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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holiday Gift Ideas: 0-2 Years

By Tracy S, Charlotte Smarty Pants

Holy Cow! Where has this year gone?? Thanksgiving is in a few days and we are attempting to get a Smarty head-start to all our holiday shopping. So whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year, be sure to check out our blogs these next two weeks for toy suggestions broken out by age … and maybe even a great deal thrown in for good measure!

Before I launch into our picks for the wee-ones, I thought I’d share a super Smarty tip that has helped me get ahead of the game each year and take some of the stress out of holiday shopping. For the past few years, my husband and I pick a day (usually a Friday) in early November and both play hooky from work while the kids are in school. We compile a detailed list of who we need to buy for, a budget for each person, and some initial ideas. Then we map out our route and hit the stores! Being that it’s a weekday in early November, we always have a great selection of toys, and not nearly the crowds you tend to find in December. Of course if you shop online, you can avoid the crowds as well, but I’m a browse-the-aisles, touch-and-feel kind of gal, so this works great for us! AND … you get most of your shopping done EARLY so you can relax and enjoy the hustle bustle of the holidays. It’s an exhausting day, but feel so great to check all that off your list :)

Now for our Smarty Favs for Toddlers (0-2 years)

Some Basics:
Books - by the age of one, I think all toddlers love books. Ryanne has her 2 or 3 favorites that we read over and over and over … Small board books are the best because they are really hard on them at this age. We also really like books with flaps, but if it’s one you don’t want to get ripped, you might want to keep it out of reach when you’re not enjoying it with your child! (yes, I’ve learned from experience!)

Simple stacking rings

Anything with lights and sounds

Shape sorting toys

Fisher-Price Little People Toys - many an hour has been spent enjoying the pirate ship, the farm complete with tractor and animals, and the garage with little cars. Fisher Price even has a Little People Nativity Scene which is GREAT for little ones who want to touch, play and learn about the origin of Christmas. We were lucky to receive one a few years ago and its one of our favorite things to pull out every year!

Baby dolls

Character stuffed animals (Elmo, Big Bird, Mickey Mouse Barney, Snoopy … all HUGE hits when Jake was this age!)

Blocks - Rachel from Triad Smarty Pants loves the HappyVille Blocks – “My son got these as a gift when he was born and six years later they still come in handy! These blocks are so colorful and cute. My daughter loves to build houses for her dolls. We always pull these blocks out for younger kids when they come to visit. They are also great to teach sorting and matching!”

Simple wooden puzzles - Melissa & Doug make some great ones or check out this cool puzzle chest

Leap Frog Fridge Farm

Playskool Busy Ball Popper

Leap Frog Learn & Groove music table

Now is an excellent time to start building your child’s train collection. We got our first set of GeoTrax when Jake was 18 months and that quickly became a favorite gift idea going forward such that now we have a set that can stretch all the way around our house! These are easy to put together and provides hours of creative fun for both child and parent.

Another favorite are the Thomas trains, wooden only

Push or Ride Toys:
This are MUST HAVES! Toddlers love to push & ride things. Here’s a sampling of some of our favorites:
Radio Flyer Pathfinder Wagon - I can’t believe we have a 5-year old and still don’t have one of this in our garage! I’m thinking there might definitely be one under the tree this year.
Jen and Ashley both love the Radio Flyer push wagon. Jen’s almost 4-year old boys still play with theirs - so definitely worth the investment.

Radio Flyer Classic Trike

Kettler tricycle

Step2 Push Buggy - but get ready to log some serious miles on this thing! I don’t know a single toddler who doesn’t love it. In fact, Ryanne tried to hijack one outside of California Pizza Kitchen a couple weeks ago … which then led to one of our very first little girl temper tantrums! Smarty tip - Check out the Whisper Ride - it’s about $20 more, but may be worth it (the XL Silent Ride Tires have quieted the travel in this ride).

Little Tikes Cozy Coupe - many versions and styles to choose from!

Doll strollers for girls

Supermarket Shopping Cart is on our list this year. We grew up with one as kids & I think literally ran the wheels off of it.

And Ashley reminds us of an oldie but goodie … the classic Corn Popper. “Mine love it and something we all remember growing up with so we know it's a proven well loved classic! Great gift for $12!”

Extra Special Gifts:

Table & Chairs set - Little toddlers are so anxious to start acting like "big people" and what better way than to belly up to your own tike-size table? Pottery Barn has a great set that will last forever! Or check out Ikea's version for a less expensive option.

Foam Floor Chair - Wonderful gift for little ones that love to climb on & off for fun, to read, watch cartoons, etc. We prefer the monogrammed Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair (currently on sale too!), but other less expensive versions are available such as the Jr Club Chair at Toys R Us.

Wooden Growth Chart - One of my favorite things is tracking my children's growth over the years and its fun to start now! My Bambino has super cute wooden growth charts that you can personalize with name and select from tons of cute hand-painted designs.

Personalized Step Stool - My Bambino also offers some cute options for stools as well or for those adorable name puzzle stools, check out

And for the little girls - Bow Holders. This is awesome for little 1-2 year olds as their hair starts getting long enough to sport those cute little hairbows - Every girl needs one! And get this Smarties ... Alphabet Soup in Morrocroft, is offering a 10% discount to CSP readers for all orders placed on this item prior to Dec 1.

Whew! That's a lot of great ideas!! But we know there are many more ... share your top picks and best finds for kids 0-2. Happy Shopping!


Summer said...

This list is great, and encompasses nearly all of my favorites for the toddler crowd. Fisher Price launched a 50th anniversary edition of the farm and school house, (while it is not as cool as the one we played with as children) all the pieces store inside and it has a handy carrying handle. I also love the xylophone by fisherprice that is shaped like a tiger.

Catherine said...

My daughter received the Happyville blocks as a gift from her grandparents last year. She loved them!

maythi said...

i think we have most of the things mentioned from when our oldest was little, which makes christmas shopping for our 16 month old more difficult! we love the kettler tricycle and our radio flyer wagon. we have 2 anywhere chairs and they are worth the $. they have held up for over 4 years!!! great list!

maythi said...

just got an email from Pottery Barn and their anywhere chairs (the little foam chairs) are $20 off (i think today only)!!

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