As the holidays draw closer and the stores start to roll out their festive merchandise for gift-giving, the tendency to become a bit overwhelmed with finding the perfect item in your price range can certainly detract from the merriment of the season. Shopping for toddlers, in particular, can be considered even more difficult as their specific tastes haven’t quite formed yet and/or often times change every other day.
Especially in this still-fragile economy, it’s helpful to have a more specific guide to what toddler-friendly products are currently available and popular with other buyers without breaking the bank. The below sections give suggestions on what types of products are always sure to be a big hit with kids from the ages of 18 months to three and a half years old.
Cheap Arts & Crafts Gift Ideas for Toddlers
Playdough. Because kids in this age group are still sensory-motivated, playdough and molding clay are excellent affordable gifts that are sure to draw big smiles. The Play-Doh Spaghetti Factory Playset (from Hasbro $12.99) or the Moon Dough Magic Barnyard (from Moon Dough $19.99) are a couple of great options that are currently out in stores or available online.
Toddler-Safe Crayons, Markers and Paints. Non-toxic, washable, soap and water clean up – what more could a parent want out of crafty products? Check out Crayola Beginnings TaDoodles in the Tub – Tub Crayons (from Crayola $5.99) and/or Crayola Beginnings Color Me a Song (from Crayola $16.99) for a fun variations on creative expression. Paints, markers and crayons designed for small hands and big imaginations are wonderful ways to bring out your child’s inner Dali while not spending a fortune!
Cheap Outdoor Fun Gift Ideas for Young Kids
Bubbles. Toddlers of all shapes and sizes go crazy for bubbles – bubble wands, bubble machines, bubble games, bath bubbles. You name it, they love it or would want it. Items such as the Bubble Mower (from Fisher Price $18.00) or the Alex Toys Rub A Dub Bubble Beater With Bubbles Bath Toy (from Alex Toys $13.99) are incredibly affordable toys that can truly perform the unthinkable: hold the attention of busy toddlers for more than five minutes at a time (gasp!).
Balls. Keeping it simple, balls are a wonderfully inexpensive way of getting toddlers to expend their endless energy while sharpening gross motor skills in the process. Buy them smaller plush balls to roll back and forth, larger “bouncy” balls on which to jump and roll, or harder plastic ones to practice catching; balls usually cost under $10 and provide energetic fun for all involved.
Cheap Toys/General Gift Ideas for Toddlers
Blocks. Encouraging development of toddler brain function, blocks are fantastic for opening up a whole new world to growing brains and little hands. Blocks can hone problem-solving skills in teaching toddlers how stacking and matching can often produce different results, as well as bring tremendous satisfaction to kids everywhere in knocking them over time and time again. Mega Bloks Building Bag (from MEGA brands $19.99) or Melissa and Doug Plush ABC Blocks (from Melissa & Doug $19.99) are examples of blocks that can teach, entertain and stimulate all for under $20!
Pretend Play. Children this age love to emulate the world around them, starting with their parents. Does your toddler usually want to help you in the grocery store? Check out the Just Like Home Deluxe Shopping Cart (from American Plastic Toy $14.99) and fill it with the Step 2 101-Piece Play Food Set (from Step 2 $21.99) then observe while your little one “goes shopping” around the living room. Is your child fascinated by the instruments in the pediatricians office? A fun option here is the Fisher-Price Medical Kit (from Fisher Price $12.99), just be prepared to be examined often!
Books. Again keeping it simple, books are incredibly cost-effective gifts that introduce toddlers to new worlds, concepts and characters. Reading with your children is beneficial to all involved on so many levels and is a lovely alternative to more expensive toys.
Bringing smiles of happiness or squeals of joy to toddlers everywhere may be worth it’s weight in gold, but gifts that elicit these reactions don’t have to cost as much.