Looking for gift ideas for toddlers for Christmas? Look no further. I have compiled a list of all my favorite toys that my toddler gets a TON of use out of. Stuff that doesn't get old and he keeps coming back to.
When I buy toys I look for them to be:
- Educational in some way, developing a variety of skills
- Sustainable and non-toxic as much as possible – so looking to avoid plastic wherever possible
- Longevity – toys that will grow with your toddler and their use will change as they get older
- Versatile – toys that can be used in a variety of ways and encourage imaginative play
- No batteries or noise as these types of toys can discourage imaginative play (and let's be honest, these are just worse for you as a parent)
And as much as I would like to avoid buying new unnecessary toys, during Christmas, a lot of family members will want to buy toys for your child, and you will want to buy some for other children. So you might as well have a list of things you want to avoid getting things you don't!
And this list contains toys that will have use in a household for a long time, that promote activity and movement and that are made from as natural and non-toxic materials as possible. Because if we have to buy something, lets buy with those things in mind.
Sustainable Gift Ideas for Toddlers for Christmas
I have organized these from lowest to highest price (at the time of writing). All links are direct to the US Amazon store, however if you are located somewhere else it should automatically redirect you to either the same item at your closest Amazon store, or the most relevant match.
If you are unable to find what you are looking for, please comment below and I will respond asap.
This has 4, 6, 8, and 12 piece puzzles. If you haven't yet got your child into puzzles this is a perfect item to start with as they can progress from a 4 piece puzzle to a 6 piece puzzle and so on.
Works on hand-eye coordination, balance (I used to hear this elephant fall over every 5 seconds) and pretend play. I got it for my son when he was about 18 months but he actually started playing with it a lot more frequently at about 2.
A super cute detective set made from sustainable bamboo wood and plant plastic. A great way to make walks in the woods interesting, or even trips to the garden.
We have spent hours and hours playing with this. It is so great because it is sand that is basically mess-free. We use spades, stacking cups, jugs, mugs and lots of stuff from the kitchen. Once you're finished, it packs up super easily.
These again encourage imaginative play where the child can decide for themselves who each peg is, what they look like, and what emotion they feel. You can also paint these with your child, or even make some Christmas decorations. I personally have the Grimms version which is very nice and made in Germany (or Bosnia) but it seems very pricy given that you can get lots of them that you can paint for a fraction of the price.
These have been a wonderful way to encourage our 2 and half year old to tell us about his interactions with teachers at school or with other children. He assigns each peg to a different person and it becomes essentially a form of play therapy where he can recreate his day.
7 construction vehicles in a nice wooden tray. These are perfect for open play or we put them in a box full of lentils or sand and get a good 20 minutes of independent play with lots of digging and transferring from one vehicle to the other.
I only discovered these recently but they are so much more fun and keep the toddler more engaged than the usual 4 x 4 puzzles because of the different shapes. The only company I've found that makes these is GALT, but if you know of any other please let me know!
Very cool and versatile wooden car transporter. I looove toys that you get a lot of different parts for your money and that kids can do a lot with. With a toy like this, the cars can be used in combination with loads of other toys, while the truck can also be used to transport other things too. Great for imaginative play.
Not expecting my child to read at 1 or 2 years old of course but this is a good item to have to get them to recognize shapes, start seeing numbers and letters. One that they will have for a few years. At 2 and a half, my son can comfortably identify the different numbers (0-9 at least), lots of different letters (especially the ones in his name) as well as the shapes. He'll periodically decide that he wants to do puzzles and get all these boards out to do them one after another.
I cannot tell you how many hours my son has spent playing with these. Any time I was cleaning something he would take one and copy me. Lately, he puts loads of stuffed animals on the sofa and then sweeps them off. I love this toy because it inspires movement, and given 2020, our kids probably need a lot more movement. It also gets him very actively involved in household activities so he knows that if he makes a mess he can go grab a broom and sweep it up!
You can use this to learn about colors, hours in a day, shapes, counting, and much more. Or just pretend you're eating pizza! A lovely wooden toy with lots of ways for your child to be imaginative.
Wooden pot, pan, and a set of plates and cutlery that your child can use for pretend play. My son gets loads of enjoyment out of pretend cooking and it's a lovely feeling when he presents me with a pretend meal that he has "cooked" for me!
I love this toy. We have had it since my son was about 1 year old and now at 2.5 he still gets lot of enjoyment out it. It's great for them to develop the skills that they actually need for cutting, teaching them about parts and whole and how to put things together and break them apart.
Another toy we have had for almost 2 years and that gets used almost daily. Especially now that he is passed the 2-year mark and does a lot of pretend play. I can imagine him playing with this with his friends for many years to come. Goes perfectly with his pretend kitchen and has been the basis of many pretend meals he has made for me!
Great for stacking, sorting, building, matching, as well as identifying the numbers, letters, colors and animals on the blocks. I have actually bought this for a lot of my friends when they had babies. You can also get them with Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and many other alphabets as well.
A 9 piece play set with wooden farm animals that your child can act out different kinds of scenarios (my son likes to use them to act out scenes of some of the books we read).
There are lots of variations of this item but I like this in particular because you get a hammer, saw and spanner and you get a bench which isn't too big but it still fit for purpose. Max loves to use his hammer to pretend to build the Way to Play road (featured later on in this post).
My son looovees to play doctor. I think it is actually very helpful for them to play pretend doctor because it makes the actual visit to the doctor less scary (of course if you play nicely). We actually have a plastic set (second hand though), but if I was buying one new I would buy a wooden one for sure.
If you are just getting into sensory bins and would like to keep your kitchen utensils as your own, this is great wooden set. I particularly like that it comes with 2 sets of tongs – a utensil my child uses most days.
During COVID lockdowns I tried my best to keep my poor child at home as active as possible. A golf set like this was one of the ways I made it possible. You can use it in a small space (or garden), it encourages movement and hand eye coordination and will keep your child engaged and active, especially if you play with them.
Magnetic blocks that your child can use to build a variety of things – once again, supporting open-ended play. What I love about them is that they are naturally safe – no lead, no plastic, non-toxic water based lacquer finish. And they are pretty of course.
I love these because you get a lot (60 natural-finished hardwood blocks) for a really good price (around $58 when I checked) compared to other similar packs. My son uses them to build towns, houses, roads and populates them with the peg people earlier in this post. We learn about shapes, early math concepts, and sorting. They also come in a beautiful box for easy storage.
I prefer this set to the standard Brio train set because, firstly, you get a circular train set within the set + you get all the additional accessories that give more opportunity for play, with the trucks, magnetic boulders, and crane cars rather than just train and tracks (and for a good price comparatively). It does include some plastic obviously but that's hard to avoid if you want working trains!
Made of high grade, child safe rubber this is an extremely versatile toy. It is unbreakable and weatherproof so you can make the roads in the bathtub, on slides, easy to use in the garden. Each part is double-sided and offers the child an ability to transform any space into an exciting road. Combine it with the blocks to build a town, as well as the train tracks and you've got a lot going on in no time!
I preferred this to a tricycle, mostly because I believed my child was capable of using it at 2 years old and there was no reason for me to start with a tricycle. By almost 3 years old he is super comfortable on 2 wheels and is actually asking for pedals so I think we do need to upgrade soon but this is a great first bike. Especially if you have or will have more kids, it's also a great "hand me down".
Given that a lot of kids have spent more time than usual indoors this year, this is a great item to have. You will find a lot of copies on Amazon, but this uses non-toxic, water-based paints and lacquers. They can use it as a seesaw, balancing board, step stool, tunnel... the possibilities are endless.
Sometimes the simplest things can make the best toys for toddlers. As you'll no doubt realize if you've ever ordered something that came in a big cardboard box and watched your child ignore everything except the box!
Have you seen these E V E R Y W H E R E? Like, everywhere. I got Max one when he was two and he loves it. And when we spend the morning on one of these (or his bike), his afternoon naps are especially long (yaaay)! This is a great item for kids to learn about balance and coordination. And one of the best things is that it has an adjustable handlebar so it grows with your child.
More fun imaginative role-play, encouraging kids to get into character. This is a beautifully decorated colorful farm set made with non-toxic paints and one your child will likely keep going back to for years.
Amazing 10 room dollhouse that features 4 dolls and 7 furniture sets. The moving parts let your child's imagination run wild and arrange the house as they wish.
Last but not least! I love mud kitchens. We have this exact same one at Max's grandparents and he loves it. It encourages creativity, pretend play, independent play, also allows kids to make mistakes and really encourages them to spend some time outdoors and get some fresh air while having fun. It will be used for years to come and I honestly can't wait to watch how his play with it progresses.