No wonder parents and relatives don’t know where to start when looking for gifts to get their kids. First, there are so many options available that picking the best toy really takes some research.
Next, when you take into account how easily children can get bored and cast away their new toys, you really want to be careful with your choice. And that’s not just to avoid disappointment, but also to avoid the hassle of returning them soon after buying.
Little boys are curious, quirky, and they grow so quickly, developing distinct characteristics and preferences at an early age. And you want to stay on top of it all, providing them with stimulating toys that promote their development at various stages. To help you stay updated so you can choose wisely, we’ve done the research. Here’s a concise list of the hottest toys for boys in an age by age guide.
Top Rated Toys & Gift Ideas by Age for Boys
VTech Sit-to-Stand Alphabet Train
This is a toy that your one year old boy will surely love – and no doubt he’ll still be using it a year or even two after. It’s a wonderful way to play and learn simultaneously, offering versatility with three different modes: Floor Play, Walker, and Ride-on mode.
The Floor Play mode presents an interactive early learning center. The great thing about this is that its use is inexhaustible, as your boy will first use it to listen to the songs and stories, tinker with the toy and enhance his fine motor skills; later, when he grows up a little bit, it will still be an entertaining teacher to help him differentiate letters, numbers, and colors.
The Walker mode is also a mode for learning, helping him in his first steps and promoting the development of gross motor skills as he pushes the train along. The Ride-on mode speaks for itself – the carriage is attached to the train for plenty of fun, and he can take his favorite stuffed animals along for a ride!
- Educational and versatile
- Non-rip water resistant alphabet book included
- Batteries included
- Loud when sound is on
LEGO DUPLO My First Number Train Building Set
LEGO DUPLO always knows what kids need, and this toy is no different. And you can never go wrong with a train building set – it’s a classic toy that entertains little boys perfectly.
This set is just right for a two year old to help him learn counting and develop his spatial reasoning while playing. It helps enhance fine motor skills as he builds the train, takes it apart, and builds it all over again. But here’s the best part: it can be rebuilt into a tunnel, a building, a dog house with an opening roof, and more!
There are 3 wagon bases and a number of assorted bricks for building. Along with 10 numbered bricks, it also includes a LEGO DUPLO figure and a cute little dog figurine to play with and put in the doghouse once he builds it.
- Chunky pieces easy for small hands to grab and stack
- Train cars are easy to latch together for a 2 year old, but they also don’t fall apart too easily
- Batteries not necessary
- Flexibility to combine pieces and make unique creations
- Only 9 numbers can line up on the train – no space for the 10th, which can be frustrating for some toddlers
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set
More trains, because what little boy isn’t fascinated by train sets?! Train sets are some of the best building toys for kids, plus they feed their imagination and promote imaginative role play. This one is somewhat different from the previous, as it is more appropriate for the developmental stage of a 3 year old.
The wonderful thing about this one is that the tracks are made of wood, and there are over 100 wooden track sections and supports. The set also includes over 30 accessories, from a roundhouse engine shed to multi-piece trains, bridges, people, trees, and more!
There are 4 different track configurations, which are easily assembled using the provided step-by-step instructions, so your little boy can play for hours, building the perfect layout. It’s a marvelous toy for a 3 year old boy to play with alone or alongside a friend – or you can step in for some quality time and remind yourself of the joy of train engineering!
- Smooth and durable wood
- Multiple accessories and fun switches for changing course
- Compatible with other wooden railway systems
- Batteries not necessary
- Difficult to keep the train in the track
- The smallest pieces (trains and signs) knock over easily if you set up on a carpet
Kidwerkz Dinosaur Toys
At the age of 4, boys express an insatiable curiosity. The toys you get them are an important part of their learning, and because they’re already quite developed at this age and have their own preferences, your best bet is to get them a gift that will challenge them and stimulate them mentally. That’s what STEM toys do best. When your boy reaches the age of 4, introducing him to the basic concepts of science and engineering will be a great step in his development – and a lot of fun too!
This building plays set provides hours of creative and imaginative playtime with 106 pieces. If you have a little boy that’s fascinated by dinosaurs, this might easily become his favorite toy ever. The toy dinosaurs are used along with 3 kid-sized screwdrivers to build, deconstruct, and rebuild all over again.
Through fun and creative playtime, your child will enhance his hand-eye coordination, improve his fine motor skills, and work on his logic and problem-solving. It’s great preparation for school, plus it encourages teamwork and social development if you invite a friend over for an engineering playdate.
- Free downloadable coloring book included
- Lead-free, BPA-free, and Phthalates-free
- Pieces are washable
- Ideal size for little hands
- Configurations are limited: you can’t interchange the legs on the different dinosaur bodies
Lego City Heavy Cargo Transport
This is one of the best Lego truck sets, and it has tremendous options for play that will surely spur the imagination of your 5 year old. He’s likely fascinated by trucks and helicopters, so you can’t go wrong here; plus, a building toy like this one provides a wonderful sense of accomplishment that’s important in building a preschooler’s self-esteem.
The set includes an amazing 310 pieces with realistic details. One of the coolest features is the helicopter that has spinning rotors and an opening cockpit. There are also two figurines – a truck driver and a helicopter pilot – which will make for some great imaginative role play when the set is built. This will be a favorite when friends come over to play, and it’s sure to be used in the years to come as well.
- Plenty of accessories included
- Great for Lego beginners
- Educational and fun
- The helicopter’s landing skids are somewhat less sturdy than the rest of the set
Choosing the Right Toys: Age-by-age Guide for Boys
Now, this is naturally the part you’ll be very interested in. It’s always smart to observe your child and see how he reacts to various types of toys. Once he gets a bit older, particularly at the age of 4 or 5, you can even ask him yourself if there’s something he’d really like.
But we know it’s not as simple as that, because you don’t just want something that’s fun for him – you want to get him a gift that’s beneficial to his development. Here are some basic factors that play a key role in getting the best toy that’s appropriate for your boy’s age.
Choosing a toy for a 1 year old boy
You don’t want to obsess over gender when choosing a toy for your kid at any age, but at the toddler stage especially, it’s completely irrelevant. The most important thing is that the toy is chunky and safe to put in his mouth. That said, you want something that can be kept clean easily.
Colorful, interactive toys with various melodies and songs are particularly useful at this stage, to stimulate your child’s development and help him discover the world around him. Toys like these help your child differentiate between sounds and colors and explore how various movements provide reactions. Also, your boy will be making his first steps at some point at this age, so push-along and ride-on toys that help with balance are great choices.
Choosing a toy for a 2 year old boy
With 2 year olds, the same basic principles stand as with 1 year olds. However, children develop very quickly so it’s best to look for a toy that’s a bit more stimulating than the previous. Versatile toys are best – for example, learning centers that have different learning modes that will introduce them to letters and numbers. This is also a good time to get them into building to improve their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination – it’s a fun and educational way to keep a 2 year old busy for a long time.
Choosing a toy for a 3 year old boy
At 3, your boy will express a desire to tinker and a great curiosity for colors, letters, and numbers. Learning centers appropriate for this age are perfect, but you also want quieter toys – you don’t want to overstimulate your child. That’s where building kits come in, and he will be a little niftier with his hands than he was just a year ago, so you can get somewhat more complex pieces. Just make sure there are no choking hazards, and even if he’s past the stage of putting toys in his mouth, supervise him during play.
Choosing a toy for a 4 year old boy
You’ll have noticed that your little boy has started strongly expressing his unique character. This will mean that he also has some preferences regarding his toys that he simply doesn’t want to compromise. Get him his favorite colors and the things he likes, whether it’s trains, trucks, dinosaurs, etc.
He might start to express a strong preference for toys that are specifically targeted at boys, and this is natural – don’t push anything on him. Obviously, if he wants more “girly” toys, get him that as well. At this age, it’s really good to introduce various puzzles and STEM toys – the challenges will keep him busy and entertained, and he’ll be very proud when he completes them.
Choosing a toy for a 5 year old boy
Get various toys that help with logic and problem-solving, from building kits to puzzles. But don’t forget that he might also like something flashy from time to time – something that’s fascinating to watch and operate, such as remote-controlled cars. Also, it’s very important at this age to cultivate your child’s social skills.
Get toys that are great for playing with on a playdate or in a bigger group, as this is the peak time to teach sharing and empathy. It’s also a time when you might find you boy’s toys are very fun to play with even for yourself – so get in on the action, help him out, and have some quality bonding time.
Criteria we used
Guided by all the previous factors we mentioned, these are the things we considered:
- Safety – appropriate for the given age
- Durability – We looked for toys that do not fall apart easily and can be used for a long time
- Accessibility – ideal size of the pieces for a small child to play with
- The developmental stage of the child – as described previously. We looked for toys that will enhance your child’s development in a fun way that fits the learning needs of that age.
- Versatility – We looked for toys that provide tremendous play value and can be used in different ways. Building sets that can be used for imaginative role play once they’re built are a good example.
What if my child wants to play with a toy for older kids?
This can go two ways, and it’s nothing to worry about! If your boy a desire to play with a toy designed for older children, let him! Just make sure you supervise him if there are some safety hazards. If there are no hazards but the toy is only too challenging for him, don’t stress about it – let him tinker, help him out a bit, and in the end, let him use it in his own way. It often happens that kids play with toys differently from how they’re meant to be played with, and this is great because they use their imagination and make up their own rules.
What if he’s still playing with toys he should have grown out of?
Also nothing to worry about. Naturally, kids develop a bond with their favorite toys, and they stick around for a long time. Don’t stress that he’s playing with something that’s at a lower developmental stage, but use other toys to stimulate him. It’s important that we consider the emotional bond and the child’s desire for pure fun – we don’t need to push them endlessly during play time. Also, your boy is most likely using his old toy in a different way now as he has grown, which is great – it just shows the versatility and play value of the toy, meaning you’ve chosen wisely!
You have the research, the criteria, and some of the favorite picks – it’s time to get shopping! At the end of the day, toys make for some of the fondest childhood memories, so reflect back on when you were a kid and think about what fascinated you. Although kids grow up differently in the modern age, the innate curiosity and certain fascinations remain the same – your boy will be so happy when you recognize them; just listen to your inner child. And if you are looking for something for your little girl check out our list of best toys for girls and pick something for her too.