Today I’m back with my baby and kids gift guide! If you’re looking for the best gifts for toddler girls and boys–good news! You’ve come to the right place.
Below I’ve compiled a list of the best toys for both babies and toddlers to help you find the perfect gift for your little girl, boy, niece, or nephew. (Including our personal favorites as well as the toys on our list for June!)
First, let’s talk experience gifts.
Truthfully, we’ve always said we wanted to keep Christmas gifts minimal with our kids. I know it’s easier said than done, but we really believe in the ‘fewer, better things’ mindset.
This year, she still doesn’t know what’s going on (plus we’ll be in Australia, so we can’t really buy her many gifts anyway LOL) –so our list is very minimal and we plan to keep it that way for years to come.
It seems like a lot of parents out there feel the same way about stuff, so before we get into the physical gifts part of the guide, let’s touch on what else you can ask for/give in addition to physical presents:
Gift guide for baby & kids: alternatives to physical gifts:
Experiences as gifts:
I have a whole gift guide on the best experience gifts, but as they pertain to kids, so many parents said museum passes, zoo memberships, water park passes, etc are truly the gifts that keep on giving! Most friends with young children say these kind of experience gifts are their favorite gifts!)
Or what about plane tickets for their next family vacation? Money for the Disneyworld fund?
These kinds of experiences are so much more valuable than a toy (not to mention SO MUCH FUN for everyone involved) and often, cost about the same amount!
(Just make sure to ask parents for feedback first to ensure you’re not buying a duplicate membership or experience!)
529 plan contributions:
Many of you mentioned this and I think it’s such a genius idea.
Suggest something small, like a book or an ornament, and then in lieu of a big gift, suggest a contribution to the child’s 529 plan, if they have one. (If you don’t have one, I highly recommend looking into setting one up.
The money can be used for any kind of post high school education, like college, vocational school, trade school, etc!) Some of you even said yours has the option to email a link out to contribute! That or a check, Venmo, etc so parents can deposit into their account.
It might not be exciting for kids now, but they will thank you profusely when they’re older!
Gifts for older kids and teens:
A few requests for gift ideas for tweens and teens, and as someone with teenage nephews, I know this is a tough age group to buy gifts for. But, I have the following thoughts:
If you do not have a specific list FROM THEM to go off of–Money!
I know, it’s not exciting for you to shop for, but it’s what they want! Every time I suggest this people say, “oh but that’s no fun!” but this is the same concept of refusing to buy something off of someone’s registry that they spent HOURS curating and is full of things they want and need. (Which drives me CRAZY.)
Money allows kids to buy whatever they wanted but didn’t get from their parents, it allows your niece to go to the movies with her friends, it allows your teenage nephew to treat his girlfriend to a first date, or to buy those super cool jeans their mom said were too expensive.
Yes, it might not be fun to watch them open but it is really the one thing guaranteed to bring them joy. Not to mention, saving their own money and deciding how to spend it is a super valuable life skill they’re going to need when they get older.
IF you don’t want to give them money, get a very specific list from them so you’re guaranteed to get something they actually love! I gave up blindly shopping for my nephews long ago. It’s too hard to randomly choose something they might like. 😂
You could also offer the gift of an experience, like we touched on above–take them to a restaurant they’ve been wanting to go to, or even on a trip. It’s not just a gift, but a fun way to spend time together!
Ever since they started asking for “green dollars” (so cute) when they were about 7, they’ve gotten cash for gifts ever since.
Gift Guide: Best physical gifts for toddler girl, boy, baby, and kids!
Now, onto the gift guide! Like all my gift guides, you’ll find each category broken out by budget–a mix of practical gifts, little surprise and delight, and more from both big retailers and small businesses.
Just click on the budget that suits you and you’ll be taken to that section of the gift guide!
Around $50 or Under Gifts
Hot chocolate advent calendar:
If you’re looking for an advent calendar that is more of an experience that doesn’t require buying “stuff” or candy–this is a great one! How fun each night to enjoy a cup of fancy hot chocolate! 🥰 (It’s also only 12 days instead of the whole month, which is also nice! Feels a bit more special and less “work” that way!)
Personalized Quiet book:
Great for keeping them busy while out and about, traveling, etc! These sweet Montessori books are all over Etsy and are great educational toys. I like this Etsy shop in particular because you can keep purchasing new pages to add or swap out of their book through their toddler years. You can choose from a bunch of different pages based on your kiddos interests, and they’re amazing for fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. I got this for June last year and she loves to play with it!
One of the best toddler girl gifts, in my opinion. June LOVES necklaces and bracelets (a random Mardi Gras beads necklace has been her favorite toy for a while 😂–which isn’t exactly toddler-safe) so I bought her this cute set from Etsy last year and she still loves it. It’s so cute, high quality, and has a breakaway closure, made from food-grade BPA free materials. (Of course, should only be used with adult supervision because small parts could break off.) This would be even more perfect for a two or 3-year-old girl!
Busy bee sorting set:
June really loves animals (anything with a face on it, really) AND sorting things–I bought it for her last year (when she was 1) but she has really taken to it now. (Age 2). A great toy for gross motor skills, and the cute little bees offer lots of creativity for pretend play.
Rainbow Acorn Sorting Set:
Another cute option for a sorting set! I love the acorns and young toddlers will love sorting by color! A great toy for development.
The perfect size for toddlers and little kids, this tent is great for imaginative play, cozy reading corners, etc. It looks great in a playroom, but you can also easily fold it up to store if you’re short on space!
This play cleaning set is a win, win! Kids love it and it helps knock out some dusting!
Jungle magnetic play scene:
A fun toy that is easily portable, so it’s a perfect screen-free alternative for restaurants, in the car, etc to keep them busy! The little magnetic board pops up for pretend play anywhere and and then folds flat into the box for easy storage!
Cutting Board and Safe Wooden Knife for Kids:
If you’re searching for a fun gift for a budding little chef, Montessori kitchen sets are a great idea. I got June this set when we bought her toddler tower (linked further down) and it’s been great!
The “knife” is surprisingly effective but very safe for little fingers and a great way to get your kids into cooking and food!
The minimalistic, simple design also looks nice on your counter, which is an added bonus. 😉
Learning Resources Farmer’s Market Play Food Color Sorting Set:
Pretend food is ALWAYS a hit with younger children AND older toddlers. (Would be a great gift to go along with a toy kitchen as well!) One of my friends said this is her go-to gift for her favorite little people and it never fails. There are so many different ways to engage with this play set, from sorting the different colors, to pretend play.
SmartMax My First Animal Train:
I bought this little set for June when she was 1 and she still loves playing with it. It’s magnetic and she loves the little animals that come with it. Also, it’s comprised of large pieces (no small pieces they can choke on!) so it’s a great train set for older babies and younger toddlers, especially! This is a favorite toddler toy in our home.
Her Body Can book:
A body positive book that every little girl needs on her shelf. (And let’s be honest–one of the best books a mom could read, too!) Equally as important, they make a version for boys too!
Fisher-Price Linkimals Smooth Moves Sloth: # BABY GIFT PERIOD THE END!!
My SIL got this as a Christmas gift for June as a baby and it’s been one of her favorite toys since–she has used it so much (to this day, after 2 years old) that the batteries are completely dead.
I’m not going to lie–our whole family always has the Sloth’s songs stick in our heads–they’re catchy! 😂 It plays lots of different songs, fun sounds and counts.
Truly, one of the best things you can gift any baby in your life. (Also worth noting, “Linkimals” have a lot of different animals, but the sloth is one of her favorite characters!)
SESAME STREET Elmo’s Learning Letters Bus Activity Board:
I got this for June (big Sesame street fan) as a fun way to learn her letters! It’s a big hit!
The cheapest little stocking stuffer with a lot of bang for your buck. Shaheen brought this clay to our Saugatuck trip and it kept all the kids busy at dinner! (Even June!)
Metal Pots & Pan Set:
June has a similar set and I love that this is a really manageable size. (So many of the pots and pans sets come with way too many pieces!)
Developed by Swiss child development experts–I love this funny little toy that encourages tons of creativity–like a balance board, but better.
They can sit in it, spin in it, climb on it, stack it, balance on it, put things in it, carry other toys in it–the opportunities are endless. Great for active play and even outdoor play, as it can easily wipe clean.
It’s made of super sturdy nontoxic plastic and great for all ages. For $29, I think this is a really cool, unique gift they’ll play with for a long time. We got this for June last year and are always thinking of new things to do with it.
I have known about this adorable brand for a while now but we don’t own anything from them–I love the idea of their “snugglers” which are part plush toys part blankets–the perfect thing to provide comfort to any little kid. This sloth comes with books that help children adapt to routines! (Another item on June’s personal Christmas list and birthday gift list!)
Decorate and Personalize a Cardboard Fort:
Hear me out. Yes, it’s a cardboard play house. For $29. But the fact that kids can draw on it for hours, days, weeks, and then keep themselves busy for many more hours of imaginative play–and then you can recycle it when you’re sick of looking at it? PRICELESS. (This would also be a super cute activity for a kid’s birthday party–everyone can help “decorate” the birthday kid’s new house!) Could easily be moved into the yard for outdoor use if things get extra messy or you need something to keep them entertained in the fresh air!
Baby Balance Bike:
We got this for June on her 1st birthday (perfect size for a 1 year old toddler girl or boy) and she is starting to love riding it more and more! Great for motor development and a great way to get all their energy out!
Melissa & Doug Water Wow!
So many friends recommend these to me. A great little gift for any kid who loves to draw or color–parents will love that it’s mess-free!
LCD Writing Tablet:
My friends with slightly older kids (think age 2 all the way through 6+) LOVE these tablets for their kids. They’re super affordable and keep them busy for hours!
Kids’ Five-Minute Journal:
I LOVE the adult version of the 5 minute journal, and now they make one for kids! Encourages your kid to focus on gratitude, joy and self-confidence with this simply structured journal designed from positive psychology research. (Obviously this would be a gift for older kids!)
Color ‘N Plush Llama:
I got my (then 4 year old) niece one of these and she went NUTS for it. A fun, affordable gift for any kiddo who loves to draw and loves stuffed animals!
Original Activity Toy for Toddlers’ Sensory Development:
A great little fidget toy for babies to keep little hands and minds busy!
Wonderbly personalized books:
Books are the most amazing gift, and with these, it’s guaranteed you’ll never gift a repeat! I LOVE Wonderbly books! I got Neal their “June loves Daddy THIS much” book for Christmas last year (before she was born) and my best friend’s parents (who are like my second parents) got June “Peek-a-Boo June!” and it’s SO sweet. Her favorite book! ♥️ The cutest gifts for both kids and relatives since you can personalize both!
A newborn baby MUST HAVE: Kyte double-zippered PJs (they zip from both the bottom and the top to make diaper changes super easy!) They make PJ’s for all ages, and as a mom I don’t think I could ever be gifted too many pairs of KYTE jammies!
They are the softest PJ’syou’ll ever find (and super breathable as they’re bamboo!). They come in so many cute colors, and they’re very stretchy, so they fit for a long time, too!
This would make a cute AND incredibly practical gift for the littlest ones in your life (or a mom-to-be!)
Another big hit are their sleep bags (for when baby gets a little older!) and their crib blankets (for toddlers).
Arts + Crafts supplies:
Another popular submission: more arts and crafts supplies! Parents say their kids never have enough! (Plus, it keeps them busy while they’re home on winter break!) They’re also super affordable–you can buy an arts and crafts kit, or get a storage box and fill it it with a random assortment! One reader said her kids once received an old briefcase full of office supplies and it was their favorite present!
Melissa & Doug reusable sticker books:
Kids go crazy for these, and they’re a fun activity to keep them occupied during the winter months, on a plane, at a restaurant, ETC. You can never have too many of these stashed away!
Personalized Kids’ Rolling Pin:
How cute is this rolling pin for kids to make their own special cookies? Perfect for baking dough or play dough!
HIGHLIGHTS! Who knew this still existed!? I didn’t until many of you told me so! It says ages 6-12 but seeing as 12 year olds these days act like 16 year olds I’d guess it’s more appropriate for maybe 6-10 year olds. A year’s subscription is under $30 and is full of fun educational content they’ll look forward to every month!
Hanna Andersson Holiday PJ’s:
From the incredible quality to the sweet patterns, Hanna Andersson jammies are the best! These are definitely the ultimate hand-me-down pieces. (We were first introduced to them when Danielle handed down Margot and Kate’s Hannas to us!) SO many of you have messaged me saying you have saved your Hanna jammies throughout the years to pass onto your own littles, nieces, nephews, and grandkids! Warms my heart! I also LOVE my adult Hanna jammies and they’re my #1 recco for family holiday jams too!
Under $100 Gifts
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn On-the-Go Camper:
One of June’s few 1st birthday presents and she has loved it ever since! It keeps her busy with pretend play and it’s great for toddlers just learning to walk, because it doubles as a push toy.
Montessori Busy Board:
Not JUST a beautiful name puzzle, but a busy board too! Keeps them busy for way longer and is so great for fine motor development!
Cuddle + Kind Dolls:
These dolls are the sweetest — and they make the world a better place! Handmade and fair trade, every doll purchased provides 10 meals for children in need. You can learn more about that here.There are so many adorable animals to choose from — and each comes in two sizes!
The #1 most popular gifting suggestion from you all (I can vouch for this too!)–this is such a great Montessori-style toy company that makes great gifts for babies through young kids. They also make June’s play gym which is probably the #1 baby thing we used every day until she could walk. They have gift boxes for every age range–my girlfriends gifted me several early on when June was born. I’m going to get one of their sets for June to open on Christmas this year!
Personalizable Children’s Apron & Mitt Set:
How cute is this French-themed apron and mitt set for little chefs who love to get creative in the kitchen?! It also comes with free personalization to make it extra special! Use code JESSHOLIDAY23 for 20% off + free shipping!
June LOVES this little scooter. Especially designed for little kids–they make multiple kinds. My nephew took to his at 18 months, June just got the hang of hers at 2.5. The “mini” is for kids 2-5 and the “maxi” is for bigger kids. We have the folding version (which, IMO, essential for city living and travel) but if you don’t need it to fold or travel with, I was recommended to get the non-folding kind because apparently it’s a bit sturdier. (We’re obsessed with it though and haven’t had any issues with sturdiness!) You can shop them all here!
Also, if you need a helmet, we love this one for June! It took a while to find one small enough but this one is perfect!
Rainbow Stacker: Great baby gift idea! These stackers are great for building skills during play and look beautiful displayed on a shelf when not in use. There are so many color options/sizes to choose from, too! Kelly and Shaheen got June one of these and she loves it! (Plus, it looks so cute in her nursery!)
Barefoot Dreams Baby Blanket:
I love my Barefoot Dreams blanket, I brought it to the hospital when June was born! One of my best friends Ally gifted June her own baby version when she was born and she loves it. So thick and cozy! Would make the BEST gift!
Activity Walker: For babies on the verge of walking or will be in the near future, an activity walker is a great gift idea! They can use it for support to walk around as well as play with the activities while seated.
For any kid who is interested in music, a ukulele is an awesome starter instrument, and this little starter set looks like a great one! (Also comes in more fun colors!) It’s a small soprano ukulele, good for little hands, and even comes with a strap, picks, and online lessons! (You’ll also want to make sure to get them a tuner to go with it!)
The Pioneer Play Kit:
I know these Lovevery kits are already on here BUT I wanted to call out this one specifically because it seems like a lot of you are shopping for 12-18 month olds, and this one is perfect!
Minted Children’s Custom Art:
Custom art for a kid’s room (would especially be fun if they just transitioned to a “big kid room” or a “big kid bed”–they have so many different prints to choose from that can be customized with their name. So cute. Use code JESSHOLIDAY23 for 20% off most items + free shipping!
Skip Hop Baby Activity Center:
This thing was our LIFELINE for June for many months when she was a baby. Keeps them busy for so long and great for their motor skills!
Gathre play mat:
A BEAUTIFUL addition to your play area that both mom and kids will love and use for years. Great for playtime at home, or take it to go– beach, park, or on a picnic. Beautiful AND functional. Comes in multiple sizes, colors and patterns.
3in1 Kitchen tower Slide and Table:
One of our favorite things we’ve bought for June, hands down. It’s a tower that converts into little table AND comes with a slide attachment, which keeps her busy for HOURS. Plus, it’s so beautifully made–you can tell the Etsy seller takes so much pride in his product!
The play kitchen suggestion came up over and over again as your #1 favorite “big” gift item! Thankfully they have come a long way and they make so many cute, aesthetically pleasing versions you’ll be happy to have on display in your house! This one from Maisonette is a favorite–so stylish!
Another show-stopper holiday gift idea is a balance bike! (Perfect for 3-5 year olds!) I love Banwood Bikes’ traditional designs and they come in the most beautiful colors! (FYI, we have this helmet for June and love it, if you need one to go with!)
We LOVE Tonies in our house. Essentially it’s a little speaker box that plays music and stories when you pop little figurines on top. They have Tonies characters from all your kids favorite movies, shows, and some books, too. It’s interactive and a great screen free way to keep them busy independently. June will play with these sometimes for 30 minutes. (Tons of you say it’s your go-to for quiet time when they’ve outgrown nap!)
You can buy directly from their website, Amazon, Target, and Walmart! (I recommend getting one of the starter bundles!)
My code 20KEYS might still be active and worth a try for a 20% off $99+ discount!
I would recommend this for any kids ages 1 (some of you say your 1 year olds love, some say they grew into it!) all the way up to probably around 8 years old.
Museums, zoos, aquariums, movies–this was the #1 most requested gift by parents on Instagram stories were experiences they could do together! (Make sure to check with parents first to see what they already have!) This is definitely the gift that keeps on giving! If you’re local, the Chicago Children’s Museum is supposed to be amazing!