This Melissa & Doug wooden toy chest is the toy box I didn't know I needed — it's sturdy, safe for tiny fingers, and looks great
A toy box is a must to keep kids' spaces organized, especially if you don't have a designated playroom. The Melissa & Doug Wooden Toy Chest holds 8.25 cubic feet of toys, so a lot of my daughter's toys fit inside, and it keeps our living room looking at least somewhat organized. Little fingers won't get pinched with a lid that stays open on its own and a small gap between the lid and the chest. Much like our favorite Melissa & Doug toys, the box is high-quality and well-designed.
Last Christmas, my daughter was almost 6 months old, and when my dad asked if it would be a good idea to get her a toy box for Christmas, I honestly wasn't sure. She hadn't accumulated too many toys at that point, but I knew that her toy collection would only grow, so I said yes. Now a year and an overflowing toy box later, I realize that it was one of the best Christmas gifts she could have gotten. Toy boxes help kids keep their play space organized so they aren't so overwhelmed with all of their play options. The toy box I didn't know I needed My dad ended up buying her the Melissa & Doug Wooden Toy Chest in espresso. It's also available in honey and white, so there is a color to match most decor. The toy box measures 33 inches long, 24 inches high (including the decorative bar at the top), and 19 inches deep. It provides 8.25 cubic feet of space inside for toys, and it weighs 25 pounds. Assembly was painless and took less than an hour. The decorative bar across the top in the back makes it look more like a piece of furniture and less like a plain box. Since I don't have a playroom in my house, the subtle decorative touches look great in my living room. The weight of this toy box is perfect because it's light enough for me to easily pick it up by the handles on the sides without being so light that my daughter can tip it over. She's also not able to push it around, so it stays exactly where I want it to be. Parents might be afraid to choose the white toy box for their kids because well, kids. No matter what color you choose though, the finish is smooth and extremely easy to clean and wipe down both inside and outside the box. I'm impressed by the durability and safety features
The best thing about this toy box is that it's so incredibly sturdy and well made. My daughter has it packed full of toys, and there are no signs of the bottom giving way. The real test of its durability is my 95-pound German shepherd who has jumped onto the box on more than one occasion. Aside from a few scratches from his nails, you would never know he even touched it. Not only is it durable, but the lid of the toy box has a safety hinge so it doesn't slam shut or pinch little fingers. Some toy box lids need to be held open, propped open, or they only stay open once they reach a certain height. This lid stays open on its own even if it's only opened an inch. It even has an extra protective measure of a gap between the lid and the box in the front so even if someone does slam the lid shut while little fingers are holding onto the box, they won't get hurt. Be careful: The toy box looks a lot like a seat, but the lid is not meant to bear weight The only real complaint I have about this toy box is that it looks so much like a piece of furniture that belongs in our living room that visitors often mistake it for a bench. It's strong enough to hold my 23-pound daughter when she climbs on top of it, although that is obviously not recommended. Toddlers will be toddlers, though. According to the instructions, it is not supposed to be used as a seat, so officially, no weight on top of the box is safe. Nobody that has sat on it has ever broken it, but it's frustrating to always tell guests they can't sit on it. The bottom line
Melissa & Doug makes quality kids' products, and they did it again with this wooden toy chest. A toy box isn't just something that a kid will play with for a few months before it gets forgotten and eventually donated or thrown away. It will be a staple in your home for as long as your kids play with toys. I've only had this toy box for about a year, but it still looks and functions just as well as it did on the day I got it. I wasn't so sure about receiving it as a first Christmas present for my daughter at first, but if I had known what I know now, I would have put this toy box at the top of her Christmas list. Join the conversation about this story »
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I bought this classic activity cube for my 9-month-old daughter — she still loves playing with it more than 5 months later
I don't usually let my daughter play with the germ-covered toys in doctors' waiting rooms,...I don't usually let my daughter play with the germ-covered toys in doctors' waiting rooms, so I bought a popular waiting room toy for her to play with at home. I love that the Battat Wooden Activity Cube will grow with my daughter. We started using it when she was 9 months old, and she's 14 months now. The play cube has a colorful farm theme with a manipulative farm scene on top and animal-themed activities on each side. It keeps her entertained while teaching her how to count, hand-eye coordination, and more. I can see her playing with it for years to come. Quick! Close your eyes and picture a doctor's or dentist's office waiting room. What do you see? Chairs, a receptionist, other patients, maybe a fish tank? I bet you also see one of those toys with the beads that you can slide across a loopy wire. My poor daughter Ellie never gets to play with those toys in the doctor's office waiting room. Call me a germaphobe, but I don't want her touching toys in a room that sick kids cycle through all day long. Lucky for her, this waiting room staple has now become a staple in our home as well. Enter the Battat Wooden Activity Cube. These toys are so stereotypical of waiting rooms that it almost seems weird to have in your home, but hear me out. Read more: My daughter loves playing with these toy kits that encourage brain development in babies and toddlers The activity cube has lots of colors, beads, and manipulative activities that keep kids entertained while also helping them develop new skills I love a toy that can grow with your kids, and this one definitely does. There are a lot of interesting animals and colors for babies to look at during tummy time, activities on all four sides for crawlers, and counting beads and moveable figurines on the top for walkers. It's beautifully made and has much more than loopy wires with beads. The four sides feature colorful doors that open and close, animal-printed blocks to spin, painted cylinders to mix and match, and wooden chips to drop. The learning opportunities with this toy are almost endless: Counting Categorizing Identifying colors Developing hand-eye coordination Naming animals and making their sounds Refining fine motor skills by moving beads, animals, opening and closing doors, spinning blocks, and more Imaginative play with the farm scene Learning about gravity and cause and effect Every time Ellie goes through a new developmental stage, she seems to rediscover this toy, and at only 14 months old, there is still so much more for her to learn. The company recommends this toy for kids ages 12 months and up, but I bought it for Ellie when she was about 9 months old, and she loved it then too. Read more: The best fine motor toys for toddlers It's a sturdy wooden cube that kids can use to pull themselves up, though you should keep an eye on your babies in case they fall The activity block is quite sturdy but lightweight. When Ellie was learning to stand and walk, she would use it to pull herself up, and it never toppled over. The four corners are beveled so there are no sharp edges, but the wood is still solid and would definitely hurt if your baby fell on it. I still kept an eye on her, so definitely stay close by your baby if they're in that development stage. The cube works great for toy rotation too. I try to switch out what toys Ellie has available to play with every so often to keep her interested in them longer. Since this cube has so many activities on each side, I keep this cube in a corner and rotate which sides face the walls every couple of days to keep things fresh. A similar but less expensive option is the Melissa & Doug First Bead Maze, which would be a good choice if you're only interested in the bead part of an activity cube. With suction cups to keep it in place, you could move the ToyerBee Bead Maze from the floor to higher surfaces like a side table as your baby grows into a toddler. The amount of time Ellie spends playing with her activity cube speaks for itself. Overall, I'd recommend this colorful toy to anyone looking for a product that supports learning through playtime for babies and toddlers. Join the conversation about this story »
This foldable, enclosed kitchen stool keeps my 1-year-old safe and close by so I can cook dinner in peace
I bought the Guidecraft Classic Kitchen Helper Stool because my toddler always wants to see...I bought the Guidecraft Classic Kitchen Helper Stool because my toddler always wants to see what I'm doing in the kitchen. It took only 10 minutes to set up the sturdy stool, and it's easy to fold away when not in use. The adjustable levels and removable mesh protector make this a product that will grow with my daughter until she can reach the kitchen counter on her own. I have so many fond memories of standing on a chair and helping my parents in the kitchen as a kid. Even before I had my daughter, I'd pictured baking holiday cookies and making homemade pasta sauce with my own kids helping me in the kitchen. But those images in my head always involved much older kids — kids who can actually help in the kitchen. I never pictured a young toddler standing at the kitchen counter with me, though my daughter apparently has a different picture in her mind. She loves to learn and is always interested in what I'm doing, so if I leave her to play on the floor while I'm cooking or baking, she's not a very happy camper. She's only 12 months, so it's definitely not safe to have her stand on a chair by the counter. Enter the Guidecraft Kitchen Helper. It's an enclosed adjustable kitchen stool that safely puts my daughter right at the counter with me, and it's been a total game-changer. Before I got the Kitchen Helper, I'd attempt to cook meals with one hand while I held my daughter in the other. This wasn't easy or safe, especially when I was near the stove or I needed to use a knife. Now she gets to see everything I'm doing while I have both hands free, and she's happy and entertained the entire time. Setup and design The Kitchen Helper took less than 10 minutes to assemble out of the box. The entire product is made of solid, sturdy wood. The stool folds up quickly and easily when I want to store it, and takes less than a minute to unfold and set up when I'm ready to use it. I can even set it up with one hand if I'm holding my daughter in the other. The stool comes with a non-slip mat for kids to stand on while in the stool and a mesh covering for the open side of the stool where kids would step in or out. Once my daughter gets big enough, we'll take this off so she can climb in and out on her own, but for now, it helps keep her safe and secure in the stool. The Kitchen Helper comes in five different colors, so you can choose the one that best matches your kitchen. We chose white. I like the design because it looks more like a piece of adult furniture but still has some cute features to keep kids entertained, like shape cutouts on the sides (some cons for those later), a little chalkboard on one side, and a little whiteboard on the other side. Since my daughter is still so young, she hasn't used these yet, but I could see them being fun for her to play with when she gets older. For now, my daughter loves watching me from the stool while playing with bowls and measuring cups. I also use the stool sometimes to feed her a little appetizer if she gets hungry while I'm still cooking dinner. I like that I can still supervise her while she's eating instead of having her run off to another room. This stool has already made preparing meals so much less stressful, and I can tell that my daughter loves it, too. Now if I start cooking without her in the Kitchen Helper, she'll walk over to it and point at it. When she gets older, she'll be able to use the stool to actually help me prepare ingredients and cook meals. It's so important for kids to learn the process of how food gets to the table, so this is a great product to start teaching that from a young age. Safety first As much research as I did before buying this stool and as sturdy as it has been so far, there's always the possibility that Ellie could try to climb out or fall, so I always keep a very close eye on her. I'd urge you to do the same with this or any other product. You also need to be very careful with what you put on the counter in front of the stool. You'd be surprised at how far those little arms can reach. Make sure you keep any dangerous, hot, or sharp items well out of arms' reach. Potential cons to consider The non-slip mat tends to fall off a lot when I fold the Kitchen Helper up to store it. This is more of a minor inconvenience, but it's something to consider. I'm also not a huge fan of the decorative square, star, and circle cutouts on the sides because they're the perfect foothold for my little climber. If you're using this for a toddler, you'll need to be especially careful once they enter the climbing stage. Once she's a little bit older, I don't think this will be a problem. The bottom line I absolutely love the Kitchen Helper. Before I bought it, I was afraid it was going to be a waste of money, but it's been well worth it. There are a few other options out there, including the Little Partners Original Learning Tower ($199.99), which has large openings on the side and may be better suited for older kids. Another option to consider is the UNICOO Kids Step Stool, which is under $100. I went with the Kitchen Helper because I like how it's very enclosed compared to a lot of the other options. It's very sturdy and has already made it much more enjoyable to work in the kitchen. If you're struggling to get food on the table while taking care of toddlers and young kids, I highly recommend this enclosed kitchen stool for children. Pros: Very sturdy, easy to store and set up, keeps toddlers and kids entertained, lets kids be a part of meal preparation Cons: Non-slip mat sometimes falls off during storage, cutouts on the side are perfect footholds for climbers Join the conversation about this story »