Toddlers are notoriously challenging to shop for. They seem to enjoy something for about a day, and then that toy proceeds to collect dust in a corner as they move on to the next exciting thing. Though this toddler gift guide has one-, two-, and three-year-olds in mind, it focuses on items that they’ll love for years to come. We poured over the best gifts that inspire creativity — and don’t drive the parents crazy at the same time with a lot of annoying bells and whistles. The age-appropriate ideas will keep any toddler occupied for hours of exploration, imagination, and play.
Yoto Player & 2 Disney Audio Cards
Think of this cute cube-shaped audio player designed for kids ages 3-12 as the modern CD player. They simply insert their desired physical content card — they can pick from classic Disney stories like Cinderella to nursery rhymes to music from their favorite artists like Laurie Berkner. Unlike other smart devices, there’s no camera, microphone, or annoying advertisements. There aren’t any screens, either — just a pixelated art display that can double as a clock and nightlight. You can even add in your own audio files (like an MP3 of grandma reading one of their favorite stories) and create customized playlists of content. This starter pack comes with two Disney Stories Cards: one 5-minute Disney Mickey Mouse Stories and 5-Minute Sleepy Time Stories (starring Frozen). They can play it on the speaker or use their own headphones.
Magna-Tiles Safari Animals 25 Piece Set
This creative toy lets your child build endless iterations of towers with magnetic pieces that easily link together. The open-ended play lets them tap into their imagination and promotes screen-free critical thinking skills. Compatible with any existing Magna-Tiles sets, this safari version includes a giraffe, lion, elephant, and monkey that have magnets on the feet and/or hands so they can attach to any of your kiddos’ structures.
Kinetic Sand Construction Site Folding Sandbox with Toy Truck
We know what you’re thinking: Sand? In the house? Before you run for the hills, kinetic sand is coated in silicone oils so that it stays together (unlike actual sand from the beach). It can be molded like clay, yet it’s silky, stretchable, and doesn’t dry out. Plus, it’s super easy to clean up. Let the imagination run wild with this construction scene, complete with trucks and brick molds. The box acts as storage or portable play for hours.
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Double-Sided Tabletop Easel
Tap into their artistic side with this double-sided tabletop easel, which includes a dry-erase board, chalkboard, and a built-in wooden paper roll holder for painting fun. It comes with five pieces of colored chalk, letter and number magnets, and a dry-erase marker to quietly entertain them for hours. Plus, it folds flat for easy storage.
Lovevery Play Kits
Need a few toys that don’t automatically start playing music in the middle of the night? Designed by child development experts, this beautifully curated subscription box comes with Montessori-inspired toys that encourage your toddler’s imagination. Each box is filled to the brim with sustainably sourced wood and cotton toys that encourage children to follow their natural interests for their age range and build independence. They have kits starting from the newborn stages, but once you hit the toddler years, you get a new play kit about every two or three months that’ll keep them entertained every day until you get the next box. Until recently, Lovevery sent boxes only until your littles were 36 months old, but now you can get kits from newborn to four years old.
The Ohm Store Three Little Ohmies
This might not immediately be what your toddler thinks of when you say “toy,” but you’ll be amazed at how fascinated they’ll be by these singing bowls. Also known as meditation bowls, vibration bowls, or Himalayan bowls, these Ohmies are designed by artisans in Nepal — and now come in kid-friendly sizes.
Approximately 3.5” in diameter, this set comes with three hand-sewn character cushions — a star, flower, and smiley face — and three wooden strikers that give kids an engaging (screen-free!) way to practice mindfulness at any age.
L.L. Bean Kids' Pull Sled and Cushion Set
When the kids are stuck indoors for most of the cold-weather season, parents everywhere will appreciate gifts that keep their kids entertained and occupied when the snow hits. This comfy, sturdy sled is made from authentic, thick hardwood and water-repellent nylon that’s made to withstand even the coldest winters. Connected with screws instead of traditional staples (which rot and break apart over time), this sled is made to last for generations. The smaller version can comfortably fit one toddler, and the larger one can easily fit two kiddos.
Montessori Climber Pikler Triangle, Ramp, and Arch Set
If the kiddo you’re shopping for has a tendency to climb on the couches, bookshelves, and pretty much anywhere they’re not supposed to, this Pikler triangle will satisfy their inner gymnast. A triangle is a Montessori approach to encouraging the development of movement and gross motor skills, pushing boundaries with their physical strength, and learning more about how their bodies move. Plus, it’s hours of active indoor entertainment when there’s inclement weather. Each of these climbers is built by hand and can fold up for easy storage. The maximum weight it can hold is 125 pounds and is recommended for kids from eight months up to eight years. We also love that it comes in different colorways, including the pastel rainbow finish with high-quality, environmentally friendly varnish.
Pop2Play Indoor Slide, Sunny
Bring the playground indoors with this cardboard slide that can be put together as fast as a commercial break (and stores flat so parents can get their living room space back). Even though it’s lightweight (it only weighs a pound) and can be moved from room to room with ease, it’s still sturdy enough to hold kids up to 50 lbs. When the kids get older, and it’s time to toss it, the Pop2Play slide is 100% recyclable.
Dyson Ball Miniature Replica
As toddlers dive into the world of role-playing, they love to replicate activities that adults do — even chores. This mini Dyson vacuum twists, turns, whooshes, and has a working suction function that helps them develop better hand-eye coordination and motor skills. The removable debris drawer contains colorful beads that they can pretend are debris. Because of the small parts, it’s not recommended for kids under three.
The Bubble Book by Elizabeth Ember
Toddlers will feel a wide variety of emotions like guilt, fear, frustration, and embarrassment, but they’ll still have a difficult time controlling them (“Terrible Twos” ring any bells?). This engaging and fun book will be helpful for toddlers to learn mindfulness by using belly breathing techniques. The experience helps bring more oxygen to their brains so they can better process their emotions. The next time a parent is dealing with a tantrum, they’ll be able to remind their kiddo that they can use belly breaths, thanks to this book.
Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table
If the weather is warm year-round (or if perhaps there’s a big enough bathtub if it’s cold out), this water table is great for strengthening fine motor and sensory skills. It features spinners, ramps, and buckets that move with the water to create mini waterfalls and tons of ways to splash around. Water play stimulates their senses, but it also can be calming and relaxing to hear the splashes and movement of the water.
Little Partners Original Learning Tower Step Stool
It’s important to foster a toddler’s independence — and while this step stool isn’t a toy per se, it’s one of the most coveted tools that help them gain more hands-on learning by encouraging exploration and interaction between toddlers and adults. This uniquely crafted step stool makes it safe for your toddlers to participate in activities in the kitchen, bathroom, or wherever else in your home that they can use an extra lift. The four-sided railing prevents them from falling once they’re inside the tower and the platform is adjustable.
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