tara dion's sons playing on a wooden arch and toki mat

Tara's Top 10 Must-Have Items for Babies & Kids

March 13, 2023

Tara Dion wears many hats at Toki Mats, including Amazon Expert, VIP Community Manager, and Marketing Manager. As mother to 4-year old Warren and 2-year twins named Waylon and Walter, her plate is already full at home, but she manages to juggle home and work life like a true professional. At Toki, Tara runs the Amazon channel and manages everything within it, leads the VIP Facebook group Toki Mats Insiders, and makes sure that everything within the Toki calendar stays organized so that things like product launches go as smoothly as possible. Born and raised in North Carolina, she still lives there with her family today, spending quality time with her boys and finding fun activities to do together in her free time. She’s a big fan of play-based learning, and documents her favorite activities on Instagram to inspire other parents. Here are her top 10 items for babies and kids that she considers true essentials:

tara dion with her husband and three sons

1. Toki Mat

toki mats play mat

Crafted from high-quality, non-toxic materials, this play mat is 1” of natural latex foam that provides supportive cushioning for developing babies. Soft enough to catch tumbles and firm enough to support standing, this mat is a favorite among babies and parents alike. 

“We've had Toki Mats since before the twins were born and it's so nice to have a place to play where we can all be comfortable! Every area where the kids play in the house has one.”

2. Magna-Tiles

magna tiles 32 piece set

This STEAM learning building set features magnetic tiles in classic geometric shapes that provide hours of screen-free fun. Including 32 pieces, this set is an open-ended tool that develops creative thinking, as well as language, cognitive, motor, social, and emotional skills.

“One of our everyday open-ended toys that are out constantly and that all 3 boys enjoy so much.”

3. The Nugget

the nugget play couch

This beloved play couch is made up of four foam pieces, including a base, cushion, and two triangle pillows that make up endless configurations for open-ended play. The microsuede fabric is super durable and fully removable for machine washing.

“Perfect for getting energy out and used every single day by my wild crew.”

4. MACKids Kit Play Dough Kits & Jars

MACKids Kit Play Dough Kits & Jars

Enjoy sensory play with homemade, non-toxic play dough that’s perfect for screen-free learning and fun. Bright colored dough and a variety of add-ins make these kits an ideal gift for any holiday or occasion, or just for everyday play. These kits are designed to enhance vocabulary, fine motor skills, brain development, imagination, and independent play.

“We love playdough and order from this shop on a constant basis. It's a favorite for all 3 boys!” 

5. Bubbles & Joy Bath Subscription

Bubbles & Joy Bath Subscription

This bath subscription supports sensory play and curiosity and bath time with unique, all-natural items. Enjoy premium bath toys, activities, and products that are made from natural, sustainable materials and are designed to be mold-free.

“This subscription kit seriously just helps to make bathtime so fun, and I love their monthly curated boxes.”

6. Safari Ltd. Animal Figurines

Safari Ltd. Animal Figurines

These carefully crafted animal figurines spark imagination and encourage education in the natural world. Whether they be dinosaurs, dragons, and wildlife animals, these toys are richly detailed and scientifically accurate so little ones can learn through play. Not only are these figurines safe and non-toxic, they’re also highly durable and perfect for passing along to future generations. 

We have these all over the house, they are realistic animals that the boys use for pretend play and a ton of activities.”

7. Everwood Friends My First Block Set

Everwood Friends My First Block Set

This 26-piece block set is made with high quality maple wood and precision crafted in Minnesota. The hard maple’s density, hardness, and tight grain is perfect for durable, splinter-free play. These blocks are founded for safety and sanded to smooth perfection, and also left unpainted and unstained for natural beauty. The smaller block size makes this set easily portable and suitable for table top play, inspiring imagination and creativity.

“We love open ended toys and these blocks are so smooth and well made.  There are so many great options on their site.”

8. Maple & Lark Baskets

Maple & Lark Baskets

Made from 100% cotton rope and jute, these baskets are a beautiful and elegant toy storage solution. Place them around the home for easy toy access, or hang them from their vegan leather straps to keep things tidy and maximize space. The high-quality rope is machine stitched to provide extra strength and sturdiness, and look graceful in every home.

“I've recently become obsessed with Maple & Lark Baskets for easy access to toys for the boys, and for really good looking toy storage.”

9. Yoto Player

Yoto Player

This kids’ audio player also functions as a night light and clock, and provides hours of stories, music, podcasts, and sleep sounds. Made for independent use, this audio player uses physical cards to explore audiobooks, music, activities, and educational audio, while giving kids the freedom and confidence to explore what inspires them.

“We love our Yoto player and are members of the monthly club to get new cards. We like to play music through it daily, and it's such a great audio book player!”

10. Hello Sugarhouse Houses and Blocks

Hello Sugarhouse Houses and Blocks

These adorable houses are made from high quality, unfinished Beech wood that is safe and durable for infinite play. Brightly colored gems fit seamlessly in the wooden houses and are beautiful to look at. These block sets encourage quality family time and open-ended play for screen-free fun and learning.

“We love these houses and the beautiful translucent blocks they have for small world play.”

Tara's Top 10 Must-Have Items for Babies & Kids

About the Author: Alice

Alice Mendoza is a copywriter and blog writer based in Los Angeles. She began writing for a baby brand while on maternity leave, and realized she had found her niche. Today, she writes exclusively within the baby space, using her BFA in Creative Writing and her own experience as a mother to guide her. When she’s not working, you can find her chasing down her toddler, going on walks around the neighborhood, or watching reality TV.

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