Nasiba Adilova's favorite toys - TheTot
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Nasiba Adilova’s favorite toys

Our co-founder – and her kids! – love well-made, educational and fun toys. These are a few of her absolute favorites

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Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not one of those moms who buys a million toys for her kids. I don’t like waste (either wasting money, or resources) and I don’t think that kids need a million toys (trust me: I’ve been to homes where kids do have a million toys, and they only ever play with a select few). But they do need toys and games, and not just to keep them occupied while you rush about the house washing dishes, making beds and ensuring everyone is fed and watered. Nope – toys and games are about more than just keeping little minds and hands busy; I see them as a chance for my kids to learn something new every day. That’s why I tend towards toys that are functional, educational and fun. I want my kids to know that playing leads to learning, and vice versa. Think about how you learned when you were a kid – through playing dress-ups, board games, stacking blocks, snapping Lego pieces together, I bet.

It’s also important to me that the toys my little ones play with are safe. This is more than just ensuring that they’re age-appropriate (and therefore don’t contain pieces that might get swallowed, for instance). It’s also about making sure they’re made from non-toxic materials that are kind to my kids (who, let’s face it, will definitely stick them in their mouths at some point) and to the earth. With all this in mind, here are a few of my favorite toys – fully tested and recommended by my family!

LoulouLollipopBubbleTeetherRattleMarble

Loulou Lollipop Bubble Teething Toy: The bubble style silicone and wood teething rattle is not only visually appealing but super functional as well. It offers two different textures of teething material for my baby to chew. The double beech wooden rings rattle when shaken which he loves.

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Estella Big Apple Rattle: I’ve written about my love of Estella toys before (they make great baby shower gifts), and nothing has changed – I still adore them! This soft rattle is handmade in Peru from organic wool. Not only is it fantastic for little hands that are just beginning to explore the world, it looks super-cute in any nursery.

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Playsam Saab Roadster: OK, so the real Saab might have bit the dust, but this kids’ version is totally fantastic. Before your little one is ready for a balance bike or trike, let them scoot around on four wheels. Fun and completely adorable, right?

CheengooRattleVeggieBag

Cheengoo veggie rattle set: Perfect for little fingers, Cheengoo’s adorable veggie rattle set is lovingly hand-crocheted using luxuriously soft yarn derived from the pulp of the organically grown and sustainably harvested bamboo trees. Both of my boys have spent hours playing with these veggies – especially my eldest boy who uses them for kitchen play.

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Plan Toys Sandwich Meal: Is it just me, or do all kids love playing with their food?! Let them get creative with their “meals” with this cute toy sandwich set. Trust me – in no time, they’ll be making “lunch” for you!

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OMY Coloring Backpack: OK, how cool is this: a backpack you can color in! Affordable, functional and really, really fun, I always have one of these in my house for a last-minute birthday gift. Kids of all ages will love this, believe me.

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OMY Ultra Washable Felt Pens: Perfect to go with the backpack above, these felt tip pens are colorful and bright but (importantly!) the color can be easily removed from skin and clothing (and, you know, the couch).

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Once Kids Playhard Hero Factory: What kid doesn’t love superheroes? Give them their own superhero to create with these wooden action figures they can customize. Who knows what kind of crime-fighting hero they might come up with?

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Korxx Form Stacking Blocks: Your Tot’s imagination will go wild over these fun building blocks. They are even suitable for kids as young as one year old because they are so light weight. They are made from sustainable cork trees making them safe for even the youngest of children!

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Hape Happy Grand Piano: Not every kid is going to grow up to be a concert pianist – but they should all get the chance, right? I love this scaled-down, toy version of a grand piano so much. It encourages musicality, is really fun and intuitive to use, and it looks great.

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Bioserie 2-in-1 Stacker: This genius toy is made from plant-based materials and is really easy for little hands to grab and hold. You’ll love the endless stacking combinations your tot comes up with!

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Jupiduu See Saw: How cool is this toy! It’s made from molded wood and can be used for rocking, climbing, sitting, chilling and balancing! It also includes felt pads which means that rocking is as quiet as a whisper on any surface!

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Hape All-in-one Kitchen: Encourage your junior Masterchef with this ultra-cool model kitchen! Kids learn so much through imaginary play like this, so let them run wild with “dinner.”