Results: Parents were impressed, and they noted that their kids were more engrossed in role play thanks to the ultra-lifelike nature of the doll. Several noted kids stayed engaged for over an hour of play and went back to this one over and over again! Ages: 3+
Stocking stuffers meet collectibles meet mystery unboxing experiences with this clever toy from WowWee. There are more than 18 friends to uncover in the first collection, each with an outfit that doubles as a fidget toy.
Lab Results: Kids were popping, twisting, pulling and spinning and loved that each was novel in its play offering. Parents liked that it had a keychain, so it was easy to attach to a kid's backpack key ring. Ages: 5+
This portable unit is actually a fairy-finding device, and it lights up when baby fairies are near. Kids can catch them, care for them, play games with them and then search for more, rarer fairies. This is also compatible with otherWowWee Got2Glow fairy finders.
Lab Results: Testers couldn't catch enough fairies and enjoyed learning about each one's powers and abilities. Ages 5+
This pair of race cars is totally kid-powered — they stomp on the launchers and watch the vehicles go! Players can set up a traditional race and see which car goes farther, or they can use the included ramp and see which car will fly off it first!
Lab Results: One mom noted that her kids were able to set this up in five minutes. "They had so much fun competing against each other," she said. Ages 5+
Your favorite games, miniaturized! Imagine all your family's most beloved pastimes: cornhole, Scrabble, Monopoly, Pictionary, Uno, and even Operation brought down to a pocket-size collectible. Everything from boards to game pieces is recreated in tiny sizes.
Lab Results: Many were surprised that there were in fact actual games inside the small sets. Most testers didn't actually try to play, but they found it super fun to unbox and see the amazing details. Ages: 6+
This bracelet-making kit includes an easy-to-use loom, stylus and templates to design and create DIY accessories. With a little bit of practice, kids were able to stitch together up to 10 patterned friendship bracelets.
Lab Results: A sneaky way to reinforce fine motor coordination — kids enjoyed planning, making and wearing their fashions. Ages: 6+
Finger knitting is in, and this Jazwares kit with thick, soft yarn makes it approachable for smaller hands. Each kit comes with two projects kids can make on their own.
Lab Results: Parents loved seeing their kids express their creativity with custom projects. One parent said they were happy their child was working on motor skills without feeling as if they were doing a school assignment. Though the manufacturer's suggested age was a little younger, our Lab tests showed that kids a bit older, around 8 or above, are the best users of this toy. Ages: 6+
Fidget toys are as popular as ever, and this light-up pad gives kids something to do with their hands even after dark. Beads are suspended in a squishy gel, and kids can push them around, either with their fingers or with the included stylus, to decorate printed backgrounds. It has a rotating "kickstand" that’ll hold it up either horizontally or vertically, and its slim profile makes it easy to stash in a suitcase or a backpack.
Lab Results: The beads are irresistible! Kids also enjoyed using the stylus for details on the pictures such as beads and hair. Ages 6+
Crayola's Glow Art Studio provides a large, reusable surface for a new kind of art project. The included stencils are sea- or park-themed, and with a wave of the light wand, kids’ creations are transferred to the glow-in-the-dark surface! Then after a few minutes, the creations disappear on their own so kids can use it again.
Lab Results: Glow-in-the-dark is super fun for kids, and one caregiver lauded the "mess-free, cool concept" and appreciated that their child could work with it independently. The one quibble: Kids wished their designs stayed a bit longer before fading away. Ages: 6+
The Pinxies STEM line expands with this 125-piece creative building set, designed with extremely detailed paperboard panels and plastic links. It comes with the pieces to make a balloon along with a Pinxies figure and two animal friends. As with other Pinxies construction sets, pieces from compatible sets can grow their world even further.
Lab Results: Our engineering experts appreciate that these sets were authenticated by stem.org, showcasing the brand's dedication to STEM endeavors. Kids loved the colorful designs, and parents noted the quality of the builds. Ages: 6+
Newbies and fans of the original Brain Bolt alike will have their minds challenged with this new "genius" version. The fast-action game flashes a pattern among the 21 light-up buttons, and players have to recreate the sequence, working on their memory skills and their hand-eye coordination at the same time. Players can take their chances in solo mode or go head-to-head against a competitor.
Lab Results: Parents appreciated that the handheld device was portable and provided a screen-free way to occupy kids on the go. "It was easy to learn, it encourages independent play and it has a silent mode!" one raved Ages: 7+
Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about the Rubik's Cube, this ups the ante. Colors are obscured until the heat of a hand makes them appear, and players have to twist and make their moves before the colors disappear again. This adds a memory-testing component alongside the puzzle-solving challenges of the original Rubik's cube.
Lab Results: Testers were wowed by the color-revealing magic! Ages 8+
This game really tests kids’ critical-thinking skills, challenging players to put together complex marble runs with a limited number of pieces. The game comes with 30 challenge cards for players to work through, though they can always use the pieces for open-ended play.
Lab Results: Kids found that it presented the right level of difficulty and loved seeing the results. Also, challenge cards come in various difficulty levels, meaning that older and younger siblings can play with the same set. Ages 8+
Each box in this crafting collection is designed around a female trailblazer, with an educational story, a high-quality craft and additional resources tied to her. These crafting kits are designed to spotlight trailblazing women and empower young girls to embrace their own creativity and missions.
Lab Results: Parents appreciated the additional resources to prompt ongoing conversations with their children. "It encourages creativity and a sense of accomplishment," one said. Ages: 8+
Animal lovers will adore this portable, virtual pet that can accompany your kids anywhere (and won't trigger any allergies). Little ones can choose to play with either CompuKitty, a '90s throwback cat that includes all the original animation, or StarCat, a magical fortune teller that reads the stars and can tell you your future. Feed them, play with them, train them and even take them to the vet to achieve the whole pet-owner experience.
Lab Results: While testing, parents appreciated that they could engage their kids using toys that they remember from their own childhoods. Kids testers appreciated the challenge of trying to keep their pet alive and caring for it. Plus, its small size made it easy to take on the go. Ages 5+
These plush friends come in a set of two, and are great for helping engage little ones in some early counting. Perfect for hugging, playing and taking the first steps in math, these two are bound to be fast friends with your kids due to their bright colors and soft shape.
Lab Results: "I love how the characters are based on math, so it's teaching her academically, but it also gives her the comfort of having a stuffed toy," explains one tester.
Score the most adorable snuggly friends with these minimalist animal plushies. Kids can choose from a variety of fun friends like a baby flamingo and a bunny, and there are even special holiday offerings including a baby fawn, a polar bear and a penguin. When you purchase an animal, the brand provides five meals to children in need.
Lab Results: These toys are exceptionally soft, one tester noted. Testers also liked that each doll was hand-knit and felt as if it had been made with love. Ages 0+
Gamer parents will be tickled by this high-tech tot-size chair. It comes with a tablet for exploring letters, numbers, music and more through 26 letter buttons and 10 piano keys, but parents can also remove the tablet and use the chair for story time or snacks. Toddlers can use their imaginations when they play with the pretend joystick and headphones.
Lab Results: "This gaming chair is very engaging," one tester reported. "My son absolutely loves playing with it." Ages 1+
These recycled-plastic blocks are certainly eye-catching with their bold colors, but they also hold a hidden secret: magnets! Toddlers can build more secure structures knowing that magnetism will help hold the blocks together.
Lab Results: Only 25 pieces are included, just enough for toddlers who are getting started with blocks. If they‘re already old pros, they might want something that comes with more pieces. Ages 1+
This projector will make story time come alive in their rooms. Easily clip it to your smartphone and project your favorite pages onto any surface by logging into the Moonlite app. This gift pack comes with four story reels and one bonus mini reel.
Lab Results: "A fun way to make story time more interesting," said one tester. But keep in mind that the picture and screen will go off if you don't continue reading after a certain amount of time. Ages 2+
This nursery play set comes complete with everything they need to have a fully outfitted nursery, including a baby doll, a stroller, a high chair and a playpen. Kiddos can try taking care of their own baby with a set perfectly sized for little hands in an aesthetically pleasing color palette.
Lab Results: Testers loved how this toy inspired social and emotional growth and gave little ones an opportunity to nurture their own baby dolls. Ages 2+
Help your little one manage stress and learn about self-soothing with a plush Hugimal. This weighted stuffed puppy is a kid's best friend, acting similarly to a weighted blanket, and can be taken with them everywhere they go (especially since its exterior is washable, letting you clean up all sorts of messes).
Lab Results: "It's a good weight to provide soothing comfort without being too heavy to carry around," one tester reported. "With such a wide range of kids’ ages, I feel it's a good fit for everyone." Ages 2+
After the success of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 this year, kids are fans of the Sega hero all over again (and maybe their parents are, too). This is Sonic in a 15" squeezable form, and yes, you can also collect Tails or Knuckles.
Lab Results: Testers found it soft and loved that they could use it as a toy or as a pillow. Ages 3+
Featuring easy-to-set alarms that go off to remind kids to brush their teeth, go to the bathroom and more, this smartwatch is equal parts work and play. It includes the ability to play with the digital puppy on the screen, whom kids can feed, walk or teach tricks.
Lab Results: With user friendly settings and fun puppy games, testers found this smartwatch to be thoroughly entertaining for their kids. Ages 3+
This doll comes with many role-playing items to get kids’ imaginations fired up, including a certificate of adoption, a hospital bracelet, a disposable diaper, a crib and a super-soft swaddling blanket.
Lab Results: Parents said kids loved the details that make this doll more realistic, like the eyes that open and shut when you pick her up or put her down. Ages 3+
At more than four feet wide and two feet high, this monster-size toy is fit for any monster truck enthusiast. The garage has an elevator for loading up trucks and lots of ramps to send them down so they can do tricks. It also comes with an exclusive gold die-cast Grave Digger Truck to add to the collection.
Lab Results: Kids loved the different ramps, chutes and sounds. Ages 3+
Give your little superstars a dancing companion they’ll love when you bring Bluey into your home. This toy stands on its own and comes with more than 55 Bluey phrases and four songs that will have your whole family jumping out of their seats to dance along.
Lab Results: While anything with Bluey is a kid favorite, this dancing toy was loved by testers for its good variety of easy-to-recognize songs and games and great general balance that keeps it from tipping over. Ages 3+
Beep, beep! This remote-control car is unlike most others — it's a dump truck you can actually fill up and cart around! This truck features lights, realistic car sounds and easy-to-use controls to help navigate the bumpy roads of your living room.
Lab Results: Testers appreciate that you can fill the bed of this truck and actually dump it out, and their kids found that the controls functioned smoothly and that the lights and sounds were very engaging. Ages 3+
This Paw Patrol–themed set comes with wooden pieces, tools, a workbench and a cruiser, and kids can build their favorite characters and scenes. Little builders can use the screws to attach the character pieces to each other, to the side of the cruiser or even to the workbench!
Lab Results: "High quality, colorful wooden character tools encourage kids to build their hand and eye coordination, and [use their critical-thinking skills] skills to solve problems," one parent reported. Ages 3+
Satisfy your little one's urge to nurture with this Cry Baby Doll, which helps kids develop their social and emotional skills and inspires hours of play. Each interactive doll cries real tears and gives kids a chance to learn to identify emotions in others and help soothe.
Lab Results: "This is very different from other dolls on the market," one tester said. Parents and kids found this toy to be a good weight and great for helping kids understand emotions. Ages 3+
Your aspiring magician will be blown away by this potions kit (and inspired to take a little more interest in science as well). Each kit comes with all the ingredients and tools needed to do a few different science experiments — such as growing a crystal wand and "magically" making a balloon inflate — that turn chemistry into playtime.
Lab Results: Kids loved mixing up the experiments, and parents appreciated that they could encourage scientific discovery. Ages 4+
Elevate a traditional game of marbles with this cool set that lets kids explore their STEM skills and build a bunch of different track configurations. Kids can play alone or with others to create exciting stunts for their marbles to do.
Lab Results: Our testers found this toy easy to build with and use, and they liked that it could be designed and set up in a new way each time. Ages 4+
Bring the joy of the ocean to landlubbers everywhere with this remote-control shark that turns your living room into shark-infested waters. The shark is 16" from nose to tail, and it automatically makes a chomping motion as it swims.
Lab Results: Kids enjoy chasing this shark around the room and navigating to make it chase their family members. Parents found it a fun activity to do with their kids, saying it provided a day full of laughter, smiles and running around. Ages 4+
STEM lovers will adore this set, which lets kids use geometry and math to create unique structures. They can play solo or in a group to flex their problem-solving muscles and work on their collaboration skills as they try to build the different shapes.
Lab Results: Parents loved that this set gave kids the chance to work with their older siblings to make new designs, but they noted that the many small pieces in the set were easy to lose. Ages 4+
There's almost no terrain the giant wheels on this remote-control car can't handle. The soft tires won't mark up your wood floors but are large enough to take on grass, pavement and even go down stairs. It rolls, flips and turns 360 degrees.
Lab Results: Our parent testers found this car is as much fun for adults as for kids. Plus, they appreciated that you didn't need a screwdriver to replace the batteries. Ages 4+
This game comes with colorful light-up gems that are hidden, and players have to race to find them and connect them to their cloud base before time runs out. It can be played indoors or outdoors, during the day or at night, and rules can be made more complex for older players.
Lab Results: Kids liked that when all the gems were in the cloud base, it could also be used as a night-light! Ages 4+
Think your kid isn't old enough to learn coding? Think again. This set lets kids as young as 4 join in on the fun with no screens required. They can learn valuable coding skills while using their fun car to create a path to accomplish their rescue mission.
Lab Results: Kids and parents expanded their coding knowledge with this toy, as it helps explain early coding without the need for a computer science expert. Ages 4+
Hit the skate park from the comfort of your living room with the Tech Deck Shredline 360. This is the only motorized Tech Deck ramp on the market, and it spins and changes direction to let kids ride the ramps around the entire play set without picking up the skateboard. Plus, you can add ramps and obstacle plates to personalize the park.
Lab Results: This toy keeps kids of all ages engaged because it offers basic and advanced play opportunities. Ages 6+
Inspired by Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham, Paralympian and wheelchair motocross world champion, this remote-controlled vehicle does spins and tricks and has a "wheelie boost" function that makes it super speedy — it can go up to 30 mph! It also has a self-righting feature that helps it come back up when it gets knocked over.
Lab Results: "It was faster than my dog!" one tester mused. Kids found it easy to control. Ages 6+
This fun drum set that helps kids get interested in music and learn about keeping time and staying on beat, then lets them add sound effects, rhythms and loops. It's easy to bring on the go, comes with two drumsticks and (thankfully) has an adjustable volume.
Lab Results: Our testers found this set easy to carry around with them and appreciated the wide variety of controls and sound options. Ages 6+
Scooting just got a whole lot cooler: The motion-activated LED lights on this Razor flash in all the colors of the rainbow, and the adjustable handlebar and easy-stop brake makes this child-friendly product easy for kiddos to use. Plus, when they’re done scooting around, it folds up to a manageable size.
Lab Results: Testers found this scootereasy to control, especially when it came to braking. They also noted that the lights were particularly exciting at night. Ages 6+
Sewing is easy with this set, which uses cartridges (no threading necessary) and sensors that automatically start and stop it when they sense fabric. It comes with pre-printed patterned fabric to make six accessories.
Lab Results: Kids felt accomplished when they finished their projects. Even the experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab were impressed with how easy it was! Ages 8+
Kids can use tools to chisel a fossil out of a rock, then don virtual-reality goggles to see what those dinosaurs were really up to in prehistoric times in an immersive way. It comes with an 80-page book with which kids can dig deeper into the subject matter.
Lab Results: "We play with this every day," one kid tester reported. Another parent said their kids loved feeling as if dinosaurs were right there with them. Ages 8+
The 28 electronic components in this kit can be combined and recombined to make more than 100 different projects — and since they snap together, it can all be done without tools. Through the easy-to-read numbered pieces, they’ll learn about electricity and circuitry and better understand how TVs, radios and other electronic devices work.
Lab Results: Kid testers loved how they could build their own "noisy" projects, including a flying saucer and an adjustable-volume siren. Ages 8+
Beyblade fans have never see a stadium like this before! They can battle on two levels with this stadium, including a top deck and a lower level accessed through a Warp Hole. The set also comes with two tops, two launchers and two extra armor tips.
Lab Results: "The games are quick, and I like that we can change all the parts of our tops to maximize battle," one tester said. "The dual-level battle zone is a lot of fun and really steps up the Beyblade game." Ages 8+
Turn tummy time into pretend time with this alligator toy. This crawling aid helps little ones develop their motor skills starting when they’re as young as 4 months old and gives them a safe space to practice lifting their heads and crawling (while looking cute doing so).
Lab Results: Parents appreciated that this toy helped little ones during tummy time and liked the protective sides that kept kids from falling off. Ages 0+
This 4-in-1 walker can be used as a shopping cart, a stroller, a seat or just something to cruise with. Kiddos will like the variety of fun toys included on the walker, like the hot air balloon spinner and the light-up musical keyboard. It's versatile enough for kids to use even after they’ve moved past the early walking stage.
Lab Results: "I love that this toy can be used by both my 2 1/2-year-old and my 5-month-old," said one tester. Ages 6 months+
Any kid who dreams of swimming with the Baby Shark crew will thrill to the experience of riding around on this four-wheeler. It can hold up to 40 lbs, and it has a max speed of 2 mph, so it's quick without being too fast. And yes, it does play the "Baby SharkÆ song.
Lab Results: "He loves to drive this thing around our house while dancing to the ‘Baby Shark’ song," one parent said. Ages 18 months+
This 15" American Girl baby doll play set comes with so many accessories, you can't imagine an infant needing anything else. Kids can learn empathy and practice their nurturing skills by feeding and dressing the doll and putting her to sleep with the included PJ's, blanket, diaper, bib, bottle, teether and wipe case — there's even a tube of diaper ointment! Bitty Babies come with different hair colors, skin tones and eye colors.
Lab Results: "The girls loved everything about this baby doll," one parent reported. "They love how you can take care of it like a real baby." Other testers appreciated how realistic it all looked too. Ages 18 months+
Anyone who has a toddler is probably already familiar with CoComelon, the runaway hit series on YouTube and Netflix. Now, kids can spend time with their CoComelon faves without screens. This sunny school bus comes with letter tokens, and when kids drop a token into the bus, they’ll hear words or phrases that use the letter. Buttons on the outside help kids practice numbers. In addition, there are lights, sounds, songs and colors to keep them engaged.
Lab Results: Parents reported that even without the lights and sounds, their kids enjoyed using the bus as a push toy. Ages 1+
While grocery day may not be your favorite, your little one likely finds grocery shopping to be an exciting activity. This wooden cart lets kiddos explore colors, shapes and imaginative play when they spend the day picking out their groceries and engaging with the puzzles on the side of the cart to sort differently shaped pieces. Don't forget the mini coffee cup!
Lab Results: Kids particularly enjoyed the process of sorting each item by shape through the sides of the cart but found this grocery cart to be a bit on the shorter side. Ages 1+
Gift the toy that grows up alongside your kid. Your little ones can use their nurturing skills to help Princess Ellie grow from a baby to a young child by feeding her, rocking her and taking care of her needs. As she ages, her hair grows longer and she gets taller. Once she's all grown up, kids can reset her back to babyhood and start all over again.
Lab results: Parents appreciate that this interactive doll helps show kids how to care for others. Ages 3+
This play set has lots of ways to get kids’ imaginations cooking. The kitchen comes with plenty of play food kids can use in the traditional way, but there are also accessories kids can use to pretend their 14" dolls (sold separately) are filming their own food vlog, including a camcorder and a tripod.
Lab Results: Kids were wowed by how many items (52!) came with the set. "I loved putting all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing them with the whisk," one tester said. Ages 3+
As kids drive Mummy Pig's car around the track, they can stop at various destinations — including school and home — and hear various sounds related to each location. There are also "story starters" that prompt kids to drive the characters to certain hot spots where they’re rewarded with sounds.
Lab Results: The big cars and the large track were great for small hands. Ages 3+
Combine fun with interior design when your kids get the chance to create their own wall art with Lite-Brite's POP Wow Wall Art kit. With three different designs to choose from in the style of 1950s and 1960s pop art, mini artists will be wowed by what they can create. The best part: Once they’re done they can hang it up on their wall or take it apart and create a different design every season.
Lab Results: "This wall art project is very awesome; it's super unique, and we’ve never seen anything like it," says one tester. Ages 13+
This two-sided easel has a whiteboard on one side, a chalkboard on the other and a clip at the top to hold sheets of paper. An interactive book included with it offers guided drawing activities, and traceable magnets helps kids learn to write dots, lines, shapes and letters.
Lab Results: Kids liked learning how to draw from the book's prompts. Ages 3+
Everyone is invited to this animal clubhouse. Shaped like a treehouse with a working basket pulley system, a slide, a rooftop patio and more, this playhouse comes with three animals so kids can engage in collaborative imaginative play.
Lab Results: Kids adored moving the pieces up and down in the basket pulley system and spent hours playing. Ages 3+
There are so many features packed into this vehicle. You can unhitch the front to find a jeep or boat; set Barbie up in a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom with a pop-up shower or a firepit; or flip up the roof to reveal cots for an outdoor bedroom that lets everyone sleep alfresco. All in all, there are 60 accessories.
Lab Results: "Even my brothers like it," one tester admitted. Ages 3+
This portable 80-piece city lets kids build a play station featuring a customizable train track, stations, shops, construction sites and more. Kids can spend time constructing their perfect city and driving cars around the new town before packing everything up in the bucket and store away.
Lab Results: "The plane and tram open so you can add an extra element to your play by saying, ‘Let's stop and pick people up,’" one tester said. Ages 3+
Combine Disney princesses with cars to create the perfect play set. This princess-themed wooden train set lets kids load the princesses into the train and drive them all over the railway or send them down slides through tunnels. Each set comes with three princesses for collaborative play.
Lab Results: Kids and parents liked that this set inspired hours of imaginative play with familiar characters and aesthetically pleasing designs. Ages 3+
The 120 pieces in this magnetic tile set should be enough to help them build whatever they can imagine, all in cool translucent pastel colors. The set comes with square pieces and different types of triangles so kids can experiment with combining and recombining these simple shapes to make larger designs.
Lab Results: "I can build towers as tall as I am!" one tester raved. Ages 3+
Bake something delicious in Cakey's kitchen with this adorable Gabby's Dollhouse set. Kids can enjoy playing with the 23 included accessories and food items or listening to the fun cooking sounds when twisting the stove's knobs.
Lab Results: Testers loved the details of this set and found the recipe book great to follow along with. Ages 3+
Not only does this space ship have lights and sounds, but it also rocks back and forth so kids really feel like they’re exploring the cosmos. There's also a science lab area with test tubes for explorers to use for their experiments.
Lab Results: Testers loved the projector that puts a light-up galaxy map on the ceiling as well as the illuminated navigation map. Ages 3+
Kids can have a sensory experience pampering their L.O.L. dolls in a spa that has a working waterfall and a hair-washing station. (The mirrors in the hair and manicure salon really light up too.) They can also unbox spa tools, like towels and face masks, for a total of 65 surprises.
Lab Results: Testers loved all the different play areas in the spa, including the hair salon, the nail salon and the juice bar. "It was like your dolls going to a mall," one said. Ages 4+
Welcome to the jungle with this animal clinic play set. Kids can experience caring for others while learning about wild animals when they use the exam tables to check up on sick patients, keep them safe in an enclosed sleeping area or hop in the boat to conduct a rescue mission.
Lab Results: Kids loved that the set came with many different accessories and working parts like a pulley and heat lamps. Ages 4+
Take a peek into your future with this Magic Mixies Crystal Ball. Little witches and wizards can cast spells to dramatically conjure up a fortune-telling Magic Mixie with an interactive wand that lights up while playing. Then the Mixie can predict the future and do spells. With more than 80 interactive lights, sounds and reactions, this toy will keep little ones entertained for a long time.
Lab Results: Kids were wowed by the big reveal when the Mixies appeared for the first time (though parents did not like that there was an odor associated with the Mixies’ mist). Ages 5+
Your kiddo may be a little young to go to art school, but that doesn't mean you can't bring art school to them! This play set is great for creative kids. It includes an art studio for craft making of all kinds, from photography to painting; authentic accessories; and three LEGO Friends characters so everyone can play together at the same time. Kids can have a great time building the set as well as playing with it once done.
Lab Results: Testers loved how beautiful the set was once built and appreciated the detail that went into creating the tiny accessories. Ages 8+
Historical American Girl doll Claudie Wells is a kid growing up during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, when she's surrounded by creativity. Kids get to use their own creativity and imagination with Claudie's play set, which comes with a 1920s outfit and themed accessories like a Baby Ruth candy bar and a faux-leather journal. Claudia also comes with a book that explains what it was like growing up during Claudie's era.
Lab Results: "I really liked the backstory of this doll and that [my daughter] seemed interested in learning more about Claudie," said one parent. Ages 8+
Marisa (she/her) has covered all things parenting, from the postpartum period through the empty nest, for Good Housekeeping since 2018; she previously wrote about parents and families at Parents and Working Mother. She lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn, where she can be found dominating the audio round at her local bar trivia night or tweeting about movies.
Rachel Rothman (she/her) is the chief technologist and executive technical director at the Good Housekeeping Institute, where she oversees testing methodology, implementation and reporting for all GH Labs. She also manages GH's growing research division and the analysis of applicants for the GH Seal and all other testing emblems. During her 15 years at Good Housekeeping, Rachel has had the opportunity to evaluate thousands of products, including toys and cars for GH's annual awards programs and countless innovative breakthroughs in consumer tech and home improvement.
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