What's on your preschooler's toy wish list for the winter holidays? Probably more things you can count. Whether you want to save or splurge on your holiday shopping, there are a whole bunch of choices out there. Our top choices for the hot holiday toys of 2011 run the gamut.
Not just for having fun, playing with toys are an important part of a preschooler's development. They educate, stimulate a little one's imagination and teach important social skills. When purchasing toys for any preschooler, be sure to check the age guidelines -- not important for just safety reasons, but also to make sure the toy isn't too young, which could cause a child to get bored easily, or too old, which could cause them to become frustrated because they don't completely understand how to use it.
Check out our list of age-appropriate, hot holiday toys for 2011. Note that some toys may be appropriate for an older preschooler (aged 5) and not a younger one (aged 3). Other toys may appeal to the younger set and not the older one. Choose what is best for your child.
For more ideas, check out our Gift Guide for Preschoolers.
The first thing you'll notice about Big Rig Buddies Smokey the Fire Truck is the noise. He's loud. Very loud. Your preschooler is going to love him! The latest entry in the Matchbox Big Rig Buddies line, Smokey is interactive -- he talks, tells jokes
, eats, exercise
s and sings. He even sprays a water mist. He can even react to your preschooler moving.
If you have one princess in your house, surely you have room for 16 more with this Disney Princess Ultimate Fairytale Kitchen. Featuring all of the Disney Princesses
, this kitchen is the ultimate in pretend cooking. Friendly features include a talking phone
, musical recipe book
, decorative stickers, and a variety of accessories that are perfect for serving whatever your little one whips up in the kitchen.
For more play kitchens, check out our Buying Guide.
Stunt drivers will have nothing on your little one when he opens up a Hot Wheel Wall Tracks Set. Using 3M command strips, the tracks are attached to the wall, making for some awesome car trick action as well as a track that doesn't have to be put together, broken down when it's time to clean up and then put together again when playtime is back on.
Let your budding hair designer do a "do" on her very own model -- the Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Doll. There are two to play with -- Crumbs Sugar Cookie with long strands and Jewel Sparkles with sweet curls. Both feature bendable locks that can be styled with the included accessories -- a brush, four clips and six hair beads. Each doll comes with a pet too.
Say goodbye to handing over your tablet
to your preschooler with the new LeapPad
Explorer Tablet from LeapFrog. A durable tablet that features a 5"display and touch screen, the device is preloaded with educational games and apps designed to entertain and educate your little one.
Give Elmo a beat! This latest edition of the popular furry red monster features him singing and dancing, complete with a drum, tambourine and microphone. To play, Let’s Rock! Elmo will ask for an instrument. He'll recognize which one your child gives him and then will play it on one of six songs, including the theme to “Elmo’s World,” an Elmo-themed version of “It Takes Two” and more.
What color is your preschooler's personality? With Lite Sprites, you can tell the mood of the doll simply by looking at the colorful light they give off. Each sprite comes with a Lite Wand that can catch colors and spells. Totally collectible, there are lots of dolls to choose from, as well as accessories.
Yee-haw! This battery-powered ride-on will have you wishing you were a kid again! It features rugged tires and a sturdy steel frame. Two riders (up to 130 pounds) can climb aboard the rider which features two forward speeds (up to 5 MPH) and one reverse, as well as power-lock breaks. For extra fun your child can ride through whatever nature dishes out, including ruts, wet grass, gravel and mud.
The toy with the least appealing name is likely the one your preschooler will want the most. Trash Pack Trashies feature a variety of gross products in their line, including collectible figures, tins and carrying cases. The tiny trashies come in tiny garbage cans that pop open. Kids can collect them or trade them and then keep them in the separate holders. With names like King Rat, Trash Cat and Soggy Tomato, what's not to love?
It's great when a toy is not only popular, but affordable too. Xia-Xia Hermit Crabs(pronounced Shah-Shah) are four colorful collectible hermit crabs and each one costs about $13. Accessories like extra shells and playsets are available and allow your child to mix and match the pets. Great for imaginative play.