Best Toys of 2016: Toddlers

We start scouting new toys in February, request tons of them in May and June, and over the summer, test a few hundred faves with some 75 kids and their parents. The result—this annual list—is the best of the newest. We don’t play around! (Oh wait, maybe we do ... )

Best Toys of 2016: Toddlers & Preschoolers

Best Toys Haba Grocery Shop Play Tent Jeffrey Westbrook
The Haba Grocery Shop Play Tent proves to be equally right for one kid hiding out and four children playing “store” together. There’s a window or a door on three sides so parents can peek in. 18 months+, $90.

Best Toys Dynacraft Thomas and Friends Foot to Floor Car Jeffrey Westbrook
Got a Thomas fan? The Dynacraft Thomas & Friends Foot to Floor Car is probably in your future. A tot is delighted to open a door, climb in, and beep the horn even before pushing off. 18 months+, $70.

Best Toys Leap Frog Fridge Numbers Magnet Set Jeffrey Westbrook
A fridge toy is brilliant, because you spend half the day in the kitchen anyway. LeapFrog Fridge Numbers Magnetic Set goes beyond showing numerals; magnets also demonstrate quantity. 2 years+, $20.

Best Toys Janod Zigolos Hen Activities House Jeffrey Westbrook
Hammering shapes through the correct hole is a million times more fun when the mallet is a chicken and when one shape is a big egg. Janod Zigolos Hen Activities House, we salute you. 18 months to 3 years, $40.

Best Toys Retro Rocket Jeffrey Westbrook
Guest Editor Kristen Bell tested the Radio Flyer Retro Rocket with her kids and says the under-seat storage is a hit. She appreciates that it’s an easy first rider and gives it a 10-out-of-10 for keeping both daughters engaged. 1 to 3 years, $30.

Best Toys Lego Mickey & Friends Beach House Jeffrey Westbrook
Toddler testers flocked to the Lego Duplo Mickey & Friends Beach House. The timeless appeal of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy combined with a tiny boat and boom box make for one fun toy. 2 to 5 years, $40.

Best Toys Mega Bloks First Builders Food Truck Setchen Building Set Jeffrey Westbrook
Of course in 2016 there’s a Mega Bloks First Builders Food Truck Kitchen! If you pretend-cook artisanal burgers, you may as well pretend-sell them. #entrepreneur 1 year+, $40.

Best Toys Playskool Friends Sesame Street Love2Learn Elmo Jeffrey Westbrook
Playskool Love2Learn Elmo can, with a free app, ask if it’s potty time, suggest brushing teeth, or say good night (then shut off). He’ll say the letter and number of the day and that an armed-services parent is “very brave.” 18 months to 4 years, $60.