This post contains affiliate links, which means from the sales it generates I receive a small commission at no cost to you. You can read my full disclosure to learn more.
It can be hard to find the perfect gifts for the toddlers in your life. You want to buy something they’ll love and will play with every day. And you hope your gift won’t get relegated to the toy bin in the corner of their room–or worse– donated to Goodwill within a few months.
It just so happens that I’m slightly obsessed with finding the best toys out there, and I’m here to help you!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned when it comes to toys, it’s the simpler the better. Battery-operated, loud, and flashy toys are fun and engaging at first, but children quickly lose interest in them. Plus, they tend to be poor quality and break easily.
Finding the Right Gifts for Toddlers
There are a few different criteria I consider when deciding what to buy for the tots in my life.
1. The item must engage a child’s mind, creativity, and imagination.
2. It should potentially have more than one use.
3. Preferably non-battery operated (there are some exceptions).
4. Won’t drive parents crazy.
I want to spend my money on well-made gifts that will actually get played with!
I also look for toys that are as non-toxic as possible. Am I fanatical about every toy needing to be 100% natural? No.
But I consciously avoid buying toys that I know contain harmful ingredients, especially those that would be handled a lot during play. Kids like to put things in their mouths and chemicals can also be easily absorbed through the skin.
appropriate age range for toys in this guide
The gifts for toddlers in this post are geared towards children ages 2-5, although some 2 year-olds might need extra supervision when playing with some of these toys.
Most of the toys I’ve selected are made by companies with a commitment to quality and safety, and many are made out of wood instead of plastic.
There are a few exceptions to this “rule” in the gross motor and water play sections of this post. Although these items are made of plastic by popular toy companies, they are not likely to get mouthed during play, so I’m comfortable with recommending them.
Here are my top recommendations for gifts for toddlers!
BOOK SUBSCRIPTION BOX
Amazon.com now offers Prime Book Box Kids, a curated subscription box perfect for children of all ages.
Each box contains 2 hardcover books or 4 board books, depending on the age range you select. The age ranges are baby-2 years old, and ages 3-5 years, 6-9, and 9-13.
Prime Book Box Kids allows you to tailor and either pick your favorite books for each box, or you can keep it a surprise.
What I like about this subscription box is that you can adjust the frequency of your box to arrive every 1, 2, or 3 months, and you can cancel at any time.
It’s so exciting for a child to receive something just for them in the mail! And books are a wonderful gift that can be enjoyed for many years. Click here to learn more about Amazon’s book subscription box for kids.
TOYS FOR FINE MOTOR SKILLS
This toy is perfect for helping toddlers develop their fine motor skills.
An adorable toy for learning colors and color matching. The colorful hexagon “hives” can also be used as blocks for stacking.
This easel makes art accessible and fun for toddlers ready to express their creativity.
Honey Sticks are a great non-toxic alternative to crayons. If you’re vegan, be aware that they are made of beeswax.
TOYS FOR BUILDING
Every toddler should have a good set of wooden blocks! These by HABA are beautiful and great for building elaborate castles.
Green Toys makes quality toys from recycled plastics without BPA, phthalates, or PVC. All their products are made in the USA.
This rainbow stacker is definitely on my wish list for my kids! It’s beautifully made from one piece of wood and painted with non-toxic water-based paints.
This workbench comes with tools and various parts kids can actually build with! It also features a child-safe working vice.
PRETEND PLAY TOYS
Plan Toys makes beautiful pieces and this tea set is no exception. It comes complete with tea bags, sugar, and creamer cups.
This playsilk has endless potential uses for pretend play and kids will love feeling the silky texture in their hands.
Bullyland is the only company I know of that manufactures realistic action-figures that are completely free of PVC plastics. They’re made in Germany and can be a bit pricey, but you can plan to build up your stock over time if you buy only a couple at each gifting season. (That’s what I plan to do!)
This doll family features wooden dolls with bendable arms and legs, yarn hair, and real clothes. I like how simple and cute they look.
I would have gone nuts over this solid wood dollhouse as a kid! It’s spectacular! It features six fully-furnished bedrooms and three stories.
This toy by Grimm’s can be used for so many different play scenarios! Great for fine motor coordination and color matching, but also for pretend play. The bowls might become cars or planes, the tray might become a magic carpet, and think of how many ways your kids might use the little peg people! The possibilities with this toy are endless.
Manhattan Toy Company makes the cutest dolls! My siblings and I had a few of these dolls in childhood that are still in great condition nearly decades later!
I couldn’t resist including these adorable dolls (also from Manhattan Toy) in this list. These dolls come in several different varieties of “snuggle pods” with a sweet sleeping baby doll inside. Each snuggle pod has a different theme, including “Snuggle Bug”, “Sweet Pea”, “Hunny Bunny” and more. Toddlers will love putting their dolls in and out of their pods. They’re just the right size for tiny hands.
This is such a fun truck from Green Toys with a door that lifts and a large trunk area for “garbage”. Toddlers will enjoy putting small objects inside the truck and rolling it around on its tough and sturdy wheels.
Every kid needs a good train set, and this one by Brio is a great starter option. Brio is a high-quality, non-toxic toy company based in Europe. Check out their awesome selection of other open-ended toy sets on Amazon!
My son is currently obsessed with cooking and although I try to involve him as much as I can in the real thing, he enjoys play cooking as well. This play kitchen is the perfect size for toddlers and all made of wood. It includes play food as well.
TOYS FOR GROSS MOTOR SKILLS
I’ve been eyeing this balance board for months. It’s made of wood and can be used for rocking, flipped over and used as a slide, a tunnel, a bridge–basically it’s the ultimate open-ended toy. I seriously can’t wait to buy one!
Balance bikes are all the rage right now because they help improve balance and enable young children to ride on a two-wheeler without needing training wheels first. Kinderfeets makes some lovely wooden balance bikes.
Ride-on toys work well as a precursor to a balance bike or tricycle. They’re also great for indoor use.
I love how this free-standing hoop makes basketball accessible for little humans.
Our boys LOVE to jump. Great for indoor use during those moments when you need to get the wiggles out, or when weather doesn’t allow outdoor play.
Water play is a fun sensory activity that most children love. A water table is a great gift to fullfill that natural desire kids have to splash around. Bonus that it can be enjoyed by more than one child at once!
Gifts FOR MAKING MUSIC
Drums are a favorite in our house. This one is beautifully made and just the right size for kids.
Although this isn’t geared specifically toward children, it’s a cool percussion instrument the whole family can enjoy.
My friend has one of these on her coffee table and it’s such a favorite with my son whenever we go over to visit. Cute and fun to play with!
What gifts stand out to you in this guide? Do your kids have any of these toys? What do they think of them? Let me hear from you in the comments!