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What gifts not to give a toddler

Updated on October 13, 2011

So Christmas or a birthday is coming up and you are getting ready to buy some gifts for a toddler. In this article we will show you some of the common mistakes shoppers make, when buying gifts for toddlers, which drives a toddler’s parents up the wall.

Anything which can be misinterpreted as criticizing parenting skills

Parents can be really sensitive about this kind of thing.
Typical mistakes are:

  • Buying parenting books for parents with over active toddlers. They are bound to think you believe they aren’t disciplining their child properly.
  • Buying potty training books or other items. It’s up to the parents to decide when it’s time for potty training. So don’t buy something like this as a gift. If they try and struggle with potty training they are going to resent you.
  • Buying nutritional books, if their toddler is a little over weight. This is a definite no-no.
  • Buying a gift like this for a family vacation like Christmas can spoil it for everyone.

Clothes and shoes
Buying clothes for a toddler can be a little tricky. They grow so fast at that age so your impulse is to buy something a little above their size. But then it turns out not to fit them and it gets forgotten in the closet. I would say, just stay away from clothes, unless you can take the toddler to the shops and have them try it out. When you do, buy their size, especially with seasonal clothes.

Heavy dangerous metallic toys
Before buying anything, especially for a boy toddler. Ask yourself: Can this be thrown through a window? When looking at this problem, steel toy cars are the biggest culprit. Boys get over excited when playing with them and it’s not long before the car gets thrown. It can do damage to furniture, the TV, glass and other kids. If you want to buy something like this just get a hard plastic toy, they are much safer. Once they reach 5 or so, kids have the good sense to know what breaks when you throw your toys at it.

I also never buy anything with sharp edges. Remember toddlers have undeveloped balance, so they can easily fall on top of a toy. Toys that fit into their mouths are also a no-no. Toddlers love to stick things in their mouths and they can easily choke on toys. Especially if the toy looks like food, don’t buy it for kids younger than 3.

Read a few online reviews on a toy before you buy it. Some toys can break in such a way as to present a danger to a toddler.

Anything with expensive accessories
Buying a parent can be pricy. I have found that many companies purposely sell toys that require accessories to be fully used. An example of this would be a hand held game. After a few weeks it needs new batteries and the toddler wants their parents to buy them new game cartridges. Steer clear of this kind of toy. If you buy something which takes AA batteries buy 3 packs with the gift.
There is nothing worse than giving a cool toy then the kid can’t play with it because the batteries aren’t included.

Anything too big for the parent’s place
Especially if they live in an apartment it’s just not practical to buy physically large toys. They simply end up in storage and your money is wasted.

Noisy toys
My toddler received a little ice cream truck for one of his birthdays. As you push the truck it plays a little jingle. It doesn’t even take batteries, so it never ends. Same problem with toys that plays something every time a button is pressed. Toddlers can push a button all day long. Trust me your head will feel like it’s going to explode after a few hours of that.

Toys that require a tool set to assemble
Not everyone is engineering minded. If a toy arrives, the instructions are in Chinese and it takes a full wrench set to assemble. Then it probably won’t be popular either with parents or with a toddler. Keep it simple.

Some great gift ideas

I guess it’s not fair to point out all the bad toy choices without recommending some great toddler gift ideas. So why don’t you read: best selling toddler books and learning toys for toddlers.

What gifts not to give a toddler
What gifts not to give a toddler


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    • bingskee profile image

      bingskee 8 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      i once saw in a swimming pool a toddler donned in an over sized swimsuit and it looks funny. didnt really look good on the child.