1. Stocking Stuffers
We love smaller toys and gadgets that can be tossed into the diaper bag when on-the-go, or kept on hand to distract a wiggly baby during diaper changes!
- Suction cup spinner toys (also these): These have a suction cup on the bottom for little ones to stick onto flat surfaces, spin like a propeller, and have sensory dimples to “pop.” Great for keeping baby hands busy while at restaurants or on car and plane rides!
- Pop tube sensory toys: My friend’s three boys (ages 3 – 7) love these and get very imaginative with them, like pretending they’re fishing poles and telescopes.
We love all the Melissa & Doug toys we have, but these three get playtime almost daily:
- Ice Cream stacking set (baby and toddler)
- Fruit cutting set (baby and toddler)
They also sell a bundle with both the ice cream and fruit cutting set.
3. Lovevery Play Kits (kits by age)
We have several of these play kits from over the years, and while not every item in every kit is a hit, in general they get a lot of playtime. Each kit features Montessori-inspired toys that come with a helpful play guide booklet with educational details about ways to play. The toys are high quality, made of materials like wood and non-toxic paints, and the sturdy photo board books in each kit are actually the stars of the show! Each book is usually spot-on relevant for our kids’ developmental stages and become favorites on our bookshelf.
Our most favorite play kit to date is their Babbler Stage kit intended for little ones ages 13, 14 and 15 months, although Rio has been playing with and mastering his sister’s old Babbler kit since 10 months! Pretty much EVERYTHING in this particular kit is excellent, from the coin slot box with multiple lids to the ball drop chute. This is also the kit with the circle face puzzle – we pasted in our own family’s face photos and always get tons of questions about it!
4. Personalized Gifts
Baby board book – We made one of these mini books last year (first shared in this post) and both kids adore flipping through the pages featuring our own family. You have the option to use one of their pre-existing themes or take total creative control and write your own story! We simply took photos of one of our traditional weekend outings and turned it into a storybook.
Personalized puzzle – A few weeks ago I made a 12-piece puzzle with a photo of the kids on it and Nori has been loving it! She pulls it out several times a week and I’ve been impressed with the durability of the pieces. The 12-piece option is great for little ones, but it also comes in 60 pieces or 252 pieces and could make a fun gift for older kids or relatives.
Personalized Alphabet book – This is another personalized book we have which was super quick and easy to create! Unlike the first option where you upload all the photos, this one is a pre-written story that allows you to just personalize the main character with selections like the main character’s skin color, hair color, name, the name of their favorite doll / stuffed animal, and selecting a location for the zoo (under the “Story Extras” tab).
These are extremely popular around our neighborhood, with many little ones using it as their mode of transit for getting to and from daycare / kindergarten! We got one for Nori when she was 2 and she has several years left with it, as the handle bar extends to adjust as they grow. See their scooters for all ages; also available at Target.
This is definitely a splurge gift but has received rave reviews from our circle of mamas with multiple little ones. We don’t personally own this, but a friend got this Jungle Jumparoo (also on Amazon) for her young boys last Christmas and says they’ve used it every day since. It’s a unique alternative to a trampoline and can be used by both kids and adults like (the tube has no weight limit) – just make sure you have a room with high ceilings!
According to their website, ten minutes playing on the Jungle Jumparoo is equivalent of running for over 30 minutes, so it’s a fun way to burn off extra energy!
8. Mini Kitchenette
We love the value of our Teamson play kitchen, which gets daily play and doubles as a little toy hideaway cabinet. Our exact one, their “Boston” style is currently sold out, but they have several other cute options like the Berlin and this retro one. Teamson kitchens are also available at Walmart and Wayfair. As a note, you can give your play kitchen a little facelift with this simple DIY we used on ours.
Though more of a splurge, there are some beautiful handcrafted wooden kitchens available on Etsy.