Happy Black Friday! To make your shopping a little easier today (and in the coming weeks), I’ve got a gift guide for babies ad toddlers. As a mom of a 2-year-old boy who spends a ton of time at the playground and on play dates, my current field of expertise is babies and toddlers, and I’ve got some great gift suggestions below, almost all of which are unisex to keep things simple!
Babies (0-12 months)
Zutano fleece booties
Unlike a lot of baby booties, these actually stay on. Plus, they’re cute and warm. Did I mention that they stay on?
Dear Angel Blankie
So soft! So cute! Jackson got one of these (the giraffe) when he was born and he refuses to sleep without it. I wonder if we will be sending it with him to college…
Just like you might remember from your own childhood, the Glow Worm has a warm glow and plays sweet music when baby hugs it as he drifts to sleep.
Stacking Cup Set
These are great — perfect for fun in the tub or pool, but also great on dry land where babies can practice dexterity. Or filling them up with Cheerios and dumping them all over the floor. Fun for everyone!
Chomp & Clack Alligator Push Toy
Perfect for little ones learning to walk or still wobbly on their feet.
Popstars Baby Socks
I mean, come on! If those don’t make your ovaries do somersaults, then I don’t know what.
Older Baby (12-18 months)
Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Puppy’s Piano
This is another toy Jackson received early on — I think for Christmas when he was 2 1/2 months old — that he continues to play with nearly two years later. It is endlessly entertaining and it teaches Spanish, too. Si!
Bath Squirties Gift Set
This makes play dates both indoors and outdoors loads of fun. We break this out especially during winter months to help keep Jackson and his friends entertained when it’s too cold to play outside. They love it.
I was amazed by how many young toddlers in our neighborhood — both girls and boys alike — are obsessed with pushing around these baby doll strollers (sometimes with dolls inside, but often not). Jackson was always trying to steal another kid’s stroller at the playground, so we finally bought him his own and it quickly became a favorite toy. Not that having his own has stopped him from trying to steal other kids’, but that’s another story.
Around the Farm: Play-a-Sound
Around this age, toddlers get really excited by different sounds, especially animal sounds, so this book is a natural choice. Plus, the artwork is cool too.
Other great sound books: Simple First Sounds Noisy Trucks, Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear?
Rolling Shape Sorter
Because every little kid needs a shape sorter (and this is a good one).
Young Toddler (18 months – 2 Years)
Toy Shopping Cart
Along the same lines as the baby doll stroller and push toy listed earlier, a toy shopping cart is another thing kids love pushing around (they like to push around Mama, too, but that’s also another story).
This is a perfect supplemental gift to go with a toy shopping cart or to give to a kid who has (or is receiving) a play kitchen. Bonus: it includes waffles and ice cream AND veggies and yogurt, so it’s nutritionally balanced.
Train Tracks Starter Set
Hands down, this has been the best purchase we’ve made for Jackson of the non-necessity kind. Since his birthday in October, he has spent countless hours pushing his trains up and down the tracks, playing independently and, I hope, practicing dexterity and expanding his imagination. A great gift for boys AND girls. And, let’s be honest, Mom and Dad, too. (The kid who plays independently for an hour? Yes, please, and thank you!).
Fisher-Price Little People Lil’ Movers School Bus
This is another fun toy Jackson received for his second birthday that he just loves. Most young toddlers are obsessed with school buses and like to imagine climbing aboard one themselves some day soon. Ha ha, little do they know!
Little Tikes Cozy Coupe
Great for suburban kids or families with some outdoor space, the Little Tikes cars are a HUGE hit among the toddler set. There are a few of these at our (urban) neighborhood playground and the kids fight over them like they’re the last slices of pie at a pizza party.
Personalized Puzzle Step Stool
This is the age when kids are at the sink a lot — brushing their own teeth, washing their hands after going potty, or, you know, filling up water balloons — and this adorable step stool allows them to reach the faucet without needing to be held by a grown up. I wouldn’t buy the Dani one though… unless you’re buying it for a Dani.
Older Toddler (3 Years)
Block puzzles (with sound)
Jackson recently inherited one of these from his older cousin and, although it’s still a bit challenging for him to solve on his own (at 2), he loves the different sounds it makes and gets so tickled when we play with it together.
Fisher-Price Magical Tea for Two
Because basically 95% of little girls — and probably a few little boys, too — will want a tea set and this one is well-loved by many.
Little Tikes EasyScore Basketball Set
Ooh! I love this one! We see these in the park all the time and kids and parents alike seem to have so much fun playing with them. I can’t wait until next year when Jackson will be old enough to appreciate the stomp rocket and we’ll have hours — or at least minutes — of fun outside.
Wikki Stix After School Fun Kit
More fun — and less messy — that crayons or paint, the Wikki Stix keep hands busy and creativity flowing. They’re like modern-day pipe cleaners — Remember those? — but cooler.
60-Piece Standard Building Blocks
Another classic gift that provides hours of stimulation and entertainment. Kids like them too. 😉
Plus! A few, fabulous, well-loved (by Jackson, his friends, and tons of other babies and toddlers!) books appropriate for babies and toddlers:
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
TECH November 29, 2013, 10:02 am
What a great list! Will you be publishing a guide for gifts for parents? I have no idea what to give various sets of parents this year. I know people have trouble shopping for in laws, too.
scattol November 29, 2013, 10:20 am
Wendy, you forgot this book (Love You Forever) : http://www.amazon.com/Love-You-Forever-Robert-Munsch/dp/0920668372/ref=pd_sim_b_5
Classic November 29, 2013, 10:46 am
🙂 Yes! I kept this one. I used to read it to my son when he was little and I still have it today.
Lyra November 29, 2013, 10:55 am
The Stomp Rocket! I love that thing. Fun fact, my brother got his when he was 10 and we would spend hours and hours trying to stomp it harder so it would fly higher. He even ruined the base so my dad built a fancy base out of wood so it would last forever. Then when my brother was in high school he learned that you can mathematically figure out how high something flies by calculating the trajectory. We ended up timing the rockets and measuring how far they landed from the launch pad to figure out the height. I usually got stuck with the stopwatch while my brother got to do the fun part and jump on it to send it flying. And if you can’t tell, my brother is a huge nerd, ha. I think we still have the Stomp Rocket somewhere actually.
starpattern November 29, 2013, 5:10 pm
YES, SEE, PHYSICS IS FUN! (I’m also a total nerd)
No but really, I’d never seen the stomp rockets before and I am SO HAPPY to know about them. I love the Estes hobby rockets for older kids but since those are actual tiny solid rockets they, uh, maybe aren’t so safe for the littler ones. I will absolutely be buying these to help me push my rocket science agenda on all my young cousins.
Lyra November 30, 2013, 12:48 pm
Haha, @starpattern sounds like you would get along really well with my brother. I was always mad because I either had to do the stopwatch or measure how far it landed from the launch pad or both. I rarely got to actually stomp on it to make it fly.
Classic November 29, 2013, 10:56 am
I can vouch for the basketball set, the stomp rocket, Little Tikes car, and standard building blocks! This is fun.
Classic November 29, 2013, 11:04 am
feelingroovy December 1, 2013, 5:49 pm
Thanks for this! My friend’s daughter turns 3 a few days before Christmas, so this is exactly what I needed 🙂
Emily December 3, 2013, 9:36 am
So many good suggestions! All the kids I watch have some variety of these and I think you listed all the favorites. I would add that wooden blocks are often a good present and they last through different phases of development.
is In My Tree the book we gave Jackson? I remember it had an owl on it. 🙂