Best Cheap Toys for Kids at Every Age


When it comes to buying toys, it can get expensive quickly — especially as your child gets older and the toys get fancier. If you’re on a budget, it’s easy to feel bad as a parent if you can’t get your child the toys they really want. 

But we’ll let you in on a little secret: it is possible to find cheap toys that are developmentally appropriate for their age and that they’ll actually like. You just need to know where to look and what to look for.  

For example, if your child is obsessed with LEGO, you can get them a set, but you might want to opt for a smaller, collectible item, like a BrickHeadz. Or if your child is into STEM and you want to encourage that interest without spending an arm and a leg, you can find a cool science kit that will let them do home experiments. 

So, whether you’re expecting, looking for entertaining activities for your toddler or a gift for your tween that they won’t roll their eyes at, we’ve got you covered. 

But first, a quick note on the word “cheap.” This word means different things to different people depending on their budget. What may be affordable to you might not be affordable to someone else — and that’s OK. But, to establish a cut-off amount in our search, we focused on our favorite toys for kids of every age group for $25 or less:

Best Cheap Toys for Babies

Best Toy for Newborns

Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle & Sensory Teether Toy

Image: / Manhattan Toy

If you’re looking for an affordable, developmental toy that will entertain your baby from birth, look no further than the Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle & Sensory Teether Toy. Sold for over 25 years, this colorful toy serves two purposes: it’s a teether and a rattle, which makes it infinitely interesting to your little one. Plus, it’s designed to be easy for tiny hands to grab onto. 

Why we love it: It’s a toy that your baby will stay interested in from birth through teething, maybe even longer. 

Promising review: “This toy is awesome, I highly recommend. It was the first toy my daughter was interested in (at about 2.5 months). It seemed to really help develop her grasping ability. She could always get ahold of it and if she accidentally hit herself in the face with it, it didn’t hurt her like some of the other little rattles and things she has. She is now almost 5 months and still loves to manipulate and chew on it.” — Shelly Owe Noo

$9.99 at

Best Toy for Kids Six Months and Up

The First Years Stack Up Cup Toys

The First Years Stack Up Cup Toys
Image: / The First Years

Here’s a secret that new parents learn quickly: it’s the simplest toys that babies always love the most. Case in point, The First Years set of eight colorful, stackable cups. On the surface, they don’t look all that remarkable, but they do everything your little one wants them to: They can be chewed on, sorted, nested, stacked into a tower or played with in the bath. They can become hats for your child’s stuffed animals or become teacups for a princess tea party when your baby graduates to toddlerhood. You can even use them to teach your kid the words for colors or how to count to eight. Oh, and they only cost $5. 

Why we love it: Not only will your child be playing with these cups for a while, but they’re also incredibly portable, fitting easily into travel bags or even your child’s car seat cup holder. 

Promising review: “If I could pick ONE and ONLY ONE toy to entertain a baby for the entire first year and beyond, THIS IS IT. Hands down, no question. These cups are frickin’ amazing and versatile.” — Jess C. 

$4.99 on

Best Play Phone

Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone with Ringing Sounds

Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone with Ringing Sounds
Image: / Fisher-Price

This phone may be a bit sleeker than the old Fisher-Price telephone pull-toy (there’s a reason it was a character in Toy Story), but it’s still a classic. And it saves you having to give your child a play cell phone for a little longer. Doubling as a pull-toy and make-believe phone, this Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone is cheap and it will be a favorite for at least a couple of years. 

Why we love it: Most baby toys are made to be outgrown within a few months, but with this toy, your child will still be playing with it when they’re building pillow forts in the living room (how else could they pretend to call Santa or Grandma, right?)

Promising review: “It is rare these days to find inexpensive quality toys like this, as silly as it may sound, I hit the jackpot on this item… I highly recommend this item, more than just a reasonable purchase, you won’t regret it!” — Tim McGinnin Sr.

$6.57 at

Best Cheap Sit-to-Stand Walker

Fisher-Price Learn with Me Zebra Walker

Fisher-Price Learn with Me Zebra Walker
Image: / Fisher-Price

Okay, so $25 isn’t everyone’s definition of cheap… but it’s the best price out there for a sit-to-stand walker (at least until there’s a sale, that is.) And you’re going to want this Fisher-Price Zebra Walker as soon as your baby learns to sit up. Best of all? It’s got plenty to keep your little one entertained, from fun buttons and sounds to push, to a handle to help pull themselves up, to wheels to help baby cruise around the living room. Plus, the zebra face is so cute!. 

Why we love it: With a Sit-to-Stand walker, your baby can practice those first steps on their own — and they’re adorable zooming around the living room once they gain their confidence with this walker. 

Promising review: “My two children learned how to stand up & walk thanks to this little Zebra. I purchased this again due to my niece having her first child. I know this will help her little guy.” — Texas Gal

$24.99 at

Best Toys for Toddlers

Best Toy for Budding Artists

My First Crayola Mess-Free Double Doodle

My First Crayola Mess-Free Double Doodle
Image: / Crayola

If there’s one thing toddlers love to do, it’s coloring — and they don’t mind what they color on, whether that’s a piece of paper or your white walls. With this Crayola Mess-Free Double Doodle pad, you can save your walls and the cost of having to keep buying more (and more and more) paper pads, plus no having to pick up crayons all over the house. The doodle pad is double sided, too: on one side, they can doodle mess-free with their fingers, and on the other, they can use their beloved crayons and just wipe it off when they want to start over. 

Why we love it: It’s versatile, mess-free and perfect for occupying your toddler on your next trip. 

Promising review: “The finger paint part of this unit is very fun for little fingers. It is a spreadable substance encased in a rubbery plastic….no mess and nicely tactile. Children have been able to use it over and over again… Great for car rides or quiet activity.” — Koren Harrison

Price: $9.99 at

Best Toy for Future Athletes

Little Tikes Tot Sports T-Ball Set

Little Tikes Tot Sports T-Ball Set
Image: / Little Tikes

When your toddler discovers balls (and sports more generally), it’s only natural to want to encourage them — and this Little Tikes T-Ball Set is the perfect (inexpensive) way to do that. It’s oversized bat and balls make it easier for your little one to actually hit the ball, but both are also perfectly sized for little hands to hold. Plus, since it’s a tee ball set, your child can play with you or by themselves while you work in the garden. 

Why we love it: Not only is this an instant hit with your toddler, but it’s also easy to store in the garage since the base doubles as storage. 

Promising review: “​​This T Ball setup is great and it is helping my grandson learn to play. He is two and next year he will be playing T Ball and he will be ready. It is very sturdy and I can tell it will last a long time.” — Cowwoman6

$12.99 at

Best Toy for Early Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Match and Roll Shape Sorter

Melissa & Doug Match and Roll Shape Sorter
Image: / Melissa & Doug

If you’re looking for an affordable toy, you might think you need to get a plastic one, but that’s not true. The Melissa & Doug Match and Roll Shape Sorter doesn’t cost very much and it’s made of durable wood, which gives it an heirloom quality. It’s just as colorful as a plastic toy, though, so your toddler will love playing with it as they learn their colors, shapes and how to correctly match the pieces to the right shaped spot.  

Why we love it: While your child probably won’t play with the puzzle part until they’re a toddler, this toy works for babies too because it doubles as a roller to encourage them to crawl, so you can always buy it for them early. 

Promising review: “We’ve had this for a little over a year now and everything is still intact after being thrown around by my toddler. I got this when my son was 1.5 and he didn’t care for it at the time. He started to show more interest right when he turned 2, though, when his fine motor skills got better.” — Kymeerox

$12.78 on

Best First LEGO

LEGO DUPLO Disney Pixar Story Train

LEGO DUPLO Disney Pixar Story Train
Image: / LEGO

LEGO and Disney are bound to be a big part of your life as a parent, so why not get them both in one toy? Your toddler is going to love building the DUPLO Disney Pixar Story Train and playing with Woody. This set will also fit in well with any future DUPLO set you get, like a train track. Plus, this set doesn’t come with a ton of extra bricks, so it won’t make a big mess. Just be warned: once you get them one LEGO set, they’re going to want more. 

Why we love it: LEGO sets (including DUPLO) usually cost more than nonbranded sets, so this one is a really great deal. 

Promising review: “My train obsessed child loves this – easy to put together and has some cute figurines to go with it.” – Seek Felicity

$15.99 at

Best Toys for Big Kids (Ages 4 – 10)

Best Toy for Space Lovers

Melissa & Doug Solar System Floor Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Solar System Floor Puzzle
Image: / Melissa & Doug

Once your child outgrows their “easy” toddler puzzles, keep challenging them with this 48-piece Solar System Floor Puzzle. It’s just tough enough for a four-year-old to put together that it will keep them occupied while you do your household chores, without being so difficult that they get frustrated. Plus, it’s great for any kid that’s obsessed with space – the final puzzle makes a beautiful image of the solar system. 

Why we love it: It’s easy to clean if your child spills their water (or milk) on it while they work and it will keep your child focused on something educational. 

Promising review: “My 4 year old loves space and this puzzle was a perfect gift for him. He spends hours on it and learning how to put puzzles together.” – Angie M. 

$10.89 at

Best Toy for LEGO Lovers

LEGO BrickHeadz Dalmatian 

LEGO BrickHeadz Dalmatian
Image: LEGO

LEGO sets can get pricey, but you don’t have to buy an expensive set for your kid to have fun building something and LEGO BrickHeadz are a much cheaper alternative. Plus, they can be really cute, like this dalmatian and puppy set. With 252 pieces, it’s challenging enough to build that your child will be busy for a while, and cool enough that when it’s built they’ll want to display it on their bookshelf. 

Why we love it: Even though it’s a smaller set, it’s a collectible, which means that you can buy your child LEGO sets in small, incremental purchases as they start their BrickHeadz collection. 

Promising review: “Cute gift for my 8-year-old. Easy build and great value for the money” — Lil&BriesMomma

$14.99 at

Best Toy for Budding Scientists

Be Amazing! Toys Frozen Science Kit

Be Amazing! Toys Frozen Science Kit
Image: / Be Amazing! Toys

If your child is interested in STEM, you probably want to encourage that interest, but STEM sets don’t usually come cheap. The Be Amazing! Toys Frozen Science Kit is though, and it’s a lot of fun. It teaches your child about how snow is made through 15 experiments that allow them to make an indoor winter wonderland, complete with a mini snowman. 

Why we love it: Not only is this a good STEM teaching toy, but it’s also a great way to get your little one amped for winter, especially if you don’t happen to live somewhere that’s cold. 

Promising review: “My granddaughter and I had so much fun experimenting with this kit. Instructions are easily understood, and all the supplies are in the kit. No boiling water or other supplies are needed to complete experiments.” — engbuldoglovr

$18.02 at

Best Toys for Pre-Teens and Teens

Best for Your Tween That Wants Pink Hair

ALEX Toys Hair Chalk Salon Girls Hair Activity

ALEX Toys Hair Chalk Salon Girls Hair Activity
Image: / ALEX

If your pre-teen is constantly begging you to let her dye her hair a fun color, give them the ALEX Hair Chalk Salon. Your tween can give themselves pink, purple, blue, green, or red highlights — and it will all wash out in the shower before school in the morning. The set also comes with 24 metallic beads and hair elastics so they can experiment with different hairstyles too. 

Why we love it: Not only do these colors wash out easily, but they’re easy to apply because they come in chalk pen sets. 

Promising review: “My daughter has dark hair, and colors that she has tried before (spray) rarely show up. This is a neat product and washes out easily. Also, it’s perfect for a little girl (my daughter is 6) because you can put just enough on to make her happy without looking silly. I recommend!” — Renee Huffman-Delotel

$8.45 on Amazon

Best Toys for Teens Who Won’t Admit They Love Puzzles

Original 3D Crystal Puzzle

Original 3D Crystal Puzzle
Image: / Bepuzzled

At some point, teens get worried about what their friends will think of them and put away their puzzles and LEGOs — even if secretly they still love them. That’s why the Original 3D Crystal Puzzle is for them. It’s small enough to stash away in a drawer, even before you finish it, and it’s challenging enough (the pieces are tiny) to keep them so busy that they forget to check their phones for a bit.

Why we love it: The puzzle is a lot of fun to build — and it looks cute on a shelf, if they choose to leave it out. 

Promising review: “It was a nice amount of challenge without being frustrating, and it is extremely cute! The final project stays together well and feels surprisingly sturdy for being a puzzle. To top it off, you get three sets of eye stickers, which are very similar but have subtle differences, which is kind of fun!” – Evie K

$8.68 at Amazon

Best for the Whole Family

Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens
Image: / Exploding Kittens

If you’re looking for a game that your pre-teen or teen might actually play with the family, here it is. With just enough snark and silliness to make everyone laugh, Exploding Kittens is simple but entertaining. It only takes about 15 minutes to play a round, but you can always play more (it’s fun enough that you probably will). 

Why we love it: It’s affordably priced, entertaining, and since it’s just a box of cards, it doesn’t take up much space in your closet or coffee table drawer.

Promising review: “I got this for my teenage daughter, and it was both well-received and well-played! This is a quirky, funny and flexible game that beats the hell out of any electronics you might be considering as a gift. This little card game provides actual interaction in a light and funny way, plus allows – indeed encourages – a high amount of silly randomness in the way it’s played.” — K. Jensen

$19.99 at Target

What to Consider When Shopping for Toys for Kids

When you’re buying toys for kids, there are a few things you want to take into consideration

First, you want to make sure that whatever toy you buy, is safe and appropriate for their age group. That’s why it’s important to read the label and abide by the suggested age recommendation on the box. Second, plastic toys are OK — but you want to make sure that any plastic toy you buy is sturdy. Kids are tough on their toys (especially toddlers), so make sure that anything you buy won’t break easily. Plastic pieces can be sharp or choking hazards.

Third, look for toys from reputable brands that prioritize child-safety. Most toy companies have a website where they’ll post their safety standards. This will help you ensure that they aren’t painted with lead paint, use toxic chemicals or contain dangerous elements.

While major retailers, such as Target or Walmart, will pull down any toys that are recalled, you can also check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website for toy recalls in order to make sure what you’re buying (or what you already have) is safe. 

Finally, if possible, try to look for a toy that helps your child learn something or express their creativity. This will make you feel better about what you’re getting — and it will stimulate their development, too, making it a worthy investment. 

How to Save Money on Toys/at Specific Retailers, etc.

If you’re shopping for toys at major retailers, your best chance of scoring a deal is to shop during a major sale event. These sales are usually held on holiday weekends, such as President’s Day, Memorial Day or Labor Day. Black Friday is also a great time to find toys at a cheaper price.

You can also wait for store-specific annual sales. Here are a few to consider:

  • Amazon Prime Day, which is usually held in June
  • Wayfair’s Way Day, which is usually held in April
  • Target’s Deal Days, which usually happen in the summer

If you don’t want to wait for a big sale event, you’re not out of luck. With new toys constantly arriving, stores like Target or Walmart are always trying to rotate stock and sell off older toys or models. This means that they are usually offering a discount on a few toys all the time, especially as the seasons change. For example, you’ll probably be able to find summer toys at a discount at the end of the season or the beginning of fall. 

Check online, sign up for store newsletters or if you want to buy in-store, grab one of the sales catalogs by the door to see what you might be able to snag a deal on. 

What to Consider When Buying Second-Hand Toys 

You can usually find good discounts on second-hand toys, especially high-ticket items like playhouses, but before you buy, there are a few things you should consider.

  1. Always inspect a used toy before you pay for it: Look for flaking paint, broken pieces, sharp edges, or other safety concerns. If you’re buying a big item, like a tricycle, make sure all the mechanical parts work and aren’t rusted over. 
  2. Remember that guidance on toys changes: Lots of toys were once considered safe, but posed risks and so expert guidance has changed. For example, a lot of pull-along toys had long strings, but this could pose a strangulation risk if that string is too long or easily tangled. 
  3. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission Website: Make sure the toy you’re thinking of buying hasn’t been recalled.
  4. Research the toy brand manufacturer, especially if they no longer make toys today: Some companies just go out of business for financial reasons, but some companies had a lot of parental complaints about their safety standards. Make sure the toy isn’t made by a sketchy manufacturer or one that has a bad history. 

Second, remember that some toys are just more durable than others. You will likely have better luck sticking to these quality items:

  • wooden toys 
  • wagons 
  • play kitchens 
  • ride-on-toys 
  • dollhouses 
  • playhouses
  • rocking horses 
  • board games or card games 
  • costumes
  • dolls
  • video game systems

Some toys just hold up better over time or they’re made by brands — like Fisher-Price or Little Tikes— that have been making toys for years and are known for their durability.

The post Best Cheap Toys for Kids at Every Age appeared first on The Real Deal by RetailMeNot.

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