Photo gallery: 12 educational toys for babies, toddlers and preschoolers

For the under-5 set, playtime is serious work. That's because the time kids spend moving, grooving, feeling, exploring, investigating – even chewing and tasting! – is time spent learning and growing. The best toys for little kids challenge their intellectual and motor skills in fun and age-appropriate ways. Here are 12 we love.

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1. An Indestructibles book

Finally: A drool-, reflux- and sticky finger–proof picture book that runs 12 whole pages, rather than the typical four or so pages of a cloth book. Your little one will be enthralled by Kaaren Pixton's beautifully rendered collage work. Best of all, this nontearable, paper-like book can be enjoyed for years (or generations!) to come, since all the nontoxic books in the Indestructibles series are dishwasher and laundry safe.

Mama and Baby! (Workman, 2010) by Kaaren Pixton, $6,

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