As a veteran (i.e. survivor) two-under-two parent, there a few big lessons I learned about welcoming a second baby merely 20 months after our first. However, there was one thing that made the transition easier and more affordable. After our first was born, we made the conscious choice to only use toys that would last through multiple ages and stages. That one early decision has positively impacted both of our kids through the years.
It was quite a search at first trying to find the right toys for our family. We wanted him entertained but not zoned out by watching a toy with flashing lights and loud sounds. His enjoyment took priority over an aesthetic, but there had to be something nicer than plastic toys. And even though two-under-two wasn’t exactly part of the plan, we still knew that two was our ideal number. Which meant his toys also had to be high quality and long-lasting. It was a tall order, I know. Then one day I discovered Melissa & Doug and their toys were the answer to all our requests; here are three reasons why.
1. They promote imaginative & collaborative play
Our son received his first Melissa & Doug toy for his first birthday, and his imagination thrived from the moment he opened it. Seeing that spark in his eyes lit us up, so naturally as first-time parents, we ran to buy more. We had an embarrassingly large stash by the time our daughter arrived. As she grew, we noticed she was more interested in his old Melissa & Doug toys than any of her baby ones. Luckily, they released a 0-12 month line around this time, so our collection grew even more. Now that she’s reached the toddler years, they’ve started to reach for the same items.
Kids learn from watching and imitating everything their parents do. We love that Melissa & Doug’s pretend play collection has toys that mimic everyday items. Activities like the Work & Play Desktop Activity Board and Wooden Shape Sorting Grocery Cart allow them to act out what they see us doing and gain a better understanding of the world in the process. Introducing imaginative toys to them at an early age has also helped them with collaborative play.
I won’t lie and say that they know how to share perfectly (what siblings do?). However, pretend play does provide them with more opportunities to collaborate and take turns. For instance, they work together serving ice cream or adding toppings to a pizza. They’ll simulate cooking in their kitchen set and our oldest will show our youngest how to stir food into the pot. It’s not always peacefully achieved on the first try, but they’re getting better at it as they grow.
2. They’re designed to keep littles engaged while learning
One of my favorite qualities about Melissa & Doug toys is how entertainment and brain development are their top priorities. They specialize in open-ended toys so there are multiple ways for a child to play with one item. This helps keep them interested for longer periods—something every parent needs. I’ve seen my kids play with blocks for hours by building and tearing down dozens of different creations. Toys like this help them develop fine motor skills, pre-math skills, and so much more. There’s not a shred of mom guilt when I see them playing independently, and I can enjoy my coffee peacefully.
Naturally, there are times when we also join in and use games as an opening to teach new concepts. The GO TOTs Barnyard Tumble and Shape Sorting Cube have been the perfect toys for teaching them the names of shapes, colors, and animals. It’s pretty amazing to see them learn so quickly just by playing and having fun.
3. They provide years of enjoyment & bonding
There’s no doubt that Melissa & Doug makes some of the best quality toys out there. A good chunk of our collection is at least two years old and they’ve all held up incredibly well. It’s honestly a shock to us after daily use and two pairs of clumsy, not-so-gentle hands. Those toys have really been through the wringer yet outlast 90 percent of the other ones.
It’s also so sweet to witness my daughter play with the same things that her big brother enjoyed years prior. A few of them have already reached heirloom status and will undoubtedly be packed away for future generations once that time comes. I may have a soft spot since I’ve watched my children grow with these toys, but I genuinely believe these are the ideal toys for siblings.
This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Melissa & Doug, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.