We have a tradition with our closest friends where we give their children the most obnoxious presents we can find. Past years’ prized gifts have included the infamous inflatable tyrannosaurus rex costume, an adult-sized ball, and the Pie In the Face game.
Don’t worry, this list is not that list.
In all our years of gifting, it occurred to me that toddlers are especially hard to shop for. Most toys are noisy, loudly colored, or quickly outgrown. While this makes one-upping our friends each year pretty easy, it also makes sending thoughtful, good gifts a bit of a challenge.
However, with three kids of my own, I’ve managed to uncover a list of high-quality gifts that children love to play with and that parents actually enjoy. If I’ve missed any of your favorite toddler gifts, please add them in the comments below!
Kids love coloring, as do I. However, traditional crayons are hard for little hands to hold, and are often toxic for little bodies, too. These beeswax crayons by Honeysticks are a great solution because they’re easy to grasp and won’t harm your kiddo if he or she takes a big ‘ole bite. While the colors may not be as vibrant as standard crayons, they work and feel the same. I personally love how sturdy and long-lasting they are.
Wooden blocks are a classic, so the problem isn’t usually whether to buy wooden blocks, but rather which blocks to buy? We love this set of colorful wooden blocks by Hape. Not only are they great for practicing fine motor skills by stacking and balancing, but we also use them to practice colors and numbers. My older kids love to play with these blocks with their little sister, too, so they’ve ended up being a great toy for the entire family.
Lalaboom Snap Beads
Snap beads are such a great way for toddlers to practice their fine motor skills! But, most snap beads are choking hazards and aren’t suitable for the littles in your life. That’s why you can bet I snapped up these chunky snap beads from Lalaboom when I found them! Together, we make bracelets, necklaces, chains, and fun designs, naming our shapes and colors as we go. This set is especially fun because you can screw shapes together to make flowers or other nature designs, which is an added motor skill plus boosts kids’ creativity.
Melissa & Doug Sound Puzzles
Stick with me on this one – I know the word “sound” is in the heading! These sound puzzles by Melissa & Doug are actually super fun and not really that annoying, unless you can’t stand toys that make sound at all. When your toddler successfully matches a puzzle piece with the correct image on the puzzle base, the puzzle toots, moos, or makes other noises as a great reward! We have the instrument, pet, and zoo animal puzzles and our daughter will sit on the floor and play with these for a solid thirty minutes. Fair warning, though: make sure all the puzzle pieces are put away before you turn the lights off, otherwise all your puzzles will erupt in sound!
This last gift may have been more for me, but my toddler loves it so I consider that a win! This adorable walking snail wiggles along the floor when your child pulls it behind him or her. When our daughter was learning to walk we used it as a tool to encourage her to practice, pulling it behind us for fun. As she got better, she loved pulling it herself and would walk faster and faster until she could run with it. She now likes to pretend to “race” the snail, so it’s grown with her as she’s gotten bigger and quicker.