Shopping for kids can be difficult, especially if you haven't a clue what any given age group is into these days (not to mention what's safe for them to play with). Younger children need toys that build on learning basics and strengthening motor skills, while older children need toys that are more challenging and stimulating. Either way, when shopping for gifts for kids, you want to shop for toys that encourage imaginative play and that they'll be thrilled to receive for holidays, birthdays and other special occasions.
Each year, the Good Housekeeping Institute pays close attention to the newest toys hitting the market, keeping up with the latest and best new toys of the year and testing out top-sellers to find out which toys are the best of the best for our annual kid-and pro-approved Best Toy Awards. For this perennial list of the best toys for kids of all ages, we've rounded up current and past Toy Award winners, as well as some of the hottest toys trending right now on Amazon and beyond.
Here, you'll find the best toys for every age group from toddlers to teens, plus STEM toys and board games you can play as a family. And if you're shopping last-minute for the holidays, note that you can easily find these toys on sites like Amazon and Walmart:
They're just starting to fine tune their likes and dislikes. These options, which are also vetted for safety, will help kids explore their interests while learning too.
Kids can use this toy to practice colors, numbers and counting. The bubbles are numbered one through ten in English, Spanish, numerals and raised dots and each bubble gives a satisfying pop when you push it in. This is a 2020 Good Housekeeping Toy Award Winner for its ability to delight.
There are three ways to make sounds with this 2020 Good Housekeeping Toy Award winner: Toddlers can bang on him with a drumstick, rattle his fins or shake up the beads in his belly.
Steer him away from the cell phone and show him the kind of phone you played with as a child. The spinning rotary dial gives him the freedom to have any conversation he imagines.
When little ones make their masterpieces using this 2020 Good Housekeeping Toy Award winner, the paint and paper stay inside a protective case, so the paint doesn't get all over. Genius!
This interactive castle brings Elsa and Olaf to life with lights, sounds and hidden surprises to uncover. Plus it's great for kids who want to hear “Let It Go” again and again.
You might remember this popper from your early-moving days. The pushable handle holds beginner walkers up as they gain leg strength all while making a fun Poppity-Pop sound that keeps baby engaged.
Parents have always relied on 100 words books to expand their toddler's vocabulary, and this version from LeapFrog takes things to the next level. The interactive pages say the words, make sound effects and offer fun facts in both English and Spanish. You can also get these tailored to specific areas of interest, like 100 Animals Book, which was a Good Housekeeping 2020 Toy Award winner.
This kid-friendly "tablet" helps your toddler practice her ABC's and 1, 2, 3's. It offers several play modes for educational fun.
These soft, stackable Baby Shark toys instantly sold out after they debuted. Now they're back in stock, so get 'em while you can! They play four verses of the official tune when squeezed.
The childhood favorite is back, but now more interactive than ever with an animatronic mouth that syncs to his speech and light up LED eyes. He also can be linked to an app so that kids can read and sing along with him.
This tiny mixer was build with little hands in mind and the plastic piece won't crush his hands during play. It encourages imagination and fine motor skills as he tries to come up with new "recipes."
If she insists she's ready to hit the road, this tricycle is durably made from steel construction and rubber tires. The rear step makes it easy to step on and off and the adjustable seat grows as she does.
No reading is required for this game. Players take turns spinning the wheel and learning about shapes as they fill up their game board.
These toy mirrors are made from shatterproof glass to ensure safety. The kit comes with guided activities to help kids identify and understand emotions.
This transforming camper is all about letting Barbie recharge after a long day's work. The set includes a doll, puppy, accessories and guided meditation exercises.
At the press of a button, this Batmobile transforms from ordinary vehicle to battle mode right before his eyes. He can also use the remote control to launch projectiles during battle.
This truck and car set is good for both indoor and outdoor play. Plus, our lab experts love the brand's sustainable mission: Every toy is made from 100% recycled milk jugs and contains no metal axles or external coating.
Once she's finished with her creation, she can scan it into the digital Play-Doh World where it then interacts and exists with other characters.
He'll make realistic head motions, walk, roar and make ice breathing effects, just like a real dragon.
This spin-wheel teaches kids classic animals and their sounds. Plus, its easy-to-carry handle makes it a must for the travel bag.
This life-like doll is a great way to introduce responsibility, especially for a child who may have a younger sibling on the way. The newest model from the Baby Alive line is inspired by every toddler's favorite song, "Baby Shark."
Cubby responds to sound and touch with built-in sensors and can even sing a lullaby when it's time for bed. Kids couldn't get over all his reactions (over 100 motions and sounds!).
For the action-lover, the DIY-er and the animal-obsessed, these buzzy buys are made to inspire fun whether they're with friends or alone.
Once your child is done building the haunted high school, he can connect to the compatible app to combine physical play with digital. Once connected, he can battle ghosts and solve mysteries for hours of fun.
It doesn't matter if she doesn't know how to sew. This set teaches her basic cross-stitch techniques so she can make her own jewelry.
This brainteaser follows the original deductive reasoning game, Cat Crimes. Kids can have fun while building problem-solving and motor skills.
This kit includes 400 pieces in different colors, including glow-in-the-dark, so your little one can build her own jewelry and matching jewelry stand.
You can expect spooky surprises and a ton of mystery in this playset. When you pair the game with the Playmobil app, holographic ghosts can be projected on the ground floor.
All she has to do is step on to get moving. The light-up deck and front wheel keep her ride fun and bright as she glides.
This mini nail studio brings salon service right to her fingertips, literally. All she needs to do is pick her pattern, place it inside the press, paint her nails and stamp on the print once the paint dries.
This space-inspired set allows him to build not one, but three creations: a space shuttle explorer, a moon station, or a space rover.
This launcher will let him shoot the cars around a figure eight track with high speed boosters. Now that's thrilling.
Little ones will have a blast creating the ultimate rainbow world with five sand colors, stickers, a mini unicorn and more. It comes with a funnel to aid in pouring and a genius rubber cap to make sure sand stays in place.
Point the controller wherever you want and watch the car follow the laser. He can send it speeding down hallways, around corners and up walls. Cool tech allows it to drive on vertical surfaces and even upside down on the ceiling.
With more than 529 parts, she can piece together the different sizes of connectors, rods and wheels for a world of 3D creations.
It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. These kits inspire kids to dig deeper into these subjects to develop forever skills. (So you can thank us when she's accepting her Nobel Prize in Physics in 40 years.)
Not only does Kinderbot teach him about shapes and colors, he also teaches your little one basic coding through fun button patterns.
She can mix beauty and science together with this DIY bath bomb kit. With the manual's help, she'll act as a chemist to explore acids, bases and pH levels to concoct her soaps.
Get the power tool practice in at a young age. This drill set will helps with motor skills, counting and more!
Each shape is build the same, but the possibilities are endless. Whether he wants to create flat mosaics or 3D dinosaurs, these bricks encourage imagination and build fine motor skills.
This kit lets her play to the sounds of science! With it, she can build her own electric guitar and amp from scratch, all while learning how electrical charges create sound.
This kit will aid young ones build a wand just like Harry's. With over 70 step-by-step challenges your little wizard will be coding in no time.
Sync this kit with your iPad so he can bring his game pieces to life. This set teaches him how to build basic shapes and form letters with silicone sticks and rings.
With more than 840 Lego pieces, motors and hubs, your child can create whatever robot his mind can imagine.
This introduction to atoms and bonding will have him building, scanning and identifying molecules, setting him up for success for chemistry homework down the line.
This science kit teaches your child about the process of creating snow, leaving her with a frosty winter wonderland once she completes the experiment.
This 32 piece set includes small and large squares, four different types of triangles and will have the kids in your life building 3d structure in no time.
This 22 piece set helps kids code at an early age! They can feed, play fetch and even hide and seek with their furry friend.
Family night has never been more exciting. The whole gang will love this competitive fun — even the middle schoolers.
This super-soaker game challenges players to race around the board while giving Soggy Doggy a bath, but look out for when he shakes himself dry — anyone who gets wet has to go back to the start.
This version of the OG edition is even more fun. Inspired by the Strong Man carnival game, the speed that the pie flies all depends on how hard the player hits the launcher.
Of course we couldn't leave out this classic. Get a set for the family and buy, sell and scheme your way to the top.
You might remember this throwback from your childhood. The object is to remove as many sticks as possible without dropping any marbles. The player with the fewest marbles at the end wins!
Players wear noise-cancelling headphones, read the lips of their teammates and guess as many phrases as possible before time runs out.
Each player takes turns carefully dropping beans into a 5-inch red pot that becomes more and more wobbly as it fills. The goal is to get rid of all your beans without tipping the pot.
We have expert- and kid- approved picks for every child on your list:
- The best toys for 2-year-olds
- The best toys for 3-year-old boys
- The best toys for 3-year-old girls
- The best toys for 4-year-old boys
- The best toys for 4-year-old girls
- The best toys for 5-year-old boys
- The best toys for 5-year-old girls
- The best toys for 6-year-old boys
- The best toys for 6-year-old girls
- The best toys for 7-year-old boys
- The best toys for 7-year-old girls
- The best toys for 8-year-old boys
- The best toys for 8-year-old girls
- The best toys for 9-year-old boys
- The best toys for 9-year-old girls
- The best toys for 10-year-old boys
- The best toys for 10-year-old girls
- The best toys for 11-year-old boys
- The best toys for 11-year-old girls
- The best toys for 12-year-olds
- The best toys for 13-year-old boys
- The best toys for 13-year-old girls