by Bethany McDaniels
It's almost time for Santa's helpers to wrap gifts for the babies and toddlers in their lives.
The sheer variety of toys that line the toy store shelves can be overwhelming!
What are the best choices?
What do kids like?
We've taken some of the guesswork out of baby toy selection for you and come up with our top 10 gifts that are fun and educational for the baby on your list!
There is something for everyone, no matter what you can afford. What's most important is you and your family connecting!
1. Gym Mat/Activity Center, such as the "Tiny Love Gymini Activity Gym, Super Deluxe Lights and Music." There are many to choose from but the important thing is that these toys offer a lot for baby to do "grow" into it. The Tiny Love center includes lights and music. This will capture baby's attention in so many ways that you may get a chance to put the baby down for a few minutes! (Average price: $49 - $69)
2. Jump-A-Roo jumping toys. These types of toys have also been around a long time and they only get more exciting every year. Not only do they help strengthen baby's leg muscles, they keep baby entertained and help them sit upright so they can get a whole new view of the world! Rather than have the mechanism hanging from your doorway, this stand-alone version can go with you anywhere. (Average price: $69 - $119)
3. Lamaze Play & Grow Take Along Toys such as "Jacques the Peacock." These offer bright colors, multiple textures and sounds. And the best part is that you can take them along and attach them to cribs, car seats and the like. They are tactile, soft and pliable toys that you can wash at home and don't need that "extra care" that some toys do. Lamaze is a trusted label too! (Average price: $12 - $17)
4. Fisher Price Little SuperStar Musical Stacker. Four sparkly stars light up and play music as your baby stacks them. This helps baby learn to grasp and stack, enhancing fine motor skills, tactile and auditory skills, develop hand-eye coordination and learn to distinguish between sizes. And when baby places the stars on the stacker or merely rocks the stacker, baby is rewarded with 5 classical music selections and children's songs. Even the post lights up! Part of the "Dance baby Dance collection, the age range for this toy goes up to 36 months so baby will get a lot of use from it for a long time to come. (Average price: $15)
5. Activity Center such as the "My Busy Town Activity Center" and the "Toysmith Zoo Activity Center." These centers or cubes offer multiple sides of activities including curvy wire rides, peek-a-boo doors, spin and match animals, turn and learn ABC word tiles, and racing vehicle rollers. Bright colors and patterns stimulate all of baby's senses and allow baby to practice and enhance their fine motor skills and begin to recognize language patterns. 16"H x 12"D x 12"W (Average price: $59 - $110)
6. Little Tikes 5-in-1 Adjustable Gym. This is an activity center that helps to develop baby's coordination and movement skills by capturing his or her attention with lights, sounds and colors. It features 3 parent-selected play modes: “motion activated,” “songs” or “piano" and a sleep mode to save on battery life. And it will grow with your baby as it transforms into 5 different play centers! (Average price: $49)
7. Stuffed animals. Yep, good old fashioned stuffed animals. While one wants to be sure to keep babies safe by not placing them in the crib with very young babies, nothing beats the warmth and love that a new stuffed friend brings. And the best part is that the selection is endless! From the smallest to the gigantic, and in every color imaginable, there is a teddy bear for everyone, including personalized bears such as "Build-A-Bear." A special teddy bear can become a keepsake that your child will keep for years to come. (Average price: $5 - up)
8. Blocks. These run the gamut from large wooden blocks to cardboard blocks to shape blocks for sorting to large Duplo blocks to soft fabric blocks. Blocks teach baby fine motor skills, gross motor skills, creativity, constructive play and stimulate their imagination. There are even magnetic blocks which are not only fun but can help reduce frustration by keeping your toddler's structure together until he or she is ready to take it down. And some blocks come with a wagon to tote them around or a table on which to play with them! Plus, playing with blocks is a fun activity for parent and baby to enjoy together! (Average price: $7 - $120)
9. Walk & Ride Toys. These are great toys for baby to start using as a push toy and to graduate to riding. The choices are many, and are a terrific stepping stone toward more independence! They can be really cute when your kid starts pretending they're off on a special trip! When little wobblers are bored with walls and sofa edges, and there's no one to offer a hand, they can two-foot it safely across the floor with the help of a Walk and Ride walker. (Average price: $20 - $85)
10. Time. Yes, time. Time with mom and dad. Time with grandparents. One-on-one time with family members. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, and especially during the holidays, we tend to get so caught up with everything that has to be done, that it can be easy to overlook what baby wants and needs most. Your time. So if you find yourself stressing about what to get your baby for the holidays, don't worry. You already have it! (Average price: PRICELESS!)
What's your favorite item on your list? What did we leave out? Share in the comments!
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