2018 First Things First Best Gifts for Young Children

It’s holiday shopping time! Overwhelmed by the endless options of toys in every store and online website? Finding the perfect holiday gift for the little ones in your life won’t call for making a list and checking it twice.

Did you now that 90% of a child’s brain develops before kindergarten? Research shows that the quality of a child’s experiences in their first five years helps shape how their brain develops. Children at a very young age can learn a lot from playing. 

First Things First, a leader in educating parents on preparing children for success in school and in life, has released a list of the best 2018 free or low-cost gifts and toys for young children at each age and developmental stage. 

Gifts for Babies

For babies and infants under 1 year old, look for toys that stimulate their senses. Babies are fascinated by faces and bright colors. They enjoy playing hide-and-seek with different objects.

Board Books
Board books are easy for a young baby to hold and turn and are durable enough to take a beating (or a chewing.) Pick books with high contrast (black and white) or bright, simple colors. And start reading with your baby from day one! 

Toys with Mirrors
Your baby will be happy watching his reflection. While you can buy many different, inexpensive varieties, you probably already have some perfectly good, safe mirrors around your house.

Chewable Toys
Your baby is exploring their world constantly, and that includes putting things in their mouth. Safe, soft and sturdy chewable toys will keep them smiling long past the holidays, (especially when they are teething). 

Conversation with You
This guide is meant to provide bonding opportunities for you and your child but you don’t need to buy anything. In fact, talking with your baby is the best gift you can give. Engage them in back-and-forth conversation, responding to their sounds, gestures, and expressions. You’ll be helping them develop language skills while also building a close relationship with you, which is what they need most. 


Gifts for Toddlers

For toddlers between 1 and 3 years old, look for toys that encourage imagination and problem-solving, such as:

Pretend objects
Pretend objects stimulate your child’s imagination, allowing them to act out activities they see other people do, like cooking and cleaning. 

Balls to roll or catch
Simple and timeless, a ball can provide a toddler with hours of play. Rolling, throwing and catching a ball builds coordination and reflexes your child will need later on. 

Building Toys
There are few things a toddler will enjoy more than stacking blocks. They want their towers to go big and tall, and they’ll enjoy knocking them back down again. And empty tissue boxes make good building blocks, too! 

Matching and Sorting
Another gift that you already have around the house. Matching and sorting simple objects like socks are great for endless brain-building fun. Make it a game and get your laundry done, too! 

Playtime with You
This holiday season, look for opportunities to read, talk, sing and play together. These experiences will mean the most to a young child’s learning and build memories that last a lifetime. Truly the best gift you can give, your time, attention and love are priceless. 

Crayons & Markers
Big crayons are best for little hands, and they build big skills! They help a child develop the fine motor skills they’ll need to write and create works of art when they are older, and they also spark creativity and imagination.

Gifts for Preschoolers

For preschoolers, which covers ages 3 to 5, look for toys that help them relate to each other and the world around them, including:

Dress-up Clothes
Pretend play has an important role in a young child’s healthy development. It allows them to learn through action, think creatively and work together. It’s also a lot of fun. You can find costumes at thrift stores, garage sales or, with a little imagination, in the back of your closet. 

Puzzles & Games
Stimulating for little minds, puzzles are great practice for more complicated challenges kids will face later on, and simple board games are fun ways to spend time together. 

Counting & Letter Games
Reading and math are essential skills that are best started early, but getting there doesn’t have to be boring. Counting and letter games make both concepts fun and interactive, while building a foundation for school success.  

The best things in life are free, especially when it comes to your preschooler. Just spending time together, doing whatever, is the best gift you can give them. Play with them, listen to them, and show them just how much they matter. 

Musical Instruments
Age-appropriate instruments are wonderful introductions to the world of music, and you can find them at yard sales or thrift shops. Go ahead and start a band with your child, and make great music together.  

Art Supplies
You don’t have to be an artist to help your child explore their creative side. If you do it together, you and your child are guaranteed to create a work of art. And take the opportunity to ask them questions about their work.



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