eco friendly toddler gifts, unique toddler gift ideas

As the holidays rapidly approach, the stress of what to get everyone creeps into our minds even faster.

Luckily, shopping for toddlers isn’t too hard especially when you have this huge list of ideas.

When shopping for toddlers it can be tempting to buy “educational toys” to help stimulate their little brains, but you would just be wasting your money.

If you want your children to learn while playing then they (1) need HUMAN and hands on connections, not artificial stimulations and (2) toys that let them just. play. Using their imaginations to make their own stories and games is more powerful and stimulating than electronic toys that make noises that will mean little to your child at this point.

The International Play Association (IPA) conducted research allowing children to choose between electronic learning toys and regular ones. They found the children lost interest in the educational toys quickly and chose to play with traditional toys like Legos and dolls-the types of toys that allow children to create.

Dr. Kathleen Alfano, the Senior Director at the Fisher-Price Play Lab, admits, “There is no proof that this type of toy [educational toys] helps children become smarter.”

So now that that’s out of the way, feel free to skip the plastic “learning toys” and buy toys for the sake of playing because that’s when children learn.

The best types of toys for toddlers would be things that help them use their imaginations to create stories like blocks, dress up kits, dolls, animals, and other open ended toys that they can use for whatever comes to their minds-like the toys I’ve selected for you below.

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zero waste gift ideas

15 Unique Gift Ideas for Toddlers

1. Sensory Playdough

Take playdough to another level with this lovely handmade dough. It contains only ingredients you would find in your kitchen-including natural colours. But the best part is the yummy smells! You may find it’s therapuetic to play with yourself. You can even order a little wooden rolling pin.

Each dough is sold individually, but this could be a good thing for your toddler as too many colour options end up as brown. Instead you can pick one or two colours and leave it at that.

2. Balancing Stones

If your kids are like most toddlers, then you already know stacking and building towers is one of their favourite pastimes.

These stones are available in different colour palettes and are a unique alternative to blocks.

3. Stacking Zoo Animals

Along the same line as the balancing stones, these stacking zoo animals are a fun alternative to blocks and can be used for imaginative play as well.

My daughter used to get so frustrated that she couldn’t stack her zoo figurines into a tower like in Dumbo. These would have been perfect for her.

4. Archeologist Kit

Chances are your toddler along with stacking, also likes digging and this wooden kit allows them to pretend to be explorers.

Give this along with a preschool dinosaur book and you’ll have a gift that will excite any toddler.

5. Wooden Tea Set

This sweet little tea set will make your little one feel like a proper adult as it comes complete with tea bags and sugar cubes.

Grab your feather boa and pretty hat as there could be a lot of tea parties in your future!

6. Wooden Picnic Set

Maybe your little one would prefer hosting an al fresco lunch instead of a tea party.

This little wooden set would be versatile enough to use in a play kitchen as well as pretending to be Little Red Riding Hood or Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.

7. Wooden Wonky Produce

With so much food waste happening worldwide for purely aestheitic reasons, this is a great set to add to your toddler’s play arsenal as it will allow them to not only play, but teach them to look past food appearance.

8. A Busy Board

This board is one way to keep your little one out of trouble as it’s full of the things they like to fool around with; light switches, locks, bells, zippers, and more.

Not only will your little one find this completely entertaining but she will also be learning fine motor skills as well.

9. Veterinarian/Doctor Kit

Nothing pleases a toddler like taking care of someone else. This kit is a vet kit and even comes with the first victim- I mean patient. Don’t be surprised if your little doctor examines you as well.

10. Beauty Kit

Maybe instead of a doctor your little would like to be a stylist. This kit comes complete with a carrying bag and enough for a bit of self-care for you from your little one.

11. Wooden Tool Box

Playing with tools is fun for all toddlers. Makes them feel quite grown up. This tool box comes with all the tools your little one needs to “help” around the house.

12. Treasure Chest

This special little box can be used for your toddler to store all her important things, like rocks from a carpark and all the daisies she collects at the park.

13. Quiet Book

Along the same lines of the Busy Board, the quiet book has little activities on each page that will keep them entertained and work on their fine motor skills.

This book in particular let’s you customise your book by selecting the pages you want to include and a choice of covers.

14. Wooden Block Puzzles

This will be tricky for the younger toddlers, but is still fun to stack and play with, then as your toddler gets a bit older, these blocks suddenly become 6 different puzzles. My daughter has gotten a lot of enjoyment from hers.

15. Animal Scarf

If you follow the 4 gift rule- something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read- then this is a fun something to wear for your little one.

Not only will your toddler be warm but she will be more likely to wear something like a scarf it is her favourite animal, too.

Some thoughts on personalising gifts…

If you want to personalise a gift ask yourself, is it a gift that will be kept forever?

If it’s not something that will be a forever-heirloom-keepsake gift, you should avoid personalising.

Why? Because if at any point your child outgrows the gift, or doesn’t use it anymore, by not personalising the gift you have a better chance at selling it if it’s still in good condition.

When I bought my daughter a second-hand play kitchen I kept coming across a cute little kitchen I liked, but it was personalised with the name “Poppy.” It could have been listed as free and I still wouldn’t have taken it despite the fact I liked the style, simply because that’s not my child’s name.

Sure there may be mums with a Poppy looking for a second-hand play kitchen, but it makes it sooo much harder to sell and if you reach a tipping point of not wanting it in your house anymore then you either give it away or take it to the tip just to be rid of it.

Just something to think about.

Why Shop Etsy?

Yes, I realise the gifts are from Etsy and I have a few reasons for recommending them.

1. Many of the shops are from small businesses and solopreneurs and purchasing from them helps support a family and not a multi-million pound corporation.

2. When you purchase from Etsy 100% of your delivery’s carbon will be offset. Etsy has partnered with 3Degrees to fund verified emissions reducing projects like protecting forests, investing in solar and wind farms, and finding greener ways to produce auto parts. All at no additional cost to you!

3. Etsy has always been known for diversity and inclusivity and during 2020 has promoted supporting small businesses and promoted supporting Black sellers because they truly want to support real people.

4. Then the products themselves are usually lovely, many are handmade, and they are priced for the true cost of the item.

Hopefully you found something for your little one in this list, but even if you didn’t find quite what you were looking for, check out the Kids Gift Giving Guide and you may find more ideas there.

And don’t just stop at the kids, there are many amazing ideas for friends, family and coworkers on Etsy, too!

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