As a mom to 3 kids ages 1,1, and 3, I feel like sharing some of the best gifts my kids have received over the years and some I think they would love. If you have someone in that age group you've been struggling with to find a gift for this holiday season, hopefully my suggestions will be helpful. We do try to keep light-up, flashy, plastic toys to a minimum in our house, so you won't find much in that area on this list. Some of the ideas are specific, some more generalized. Here we go...
1. Natural Teething Toys.
Plastic toys you stick in the freezer are a dime a dozen. Natural toys for babies to chomp down on may be a little more pricey, but at least they aren't made up of potentially harmful chemicals. My nephew may be getting something like this giraffe and wood rattle for Christmas. Shhh, don't tell him!
We have a good number of puzzles like these from Melissa and Doug. Around age 2, Mason starting being interested in more complex puzzles with 12 pieces. He would do them over and over again.
3. Quiet Books.
I would love to make my kids one of these. I think they look so fun and there are tons of ideas and patterns to choose from out there. They can be expensive to purchase, but if you lack the crafting desire, I think this one looks great!
My advice - skip the megablocks. My kids rarely played with them and by the time interest in building with lego-type blocks struck the megablocks were just too big and limiting. So go straight to duplos and save yourself some money. There are many more set options and they will keep interest much longer. Heck, I even enjoy building things with them.
Not much room for more toys in the house? How about zoo passes or a season ticket to the local children's museum? We love getting gifts like this. Not only is it small, but provides us with opportunities to get out of the house and explore new things.
My twins got these for their first birthday and I love them! They are stainless steel which is perfect because we avoid using plastic in the kitchen. Also, when they hit the floor (going to happen with toddlers!) they don't break like our glass plates would.
While on the subject of meals, our favorites are the Pura Kiki Stainless Sippies. They are the only ones I could find that are completely plastic-free. They are a little trick for those just starting to use sippy cups, at the earlier stages we like the Thermos Foogo Stainless Steel Sippy. It does have plastic on it, but much easier to hold for those just learning.
We have a ton of clothes for the kids, something we don't have a lot of is accessories. I'm talking headbands, sunglasses, socks, ties, hats, etc. My girls are getting headbands in their stockings this year from here and here. If your laundry sessions end anything like mine, there are always at least 5 lonely socks missing their mates. Socks are something kids can always use more of. Or is it just us?
While my three year old doesn't really play with this anymore, my 1 year old are all about it. The love it and are just starting to stack pieces on. Their masterpieces don't quite resemble a train yet, but they sure enjoy playing with it.
10. Bath Crayons.
There are several different kinds to choose from out there. We've had ones like this in the plastic cases before, they just seemed to fall out and break, so this year we are going to try the one pictured, the Alex Star Crayon. Hopefully it will stay intact a little better.
11. Kitchen Helper.
We have two of these. They are awesome for getting the kids at counter level and able to help mama cook or wash dishes. There are different brands that have the same concept, all around $120, but there's a tutorial here to make your own for around $20.
12. Art Supplies.
All my kids love painting. The twins have not been exposed to too much art making opportunity, but rumor has it Grandma and Grandpa will be wrapping up some new supplies for under the tree this year. You can find a great list of suggestions here.
How about some inspiration for using those art supplies. Look for local artists in your area and see if they would be interested in doing a custom painting for the young one(s) in your life. Etsy also has many vendors offering cute children's artwork, I like these here and here.
14. Legwarmers and Bibs.
Oh hey, I just happen to have both of those things in my Etsy shop here.
15. Wooden Push or Pull Toys.
Got a fresh walker on your hands. These are fun toys to toddle around with. We have this penguin one and this frog one.
As soon as kids are mobile, a tunnel is a fantastic toy. All three of our kids have so much fun playing in ours. We have this one made by Pacific and it has held up well through some pretty rough play.
17. Light Table Accessories.
If your gift recipient has a light table (you can make one on the cheap, look here) there are a lot of neat accessories out there. We have these prism bricks that connect to duplos and these crystal connectors that get played with a lot. This year, Mason has these Magna-Tiles on his wishlist.
18. Water Table.
If you live in a snowy climate, perhaps Christmas isn't the best time of year to give this gift, but it is definitely something that keeps youngsters busy. We bought ours used, like we try to do with most plastic toys, so it was a pretty decent price. Check out Craigslist or your local swap sites, water tables can usually be found in abundance.
Last Christmas, my (then) two year old received a super cute backpack like this for Christmas. She even stuffed it full of fruit leather! There are some great handmade options on Etsy, like this one. My twins are at an age where they love when I fill a bag up with random toys and they get to pull it all out.
20. Kitchen Tools.
How about some cute cookie cutters? Or an apron? Or a cutlery set that includes a knife? My 3 year old loves to help me chop up fruits and veggies when I'm cooking. They also make kitchen tool sets that are just the right size for toddlers if you want to get all cutesie. My kids have to just use regular size utensils, poor things.
21. Play Kitchen Accessories
Ah, the world of make believe. While it is nice to have extra hands in the kitchen, sometimes it is nice for mom to be able to cook alone while junior cooks in his own little kitchen. We really love the fruit and veggies that are stick together with velcro you can chop up, like this . Also, these stainless steel pots and pans will be under our tree this year.
22. Cars, Trucks, Buses, Trains, Planes, Etc.
Isn't that wooden bus cute? Girls and boys alike enjoy playing with vehicles. My gals first intentional noises (aside from crying) were adorable vroom vrooms while driving their brothers cars around the floor. Our son is obsessed with trains, so it is hard to go wrong there.
Thinking of a more practical gift for the wee ones? Whether they are cloth or sposies, diapers are a gift that mom and dad will be happy to see their little guy or gal unwrap. Honest Baby makes cute prints on diapers and the amount of work at home moms that make fluff is growing. I really like this shop and have bought from her more than once.
24. Your Time.
Take your little niece, grandson, daughter (whatever your relationship) on a date. Go out for ice cream, play in the park, even just go for a nature walk. Spending time with loved ones is cherished at all ages, so long as they are comfortable with you being a caregiver. Mom and dad would probably appreciate this gift just as much as little Sally.
Finger puppets make a wonderful stocking stuffer. Bigger puppets are great, too. Mason is really starting to pretend and use voices for different toys, I think he'd really enjoy puppets. Plus, they are a great parenting tool. Sometimes kids don't follow parental instructions very well, but if the puppet says so...
My kids love drinking out of straws. Tossable plastic ones you can get at the store not only get expensive but they take many many many years to biodegrade. We got the kids some stainless steel reusable straws for Christmas. I'm excited they can go in the dishwasher!
27. Sand Toys.
If they don't have a sandbox at home, surely there is a park or beach with sand nearby. Check out these beach toys, they are biodegradable which is so neat! Whenever we go to the park to play in the sand, Mason is sure to have his excavator and dump truck along.
Is there an age where kids don't like bubbes? We haven't noticed if there is. You can get regular bubbles, bubble machines, bubble bath, nifty bubble wands. So many different ways to gift bubbles. Check out these recipes for homemade bubbles and these instructions for making bubble wands.
29. Shopping Cart.
As soon as they are able to walk, kids love pushing things around. We have a couple shopping carts and it is so fun watching the kids walk around the house and shop. The things that they end up buying is quite amusing. I love the Melissa and Doug Shopping Cart. It is sturdy, has safely legs, and bonus: not plastic!
You can't go wrong here, there are soo many great books to choose from out there. A few of our favorites are The Pout-Pout Fish, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, and Little Blue Truck. We have a ton of books and don't mind getting more, ever. Our favorite place to browse for new (to us) reads is Half Price Books. They have some decent prices and a good clearance selection.
Well, that's our list. Do you have any favorites to add?