Entertaining for various ages and abilities
Storage tray included
No spare buttons
Storage tray doesn’t hold all parts
Lots of small parts
For a fun introduction to arts and crafts for young toddlers, snap up the ALEX Toys Little Hands Button Art. The Michigan-based company’s set includes 46 colorful buttons that pop into a grid with 36 holes, plus 10 laminated picture cards that can be overlaid on the grid to create cute designs. To see if this toy’s popularity is warranted, we tested it for a couple of weeks with our 18-month-old toddler, evaluating its entertainment value, design, and age appropriateness. Read on to see what we—and our pint-sized tester—found.
Design: Toddler-friendly but limited on buttons
We found that the smooth plastic buttons—which measure 1.25 inches in diameter—were ideally sized to fit our toddler’s tiny hands. They snap easily into place with a satisfying click and come out just as easily. Be forewarned, though, that the bottoms of the buttons have thin, hard edges that can be fairly painful to adult feet if stepped on! Fortunately, you can keep all the buttons stored away in the storage tray—but we were disappointed to see that the 10 laminated picture cards don’t fit in the tray.
When using the picture cards, we found that they hold in place relatively well but aren’t perfectly snug. The set, which is made in China, is also short on spare buttons. Some cards require all of the buttons in a certain color, so if you lose one, you’re not able to complete the card properly.
Entertainment Value: Popping with fun
Our 18-month-old regularly pulled the buttons and cards out of his toy chest on his own. The bright colors of the buttons and the simple graphics of the cards proved attractive and appealing. The button set prompts toddlers to work on fine motor skills as they push the buttons into the grid and challenges them as they work to pop the buttons back out before starting over again.
The buttons snap easily into place with a satisfying click and come out just as easily.
The buttons can also be used on their own for sorting activities; our toddler enjoyed putting them in an empty egg carton and moving them about between the slots. The storage tray adds another element of fun—making cleaning up part of the activity.
Age Range: Perfect for a range of toddlers
The product’s recommended age is 18 months and above. Our young toddler wasn’t able to fully grasp the idea of matching the button color to those on the pictures, but he still enjoyed pushing the buttons in the holes and playing with the various pictures.
Older tots from 2 to 3 years old will enjoy using the set more for its exact purpose, making this a toy that little ones can grow into. While we weren’t worried about a choking hazard, parents with children in the put-everything-in-my-mouth phase should note that the buttons don’t quite pass the “toilet paper roll test,” in which a toy is deemed a potential choking hazard if it can pass through a TP roll.
Our young toddler didn’t fully grasp the idea of matching the button color to those on the pictures, but he still enjoyed pushing the buttons in the holes and playing with the various pictures.
Ease of Cleaning: Durable and wipeable
The laminated cards stood up to the rigors of child’s play and were easy to wipe clean, as were the plastic buttons. The storage tray is made of plastic as well, but it isn’t designated dishwasher-safe, so we didn’t tempt fate there. Even still, a quick soak in the sink for the buttons or storage tray removed any messes.
There are many small parts to keep track of and tidy up when playtime is over, though the storage tray at least gives you a designated spot to stash the buttons where they won’t be stepped on or lost.
Price: Budget-friendly button fun
While the product’s MSRP is $27.99, you can usually find it for under $20. At this price point, it’s a steal for the entertainment potential and a gift-worthy choice for any little person in your life. While this isn’t an heirloom you’ll have for generations, it will likely entertain a young child for a few years.
Competition: A lot of buttons
There are a number of other similarly priced, fairly comparable button art sets offered by various manufacturers, but the The ALEX Toys Little Hands Button Art set is one of the top-reviewed button activities for toddlers.
Some other brands, such as Fansteck, make a point of using ABS plastic and claim that its buttons have smooth back edges to minimize injury if stepped on. ALEX Toys discloses the type of plastic used only for the tray, which is marked on the back with “Plastic #1.” That type of plastic—called polyethylene terephthalate or PET—is found in a lot of the packaging for common household goods, like cleaners, juices, cosmetics, etc. According to the toy’s label, the product has been tested for safety by an independent lab and meets Consumer Product Safety Commission standards.
The set is short on spare buttons. Some cards require all of the buttons in a certain color, so if you lose one you’re not able to complete the card properly.
Skoolzy makes a similarly priced button art set with a couple more illustrated picture cards and buttons. However, it doesn’t come with a storage tray. We think the Little Hands Button Art set’s storage tray makes it worth spending even a few dollars more to avoid tracking down runaway buttons.
Take a look at other product reviews and shop for the best gifts for toddlers available online.
- Product Name Little Hands Button Art
- Product Brand ALEX Toys
- SKU 0A1408
- Price $27.99
- Weight 15.2 oz.
- Product Dimensions 2 x 12 x 12 in.
- Manufacturer Recommended Age Range 18+ months
- What's Included 46 buttons, 10 picture cards, 1 grid