Toddlers are so much fun! For them, life is an adventure and they just get excited about everything they do and see! Toddlers don’t need toys to have fun. They play and learn with everything around them. Sticks, rocks, kitchen gadgets, it really doesn’t matter.
Having very few actual toys means their imagination has room to work. They can imagine with anything. Even with having an abundance of toys, I see little ones playing with their siblings shoes, “cooking” in the kitchen or talking for popsicle stick people instead. This is a good thing and we need to continue to encourage them to play, learn and imagine with items that don’t already “do-it-all” for them.
18 Non-Toy Gifts for Toddlers
- Lessons and Classes. Swim lessons, dance, gymnastics are all great ideas and benefit little ones.
- Memberships. Children’s Museums, the zoo, YMCA or family gyms are all wonderful.
- Puzzles. I’ve always been surprised at how early little ones understand puzzles and really enjoy them. Here are a few suggestions: wooden ones, 2 piece and 4 piece.
- Books. It’s never too early for books. Did you know that reading to babies and toddlers changes the way their brains develop and gives them a better chance at life? You can watch a video about it here. Here are a couple of our favorites: Sandra Boynton books, Robert Munsch books, Bill Peet Books.
- Photo Album. Little ones love looking at picture of family members and of themselves doing things or at special places. In many online photo sites, you can create a photo book of all the special people and special things the child has done.
- Pajamas. If you sew, special homemade pajamas are THE BOMB! My mom sews and my children just adore the fact that MorMor (Swedish for “mother’s mother”) made them something special.
- Sprinklers. Good old fashion fun right there! There are all sorts of sprinklers, I personally prefer the old fashioned oscillating sprinklers and the kids like running through the “tunnel”.
- Bird Feeder and Seed. Having a bird feeder outside a winder is very entertaining for kids to watch and helps get them interested in wildlife. You can also encourage them to recognize bird species and develop a life long interest!
- Artwork Picture Frame. Displaying our children’s artwork is important and also very fun. But the fridge tends to get filled up and parents at times feel guilty for throwing anything away. An art cabinet hangs on the wall and allows you to change pictures out when a new masterpiece is created.
- Towel Set. It’s so much fun for little ones to have their own towel and wash cloth. I have color coded all our towels, it makes it easy for the kids to know which towel is theirs and it also cuts down on the spreading of germs if you teach them to always dry their hands on their own towel.
- Savings Account or Stocks. Setting money aside each birthday or holiday may not be very exciting for these little people right now, but when they turn 18 and realize the amazing start they have in life, it will be a huge blessing. You can give a small token gift that they can open and enjoy on their special day, but put the majority of the gift into a savings program.
- Music. Kids love music! Some great kid-geared artists are: Raffi, Tom Chaplin, Sandra Boynton.
- Sleeping Bag. Having their own sleeping bag can make little ones pretty excited about sleepovers, trips or camping out family nights. Mine are so excited about them, when we visit family far away, they want to go to bed as soon as we arrive, which is great, unless it’s not even dinner time yet…
- Piggy Bank and Coins. This may take some supervision, but all the little people I know absolutely love putting coins into their piggy banks!
- Shoes and Boots. Snow boots or rubber boots are especially helpful. For the little cowboy or cowgirl, having a special pair of cowboy boots is super exciting.
- Play Silks. We love our play silks. My kids have used them as capes for super heros, skirts, dresses, wraps to carry their baby dolls, over chairs and couches to make a fort, the possibilities are endless.
- Math Counters. Kids will totally end up playing with these animal counters, but we keep ours in a small bucket and bring them out when everything else is put away. We stack colors together, match mamas to babies, make patterns, practice adding and subtracting. We have a lot of fun with these.
- Donations. Children understand more than we think they do, generally they are caring and thoughtful of others. If you explain to them that some people don’t have food to eat, or a nice place to sleep and the children have to have jobs, they can sympathize with that. There are many places that take charitable donations, help those in need and send a card or a plush animal to someone you love. We personally like World Vision and Compassion International.
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