Before we had Baby E, I often found it tricky buying gifts for my friends’ kids. I was never really 100% sure whether what I had chosen was the right age level, or something that they would enjoy. I admit to googling things such as “best gift ideas for a two year old”, or heading straight for a toy store employee to ask for their recommendations! I had the best intentions, but I didn’t know enough little children to see what toys were hits, and which were only used for a few hours and then discarded and forgotten!
But now, with a child of our own, we have a built-in tester! I have begun to discover which toys are able to hold the interest of our little one for more than a few days … and which toys we could have possibly saved our money on! Perhaps this experience can help others that felt like I did a couple years ago. For anyone out there looking for a gift for a toddler (or for me in a few years when I have forgotten all of this!), here is a list of some of the things our little one is into these days (all toys have been tested by a female toddler, ~18 months – 2 years!):
1. Boon Dive Bath Appliqués: We got these for Baby E probably a year ago, and they are still a bath time hit! These little foam sea animals stick to the walls in the bath (or even to baby’s tummy!). Baby E spends forever moving them from one wall to the other, naming each one as she goes! The shark is known simply as “duh duh” (think Jaws theme!) because we make him swim through the water and tickle her!
2. Waterproof bath book: We are a big fan of Sandra Boynton’s books (see #3), so we were excited to find a waterproof book of hers! It’s called Barnyard Bath (somewhat like the classic Barnyard Dance) and Baby E loves to read it in the bath!
3. Books: Baby E loves to read – in the bath, and out! We can never have enough books! They are so short that you can zip through 10 books in one sitting! Some of her faves right now are: Belly Button book by Sandra Boynton, Guess how much I love you by Sam McBratney, Love you more by Susan Musgrave, Dr. Seuss’s ABC, The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland, Gossie by Olivier Dunrea, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Eric Carle. At her age, board books are still a great idea, but we are just moving into paper as well and so far so good!!
4. Toy keys: Starting around 18 months, Baby E was always trying to get a hold of our keys! So we searched for a set of baby keys that looked as real as possible – finally found a set at Target!
5. Blanket: Baby E loves her night time/nap blanket, a quilt given to us by one of my “Aunties”! She hasn’t quite got to the point where she carries it around with her, but she will definitely ask for it at bedtime or nap time!
6. Music: Baby E loves listening to music! In the car, we always have kids music on – and she can always be seen in the back seat bobbling her head to the beat, and singing along (or her newest thing is lip syncing!). Some of the music that Baby E loves these days: Songza playlists for children, Baby Einstein, and the CDs that we get from our Music Together classes (she and I absolutely love this program!).
7. Musical instruments: as well as listening to music, Baby E loves to make music herself! Some of her favorite instruments are: tambourine, maracas, castanets, mini trumpet, and her bongos!
8. Instruments for the bath: Baby E loves this inexpensive ALEX toys Bathtime Fun Water Xylophone that we found at Shoppers. It can either float in the bath, or stick to the wall. It comes with the music/notes for 4 children’s songs, and Baby E loves trying to guess which song I’m playing! This toy is still a big hit 7 months after we bought it!
9. Fisher Price Little People: these little friends are a big hit! Either with the Fisher Price school house or barn, or just on their own!
10. Little wooden table and chairs: Baby E’s Aunties and Uncles gave her an adorable little wooden table and chair for Christmas. She loves it! She started off using it for her toys and Fisher Price zoo, and now she sits at the table to color, draw, or even have breakfast!
11. Stickers: these are the best car entertainment we’ve found yet! Baby E will spend an entire 30 minute car ride examining a sheet of stickers. Most of the time, she won’t even peel any of the stickers off the sheet – just look at them! That makes for hours of entertainment with the same sheet of stickers!!!
12. Running water bath toy: Baby E was given the Yookidoo Flow n Fill Spout toy for her 2nd birthday. This amazing toy uses a pump to use water from the bath to create endless running water … a toddler’s dream! I am pretty sure this toy is going to help us reduce water use and save money! Baby E also loves the little cups that come with it – even without the running water, and just filling them up herself.
13. Homemade easel: My amazing Dad, Baby E’s Bubba, made her a beautiful wooden easel for Christmas. It is gorgeous, and it is so special to have something that he made for her. Seven months later, and she still loves to draw. We are very fortunate to have an incredibly handy grandfather – if not, this IKEA easel is a great one that’s not too expensive!
14. Water Wow paint book: Baby E was given the Melissa & Doug Water Wow paint book for her 2nd birthday, and it’s been a huge hit! All you need is water, and your toddler can ‘paint’ beautiful pictures full of color! No mess, easy, and fun! We have the travel version, which can even be used in the car.
15. Pots and pans (and coming soon: a homemade kitchen): One of the gifts Baby E got for her 2nd birthday was a beautiful set of Melissa & Doug pots and pans. This is the sweetest little set – all contained in a little stand, complete with wooden spoons. Baby E is so in love with this set, that the other day we took it to Nana and Bubba’s when we went for dinner, so that she could do her own cooking! I’m currently working on a DIY project (with the help of my Dad) to create a wooden kitchen for Baby E to cook in. More details to come!
I hope this helps you a bit, if you have a toddler birthday coming up. Not all children have the same interests, but these 15 gift ideas are sure a hit with our little one!