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Best Toys for Kids

A Gift-Giving Guide to the Best Toys

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Buying the best toys for kids is part fun and part torture. The toy store's shelves are lined with gifts you don't know if they'll like or you know they'll hate. Take away the gift-giving guesswork to find the best toys for kids of all ages that will instantly become their favorites.

For more holiday ideas, please check out the creative tips and useful resources in our About Family Holiday Survival Guide.

First Toys

A picture of the Around the World Play Gym
Image Courtesy PriceGrabber
They're not quite ready to play cars or dolls just yet, but there are still some great toys for baby on the market. Newborn gifts soothe babies well into the months after their first big holiday celebration, and plush toys for baby can become lifelong friends. As your baby grows, baby bouncers, play gyms and mats and exersaucers help him work on his fine and gross motor skills. Once baby hits the one year mark, prepare yourself for a big change as those quiet toys are exchanged for gifts that will result in a lot of happy squeals.

Pictured: The Baby Einstein Around the World Collection Play Gym (compare prices)

Just for Fun

A picture of the Step 2 Grand Walk In Kitchen
Image Courtesy PriceGrabber
Not every toy has to have a goal or strategy attached to be a great gift. Some toys are just plain fun. Playhouses and play kitchens are a couple of toys that let young minds get creative. The top pretend toys grow imaginations in new ways. And then there are those toys you loved when you were a child that were also just for fun. Many of those classic toys have been revamped for today's kids.

Pictured: The Step 2 Grand Walk-In Kitchen (compare prices)

Educational Toys

A picture of the Vtech Alphabet Apple
Image Courtesy PriceGrabber
Parents love giving their kids toys that are both fun and educational. Start a love of learning early with educational games for your preschooler. As they grow, give them science toys and other toys that continue to help children learn.

Picture: The Vtech Alphabet Apple (compare prices)

Building and Construction Toys

A picture of a Magz Magnetic Construction Set
Image Courtesy PriceGrabber
Build. Play. Destroy. Repeat. The best building toys never get boring because a child's imagination is in charge. Brio, Lego and Melissa & Doug are just some of the construction set gifts that encourage kids to build elaborate structures that put the four-walled buildings we designed as kids to shame.

Pictured: Magz Magic Cabin 247-Piece Magnetic Construction Set (compare prices)

Riding Toys

A picture of the Bravo Sports Pulse Slither Von Scroll Scooter
Image Courtesy PriceGrabber
Anything that has wheels is always a popular gift choice for kids. And anything that makes kids go is guaranteed gift-giving hit. Toddler and preschooler ride-on toys don't have to go fast or far to keep the smiles on a child's face. Older kids are no exception. Ride-on toys for kids, tweens and teens have become so creative in their designs and functions over the years, you'll be jealous some of them weren't around when you were a kid.

Pictured: The Bravo Sports Pulse Slither Von Scroll Scooter (compare prices)

Active Games and Toys

A picture of the Mattel Electronic Toss Across Game
Image Courtesy PriceGrabber
Picture a toy that's going to get your kids active and a bicycle usually comes to mind. But there are plenty of active toys for the whole family outside of bike rides on busy streets. Toddlers and preschoolers can get moving with toys that challenge them both physically and mentally. School-age children may gravitate toward couch potato video games, but that will stop when they receive toys that are so fun, they won't know they're exercising. Don't forget winter either. Snow toys get the kids excited about playing outside and keep them in shape during the coldest time of year.

Pictured: Mattel Electronic Toss Across Game (compare prices)

Gadgets and Video Games

A picture of the Apple iPod Touch
Image Courtesy PriceGrabber
Plug the kids into the latest gadget and video game gifts. Today's preschoolers have a variety of gadget and video game gifts they can get their hands on for early exposure to computers. Computer gifts for elementary school children help them learn how to read, play educational games or simply have fun. Play along with your kids too. Family-friendly video games can even get technologically-challenged grandpa in on the action. Great ideas for teen gifts think beyond the latest video game releases. You know how teens love their digital cameras and iPods.

Pictured: The Apple iPod Touch (compare prices)

Board Games

A picture of the game Quelf
Image Courtesy PriceGrabber
Where else can you help a ladybug get back home or wear toilet paper around your head as a clue? Board games are always a winning gift. Preschool board games teach them everything from colors to counting. Money games show school-age kids the value of a dollar while they earn play money, shop wisely and set their own prices. Games for gifted kids challenge them on every level without boredom kicking in. College kids aren't too cool for board games either. Board games for young adults let them battle zombies, answer outrageous questions honestly or put them in hilarious situations, such as singing opera while walking backwards and balancing books on their heads.

Pictured: Quelf (compare prices)

Books

A picture of the cover of the Pat the Bunny book
Image Courtesy PriceGrabber
Books aren't your typical get in the floor and play for hours toys, but they're still gifts kids can use for entertainment. Even if you have a reluctant reader, providing kids with books is the way to get them to read more while inspiring a love of reading they'll take with them into adulthood. There are classic books for kids and books for bedtime to get little ones interested in the written word. For kids reading on their own, there are books to keep kids busy, books that help kids learn about computers and books that challenge readers. Regardless of the books you choose, you're still encouraging your child to read and that's one of the best gifts you can ever give them.

Pictured: Pat the Bunny (compare prices)

Toys by Age

A picutre of a girl opening a present
Photo © (nutmeg) / Flickr
Looking for a gift for a specific age range? You won't want to miss the complete gift-giving guide for kids of all ages. From babies to young adults, find out what the hottest gifts are this year for all of the kids on your shopping list.
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