Shopping for little ones can be confusing. They’re not old enough to ask for what they want (which is both a blessing and a curse) and because play is the work of childhood you want their toys to help, or at least not hinder, their healthy development. Often the toys that we think are great end up cast aside in favor of various household items (see this post for a hilarious take on a baby’s Christmas list). I’m still a relative newcomer to this thing called parenting, but after 18 months I’ve gained a few ideas on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to entertaining a tiny human. Without further adieu:
- Electronic toys are hugely entertaining, but can be annoying and batteries are a giant pain so I avoid them whenever possible. This is not to say that we don’t have any battery operated toys, but in the name of my own sanity I choose not to buy them and when the batteries finally run out on his most annoying toys I probably won’t replace them.
- Musical instruments–always a winner. From the classic xylophone to baby maracas, the noise factor is nothing compared to what VTech puts out.
- Cups, bowls, and blocks. Great for stacking, sorting, and pretend play. Also: balls. Jack is really into balls lately.
- Activity cube. These things are great for a wide range of ages.
- Baby doll and accoutrements–yes, even for boys! It’s fun for toddlers to reenact daily activities like feeding, bathing, and dressing.
- Books–here’s a list of board books that are actually good for developing early literacy.
- Play silks–these can be used for peekaboo, pretend play, and the ever popular toddler game of “put stuff into a container and take it back out again”
- Push or ride-on toys that help develop gross motor skills–walkers and jumpers are actually not so great for this purpose according to physical therapists. Jack is getting this and this for Christmas from various relatives.
- Play kitchen and/or pots, pans, play food, etc. for pretend play, not to mention noisemaking potential.
- Wood puzzles.
For more ideas you can check out Baby Cheapskate’s lists of Toys that Get Played With: 6-12 Months and 13-24 Months. You can also see all the great stuff that I put on Jack’s wish list here–you can even view purchased items to see what kinds of things he received when he was younger. My favorite brands for toys are Lamaze, Sassy, Hape, and B. Toys. Another option is to shop on Etsy, especially for natural wooden or cloth toys that are pleasing to eyes of all ages (just search Waldorf or Montessori if you’re not sure where to start). Good luck choosing toys for the tiny people in your life this holiday season and beyond!