Choosing gifts for toddlers can be overwhelming. You might wonder what to give the child who “has it all”, the one who is far away that you’d like to connect with more often, or the overactive child who doesn’t seem to want to sit down and play with toys at all.
If you’re looking for the perfect gift guide, this is your one stop shop! This guide will address all your options (both toys and non toys) and help you choose the best gifts for the toddlers in your life.
Perhaps you are gifted money for your toddlers at Christmas or birthdays and aren’t sure the best way to spend it. I’ll share how I’ve made good use of ours to help give you some ideas.
This article contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more.
Toys are wonderful, and it’s great for toddlers to have a variety of toys that pique their interest. However, I understand the overwhelm of drowning in a sea of toys. Of course little ones always enjoy a new toy, but what if Mom and Dad say, “Enough”? Here are some fabulous ideas for parents or family members who are looking for non-toy gifts.
Over the past few years, I have used gift money to purchase family memberships to the zoo and the children’s museum. Not only are these terrific experiences for my little girls, but they are a wonderful opportunity for their big brothers to come along and spend some quality time with them.
If your toddler lives near a community center with a pool or indoor playground, consider gifting a family membership there. If they have cold winters like we do, they will appreciate being able to be active and have fun all year long. And it’s great for little ones to learn to enjoy swimming when they’re young.
If there are no museums or zoos nearby, perhaps you could take your little one on an overnight trip to visit one in another community, or find a hotel with a waterpark and stay the night. These kinds of gifts are my boys’ favorites. The memories that are made always outlast the memories of a new toy!
A Day Out
How about gifting your toddler a day out? Let him or her choose where to go, where to eat, and what to do. They may need some direction and ideas, of course. Perhaps give them a few options to choose from.
I used some gift money to take my girls to a kiddie amusement park this summer. It was a hit! They are still talking about it, and asking when we are going back. We’ll probably make it an annual tradition.
Monthly subscription boxes or magazines are unique gifts for toddlers because they last all year. They are a wonderful idea for anyone, but especially for family members who live far away and want to connect with the toddlers in their life on a regular basis. Your little ones will be reminded of you and your gift every time they receive something in the mail. And little ones LOVE receiving mail, don’t they?
My girls love getting a magazine in the mail all year as a gift from their grandparents. Each one that comes is a reminder of them, and we read them over and over. One of our favorites is Ranger Rick Cub. This little magazine is geared toward toddlers, with thicker pages that won’t rip with normal reading. My girls loved learning about the animals, hearing simple stories about nature, and finding Cubby throughout each issue. Now that they’re a little older, they’re enjoying National Geographic Little Kids. Another popular magazine for kids is Highlights. Hello is perfect for little ones two and under, and High Five is geared toward ages 2-6.
KiwiCo will send a crate of fun to your little one every month with entertaining, interactive learning activities. You can choose Cricket for up to age three, or Koala for ages 3-4. Click on a banner below to learn more!
There are lots of monthly book subscriptions to choose from, but this one is my favorite for a few reasons. First, the books are unique, so it is likely you haven’t seen them before and don’t already own them. Second, each book is individually gift wrapped. Your little one can receive a wrapped gift in the mail from you every month! This book subscription club has the highest parent satisfaction and best ratings of any on the market.
Sunny the Mail Snail is traveling the globe, and will send your child a personalized letter each week with facts about the animals and other trivia from where he’s been. Little touches throughout grab kids’ attention. Also included with the letter are a few fun surprises, such as cards or pictures with more info, and a memento from where he’s been. What a unique way for little ones to learn more about their world while enjoying the gift of weekly mail! These letters are best enjoyed by children ages 3-9
TOYS & BOOKS
Choosing toys as gifts for toddlers can be tricky. You might hear how amazing a particular toy is and think it will be a hit with your child, but they play with it once and never pick it up again. Or you think they will never pick it up again, but then it suddenly becomes their favorite toy.
Your child’s interests may change weekly, and that’s okay! Toddlers are exploring and learning from everything they do, so it’s great for them to have lots of different types of toys to grab their attention.
How to choose the right toy for your toddler
There are many things to look for when buying gifts for toddlers. The good news? I’ve done all the legwork for you! I’ve spent weeks combing the internet and asking for recommendations to find the best gifts for toddlers: clicking on every product, reading the reviews, and then doing the same with all the “other items customers buy after viewing this product” AND “sponsored products related to this item.” I know that can be more than a little overwhelming and time consuming, so I’ve done all of this for you.
Gifts for toddlers should follow these general guidelines:
Kids are tough on stuff, so gifts for toddlers need to be built to last. Also, some may purport to be appropriate for toddlers but they’re really better for older kids. Most of those toys didn’t make it into my gifts for toddlers guides, but some that I especially liked and wanted to include anyway, I made note of it.
I’m so glad we live in an era when we can easily get opinions about a product from others who have tried it before we buy. Those thoughts can be what makes us decide whether or not to make a purchase. The gifts for toddlers in my guides only include those rated four stars or higher. A lot of toys I wanted to include didn’t make the list because they were rated below four stars.
Sometimes there is just one thing that bugs all parents about a toy, so I’ve let you know that. But other times, there’s just no rhyme or reason to the lower ratings. There might be multiple products from the same seller or manufacturer that get grouped together in the ratings, so reviewers aren’t even talking about the product you’re looking at. And as you know, it’s impossible to please everyone. For one toy in particular, one person rated it low because it was so loud and annoying while another did the same because it was too quiet! Wow.
—Good for a Variety of Ages
Gifts for toddlers should be enjoyed for a few years. Little ones are changing so fast, as they grow and learn and mature. It’s great to choose toys that they will be interested in for more than a few months.
Make sure the toy you choose is appropriate for your child, especially for those under three. Most toys recommended for ages one and two will also be enjoyed by three year olds. Many toys for three year olds can also be appropriate for younger ones. However, if your little one still puts everything in their mouth, be sure to supervise. Those toys are often listed for age three because of small parts that could be a choking hazard.
Toys for toddlers should grab their attention and encourage them to play on their own, but don’t underestimate the value of playing together with your child. Ask questions and encourage them to think about things a different way. Engaging in play with your child will create rich learning experiences they won’t get on their own.
Are you choosing a toy that requires assembly? Here is a piece of advice—don’t wait until the night before to put it together! First, you don’t want to be stressed on your little one’s special day because assembly didn’t go as smoothly as you expected. Second, packing people are human, and sometimes there could be missing parts. What?! Hopefully not, but you don’t want to discover that at 2 am when you’re desperately trying to assemble a toy before your kid wakes up! Also, it seems that common complaints about toys not working correctly often mean they were put together wrong. So…just be aware of that.
What interests your little one?
One thing I love about toddlers is their natural curiosity. Life has not yet squelched their desire to learn. All toys are educational toys for toddlers because little ones are learning with everything they do. Think about it: Walking on a balance beam is building motor skills. Playing a drum is teaching about music and cause and effect. Building with blocks is helping them understand how towers stay up and what makes them fall down.
Welcome to the Ultimate Toddler Gift Guide! Each category below links to gifts for toddlers on that specific topic. Think about the toddlers you are purchasing toys for. What do they like? What makes them excited, or what do they spend most of their free time doing? That will give you an indication of which categories you should check into. Just click on the link for those categories to see a comprehensive guide for toys in that category. Or check them all out! You will surely find an abundance of ideas.
Also, something new on Amazon is “Frustration Free Packaging.” Sounds great, doesn’t it? No more spending ten minutes looking for a knife or scissors and then freeing the toy from its prison in a box. These packages aren’t as bright and pretty as the others, but the end result of a new toy is the same. Look for that in some of these products.
Every toddler home should be filled with a diverse collection of books. Board books, picture books, and word books can all grab a toddler’s attention and teach them more about their world. Little ones should be enjoying books both on their own and with you. This list of 25+ books for toddlers has something for every learning level and interest. No matter how many books you already have, I’m confident you’ll find something here to add to your collection.
Is your toddler active? Of course! All toddlers are, but some seem to never sit still for anything. Whether your toddler falls into the overactive or typical category, it’s great to have some toys that will help them build gross motor skills and burn off that excess energy. Whether you have a lot of space or a little, this list of toys for active toddlers will give you some good ideas for your little one.
Puzzles are a wonderful tool to help toddlers develop critical thinking skills, problem solving, and fine motor skills. I love watching little ones’ thinking process as they figure out puzzles. Check out these puzzles for toddlers of all ages and stages. You’re sure to find something your little one will love!
Whether your little one loves bath time or is reluctant about bath time, toddler bath toys are a wonderful gift! Bath toys provide a special experience for the bath lovers and a welcome distraction for those who aren’t too sure about the water. I enjoyed putting together this list of toddler bath toys, as I’m always looking for new ideas for the tub.
Did you know there are board games made specifically for toddlers? It’s true! And not just the usual games we think of for three and up, such as Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. There are so many more, even for toddlers as young as one! Board games for toddlers are a wonderful way to build skills such as following directions, taking turns, and social-emotional development. Check out these board games for toddlers age one, two, and three.
STEM stands for science, tech, engineering, and math. STEM subjects have become the focus in many schools, as we are teaching our kids to thrive in our developing world. We can start by introducing little ones to these concepts as toddlers. Many, many toys for toddlers teach them the basic concepts of science, tech, engineering, and math through play. In this list of STEM toys for toddlers, you will find some basic childhood toys you many not have realized are STEM toys, as well as some new ideas you may not have thought of before.
Toddlers love music! And that’s great, because studies have shown that music for little ones can increase vocabulary and development while engaging them in a way nothing else does. There is a plethora of instruments and musical toys for toddlers, and you are certain to find something here that your toddler will love.
Creative toys provide a fantastic opportunity for toddlers to grow through problem-solving, building, and role-play. Little ones learn through acting out what they are seeing around them, and creative toys for toddlers provide an extra opportunity for that. Check out these creative toys for toddlers that will allow them to play dress up, have a tea party, run a food truck, and more.
Share Your Thoughts
What do you think of the ideas you’ve found here? Are there any you would add? My readers and I are always looking for new ideas, so please share in the comments!