It sounds ridiculous to non-parents, but buying play things for babies/toddlers/kids is a challenge. My son was a late crawler, so I felt like I was always looking for toys to motivate him to get moving. It’s nearly impossible to predict what will motivate a child. I’ve had some of my greatest successes with household objects like a whisk or a muffin mold tin and had some of the biggest flops with pricey toys (usually gifts from grandma making it all the more disappointing). There are a few brands, however, that can be counted on for play things that are both appealing for most children and well made (as in non-toxic), which is key given that for the first years children put literally anything and everything in their mouths. One of these is brands is Manhattan Toy.
Whether you want a teether/rattle for your baby or an imaginative play set for your toddler, Manhattan Toy has been making award-winning ones for over four decades but yet still are under many people’s radar. I’ve used their toys in group settings with toddlers ranging from 8 months to 2 years and found that more so than many other options their pieces are designed to help enable gross motor skill development grabbing, holding and yes, even moving. I’ve also never had gagging issues with any of them (no scary small pieces), so I feel comfortable letting kids play with everything I’ve gotten even without my constant supervision.
They have a ton of fun heirloom quality, non-plastic options, but I have to say the bath set above has got to be my favorite. Whether or not you get the accompanying doll it’s very likely to be a hit. It’s such a unique find for imaginative play and it has become part of our nighttime ritual to play with it before bath and bed time with our son.
I also want to shout out the above book because we’ve gotten HOURS (obviously not at once but over months) of use out of it. My son still blissfully doesn’t know what sugar is and loves fruits and veggies and I’m trying to build on that for as long as I can! This book is also great for teaching babies how to turn pages.