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Product Type: Toys
Age: Toddlers

 


2013 Award
Rock n' Ride Talking Lotty
(Mamas and Papas $129.99 Score:)

A plush seated ride on that converts from rocker to wheeled toy. Unlike other ride- ons, this has a cushioned seat that is more like a soft chair. The wheels do not come off, but slide and are held in place with Velcro straps. Squeeze its ears and it talks or plays music, though you may find the sound a bit loud for very young toddlers. They say 9 months & up, but since there is no safety harness, we think this is a better bet for older tots with more balance than most babies of nine months. We also suggest the soft seat may fall victim to leaking diapers and can only be surface washed, since it is not removable.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Awards
Fisher-Price Rockin Tunes Giraffe
(Fisher-Price $39.99 Score:)

Rockin' Tunes Giraffe responds to your toddler's movements with music, lights, and phrases. The more kids rock the more the lights in Giraffe's mane blink and the music and phrases build. Happily, you can also turn off the sounds and lights or choose a lower volume. We like the low seat, the bat-at roller in  Giraffe's mane. Best of all, the stabile rockers make this ride-on a fun choice for steady on their feet toddlers to mount with some independence. Unlike heirloom style wooden and plush ride-ons, this plastic rocker is quite affordable and will go the distance. A big gift for a little toddler. Need a big 1st or 2nd birthday gift that won't break the bank? This is it! 12-36 months.

SNAP: Aside from the stability of this rocker, it's invitation to physical gross motor play, and its affordability, we like the cause and effect lessons built into the action. The idea of making music go faster the faster you rock gives tots instant feedback that links their actions to making something happen.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Bunnies By the Bay Lily Mae
(Bunnies By the Bay $16 Score:)

Sweet Lily Mae, a soft green froggie wears a petal tutu and purple ballet slippers that do not come off. Lily is a lot cuter in person than her photo shows. She has stitched features and a beanbag bottom that allows her to sit without toppling over. Her skinny legs and arms are easy for tots to grab. She is machine washable and tumbles dry on low heat. Newborns & up.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Baby Abuelito Pancho
(Kids Preferred $27.99 Score:)

First let us say, this looks like few Grandpas of the past fifty years that we have known. Even Great Grandpas of today do not look like this steroptyical. That said, this is a cuddly fabric doll that sings four charming folk songs in Spanish with a squeeze of his hand. He is more photogenic, than the matching Abuelita doll, so don't be put off.  He's adorable in person, has a great singing voice, and his huggability factor is a 10! 2 & up.

 

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Baby Abuelita Rosa
(Kids Preferred $21.99 Score:)

First let us say, this looks like no Grandma of the past fifty years that we have known. Even Great Grandmas of today do not look like this steroptyical granny. That said, this is a cuddly fabric doll that sings six charming folk songs in Spanish, with a squeeze of her hand. She is not too photogenic, so don't be put off. She is much sweeter in person and her huggability factor is a 10! Her singing is perfect!

 

 

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Playskool Pop N Pick Up Elefun
(Playskool $29.99 Score:)

Toddlers will be popping, chasing, and picking up the five colorful balls that pop out of the blue elephant's trunk. Unlike a lot of pop up toys this does not shoot the balls high or with much force. As tots push the elephant over the balls it scoops them up again. This plays right into the toddler's delight in new-found locomotion as well as their love of repetition. We worried that the toy might be too small for two's, but our tester's dad wrote, "I do not think it is too small for a 2 year old, and Chloe is a large 2 year old. It holds her interest for 10-15 minutes, which is on par with other toys. She loves manually putting the balls in the different holes (trunk, back, bottom), and likes storing them in the handle. The one frustrating thing for her seems to be that sometimes she just wants to walk around with the toy, but it keeps spitting the balls out! Of course, she doesn't yet realize that as long as there are balls in there, it will spit them out. For that reason, the ball storage in the handle is a good idea. For the parent, the annoying thing is that the balls roll all over the place (under the couch, etc.) and we have to find them. Other than that, I think it's a good toy." A great gift for active players 18 months and up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Crayola My First Touch-Lights Pad
(Crayola $21.99 Score:)

One of Crayola's mess-free toys. The screen changes colors and sings 6 songs as toddlers use their fingers or the stylus to make things happen. This does not replace the squishy joy of finger paints, but it does allow less clean-up time. The free form drawings are not permanent. Use the stylus sideways to clear the screen and start again. This takes 3 AA's and happyily--the sound can be turned off. Designed for tots of 24 months & up.

 SNAP:Finger paint it is not..that said, this does provide another way to get children to build finger and hand muscles without the demands of gripping a pencil, marker, or crayon.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Fisher Price Puppy & Friends Learning Table
(Fisher-Price $44.99 Score:)

There are many activities built into this interactive bi-lingual table. Babies can use this on the floor without the legs and it will then grow up for standing up toddlers with the addition of the legs. They can turn the plastic pages of a book, use the buttons on a phone that counts, make music on a small keyboard and hear more than 60 songs and phrases. Babies who are learning to stand and walk will use this to pull up on and to cruise around. Be forewarned, it is not weighted and on some surfaces the table will slide. In fact, some tots may try using it as a push-around toy. Will they learn their numbers or letters with this? Not really. But most babies will start using this before they are really talking and there are more important things to be learned at that stage than letters and numbers. This is one of those toys that plays repeated lessons giving tots hands-on experiences with cause and effect. By using little fingers they gain a sense of power in being able to make so many things happen. Marked 6 months-36 months, we think this will be of most interest to kids a little older than 6 months and younger than 36 months. That said, this is a pretty good activity table.

SNAP: Adaptable for floor or stand up action, this is a versitile toy that invites hands and fingers to make things happen.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car
(Fisher-Price $60 Score:)

You know how car salesmen tell you the car they are selling is fully loaded? That would be a good description of this red activity center that is shaped like a car. It has wheels but does not move around. It's designed for sitting up, crawling, and even toddlers who are cruising. There's a dashboard with steering wheel, lights, and buttons to activate--always a favorite of toddlers. The back wheels spin and one side door opens and closes so tots can go in and out. There is a shape sorter on one side and a ball run on the other, a windshield wiper that talks about the weather. All the pieces are sized up for young players. This toy takes some time to put together with screws and stickers. It says 6 months to 36 but we think this will be used most by babies who are crawling, cruising and beginning walkers. Lots of ways for them to make things happen and for early games of pretending.

SNAP: There's still plenty to do even though the wheels of this sporty red car do not move the vehicle about.  A good choice for a child who is ready for pretend without the need for pedals or foot power. Think of it as a pretend setting with so many ways of making things happen.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Ravensburger My First Puzzle At The Farm
(Ravensburger $9.99 Score:)

For beginners, here are nine two-piece puzzles featuring bold graphics of typical farm animals, as well as a tractor, and farming couple. With beginners you may want to introduce just one puzzle at a time rather than all the pieces in the box. This gives you a chance to talk about the animals, their names, and the sounds they say. The chunky two-piece puzzles are made of sturdy cardboard that fit together with relative ease and introduce children to the concept of part and whole. As you play with these simple puzzles toddlers are also building language with learning the names of familiar farm animals. This is one of a series of beginning puzzles. Marked 2 & up. Although some twos will be able to do these with help, this will be a better choice for slightly older children with more dexterity.

SNAP: Play an I Spy Game: Once children are familiar with all the puzzles and have played with them as suggested above, you can play another game with them. After the animals are together take turns making the animal sound of one of the animals and other player finds and names the animal you are spying. Reverse the game and have child make an animal sound for the creature he is spying. A good game for developing language and dexterity.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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