As a mom with two sisters, I knew nothing of little boy toys before having Robert. As I started to look for fun, engaging things for him I was a bit overwhelmed with the options. Fortunately, we try to stay away from Chinese plastic so my choices were limited to a manageable number. Here are some of our favorites so far.
1. Rody - Definitely go for the rocking base, too. This made in Italy bouncer is a great way to burn off little boy (and girl!) energy.
2. Finn + Emma Play Gym - We originally used this as a traditional play gym when he was lying on his back all day. He loved the Peruvian-woven bears so much that we put one on his car seat. As he got older, it turned into one of his favorite push toys.
3. Duplos - Our one Chinese plastic toy. Robert loves these and goes straight for his bin in the morning. He especially loves the animal and people characters.
4. Mohr Polster Baby Swing - This is a splurge, but we keep it in our kitchen so we wanted something that would look good and be fun. There are lots of beautiful colors to choose from, so you can easily match your decor if this will be in a public place. The only drawback is that we had to order it from Austria via Canada, and delivery took about 7 weeks.
5. Under the Nile Toolbox - The soft saw, hammer, and paintbrush are just the right size to carry around. And gnaw on. And we don't feel bad about that because they're from Egypt.
6. Any cardboard box - Enough said. But there's a bonus if any of the following things are inside: tissue paper, smaller boxes, a stick, anything that shakes, or a small stuffed animal.
7. PlanToys Workbench - Although it is meant for kids 3+, we've had lots of fun building widgets for him to twirl, spin, and play with. This will be a toy to grow on.
8. Green Toys Shape Sorter - I feel like we've got most of the Green Toy catalog at this point - from cars to stackers to submarines. The shape sorter is particularly good for developing brains, and the earth friendly toys are made in the USA.
9. Ikea Lillabo Toy Vehicles - This set of three cars has interchangeable pieces for extra fun. Plus (and I'm not sure if this is intentional or not) the wheels slightly squeak, which keeps Robert's attention.
10. JellyCat Cordy Roy Lion - This is the end-all, be-all in our house. Our lion, named Leonard, is Robert's lovey. The soft fabric and cuddly stuffed toy is perfect for him. Although it says to hand wash only, I've successfully put it in the washer under the hand wash cycle and used the steam sanitize cycle on the dryer with no problems.