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Great Christmas Gift Ideas for Babies & Toddlers 2015

Updated on May 5, 2015

It might seem like a piece of cake to buy a toy for a baby or toddler.

However, there are many things to consider.

If you are a new parent, or want to buy a gift for someone in your life, use this article as a guide so you get the most appropriate toy for the child you're shopping for.

The first thing you need to understand is that no matter how cool a toy might be, if it has any safety risks at all, then do not buy it.

I recommend checking the Consumer Product Safety Commission for any recalls before you make a purchase.

How to Find the Right Toy

First, check the age range that is recommended on any toy before you purchase. We have family members who are notorious for buying our 18 month old baby toys that are fit for 3 to 5 year olds. Not only is it frustrating because the baby can't play with it, it is a waste of their money and our time because we have to exchange it. Sometimes, if the child is close to the age recommendations, you are safe to get it for them.

On that same note, understand why it might be recommended for older children. For instance, a board game might just not be able to be understood by a young child, although they may enjoy pretending to play the game with their family.

Finding toys that help develop children's cognitive and perceptual skills will benefit them in the long run and also entertain them for longer periods of time.

Don't buy a toy that looks like it is so cheaply made that it will break in two weeks. Finding durable toys is been a much better way to spend your money.

If there are no age requirements listed on a toy that you are considering, make sure to look for any small parts that can detach and become a choking hazard, long strings that can also become a strangulation hazard, or other safety issues.

For babies and toddlers I recommend buying any kind of multisensory toy. Not only do these toys get a child's attention, they can be used at different ages, as well as developing brain cells at a faster rate. Visual, audio, and tactile stimulation all help fire neurons in a child's brain which help them develop.

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Finding the Right Toy For a Child’s Development

If it helps a child learn how to control their body parts and how they move, it would be a good purchase. Anything that helps enhance muscle control, coordination, and strength is also a good idea.

Does a toy help the child figure out how things work? For instance, there are toys out there that mimic tools. Learning how to turn a screwdriver to release a screw is one such example.

If it teaches a baby any new ideas, it is also a good choice. This might be any type of artistic type toy. Although my toddler does not know how to draw specific items yet, she enjoys playing with an Etch a Sketch.

Look for toys that help a child use their imagination, or maybe those that teach them how to solve simple problems. My favorites to buy infants 12 to 18 months are pop up toys. By pushing a button, turning a dial, or squeezing a toy, it releases pop up characters. This kind of cause and effect is very education for them, though it might not seem like it.

Lastly, decide if the child you are buying for is able to play well by himself, or with others. If it is a toy that is required to play with others like a board game, you might have a baby too young to do so, or not.

Here is a list of toys to consider to help you while shopping.

  • Board books. Instead of having thin paper that is easily ripped by young hands, the pages are heavy duty cardboard to take a lot of abuse.
  • Foot and hand puppets
  • Musical toys
  • Rattles or other toys that make noise. Keep in mind though that many parents are not too fond of super loud toys that they have to listen to day in and day out. If you buy a toy that makes noise, check to see if there is a volume control.
  • Any toys that are lightweight and easy to grasp.
  • Teething toys are also good for babies 12 months to two years.
  • Look for toys that feature bright colors and high contrasts.
  • Pop up toys
  • Peg boards are also good but are recommended for older children since the pegs can become a choking hazard for babies.
  • Cars and trucks
  • Blocks
  • Balls
  • Any toy that offers cause and effect.

Unique Christmas Gift Ideas for Toddlers & babies

Kids just love mimicking what bigger people do. Being able to push around this Melissa & Doug Shopping Cart will make them feel so sophisticated. This is not recommended for children under three years of age. It is made of metal and has pivoting front wheels. The seat is also big enough to hold your child's favorite doll.

I love this Fisher-Price Discover ‘n Grow Kick and Play Piano Gym since it is a bit more detailed than other playmats. By kicking their feet, the piano makes sounds and the bright colors stimulate them visually.

A more basic playmat is this Skip Hop Alphabet Zoo Activity Gym that features animals of all sorts and some alphabet letters as well. I love the matching tummy time pillow as well.

These classic Uncle Goose Embossed Alphabet Blocks are painted with non-toxic paint and will help teach your child their letters. Recommended for ages 2 and up.

For children 24 months to 6 years of age, this Plan Toys Cone Sorting is made of organic recycled rubber wood and water based dyes. This is a great toy for developing logical thinking skills.

My kids love this Prince Lionheart Wheely Bug to scoot around the house in. It comes in six different characters to choose from and two different sizes. The wheels swivel as well so kids can go any direction easily.

5 stars for Prince Lionheart Wheely Bug

This Tolo Toys Rolling Shape Sorter is also a toy that has been made for kids for many years. The lid opens easily to access all stored shapes. This is a great toy for developing agility.

Another shape sorting option is this Tupperware Shape O Ball Toy. It comes in a bright red and blue color with shapes that can be stored inside when not in use.

Babies male or female love having a baby doll to take care of. Consider getting this Baby Stella Peach Doll for them to start caring for at a young age. She will help teach a young one nurturing skills.

Many babies like to hold onto things while they try to take their first steps. This VTech Sit to Stand Learning Walker is one such toy to help them with that. It is covered in fun toys like piano keys, spinners and shape sorters. It can be used on the floor while they sit to play with it, or standing up if they decide to try to walk behind it.

© 2013 Brandon Hart

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