Active baby or toddler gift Guide

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No, no no no nooooooo I will not admit that my baby is one. No! You can’t make me! *stomps foot*

Even though Mr. Sawyer has been one for a few weeks now (ok fine it’s been over a month…close to two…), I Can. Not. Will. Not. get over it. He will forever be my teenie tiny itty bitty wittow baby. Forever. Oh wow. A vision just flashed in my head of me visiting Sawyer during his college years and calling him my itty bitty wittow baby in front of this friends while simultaneously and aggressively cupping his face in my hands…and I’m not even ashamed of myself. Awww. Poor future Sawyer.

Ugh but seriously watching your baby grow up is both a beautiful and unpleasant experience. I love seeing all the new skills that he has developed but I also feel heartbroken when he stops doing his old little baby quirks. Like how now he wants me to put him down so that he can go explore the world instead of just snuggling with his Mommy holding him. Or when he stopped sleeping with one eye open and we could call him “Popeye”. Or when he stopped crawling by dragging one leg behind him and earned the nickname, “Peg leg Pete.” And especially when he used to stay put wherever I set him.

These days, Sawyer spends most of his time in motion. His big brother Jack, like most four year olds, is constantly on the move. In order to keep up with big brother, Mr. Sawyer is usually on the move too. By the way, how much do you think people would pay if we could bottle up the energy of a preschooler and somehow sell it as a beverage? Like an energy drink. For tired parents. The energy of these preschoolers is clearly on another level than the products currently on the market.

Omg when I mentioned energy drinks, I got a flash back to drinking Red Bulls back in the day. Then the Red Bulls make me think of how I’d mix them with Jaegermeister. And that makes me kinda..ack. I can smell it now. A distinct essence of fraternity basement. Wow. It’s absolutely incredible how college kids bounce back just fine from drinking such libations. Like…somehow we’d wake up the next day fresh as a daisy?! Come to think of it, college age Sawyer is totally going to deserve that baby talk and face cupping in front of his friends.

Well even though Mr. Sawyer is a whole. entire. year old, he is still my little baby. And I will soak up alllll this baby time I can and I hope that you do, too. Whether the active baby in your life is your very own or someone else’s, enjoy this gift guide fillled with educational toys that can help grow the gross motor skills of an adventurous little one. I’m including items for all price points here. Bonus: All gifts are all clickable links from Amazon!

What makes these toys educational for gross motor skills? Each toy that I have selected can be used to help improve balance, bodily awareness, coordination, and strengthen growing muscles while remaining button/screen free to maximize creative, open-ended, child-led usage.

10 Educational Gift Ideas for the Active Baby or Toddler in Your Life

Number One: Pop up Tunnel

Poco Divo 6 ft Pop-up Play Tunnel

Set up this foldable tunnel and watch as your little one speed crawls through it while giggling wildly. Play “peek a boo” at opposite ends. Roll balls back and forth through the tunnel. The “foldable” aspect makes this toy even more attractive to us parents. You can set it out for your kiddos to play with and then you can fold it and forget it when you’re finished. My older son, Jack (4), still plays with this tunnel so it should get played with for years to come! (Dogs love it, too so if you’re a dog owner this toy will get lots and lots of use!)

Number Two: Walker Wagon

Radio Flyer Classic Walker Wagon

Baby can stand to push the wagon and practice walking. It’s nice and sturdy and can get heavier when baby loads it up with toys, which helps provide some satisfying “work” for them. Our toddlers love to challenge their bodies! My favorite part about this toy is seeing what kinds of treasures Sawyer chooses to put inside. So far his go-tos have been my face moisturizer and a discarded sock.

Number Three: Splash Table/Sensory Table

Little Tikes Frog Pond Water Table

Your toddler will love standing at this table and playing with whatever materials you put inside! Water, water beads, beans, sand, beans, cereal…the list goes on and on. The table is nice and sturdy and curious kiddos won’t be able dump materials all over the floor like they can with a smaller tub. Preschoolers love sensory tables as well, so it’s another toy that will grow with your child for a few years!

Number Four: Textured Balls

Infantino Textured Multi-Ball Set

Kick, throw, pass, and more with a set of textured balls. A simple yet ever-popular toy turned up a notch with a variety of textures. You can’t go wrong. Got a breastfed baby? I bet they’ll like the yellow one! I laughed out loud when Sawyer immediately latched to it and proceeded to carry it around the rest of the day. Lol

Number Five: Outdoor Inflatable Pool

INTEX Crystal Blue Kids Outdoor Inflatable 58” Swimming Pool

Cool off on hot days by splashing around in this pool! Fill it up just a few inches and let them splash, kick, and alligator crawl all around it. Add some cups or a floating toy and they can practice other stuff. Parents-grab a cold drink and put your feet in. Who needs a vacation? JK 1,000% YOU do if you’re a parent. We don’t have this exact pool; we found ours at the grocery store but I liked how this one had a low key design and was inflatable and so that you don’t have to worry about storage on the off season.

Number Six: Pikler Triangle with Ramp

Pikler triangle with ramp

The Pikler Triangle and ramp is a popular toy within the Montessori community for its plethora of open-ended activity possibilities. Your toddler can climb, slide, balance, crawl underneath it, perch on top of it…the possibilities go on and on. It’s truly a great toy that encourages imagination and building a variety of large group muscles and balance. Bonus: it folds up so it doesn’t take over your house’s space when not in use. It comes with a hefty price tag but the standard size I linked can hold up to 220 pounds so it’s one of those toys that’ll be in use for years. Keep the weight limit in mind if you’re price shopping.

Number Seven: Foam Play Mat

Softzone Patchwork Toddler Foam Play Mat

Having a mobile baby or toddler means So. Many. Bumps. And. Bruises. This foam mat provides ample cushioning for those silly kiddos to practice standing and falling, tumbling, standing on their heads, rolling around, and generally throwing themselves around with no concern whatsoever for their own safety. When we got this toy, both Sawyer and Jack were inclined to throw themselves onto it over and over while giggling. It’s a hit!

Number Eight: Climb and Crawl Shape Set

Softzone Climb and Crawl Activity Play Set

Each of the shape blocks in this set are separate pieces, so you can arrange them in any way you’d like. Arrange them in a line to create a crawling obstacle course, stack them up and knock them down, or space them out to jump on for an epic “the floor is lava” game. We bought this set for Sawyer for Christmas when he was a crawler and set it up with the ramp on the side, similar to the photo, and he crawled straight up the ramp to the next block and clapped for himself…for the first time! It was such a sweet moment.

Number Nine: Oversized Foam Blocks

Toddler Block Playset

Is there a game in toddlerhood better than knocking down a set of blocks and loudly exclaiming, “uh oh?” I think not. Take the block knocking down game (which is a fantastic way our children learn the concept of cause and effect) and turn it up a notch with oversized foam blocks! I love that these blocks are foam so they won’t dent my floor (or my child).

Number Ten: Y Bike

YBIKE Pewi Elite Bike Walking Ride on Toy

This cool bike transitions from a walker to a bike that your toddler can sit on a scoot around with their cute little chubby feetsies. It is easy to maneuver around objects, which is a plus for little people that lack steering skills.

What do your active babies and toddlers love to play with to challenge their muscles?

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I’m a stay at home mom of two little boys, Jackson and Sawyer. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and a masters degree in the education field as well. I have experience teaching a variety of ages from birth through grade 12! I’m passionate about child development, gentle parenting, and learning through play. I’ve spent the last few months developing a preschool curriculum for my 4 year old son and would love for you to follow along for inspiration in your own home!

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