Nasiba Adilova's favorite toys - TheTot
Free shipping on orders over $150!* Extra 15% off sale items. Use code: TOTSALE15 at checkout.

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


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!

  1. Manhattan Toy Co Skwish in Natural: This looks like a bunch of (very beautiful) atoms, but it’s actually a rattle and teether. Made of natural rubberwood (totally safe for little ones), it features beads that slide up and down, providing endless entertainment for curious young minds. My little boy loved this when he was a baby, and now my newborn son is using it too.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. Rubbabu Horseshoe Set: Perfect for little fingers, this horseshoe set is safe enough to use from birth, and will encourage grasping skills and hand-eye coordination. Best of all, it’s made of natural rubberwood foam, so when your kids inevitably chew on the horseshoes, you don’t have to worry!
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. OMY Ultra Washable Felt PensPerfect 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).
  8. 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?
  9. Anne Claire Petit Organic Crochet AirplaneAnother gorgeously soft toy for young babies, this beautiful airplane is made with organic cotton but is still machine washable. That’s a big yes from me!
  10. Areaware Color PuzzleA great travel game, this brightly colored puzzle helps build cognitive skills, hand-eye coordination and problem-solving ability. Every kid needs a puzzle or two, and this one is (literally) a beauty.
  11. Hape Gourmet 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.”
  12. Hape Happy Grand PianoNot 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.