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Recommended Gifts - Toddlers

Doctor Kit

Every toddler and preschooler needs a doctor kit.  Why? Because all children have medical appointments during which their body is touched, poked, prodded and sometimes hurt by doctors and nurses.  We know this is to help our child stay healthy, but it often doesn't feel good to children.  Playing with a doctor kit allows the child to "work through" those feelings and overcome any related fears.  It also helps us as parents prepare our child for doctor appointments.  

(Note: The Melissa and Doug kit does not have a blood pressure cuff. It does have a white lab coat. I used to recommend the Fisher-Price Doctor Kit but it has been on lists of toys with high toxin levels, so I have removed it from my website.)

Little Partners Safety Tower and Kitchen Helper

Do you have an active toddler who drives you crazy getting into everything and needing your attention?  Toddlers NEED to be involved in the work of daily life; that's how they learn.  Since we spend so much time in the kitchen, every family needs a safe stool that raises a toddler high enough to "help" at the kitchen counter.   That's why I love safety towers; they keep your busy toddler occupied and learning, while happily connected with you while you work. 

Just need to keep your toddler busy for ten minutes while you're at the stove?  Pull the tower up to the sink and let your child "wash" your pans and tupperware. Giving your toddler actual "tasks" in the kitchen (wash the veggies, stir the batter) can spark a love of food preparation that will last through childhood and make your child a healthier eater.

These are worth every penny and then some in  the time they keep kids safe, happy, learning and engaged with you. There are cheaper towers out there, but I'm not recommending them because I'm not confident they're sturdy enough to prevent toppling. 

Inside Trampoline

Does your child jump on the couch? All kids need to jump. Kids with sensory issues especially need to jump. This trampoline will fit into any living room to give children a safe place to jump. I like this trampoline because it is has six legs instead of four, which makes it sturdier and safer. The springs are covered by a oversize pad to keep little feet safe. Of course, parental supervision is still essential.

Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Box

This is one of my favorite toys for toddlers and preschoolers.  They cook, play house and restaurant, serve each other food, and pack bundles of food to run away to the forest. Cutting the food is so satisfying.

This set contains eight pieces of wooden food, a cutting board and a wooden knife. Food makes a fun CRUNCH sound when sliced. With 25 pieces, it's also a great way to introduce the concepts of part, whole and fractions. Comes in wooden box with slide-on lid. 

Age recommendation:  Some 18 month olds are ready for this kit, some aren't.  It will depend on whether they're likely to put small pieces in their mouths.  Older toddlers will love it, as will preschoolers.

Potty Seat with Step Stool Ladder

I recommend this seat highly for kids who are hesitant to use the big toilet. It helps kids feel completely secure while climbing up, turning around, and sitting. It gives them a wide platform to push against so their legs aren't dangling, which makes elimination easier. It is very stable and has rubber feet that lock down to keep it secure.

Has sanitary grab areas for kids to hold on. Sturdy, comfortable, safe, built in non-slip steps with anti-slip pads.

Easy Playhouse Fairy Tale Castle

Kids love playhouses and they are great to have indoors.  You can make one yourself from cardboard, of course. But sometimes it's worth it just to set up a pre-made playhouse and start them playing.  I love that these come ready for kids to draw on and decorate.  Even if you reinforce with duct tape (often a good idea, especially for a birthday party or rambunctious three year olds), you can cut the duct tape when you're done, fold it up, and store it.  Pull it out again in a couple of months for another round of imaginative play.  

Ball Drop

This is a wonderful early toy for toddlers to practice fine motor kills and engage in fun independent play.

 

Blocks: 60-Piece Standard Unit

Every toddler and preschooler should have at least one wooden block set in their toy collection. (My kids used them until middle school). These blocks invite hours of open-ended play. They are also a wonderful way to develop creativity and math concepts. 

Child-Sized Table and Chairs

Every child needs a child-sized table and chairs for drawing, building and working on projects.  If you keep it in or near the kitchen, your child can be near you but happily absorbed in his own "work."  Toddlers and preschoolers also prefer eating at child-sized tables instead of on booster seats or in high chairs, so if your child is eating without you, a child-sized table is usually a better option. This kind of table is also great if your child has a bedtime snack while you read their bedtime story. When my son was small, we had one in his bedroom and one near the kitchen, and used them both daily.

Cleaning Set

As Maria Montessori first told us, children love to clean, when they have child-sized tools they can handle. Great way for your toddler or preschooler to "work" alongside you as you do housekeeping, and a natural way for children to transition to real participation in the household.

Wooden Rainbow Stacking Toy

These gorgeous blocks lend themselves to creative play, whether your child is driving trucks under a tunnel, building a fort for his animals, or looking for gold at the end of the rainbow. Highest quality, long-lasting and guaranteed to be used for your child's entire childhood.

Fishing Set

Your kid will love this fun game! While trying to catch the fish they practice hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. 

Melissa & Doug Locks & Latches Board

If your toddler loves to get into everything, this is the toy you need. Many toddlers love to understand how things work, open and close things, and play hide 'n seek. This toy satisfies all those desires.

Ooze Tube

The ooze tube is a great calming tool for all ages of children (and adults too!). 
 

Parent and Child Puppet Set

Puppets are invaluable to act out scenarios with children, from planned separations to potty training. Every home needs a "parent and child" puppet set to facilitate these "stories" and these dolphins are plush, adorable, and non-gendered.

Pit Balls in Reusable and Durable Storage Bag

These balls will keep kids busy for hours. Just dump them in a kiddie pool or playpen to create your own ball pit.

Sensory Play Table

All kids need sensory play! And if you have a child who craves tactile experience -- Are you constantly trying to stop her from touching everything? -- she NEEDS a way to get her hands into textures. Solution: A play table to keep messy play contained.

Note: This table has a space for both sand and water, which allows kids to mix them. I love that, because it makes the sand the right texture to build castles. For cleanup, just drain the water, let the sand dry, and put the sand back into its own side. You can also put sand on both sides, water on both sides, or introduce other sensory objects like shaving cream, small animals, ice, pasta or beans.

Here's a great link from "Play-At-Home-Mom" with lots of ideas for using sensory tables:
http://www.playathomemomllc.com/2011/10/sensory-bintableplay/

Spill Proof Paint Cups

Kids love to paint, and like all art, it's therapeutic. These cups make painting very easy on the parents. The screw on lid will not accidentally come off, so spills are eliminated. And because the seal is airtight, the paint can be left in the cups without drying out! That means you can buy paint in cheaper large bottles, pour smaller amounts into the cups, and eliminate the chore of washing the cups in between. You can just leave the easel set up, with a splash mat under it, and painting becomes no big deal. Set of four, with colored lids (red, green, yellow, blue).


SwaddleMe Mommie's Melodies Soother

This is a sweet way to soothe your little one to sleep.

Tumbling Mat

Every child needs a padded Tumbling Mat. It can be unfolded to allow rambunctious play inside. It fosters motor skills. It keeps kids busy in physical play, so they sleep better. Babies can use it to learn to crawl and walk, toddlers, preschoolers and older to roughhouse and practice tumbling and gymnastics.



Melissa & Doug Salad Set

If we want children to love vegetables, we need to give them lots of opportunities to engage with vegetables, including playing with them. These realistic looking veggies are fun for children to "shop" for and "cook" with and "serve" and they help children get more interested in eating vegetables. 

Wooden Shape Sorting Clock

Another terrific Melissa & Doug toy! This toy will grow with your child, beginning with fitting the shapes, proceeding to learning numbers, and eventually to understanding how to tell time.


Fabric Tunnel

Crawling and tunnel play are excellent for muscle and motor skill development in toddlers and children. Tunnels lead to hours of fun and physical play! This tunnel collapses flat for easy storage and portability.

 

 

Outdoor Toddler Scavenger Hunt Cooperative Card Game at The Park

This is such a fun game for your toddler that will also encourage their curiosity and observational skills. 

Kids' Toy Storage Organizer

An organized play area makes it easier for kids to choose which toys to play with and can lead to a more peaceful family dynamic! This toy storage can make organizing your child's toys easy to do and easy for them to see and choose the toy they want to play with.