November is here and you can no longer deny that Christmas is creeping up! To make your life easier and get you started thinking about some great gift ideas, the Tinitrader team (after much debate!) have put together our top 20 must have toys for kids.
We have covered all ages from babies to early school but be sure to check that any toy is age appropriate and safe for your child before purchase.
One thing we also constantly think about is whether toys should be gender specific. Interestingly we believe that the following list applies equally to boys and girls.
All children love to play and clearly need to play for their development. Purchasing a toy that will aid that development is part of a parents job! Toys that help with creativity and can be used in multiple ways are great value. It is easy in our consumer world to end up with a room full of toys that children don't play with and won't enjoy. To avoid this, pick fewer higher quality toys that will be loved over a longer time.
We are also big believers in getting the kids outside and active. Many of the outdoor toys can be used over many years and enjoyed by multiple children.
Lego is a firm favorite in most households and is available in Lego sets that are appropriate for all age groups.
Lego building is also a great activity to do as a family.
The only challenge with Lego is finding the best method for keeping it under control. There is nothing worse than standing on that random piece of lego!
A trampoline is the best purchase I ever made for my kids! They have loved the trampoline from the time they could walk and still love the trampoline now at age 8. The kids play on the trampoline with friends (and sometimes even Mum and Dad).
The trampoline is an amazing workout for the kids and keeps them in the garden for extended periods.
The days of falling off the trampoline and breaking limbs seem to be over given the new safety technology with nets and guards. Most trampolines are either spring free or the springs are well covered.
Buy the best quality trampoline you can afford and your kids will enjoy it for years. Also buy the largest trampoline you can afford and fit in your garden. Initially Mums may be tempted to purchase a 'toddler' size trampoline, however this will be quickly outgrown.
A trampoline is a terrific Christmas purchase for all the kids.
An activity centre with hanging toys and various other baby friendly and safe pieces is a useful purchase that will keep your baby occupied for hours. Think about finding a version that can be adapted as your baby grows.
Riding a bike is a must have life skill. I am always a little amazed when I come across an adult friend who can't ride a bike. As a family we enjoy rounding up the kids and sometimes the neighbours to head out for a bike ride.
The only mistake we have made is to purchase a bike too large for one of the kids in the hope 'they will grow into it'. This never ends well. It just means that the kids are not keen to ride the bike for sometime and we miss out on great family outings.
Purchasing the lightest and most comfortable bike you can afford also makes the whole experience a whole lot more appealing for the kids.
Balance bikes are simply wonderful. My children were given a balance bike from the age of about 2 years and enjoyed riding them for at least a couple of years until they moved to a big bike. It meant that they basically moved to a big bike with confidence and without training wheels.
The balance bike has also meant that we could go for reasonably lengthy walks as a family without pushing a pram! Many Mums bypass the balance bike and instead purchase a scooter, however I think both are terrific for your little one's skills and are great for getting children into the outdoors.
Scooters are a great way to get the kids out and about. Along with balance bikes, scooters are an easy way to help your little kids cover more ground faster when you are walking to the shops or picking up older kids.
A set of good quality blocks is a lovely addition to any nursery. Your baby and toddler will enjoy holding, looking at and building with the blocks. There are some really lovely, tactile and beautifully made blocks on the market.
Children of all ages love to make noise! While the noise may not start out to be particularly musical, a simple set of percussion instruments will be a firm favourite with your baby and toddler.
My kids had a drum, maraca and a xylophone. I found musical instrument toys also made great gifts for small children.
A couple of age appropriate puzzles are great for childhood development. However, don't go overboard here. I love puzzles and we ended up with dozens of puzzles on the playroom shelf. It was then super stressful when either my kids or guests pulled down all the puzzles and created puzzle piece soup on the floor. There is nothing more infuriating when puzzle pieces are lost and jumbled - or at least this drives me crazy!
A few well chosen games are a must have in any household. We have always loved playing games with the kids from when they were very small. Helping kids with counting and understanding the rules sometimes takes patience, however they quickly get up to speed. Some of the more educational games like the Smart games can be a sneaky way to slip in some logic and numeracy learning.
Dolls may be traditional babies or action heroes. All kids love to play house with a doll and a pram. Kids don't need thousands of dolls, however a doll that they can dress, feed and push in a pram will be well loved!
My kids were given some beautiful porcelain dolls. Although these dolls were beautiful, they weren't particularly practical. Ensure the kids have some robust dolls that are not easily broken.
A doll house can be anything from a traditional cottage to a car garage. Kids love to create a world of their own with dolls, furniture and cars. A doll house can be a beautiful addition to the nursery or playroom. This is a great one for the grandparents to buy!
I am not a massive fan of mountains of soft toys and have found puppets to be a far more interactive way to enjoy a cuddly toy while using the toy to interact. I love the good quality puppets that have mouths that move. My kids enjoy including their puppet in many and varied elaborate stories.
A backyard cubby house can be a well loved play area for kids of all sizes. Kids will create elaborate lives in the cubby house and will keep themselves entertained by themselves or with friends for hours. Including some simple furnishings and a few plants can add to the whole excitement.
There is nothing worse than a bathroom overflowing with mountains of bath toys! However a couple of simple bath toys are perfect to keep your kids happy and occupied in the bath. My kids have had the same bath toys for at least 5 years. A water wheel style device and some boats have been firm favourites for all that time - it's all about finding some simple favourites your kids will love. There are some great storage devices to contain these goodies on the side of the bath if you are trying to keep some sort of order in your bathroom!
Magnetic letters on the fridge are a must purchase. Mum and Dad can use them to write funny messages and little kids can start to learn the alphabet while Mum and Dad prepare dinner.
This is a slightly random addition to the list, however my whole family has loved the marble run that our son received for Christmas a few years back.
The marble run is constantly rebuilt in different configurations. There is nothing more satisfying than running dozens of marbles down a well built marble run! However, there is always some stress when smaller children smash the carefully built marble run!
Kids love balls. A well edited selection of balls are a great way for kids to learn skills and have fun with friends and family. I never thought I would find myself outside kicking the football, however I now enjoy this activity with my children!
Little kids love a pretend vacuum or oven to play house. A few pots and pans and some pretend food are all they need to keep them busy for hours. As with all things, limit the number of bits and pieces and the kids will use their imagination to create whatever they don't need.
A couple of costumes are also a great hit in most households. A fairy dress, cape and a few funny glasses is generally all they need!
A selection of beautiful picture books will be loved for years. Books are an integral part of our nighttime routine. Every night there are numerous picture books read and reviewed! The selection of beautiful picture books available is staggering. Your kids will love finding their favourites and will come back to each book many times over many years.
Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know what your kids Christmas picks are here
See our gender and age specific kids Christmas Gift Guides here