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Stacking rings toy close upIf you were to ask me when I was single: “What makes a good present for a 16 months old boy”, I’d say “Beats me!”. But now, living with a baby for that long and having spent every day of his life with him, I have a very good idea what toys stand a chance.

It is true that every kid is different and they all are unique, but there are activities that most of kids like at 15 – 18 months and there are toys that almost always will be a success with toddlers of that age.

All the imitations of the “grown up toys” – little lawn mowers, watering cans, toy nails and a hammer are very interesting in the eyes of our little copycats.

Lego can occupy a little one for as long as 15 minutes (with restless toddlers that IS long!). It is even better than building blocks because they connect and are easier to hold in place, not falling apart.

Stacking rings are a hit, personally I like the plastic ones because they don’t make much noise when dropped or thrown on the floor. Just beware of the models that have a little marble on top of the stacking rod, that one is a chocking hazard.

A ball is an all times favorite. Our dog has a chiming soft ball toy; it’s a stuffed fabric ball that makes chiming sounds when rolled on the floor. Sorry doggy, that’s Eric’s toy now – he’s kicking it all over the house and enjoys the noise it makes. Actually any ball he ever laid his eyes on was a magnet and I had really tough time taking my son away from a huge stand of balls on display in a sports shop.

Cushions, mattresses and bean-bags make the best climbing toys. At 15 months when they start climbing on things any cushion, bed or sofa becomes an awesome climbing gym for the little Spiderman.

Ride-on cars are great toys for 15+ month-olds. They have enough coordination to sit and ride on them and are having so much fun, practicing those skills. These toys are tricky to pick though – they need to be stable enough, comfy to sit on and easy to push at the same time. We have 3 and I don’t like any of them. One is too heavy and Eric can’t move it on his own unless I push him, the other is not stable and I need to hold the kid or the car will flip over, the third one has such shape that his leg end up under the front wheels when he sits on it and tries to push it forward.

Books – these are not really toys, but my son spends a lot of time “reading” them. His favorites are little books with thick cardboard pages that are easy for him to turn, and every page has a colorful photograph of a familiar object – a ball, a truck, a cup, etc. He loves pointing at the pages and naming the objects in his own baby language. I have a set of 6 books and every book has it’s theme – objects around the house, animals, colors, etc.

What kind of toys are your kid’s favorites? And how do you know what to buy at the toy shop, do you just guess or do you let the kid decide?