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This year’s Best Gifts for Toddlers & Preschoolers reflects this age group’s innocence, curiosity, and their ability to see the world as a wondrous place. I loved spending time with toddlers and preschoolers first as an undergraduate psychology major, later through my graduate studies, and finally as a mother. I’ve always appreciated their pure view of the world, unfiltered honesty, and ability to bring you into their world through imaginary play.
Great gifts for toddlers and preschoolers are ones that help them develop social and emotional skills and foster a love of learning. Kids this age they need gifts that will let them explore their curiosities, figure out the world through play, and tap into their imagination while exposing them to beginning math and reading skills and also fostering social and emotional growth.
I used to suggest holding off on tech gifts but these days there are some great products that combine real world play things with brilliant technology to foster imagination and teach skills through play. It’s natural for this age group to be drawn to screens like moths to flame and while you may want to hold off as long as possible, the couple items I’ve chosen for this list are a thoughtful way to incorporate screens in to promote meaningful learning in a fun way.
Best Gifts for Toddlers and Preschoolers
My kids had this exact same cash register when they were this age and they played with it for years, moving it around our house, depending on what they were playing. Sometimes they’d put it near their play kitchen and ring up the food they made as they’d play restaurant. Other times it would be used as a key component of their paperclip store. There was no end to the imaginative play involving the cash register! I loved that their play also allowed them to practice beginning math and calculator skills as they learned currency denominations and handled play money. They loved the realistic cha-ching of the cash register! A great companion gift would be the Melissa & Doug Pretend-to-Spend Play Wallet ($9.99). For ages 3+
One of the most used and well-loved toys in our home when our kids were this age was a wooden balance bike. Pedal-less bikes are a riding toy that helps children develop their motor skills and sense of balance before putting them on a real bike. The idea behind the bike is that children will learn to balance on the bike first, making it easy to transition to a bicycle with pedals. Kinderfeets Classic Chalkboard Balance Bike is beautifully designed and features an adjustable, cushioned, and machine washable seat perfect for toddlers and preschoolers alike. The black chalk paint allows kids to customize their bikes with their own drawings that they can change whenever they want. The Classic Chalkboard Balance Bike be a splurge of a present but the high-quality materials, thoughtful design, and the fact that this is a gift that will last for years (and be used by more than one child in the family!) makes this a great gift that’s well worth every penny. For ages 2+
When our kids started preschool, they were proud to carry backpacks that were just the right size for them and now, 10+ years later they may have outgrown their L.L. Bean backpacks , but they’re still in great shape. Starting your toddler or preschooler off with a L.L. Bean backpack means they’ll have it for years, even once they head off to kindergarten and eventually outgrow it. Pro tip: Pay an extra $8 for personalization that not only makes it extra special but helps them learn to read their name! For ages 4+ but our kids started using their book packs at age 3
Tegu Magnetic Blocks (24 piece, $64.99)
I love Tegu Blocks for their simplicity, quality, and the way they encourage kids to build through open-ended play. These magnetic blocks are made of heirloom quality, sustainably sourced hardwood and promote fine motor skills, pattern recognition, balance, sense of scale, imaginative play, problem solving, and storytelling through play. They’re delightfully addictive to play with and there’s no limit to what kids (and parents!) can create! If someone you’re shopping for already has a set of Tegu Blocks, consider gifting them a vehicle to add to their set such as the Tegu Looper helicopter ($25.49). For 12 months and up
Camp Out Fold-to-Mail Stationary Set ($10.95)
Preschoolers love mail so encourage them to write while practicing their writing skills with this darling stationary set. The set contains 24 folding stationary sheets that can be folded and closed with the 24 matching stickers and sent off to friends and loved ones who will love getting mail from your child. Just give the recipients a heads’ up that mail is coming and your kid would love a snail mail response! By the way, it’s ok if kids don’t spell things correctly! Let them express themselves and include a little translation for the recipient! For ages 3+
Take Along by Labyrinth ($29.99)
Generations of children have grown up playing BRIO Labyrinth and I love this new version of the classic turntable maze that’s portable and specially designed for younger kids that helps them practice fine motor and spatial skills in a fun way. The two-sided Take Along Labyrinth is completely sealed (hooray for no lost marbles!) so that it can go with you anywhere for hours of fun. Made beech wood and PVS-free plastic, this toy has smooth handles, a marble that glides effortlessly through the maze and has the power to entertain kids for hours whether in the car, out at a restaurant, or at home! For ages 3+
Hydaway Kids Bottle ($14.95)
Teach kids the importance of staying hydrated while saving the planet thanks to HYDAWAY Kids bottles. These bright colorful, collapsible, and leak-proof silicone bottles hold 12 ounces of liquid and feature an easy to grip shape for the littlest hands, wide base with a fun pattern to prevents tips, and spills along with a dedicated space for kids to personalize the bottle with their name. Parents and caregivers will love that Hydaway Kids Bottles pack down to just over an inch when collapsed, making them easy to tuck into backpacks, lunch boxes, school bags, pockets and anywhere else little explorers need to stay hydrated. They’re also non-toxic and dishwasher safe. Use the code LETICIA15 to get 15% off your purchase on hydawaybottle.com. For ages 2+
Square Panda Learning Playset makes my list for a second year in a row because I still love it and now it’s half the price that it was last year! Square Panda is a phonics learning system for your tablet that combines early reading skills and multisensory play to unlock learning. The playset includes 45 physical smart letters that interact with learning games all grounded in research-based curriculum and designed to introduce key reading readiness skills. Square Panda’s multisensory playset provides immediate appeal to ages 2 and up who will enjoy learning by playing interactive learning games that are just right for them. As a parent and former teacher, I know the power of multisensory learning when combined with high quality educational games. Kids will have fun playing and manipulating learning while building skills such as phonemic awareness (distinguishing sounds in letters and words), alphabetic principal (letters represent sounds), letter identification, understanding of print concepts (Includes: left to right directionality and the meaning between spaces in words), age-appropriate vocabulary. If my kids were younger and if I was still a first grade teacher, I would absolutely be using Square Panda at home and with my students! For ages 2-8
Five Little Fish Memory Game ($19.99)
Memory games are a great way to help kids develop visual memory, increase short term memory, and improve their ability to find similarities and differences in objects. Five Little Fish is a darling memory game featuring five fish but there’s a twist. Each of the fish have different color retracting tails so players have to remember the positioning of the hidden fishtails! Kids will love looking under the lily pad to see which fish to catch, then use the fishing rod to hook the color match. But, pay close attention because those fish are tricky and their positions will switch! For 2-5 players ages 3+
My First Ladybug by Duplo ($4.93)
Duplo blocks are perfectly sized for toddler hands and this adorable ladybug lets the youngest ages have fun building and rebuilding a dual faced ladybug on wheels made out of 6 pieces. Once this cute insect toy is built, the ladybug encourages imaginative play and storytelling thanks to the double sided bricks that feature awake/asleep ladybug faces.
Chunkies Paint Sticks, set of 12 ($11.70)
Kids love to paint although we parents don’t always love the mess so Chunkies Paint Sticks to the rescue! Chunkies are perfect for when kids want to paint colorful pictures because they’re quick drying, smudge proof, and don’t require a brush or water. They’re easy to use, clean and highly portable because they’re like painting with a crayon. Uncap, twist and start painting on the plane, at a relative’s house, or on days your kids are dying to paint and you just can’t deal with the mess! Chunkies come in a colorful storage box, making it a perfect gift for any young artist.
Snuggly Rascals Adjustable Headphones ($17.97 and up)
Protect young ears from noise damage with Snuggly Rascals. These comfortable headphones slip over kids’ heads like earbands and have an 85-decibel limit to protect ears from listening at excessive volumes. The fun, character themed headphones are soft, adjustable, and come in a variety of designs from a unicorn, monster, and more. Headphones can be removed from the fleece to be machine washed. For ages 3+
Best Subscription Boxes for Toddlers & Preschoolers
Tadpole Crate by KiwiCo ($19.95/month)
I love KiwiCo because they have a different subscription box tailored to each age and developmental stage and Tadpole Crate is just perfect for toddlers ages 19-36 months. Tadpole Crate delivers monthly crafts, inspiration and high-quality products that encourage creativity and wonder through open ended activities that are designed for you and your toddler to do together. I also love that each crate comes with an illustrated board book that encourages early language and literacy skills and is one your child will want you to read over and over again! Choose 1, 3, 6, or 12 months of monthly deliveries and not only will you get developmentally appropriate projects and the board book but also included is Wonder Magazine that’s full of expert tips for your growing child and access to online resources for printables, DIY ideas, and book recommendations so you can keep the learning going in your home! Plus, a portion of every Tadpole Crate purchase is donated toward research about child development.
Little Passports Early Explorers ($16.95/month)
Toddlers and preschoolers love mail, especially when it’s something addressed to them! This year give them a gift of adventure by teaching them about geography in an age appropriate way each and every month. Every month your preschooler will get a package from Little Passports filled with fun activities, educational toys, stickers, trading cards, and learning games based on a theme like art, music, or food that teaches them about the world. For example, the Oceans package contains an educational fishing game that teaches children about different sea creatures, contains materials to conduct a salt water science experience, and a beautifully illustrated booklet filled with fun facts about each of the world’s oceans. Included stickers, trading cards, and other bonus materials in each package to make learning fun and engaging for young toddlers and preschoolers. For ages 3-5
AGE APPROPRIATE GIFT GUIDES:
SPECIALTY GIFT GUIDES:
- STEM Gifts for All Ages (preK-teen)
- Best Subscription Boxes
- Gadget Lovers
- Frequent Fliers
- Outdoor Adventures
NEED MORE IDEAS? VISIT MY PAST TODDLER GIFT GUIDES:
- 2017 Gift Guide: Best Gifts for Toddlers & Preschoolers
- 2016 Gift Guide: Best Gifts for Toddlers & Preschoolers
I hope you enjoy this year’s picks and wish you happy and stress-free holiday shopping!
Samples were received to facilitate this post and affiliate links are included. No compensation was received for this post or hosting this giveaway and all opinions are my own.