Gift Ideas For Toddlers and Preschoolers 2018

Gift Ideas For Toddlers and Preschoolers 2018

The holidays are just around the corner and while some of you finished your holiday shopping in June when Toys R’ Us went out of business, the rest of us are gathering gift ideas for toddlers and preschoolers and looking for the best sales (preferably from the comfort of our couches because we are moms and don’t dare go to Target with our kids in tow.)

When I am shopping for toys for my kids or for gifts for other families with toddlers and preschoolers, I try to find toys that are open-ended. I stay away from toys that are battery operated because my theory is if the toy does the thinking and the action, then your child doesn’t have to. I like to look for gift ideas that can be used in a variety of different play scenarios and that will be loved by both my children who are wildly different in personality.

With all that in mind, I have created a list of gift ideas that your toddler and preschooler will love and better yet, I have divided it by age and category. For those of you who are done with your holiday shopping but have family members asking for gift ideas for your kiddos, send them this post for 35 different “Mom Approved” gift options for toddlers and preschoolers.

If you prefer a simple list without all of the descriptions or anecdotes, grab a printer-friendly PDF version at the bottom of this page.

Featured Must-Haves

Y’all, these 5 items are the BEST of the best. I have tried every single one of these toys and given then a through run through to test their quality. We absolutely LOVE these products and cannot recommend them enough.


Cubbie Lee Toys

Blocks are the most timeless toy ever. Cubbie Lee Toys makes gorgeous wooden blocks in basic colors and shapes. My kids look at these and see opportunities to stack, crash, and build castles, bridges, airplanes and so much more. I look at these and see opportunities to sort, make patterns, identify 3D shapes, and challenge the kids with STEM building cards. This is one toy that I tried, but I am keeping it under wraps for my kids until Christmas because I know their faces will light up when they open them.

Name Puzzle

Heirloom Kids

Heirloom Toys are STUNNING. The name of their brand is on point because their toys are truly heirloom pieces. There is nothing from their shop that you will not love. The natural wood colors are gorgeous. I also love that the puzzle uses capital and lowercase letters as Reagan has mastered her name with all capitals, but needs help with lowercase letters. This is the perfect way for your preschooler to practice their name and I am so excited for her to open it on Christmas morning.

Tracing Board

Toy Expressive

When I found Toy Expressive tracing boards on Amazon, I knew I hit the jackpot. I have been eyeing a few tracing boards on Etsy for a while now. I love the wooden boards and felt like tracing boards were a great way to practice letter and number formation in a non-threatening way. HOWEVER, to be honest they are pretty costly on Etsy and I wasn’t willing to pay $40 for just lowercase or just capital letters. But Toy Expressive’s boards are very affordable and they include capital letters, lowercase letters, and numbers 0-9. When I opened this package up, both of my kids were instantly excited and they sat and traced for 10 solid minutes. Reagan asks multiple times a week if she can try her tracing board.

Craft Box

We Craft Box

Last year for Reagan’s birthday, a friend gave her a craft kit where she made and decorated a wand. It was PERFECT, because she was able to be creative and do art and I wasn’t left trying to find a new home for yet another toy. Ever since, I have been in love with SIMPLE crafts kits for kids. The We Craft Box is a subscription kit that sends you the materials and detailed instructions with step by step pictures to complete three crafts. Even if you aren’t crafty, this is a craft kit that you can easily do with your child. They will love the one on one time as you create together and if you purchase the subscription you can create new crafts with kiddos monthly.

Magnetic Tiles

Play Mags

Magnetic tiles are THE hot item this year and I totally get the hype. My kids LOVE them. We have used them daily for over two months now. I have even created a play guide for your magnetic tiles which you can find here. We have the Play Mags brand and they are holding up beautifully. However, before we were gifted the Shape Mags brand, I purchased a cheap brand on Amazon and one of the magnets fell out of the car piece. This is a MAJOR safety hazard, so when it comes to magnetic tiles, it IS worth shelling out a few extra dollars to ensure your child is playing with a safe toy.

More Gift Ideas

2 Year Old Gift Ideas

STEM Gift Ideas


These are simple suction cup plastic toys that attach to everything. They are a great toy to take with you on the road or to a restaurant because they will stick to any flat surface and your toddler and build and play creatively.

Stacking Pegs

This STEM toy requires your toddler to use very basic engineering and problem-solving skills. It also requires fine motor skills and you can easily use the pieces to work on colors and numbers.

Dramatic Play Gift Ideas

Play Kitchen

A play kitchen will last your family years. we have had ours for 3 years now and it is still going strong and is used at least every other day if not every day. We have the Kid Kraft version in red and personally, I love that it is pretty to look at considering it will be a fixture in our home for at least 5 years. My only advice would be for Santa and his elves to start early on putting this kitchen together as it comes in MANY small pieces.

Toy Animals

This is another gift idea that will grow with your kids. Right now they might just hold the animals or use them to roar at you (yes that happens on the regular over here), and as they grow they will use them to create stories and build a small world.

Classic Toys Gift Ideas

Green Toys

Green Toys is one of my FAVORITE brands for kids toys. They make cars, planes, boats, basically, all things that go and now they also make scenes like farms and fire stations that allow for tons of classic play. While this brand is not technically a classic as it is fairly new, they make QUALITY toys in a way that will last just like the classics did. We gift these toys regularly.

Mr. Potato Head

Mr. Potato Head has existed for YEARS although it always reminds me of Toy Story. We have a Mr. Potato Head and my kids LOVE putting together silly potato heads with four arms and no eyes. This toy is a beautiful example fo learning through play as your toddler is learning about body parts and using fine motor skills.

Learning Toys Gift Ideas

Fine Motor Hedgehog

This is a toy is snagged at Toy’RUs in their final days and I have saved it for D’s birthday. He loves it and so do I. I originally bought it because I saw the fine motor skills, but after opening it I noticed that there are numbers on all the pegs so we can work on number identification and colors as we play.

Chunky Puzzles

Your two-year-old is totally ready for some chunky puzzles. They will love the bright pictures and are able to begin matching the pieces and problem-solving to get them to fit in their spot correctly. I personally prefer the chunky puzzles with the knobs because they are easier for the kids to grasp, but ones without knobs will be easier to store.

Art Gift Ideas

Dot Markers

We use Dot Markers at least 3 times a week. Both my kids like to dot their papers like crazy people. These are great for little hands that are not ready to hold a pencil or crayon yet. You can even find scented ones.

Kwik Stix

These babies will absolutely be in Rea and D’s stocking. They are tempra paint sticks. They roll on really easily and smooth, the colors are vibrant and gorgeous, and they dry in seconds. These little sticks allow you to paint without all the mess.

3 Year Old Gift Ideas

STEM Gift Ideas

Magnet Lab

Magnets are such a fun way to explore and get your children interested in science. Be careful though and be picky with magnets as they are hazardous to small children and you should always buy quality magnets to ensure they do not break.

Design and Drill

This toy will grow with your child for a few years. They can start by using the drill to add the colorful screws and move on to copying the designs and when they are really advanced they can create their own designs. This reminds me of the updated Lite Brite.

Pretend Play Gift Ideas

Dress Up

Both of my kids LOVE to dress up. While I do own a lot of dress up from the Dollar Tree and second-hand shops, I must say our quality dress up outfits withstand my kids much longer and are easier for them to put on independently.

Rainbow Bears

I have used these rainbow bears in my lessons and in my 5 Activities with 1 Material posts because they are so versatile. The best thing about them is watching my kids take a handful and create stories and games using these bears. They really invite your child to use their imagination.

Classic Toys Gift Ideas

Hungry Hungry Hippo

A good friend of mine gives this gift at every birthday party and it is ALWAYS a hit, so I knew I had to share this classic.

Little People

I remember my mom taking me to Toys’RUs and buying me a set of Little People. I loved them and now my kids do too. We have played with character sets and animal sets and they have yet to find on they do not like.

Learning Toy Gift Ideas

Jigsaw Puzzles

Your preschooler is now ready to take their puzzle game up a notch with some basic jigsaw puzzles.

Tape Measure

This one may seem a little strange, but trust me when I say your preschooler is going to love measuring everything in the house.

Art Gift Ideas

Play Dough KitsHoliday gift guide play dough kit

Play dough is the number one item on Rea’s list right now and she would absolutely FLIP for this play dough kit. I am actually planning to get one for her and her cousins because they will all LOVE them.

Decorate Your Own

Melissa and Doug make several Decorate-Your-Own kits. These are simple art kits that include all the supplies you need to complete one craft. This is an art kit that even non-crafty Mommies can manage.

4 Year Old Gift Ideas

STEM Gift Ideas

Marble Run

You can use this as a marble run in the cold months and when it warms up, try pouring water instead of the marble to add some sensory elements.

1-2-3 Build It

We love all things that go. And we love STEM toys. This is the perfect blend of both.

Dramatic Play Gift Ideas

Antsy Pants

This is the perfect combination of imaginative play, STEM, and art. Your preschooler can build their fort, truck, or food stand and then engage in dramatic play using the structure they built. You can purchase covers so that you can easily change the look of your fort or create your own simply using blankets at home.


You have probably noticed that your preschooler has hit an amazing point in their creativity. They can grab a few basic toys can create any game with them. These animal puppets are perfect for your child to create a farm story and let their imagination take off.

Classic Toys Gift Ideas

Hi-Ho Cherry-o

I loved this game as a kid. So much nostalgia for me here. As a mom, I love that I get to play a game with my kids that I loved as a kid. As a teacher, I love that it includes skills for taking turns, counting, taking away, colors, and sorting.

Lego Duplo

Learning Toy Gift Ideas

Shoe Tying

Look, I’ll be the first to admit shoe tying isn’t the most exciting, but it is SUCH an important skill. Your kindergarten teacher will thank you and your kiddo will be part of their class’ shoe tying club (it’s a thing).

Pattern Blocks

Do you remember when your teacher would pull these out during school? It was THE best. They teach shapes, problem-solving, and this one will grow with your child as they can also be used for fractions. This set also comes with the pattern block shape mats to guide your preschooler as they design.

Art Gift Ideas

Once Upon a Craft

I love the idea of art gifts that are one and done, meaning you open it, complete the craft, and then it is out of your house forever. This is one of those activities. Once Upon a Craft has several different kits all of which are based off Fairytales and they all come with a copy of the fairy tale.

Table Top Easel

White Board. Chalkboard. Painting Easel. ALL IN ONE. And the tabletop version means it folds relatively flat and can easily be put away.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and that I was able to help you find some fun and exciting toys to gift this season.