Toddler Gift Ideas – Advice On What To Buy
Toddler Gift Ideas
General advice for baby or toddler gift ideas
Children under two grow faster then you could possibly imagine, not only in physical size but also in mental ability. Remember this if you havent seen them for a few weeks – they will have changed a lot. For example, if you buy a 9 month old baby a toy that is suitable for 3+ months , the chances are they will pick it up, try to eat it, realise its not edible, doesn’t do anything interesting and drop it on the floor. Avoid the basic mistakes when looking for baby or toddler gift ideas and bear the following in mind;
Baby and toddler toy buying guide
Rule 1 for baby and toddler gift ideas- Be age specific
Most baby toys come with an indication of the age level the toy is aimed at. Pay attention to this. If the child is 1 year don’t buy a toy for 6 months plus. Even if the toy still has value for the older child, the child will not get the maximum use out of it. It is better to get something for a slightly older child (I am sure they are a very intelligent baby anyway. Below you will find some good baby or toddler gift ideas and toy ideas for different age groups;
Playmats and Baby gyms
Playmats and Baby Gyms (things for a baby to play with on their playmat, often whilst lying on their back) can be bought individually or together as part of the same ‘toy’. Every parent needs a baby mat and baby gym as they are an excellent way to keep a baby occupied. And if you buy one with a good range of functionality to then it can keep a baby entertained for the best part of its first year.
Every cot needs a mobile. They are usually musical, with a control box at the bottom. Try and find one where the music box can be seperated from the hanging mobile. As babies get older they will reach and grab the mobile. You are then supposed to remove it from the cot. If your hanging part and control unit can be seperated then the baby can continue to enjoy the music at least. Couch potatoes will be pleased to hear some even come with a remote control!
Babies spend a lot of very boring time in prams and cars, following us about on our daily routines. It is easier to make their lives more interesting by simply giving them something designed for them to look at. Blooming Marvellous do a gallery for rear facing baby car seats and also a book that goes around the inside of the pram or cot. Not many people know about these so you are unlikely to buy a duplicate present.
If they don’t already have one, a baby bouncer is a must. Its worth that little bit extra to get one that vibrates as it really helps the baby to relax, sending them off into a peaceful trance. Some come with a bar of cuddly toys or an electronically enhanced ‘entertainment system’. It depends on the parents’ love or hatred of all things battery operated. Many different brands are available but highly recommend are Fisher Price bouncers. We used the Ocean Wonders Aquarium Bouncer, but the newer Fisher-Price Rainforest Bouncer is similar.
Babies need a little bit more activity now and love flashy lights and sounds. Now is the time to start with the most basic electronic toys.
Teething will likely start at some stage in this period. Rattles and anything to bite on are excellent ideas. Tommee Tippee teething rings can be put in the fridge making them cool and soothing to chew. Sassy or Whoozit also sell interesting teething rings. None are very expensive, and variation helps keep babies entertained, so a gift of a few would be good.
Now is also a good time to introduce some bathing toys. At this age they start to love splashing around in the bath. Splashy the Penguin is a good bath toy but there are lots out there.
Its never to young to start children on books. For this age group the books are not just for reading, but they also make noises, scrunches, have textured 3d effects and some can even be stuffed in the mouth! Borders book shop tend to have the best selection. Taggies are another favourite – a book that containing lots of ‘tags’. Babies love sucking and playing with washing tags, garment labels etc, so a book full of them is a great gift idea.
Electronic toys now become more appropriate to babies as they begin to associate buttons with noises and lights, first lessons in cause and effect. There is massive range of electronic toys available, from handheld devices to a whole table-top of electronic interactivity. Favourites have been from VTech (in particluar the VTech Musical DJ Junior which has provided hours of amusing if not annoying songs) and Leapfrog . For the 9 months plus age group, both companies also make interactive consoles available that link to the TV. However, isn’t 9 months is a bit too young for a pre-playstation, or is this a great learning opportunity? I will let you make your minds up..
Make Some Noise
Noises are very important at this age as learn to bang and bash things. Leapfrog make a great Learn & Groove Alphabet Drum, which not only can a child bang on, they can also learn the alphabet in French and English! This makes a change from the old wooden spoon and saucepan trick.
All types of toys that encourage walking come into play at this stage. There are essentially three different types. First are door bouncers that hang on a door. Very simple and usually very effective. Secondly are the interactive walkers that a baby learns to push along in front of them. At the age of six months its best to get one of these that have a detatchable play feature for younger babies that cant yet walk. For example, the First Steps Baby Walker by vtech unclips for playing with on the floor. If the baby is nearer 12 months and walking or just about to walk, a wooden walker with bricks is a more traditional option. Finally there are the sit in walkers which are a current hot topic with parents. They are considered so dangerous in Canada they have recently been banned. Best avoided if you don’t want to get into any trouble! Interactive walkers make great toddler gift ideas.
Bath toys are ever more popular now as babies learn to splash about. Great ideas, they can even be taken to the swimming pool.
At 6-12m books are becoming increasingly interactive with mirrors and other sensory stimuli. Mirror Me! (Baby Einstein) books seems like a good choice. A great book is the perfect toddler gift idea.
Toddler Gift Ideas
12 Months – 1 Year +
Electronic toys are still popular at this age, and as mentioned above, both VTech and Leapfrog make an excellent range. Very popular with this age group are the console-like toys which link to the TV (such as the V.Smile Baby Infant Development System), or work like a laptop (LeapFrog LittleTouch LeapPad) and are designed for interactive play that involves mum or dad. Additional books and games for these toys also make useful toddler gift ideas.
Once again bath toys are popular at this age and the range grows as the child gets older.
Books as mentioned above.
Push Along Toys
Push along toys come into their own now as babies start to toddle. Try an old fashioned wooden walker with bricks as now is the age taht babies start to get constructive.
Ride On Toys
At this age children are ready for ride on toys. You can get a multifunctional rocker/push/rideon from mothercare, or go for the the more traditional and simpler wooden ride on such as the beautiful Sit and Ride Ladybird from Little Nut Tree Toys.
Construction toys start to become important for this age onwards. From about 18 months Lego has Duplo building blocks which will be used for years. Alternatively, Megablocks have a extensive range from 12 months including some Disney favourites.
Rule 2 for baby and toddler gift ideas – Be practical
If the baby or toddler already has lots of battery operated toys, does he or she really need another one? There are plenty of fascinating toys for kids that dont use batteries and allow them to explore other parts of their learning. Manual dexterity for example, doesnt require flashing lights and music (and headaches). Try Little Nut Tree Toys for a varied selection of interesting toys without batteries. If a gift comes with batteries, think about giving some batteries at the same time.
Rule 3 for baby and toddler gift ideas – Available Space
How much space do the parents have available for your baby or toddler gift idea? If it’s a small house bear that in mind that a battery propelled baby swing will turn the lounge into a children’s playground. If they have a large garden and the time of year is right, perhaps some outdoor toys could be appropriate? Tesco.com Direct have a good range of outdoor activity centres that can be used from 12+ months but they are pricey. Mothercare have a great blow-up indoor-outdoor play area, the Happy Safari Play Arena from 12 months.
Rule 4 for baby and toddler gift ideas – Older Siblings
Does the baby have any older brothers or sisters? Think about what toys may have been handed down. If you are buying a gift for a baby girl with an older brother then why not treat her to something girly as most of her toys would have been originally bought with a boy in mind. Alternatively buy something very new, the latest from those wacky designers at Habitat or perhaps VertBaudet for more unusual and colourful toys.
Rule 5 for baby and toddler gift ideas – Educational Toys for Babies and Toddlers
To encourage learning at an early age you might want to consider buying a toy with more traditional educational value. Did you know that baby toys for learning French exist? Leapfrog make a great Learn & Groove Alphabet Drum, which not only can a child bang on, they can also learn the alphabet in French and English! And its never too young to start children on books, even though they cant read. There are books designed for babies and toddlers which stimulate touch and sound. Have a look at ‘Taggies’ which are books full of tags that babies like to chew, sounds strange but it works! Or try the Usborne Touchy Feely Books.
Rule 6 for baby and toddler gift ideas – Cuddly toys.
A soft toy is everybody’s favourite baby gift. But in reality they are generally of very little use. Most babies will collect an entire troop of teddy bears and only play with one or two. Best avoided if you want originality, but good for the cute factor.
Why not visit ourchristmas gifts for toddlers page for more ideas on gifts and presents for toddlers.
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