Toy Report 2014 – Toys by category, from 0+

A description of the categories will be coming soon.
 
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Active Play


Batteries
Little Tikes Activity Garden Rock & Spin (631993M)
Little Tikes
9 mos – 3 yrs

This cute-looking bug is designed to be both a stationary and a rocking toy in which little kids can sit and play. The seat’s back is high enough to support little tots,and the steering wheel is easy to hold. Our testers liked the wheel’s activities and sounds,but it bothered our testing families that 9-month-olds could not easily get in and out of the bug and that it was hard for them to get the bug to rock. One young child fell out of the seat several times. Requires 3 AA batteries.

★★★ Best Bet
Walkness Monster (BX1288)
B. toys by Battat
10 mos +

The Walkness Monster roams the halls,gobbling up colourful balls as it goes! With this sturdy toy,little tots can practise walking with growing confidence. The rubber wheels grip well and don’t turn too fast,although our testers found that they also don’t turn corners. The toy comes with nine brightly coloured balls that can be fed through the handle’s chute so they will spin around in the open bowl base. The chute doubles as a convenient storage space for the balls. Testers used the bowl base in imaginative play as a stroller,shopping cart,wagon,etc.
Developmental Toys

★★★
Earlyears Hoot & Rattle Stacker (E00340)
International Playthings
4 mos +

What a hoot! Our testers delighted in these brightly coloured,plush,owl-themed stacking rings. The 2 thick rings were easy for them to grab onto,and they enjoyed the colourful patterns,variety of textures,and crinkly wings on mama owl and her 2 babies. The little owls contain bells,so tots enjoyed shaking them,too. Even if mama’s head didn’t always stay on,tots enjoyed stacking up the rings and taking them apart again. “My baby loved this toy”, wrote one parent. “It kept him entertained for extended amounts of time.” Although the label says to spot clean only,one testing parent washed the toy in the machine with no ill effects. The toy appealed most to children under the age of 2.

★★★
Birthday
Green Ring (B1217)
Begin Again
6 mos +

This environmentally friendly teething toy has a 3-inch loop of smooth maple wood with an outer cornstarch-based rubber ring. This BPA- and phthalate-free toy is even compostable and dishwasher safe. As one testing parent said,“My daughter chews on everything now that she is teething and discovering the world with her mouth. This toy was nice to have around because it was safe and I didn’t have to worry about what it was made of.” The ring is lightweight and easy for little hands to grasp,and its shape allows for versatile uses like pulling scarves through the circle,hooking it around an object,and playing “I Spy”. The outer ring can be removed and the inner wooden ring rolled along the floor or tabletop. Parents found it easy to attach the toy to a clip and small enough to easily take on the go.

★★★
Birthday
Hello Kitty My Activity Friend (HK38029)
International Playthings
0 mos +

This huggable Hello Kitty toy has a flower in one hand and a purse in the other. Our young testers enjoyed engaging with this cute and colourful plush toy. One foot has a squeaker inside,and the other makes a crinkle sound. Tots can also open the hook and loop closure on the purse and put the flower (which has a child-safe mirror in the centre) inside. Little testers enjoyed playing peek-a-boo in the mirror and cuddling with the toy. Families appreciated how soft and well-made the toy is.

★★★
Travel
Birthday
Hello Kitty Wrist Rattle (HK38018)
International Playthings
0 – 12 mos

Hello baby! Engage little ones with this cute and colourful wrist rattle. The soft fabric Hello Kitty head contains a rattle that amuses babies,and the wrist or ankle bracelet is made of colourful textured fabric that makes a delightful crinkly sound when pressed or squeezed. Soft ribbon accents add to the toy’s attractions. Our testing families found this to be a perfect size and weight for infants,especially those around 6 months,and liked how play helped visual and auditory development.

★★★
Lil Spinner Activity Roller (E00347)
International Playthings
6 – 18 mos

Rock ’n’ roll! This cute and colourful little plastic toy has lots of ways to engage little ones: a spinner,a peek-a-boo door,a moving image,and a rattle. The wheels roll easily,and our testing babies loved having the toy rolled toward or away from them. It was especially enjoyed by little ones who were discovering their mobility skills (such as those under 13 months),and parents used it to encourage babies to reach and crawl. Families appreciated the toy’s smooth edges,gender-neutral colours,and durable composition.

★★★
Travel
Birthday
Zoo Winkels Owl (211680)
Manhattan Toy
0 – 12 mos

Teething isn’t so bad when you have something this cute to gnaw on. This colourful baby toy has flexible plastic loops that spread out like brightly coloured wings around a centred little owl. A rattle inside the owl makes this toy engaging as both a teether and a noise maker. Testing families liked how the many loops made it easy for babies to grasp and hold on to. It can also be chilled in the fridge for some extra relief for baby’s sore gums. “My son loved shaking this toy,” reported one testing mom. “And he loved chewing on it.”
Educational Toys

★★
Batteries
Playskool Learnimals ABC Adventure Elefun Toy (A3210)
Hasbro
6 mos – 3 yrs

One elephant went out to play… With this cute,interactive toy,kids can pull down the elephant’s trunk to learn a new word,peek behind its ear to see a new letter,or slide the butterfly across its body to practise counting. Our little testers delighted in the many sound effects this friendly plastic elephant makes. They loved the light-up features and the toy’s bright colours. But although its compact size makes it easy for little hands to grasp,it was a bit too heavy for small tots to carry,causing it to be dropped on tender toes. Testing families also found that the ABC word feature would get jammed at the letter Z or other random points. Parents regretted that there was no volume control. Requires 3 AA batteries.

★★★
Birthday
Batteries
Turn & Learn Turtle (80-143100)
Vtech
9 – 24 mos

“I had a little turtle.” Our testers loved this happy green turtle whose shell is covered in brightly coloured gears. Turn the gears and the turtle will sing songs and teach you about insects and colours. The turtle can also be pulled along by a string and will light up as he rolls. Our testers found this toy very engaging. They would respond to his questions,dance to his tunes,and play with him extensively. Parents liked how playing with this toy helped tots develop motor skills and language skills. They also appreciated the volume control. Requires 2 AA batteries.
Listening,Playing & Viewing

★★★
Batteries
Laugh & Learn Singin' Storytime Puppy (Y6967)
Mattel
6 mos +

This puppy is ready to play! The colourful,interactive toddler toy will play music or sing songs,depending on which of the puppy’s soft paws is pressed. Change its song or story by flipping the pages of the little book it holds. Durable and well made,the puppy has a clear voice that little tots can easily understand. It was especially popular among our mini testers who like to sit and listen to stories.

★★★
Batteries
Little Tikes Activity Garden Safe & Fun Mirror (632068M)
Little Tikes
6 – 18 mos

Who’s that cute baby in the mirror? Little ones love their reflection,and this toy offers a safe mirror for them to engage with. A two-stage toy,the mirror can be locked in either horizontal or vertical position. Lights,colours and music keys provide other ways to engage and entertain. This toy was enjoyed by our testers between the ages of 6 and 18 months,especially those just beginning to crawl. Parents appreciated that the volume can be lowered or turned off. Requires 3 AA batteries.

★★★
Batteries
Sleep Sheep Smart-Sensor (BGA52) (7304-ZZ)
Cloud b
0 mos +

Rock-a-bye baby. This cute and cuddly sleep aid toy contains a panel of sounds (heartbeat,rain,ocean,and whale) to create a gentle white noise to soothe baby. Noises can play continuously or for 23 or 45 minutes. The toy also has a sensor that registers when the child is moving around and will automatically turn the sound back on to lull the baby back to sleep. A Velcro loop on the back of the sheep makes it easy to attach to the crib rail. The controls are easy to adjust,which our testing parents appreciated but some toddlers also enjoyed. Requires 2 AA batteries.

★★★
Travel
Birthday
Snuggle Pods Sweet Pea Blankie (211930)
Manhattan Toy
0 – 12 mos

Snuggle up with this little pale green blanket made of delightfully soft fleece and silky satin trim. Like a little baby in a pea pod,in the middle of the blanket is a little pop-up head with ribbons and tags to engage little fingers. Our tiny testers,especially those under 6 months,liked the soft feel of this cuddly blanket and explored the edges,ribbons and tags. Parents were pleased to find that even though the tag recommends surface wash only,the blanket came through the wash just fine.

★★★ Best Bet
Batteries
Tranquil Turtle (BGA50) (7423-AQ)
Cloud b
0 mos +

This peaceful blue turtle will help to lull your baby to sleep. His durable,clear aquamarine shell can project a blue wave pattern onto the ceiling of a darkened room,and he’ll make soothing sounds (music or waves) for bedtime. Our testing babies enjoyed the relaxing sounds and oscillating lights. Older tots engaged with the turtle as a plush toy and enjoyed being able to operate the turtle’s functions,since buttons on the turtle’s back and belly make it easy to control the sounds,lights and volume. Parents liked that the toy is safe for all ages and engaging over a long period. Requires 3 AA batteries.

★★★ Best Bet
Batteries
Twilight Carz – Red Lightning (BGA60) (7433-RD)
Cloud b
0 mos +

Star light,star bright. This cute red car projects blue or red stars onto the ceiling and walls of a darkened room. During the daytime,the sturdy car can be rolled around and played with as a toy. This toy was easy for our tester tots to use and became a favourite in many homes. The tots liked how the wheels roll smoothly and the headlights and taillights turn on. Parents appreciated that the stars will turn off after 45 minutes. In one testing home,parents credit this car,and their son’s fascination with its stars,with giving them “the easiest bedtime ever.” Requires 3 AAA batteries.

★★★
Birthday
Batteries
Wiggimals (629464M)
Little Tikes
6 mos +

Watch them jiggle,wiggle and play! These cute plush animals vibrate and play music when their heads are pressed. Our little testers delighted in watching them move around and in listening to the little tunes and animal sounds. Although most testers under the age of 2 were unable to activate the toy themselves,they loved it when their parents or older siblings turned it on for them. A variety of Wiggimals are available (sheep,pig,cow and chicken),each of which was tested by our volunteer families. With battery compartment removed,the toy can be machine-washed. Requires 3 AAA batteries.