The 10 Best Toddler Gifts
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in June of 2015. If you or someone you know has a toddler with a birthday coming up who has just started to find his or her legs, check out our selection of imaginative and inspirational gifts. We've put together a wide variety of offerings, from fun and messy toys to learning options that are adorable and easy to use, all ranked here by educational potential, universal appeal, fun, and durability. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 09, 2020:
While we're certainly aware of the push to develop bodies and minds as early as the moment of conception, we're also aware that kids are going to need healthy emotional lives, as well, which is why we added the Gund Toothpick Teddy Bear to this iteration of our ranking . It's simultaneously sweet and a little funny-looking, giving kids a friend who isn't perfect, but who still has the ability to comfort them whenever they might need it.
Of course, we didn't leave the minds behind completely, as it was time to incorporate some kind of book to this list. After all, prelinguistic kids do better with language arts if they're exposed to more words in their first few years of life. So, we added the LeapFrog Learning Friends Book, which offers 100 words with accompanying pictures, melodies, and pronunciations. The best part about it is that it works in English and Spanish, so it can fit in nicely in a bilingual household or give a child the chance to start doubling up their language skills early on.
To make room for these new listings, we said goodbye to the Kids Destiny Engines & Train, the rather generic pieces of which left a lot to be desired, as well as the Wonderworld Work Bench-N-Box, which had been suffering from some significant availability issues. We also brought three boutique manufacturers into our special honors section if you'd prefer to have toys that the other parent's can't find.
Little Citizen's Wishbone Balance Bike Designed for children two and up, this model features predominantly wood construction, giving it a rustic feel that's equally durable. It boasts inflatable tires that provide excellent traction and control on a variety of surfaces, though its seat isn't especially comfortable, and you might expect a little more for the price. littlecitizensboutique.com
Rose And Rex This company creates highly stylized toys and clothes for kids. You can easily filter results by age, allowing you to dial in the available goods for your special one. Their food-shaped rattles and teethers are cute, but their elongated stuffed animals and monsters are the pieces most likely to stay with youngsters for years. roseandrex.com
Manhattan Toy Company Here, you'll find a nice little selection of plush toys, from dolls to trucks, all made to be as functional and safe as the makers could imagine. The color pallets are consistently muted pastels that won't overwhelm your child's senses, and there are even softly rendered books to get them started on their journey towards reading. manhattantoy.com
How To Choose A Toy For A Toddler
Giving a toddler gifts that nurture these skills is incredibly important.
From birth to the age of three, the cells in a child's brain are creating rapid connections called synapses. These connections are how a child learns, however, they only occur if a child uses their brain a lot, and is provided with an engaging environment. During this phase of life, toddlers develop primal abilities like spatial awareness and motor skills. Giving a toddler gifts that nurture these skills is incredibly important.
Building blocks and Legos are wonderful toys for toddlers because they require them to use their muscles when they pick these items up and stack them on top of each other. These kinds of toys also appeal to a toddler's love of taking things apart (a telltale sign of the terrible twos). Providing them with a LEGO robot to dismantle rather than having them take out their curiosity on piece of furniture is beneficial for both you house, and the toddler. Toddlers are full of energy, and any gift that can help them expel some of it is also a gift to their parents. Low trampolines with a handlebar provide a fun and safe way to tire a little toddler out.
Parents can also give their toddler a small electric car or pedal car that they can drive around the house. Navigating around furniture and other obstacles will help them develop spatial awareness. Most parents recognize that toddlers have very short attention spans. That's why, regardless of the gift one gets for their child, they should look for features that will captivate them like bright colors, fun shapes, flashing lights and sounds.
How To Create A Safe And Fun Playroom
Toddlers are brave enough to climb anything if the item they want is at the top of it. That is why parents should just keep their little one's toys in bins on the floor, or at least on a low shelf, so their toddler doesn't injure themselves trying to get to them. On that note, make sure that any bins that have lids are strong enough to support the full weight of a toddler because children love sitting and standing on these. Keep in mind that toddlers crawl around at eye-height of electrical outlets, so it's important to put safety covers over these.
If one is going to go out of their way to create a safe playroom for their toddler, they may as well ensure that their child stays in there. Parents should invest in an expanding gate so they can keep their child in a room, without needing to close the door entirely, allowing for easier supervision. Expanding gates also help parents create a play area in almost any room with a door frame. When it comes to furniture, parents should get pieces that don't have any sharp edges and are made from soft materials like toddler chairs.
While children love colorful items, parents should take caution not to pick any furniture or decorative pieces with toxic paint on them. Glass items have no place in a toddler's playroom since a child can easily break these, and cut themselves on or try to eat the pieces. The best materials for furniture in a playroom are unbreakable wood and plastic.
The Importance Of Music For Toddlers
Many of the best toddler gifts incorporate music in some way. Whether they are toddler-safe instruments like plastic keyboards, or they are problem-solving games that play a song as a reward when a child gets a correct answer, these toys come with several benefits for a toddler. Studies on the mental benefits from music training have found that learning to play music helps a child develop executive functions like planning and organizing actions. The benefits are greater in people who begin playing music at a young age, and toddlerhood is a wonderful time to start.
When they know they'll hear a new, exciting sound if they solve a problem, they feel more encouraged to work on it.
Simply listening to, or singing along to, music can also help a toddler's language development. Focusing on the rhyming lyrics of songs, and staying with the rhythm, helps children focus on the way certain words sound and can help them increase their vocabulary. The music in some games can also encourage a child to focus. When they know they'll hear a new, exciting sound if they solve a problem, they feel more encouraged to work on it.
Singing along to music also helps toddlers develop social-emotional skills. The nature of sing-alongs teaches children to work with others. Because children learn as infants to associate music from their lullabies with soothing sensations, music time can be wonderful for calming down a group of toddlers.