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Sure, there are plenty of toys out there for kids — and they run the gamut from cheap and disposable to splurges that will become hand-me-downs for years to come. After centuries in the business, though, German toy makers continue to make some of the best in the industry, with quality toys that lean a little old-school and provide hours of educational entertainment. We’ve rounded up a handful of the best German-made toys, from cute teethers and junior instruments to scoot-along bikes and language-learning books. And no, you won’t have to fly across the pond to buy them: Each and every one can be purchased online and sent straight to your door.
Our Top Picks
Best Musical Toy: HaPe Pound & Tap Bench with Slide-Out Xylophone
Toddlers love toys that make music — and not only are they fun, but educational, too, helping then learn musicality, audio recognition, and hand-eye coordination. This two-level set — from German company HaPe —includes three balls which, when hit with the included mallet, fall onto the xylophone and make a bright, colorful sound.
Creative kids — it’s best for those ages 1 to 3 years old — can also slide out the xylophone to play it directly. The construction of the toy has little ones in mind, with water-based paint, curved edges, and non-toxic finishes. It comes in two bright colors, red and yellow, each of which are colorful enough to catch a toddler’s attention, even in the most crowded of playrooms.
Best Plastic Toy: Schleich German Shepherd Toy Figure
Founded in the Swabian region of Germany back in 1935, the Schleich toy company made a name for itself nearly three decades later with the launch of Smurf toys. Their line of small plastic dog toys, made from high-quality plastic that can withstand the gnawing and battering of kids, is great for any child who loves animals. They’re pretty small, at about 2.25" x 2.5", so they’re best for children three years and older.
Other than German Shepherds, Schleich also offers St. Bernards, Yorkshire Terriers, Huskies, and Labradors. Children and grandparents alike love these dogs — and they are a great price for kids learning to manage their allowances.
Best Book: Am I Small? Bin Ich Klein?
It’s never too early to start planting the seeds of a second language, and this bilingual German-English book is a great way to get a child started early with their Deutsch comprehension, whether you’ll be enrolling them in an immersion program or just want to introduce them to a different culture. It’s also a great present for grandparents and other family members to gift little ones as the first introduction to their family’s heritage. The book has captivating illustrations and at 26 pages, it’s the perfect length for a bedtime story or as a morning read to get little ones' brains whirring after they wake up.
Best for Motor Skills: Grimm's Shake, Rattle & Roll Baby Toy
Grimm's is based in Hochdorf, Germany, and has been family-owned from since its start in 1978. The headquarters isn’t just a few offices, either — it’s where toys are turned from raw wooden forms to gifts that will delight little ones. Grimms Shake, Rattle & Roll toy helps to develop motor skills, and it’s teething-safe — so there’s no worries about splinters with this rattle. Grimm's makes sure all their wooden toys are safely sanded — most by hand (to take the quality up a notch) — and finished with a matte color glaze that sets into the wood, rather than sitting on top of it. This toy is extremely easy to clean after a bit of play; a damp cloth is all that’s needed to restore it to its original condition. It’s great for newborns on up to one-year-olds.
Best Stuffed Animal: Steiff Stuffed Zebra
Steiff isn’t just a German company, but one with a female founder, Margarete Steiff. She started the company more than 135 years ago with a small elephant-shaped pin cushion for children, and from there, her nephew launched a hit line of stuffed bears with moveable arms and legs, unaware that across the Atlantic, the “Teddy bear" was taking off.
Today, the company continues to delight kids with stuffed animals, and Steiff's zebra is a popular pick for kids who want something soft and cuddly to play with. It’s large enough for the crib during naptime, at about a foot tall, and it’s made from a super-soft material with squishy bean bags in its tummy. The German-made construction will hold up after years of love, too, if it becomes a nap-time must.
Best for Teething: HABA Magica Clutching Toy
HABA has been making incredibly well-crafted toys in Germany since 1938, when the company opened its first factory in Bad Rodach, a spa town in Upper Franconia. This classic clutching toy is a timeless gift for newborns. The toy only weighs 3.2 ounces, so it’s more than light enough for little ones to pick up and play with — and they’re great for teething kids too, with the durable wooden shapes threaded together. Don’t worry, the color comes from water-based solvent-free lacquer that’s safe for kids to gnaw on (and, importantly, it's resistant to wear and tear), and the wood comes from sustainable forests in Germany. At about four inches long, it’s easy to throw into your bag to tote around during the day, too.
Best Toddler Bike: HaPe Scoot Around Ride On Wood Bike
Little kids in Germany don’t learn how to ride their bike with training wheels: They start with a four-wheeled scooter like this before graduating to balance bikes (without pedals), and then two wheels with pedals. This first step in the cycling journey is fun whether you’re planning on adding training wheels in later or not, and it’s also great exercise for little ones, helping them build up motor skills, muscles, and balance.
HaPe's Scoot Around Ride On Bike is best for ages one to three, so expect to get plenty of use out of this high-quality toy. And don’t be afraid to let little ones use it indoors on rainy days; the wheels are coated in rubber, so they won’t mark up or scratch wood floors in any way, and it’s sturdy on all surfaces. There’s particular attention paid to sustainability in this product, too. The wood used for its construction comes from environmentally sustainable forests. And parents, don’t worry — this toy is easy to assemble, so it goes from box to bike in no time.
Best Toy Truck: Bruder Toys Loader Backhoe
For little kids who love playing with construction toys, Bruder — which is headquartered in Fürth, Germany — brings this backhoe to the table. The company looks at toys as tools with which kids imitate real life and develop essential skills while also exploring their imagination. The company is still family-owned, so the emphasis is on quality and social and environmental responsibility. This backhoe was made in Germany from high-quality plastic, sans any glue and screws, so there’s no worry about small or loose parts. The stabilizer legs allow the toy to move back and forth, and kids can also swivel and dig with it. It’s great for kids about three years old and up—and we love that you can play with it both indoors and outdoors so it’s just as great on rainy days as it is on sunny ones.
Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular toys made in Germany. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 15 different toys, screened options from 10 different brands and manufacturers and read over 40 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.