1. Band in a box This set is really fun and interactive. I love that it's all wooden and metal so there's no extra plastic or anything fake. The instruments resemble real instruments and sound authentic. They have held up extremely well. We love the box, too. Easy to store! Both children approve!
2. Soft blocks I love everything about these for 1-2 year olds. Primarily the fact that they are soft and squishy because you know they're going straight into the mouth. They feature colors, textures, sensory areas, and numbers. They are easy to stack together, but also easy to use for other projects (art! bath!).
3. Chunky puzzle set I love this brand and this puzzle because the pieces are large but not knobs. The knob puzzles are great, but hello mouth toy! These are still large and easy to manipulate for a little person but also easy to try to fit in for when they're closer to 18 months and up. I love the themes, too!
4. Dot marker gift set Okay, dot markers are genius for messy kids. We LOVE using these. If your child loves to paint then I recommend these even more because they are easy to hold (huge bottle) and difficult to make a mess other than on themselves. The booklets are cool but not necessary.
5. Farmer's market set If you have a play kitchen, you need this set. It's so cute and easy to use. Layla even loves playing with the fruit at 10 months. The fruit do not have holes in them and are plastic but hollow. The baskets are durable and can fit a lot of fruit! We like playing tossing games into them as well as organizing the fruit. The label is colored so it's easy to match the color before reading.
6. STEM shape sorting Skoolzy is an amazing brand and you should check them out! I really love this item, especially for this age group because they are diverse. The colors are vibrate and the mat is easy to use. Both of my kids use this currently so you'll get a lot of use of it, especially if your baby is near 1 versus 2.
7. Shape sorting box Shapes and colors are two very high skills that your baby is going to learn during this time and this box ticks both. The blocks themselves are a little small so when Layla is around I supervise, but they are chunky. They fit into the box really nicely and easy to turn so there's no frustration there.
8. Wooden sorting tray I like these because it has huge pieces, similar to a puzzle, and the pieces are easy to hold for baby hands. It's a little advanced on how to move the pieces themselves, but I find that the older one will use it and the younger will play more with it. It's a nice addition to have something unique and not just block shapes or colors.
9. Stacking cubes What's does a young toddler like better than stacking something up and knocking it down? Nothing! These are great because they feature letters, numbers, images, colors, and more. They don't hold up as well as a plastic one but I like that they are more eco-friendly. The colors are bright and whenever I take it out, the kids gravitate toward it.
10. Sensory balls There are an all-time favorite because they're so colorful and unique and so fun to throw! Woohoo! The cups are perfect sized for the 2 year old to try and catch the smaller balls. I love the language that this type of ball evokes where you describe how it feels and what it does. They've actually held up amazingly through both kids.
BONUS Zipper bag This is such a fun item, especially if you're in the car a lot. Layla already LOVES messing around in it. It features 9 different activity pages that are all fine motor skills and sensory pages. I love the zipper page for the 2 year old and the shape plush pages for the baby. It's machine washable so that right there is a win when the wet cheerios get caked on!