Haba: colorful, creative and captivating toys

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I advise taking a break from molded plastic and battery-operated toys. Often the simplest creations captivate my daughter's attention--allowing her imagination to do the work.

That's where Haba comes in. The German brand has been around since 1938, and they still focus on crafting European wooden toys with great love and care. Don't yawn or look bored--these toys are great and thanks to clever designs and excellent quality they'll give your tots hours of entertainment. In fact, I've been using them to keep my daughter busy since birth. I recently got a new batch of toys to test and want to share my favorites.

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Start baby off with a clutching toy. I like the nifty Pirate Joe version with bell and mirrored compass--the perfect things to grab and examine while in a car seat or stroller. ($14.99)

For older girls, I adore the bead kits. The newest version is the Bambini Water Nymph collection. Thread eight wooden beads through a colorful blue necklace: I plan on packing this on our next long airline flight and I think my fellow travelers will thank Haba for this toy. ($18.99) For boys try the Construction Beads set--it too is a winner. ($17.99)

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