The Best Gifts for Toddlers (1 & 2 Year-Olds)

Take the hard work out of gift-giving this Christmas with our Gift Guide for Toddlers! You’ll find plenty of inspiration and ideas whatever your budget. Looking for more ideas? Check out our Toy and Gift Guides page for more inspiration.

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Choosing Toys for Kids

In a world where there are so many options it can be difficult to know which toys to invest in! Here are 5 principles that I try to stick to when choosing toys for my own children.

What toys should I Choose for my Kids?

  • Toys that are open-ended– these are toys that can be used in a variety of ways and leave room for imagination;
  • Toys that grow with your child– This is about avoiding the latest ‘toy fad’ but choosing toys they’ll come back to again and again;
  • Toys that are varied– Give your kids a broad range of toys so that they build a variety of skills and interests;
  • Toys that have purpose– Think about the purpose behind a toy. How will it benefit my child to own it?
  • Toys that last– Choose good quality toys that will stand the test of time.

A word on the Gift Guides…

These guides are meant to inspire, rather than be a list of everything your child must have! Many of these toys and books we own ourselves, or are made by brands we trust and love, but there’s a few new toys that I’ve come across that I’m excited to share with you too.

I’ve arranged the guides into age brackets but children rarely follow a linear path of development. So do check out the guides before and after too. Also many of the gifts featured in the guides will grow with your child and are suitable for multiple ages. For example, a lot of the toddler gifts will still be enjoyed in the preschool years.

The Best Gifts for Toddlers

Stacking & Posting Toys

Toddlers love toys that involve stacking and posting and it’s also great for developing their fine motor skills. The Grimms Rainbow is a hefty investment but definitely a toy that will grow with your child. To release its full potential I would recommend buying the semi-circle boards at some point too. We have both and we use it for stacking, building ball-runs and making small worlds.

Construction Toys

A good quality set of building blocks is a must for young children. The ultimate building block set has got to be the Grimms Stepped Pyramid but it is expensive and notoriously difficult to get hold of! If you fancy a DIY project you can read how we made our own Stepped Pyramid here.

Around 18 months is a great time to start your Duplo collection. This will be loved for years! My 6 year-old still chooses to play with our Duplo on many occasions.

Pretend Play

Pretend play starts to emerge around 18 months. You can encourage it with a few key toys. Our best investments at the toddler stage have been a toy kitchen and a baby to care for, as well as some toy cars. You can find more ideas for pretend play in our Ultimate Pretend Play Gift Guide.

Books for Toddlers

There were many more I could have chosen but here are some of favourite board books for toddlers. The Touchthinklearn books are brilliant and Press Here is a big hit with my kids.

Puzzles, Games & Activities

Peg puzzles and chunky piece puzzles are the first types of puzzles to introduce. Around 18 months to 2 years you can also start to introduce two piece puzzles. Orchard Toys do a fabulous range, as well as lots of other puzzles and games for every stage of your child’s development.

Magnets (and a fridge or magnetic board to put them on) are fascinating for older toddlers. We have these animal magnets from Melissa and Doug, which also come in a range of other themes. Most of them are of a good size but it’s worth putting aside the smaller ones until you are sure your child won’t be putting them in their mouth.

Mark Making, Art & Creative Play

Around 18 months little ones start to show an interest in making marks on paper. An aquadoodle mat is a great way of encouraging mark-making without the mess!

Paint Sticks are a low mess alternative to painting. I give them to my 18 month old without the lids and twisted up and she has a great time with them. Between the ages of 2 and 3 they really are brilliant for kids.

Around the age of 2 and a half play dough really comes into its own as a way of keeping kids entertained. Not only that, it’s brilliant for building fine motor skills. For everyday use we make our own using this recipe here. As a special gift you can’t beat Organised Chaos with Kids’ Sensory Dough. It’s so much better than the shop-bought stuff!

The Toniebox is a popular audiobook & music player in Europe that’s recently been launched in the UK. It is really simple for little ones to operate by placing a ‘tonie’ on the box. All sorts of tonies are available for lots of popular stories like The Gruffalo & The Jungle Book. The Toniebox starter set comes with a Creative Tonie. This has 90 minutes of space to fill with whatever you want, including your own recordings of their favourite stories.

Active Play

A ride-on is a great investment as is a play tunnel! I love the stylish ball pits that are around now. Failing that a bag of balls and a paddling pool work equally well!

Bath Toys

We love this range of bath toys from Green Toys that are made from recycled plastic. Bath bobbers are a big hit in our house and they don’t get mouldy! Have you tried Crayola colour dropz before? They turn the bath water different colours!

Thank you for reading! If you found our gift guide helpful please share it with your friends and family on social media. Thanks!

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