It’s coming up on my favorite time of year, CHRISTMAS! Black Friday and Christmas are my two favorite days of the year. However, instead of looking for home decor and clothes, I will be hitting up the toys section. When you are shopping for your child’s Christmas gifts, keep in mind to think a few months down the road. For instance, my daughter will turn one in January. I will purchase a few items at a discounted price to put in her toy rotation later on in the year that are age appropriate. See what I did there? I will help you think smarter, not harder this holiday season.
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Blocks and Shapes
Blocks are a great first toy for all children. They come in different sizes, colors and shapes. My daughter loves her Fisher Price Baby’s First Blocks. What I like most about this toy is it can be in her toy rotation for several years. She has learned to grab, hold and play with a block in each hand. In several months, she will learn how to match each shape with the opening.
Mega Blocks are another wonderful first toy for children. Like with other block toys, it promotes gross motor skills and creativity. A great alternative for families with toddlers and infants that worry about choking hazards.
The Rolimate Wooden Shape Sorter is a fantastic toy to buy on sale and put into future toy rotation. Several educational skills packed into one toy and it’s small enough to be taken on road trips. It helps kids identify shapes, match colors and learn to count. Flip the board over and let your child explore the world of fractions. An educational toy that you will get your money’s worth for years to come.
The Vtech Ultimate Alphabet Activity Center is an updated model of my daughter’s activity center. I found hers super cheap at a consignment store. It had a few missing blocks, but works just fine for toy rotation at her babysitters. Teaches letters, numbers, stacking and gross motor skills. She enjoys hearing the music and the interactive play when a button is pressed. This has also helped her learn to pull up to standing and work on leg strengthening.
Another great alternative to a bulky activity center would be Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Walker. It is reasonably priced and collapsible for easy storage, which is great for toy rotation.
This is one of my favorite rotation toys, the Zany Zoo Activity Cube. My mother-in-law and I found this at a consignment sale for a steal of a deal. How could we pass that up? My daughter already loves playing with bead mazes, so I knew this toy would be a hit. Plus, it is all about gross motor skill development. Teaches grasping, moving objects, opening and closing doors.
Musical Instruments & Toys
I have been wanting to find my daughter a nice Xylophone for Christmas this year and I have my eye on Hape Pound & Tap Bench With Slide Out Xylopone. Besides encouraging fun musical exploration and play, your child will learn fine motors skills. A great toy for hand eye coordination, repeated arm movements and cause and effect. If your child is a music lover, like mine, the Hape Pound & Tap Bench With Xylopone is a wonderful gift.
If you are not crazy about giving your child a musical instrument, a great alternative is Playkidz Pound A Ball. Still promotes hand eye coordination, repeated arm movements and cause and effect.
A LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Mat is a perfect item for your music lover. It is designed for toddlers, but you can also include in your infant toy rotation. Your child can crawl along the play mat to hear the different sounds and learn cause and effect. The mat can easily be stored away in a closet or under a bed when not in use.
Books and Puzzles
I think books are an overlooked Christmas gift that is wonderful for children. My daughter loves her bedtime story each night. Her favorites are the Llama Llama series, Babylit storybooks, and many of my Little Golden Books. Reading to your child several times a week helps them develop speech, bonding time with their parent and sparks their imagination.
Growing up, I have so many wonderful memories of playing with puzzles. It did not matter if I had put it together a hundred times, I enjoyed it like the very first time. Puzzles are fairly inexpensive and easy to store. The wooden peg board puzzle by Melissa & Doug are great for children of various ages since there are no small parts. Older children can learn letters, numbers, shapes and colors while younger children can work on hand and eye coordination.
The Hide and Seek and Latch Board by Melissa & Doug are a fantastic item to keep in your toy rotation for several years. Like the puzzles above, smaller children can improvement fine and gross motor skills. While older children learn numbers, animals and colors.