In today’s consumer-driven world, taking a completely minimalist approach to raising a child can be difficult, especially when that “new toy” gives you five minutes to focus on making dinner. But my husband and I still try to be mindful of the goodies we buy for our toddler. For each new item (okay, realistically, it’s only most items), we ask ourselves does it have a specific purpose, will last a long time, and will it entertain our curious toddler for more than a few minutes? As a former teacher, I am also conscious of choosing well-rounded, educational gifts for toddlers that foster her multiple intelligences (logical, kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, naturalist, verbal, and visual). Below is our list of things that we have come to love over the past year.
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10 gift ideas for active and curious toddlers:
We can never have enough books at our house. We love Barefoot Books because of the art and story collection. The Hudson and Me series is perfect for our little dog lover. Books by famous authors listed in the Virtual Book Club are always a hit. Any books that get our little one moving are fantastic. Our Kids Yoga Stories toddler-preschool yoga series is coming out in 2014, starting with Good Night, Animal World, and it is designed to get kids moving before bedtime. Or we pick up goodies at our local secondhand bookstore or borrow from the library.
We love Babybug, a magazine by Cricket. Next year, we will be getting Ladybug and the Spanish version of Babybug, too. We love the songs, poems, and rhymes. The magazines are the perfect size for travel. We might also try out High Five magazine for 2 to 6 year olds, by Highlights. We love exposing our toddler to different genres of print.
I am seriously obsessed with maps and globes. So I was super excited to find this cloth Hugg-a-Planet for our toddler. And a friend just recommended this stunning Maps book by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski. And I am in love with it. We have a USA map on the wall in the kitchen that we use to talk about different places that we have visited. Recently, it was also a super-helpful tool because we just moved across the country.
We are big fans of Schleich animals because they are so realistic looking. We use them to talk about the animals that we will see at the zoo, sort them into different groups, or play with them in the car. We match up the animals with books, too, or use them to practice different yoga poses. I have a feeling that our daughter will be playing with these animals for many years.
We have been collecting a basketful of musical instruments. We have a drum, a tambourine, shakers, a xylophone, and bells. They’re perfect for a spontaneous dance party in the living room. We have Pandora playing all day long. And at the moment, our favorite CDs are Kira Willey’s Dance for the Sun yoga music and Jose Luis Orozco’s Spanish songs for kids. We also just discovered music by Laurie Berkner, who produces fun action songs for toddlers.
We have been building up our art supply box to develop our daughter’s creativity. We like the Crayola Pip-squeaks markers, Melissa & Doug Jumbo Triangular Crayons, Reese tempera paints, UHU Stic glue, and Dover Little Sticker Books. Our supplies also include safety scissors, scotch tape, and an art smock. This year, we are going to ask Santa for an easel! You also can’t go wrong with boxes, odd bits of paper, toilet paper rolls, ribbon, and recycled materials from around the house.
NATURAL CARE PRODUCTS
We don’t use a lot of personal care products on our daughter, but the ones we do use are natural and organic. Check out the award-winning natural products by TruKid, which was founded by a mom of six children! We love their hero stick for helping bug bites. And their bath blasts, which are not only fun to watch explode in the water, but also great for travel.
Any toys that encourage imaginary play and storytelling are winners. We recently got these adorable, hand-crocheted finger puppets made by Peruvian women artisans, from Daria’s Village Store. Animal finger puppets are also great inspiration for mini-yoga sessions (watch for a finger puppet yoga post soon). We also have our eyes on the Plan Toys multicultural family sets. We recently found some Fisher Price Adventure People, which take me back to my childhood in the 70s, on eBay. Her “people” are currently being used as bath toys. The Duplo sets and toy cars were also a huge hit.
We just bought a membership to the local aquarium. Our daughter loves to watch the turtles, fish, and penguins. It’s a perfect family trip that allows her to run around to see the various ocean animals. She is also a big fan of the zoo and discovery museums. All of these family activities are wonderful ways for our toddler to develop her love of science and nature.
LOVE AND LAUGHTER
After a tough day of tantrums and tears, I have to remind myself to take a deep breath, cuddle our toddler, and then shower her with tickles. There’s nothing like cuddles and tickles to get you through the challenges of raising a toddler. Our yoga experiences also keep us laughing and bonding. We get tangled up in downward-facing dog poses together and hold hands in resting pose. She just started saying, “Namaste.” In the future, I’ll teach her the meaning, which is: “The light in me sees the light in you.”
I hope that these ideas for toddler gifts bring joy to your household this holiday season. Remember that sometimes, the best gift is time spent together. And yoga is a great way to spend quality time.
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Please share if you have any other suggestions. We are always looking for new ideas for gifts for toddlers! For other holiday ideas, sign up for our weekly Kids Yoga Stories newsletter by adding your email address into the box at the top of the page.