We are in the thick of it with three kids five and under right now! So I wanted to jump in and share some of the stuff that our kids have LOVED as babies and toddlers, things that have stood the test of time and provided lots of fun/entertainment! Hope it gives you some Christmas inspiration this year! Feel free to comment with your fav items from your kiddos! We’re looking for ideas too!
Also, at the bottom of this post I included FAILED ITEMS! If you also want a list of items I would NOT purchase again at this age, scroll down to the bottom for the toys that either drive me nuts or the kids just don’t use.
Let me know if you have anything to add to the list that isn’t here! Also, I’m happy to add reader suggestions!
A quick note about age ranges:
- For toddlers, some things are better for younger toddlers, and some for older toddlers. When this matters, I made a note of when the item got the best or most useful. And as I’ve learned, toddler interest and ability varies wildly from child to child.
- For babies, I made a note if the age range mattered, but primarily I noted for babies 4 months+. If you have a younger baby, you want to purchase something consider checking out my guide for expectant moms and newborns!
- There are more baby ideas/recommendations for daily products on these posts 15 favorite baby items for 4-9-month-olds and favorite toys and baby care for 9 -12-month-olds.
- And this post was a hit too: 10 Items I Used for Baby 2 (That I Didn’t Have For Baby 1)
(Email readers, please click through now to read the rest of the post!)
Let’s start with toddlers!
Something They Want
Toddlers Age (1-3)
- Plasma Car , so this has been a HUGE hit recently. KJ could ride this around three years old, but started riding it more regularly closer to before his fourth birthday. We bought KK one at two years old and he has been cruising on it ever since, having a brother to show you how to do it helps! They zoom all around the house (we keep these indoors and leave bikes/scooters for outdoors.)
- Balance Bike – we got this for KK at 18 months, he has really only gotten comfortable on it in the last six months or so. His brother rides a bike with training wheels since we never had a balance bike, so he didn’t have anyone to copy. He’s getting the hang of it and starting to use his legs to go faster on it.
- Porcupine Toy – This was a hit with KJ and KK from 1-3 years old. Plus it’s almost indestructible between the dog and being thrown it still hasn’t broken. I just ordered two more for kids that turned one this year!
- Magnetic Fishing Set – Huge hit from KJ’s 3-year-old birthday. The pieces are small and magnetic (a huge hazard if swallowed), so definitely for the older toddler, but a considerable hit nonetheless! I have not introduced these to KK.
- Mini “Almost” Functional Kitchen (Ikea Play Kitchen| Cutting Board | Lovevery Sink| Crinkle Cutter | Kitchen Sink Brush | Utensil Holders) We set this up for KJ’s birthday following this tutorial, but I used the Lovevery sink instead of their set up.
- Quiet Time/ Roadtrip Activities ( Wow! Water Books |Magnetic Doodle Board | Very Hungry Caterpillar Magnetic Character Set|Electronic Apple ABC Toy | Vtech Steering Wheel | Puffy Stickers )
- Playdoh Set – I bought this set right after KK was born, and it’s been hours of fun for KJ! KK spent the first year trying to eat the playdoh, but now he plays with it more than eats it, so that is a win!
- Matchbox Garbage Truck – I am so happy a friend recommended this truck. It’s been a literal lifesaver. This was KK’s gift to KJ when he was born, and it’s easily KJ’s most prized and valuable position. KK loves this one A LOT too. Luckily his brother shares it!
- Leapfrog Bus – A great first interactive car for younger toddlers! I know several families, including us, who have this bus, and the younger toddlers always love it and gravitate toward it! It was a huge hit with both my boys.
- Orbrium Train Set – This set was gifted to KJ, and it’s been a HUGE hit. He started playing with heavily in the last few months, maybe more of an older toddler gift, but fantastic none of the less. Note – at 18 months old KK has started playing choo choo too, but for short durations of time.
- Magnatiles – I know a lot of toddlers who LOVE their magnatiles. KJ received some for his third birthday from his Grandparents, he’s hit or miss with them, but since so many of our friends’ kids love them, I put them on the list! My nephew LOVES them since he was about three years old.
- Melissa and Doug Puzzle Set & Puzzle Rack – this was a massive hit for KJ on his second Christmas and one of the primary ways he learned all his letters, sounds, and numbers!
- Melissa and Doug Fold and Go Barn – another winner from last Christmas! KJ loves to play with his barn set and now, so does KK. Big big winner!
- Mini Trampoline – we had this in the living room for a long time, and KJ loved to bounce on it! Recently, we redesigned it and didn’t have room for it, so it’s outside now. However, if you have a large carpet area where you can have this for your kiddos, it’s a great energy burner!
- Basketball Hoop – I feel like this has been in every room in our house. I don’t use it much, but Mr. Hungry uses it with the boys daily.
- Melissa and Doug Animal Magnets – I always felt like the ABC magnets were too small for a younger toddler when my goal of magnets was entertainment while I cooked. These animal magnets were a great distractor that I didn’t have to worry about! (I did remove one small frog and a chicken, but that’s it!) These have stood the test of time, aside from sliding underthings, they are almost indestructible.
- Dinosaur Kinetic Sand – good for sensory play and imaginary play!
- Vtech Unicorn – look it’s a girl item! We got this for my niece for her second birthday, and I hear she is obsessed! KK was super interested in it too! ha ha
- Vtech Table – my in-laws, have this table, and the kids LOVE it, especially the younger toddlers. KK and my niece started playing with it close to 9 months old and still loves it. KJ played with it up until recently (around 4) when he finally lost interest, so a good 3 years of use per child!
- Kid’s Four Piece Cleaning Set – this was a HUGE hit for KK this year for the last few months! He loved the swifter that came in the Loveevery box, so my in-laws got him this set for their house, and he loved that so much they got him another set for our house!
- Kid Chair – I can’t tell you how much the kids love their own little chair to sit in when they get screen time or family movie time. My in-laws got this one for KJ around 2.5 years old and got another one for KK for Christmas this year. My only complaint is that potty training wasn’t kind to it, and it would be nice if there was a washable/water proof option. Also, for a more aesthetically pleasing chair for your living room, this one looks nice while still being at a good price point.
- Paint brush set – for toddlers that are just getting into painting!
- My First Remote Control Car – this was KK’s present last year! He loved it, KJ could drive it a little better than him obviously but he could do it enough to enjoy it! And it’s been pretty durable!
- Amazon Fire Tablet 8 (for kids 2+) – These are just OKAY. Initially when we got them I LOVED them. Now, I’m so so on them. They have a nice return policy, but are kind of glitchy. If you find them on sale they are a great deal, but I wouldn’t pay full price for one again. Fire Tablet Accessories: Headrest Mount| Clear Screen | MicroSD Card
- LeapFrog Tablet – We’ve been using more LeapFrog products/shows on the recommendation of our sons preschool. I’ll likely buy this tablet for Christmas.
- Samsung Galaxy Tab – my nephew has this tab and it’s so much better than the Fire tablets. If I wanted just a general tablet for movie/show watching I would get this!
- Baby Crinkle Bags – love that these came in a set so we can have a crinkle bag in every room or near swing/carseat. Nora loved the high contrast toys and still plays with them!
- Baby Einstein Take Along Toy (4 months +)- I can’t tell you how many times this toy has saved my butt when I need just a few more minutes on a walk, in the car, in the store, etc. Every baby of mine has been obsessed with them!
- Tiny Baby Bouncer Toys
- Megablocks (9 months +)
- Pop-up toy – this is another toy that is the gift that keeps on giving. KJ started playing with it at nine months, but KK was already fascinated by it at six months. KJ still plays with it occasionally at three years old. This one is a durable classic!
- Infantino’s Sensory Balls – we love this set of balls, blocks, and shapes!
- Vtech Sit to Stand Walker – KJ loved this walker and still plays with it. KK is just starting to sit on his own, and he is beginning to love it now too! It’s another durable classic!
- Pinkfong Babyshark Puzzle -a friend of ours that’s a speech therapist recommended this toy for babies and toddlers. KJ loved it when she would bring it over!
- Monster Trucks – these say 2+ years on them, but we ordered them when KJ was ten months old. They’ve been a favorite ever since for both boys. Obviously, watch your babies with toys, but we’ve never had anything break off of them, and the large size is perfect for kids just getting started pushing them.
- Lovevery Playmat or Fisher-price playmat – We have the Fisher-price jungle playmat, and both kids LOVED it. Still, if I were going to buy one nowadays, I’d get the Lovevery mat because it emphasizes tummy time activities.
- Baby Einstein Walk Around Table – KK hated the walker we had but LOVED this table. I know these are controversial, but, if you are looking for a 10-minute break so you can drink a cup of coffee or make a meal without the baby getting pummeled, this is my suggestion!
- Tunnel for Babies and Toddlers – A gift from my in-laws. KK has been a huge fan of this since he could crawl, and both kids love to hang out in it, crawl through it, and play!
Something They Need
Toddlers Age (1-3)
- PJ Masks Toothbrushes – I love these because they have a suction cup that allows them to stand on their own! I know it seems like a little thing, but it actually is really helpful. Plus, they come in a decent size pack which is good since I’ve noticed KJ goes through toothbrushes way faster than an adult.
- Lovevery Montessori Toy Storage and Shelf
- Bathtub Plastic Shelf – this shelf will save your sanity if you find yourself constantly wiping up wet floors. While it’s not 100% at keeping water off the floors, the boys just love this shelf sooo soooo sooo much!
- Nuna Exec Carseat – we just upgraded KJ’s car seat after realizing his Costco car seat may be too uncomfortable for long trips, and his upgrade is amazing! It’s a higher-end car seat, but KJ looks like a king riding in this, plus the car seat converts to a booster. It can literally accommodate his needs until he is 48 inches and/or 120lbs. That’s a lot of use! UPDATE: We also purchased one for KK and love how easy it is to transfer cars when necessary for road trips.
- Hatch Light – This light has been so helpful for letting KJ know he has to stay in bed until the light turns green! When KJ transitioned to a big boy bed, he almost never got out of bed because he was so used to waiting for the light to turn green. This has also helped with KK not screaming in the morning because, at 18 months, he also understands Mommy comes and gets me when the light turns green.
- Contigo Straw Cup – DOESN’T LEAK!
- Kitchen Helper Stand – our stand has two levels and can be folded away when not in use! KJ has been helping me in the kitchen since he was 18 months and KK started even earlier than that! Moreover, you know when the toddler is screaming to be held but mostly because they just want to see what you’re doing? This stand is a life saver!
- Speech Sisters Course – I can’t recommend this course enough for everyone! Gives you the skills to help foster your toddler’s speech! We did it because we had a late talker, but I know so many people who’ve done it with kids across the board and seen positive achievements from it.
- Potty training essentials! If you plan to potty train soon and want to wrap it into Christmas I recommend the following: undies, mini potty (we have four of these ha ha, one in the car), training sticker chart, Paw Patrol Potty Training Pants, Paw Patrol Potty Book, Elmo Potty Book, Potty Training Color Changing Stickers, potty insert and hook, pull ups (I know some people prefer goodnites, but I’ve never found the goodnites worth it for the price), potty travel seat
Babies (0-12 months)
- Bebe Gourmet Baby Cookbook & Beaba Baby Cookbook – I’ve loved using both of these cookbooks as KK has started eating purees!
- Beaba Neo Babycook – I LOVE this babyfood maker. All the parts that touch water or food are stainless steel or glass, so your baby’s food never touches plastic. It works flawlessly to cook and then blend (if desired) any food you’d like. It also reheats food from frozen evenly and quickly. I have a full youtube review on this baby food maker here!
- High Chair Suction Teether Holder – I LOVE using this at the highchair with KJ, and now we are using it again with KK. Sometimes I don’t even attach teethers to it, and he chews on the silicone pieces.
- Sprout Oxo Highchair – We’ve loved this highchair with KJ and now with KK! It’s the perfect height, easy to clean, and stands up to daily use.
- Hatch Light +: This is on here twice! It was gifted to us initially for KK, and I couldn’t be happier with it, so we bought one for KJ. It’s the perfect nightlight for a baby that will transition to a toddler clock. Plus, unlike other sound machines, it’s loud enough to drown out your other screaming children. (Don’t worry, I use the decimal checker on my apple watch to make sure it’s not too loud.) It’s on the higher end for a sound machine, so I think any parent would be happy to get one. My in-laws just bought one for their house too!
- Speech Sisters Course – I can’t recommend this course enough for everyone! Gives you the skills to help foster your toddler’s speech! We did it because we had a late talker, but I know so many people who’ve done it with kids across the board and seen positive achievements from it. I did the infant course with KJ and he’s up to three word sentences at 19 months old.
- Doona Carseat with LATCH Base – This was the one thing I bought for baby 3 and it was worth it’s weight in gold, especially if you plan to travel AT ALL with a baby.
Something To Wear
Lucky for us, grandparents and grandaunts/uncles keep us VERY stocked with clothes. I rarely buy any, but I wanted to mention just a couple of things I have bought and loved. Or that they’ve bought and we LOVED. Keep in mind it isn’t too cold here, so I don’t have things like mittens, gloves, etc on the list. Just isn’t a need for us!
Toddler (1-3 years old)
- Stitchfix Kids Delivery – I’ve done Stichfix a few times for KJ now. I usually do it to get him started on the next size up of clothes for each season (we really only have two seasons here – hot and cold ha ha). This year when it got cold I realized he fit in none of his 4T pants and immediately needed the next size up. I quickly changed his SF date to the next day and had a whole really cute wardrobe by the end of the week. I don’t use this that much for KK because he gets so much many hammy downs!
- Nonslip socks – I’ve purchased this same brand of socks 3 times for KJ. They have grippers on the bottom that long outlast the socks themselves!
- Amazon baseball hat – KJ loves his amazon dino hat! Surprisingly, I’ve never had an issue getting him to wear it.
- Tracksuits – nothing has gotten more use over the years than KJ’s tracksuits. He just grew out of his 2T suits and so his grandparents gave him some 4T for this year. Nothing is cuter than a little boy in a tracksuit, I don’t know why, it just is. Now KK is wearing his older one!
- Old Navy Puffer Jacket
- Old Navy Snow Suits – if you watch the sales can get these for around $20 bucks, which is a steal compared to other places for the same item! Since my kids see the snow like 1-2 times a year max, these are perfect!
- Cat and Jack Sunglasses – KK is obsessed with these!
- Wild Kratts Costumes – if your older toddler is into Wild Kratts they may love to dress up and get creature powers! (Looks like the shop is taking a break, but I would definitely save it on Etsy in case it comes back!)
Baby (0-12 months)
- Old Navy Fleece Overalls – by far one of my favorite outfits I’ve bought KK!
- Zipper Onesies – can you ever have enough of these for a baby in the winter? KK lives in them right now.
- Burt’s Bees PJs – these are so flipping cute. It’s the main PJ brand I buy.
Something To Read
Babies (0-12 months)
- Noah’s Ark Book
- Eric Carle Books – KJ read these books 100 trillion times from 9 months on. My only issue is the pages are thin, and we had to tape them when they ripped, but it was worth it because he loves these books so much!
- Babies Love Lift A Flap Books – we have about 10 of these books, each equally loved for years! KJ still wants to read them sometimes, and now KK enjoys them! They are super durable!
- 100 Words
- Baby signs
- How Many Trucks Can A Toe Truck Toe – KJ has loved this book since he was five months old. It rhymes which I think kept his interest at such a young age. It’s out of stock now, but in case you see it somewhere, I wanted to put it on your radar!
- Goodnight moon – another KJ favorite since he was a baby!
Toddlers Age 1-3
These are the books that have been really great learning tools or favorite books of my toddlers!
Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – My First Smart Pad Electronic Activity Pad and 8-Book Library – a huge hit with both my kids through toddler and preschool years. These books and smart pad have been WELL LOVED ha ha
Little Blue Truck Christmas – an iconic classic that we only recently purchased for KJ, and he is loving every second of reading it!
- Hands Are Not For Hitting & Teeth Are Not For Biting – we were having some issues with occasionally biting and lots of hitting. These books have been great for KJ. He read them nonstop, and now we remind him to use the words in the book, which seems to help when he is angry! File this under the “something they need category as well,” haha.
- Melissa and Doug Poke A Dot Books – KJ is obsessed with any and every pop book! We first learned about these when he was in speech therapy, and they really helped encourage him to start speaking, and now they are a huge entertainer for him! I just ordered the dinosaur one for him for Christmas. Update: KK has LOVED these so much as well!
- Huggy Huggy Kissy Kissy
- Blank Board Book – my Aunt (who was a third-grade teacher and later a middle school art teacher) MADE a book for KJ when he was around 2, and it’s still one of his favorite books. This is a great thoughtful gift if you are crafty and can draw. (I would not fall into that category ha ha)
- Are You My Mother?
- Fish Out of Water
- ABCs for Boys
The following things have not been a hit with my kids. I know some kids totally are, but for mine, not so much.
- Melissa and Doug’s toolset –mostly ends up all over the place, but I’ve rarely seen my older son play with it as intended. Occasionally, my husband is doing something around the house, and KJ says, “let me go get my hammer/screwdriver/etc.” but overall, I would not purchase it again at this age.
- Melissa and Doug’s cleaning set – I got this for the kids last year, and the pieces mostly end up all over the ground. I put it away to save my sanity. They do like the squeegee and the squirt bottle, could have just bought those two pieces.
- Duplos – I recently sent these to my in-laws because I couldn’t stand that they never build anything with them; they just throw them all over the place. On the flip side, some kids are super into building things (like my nephew) and love these. So it depends!
- Toddler T-Ball Set – Great hand-eye coordination and energy burner! Great way to throw balls for the dog, haha. I moved this one down the list because the kids use it once in a blue moon and not all the time. But they do use it when we remind them it’s there!
PHEW! That’s a lot of stuff. As I mentioned earlier, I worked hard to take an inventory of all the major home runs we’ve had! Let me know if there is something in this age range you love not listed here! Leave a comment!