It’s that time again for our annual Holiday Gift Guide. This is our biggest guide yet — enjoy!
~ For Babies ~
Parents, remember that babies have no expectations of gifts. While you might be excited about giving presents to your baby, they might be perfectly happy with a big cardboard box. Bottom line: don’t go overboard.
1. Nino Egg Shakers (set of 4) – $7
Baby’s love things that shake and make noise; these egg shakers are perfect for little hands to hold.
2. Infantino Sensory Balls (set of 6) – $7
Help your baby develop his tactile senses with sensory balls of different sizes, shapes, colors and textures.
Babies love to look at (and chew on) this mesmerizing maze of tubes. This teether ball encourages two-handed play with a soft rattle in the middle.
* Winner of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award
4. Zoocchini Plush Rattles – $11 each
Zoocchini loves animals, nature and color – and so do babies. These rattles are made with soft, toxin-free fabric and a gentle sounding rattle. Have fun at the zoo!
5. Lamaze Clip and Go Dragon (New!) – $12
Meet the newest Lamaze character for 2015, the Flip Flap Dragon, or check out a crowd favorite, Firefly Freddie. Lamaze toys feature interesting characters, colorful and textured fabrics, and many different appendages that squeak, crinkle or rattle.
6. Sassy Floor Mirror – $14
Perfect for tummy time, this “true reflection” mirror stands on its own. The spinning ball and clicking bee make for some fun interaction.
7. Skip Hop Alphabet Zoo Activity Book – $15
This alphabet touch and feel activity book features playful patterns, plush fabrics, animals, a mirror, a teether, textures and sounds.
8. Playskool Busy Poppin’ Pals – $20
With a slide, push, pull, turn or press, your baby will be building fine motor skills as they explore different animals. This is one of those classic favorite baby toys — and toddlers love it too!
9. Monogrammed Candy Cane Striped Bunny from Peekawhoo – $29.50
This Christmas, make this sweet monogrammed Jellycat bunny your baby’s favorite lovey.
10. Baby Sign Language Kit – $40
Some studies indicate children as young as 5 to 6 months can communicate with limited signs– and many children have a “signing explosion” around 12-18 months, which allows them to communicate their needs and desires before they can articulate such things with speech.
Please don’t feel like you have to teach your baby sign language (because you don’t!), but those who want to will find this kit very helpful. Especially good for children with developmental delays. And boys 😉
11. Cloud B Tranquil Turtle – $44
Cloud B toys are a big hit in the bedtime department. Introducing the tranquil turtle, whose light projector creates a serene underwater effect on your ceiling, complete with softly undulating waves. The sound component offers two calming choices: a gentle melody or whispering waves. The timer shuts off after 23 minutes so it’s not on all night.
*Winner of Infant Toy of the Year Award and the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval.
There are a few things I’m willing to drop some money on for babies, one of them is an amazing blanket (or lovey) that will last for years. With soft chenille and a beautiful satin trim, Little Giraffe blankets have always been my go-to. Their plush toys are adorable too.
~ For Toddlers ~
Toddlers really don’t know what’s going on either, but will probably get excited about the prospect of opening up presents (novelty, yay!)…
1. Ikea Bead Roller Coaster – $9
There’s a reason that every pediatrician’s office has one of these: kids can’t resist the colorful objects, different shapes and loop-d-loop wires. Moving wooden beads on a track is a fun way to develop fine motor skills and logical thinking.
2. Melissa & Doug Clock – $9
One of the highest rated products on the market to help teach your child how to tell time. This puzzle clock has removable pieces and easy to move hands – fun for all ages!
3. Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube – $11
Every kid needs a shape sorter in his or her toy box — this is one of our favorites.
4. Yookidoo Whistling Pull Along Duck – $23
This Whistling Duck whistles and sings as your toddler pulls it along. The rolling bead coaster cylinder separates for independent play.
5. Chuggington Wooden Railway Starter Set by TOMY – $24
This wooden train set expands to grow with your child. The railway sets up in seconds and the hinges flex for stability and allow for different layouts. Add to your collection as your child gets older (birthday gifts? yes!).
If your kid likes tractors, they will love the new John Deere tractors with light up wheels. This bad boy can roll over anything in its way.
7. Rocket Ship by Diggin Box Set – $28
Perfect for your budding astronaut, this play set folds open for creative, imaginative play. When playtime is over, all of the pieces store nicely — just fold up and carry by the handle.
The Little People Farm Animal Barn Yard has been a kid favorite for years. Now updated with a travel handle and barn sounds, your kiddo will have a blast playing in the barnyard.
9. Stack n Spray Tub Fountain – $29
Don’t forget a bath toy on your list! As boats and characters are stacked up on the base, the water flows through each and out the top. Change figures on the top for different effects.
10. Ikea Rocking Moose – $39
This simple rocking horse (moose?) is super cute and reasonably priced. For something a little more up-market, check out the adorable rockers at Pottery Barn Kids.
11. Personalized Books by I See Me! – $39
I See Me books always make me a little weepy (darn those cut onions!). Let’s face it, kids love reading about themselves (grandiose sense of self and all that). These books make for awesome keepsakes.
*See other options here.
12. Play All Day Elmo – $40
If your kid likes Elmo, this is the hottest Sesame Street toy this year. At nearly two feet tall, this cuddly Elmo toy offers eight games with 150+ responses and two modes (toddler and preschool).
13. Hape Gourmet Kitchen – $129 (on sale for $91!)
Kids love to mimic adults and this play kitchen encourages role-playing. Great to keep them occupied while you are cooking for real.
~ For Preschoolers (3 years+) ~
BUILDING & MAKING…
1. Melissa & Doug Wood Blocks – $13
A staple in every kid’s playroom, wood blocks are the perfect toy for your budding builder. This 100-piece set comes in four colors and nine shapes. Blocks help develop fine motor skills, dexterity, shape and color recognition and pre-math skills.
2. Legos “Duplo” – $24
Duplos are the larger version of Legos that are more appropriate for the < 6 crowd. As a practical matter, they are much easier to clean up and MUCH less owwwie when stepped on (vs. the smaller, traditional Legos). Lego makes many different versions of the Duplo, but the standard block set is the perfect starter kit.
3. Tinkertoy Building Set – $37
I loved Tinkertoys when I was a kid. So much.
With 200 durable pieces, Tinkertoys stay together for long-lasting play. With rods and spools, they can truly create anything.
4. Melissa & Doug Workbench – $59
This Melissa & Doug workbench is action-packed with tools and equipment to keep your little builder busy. Includes a functioning vise, tool rack, wooden tools and hardware.
Comes with a set of plans to get the creative juices flowing.
SCIENCE & NATURE…
1. Green Toys Gardening – $13
Kids love to play alongside of you — and here’s a great way to get your kiddo helping outside and learning to take care of the world around him.
* We love Green Toys because they are all made in the USA from 100% recycled plastic.
2. Aircraft Engineer by Kids First – $35
Help introduce your little one to the world of “how things work” with this aircraft engineer set. Read the storybook manual and learn together as you build different models.
ART & MUSIC…
1. Play Doh – $7
Needs no explanation. Just don’t forget to put the tops back on (!!!)
Provides hours of entertainment as kids form dough into fun shapes. This activity includes a dough machine, cutting tool, three stencils with five designs each, four colors of dough (1-ounch each) and easy instructions.
3. Ikea Easel – $19
This easel is the perfect gift for your little artist. One side is a chalkboard, the other is a white board.
4. Remo Floor Drum – $32
This is one drum that you won’t regret buying for your kid. They can play it either with their hands or with mallets and the sound isn’t too loud.
5. Disney Frozen Sing-A-Long Elsa Doll – $34
Frozen was hot this year, so if your kiddo is begging for anything Elsa, check out the Sing-a-Long Elsa doll and microphone. Elsa has been banned from the dinner table (because I just can’t take it anymore), but my girls love this thing. I just wish you could turn down the volume (the two modes are “off” and “ear piercing” [snort]).
6. Melissa & Doug Band Set – $34
Want to get your child introduced to music but don’t know where to start? This deluxe band kit is an amazing value and a great quality set of instruments. Good for individual or group play.
GAMES & PUZZLES
1. Fish Parquet by Haba Toys – $19
This 48-piece Fish Parquet puzzle will have your little one using his brain to come up with different patterns. Match all of the same colors of fish or build a rainbow of fish. Oh what fun!
2. Melissa & Doug Board Puzzle – $20
Complete with buckles, latches and locks, your kiddo will spend her time working on opening and closing all of the doors and discovering what’s hidden behind.
3. Monster Pile-On by Haba Toys – $24
With five games in one, kids can play alone or with others while developing serious concentration skills matching the colors of the dowels to the monsters.
4. String Along Shapes by Hape – $25
A simple lacing game to develop hand-eye coordination.
5. Crate&Kids United States Puzzle – $69
*Crate&Kids, previously known as Land Of Nod
I refuse to believe that most Americans can’t find their own state on a map. Maybe it’s because they didn’t have this growing up.
Really tho’, this puzzle is challenging and fun (but seriously, we should all be able to find our state on a map — just sayin’).
*Update: This puzzle is no longer available, but check out other new offerings from Crate&Kids here.
1. Razor Jr. Lil’ Kick Scooter – $32
Now your preschooler can enjoy a scooter as well. With an extra-wide slip resistant deck and low handlebars, the Scooter Jr. is a great ride-on toy for your younger child.
- For recommendations on kid’s bikes, please check our friends at Two-Wheeling Tots.
2. Plasma Car – $53
Plasma cars are all the rage. They are fun to ride and great exercise. They work by moving the steering wheel back and forth on a smooth surface with gravity and kid-power. Endless fun.
~ For Kindergarteners ~
1. Sewing School – $11
Sewing is a skill that you can use throughout your life. In kids, it nurtures creativity, coordination and confidence. Teach your child how to sew with 21 projects in this highly-rated kit. All can be created using minimal supervision.
2. Melissa & Doug Weaving Loom – $17
Teach your child how to weave with this beautiful, colorful loom. Choose from four projects using knobs that are easy for little hands to grasp.
3. Balance Living Mini Telescope – $19
Rated one of the best stargazing starter kits. Go ahead, test the waters and spark some interest in astronomy – at this price and quality, you can’t go wrong. This lightweight telescope is perfect for kids.
4. Pottery Barn Luggage – $40
The duffle bag is perfect for the on-the-go kid – built for after school activities, sleepovers, etc. Pottery Barn products are well-made and last for years.
5. Pottery Barn Sleeping Bag – $69-$129
Oh Pottery Barn, I just can’t quit you.
These sleeping bags (yes, you can customize these too) are adorbs. My kids love to pretend they are having sleepovers — all over the house. Perfect for actual sleepovers too 😉
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