The holidays are all about the kids. You probably hear someone say that at least once every year during the festive season. And it’s so true. From the decorations to the specially baked holiday treats and jolly music, it’s all about making it a magical time for young ones. And, of course, a big part of that is the wonderful gifts that sit under the tree for kids to anxiously and excitedly open and enjoy. But what are some of the best gifts this year for babies and toddlers?
Large play areas, Activity Tables
While dollhouses are usually for older kids, there are some that are safe for toddlers. The KidKraft EZ Assemble Grand View Mansion Dollhouse is the perfect gift that can be expanded on little by little with new accessories and mini furniture. It teaches kids to care for something precious and delicate and provides hours of fun play time away from screens. Parents will also love that it’s quick and easy to put together. Because of the small pieces, though, you won’t want to get this for any toddler younger than three.
If the child isn’t into dollhouses, or is too young for them, consider an activity table like the KidKraft Building Bricks Play N Store Activity Table, which is suitable for kids three and up and can be used to store small toys inside and underneath and to play on on top.
There are activity tables designed for younger toddlers as well, like the Vtech Explore and Write Activity Desk, with activities to help them learn how to spell or recognize letters and numbers, add, subtract, and more.
For even younger kids, consider an actual play home they can physically go into, like the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Surround Learning Home. Ideal for babies as young as six months, they can role play and explore the various lights, shape sorting, interactive hub area, and more via the built-in activities.
Help get babies learning and keeping active with a gift like the Bright Starts Roaming Safari Activity Gym Play Mat that provides a large play area with all of the essentials for entertaining a baby, including a baby-safe mirror, rattle, links, chimes, and bright and bold colours.
There are other large play-sets that allow toddlers to pretend play at lots of different things, like the KidKraft Deluxe Fire Station Set, the Melissa & Doug Wooden Project Workbench, Costway Kids Wood Kitchen Toy Cooking Pretend Play Set, and more.
Gifts that encourage imaginative play
It’s a good idea to encourage toddlers to engage in creative and imaginative play that takes them away from electronic devices and screens once in a while. And there are a few cool toys that can enhance the experience and get them excited.
I don’t know any child who doesn’t like to play the game “restaurant,” whereby they come and take your order, pretend to whip up a delicious meal, and present it to you—anxious for your approval. With the right pretend play kitchen accessories, like the Melissa & Doug Slice & Stack Sandwich Counter, kids can take your very specific sandwich order, for example, and make you the most delicious fake sandwich. Want cheese, lettuce, and hold the pickles? No problem. Not only is it fun for kids, but it also helps them build their recognition and memorization skills and to practice counting.
If the toddler already has a play kitchen, consider helping them fill up the pantry with a set of new food items. The KidKraft Tasty Treat Play Food Set comes with 115 plastic pieces that includes everything from fruits and vegetables to snacks and bottles. Kids aged 3 and up can learn to identify the foods, play pretend cooking, and learn about food groups. Or, get more specific with sets like the Melissa & Doug Pizza & Pasta Play Set.
It doesn’t just have to be about food. There are plenty of other toys and items you can get for imaginative play, like the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pet Care Play Set, which has 32 pieces that includes everything you might find at a vet—from grooming supplies to treats, along with a plush cat and dog for the child to practice on.
What about younger toddlers? You can’t go wrong with Mega Blocks. This massive bag contains 80 pieces that will keep a toddler busy for hours as they sort, build, knock down, and play with the pieces.
There are lots of gifts babies and toddlers can “ride on,” from actual ride-on cars to swings, activity centres, and more.
The John Deere Pedal Trike and Wagon Set is great for toddlers aged 1.5 and up, requiring them to manually pedal to get from Point A to Point B (which is great exercise!).
At an even simpler level is something like the Marcus & Marcus Inflatable Bouncy Unicorn Hopper, on which toddlers of at least three can sit and bop up and down for fun and active play, indoors or out.
Or, you can splurge for a ride-on like the 12V Kids Ride On Truck Car that includes Bluetooth remote control, music, and LED lights. Three-year-olds (and up) can drive around using the 12V, 7-amp battery as they play music and even honk their horn. It can go in both forward and reverse, using the pedal and steering wheel. A soft start function ensures gradual acceleration and reliable breaking. And parents can use the remote to operate it if needed.
A fun and modern take on the traditional rocking horse, the Qaba Kids Walking Ride-On Horse, looks like a classic rocking horse from decades ago that has a twist: it comes on four wheels, so it can literally move around the house. The toy also neighs and makes galloping sounds, making it a super fun “pet” for a toddler aged child.
When it comes to babies, consider something they can “ride on,” like the Fisher-Price Animal Playful Theme Jumperoo that provides a safe space to work their leg muscles, along with lots of fun toys to play with while doing so. Or they can go for a nice, relaxing ride on the motorized Graco DuetConnect LX Swing with Multi-Direction Oskar, that has six rotation speeds, a secure five-point harness, and can even play 10 melodies and five natural and soothing sounds to help lull baby to sleep.
Favourite movies or TV shows
If you know the favourite movie or television series of the babies and toddlers, there are tons of gift ideas to match.
The PAW Patrol Life Size Lookout Tower will easily become the centre of any toddler’s playroom. It not only comes with various figures for fun play, including Chase and pup packs, but it also lights up and makes sounds. It’s suitable for kids as young as three, given the small parts.
For smaller toddlers as young as two, there’s the Vtech PAW Patrol Treat Time Marshall Learning Toy, an adorable pup that comes with 26 treats that teach letters and phonics when the toddler feeds them to the dog.
Also educational are the PBS Kids Wooden Letter Building Blocks that come with 43 blocks along with two pieces of chalk. Thirty-seven of the blocks have letters or pictures in primary colours for helping kids learn the alphabet. Kids can have fun stacking, knocking down, and playing with the blocks, which are made of solid wood and non-toxic.
Grab the best gifts for babies and toddlers
There are so many great gift ideas for babies and toddlers, so where do you start? Hopefully this list helps narrow it down to some really cool options in some of the top categories.