What Are The Best Stacking Toys for Toddlers? – 2018 Edition

Stacking Toys - Review Guide Featured ImageLooking for a toy you can count on? Stacking toys might seem simple, but they actually provide significant benefits to both physical and mental development for kids between six months to about eight years of age.

But not all stacking toys are the same. Before making a purchase, you’ll want to be aware of some key differences between brands.

We’ve gathered up the seven best stacking toys for 2018. Plus, we’ve also included a complete buyer’s guide so you can learn about all of the benefits stacking toys provide.

The Best Stacking Toys – Our Top 7 Choices

Our #1 Choice – Fisher-Price Light-Up Lion Stacker

This bright and colorful stacker features a fun and friendly lion at the top of the stacking pole.

Pros

  • Four large, colorful rings perfect for small hands
  • Includes seven different fun songs
  • Light-up lion head at top of the base

Cons

  • Only includes four rings
  • Has no volume control or off button

The Fisher-Price Light-Up stacker uses lights and sounds to engage with small children. The stacker features four large, translucent rings – each a bright primary color. The star-shaped rings are large, soft and durable. Even young kids will have no problem grasping and stacking the rings.

Unlike many other stackers, the Light-Up Lion includes a variety of sounds. One of seven different songs plays whenever a new ring is stacked on the base. Of course, the real star here is the lion. Pressing down on his head plays additional songs, while also lighting up.

Our #2 Choice – The First Years Stack Up Cups

Introduce young kids to the fun of cup stacking with this beginner set of eight colorful cups.

Pros

  • Eight stackable cups of different sizes
  • Bold, bright primary colors
  • Also fun for use in the bath

Cons

  • Colors aren’t as vivid in person as on packaging

These colorful and durable cups are easy to grab and stack. Set includes eight cups total each of which is a slightly different size. All cups can be stacked together. Each of the cups is a different primary color. Each cup is also numbered on the bottom to help kids learn numerals.

Aside from stacking, these cups are also designed for bath-time fun. Each cup has unique holes in the bottom. When filled, the water will drain through the holes in unique shapes.

Our #3 Choice – Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack

Five brightly colored rings including a top ring which contains swirling, rattling beads.

Pros

  • Five easy-to-grasp plastic rings
  • Bold primary colors
  • Top ring filled with beads
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Base must be unscrewed for full cleaning

This is a classic ring stack for babies and toddlers. As you’d expect from Fisher-Price, the quality of the toy is very high. The rings vary in size with the largest four inches wide and the smallest three and a half inches.

The top ring is transparent and filled with beads. Kids can watch (and hear) the beads rattle and shake. While the other rings don’t have beads, they are each a different primary color. Rings are made from non-toxic plastic which is not only easy for kids to grasp, but also easy for parents to keep clean.

Our #4 Choice – Melissa & Doug Rainbow Stacker Wooden Ring Educational Toy

This eight-piece stacking toy is made from easy-to-grasp, non-toxic and all-natural wood.

Pros

  • Eight-piece ring set made entirely from wood
  • Rings are all the colors of the rainbow
  • High-quality Melissa & Doug products

Cons

  • Wooden stacking rod can potentially be dangerous

The Melissa & Doug Rainbow Stacker is an all-wood set with eight colorful pieces. The pieces are each painted a different primary color. Plus, the base gently rocks.

As with all Melissa & Doug toys, this stacking set is made from all-natural wood. Each piece is sanded smooth so no splinters will stick into little hands. All paint and materials are non-toxic.

Our #5 Choice – Fat Brain Toys GeoPeg Stacking Tower

Three sets of wooden stacking blocks which help kids learn about colors and shapes.

Pros

  • Three sets in one: octagons, rings and cones
  • High-quality wood pieces painted with non-toxic paints
  • Helps kids learn about shapes and colors

Cons

  • Paint can chip over time

The GeoPeg Stacking Tower is actually three separate sets: six octagons, five cones with a cylindrical topper and seven rings with a spherical topper. The pieces are various yellows, greens, blues and other bold primary colors.

Sets help teach kids different shapes, colors and more. All materials are precision crafted using BPA-free plastic. Plus, you can simply place all the pieces onto their pegs for easy storage and transportation.

Our #6 Choice – Melissa & Doug Deluxe 10-Piece Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks

A tall set of cardboard blocks which helps kids around the age of three learn the alphabet.

Pros

  • Helps develop reading and writing skills
  • 10 cardboard blocks with detailed illustrations
  • Blocks can be stacked and nested

Cons

  • Cardboard blocks not as durable as wood or plastic

This set of blocks is fun from A to Z! Each side of the 10 blocks contains a different letter of the alphabet as well as an illustration of an animal or object which starts with that letter. Made from cardboard, the blocks are large and lightweight. Stacking all the blocks together creates a tower about three feet tall!

Ideal for beginning readers ages two and up. Blocks can be stacked by letter, color or size. Introduces kids to each letter in the alphabet as well as words related to that letter. Aside from stacking, blocks can also be nested inside one another (which allows for easy storage).

Our #7 Choice – Green Toys My First Stacker

An environmentally-friendly stacking set made from recycled milk jugs.

Pros

  • Unique disc-shaped pieces are safe for young kids
  • Eight differently-sized pieces in a rainbow of colors
  • Made from 100% recycled milk jugs

Cons

  • Might be too simple for older kids

Safe for kids ages six months and older, this stacking kit has an elegant simplicity. Consists of eight stackable, nestable, disc-shaped pieces. The colorful pieces have rounded edges and stack without an internal rod.

Each piece is made from 100% recycled milk jugs and is BPA and Phthalate free. Pieces are also dishwasher safe. This set has been awarded an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, Creative Child Toy of the Year and more.

Stacking Toys Frequently Asked Questions

What are Stacking Toys?

Suitable for kids from the age of six months all the way up to eight years and older, stacking toys are a classic favorite. Stacking toys consist of a variety of objects which can be stacked on top of each other. Rings, cups and small boxes are all commonly found in stacking toy sets.

What Types of Stacking Toys are Available?

Not all stacking toys are the same. They can be divided into four types:

Rings

These sets will usually include a pole and base to hold the rings. Stacking rings can be either all the same size or a range from small to large.

Blocks

Baby blocks are a type of stacking toy. Blocks can be used to create towers or other structures. All the blocks in the set will be the same size. Many blocks will have pictures, letters or numbers on each side.

Nesting Toys

Aside from cups, this includes basically any set where the pieces can be stacked inside one another. The cups will be the same size. You might have seen professional cup stackers on TV. While your child probably won’t be able the go nearly as fast, the basic idea is the same.

Geometric Stackers

These sets include a variety of different geometric shapes which much stacked in a certain order.

What are the Benefits of Stacking Toys?

Stacking toys are so simple to play with that many parents don’t fully realize the educational benefits at first. But stacking toys help develop both the body and the brain. They’re especially effective at early childhood development, starting around six months.

Stacking toys help improve fine motor skills. Manipulating the individual pieces helps develop control over the fingers and hand muscles. Also helps with visual motor coordination and special reasoning. The basic skills learned from stacking toys become the foundation for more complex tasks like using a writing instrument.

Additionally, stacking toys help with “crossing midline.” This is a person’s ability to use their hand in a different hemisphere of their body. For instance, using your right hand to tie your left shoe is an example of crossing the midline. Playing with stacking toys is often a natural way to develop this skill.

Sets with differently-sized pieces are the best for developing fine motor control. At first, toddlers don’t have the fine muscle control to grasp with their fingers, so they grab with their entire hand. This whole-hand approach is great for picking the larger rings or pieces. As they develop more control over individual parts of their hands, they’ll be able to pick up smaller and smaller pieces.

Stacking also helps kids learn to recognize shapes, colors and sizes. Starting around the age of 18, kids start to recognize a variety of different colors. Stacking toys where each stackable is a different color are often a great choice for younger kids. Additionally, stacking toys with differently sized pieces help teach kids concepts like “big” and “small.”

Stacking toys also help kids learn language skills, especially when the parent plays with the child. Parents can say the name of a color or shape and encourage the child to repeat it. Learning basic words for colors and sizes is an important building block in learning how to form more complex sentences.

Where do I Find the Best Stacking Toys?

Regardless of the specific type, almost all stacking toys will be made from either plastic or wood.

Wood creates a classic look and is typically found in stackable rings and blocks. Plus, young ones usually love the feel of the wood pieces. High-quality wood pieces won’t have splinters or harsh edges. However, wooden pieces can become damaged after prolonged exposure to water. Wooden pieces are generally heavier than plastic, too.

Plastic toys will usually be made from ABS plastic, which is a non-toxic commercial-grade plastic. Plastic stacking toys are usually lighter than wood. They’ll last a long time and are also easy to clean.

You’ll also want to make sure the stacking toys are visually appealing to little ones. Kids are drawn to bright, bold colors. While rings are typically just colors, blocks will often be decorated with letters, numbers or kid-friendly illustrations.

Aside from the colors, don’t forget the textures. Toddlers tend to like the slightly flexible feeling of plastic toys, but they also like the cool, smooth texture of wood. There’s no right answer here. As long as the toys are made from non-toxic materials, either are safe.

More pieces aren’t always better. Younger kids often prefer the simplicity of smaller stacking sets which have just three or four pieces. However, larger sets can grow with the child, because they’ll learn to handle the smaller pieces over time.

Finally, you’ll want to consider transportation and storage. Nesting toys are often easy to store, as are ring stacking toys which have a left rod. While storage around the house isn’t a big deal, a set with a bunch of loose pieces can be a hassle to travel with.

Final Thoughts

Stacking toys are often some of a baby’s first toys, but the benefits provided can last a lifetime. Simple stacking cups, rings or other objects help kids learn about colors, sizes, numbers and more. Plus, stacking toys are an important tool in improving fine motor control, spatial awareness and other cognitive skills. Stacking toys build a variety of skills to help your child learn to speak, talk and succeed.

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