There are a lot of toys out there that children find boring or parents deem not educational. When toy space is valued, it is important to make sure the things we buy for the toddlers in our lives are not junk and serve a purpose. Whether you are shopping for a birthday, Christmas, or just because, here is a gift list for toddlers age 1, 2, and 3!
To help parents or gift givers understand the benefits of each toy listed, you will see the developmental skills they promote in italics under the pictures and descriptions.
Keep in mind that I may receive commissions when you click links and make purchases. However, this does not impact any reviews, recommendations, or comparisons. This helps me to be able to keep this website growing in order to help you make the best choice for your children.
Hape Pound & Tap Bench
It can be said that I prefer toys that are versatile and it is important that they hold up. This quality wooden bench by Hape provides a slide out xylophone, but also a fun pound toy. You can use them separately, but when together the balls fall onto the keys below to make a unique plinking sound.
Cause & Effect, Hand/Eye Coordination, Spatial Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Music Awareness
Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Garden to Kitchen
A big gift for toddlers that practices sustainability? Why not? Fisher Price is known for their interactive toys, so it should come to no surprise that this garden and kitchen in one is loaded with things to learn and do. Plant and gather veggies and eggs then sort the fridge and make some yummy food. Yet, there is so much more to explore!
Basic Learning Concepts (alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes), Cause & Effect, Hand/Eye Coordination, Fine/Gross Motor Skills, Imaginative Play, Social/Emotional Skills, Language Development
Little Tikes Shapes & Sounds Paintbrush
There are three ways to play with this neat paintbrush! Start with the silly sounds mode to make little ones laugh as they learn cause and effect. Then switch to color mode to watch the end light up and say all the colors of the rainbow! Finally, try shapes mode and let the paintbrush encourage children to draw shapes in the air with sound effect rewards. With the ability to keep playing as children grow cognitively, this is definitely a must have gift for toddlers.
Color and Shape Awareness, Cause & Effect, Spatial Awareness, Language Development, Sensory
LeapFrog 2-in-1 LeapTop Touch
With a tablet and laptop feature, this is a great way to introduce toddlers to the world of technology while exploring letters, numbers, sounds, and music. Children can play along with Scout and Violet and even practice recognizing and spelling their own name. My son is obsessed with this toy. Also available in pink.
Basic Learning Concepts, Hand/Eye Coordination, Social/Emotional Skills, Music Awareness, Language Development, Animal Recognition
Melissa & Doug Water Wow!
I will preface this by saying the recommended age is 3+. However, my kids have loved playing with the several we have in our home since they could hold the pen.
Parents love them because the pictures are revealed by just water, so there is no mess. Children love watching the magic and finding the hidden pictures on each page. It’s a win win! I have stuffed them in stockings and Easter baskets as they make great gifts for toddlers.
Art Awareness, Creativity, Fine Motor Skills, Early Writing/Reading Skills, Visual Discrimination
Green Toys Dump Truck
This company makes amazing toys from 100% recycled material. But what sold me, was when I saw the pink and purple dump truck. Finally, a company has taken it upon themselves to destroy the stereotype that trucks are for boys or that pink is for girls.
My daughter has loved playing with it. Sometimes, even at 7, I still catch her using it while playing with her brother. If pink and purple aren’t what you are looking for, additional colors are available.
Learn more about Green Toys!
Fine/Gross Motor Skills, Imaginative Play, Social/Emotional Skills
Fisher Price Big ABC Animal Train
This is way more than just a push toy! Music, lights, and learning content are only the beginning with this oversized train! Load all the included animals and conductor aboard and push it along. Open the back hatch and let them slide out. Buttons will help to teach the content in stages and promote cause and effect. But, if you’re in need of a bit of silence, the sound can be turned off and still have role play fun!
Gross Motor Skills, Cause & Effect, Hand/Eye Coordination, Basic Learning Concepts, Imaginative Play
Peaceable Kingdom Acorn Soup
When someone says games for toddlers, do you cringe and want to click away? Introducing games to toddlers doesn’t have to be scary.
Instead of jumping into games with a ton of rules, turn taking, and winners and losers, try gentle games like Acorn Soup. In this game, you simply need to help the squirrel make yummy soup by following pictured recipe cards. How you do it can be up to you or your child as you ease into game playing.
Fine Motor, Hand/Eye Coordination, Language Skills, Early Math Skills, Cooperative Play
Zoo on the Loose by Mindware
Another flexible game I like to play with toddlers is Zoo on the Loose. Don’t let the 4+ recommended age deter you. This is another game that gives you alternate rules depending on how you want to play. Whether you want to do the all-around play or stick to the mat play, each time you play can be different.
Fine/Gross Motor Skills, Memory Building, Language Skills, Directional Awareness, Spatial Awareness, Cooperative Play
Mega Bloks Let’s Get Learning Set
A set of building blocks is fundamental in the toddler years. They can teach a wide range of things on their own, but even more when accompanied by other materials. This particular set of Mega Bloks bumps up the learning with printed on shapes, numbers, and objects to pair and match.
Basic Learning Concepts, Fine Motor Skills, Spatial Awareness, Hand/Eye Coordination, Creativity
Step 2 Push Around Buggy
This might be the least toy item on the list, but I had to include it. We gifted this to my son at his second Christmas and have zero regrets.
While it may not seem like toddlers are playing while being pushed around the neighborhood in a fancy car, they most certainly are. As they ride alongside the cars on the street, they are building their imagination. They steer around that corner and honk at passersby. And don’t forget about all the sensory stimulation they experience!
Fine/Gross Motor Skills, Imaginative Play, Spatial Awareness, Sensory Exploration
Melissa & Doug Clay Play Activity Set
Toddlers love playing with modeling dough. This pack up comes with two kits – each with 4 tubs of clay. The lids have shaped molds on them, but the sets also include patterned rollers, scissors, stamps, and cutters. The wooden pieces hold up really well compared to plastic dough tools. I love the dough scissors because they are a safe way to let toddlers explore cutting before being handed actual blades.
Fine Motor Skills, Pattern Recognition, Creativity, Art Awareness, Imaginative Play, Sensory Exploration
Green Toys Farm Set
Another favorite from Green Toys (there are many, so it is hard to choose!) is this barn set. It may not have all the bells and whistles of some other barns, but this one has just enough to allow children to use their imaginations and spend a day on the farm. It comes with the barn, truck, fencing, farmers, stall, and 4 adorable little animals all made out of hefty recycled plastic. Plus, all pieces store within the barn for easy clean up!
Imaginative Play, Fine Motor Skills, Language Skills, Hand/Eye Coordination
Little Tikes Look & Learn Window
It seems like every toy marketed for toddlers includes letters, numbers, colors, and other basic knowledge. Little Tikes brings us something different with the Look & Learn Window. While it still includes those basic learning skills, it also introduces weather and day/night cycles in a fun and interesting way. This window folds down to a low table for floor play as well.
Early Science, Basic Learning Concepts, Sensory Exploration, Language Skills, Cause & Effect
Rockin Rider Grow with me Pony
This is no one trick pony! It converts from a safety seated rocking horse to a regular rocking horse to a spring horse as your child grows. When you spend that kind of money on a toy, the hope would be that one would get long term use out of it and this definitely checks that box. Toddlers will have fun rocking and bouncing, while singing along and chatting with this fun pony. It is also available in red.
Imaginative Play, Gross Motor, Language Skills, Music Awareness, Cause & Effect
Step 2 Dino Dig Sand/Water Table
My favorite sensory tables are all-in-ones with a theme. This Dino Dig table is awesome. There are two separate areas for sand and water. The lid for the sand area doubles as play space for the dino land when you don’t want the sand and water to mix. Additionally, toddlers can dig in the sand to discover built in dino bones! It comes with 2 cups, a shovel/rake, and 4 cool dinosaurs.
Sensory Exploration, Imaginative Play, Cause & Effect, Language Skills, Cooperative Play, Hand/Eye Coordination
Little Tikes First Slide
An inexpensive big toy is hard to find. This slide is sturdy and can be used year after year – we’ve had ours for over 6 years! Toddlers won’t feel as intimidated going down this slide that is just the right size for them. And they can work on their climbing skills without worrying about falling from such a tall height.
Additionally, my oldest likes to use it in the kiddie pool in the summer and sometimes we bring it indoors during the winter to burn off pent up energy because it is small enough to do so and stores flat if we need it to.
Gross Motor Skills, Cause & Effect, Imaginative Play, Hand/Eye Coordination, Spatial Awareness
Melissa & Doug Chunky Shape Puzzle
Any chunky puzzle by M&D would be a great addition to a toddler’s toy shelf and there are many to choose from! I choose this shape puzzle because I have used it over and over with success in helping children recognize shapes and colors, as well as building confidence as they complete the puzzle.
Fine Motor Skills, Basic Learning Concepts, Hand/Eye Coordination, Spatial Awareness, Language Skills, Sensory Exploration, Social/Emotional Skills, Problem Solving Skills
Hape Creative Toddler Wooden Peg Puzzle
Another great wooden toy company also has a puzzle for older toddlers. This type features pegs that little ones must slide shapes over and navigate to the bottom. Wooden shapes are colored with an ombre effect to help with patterning, sorting, and learning the color palette.
Fine Motor Skills, Color Identification, Hand/Eye Coordination, Spatial Skills, Problem Solving Skills
Fisher Price Little People Vehicle Set
There are so many different Little People vehicles available, I was thrilled to be able to find a set. Each car or truck comes with its own figure, so you can develop a small community. Add them to other Little People play sets for extended play! This set seems to come and go in availability, so if you see it, grab it!
Other vehicles are also sold individually if you only want to get your hands on a specific one. They make the perfect gifts for toddlers!
Imaginative Play, Cooperative Play, Language Skills, Social/Emotional Skills, Fine/Gross Motor Skills, Hand/Eye Coordination
Crayola My First Scribbler Bundle
Most people tend to be a little shy in letting their infants and toddlers explore with art supplies. Luckily, Crayola has our backs.
In this gift set, you get an art smock, 4 washable finger paints, 3 egg shaped crayons, and 20 sheets of paper. The egg shaped crayons help young toddlers grasps them firmly to be able to make marks as they are still developing finger strength.
Art Awareness, Creativity, Fine Motor Skills, Sensory Exploration, Cause & Effect, Language Skills
Little Tikes My First Learning Mailbox
When toddlers are done making some fabulous art with the Crayola set from above, they can send them off in this learning mailbox! It has a shape sorter and 9 house numbers to identify and place on the post. Even if little ones aren’t into art, this set comes with 3 letters and 2 fillable packages – one of which already has a soft surprise inside! A spinning flag and buttons with sounds, music and phrases also make this tons of fun.
Imaginative Play, Number Recognition, Shape Concepts, Hand/Eye Coordination, Fine/Gross Motor Skills, Social/Emotional Skills
Fisher Price Barbie Little DreamHouse
A lot of moms long for the days their daughters are old enough to play Barbies. Now, the wait isn’t so long! This DreamHouse is made just for toddlers with Little People Barbie figures and accessories. But don’t think Fisher Price shrunk the fun. It still has all the features of a full-size DreamHouse!
Imaginative Play, Fine Motor Skills, Hand/Eye Coordination, Social/Emotional Skills, Cooperative Play
Step 2 Ball Buddies Tunnel Tower
How about a toy that doesn’t require batteries for fun? This ball tower provides a few different means of entertainment. Toddlers can fling the balls toward the tower and watch them roll out when they make it in. In addition, it comes with two dump truck buddies that catch and drive the balls to their next exciting destination.
Motor Skills, Hand/Eye Coordination, Cause & Effect, Imaginative Play, Spatial Skills, Cooperative Play, Social/Emotional Skills
Leapfrog Scrub ‘n Play Smart Sink
It is time to start practicing those chores! I like this smart sink because the learning goes beyond the usual letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. The sink identifies hot and cold and the plates can be ordered small, medium, and large. It also has encouraging words, giving toddlers suggestions on how to interact or what to do next.
Imaginative Play, Fine Motor Skills, Hand/Eye Coordination, Spatial Awareness, Language Skills, Social/Emotional Skills
This adorable elephant is ready to play with your child and teach them about their five senses! Place a fruit piece on it’s trunk and it will identify it and describe it using touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell. There is even a quiz mode that challenges kids to use their own senses to find the right fruit. Peek-a-boo, sing alongs, numbers, animals, and more – a valuable learning toy makes a great gift for toddlers.
Sensory Exploration, Social/Emotional Development, Language Skills, Basic Learning Skills
Fisher Price Little People Light Up Learning Camper
While Little People sets were suggested above, this new camper set is deserving of its own space. As a car, camper, dog, and accessories alone, this would be a fun toy for toddlers of adventure families. But with light up features and buttons that help children learn about weather, seasons, daily routines, as well as basic learning concepts, this one is a home run for Fisher Price!
Imaginative Play, Basic Learning Skills, Fine/Gross Motor Skills, Social Emotional Skills
If this list of gifts for toddlers still leaves you wanting more, check out this list of my top sensory toys for toddlers!