Gift Ideas for Toddlers

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Gift for 2 year old niece

June 2010

My niece just turned two and I'm looking for the perfect gift for her. Is there any must haves? (maybe the equivalent of the sofie for infants) Thanks! jennifer

There is one resource that has been a lifesaver for me over the years: The book ''The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio'' (you can check out the reviews on Amazon) In the book, dozens of new toys and classics are reviewed including advice for each age group -- its brilliant. Contender for most useful book

books, books, BOOKS! Favorites: ''Goodnight, Gorilla'' board book (cute story, plus a hidden balloon on every page!) Iona Opie's Mother Goose or Winnie the Pooh (which is hilarious reading as an adult)

I have three nephews (ages 2-22) and I have to say that I never purchased toys for them when they were little. On birthdays they got many gifts from parents, grandparents, etc. In addition, they get gifts during the year as parents or others see interesting things that they think would be great gifts. I got my oldest nephew savings bonds on his birthday and for christmas every year until he was 14. Those bonds really add up and he was very grateful when it was time to attend college. For my younger nephews, both their parents started college accounts and I contributed to those. I think that they will appreciate that I was really forward thinking and invested in their futures. It certainly is not a sexy gift that gets oohs and ahhs but I felt good about it. anon

A roll of Scotch tape and an empty cardboard box. Kevin

Nice birthday gift for two-year-old

June 2004

Our son is going to turn two in a couple of months and several grandparents have asked what to get. I want to use their generosity wisely and get something that he will use for more that a couple of weeks (until he gets tired of it) or for a couple of months (until he outgrows it). I would also rather them not buy a bunch of little things as he has plenty of little train engines, matchbox cars, toy trucks, puzzles, stuffed animals, Little People sets, etc\xc2 We also have a tricycle and a big wheel type thing, a play kitchen, a climbing structure with a slide, a little play house, and a kiddy pool with a slide. What would experienced moms and dads out there suggest for a nice big toy/gift (They'll probably spend $75 - $100 each). Is a water table or train table worth the investment? Would he care about a kid sized table and chair or picnic table set? I've also thought of a kid (read indestructible) tape/CD player and some music of his own. Do kids use easels? I've thought about asking for a class series but I think grandparents would rather give stuff. I know all this depends somewhat on the kid's personality and interests but there must be some generalities I can draw on. Anything you can say about the above, or any other ideas or comments would be appreciated. P.S. We also have a 4 month old son who can use these later. Thanks Suzie

Some of the best gifts our child has received and continues to use at age 5: Monogramed bean bag chair, full-size monogramed bath towel, wooden table with four chairs, big Radio Flyer wagon. Park pass, zoo or museum memberships are also GREAT. Sharon

My ever-so-wise mother buys my son two things: an ongoing subscription to a book-of-the-month style kids book club (the Scholastic Dr. Seuss books), and savings bonds. We have more toys and clothes than he will ever need, but he waits eagerly for his ''red box'' of books. And you can never have too many books. The savings bonds could be a contribution to a college fund, or something he uses to buy a car when he's old enough -- or whatever. They are his, not ours. And right now, since he really doesn't understand about who gave him gifts, and who didn't, they are perfect, since they don't add to the clutter in the house. Karen

My daughter turned 2 last September. My mother bought her an easel with paper on one side and chalk board on the other. BIG hit. She uses it frequently and I believe she will for years to come. She also has a train table and water table. These two have been very popular and are used frequently. What didn't work was the play tent. We bought her two tents with a tube between them. I think she enjoyed it, but it was just too big for inside play. Liz O.

I have a four year old son, so I am trying to think of the things he's had since he was two that he still enjoys. You said your son has trains - does he have a large, varied selection of good quality train tracks? Duplos (Large leggos)? If you have space for it, yes, an easel is a great investment. How about a magazine subscription? A relative got my son a subscription to CLICK, a nature magazine for preschoolers (maybe a bit too advanced for your son this year, but there are other appropriate magazines). My son loves getting a new magazine every month - it's like getting a new present unexpectedly - and the relatives renewed the subscription because my son liked it so much. Nanu

What an exciting problem! Thank your generous relatives, especially for taking your preferences into consideration. One word: BLOCKS. High quality, unit-sized wooden ones, and a place to store them. They will be used for years to come, in all kinds of ways. They will become roads, buildings, toy food, caves, tools for math exploration, and many other things. About your other ideas - If you have room, you will appreciate a nice small table where the kids can sit to do projects or ''help'' while you prepare dinner. He might or might not ''care'' about it as a gift, but I know he would get good use out of it. But if it would make things too crowded, that might not work.

My kids definitely used the easel - at least when I was willing to set out the paints and supervise their use. Ours has one chalkboard side, which is obviously less messy (as long as your son no longer puts small things - like chalk - in his mouth). I built it when my oldest was two, and I think we kept it out until the youngest was 6 or 7. Through the years, they used it to play school, practice letters, and design ''experiments'' as well as do art. R.K.