Gift Guide: Best Toys for Young Children

Are you struggling with what toys to get for the young children in your life for the holidays? Look no further! Here are general toy suggestions for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary kids (ages 0 - 6 years): 

Newborn to 9 months 

For the first few months of life, babies are unable to grasp objects with their hands, but enjoy exploring with their ears and eyes. So, toys that make noise or feature high-contrast, black-and- white or brightly colored images are especially appealing. Once infants can reach for objects, be sure toys are safe for mouthing! 

  • Floor gyms/Activity quilts 
  • Safety mirrors 
  • Large, interlocking rings or keys
  • Cloth toys 
  • Soft dolls/Stuffed animals  
  • Chime/bell toys (incased in the toy) 
  • Rattles 
  • Fabric books - some have thin plastic sheets sewn into the pages that make a great crinkly sound! 
  • Board books  

9 months to 18 months 

By this time, infants master the motor skills that enable them to play with toys in new and exciting ways. When babies can sit up, they enjoy toy that they can manipulate - to bang, drop, stack, put in and take out, and open and shut. Once they can crawl, cruise (walk while holding furniture), and walk, they enjoy things that move along with them.

  • Balls (at least 2 inches in diameter) 
  • Push-pull toys (including walkers) 
  • Busy boxes 
  • Nesting and stacking toys 
  • Simple shape sorters 
  • Pop-up toys 
  • Soft blocks 
  • Simple musical instruments (drum, rain stick, bells) 
  • Squeeze/squeak toys 

18 months to 2 years 

Toddlers are explorers! They have the physical skills that make it easy for them to play and learn. A busy toddler needs toys for physical play -- walking, climbing, pushing, and riding -- and ones that encourage experimentation and manipulation. At this age, children imitate adults and enjoy props that help them master life skills. 

  • Ride-on toys (foot-propelled) 
  • Wagons 
  • Gross motor skills toys  
  • Transportation toys (wood or plastic) 
  • Blocks 
  • Puzzles with knobs (whole-object pieces) 
  • Baby dolls 
  • Kitchen equipment & gadgets 
  • Play household items (telephone, lawn mower, workbench, shopping cart) 
  • Playhouse 
  • Child-sized table and chairs 
  • Non-toxic art supplies (crayons, paper, clay, finger-paints) 

2 years to 3 years 

Older toddlers love testing their physical skills - jumping, climbing, and throwing - and enjoy toys for active play. They start spending more time tackling hand and finger coordination and enjoy putting these skills to work. At age three, kids delve into imaginative/dramatic play, as well. 

  • Building blocks & building systems 
  • Blocks and puzzles with letters and numbers 
  • Dress-up clothes and accessories 
  • Hand- and finger-puppets 
  • Kitchen equipment and gadgets 
  • Play household items (telephone, lawn mower, workbench, shopping cart) 
  • Play sets of scenes with figures and accessories 
  • Picture books 


 3 years to 6 years  

After age three, children begin to play more actively together. They are masters of make-believe, and love to imitate what adults and older siblings do. They also being to learn basic concepts and social skills.

  • Construction toys 
  • Lacing and threading sets 
  • Puzzles (10-20 pieces) 
  • Props for make-believe play 
  • Transportation toys (smaller, metal ones are now safe) 
  • Simple board games (cooperative/collaborative/non-competitive games are best) 
  • Word and matching games 
  • Concept flash cards (alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes)


Hope this helps to make your littles one’s holiday fun and exciting!  Drop a comment about your favorite gifts to give kids.  Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!