If you have a young daughter, chances are, you've heard of American Girl dolls. "Little girls just love it. There's actually Bitty Babies which are the dolls for 2 and 3 year olds... The older girls love the real thing," says Hartshorn. The dolls are based fictional characters whose stories are set in important time periods in history, so their clothes, accessories and hobbies are true-to-life. There's even a movie featuring one of the characters, Kit Kittredge. The dolls retail for $100 each, and you can find them at www.AmericanGirl.com.
If you have a toddler, a toy shopping cart might be the ticket. Hartshorn recommends Fisher Price's Shop 'N Learn Walker. "It's really sturdy and fun and helps kids imitate (mom and dad)," she adds. The shopping cart/walker retails for roughly $40.00. You can find it by clicking here.
If you have a little boy or girl who's dying to ride a bike with the big kids, try the Glide 2 Ride from Hasbro. This bike features detachable pedals which teach kids to ride by allowing them to push with their feet first. Once they've mastered that skill, you can attach the pedals and before you know it, your child will be riding by themselves. The bike retails for $100. To buy it, click here.
For smaller children, try an activity cube. Activity cubes offer a range of play options, from beads on thick, twisted wires to blocks with different pictures that turn. With so much to do, your little one will be entertained for a quite some time. Hartshorn likes the Parent's Busy Zoo or Busy Street because they're made of wood. "I think there's a big trend this year towards wooden toys, classic plays," says Hartshorn. Each toy retails for roughly $50.00. You can find the Busy Zoo or Busy Street at many major retailers like Target, or online at www.Amazon.com. "It's very solid. It really lasts," says Hartshorn.
If you've got a child who wants to be on the go all the time, check out the Radio Flyer Turbo Turtle Ride-On. "This is the best budget toy of the season," says Hartshorn. "It's $30.00. How can you go wrong?" You can find the Turbo Turtle at most major toy stores as well as online retailers like www.Amazon.com.
For more information on this season's hottest toys, as well as additional parenting advice, click here to visit www.AmericanBaby.com.
By Erin Petrun