The 9 Best Stacking Toys for Toddlers in 2021

Neve Spicer
Written by Neve Spicer Updated on October 10th, 2021

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The toy world has come a long way since the reign of the donut-shaped Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack (though that’s not to say we don’t still have a special place for it in our hearts!)

Modern stackers tend to be artsy, simplistic, and eco-friendly. They provide children with a chance to stack, balance, and create.

We’ve stacked nine of the best stacking cups for your enjoyment! Check ’em out, and don’t be afraid to do some stacking with your little one!

How to choose the best stacking toys

During our research, we used the following guidelines to make our final selections:

Materials and design

We look favorably at any toys that double as decorations. Stackers repeatedly fall into this category.

If you asked us what the most aesthetically pleasing stackers were, we’d probably say the Montessori-inspired wooden rainbows and other, similar earthy designs.

These playthings tend to be simple in design and material. As such, they are often used to fill the void on bookshelves and nightstands.

We also considered the structural durability of these items. If investing in a product, we want it to stand the test of time.

Objects that teeter on top of each other are likely to fall. As such, they need to be durable enough to withstand repeated impact. Wood, plush fabric, and plastic are some of the best material choices.

Stackers with poles are great, as the pieces cannot just fall to the wayside. Still, free-floating stacking toys can present children with the most creative freedom.

We also paid close attention to colors, textures, patterns, and forms. We only wanted to select toys that looked irresistible!

Function

A good set of stackers is going to foster your little one’s creative side. We prefer sets that can be used imaginatively in different ways, such as cups that can be nested together or turned into towers.

Benefits of stacking toys

Stacking toys can benefit children in many ways. Children can practice their fine motor skills when grasping and manipulating small pieces. They also cultivate spatial awareness when adding pieces to different sections of these puzzles.

Of course, stacking toys also encourage problem-solving skills, while their colors and textures make for a sensory-rich early learning experience.

When your children reach preschool age, they can use their stackers to hone a variety of academic skills. Stackers can teach numbers, patterns, colors, and more.

Our top picks of the best stacking toys

Editors choice

Our opinion

Recommended age: 24 months +
Materials: Rubberwood
Number of pieces: 9

If spaceships aren’t your thing, check out PlanToys’ Stacking Tree (check price on Amazon). This eco-friendly item is also made from salvaged pieces of rubberwood.

It has a charming green gradient, with dark green branches on the bottom and bright lime branches at the top. Although the wood treatment is very bright, there are still vivid instances of wood grain peeping through the stain.

Each branch can be fed over the peg in the center of the base. When the pieces are stacked correctly, the toy takes the form of a whimsical evergreen.

This simple balancing tree reminds us of something you would see in a Montessori classroom. It will give your kiddo’s room a very earthy vibe.

What we love
  • Uses waste wood from rubber production. Charming, earthy, aesthetic
  • Promotes several educational concepts and functions as a room decoration and toy
Watch for
  • Not the best option for babies in the 'throwing' stage

Upgrade choice

Our opinion

Recommended age: 12 months +
Materials: Wood
Number of pieces: 6

This Heirloom Rainbow Stacker (check price on Amazon) has been handcrafted in Germany. It’s made from wood and finished in non-toxic paint. Children can use the colorful pieces to build all sorts of whimsical creations.

Pieces can be flipped over and used in the rocking position. This wooden rainbow is part of a larger stacker collection in which each stacker represents an element in nature.

These concepts align with the traditional Waldorf school framework. They’re also a great learning prompt for curious little kids.

What we love
  • Waldorf-worthy rainbow stackers that represent the elements of air
  • The stackers make amazing rocking chairs and beds for toys
  • Prompts exploration and creativity
  • Can be stored in a neat little rainbow stack
Watch for
  • Other Grimm elements must be purchased separately

Best bath stacking toy

Our opinion

Recommended age: 12 months +
Materials: Plastic
Number of pieces: 5

We admit that most kids aren’t going to spend much time stacking these adorable little boats, yet we couldn’t resist tacking on a nesting toy that could be used in the bath!

The Boon Stacking Boats (check price on Amazon) have wide decks that can be used to scoop water. They can also be flipped over to create a rain-like drizzle on top of a child’s head.

We love that they are made from BPA, phthalate, and PVC-free plastic. We keep our set on the bath shelf. Its nautical qualities remind us of vacations past. Joking aside, bath time wouldn’t be the same without a few Boon boats for scooping up the bubbles.

What we love
  • Five brightly colored boats with drain holes
  • Use the boats to make rain and rinse shampoo from your little one’s head
  • Wide decks can be used for scooping and pouring water
  • Nest nicely together when not in use
Watch for
  • Expect water spill over the edge of your tub

Best eco friendly

Our opinion

Recommended age: 18 months +
Materials: Rubberwood
Number of pieces: 11

The PlanToys Stacking Rocket (check price on Amazon) is constructed from eco-friendly recycled rubberwood. It’s an 11-piece toy with a rainbow of colors and some natural wood accents.

Children can balance the colored disks on top of the little tripod. Inside each disk, there’s a cutout with a corresponding woodblock. At the very top, there’s a blue and white spaceman and a nose cone.

Younger toddlers may struggle to complete all play options, though, with a little guidance, this stacking toy can serve as two very fun and educational activities.

Once kids get the hang of it, they’ll love placing the little astronaut in his galaxy-gliding spaceship. We’d like to add that this set makes an excellent nursery decoration.

As such, it’s a fun item to put on a baby registry. Eco-friendly toys are everywhere this year. Why not start your kiddo on an earth-friendly path!

What we love
  • 11-piece rainbow stacking rocket looks lovely on a nursery shelf
  • Teaches shapes, colors, and numbers
  • An adorable wooden astronaut can ride aboard the ship
  • A great addition to any eco-friendly play space
Watch for
  • This puzzle is a bit more complicated than we would have liked

Best for cause-and-effect learning

Our opinion

Recommended age: 12 months +
Materials: Plastic
Number of pieces: 7

We adore this large rainbow-colored spinning discs toy! The Fat Brain Toys’ Spin Again (check price on Amazon) has six discs in all.

When you stack them together, they create a lovely rainbow swirl. The real fun comes when your kiddo twists the corkscrew peg, and the colors swirl together.

We enjoy Smart Brain’s clever use of colors and effects. Children can hone their hand-eye coordination while piling on the starburst and flower plates. This charming activity will also prompt your little one to think about cause and effect.

The base was taller than we expected it to be, measuring over 16 inches, but we were happy with the size as the big pieces were easier for little ones to manipulate. Young children may struggle to spin the toy, though the results are extra magical when encouraged by a parent!

What we love
  • Six brightly-colored graduated discs spin on a corkscrew peg
  • A smooth, wide base for lifting, tipping, and starting again
  • BPA-free coated ABS plastic is safe for curious little mouths
  • Promotes hand-eye coordination, sorting skills, and much more
Watch for
  • This is one for the toy box rather than display

Our sixth choice

Our opinion

Recommended age: 2 years +
Materials: Wood
Number of pieces: 26

If you’re looking for toys that align with the Montessori framework, check out this three-part stacking board by Melissa & Doug.

Each peg holds eight wooden rings. The discs come in geometric, octagonal, and circular shapes. The materials are durable and brightly colored, making this toy a welcome addition to any early learning space.

The Melissa & Doug Geometric Stacker (check price on Amazon) help children to conceptualize colors, patterns, and shapes. The large wooden pieces are easy for children to lift and stack. After a few practice rounds, your little one will be on their way to completing the entire puzzle.

What we love
  • When one stacker doesn’t do it, try three!
  • Teaches shapes and colors
  • Create new patterns with the shapes
  • Great for hand-eye coordination
Watch for
  • The paint has a tendency to chip off the colored blocks

Best alphabet stacking toy

Our opinion

Recommended age: 2 years +
Materials: Cardboard
Number of pieces: 10

The Melissa & Doug Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks (check price on Walmart) are a super fun activity for children between the ages of 2 and 4 years.

These Alphabet Nesting Blocks are made of durable cardboard. So how can cardboard hold up to the hands of a hyperactive toddler? These lightweight stackers are surprisingly durable, and what’s more, they don’t hurt when they come crashing down on little fingers!

The colorful illustrations on the sides of each box coordinate with the letters on the front. Guide your kiddo as they stack the letters from A to Z. We also recommend that you sing while you work!

What we love
  • These alphabet nesting blocks teach preschoolers their ABCs
  • Lightweight cardboard beats out heavy wood blocks
  • Colorful illustrations for each letter block
  • A versatile learning tool that serves as the backbone for loads of activities
Watch for
  • Cardboard will tear if handled too roughly

Best playful patterns

Our opinion

Recommended age: 6 months +
Materials: Fabric
Number of pieces: 6

The Lamaze Rainbow Rings (check price on Bed Bath & Beyond) present babies with a stimulating play experience. All four rings have unique textures and designs. They even crinkle when squished.

The rings sit atop a plush peg adorned in black and white checks. A little cluster of rainbow ribbons pokes out from the top. Lamaze is one of our favorite baby toy manufacturers.

Each toy is developed under a strict educational framework. This squishy tower of rings might just be the toy that sets your little one on an ivy league trajectory. Hey, a mom can always dream!

What we love
  • Plush rings and base won’t hurt little one's hands and squishy fabric is easy to grasp
  • Helps babies develop healthy eye focus
  • Great for hand-eye coordination
  • Crinkly material sewn inside all four rings
Watch for
  • Warps in the washing machine

Most unique design

Our opinion

Recommended age: 1 year +
Materials: Wood
Number of pieces: 6

Manhattan Toys has always wowed us with its whimsical toy designs. This Shock-A-Locka Wooden Stacking Toy (check price on Target ) looks like it belongs in the MoMA.

The set includes five colorful pieces and one wooden rod base. The pieces fit together to create an eye-bending figure eight. The wood is super smooth, the finish non-toxic.

As such, you don’t have to worry about curious kiddos stuffing the pieces in their mouths. The color palette ranges from yellow to aquamarine. In our humble opinion, this piece looks like a Dr. Seuss illustration.

What we love
  • Super-unique stacker design and sturdy enough to become an heirloom
  • Helps children learn spacial perception, colors, and more
  • Fosters hand-eye coordination
  • Can be stacked in several different ways
Watch for
  • The small pieces could get mixed up with other toys

And our winner is…

Both babies and toddlers can learn a lot from stacking toys. For one, these compact playthings foster healthy hand-eye coordination.

Many also promote an understanding of colors, numbers, patterns, and other academic concepts. If we had to choose a favorite, it would be PlanToys’ Stacking Tree (check price on Amazon).

This whimsical wooden evergreen would make an excellent addition to any nursery. The brightly colored branches come in every shade of green while their rounded limbs are easy for little hands to grasp.

We hope you enjoyed our rundown of the best stacking toys for kids. Which one of these colorful playthings would appeal to your child? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Neve Spicer
Written by Neve Spicer Updated on October 10th, 2021

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