Welcome to part 3 of the Becoming Mamas Holiday Gift Guide! Previously, we reviewed some favorite books and our favorite trucks and trains. This week, we review some of our favorite toys and items for building fine motor skills.
Yes, we are recommending more Play Toys! I bought this set for Gavin when he was about 18 months old when he first started showing an interest in stacking. Some of the pieces are a little small for such a young toddler, but this is a set that will be perfect for him as he grows. The blocks are very high quality, and I trust Play Toys because they use “green” materials to build their toys. I also trust that their paint is lead-free and contaminant-free. These blocks are made from rubberwood that no longer produces latex. It one of the more affordable sets of eco-friendly blocks.
This offering also from Plan Toys is a nice alternative to the old school plastic ring stackers. Callum got this as a first birthday present and still enjoys stacking the rings (now we work on getting them in “order” and talk about the different colors instead of just stacking). The rings all have the same diameter hole which makes them nice for little ones just learning stacking skills (in other words, they can go on in any order unlike the plastic stackers).
This particular shape sorter is probably best for the 18 month and up crowd; the wide variety of shapes and the design which requires using all sides of the box make it a bit challenging for younger sorters. The Plan Toy Shape and Sort It Outis a better option for younger kiddos and is a bit nicer quality than the M&D sorter (which explains the higher price).
Melissa and Doug Puzzles
Melissa and Doug have hundreds of puzzles to choose from (the one I featured here just happens to be Gavin’s favorite). Their puzzles range from simple to complicated, and they are perfect for toddlers learning how to do puzzles. The quality is nice and the pieces are the right size for little toddler fingers. You can choose from dozens of different themes from safari animals to insects to the ABC’s. Beginning puzzlers might wish to start with a Jumbo Knob Puzzlewhich are a bit easier for smaller hands to manipulate.
Callum is a huge puzzle fan so it was no surprise that he also enjoys these pattern blocks from Melissa & Doug. The design is pretty straight forward – four different shapes are used to complete a variety of pictures (from flowers to sailboats). The blocks can also be played with on their own making this a pretty versatile toy. These are probably best for the 18 month and up crowd as some of the pieces might be tempting for little ones to put in their mouths (although I think they are large enough to be safe).
Callum has had this latch board since about 20 months and has been quite taken with it. It’s great for any kid who likes opening and closing things! Each latch works differently providing a bit of a challenge for even nimble fingered little ones. The pictures also allow for practice with colors and numbers.
At 22 months, Callum is just starting to “get” these lacing cards and lacing beads. He’s become quite fascinated with shoe laces so these are a nice way to make that a more productive activity 😉 The cards are sturdy and should last for years. The beads are nice and colorful (and not so small that I worry about them getting “eaten”). As Callum gets older, he’ll be able to use these in more sophisticated ways (like making patterns with the beads) which makes these toys that should hold his interest for several years.
Ginkgo Panda-Babies Made in the USA 3-Piece Baby & Toddler Flatware Set
If you are looking for a more practical gift, silverware is perfect for a toddler. A toddler-sized silverware set allows him to refine his fine motor skills while learning proper mealtime etiquette. A toddler is usually ready to start playing with a fork and spoon around 12 months old, but he probably won’t master it for quite a while. Using a fork and spoon that is just his size and looks like the fork and spoon Mommy and Daddy (and sister and brother) are using will make your toddler feel special. I like this set because it looks nice and it is made in the USA. Another nice set is Oneida Chateau 3-Piece Child Set.