We love nothing more than finding toys for kids that are handmade, or at least, don’t require an on and off switch and 300 batteries. Instead, our favorite toys of 2012 are all powered by the imaginations and little hands of kids.


LEGO Friends
As one of the original they’re doing WHAT with LEGOS? cynics, I have come full circle, completely respecting the way that LEGO Friends sets give more girls the chance to combine building skills with imaginative play. I will say I prefer the veterinary clinic, flying club, or invention workshop to the uh, beauty salon; but hey, no one says your kids can’t play with all of them. And yes, boys like them too.

Best kids' toys of 2012: Mad Scientist building blocks

Steampunk Building Blocks by Young Mad Scientist
Steampunk. Science. Building blocks. What else is there to say?

Best kids' toys of 2012: Baby soft books by Wee Gallery

Wee Gallery Handmade Soft Book
If you have a wee baby to shop for, Wee Gallery makes so many wonderful things. This year they’ve added beautiful handmade soft books in pretty colors–but the illustrations inside are smartly printed in high-contrast black and white just right for a baby’s developing eyesight.

Best kids' toys of 2012: Wooden puzzles by Radish Moon

Radish Moon Puzzles
Made from real wood with gorgeous original artwork by artist Sarah Nicholas Williamson, these puzzles make you want to be extra careful not to lose any pieces. Nice break from the disposable cardboard stuff.

Best kids' toys of 2012: Kids' craft sets by Kid Made Modern

Kid Made Modern Craft Sets
A collaboration between Todd Oldham and Target can’t be bad, but when it turns out to be affordable craft sets for kids, I’ve got a new go-to birthday gift.

Best kids' toys of 2012: Custom dolls by Child's Own Studio Best kids' toys of 2012: Custom dolls by Child's Own Studio

Child’s Own Studio Custom Dolls
Every year we find another company that makes dolls from your child’s own artwork, and every year we are utterly charmed. This year, it’s the ones made by the extremely talented Wendy Tsao, whose final creations truly look like whatever was in your kid’s head when he put marker to paper.


Best kids' toys of 2012: Card table playhouse

Felt Card Table Playhouse
Kids pretty much turn everything into a play house these days which is why these handmade felt card table playhouses are so brilliant. Plus, when they’re done playing, you can fold up the table and take your room back.

Best kids' toys of 2012: Sbyke scooter + bike hybrid

Sbyke Scooter Bike
Just when I thought I’d seen every sort of bike and scooter on the market, most of which are hanging in our garage, I’m introduced to the Sbyke, which puts a cool, unique spin on wheeled toys for kids. (Heh, get it?)

Best kids' toys of 2012: Moulin Roty kids' tool box

Child’s Real Wooden Tool Box
As my kids get older, the plastic and even baby wooden play sets just won’t do. That’s why I’m so thankful for toys like the Moulin Roty Tool Box, which is a perfect transition between the baby sets and the real live ones. Of course these are real tools, but less likely to send a kid running for Band-Aids than the adult stuff. Especially if you supervise.

Best kids' toys of 2012: Huggalos

With a spouse who travels and a few anxious kids, I really love how Huggalos helps kids feel safe and connected with far away family and friends. Whether it’s easing the challenges of having a deployed parent or even just making a nervous child feel comfortable while they’re at school, add a personal photo to the belly and this doll goes way beyond the squeezes and hugs from the regular old stuffed animals.

Best kids' toys of 2012: Pop Culture Finger Puppets

Abbey Christine’s Pop Culture Finger Puppets
I realize that these hilarious pop culture finger puppets might be more for you than the kids, but there’s just something so awesome about playing pretend with your kids wearing Lloyd Dobler on your finger
Cool Mom Picks - Pick of the Year 2012

For more cool kids’ toys, visit our archives.