Top 25 Gifts for Tots

This isn’t a post for the best gift of 2019, because I prefer toys that aren’t necessarily the trendiest. I like some of the classic toys that will last a while and will grow with your little tot (or tots)! As a twin mom who hates clutter and is selective about which toys I bring into our home, I’ve compiled a list of toys that you and your little ones will love this holiday season and for a long time to come. 

When picking toys, I try to think of ones that will be played with for >1 year and are sturdy enough to stand the test of time. I also love toys that can be incorporated into open-ended play or imaginative play, so the less electronic the better. As I started brainstorming, some of the gifts fell pretty naturally into a development category, but since many of these are open-ended they can help with multiple areas of development depending on how you want to use them. Let’s get started.

Toys that help with Gross Motor:

Slide: There are many options, but I opted for the plastic one that collapses easily and could be stored behind the couch. This is great for learning to climb, balancing and will provide hours of entertainment. 

Stride bike: Once again, lots of options here! I encourage finding one that has adjustable heights and is lightweight. My girls started to develop their love for biking around 18 months, now they zoom all over the neighborhood. This is great for developing balance and a love for the outdoors. This is their Radio Flyer one, but we also loved the neighbor’s Cruzee as it adjusted to a lower height.

Balance Board: These are great for kids and parents alike. The girls love balancing on this which is great for building up strength, but I can also incorporate it into home workouts.  A real all-purpose tool.  I’ve also seen this type of wooden balance board, but I haven’t bought it for our house yet.

Trampoline: Every kid’s favorite.  This is great for getting out some extra wiggles before bedtime on a rainy day and can be used from the time kids can crawl all the way into adulthood. I love this one because it doesn’t have springs so I never had to worry about little fingers getting caught.  

Balls (soft): I like wiffle balls because they aren’t hard projectiles and are less likely to break things, but I also have some foam soccer balls for the girls to learn to kick and throw. 


Toys that help with Fine Motor:


Tegu blocks: Really any wooden block is great, but I love the added feature of magnets in these Tegu blocks. You can build all sorts of cool structures while learning about the forces of magnets. Plus, I love the soft pretty array of colors they come in. They can be a little pricey but I got an amazing deal on Amazon on Cyber Monday a couple years ago and have loved them ever since. Entertainment, great for kids of all ages.

Lace & Trace: These are a fun and QUIET source of entertainment that is perfect for the car or plane! 

Stringing Beads: This is a similar idea to Lace & Trace as far as fine motor skills, but more pieces are involved.  Stringing objects is a task that comes up on every child development check from at least 1 to 3, so you might as well have them handy. The girls like to put together different patterns as they make necklaces. They also like to drag the strand of blocks behind them as they talk to their ‘puppies’. 

Shape Sorter: This toy is a winning combination. They are great for learning shapes, colors, and developing the fine motor skills required to get the shapes to fit through the hole.  A classic toy that provides lots of lessons all in one. This link even includes the next toy on my list.

Xylophone: Great for instilling a love for music and hand eye coordination.


MagnaDoodle: These are so much fun for kids and once again, a great source of quiet entertainment. The girls love doodling, practicing letters and they came in perfect when I had to take them to a doctor’s appointment with me. 


Other Cognitive Development Toys:


Letters: Growing up my mom had a poster at the end of the kitchen cabinets with the alphabet. It had an alligator around the A, an Igloo around the I, and a green border.  My sister and I would quiz each other and have all sorts of fun.  I wanted something similar for a space above the couch in the playroom and found these cute wall clings.  My girls seem to love them as much as I used to and it’s cute to watch them get excited about learning P is for Papa and K is for Kinley.  

Flash cards: Similar idea as the wall clings, but there are flash cards for all sorts of things. Objects, colors, shapes, letters, and more.  These can provide entertainment and engagement with your little ones as you help them learn. I seem to have flash cards stored everywhere. Some in the playroom, some in the bathroom, some even in the car.  

Puzzles: Puzzles have been a favorite for generations.  Wooden Melissa & Doug puzzles are some of my favorites because they are so sturdy and can teach all sorts of lessons.  This puzzle was used for learning, animals, animal sounds, colors, and the fine motor skills of putting things in the right spot.  

Eggs: This is another classic.  My mom still has the ones my sister and I had in our playhouse growing up.  These reinforce lots of great things.  They are great for counting and sorting, some even have colors and shapes. But don’t restrict them to the play kitchen. You can even think outside the box and use these for fun activities like balancing them on a spoon as you walk across the room (no mess when they ‘splat’). 



Color paddles: These have been fun since the age of about 6 months. I would hold them over the girls’ eyes and enjoyed seeing their eyes light up as they saw everything in a different hue.  They would look through them, chew on them, bang them together.  As they grew the girls would start to find things that matched their color paddle and are even starting to learn how mixing colors together makes a different color. 

Matching game: This game is fun for the whole family. We often think of this as a kid’s game, but working on short term memory is great for parents and grandparents as we age too.  Not only does it help develop their memory it also teaches them to take turns and to follow rules such as flipping no more than 2 tiles at a time. 


Great toys for developing Life Skills:


Dolls: My girls didn’t play with their dolls until they were about 18 months, but now they want to play with them all the time. Other kids love dolls from a very young age. Dolls are great for girls and boys, especially if a new baby brother or sister is on it’s way. They can learn to cuddle, sing them songs, wrap them in blankets and so much more. I do recommend a hairless variety for young kids or they start to look disheveled pretty quickly. 

Kitchen: There are so many varieties of play kitchens, but whatever the size, kids love a good kitchen.  My sister picked me up this one because it quickly folds down into the size of a small suitcase. I love this feature because I like to cycle through the girls’ toys, but pick what works for you. I also love all the cute wooden kitchens like this available on Amazon or sometimes even at Costco. 

Play food: Most kitchens don’t come with much in the way of play food. Thankfully there are many great options. We really like the wooden Melissa & Doug food with Velcro that kids can cut, but we also have some of the solid wooden food that is also a lot of fun (and less messy). 

Cleaning set: My girls love this, but so does every other kid that comes to our house.  I’ve also noticed how popular the cleaning toys are at preschool. Kids naturally love to clean and help out with chores from a young age, so it’s great to encourage that and keep it fun. 

Tool chest: Pliers, hammers, nuts and bolts, another great toy that will last for a long time. 

Buckets or Baskets: I am all about keeping clutter down and toys picked up, so why not make it fun for the kids to help.  The girls love to sit in their toy baskets, but are also learning how to put the Velcro food in one basket, and the balls in another.  A toy and organization system all in one!


Other Favorites:


Tent: The girls got their tent for their 1st birthday, and have loved it ever since.  It makes a great place to read, to hide and to play in. We have even set it up in front of our fireplace and pretended that we were camping. Plus, I love that it folds down quickly and can be stored under the couch if you need a little extra space in your house. 

Books: Last but certainly not least is books. I LOVED having a bookcase full of books as a little girl and have enjoyed creating a little library for my girls. Nothing expands the mind and imagination like a good book.  In general, you can’t go wrong, but I have too many favorites to mention here. Stay posted and I will give you my list of recommended books in an upcoming post.

There you have it, my Top 25 best toys for kids from age 1 to 3 and even beyond. If you liked this post I would sincerely appreciate you sharing it on Pinterest or other Social Media Platform.

I am also fully aware that it is barely November, so I hope this article doesn’t make you anxious. I just wanted to ensure you had lots of good ideas for when loved ones start asking what to get your kids for Christmas.  Now you can forward them a whole list of great ideas. Happy Holidays!




Note: As an Amazon Affiliate there is potential for me to earn a small percentage of the proceeds from purchases made through clicking links in this article. I do appreciate your support and hope you find as many fun hours of learning and entertainment as we have from these toys. 

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