This toddler holiday gift guide for 2019 includes parent-tested and approved items for play, wear, and experiences that are all reasonably priced. This is not a sponsored post of any kind. We just love this stuff and want to share the love with you. Happy Holidays!
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This year’s toddler holiday gift guide is a DOOZY!
I scoured Riley’s playroom and my recent purchase history from a few of my favorite sites to pull this list of over 25 gift ideas together for you guys this year. It’s a gender neutral list of toys, clothes, and experiences that any toddler would absolutely love.
And I know this because MY toddler does!
The list is separated into the following categories in order below:
Pretend Play Toys
Art & Music Toys
Cognitive & Learning Toys
Gross Motor Toys
If you’re looking for more ideas, check out my other 2 kids gift guides from previous years:
Kids LOVE cozy spots and hiding places and this tent hits all the marks for a fun play spot for Riley to spend time with her "friends" (stuffed animals). She has spent hours in this tent over the past 18 months and I can't recommend it more highly.
This campfire set will be a new addition to our playroom this Christmas and it will go perfectly alongside Riley's tent (see above). She's all about pretend cooking and play activities these days and I can see this set getting a lot of use over the next few years.
Talk about a classic toy! I remember loving any type of kalidescope I could get my hands on a as kid and I know Riley will love this stocking stuffer gift this year. She's all about using any type of tube (paper towel, wrapping paper, aluminum foil, etc.) as a telescope and I can't wait to see her eyes light up when she looks into a kalidescope for the first time!
I could have listed this backpack under the Clothing category below but Riley plays with this bag in all kinds of ways. She stuffs it full of her stuffies and random things like socks, play jewelry, play kitchen tools and food, and whatever else is lying around her playroom. It provides hours of pretend play fun for her and it can also be used as an actual toddler backpack when you're out and about.
Kids as young as 9 months old are able to start to understand how things work in a kitchen and a play kitchen is an excellent toy to help develop skills and their imaginations. Watch them cook you meals, move food from one cabinet to another, and wash dishes. Riley has been absolutely LOVING this exact kitchen over the past 2 years and I'm always happy to play kitchen with her! This is one of the pricier gifts on this list - though prices vary greatly across different brands and models - but this is a toy that will last for many years as your kids grow.
No play kitchen would be complete without some great play food! This set of wooden play food works great in any play kitchen. Older toddlers and pre-schoolers will also love this food for playing restaurant and for pretend grocery shopping too!
This set is a great addition to a play kitchen! They're sturdy, unbreakable, and dishwasher safe - perfect families with toddlers! Toddlers who love to bang things will love that these pots and pans are LOUD when they bang them (parents? not so much!) but they're so stylish that they're hard for parents to resist.
Card games are a fantastic way for kids to learn patience, turn-taking, sportsmanship, as well as the specific aims of each game. I remember playing all kinds of kids card games with my grandma and I hope these games will be as fun for Riley as they were for me as a child.
Admittedly, this is one of those toys that you almost regret buying because your kids aren't playing with them...until they can't stop playing with them many months after receiving them. Riley just started to really get into playing with these blocks and it's been so fun watching her work through the challenges of building with wooden blocks.
These crayons are magical! They can be used as regular crayons, smudged to give art a pastel effect, or turned into watercolors with just a little water. Riley absolutely loves drawing with this set and I use them as pastels for a little personal art therapy when life gets stressful. SO MUCH FUN!
This easel is a parent's dream for a creative space in a play room or play area. It's double sided with a chalkboard on one side and a magnetic dry erase board on the other. The roll of paper on top pulls down for quick art projects and there are holes for paint canisters to keep things [relatively] neat. There's also a shelf on the bottom for extra art supply storage. Let those creative juices flow with this great gift!
Music is an essential element for learning and play and instruments for kids is a great way to foster their development. Yes, these types of toys make lots of noise - believe me, I GET IT - but as a kid who benefited from a school music program and played in the band from 4th - 12th grade, I'll deal with the noise knowing what my kid is learning from these instruments. Riley loves music and singing, and now that she's starting to understand rhythm and beats in music, we're having family band parties at night before bed, with Riley as our conductor. Too cute!
2020 was the year that I decided I needed some extra organization in my life to help keep me sane. I feel like our play room is overrun with all kinds of art supplies and while not a toy, this divided Lazy Susan turntable has been a lifesaver. I first saw it on The Home Edit's Netflix series and immediately ordered it from the Container Store. There are other versions available from other retailers but I've been really happy with the quality and size of this one to hold all of Riley's crayons, markers, dot markers, colored pencils, etc. all in 1 place.
I fully realize that glitter is a parent's worst nightmare. I get it. But I feel like if there's ever been a time for some extra sparkle, 2020 has been the year. So I've turned a blind eye to the mess glitter creates so that Riley can explore art to her heart's content. She absolutely loves choosing which colors to use from this 24-pack and watching her creations come to life in a shiny way.
This portable craft box is not only another way to keep your kids' art supplies organized, but it includes a TON of craft supplies! Yes, you could assemble this separately with a tackle box or Kaboodles box but how much time would it take you to scour the craft store or websites to find all of the stuff to fill it up? What's your time worth?
Tangrams are puzzles using blocks or foam pieces of different shapes and colors to create patterns and objects. They foster fine motor skills, spatial skills, pattern recognition, concentration and attention span, and shape and color recognition. This is just one of MANY types of tangram puzzles available and we chose this one for Riley because it includes full-size template cards so she can build the puzzles directly on the cards.
Magnatiles continue to be one of Riley's favorite building toys to play with. The keep her attention for ages and it's been so fun watching her building abilities with these tiles change as she has grown over the past 2 years. A little pricey? Yes, but completely worth the price.
With Riley now in a Montessori preschool, she's being exposed to all kinds of early language arts and math activities and is learning right alongside the kindergarteners in her school. So while these math cubes seem a little advanced for a 3 1/2 year old, we'll encourage her to explore with them at her own pace while using them for play, building, sorting, color recognition, and counting. Over time, she'll start to use them for higher level (kindergarten - 2nd grade) math concepts. This set is a great way to get toddlers learning in tactile and sensorial ways using bright colors!
I can't tell you how surprised I was when I heard Riley reciting the days of the week in the back of the car a few months ago! I'm not sure how this basic bit of everyday learning slipped off my radar for her to learn about but I ran out to grab this kids magnetic calendar so we could discuss and track days of the week, months, weather, feelings, and family activities in a visual way at home. She loves checking in with this every day!
With Kyle being a construction worker, we try to find STEM toys Riley can play with that look like the tools she sees Kyle using around the house. She's got a little toolbox that she loves to "fix" things with and we thought this drill set activity would be a fun way to incorporate early engineering concepts into her play.
Riley is a REALLY active kid and the winter months in New England are tough months when you have a kid who is constantly on the move. This indoor trampoline has been a fantastic toy to burn off some of that energy. It measures around 3ft in diameter so it doesn't up a giagantic amount of space in the house. We also moved it outside in the spring-fall months for year-round fun and it's held up perfectly through all sorts of weather.
An inconspicous game this is for building gross motor skills like balance, hopping, twirling, this has turned into one of Riley's favorite activities since she received it last Christmas. She's definitely a little monkey and she's love learning how to play this "get up and move" type of game. It also involves taking turns, which is an essential skill to help foster in toddlers.
This is definitely a warmer weather toy but Riley has had such a (ahem) ball learning to hit off a tee. Toys like this one (and the little basketball hoops you see everywhere) are meant to build hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills in addition to learning how to play a sport.
We gave this to Riley for Christmas 3 years ago and we pulled her around the house in it for a good part of the winter, even before she could sit on her own, while propped up on pillows! She loves being pulled around in this wagon for walks up and down our driveway and we've brought it with us multiple times to the beach to pull her around on the boardwalks. She's now starting to use it on her own to load it up with her toys and take them for rides. This wagon makes a really special gift, and one that can be used for many years.
Another great outdoor toy, this coaster has provided Riley will hours and hours of entertainment over the past 18 months. We even set it up for her 3rd brithday party on a slight hill in our backyard to give the kids an extra fun ride.
After shopping at LL Bean for almost 30 years, it should come as no surprise that I've chosen Bean clothes for Riley's winter wardrobe since she was an infant. The quality of Bean clothes is incomparable, which is exceptionally important when it comes to kids clothes. Now that we're living in Maine, a really good quality winter coat is essential for our northern New England winters. This is one of two Bean coats we bought for her this year (it's the warmer of the two) and I'm so pleased with how warm it keeps her. Because LL Bean coats run on the pricey side, I always size up to ensure we'll get 2 winters out of them as Riley grows. At age 3 1/2, she's currently wearing 4T and 5T clothes and I purchased this coat in a Little Kids size Medium 5/6.
To my great dismay, the fleece slippers we've loved for Riley over the past 2 years were discontinued from LL Bean this winter. However, the kid-size version of Bean's Wicked Good Mocs don't not play second fiddle to those fleece slippers at all. These slippers are ADORABLE, super warm, and are really easy to put on. And she loves having matching slippers with mom and dad!
This year was my first time shopping at H&M Kids and overall, I've been impressed. Quality is great, prices are reasonable, and the selection is huge. The only issue I found is that the clothes run a little small so size up if ordering without trying on in a store. This was one of a handful of sweaters I bought for Riley in the early fall and she loves how it makes her feel like she's getting dressed up like a "big girl."
These mittens are pure genius! If you're a parent in a cold weather climate, you know how insanely difficult it is to keep a matching pair of your kids mittens together. When I worked in a daycare many years ago during college, a couple of moms had laced a piece of yarn through their kids coat arms and attched the mittens to the ends of the yarn with safety pins. I thought this was such a great idea! Well, these mittens take care of the yarn and pinning for you (except without the pins)! I bought a different pattern of these mittens for Riley 2 years ago and I know they'll last for a few more years before she outgrows them.
*Sale Alert!* Our favorite PJs since Riley was a tiny baby have been Hanna Andersson. And while they're a bit pricey, they do go on sale often, which is when I stock up in larger sizes. They're made with organic cotton, are incredible quality, and make the perfect hand-me-down PJs for families with multiple kids. Right now, most of the PJs are on sale so get on over to the Hanna site and stock up!
Again, we went with LL Bean for snow pants! These are snow bibs and I love that they loop up over the shoulders to prevent snow from scooting down the back of Riley pants. She's at a preschool that spends a lot of time outside in the winter so it was important to us to find snow pants that were easy for her to get on and off herself, were great quality (these are reinforced in the knees and butt), and kept her warm and dry in very cold temperatures and snow. These bibs totally fit the bill! They do run big for layering and have adjustable straps so we sized down to a Little Kids size 4 and I'm pretty sure we'll get 2 winters out of them.
Lined pants are a must for kids who spend a lot of time outdoors in the winter and I'm always on the hunt for a great pair. The ones I've found at Target have been fantastic! They're well-made, priced incredibly, and keep Riley toasty on chilly days. We use them as a base layer under her snow bibs on really cold days at preschool and they are stretchy enough to add a layer of unlined leggings or thick wool knee socks underneath them when she doesn't need her snow bibs on.
We recently became members of the Wildlife Conservation Society via an annual membership which allows us unlimited visits to the Bronx Zoo, 3 other zoos in the NY-metro area, and the NY Aquarium for up to 3 adults and 4 kids. We live just over an hour from the Bronx Zoo so this membership works great for us! If you live near a zoo, conservation center, wildlife center, botanical garden, or aquarium, check out their websites for membership information. This is a fantastic gift idea for family members to give to the kids in the family too!
Similar to the zoo/aquarium membership, a membership to a local science center or museum makes for a wonderful gift to the kids your life! No more boring winter weekends or school vacations stuck inside battling cabin fever when there's a world of science to explore at your local museum!