Selecting the perfect gift for a child can be tough. We always purchase with the intent that ours will be the gift the recipient adores, but sometimes we're all a little lost on what will spark their interest. 

Below is a guide to help you select the perfect gift for children ages 0-4 based on their stage of development. 

Baby: As your little one begins to explore the world, the best baby toys will help them explore grasping, pulling, squeezing, and shaking. You can also select toys the will help them master cause and effect for example, clutching toys, shakers, and rolling toys. 

1 Year: By one year old, your little one is ready to focus their learning on both fine motor skills and gross motor skills. They can hold small objects between their fingers and they may also be learning to stand or even walk. The best toys for a one year old will include: stacking, nesting, sorting, push and pulling. As your child begins to push, bang, and shake, musical instruments are also a good addition to their toy collection.

2 Years: At two years of age, your toddler is looking to challenge their problem solving skills. This is also the age of sensory and motor development. Children can usually go up and down stairs, kick a ball, stand on their tippy toes, and may even run around the house. Help your child learn through play with various types of puzzles and blocks. Tall nesting blocks, balls, and art supplies are all great toys for two year olds. 

3 Years: Are you ready to play make believe? Your three year old is! By this age, they may have more opinions about the types of toys that interest them, although it’s often the idea of getting a gift that is most exciting. Offer your child open-ended toys that allow a child to foster their imaginative play. Great toys for three year olds include: magnetic tiles, playsilks, toy houses, cars and anything else that would allow them to create their own small world. 

4 Years: Your four year old is becoming more independent, developing self control, and their creativity is off the charts. You’ll notice they're excited to try new things and content to play with their toys for longer periods of time. While they will continue to look to you for help, your little one is now ready to develop real friendships and set their own goals. Their fine motor skills have also improved and they can now string beads, complete puzzles, and color inside the lines. The best toys for a four year old should include more challenging puzzles, and craft projects they can complete, as well as toys that aid in imaginative play. 

While this guide will steer you toward the right section of the toy shop, you should always consider the child's interests when selecting a toy. For example, is the child you're shopping for constantly playing dress up? Do they love to color? Are the constantly on the go? Just like with any adult, getting to know the child and their interests will always be the best guide to selecting the perfect gift. 

April 14, 2023 — Barbara Chernyukhin