My top 10 gifts for toddlers

As we approach the holidays this year, our gift to you is a series of Top 10 gift guides which promote active play and healthy development!  Click here for other guides in this series.

10 gifts for toddlers chosen by a child development specialist

My Top 10 gifts for Toddlers

Toys for toddlers should hold up to rigorous throwing, dropping, crushing, banging, and pulling. I don't suggest heavy wood toys for this age for safety reasons, especially if you have more than one child.  Toys need to be relatively simple, beautiful and inviting. There is no need for toddlers to have electronic toys. I personally prefer natural materials over plastic, but you'll see a few synthetic materials listed below for ease of cleaning.  Make sure there are plenty of opportunities for movement and play, both inside and outside!

Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning we get a small percentage of the sale if you purchase something through that link.  I would list these items regardless, as they are honestly my favorites and excellent for children.  We use the funds earned to support more content like this, so thanks for your help! 

Toddler Backpack

My Own Backpack

A child sized backpack with pockets for treasures is a wonderful gift.  This one is from Hershal, but any smaller backpack with a zipper, Velcro, or fold over flap would work for this age.  I recommend a smaller pocket on the back or side, and a pocket for a water bottle. 

Nesting and Stacking Bowls

There are lots of nesting/stacking toy sets available, but these are by far my favourite.  These beautiful wood bowls from Grimm are simple, well-made, and versatile.    

Child's Harmonica

Simple music instruments are lots of fun at this age, and this harmonica from Hohner is perfect.   The bag says ages 3 and up, but I used this with a 20 month old and felt perfectly safe to have it in his mouth.  

Gift Of Quality Time

Offer to babysit!  Go visit a children's museum, take a hike, or play together with your toddler.  

Push Toy

My favourite by far is a walking duck with flapping feet like this one from Plan Toys.  I find a wooden pole is easier for this age than a string pull along toy. 

Quality Art Supplies

These beeswax crayons from Stockmar offer bright color on the paper, and fit well in a toddler's hand. Other great art supplies include play clay, removable stickers, and washable paints.   

Wheely Bug Mouse Push/Scoot Ride-On by Prince Lionheart

Ride-on Toy

A ride-on toy like this wheely bug from Prince Lionheart is perfect for toddlers.  No steering to get in the way! Older toddlers might enjoy a trike with a steering wheel.  

Classic Waldorf Doll from BellaLuna toys

Simple Doll

I believe all toddlers should have a doll, not just girls. I prefer a soft human-like doll that looks similar to the toddler, but animal loveys work too.  Dolls are great for practicing care activities, naming body parts, practicing manners, and general companionship.  This one is from Bella Luna toys and comes in other skin tones and outfits.  

Books to Read Together

Books for this age should have 3-7 words per page, and bright, inviting illustrations.  There are plenty of books for children with lovely little stories, don't settle for boring books.  Your toddler can understand much more than they can say.  

Even better if you make a book about your child!  Jordan and Marissa over at Heartwares will turn your photos into a fabric book.  

small dustpan and brush

Smaller Tools for Helping

A collection of well-made, smaller tools is a necessity for offering independence and teaching responsibility.  Check out For Small Hands for their collections of cooking, gardening, woodworking, and cleaning tools.  

Wooden Play Cube from Wood Designs

 Climber and Tunnel

Bonus gift for the grandparents: Wooden cube for crawling, climbing, hiding, standing, jumping, etc.  This one from Wood Designs could turn into a side table later.  

Leanne Gray, M.Ed is the owner of The Prepared Environment, which supports families in creating an ideal environment for their children at home. She has over fifteen years experience working with children in both public, private, and Montessori schools, and is AMI primary trained. She particularly loves to hear from you!  You can always contact her for personalized support and answers to your questions. 

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