Best Gifts for Toddlers, By Age

From ages 1-4, we’ve got great gifts to make your shopping easier

Best Gifts for Toddlers, By Age

For as prepared as I am for most things, I tend to procrastinate when it comes to shop for birthday gifts. As we’ve reached the phase of life where we have a birthday party every weekend it seems, I find myself perplexed over what to buy. I know my kids, but do these other children like what my mine like? I know my values, but do they align with other parents’?

So when it comes to gift-giving, I break it down into categories and ask myself questions like, “Is Jimmy more into music or reading?” This gives me some guidance and the space to make my own selection for a thoughtful gift.


From presents on wheels to reading material, we've got great gender-neutral gifts for children from one to four years old. Here's our selection of 24 awesome gifts for toddlers.


1. Pop Play Maracas. These beautiful wooden maracas are safely and beautifully painted so that Mom and Dad feel great about them while baby can enjoy the sounds and bright colors. $8.99, buy here.

2. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. This book has great rhythm for story time, and it’s never too early to start learning those ABCs. $5.59, buy here.

3. Lola Lollipop teething necklace. At one, baby is still attached to mom, especially when it’s teething time. This is a great option for mom and baby. $24.99, buy here.

4. Crayola Egg Crayons. Baby’s first crayons! These are perfect for a first grip and you and your kid will delight over their surprise to see colors show up on paper! $11.99, buy here.

5. Melissa and Doug maze. Baby can work on colors, hand-eye coordination, and have a whole lot of fun with this First Bead Maze. $11.99, buy here.

6. Radio Flyer Walker. Whether it's for a baby who's just learning to walk or for an old walking pro, this walker is great for balance, mobility, and imaginary play (just think of all you can load up in that basket!). $45.20, buy here.


1. Hohner Marine Harmonica. We got our two-year-old a harmonica for her birthday and were deemed “coolest parents ever.” It’s easy to get great sounds out of a harmonica, which can also be an instrument they can grow up learning to play better and better. $39.49, buy here.

2. Cat Oekaki House Art Board. Magnetic art boards are fantastic for toddlers since they’re not messy. But the pen and shape options give your child lots of variety all in one place. $66, buy here.

3. KID O shape sorter. Continue improving that hand-eye coordination and work on shapes and colors skills, all while having fun with this cute shape sorter. $29.99, buy here.

4. Big Hungry Bear. This is one of those classics that is passed down for generations. The story is engaging, but simple, and the illustrations are gorgeous. $11.14, buy here.

5. Nutcase scooter helmet. Tour the streets in style (and safely!) with this super cute helmet to go with your scooter. $49.99, buy here.

6. Mini Micro Scooter. By two, those city kids are on-the-go. Everyone knows a scooter is the best way to navigate the sidewalks, and the Mini Micro is great for beginning scooters. $89.99, buy here.


1. Pete the Cat. This book is a huge hit in our house, and the book about his groovy buttons is so fun to read allowed. Not to mention--it’s a great introduction to elementary math! $9.08, buy here.

2. Plan Toys Rhythm Box. I’d make sure to get a parental nod-of-approval first (because, drumming); but three is a great age for studying rhythm. This beautiful wooden rhythm box is much more manageable than a drum kit too! $60, buy here.

3. Land of Nod Easel. At some point in parenthood, you will have an art easel; so why not make it beautiful like this stylish option from Land of Nod. Your kid will feel like a brilliant artist, and you won’t mind it sitting in the living room corner. $149, buy here.

4. Playdoh Classic Tool Set. Tactile play is where it’s at, when you’re three; and with PlayDoh, you can associate shapes, colors, and textures. These vintage tools are pretty enough to please mom, but super fun too. $39.99, buy here.

5. Janod Balance Bike. What do parents of three-year-olds want to do? Wear out that energy! This balance bike is a stylish foray into two-wheeled transportation--a great gift for parents and kids alike. $77, buy

6. Custom Superhero Cape. I don’t know many three-year-olds who don’t like to finish off their OOTD with some great accessories. Custom-design a great superhero cape and love watching your hero dash around your neighborhood! $21, buy here.


1. Islabikes Cnoc. With all that practice, a big four-year-old might be ready to try a real bike. This is a simple, stylish and lightweight option: Islabikes or Rascal Rides has the five top bikes for 3- to 5-year-olds. $369, buy here.

2. Darice Artyfacts Portable Art Studio. Four-year-olds want to express themselves! This art kit offers a variety of colors and mediums for a burgeoning artist and opiner. $5.52, buy here.

3. The Book With No Pictures. Kids will find this book hysterical! And I love how they’re learning to listen to the words of a story, without relying on illustrations. $17.99, buy here.

4. Herschel backpack. You’ve got places to go (school!) and people to see (friends!), so you’ll need something to carry everything from point A to B! $39.99, buy here.

5. Kala Makala Ukulele. A ukulele is another great instrument to grow up with. Kiddos can play around with rhythm, tones, and dynamics, but also learn to play actual songs with a little practice and maybe a lesson or fourteen. $49.99, buy here.

6. HAPE tool station. A kid can be just like mom and dad, fixing something around the house, or imagine a whole new creation with this sweet, realistic tool bench! $87, buy here.

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    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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    Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

    There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

    With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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