If you’re worried about getting it right this Christmas with gift buying for your littles, dont worry, I’ve got you covered! I created this Therapist Approved Christmas Guide to help you weed through the junk and find the best, most durable, loved on and of course developmentally appropriate toys!
This Christmas Gift Guide is everything! My hope was to be able to bring to you a condensed, researched and pre-approved list of all of my favorite toys that are developmentally appropriate for each age group (0-2 years and 3-5 years). After working as a pediatric occupational therapist for almost 10 years, I have become quite a toy fanatic. Not really in the storage of bucketloads of toys all over my house sort of way but more in the extremely selective, sturdy, age-appropriate, long-lasting sort of way. In my house that typically means getting rid of a lot of things we don’t use frequently and keeping toys that still serve an educational, developmental, sensory or skill-enhancing purpose (like music/art toys).
I am not a big fan of over-stimulating, musical toys with lots of gadgets and sounds. I look for simple, basic and straightforward. The younger the age, the simpler the functions of the toy should be.
I am, however, a huge fan of open ended, high quality (usually wooden) toys that encourage creativity and child development! Open-ended toys are great for so many reasons..
They inspire creativity, pretend-play, spatial and size awareness, problem solving skills, etc
They never get old meaning they stay “age appropriate” for longer
The simplicity of open ended toys aren’t over-stimulating to the child
The simplicity of the design doesn’t make a lot of sounds that drive me crazy
These toys below are all toys that I have personally used before in a clinical or personal way that I know kids love and benefit from developmentally. I did my best to choose toys that offer the entire rainbow of developmental skills, including: visual-motor skills, fine motor skills and hand skills, sensory integration, strengthening/gross motor skills, oral motor skills/feeding, socialization, pretend play, problem solving, etc.
Most of these items are on amazon so they can be at your doorstep in just a few days but I’ve included a few specialty items from small business shops on ETSY which may take more time in transit. Keep in mind that many of the open ended and sensory toys can be used for either the 0-2 or 3-5 age group.
Disclaimer: I never want to encourage materialism and buying more than you need, so if you can’t afford some of these goodies or don’t actually NEED them, then don’t buy them! *Affiliate links below