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It’s that time of year again. The time when the most obnoxious toys come out to play. I hate toys that make noise. There are gentle musical toys and those are okay. But, I’m talking the giant Buzz Lightyear that screams “to infinity and beyond!!!” over and over (from my basement, where I have hidden him much to my three year old’s chagrin. He keeps asking for Buzz, I just keep giving him an innocent look and making a comment about keeping better track of his toys). I much prefer imaginative play with things like cars and building blocks. The only noise they make is a ventle vroom coming from my one year old’s mouth (that, I can handle) or the occasional clank of wood on wood, which brings back waves of nostalgia. We didn’t have all those noisy toys and electronics when I was growing up (before the dinosaurs according to my six year old). But, I digress. I’m not here to talk about noisy toys (though I could go on as you’ve probably gathered). I want to talk about imaginative play and toys worth the investment. 

I wish someone had sat me down and told me exactly what kids wanted to play with when I was a new mom. They don’t need 80 million squinkies, a singing guitar, or playsets with 5 billion tiny parts. The toys that every family should have are much more basic than that. I can break it down into 3 categories for you. 

1. Puzzles and blocks

2. Play that simulates real life like baby dolls and play food.

3. Things that go “vroom” but only when your child makes that noise.

Yep. That’s it. Boy, do I wish I’d known we didn’t need those giant rubber dinosaurs and a bed full of beanie boos ten years ago. It would probably have saved a lot of yelling, some tears, and a little bit of my sanity. So, if you’re a new mom, please listen when I tell you: “Step away from that light up electronic toy robot” (that was me two Christmases ago- major fail!). Get yourself to the wooden toy aisle and close your eyes and take in the silence. You’ll thank me later! 

Now that you know what to buy, let’s get down to what we have pictured here. Cubbie Lee Toys has a wide selection of brightly colored, high quality, wooden toys at reasonable prices. I was super excited when I found this shape sorter Noah’s Ark. I love all the details especially the mama and daddy lion set and the sweet dove they included. They really thought of everything when they came up with this one. The top is removable and all the pieces stow inside. Baby Hey J attacked it with glee when we let him loose in the office. He played with it for a good 20 minutes straight and cried when we packed it up (for St Nick’s day- stay tuned for my top picks this year). 

I think my favorite part of these toys is that they each incorporate an important life skill, from cutting with pretend fruit, to shape sorting, to matching with a chunky puzzle, and learning letters with building blocks. They also have some very reasonably priced train sets and much more. Don’t take my word for it though, head on over to Cubbie Lee Toys to check them all out. 

With the world so full of stimulation from electronics and our fast paced lifestyles, it’s nice to slow down with imaginative play. Plus, I’ve learned, if you plan your purchases wisely and buy high quality, useful things, life becomes a little less cluttered. 

Wooden Toys: c/o Cubbie Lee Toys 

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***Cubbie Lee Toys sent me products for my honest review. I was not paid for this post nor was I influenced in any way to give them a positive review. All opinions herein are my own. Now go shop, because they’re a great small business, I don’t even get a cut for saying that, I just like their products!***


  1. I could not agree with you more. We have been purchasing more things for our girls that make them use their imagination. I always had toys like this growing up. I loved playing with my dolls and Little Tikes kitchen toys.

    1. Exactly! We need fewer technologically inclined toys and fewer toys all together but the ones that encourage imagination are keepers.

  2. Great ideas, and the ones the make noise make me crazy too. Unfortunately for us my husband has a huge extended family we do Christmas with, so in the spirit of valuing relationships and not crushing our 3yo’s spirits, we sometimes end up having to let him keep the noisey ones! If only until he gets bored with it and it can “disappear” 😉

  3. These are the cutest toys! I can totally get behind a movement to reduce toy clutter in the house for sure! When we reduce the toys our kids actually play with what they have a lot more . However, I really need to be better about keeping the toy clutter out of the house in the first place! Our kids receive tons of gifts from family throughout the year so the toys pile up again fast.

    1. I totally agree. Choose the toys carefully and donate often. I need to find better places to donate than just thrift where I feel like sometimes they pile up. We have a lot of like new toys that would do better at libraries or pregnancy centers. Food for thought!

  4. Love this list! I just saw a friend get the Noah’s Ark set at a shower this weekend! We love open ended toys around here – it is incredible to see our kids’ imaginations at work!

  5. When I really watch what my kids do with their toys it is a lot of imagination play with dolls and figures. Your right teh things with lights etc are very much a novelty item they soon forget about 🙂

  6. I am with you on this! I like to buy toys for my one year old that would stimulate her senses and spark creativity. I don’t let them play with gadgets like ipad or iphone.

  7. I totally agree. Imagination is key. The toy kitchen is the most used toy in our house. They get way too many things these days. I hide 1/2 the stuff they get for birthdays and bring it out in stages throughout the year.

  8. This is so true. I always cringe when I see children with oodles and oodles of toys. The fewer toys, within reason, the better.

  9. My kids are both completely obsessed with all the toys to fill their play kitchen, and dramatic play centers. Food, dishes, baby dolls- they play with that all over and over.

  10. I am so glad that i am not the only mom that hates toys with sound. Now more then anything I have taken out batteries in so many toys cause they keep getting the most annoying toys for her birthday. Like um Hello? Can i brong muy child and this toy to your house for 4 hours and see how fast you want to smash it. This year we are doing quiet toys since we will have a baby in 4 months and will need some type of quiet times… So this is fantastic thank you!

  11. I want to become a minimalist so badly, so the idea of having fewer toys really speaks to me. I love these blocks, they are so cute.

    1. Right? Minimalism is so not anywhere near attainable in my house right now but I’m wishing!

  12. My house is a 97-year-old bungalow. Apparently people in the early 1900’s didn’t have a ton of stuff. Since moving here, we’ve been paring down and rethinking our things.

  13. My daughter loves to stack stuff, which is why she loves building blocks! As for real life baby doll, errr.. I’m not exactly fond of dolls so I’d pass on that hihi

  14. Totally agree on this. Kids don’t need a lot of toys instead a lot of communication and even going outside in the nature to play?

  15. I love this idea! And I love the idea of having less clutter. It feels like every birthday and every Christmas we gather more and more toys. Thanks so much for sharing!

  16. I have been trying to find presents for my e year old for Xmas and there are definitely some greatg ideas here that he will like! Great post

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