Gifts for your toddler 18 mo and 2.5 year old

Thanksgiving Day is next week and this means Black Friday ads are out! Many of you have probably started making a list of “what should we get for the kids?” so I thought I’d share a list of things that may be good for your toddler, who is becoming more adventurous, independent, talkative, and imaginative – it’s fun to watch their world expand 😀

If you’re looking for gifts for children age 12-18 months old, click here

Art supplies: 

There are so many independent activities and guided projects that you can with your toddler. Stock up on art supplies. Crayola often has some great deals on Zulily and Amazon (up to 60% off). Michaels has buy one get one off sales or use their store coupons to score some great art supplies. Here are what get used the most in our house:

  • washable kids paint, washable markers (pip squeaks markers from Crayola are small enough for toddlers to open and close the lids by themselves), colored pencils, crayons (the triangular crayons are good for toddlers to practice pencil grip), water color paint
  • smock
  • no-spill cups and brushes  as seen on the pics above (they contain the mess when you do painting)
  • construction papers
  • glue (we mainly use Elmer’s glue)
  • art easel and the rolled paper (preferably an easel that is height adjustable and foldable).

Fine motor skills, sensorial work, language development:

Many of the toys used to enhance her fine motor skills, senses, and language skills were bought when she turned 1 (see this post for more details). As she gets older, we have elaborated on how we use the materials. We began focusing on names and attributes of colors, shapes, sizes, emotions, animals and their features, etc. For instance, now when Alia plays with this peg board from Haba, she makes patterns or we take turns calling out on different colored pegs to put on the board. She now uses a pair of tongs to sort the pretend fruits (sorting material from Learning Resources). And we have used stickers in a more deliberate way like matching numbers.

Here are some materials and toys that I recommend getting for toddlers at this age:

  • Puzzles – our favorites since she turned 2 are two-piece puzzles like the ones from Learning Journey (Match-it series).
  • Roll and Play dice and cards (an excellent game that involves everything – following directions, physical movements, turn taking, color recognition, and many more!),
  • lacing beads (we have this set from Learning Resources),
  • size comparison puzzles (example),
  • simple pattern blocks from Melissa and Doug,
  • color and sort toys (example 1, example 2),
  • magnetic fishing to improve hand-eye coordination and patience (my childhood toy!),
  • marble run (this is ours and we love it),
  • pretend play toys (play kitchen, dress up corner, baby caring area, shopping set up, etc).
  • rainbow blocks and any construction blocks like magnatiles, magformers, duplo. 

Musical instruments: 

I always have a bin of instruments for Alia. Sometimes she puts on a performance for us. Some other times, we have a family band at home. Possible instruments to get:

  • egg shakers (you can easily make some too using plastic Easter eggs – see the image on the top right)
  • maracas
  • xylophone
  • hand drum (these are our favorites: Remo drum and stick drum)
  • bells
  • castanets
  • tambourine
  • recorder.

Gross motor skills: 

Because we live nearby several playgrounds, so Alia has many things to climb on and jump on. But New England is known for its long and terrible winter, so we have a few items to keep her physically active at home (not that she really needs it because she simply just runs around the house 10000 times a day :p). We have:

  • a balance bike. If you’re looking into getting one, read this website to know which suits your child best. We chose Strider for Alia because of her petite size.
  • colored disc cones (you can practice soccer, create an obstacle course, anything with them),
  • balanced equipment from Gonge – Gonge River and Gonge Riverstones (These are pricey but very durable. I was lucky to have found them on zulily and Goodwill, so look out for deals).

Experiences (non-toy gifts): 

Your toddler’s understanding of the world is expanding everyday. I highly recommend that you get them passes or memberships to go to places where they can get real-life, hands on experiences. At this age, we found that Alia can truly enjoy the zoo, farms, and children’s museum, so ask for a year membership to these places if your relatives ask what your child wants for the holiday. Another possibility is to ask them to pay for a music, dance, sport activities. Alia has been taking music class at Music Together, and we both are loving it (a wonderful music program available in many countries, mixed age, and active parental involvement  https://www.musictogether.com/). Also, explore as many playgrounds and hiking trails as possible (they’re FREE), and enjoy the nature with them! 😀

Happy toy hunting, everyone!

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