I compiled this toddler gift guide because I love making lists. Really, I always have numerous running lists on Amazon – it’s my “retail therapy” and it keeps me from buying every single thing I want to get the boys. This list consists of toys that have been a big hit with my boys, and I hope your kids will enjoy them too.
Some of the things on this list may also appeal to babies, or to preschoolers, but all work well for toddlers age 1 to 3. Of course, different kids are at different places developmentally, so it’s up to you to decide if these ideas would work for your child.
2015 Toddler Gift Guide
1. Melissa and Doug Wooden Plane
This is part of Melissa and Doug’s Whittle World – great wooden toys for early imaginative play and very easy for little hands to hold. This is one toy that can grow with your child. You can get the complete wooden plane set, which includes a luggage carrier in addition to everything else, or if you are only interested in the wooden plane, you can get the plane with only the pilot and passengers. Oliver loves to play with the wings that fold up, and he loves pushing anything with wheels, but I know over the next year or so, he’ll start to play with the figures more.
I’ve got my eye on this Melissa and Doug firetruck from the same series, as well.
2. Melissa and Doug Caterpillar Gear Toy
The caterpillar gear toy is great for promoting fine motor skills. Also, the pegs that the gears go on are matching rainbow colors as well, so tots can learn to match colors. Melissa and Doug also offer a butterfly version and a vehicle version, if you aren’t into the caterpillar.
Bonus! If you love doing matching gifts, you can pair this toy with A Very Hungry Caterpillar.
3. Melissa and Doug First Shapes Jumbo Knob Puzzle (and chunky puzzles)
The jumbo knobs on this puzzle make it great for toddlers on the younger side to handle. As they get a little older, their fine motor skills will improve and they can “graduate” to the chunky puzzles. Melissa and Doug offer so many different puzzles! We are adding the chunky dinosaur puzzle to our collection this Christmas. The parts can act as more than just puzzle pieces too – they are sturdy enough to be a part of regular play!
4. Kidoozie Funtime Tractor
I hate to admit it, but this tractor is a major favorite in our house. I’m not big into anything that needs batteries, but my mom bought this for my niece’s first birthday, and then later for Evan’s first birthday. Now, this is seriously Oliver’s favorite out of all the toys we own. He couldn’t care less about the animals that go with it, mostly he likes to push the tractor around, but it also makes sounds and if you press down at the front of the tractor, it will move on it’s own!
5. Lacing Beads
Lacing of any kind is a great way to work on fine motor skills. There are so many different things you can use to lace, but colorful beads are great for more than hand-eye coordination! They can be helpful for patterning and color matching as well.
6. Learning Resources Super Sorting Pie
Learning Resources Super Sorting Pie is another thing on this toddler gift guide that can grow with your child. The tweezers help with fine motor skills, while kids can sort by color, type, or there are even cards to put in the bottom of the shell with numbers. That’s right, you can use the fruit as math manipulatives! Or, as Evan loves to do, your child can pretend the pie and components are all real food. Nothing beats a toy that can fulfill many roles.
7. Melissa and Doug Sort and Snap Color Match
My sister-in-law got this Sort and Snap Color Match for Evan one Christmas and it has been popular here ever since. The only downfall I’ve come across is that I never know how to store it! There are many cards with different pictures. One side of the card is in color, while the other side is in black and white. This toy is great for color matching and sorting, as well as creativity. Out of everything we have, I find we get the most quiet time when this is brought out to play.
8. Melissa and Doug Deluxe Latches Board
When Evan was a toddler we got this latch board. It was great and he really enjoyed it. Of course, if you don’t want your kid to learn how to undo different locks, maybe don’t get this. But Melissa and Doug also have a neat basic skills board, which would be a good alternative to this, helping fine motor skills as well as practical life skills.
9. Melissa and Doug Magnetic Farm Hide & Seek
In comparison with the latch board, this hide and seek board is definitely smaller. It’s fun to “hide” the animals and see what is behind each set of doors. If you mind losing small parts, then this toy should be kept under a watchful eye and put out of reach when you aren’t around. We’ve definitely had some of the magnets go missing – and hide and seek isn’t as fun for mommy when you’ve got an entire house to search.
10. Melissa and Doug Stacking Train
We actually planned on buying the Hape Fantasia Blocks Train (though this Mickey one is cute too!). The only reason we didn’t buy the Hape version is because somebody else bought the Melissa and Doug stacking train as a gift first. The boys don’t mind that it’s simpler, and it gets a lot of love from both of them. I did store it in a plastic shoebox (my storage bin of choice) when not in use for awhile, but at some point it lost the bin and became a staple on our shelves.
Other toddler gift ideas:
If you have a baby or a toddler on the younger side, here are a couple things that would be great gift ideas, that can grow with them to toddlerhood.
Gifts for Babies
1. Blocks – LEGO Duplo or Mega Bloks
Every kid needs basic blocks! Mega Bloks are really easy for little hands, but can become more frustrating as your toddler gets older and wants to build something more complex. LEGO Duplo are great (and compatible with normal LEGOs!) but can be more difficult for little hands to manipulate. We have both, and keep both in constant play, because they have different benefits to the boys.
2. LeapFrog My Own Leaptop
We have the old version of LeapFrog’s My Own Leaptop/My First Laptop. This is another one that I would not have bought myself. I am really not into things that make noise. But grandma bought this for Evan and it’s been well loved since. It plays songs, makes animal sounds, and tries to teach the alphabet. If you plug it into your computer, you can even customize what it says a bit. You can’t customize it entirely, but you get to choose from a list of options, and can even make it say your child’s name.
When Evan was maybe 9-10 months old, I wanted to get him a walker or some type of standing toy. I was perusing Craigslist when I came across a Learn & Groove Musical Table for cheap – I couldn’t pass it up! So I went and bought it, and he loved it so much. We only put it into storage (read: sent it to grandma’s house) when Evan started using it to climb things. We brought it back when Oliver was a baby, and it was well-loved once again. It plays music and lights up, but the benefit of encouraging the boys to stand was great to me.
4. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Boppin Activity Bugs
These types of toys are great for fine motor skills, and show great cause and effect. We knew we needed one when Evan started playing with one at my midwife’s office during my pregnancy with Oliver. He was already 2, but he really enjoyed it. Because of that, we purchased this Fisher-Price Basic Bopping toy for Oliver’s first Christmas. With a baby, they can play with the toy with assistance, and as they become a toddler, they can play with it independently.
What’s on your kids Christmas list this year?