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Most Loved Toys of 2018

Guide to top toys that get played with

Top toys that get played with

We do it every year; We scour the Hot Holiday Toy lists that pour in from the toy stores, we start our shopping in October and we try our hardest to cross everything off our children’s holiday wish lists. Or maybe you make a plan and stick with it. Are you determined to stick with experience gifts this year? Are you tired of toys that get thrown aside after the excitement of opening them is over?

At Hudson Valley Parent our children range from 4 to 56 and we are shouting YES to all of the above! We are ready to quit this gift giving charade whether it be for a birthday, Christmas, or Hanukkah and find out what toys really do get played with all year. We have polled our readers across the Hudson Valley and have come up with a great list of favorite toys from 2018. A list we know will help you shop smarter and choose gifts that will get played with all year long.


Stuffed Animals. Scout and Violet are very popular at this age, just about any plush that makes noise is a win for the little ones we have found.

Bella, 1, loves Elmo! She never leaves the house without him! -Kimberly, Poughkeepsie

Balls. Any kind will do!

Books. Cloth are great for itty-bitty fingers and we personally loved board books at this age. 

Shape Sorters. There are so many fun options here from simple wooden sets to sorters within other toys such as the Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Smart Stages Crawl Around Car.

Chunky Puzzles. Melissa and Doug make some very popular chunky puzzles.

Sophie the Giraffe. If you have a teether at home, Sophie is a fav!

Stacking Cups. Any kind will work.

Blocks. Just about any type of block will do as long as they are large enough for little ones to grasp. The Melissa and Doug cardboard blocks are large bricks that show up highly recommended year after year.

Zelda, 7months, loves see through block shakers, Tegu and board books with peek a boo panels. -Roxanne, Pleasant Valley

Walk and ride on toys. The popcorn push toy, sit to stand walkers and many others are great bets for this age group, especially as they learn to take their first steps and use their little legs to get around.

Activity Tables. Tables for little ones to learn to stand at explore music and learning are always popular. There are quite a few great ones on the market

Pretend Play. We will start this one in this category but you will find it will really fit into most. Everything from play food to cleaning supplies and dress up.

Musical Toys. It's no surprise that the toy market is flooded with everything from stuffies that sing to books that talk to toys that play catchy toons since babies learn through their senses. Musical toys get their attention and keep their attention! You don't have to clutter your playroom with toys that make you want to scream there are many fun musical toys on the market that parents can love too! We love the piano floor mats, Leap Frog and Baby Einstein make great options too.

baby mat favorite toy
Finn, 4 months, the play mat is his favorite! -Melissa, Poughkeepsie

Push Toys. A lot of parents love the popcorn pusher or other walking toys.

Cars and trucks. Pretty much anything with wheels will be a hit. Matchbox and hot wheels cars are big hits along with construction trucks and more.

Paw Patrol is everything! My son, 3, likes anything that deals with tools or trucks. His favorite is a tow truck that pulls 200lbs. -Barbara, Highland

favorite ride on toyCozy Coupe. Other ride-ons such as the Step2 Roller coaster, Balance Bikes and other ride-on push with your feet toys.

Aaron loves his Little People ride on, he rides it every day! -Jennifer, Poughquag

Balls. This is one that has showed up across every age group. Any kind will do. I have seen great ball pits or even just a blow up pool filled with balls for this age and kids love them, you can't go wrong with balls.

Books. Board books are a favorite, another toy that constantly shows up across age groups.

Train Sets. From wooden to Geotrax and just about anything in between. Train tables are also very popular at this age.

Balance Bike. Replacing tricycles, these bikes are awesome to teach kids balance and easy transitioning to a regular bike and have been extremely popular in the last few years for children as early as 18 months and up.

2 year old (3 in November) twin boys [love the] Yvelo balance bike, Hot wheels/matchbox cars...basically any and all small cars, Lego Duplo blocks, Buzz Lightyear and Woody characters. Jessica L, Poughquag

Mini Trampoline. Another great item for most ages, the mini trampoline isn't just for that aerobics class you avoid at the gym. Children can burn off their endless energy while grounding themselves for better focus, behavior and well they are just so much fun!

Rody Horse. It isn't very often that a toy so specific comes up more than a few times but I have seen Rody Horse as a favorite since I started shopping for kids toys 7 years ago. Balance, coordination and exercise, this plastic toy is designed to last and is also popular for special needs children as well.

Play Kitchen and play food. I cannot tell you how many times the play kitchen and pretend food was listed as a favorite toy. It's a toy that can grows with the child, is perfect for siblings and I can almost guarantee will get played with.

Little People Sets. While not holding as much longevity as far as age span goes, children in this age group can't seem to get enough of those Little People. Among the top 2 sets is the Animal Friends Farm and the Disney Princess Musical Castle.

LOL dolls, Peppa Pig, Hatchimals and Shopkins are Erica's, 3, favorites! -Amanda, Pleasant Valley

Doll Strollers. Any kind will work here!

Doll Houses. A classic toy that never seems to get old. A lot of doll houses will grow with the toy and last quite a few years.favorite toy

Musical instruments. You might shudder when you think of handing your toddler drum sticks or cymbals but I promise you, any kind of musical instrument will provide hours of entertainment and is a great start to children's appreciation of music. 

Pretend Play/ Dress up. I have seen everything from toy vacuums to push lawnmowers and shopping carts come up is quite a few age groups. Other favorites are play food and dress up clothes and accessories.

Stuffed Animals and Dolls. Another popular toys across a few age groups.

Flynn, 1.5, loves his Elmo and Cookie Monster plush, he brings them everywhere he can sneak them! -Kristina, Highland

Blocks. Anything will do but favorite I have found for this age are Bristol Blocks, wooden or cardboard blocks and on the higher side of this group, Lego Duplos.

Play Houses. You might just want to save a cardboard box and let their imagination take over or I have seen some pretty awesome pop-up fabric houses. My boys loved their Thomas The Train playhouse and their cardboard playhouse they got to color that Santa brought one year.

Ball Pits. Again, any kind will do. Ball pits are a lot of fun, who wouldn't want to jump in!

Sticker Books. No explanation needed just watch your furniture, those suckers don't come off as easy as they go on! Endless hours of quiet time fun!

Wooden Puzzles. From chunky puzzles to little fingers you can find so many different wooden puzzles, even ones that make noises. Always a good gift giving option.

Magformers. Or Magna-Tiles or really anything magnetic for that matter. Forget the kids, I can spend hours building with those things and I promise they will last as they get older. I have seen this one mentioned over and over as a favorite.

{Stay Tuned for more holiday fun, events, activities and more: Hot Holiday Happenings List}


favorite dollDolls. Classic toy that has been around for generations thought the types of popular dolls have changed slightly. Dolls mentioned as favorites were; American Girl dolls, Bitty Babies, Barbies and Princess Dolls.

Madison, 4, loves playing with her babies, Barbies and crafts. -Nicole, Marlboro

Doll House. The Fisher Price Loving Family Doll House has been popular for years but others will work just as well.

Music instruments. Yup, again! Go ahead and get that child sized piano, drum set or maracas, your kids will thank you and will play with them all year long.

Doctor and Veterinary Sets. I left it under pretend play in earlier categories, but since enough people mentioned them for this age group I'm going to leave it separate here.

Electronic Learning Systems. The LeapPad, Innotab and Kindle Fire are some of the most popular systems.

Stuffed Animals. Getting a few more years out of stuffed animals being a childhood favorite. I think we will continue to see this one show up on the list for a while.

Things without batteries and don't cost a lot! Animal figures, trucks, simple dress up, board games, coloring books are James, 4, favorites, -Sara, Goshen

Arts and Crafts Supplies. Play-Doh is one of the most popular, crayons, markers, don’t forget an Easel!

Books. Yup, again!

Floor Puzzles. These are awesome, the large pieces and bright images make them fun and engaging. Slightly different than the wooden puzzles, these can be slightly more challenging. Melissa and Doug makes some great ones.

Action figure toys as favoriteAction Figures. Dolls that get their own category because they don't ever seem to go out of style! Who else has action figures passed on from parents and grandparents laying around?

Matthew, 5, loves all of his Marvel hero figures as well as Legos! -Tracy, Carmel

Train Sets. Geotrax, Thomas... they are all good.

Ride-Ons. This is a great age to introduce a popular battery ride on car. Other favorites at this age include the Plasma Car, Strider Bike and scooters.

Pretend Play. On the list again. Dress up, baby strollers, play kitchen, the list goes on...

Hot Wheels. And matchbox cars. Kids love those little cars, my feet.. not so much!

Blocks. Another classic that will show up across all of the categories in a slightly different fashion. Bristol blocks and Lego Duplos are popular choices at this age.

Legos. I feel like I should bold and underline this one, maybe add a few exclamation points. Literally almost every single person asked mentioned Legos under this age group!

Legos! It's allll about the Legos. In the car on trips, on the way to school, at the movies, playground or anyplace else. He absolutely loves being creative and playing with Legos. -AnneMarie A, Poughkeepsie

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Ride-Ons. Bikes, scooters, quads, whatever it is, they will want to ride it!

K’Nex. Similar to Legos, kids love these K'Nex (and other building) sets.

Nerf Guns. The Nerf Lazer Tag System is a fun and popular system that can be played with friends.drawing favorite toy

Outdoor Toys. Along the lines of sports stuff, kids love to be outdoors. Sleds or snowboards, skateboards, chalk, even pool toys. You can't go wrong with outdoor toys.

Art Supplies and Craft Sets. Readers' favorites are the Rainbow Loom, Origami and Friendship Bracelets.

Cameron, 10, loves to draw! The Smart Sketcher was a great gift for him. -Jasmine, Newburgh

Kids Tablet. Innotab and Kindle Fire we have found are most popular.

R/C Vehicles. Any kind.

Sports Equipment. I love double duty gifts. Will they need equipment for whatever they are enrolling in this year anyway? Wrap it up! Or you could go with things they can practice with at home. Sports stuff will get used.

Digital Camera. Help kids tap into their creative brain and document the world around them as they see it. Great for pre-teens!

Play Sets. Such as My Little Pony, Calico Criters or Littlest Pet shop (Earlier age of this group).

diary of a wimpy kidScience Kits. And other STEM Toys such as Snap Circuits, Magna Tiles and other science experiment kits.

Dolls. Barbie, Monster High or American Girl Dolls were mentioned as dolls of choice at this age. Transformers, Bakugan, Ninja Turtles or other figurines are popular especially with the younger part of this age group. I'm going to throw stuffed animals in here too.

Board Games. There are so many choices here, you can't go wrong with board games!

Electronic Gaming. Consoles or hand held games such as  the Nintendo DS Lite, Wii or Xbox 360.

Chapter Books. Books again! Stick with popular titles such as Monster High, etc.

Austin, 8, loves to read Diary of a Wimpy Kid chapter books! -Pam, Pleasant Valley

Legos. Lego sets are great and grow with the child. I love that they have specific interest sets such as Minecraft or more generic city sets, etc. You will find them year after year as a top toy choice!

Hot Wheels and Matchbox. A continued favorite for sure.

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