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Best Gifts For Active Children

With holiday shopping time approaching, I thought I would put together a list of the best gifts for active children. I’d consider three of my kids “active”, and one of those “EXTREMELY active” so there is a wealth of personal experience behind these picks.

Along with being great energy outlets for kids, these toys are also durable. Chances are if your child is active, they aren’t exactly gentle on toys¬†ūüėú

Best Gifts for Active Children


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click one of the product links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  I have personally chosen each product in this post because of my own experience with the product and all opinions expressed herein are my own.



The Original Plasma Car: Twist, Turn, Wiggle

This was the star of Christmas the year we got it for our kids. You don’t move it with your feet, but by gently swiveling the “steering wheel” back and forth. We kept it as an indoor toy because my kids have a blast driving it forwards and backwards on the smooth hardwood floors. (Yes, Mom and Dad have been known to get on it too!)

Moluk Bilibo Red
Inspire open-ended, creative and active play with the super appealing Bilibo. (It’s like a kid magnet.) Kids love to sit in it, rock, and spin… and then they’ll come up with 100 other ways to play with it too.


Nylon Bean Bags Toy 12 pc

I originally bought these to use in a bean bag toss party game for one of my kid’s birthday parties. They loved the game so much they continued to re-enact it for months. Since then they’ve come up with lots of other ways to play with them, including various forms catch, homemade cornhole, and hot and cold.

Little Tikes 3′ Trampoline

The kids can bounce that energy away on this sturdy and strong classic kid’s trampoline. The handle bar is supposed to help them balance, but your kids will probably want to swing from it. Luckily this toy can take a beating.

Melissa & Doug Jumbo Extra-Thick Cardboard Building Blocks

Kids use their whole bodies when building with blocks this big. And their jumbo size creations are that much more gratifying to knock down after they’re done.


Goda Anti-Burst Inflatable Massage Yoga Exercise Ball

Any exercise ball will do the trick when you need to occupy an active child, but kids who crave sensory input will especially love the nubby texture of this one. My son had one at his occupational therapist’s office and couldn’t get enough of it.

Pro Tip: When the child is done bouncing and it’s time to relax, have them lie down on their belly while you roll the ball over their body, applying some pressure. The nubs will make this feel like a gentle massage.


Little Tikes EasyScore Basketball Set

I love toys that grow with your child. Both my 1 year old and my almost 8 year old love playing basketball with this toy! It’s a staple in our playroom and won’t be leaving there for years to come.

Thick Gymnastics Tumbling Exercise Folding Mats

Of all the active toys we have in our house, these simple gymnastics mats get the most use by FAR. If you need a place in your house that’s safe for kids to crash and throw their bodies around, just clear some space and throw one of these mats down. My daughter also practices her gymnastics on these, but for the most part they are used for kids just going nuts!

ETA hand2mind Blue Plastic Scooter with Handles

Just like those scooters you used to play with in gym class but with handles so you don’t run over your fingers. Let kids scoot around on their bottom or laying on their belly for different vestibular input.

Slippery Racer Downhill Xtreme Winter Toboggan Snow Sled – Red

If you’re¬†unlucky enough to live somewhere that gets snow in the winter, there is no better way to tire out an active kid than sledding! Let them run up and sled down that hill all day and you can bet on a good night’s sleep after.

And if you’ve got super active kids like mine, you¬†might be frustrated with trying to get them to listen.¬†I love this article from Fab Working Mom Life: When Your Hyper Child Just Doesn’t Listen, Try This¬†Definitely give it a read to better understand how to get cooperation from your active child!

Looking for more gift ideas for all different types of kids in your life? Check out these awesome gift guides from some of my favorite blogs:

Paper Heart Family has The Ultimate Gift Guide for the Creative Child

From Applecart Lane, 20 Toys that Encourage Learning

The Salty Mamas’ Gifts for the Kid Who Has Everything

And from This Mom Life, 10 Gifts that will Calm Down and Relax Your Kid

Best Books for Preschoolers

How do I choose the books on the list?

I write my “best books” lists based on the books that appeal to all children, both boys and girls and regardless of their specific interest du jour. ¬†My four children run the complete gamut of personality types, and these are books they have all loved.

What’s NOT on the list

Let me just say it again: these books were chosen based on how much¬†children¬†enjoy reading them. ¬†I have gone out and bought books based on “best children’s literature” lists and it was clear that they were chosen by adult rating scales.¬† My preschool-age children are much more active and have shorter attention spans than adults, and they thought some of those books were a total snooze-fest (I’m looking at you,¬†Make Way for Ducklings!)

I also do not include books that 3-4 year olds may find scary (sorry, I know Where the Wild Things Are is an amazing book, but my kids are wussies), or sad (why, The Giving Tree, WHY?????)

Some may be new and others pre-date my own childhood, but these are they books my kids beg me to read again and again and again…


Don’t Push the Button!

An irresistible book that will appeal to your child’s silly side. ¬†Of course when the monster tells kids not to push the big red button, that’s exactly what they’ll want to do. ¬†Then¬†hilarity ensues and the kids need to interact with the book to get things back to normal.


Feast for 10

This counting book is also a joyful portrayal of a family going grocery shopping, preparing a meal together, and sitting down to eat as a family. ¬†It follows a simple rhyme scheme and is enjoyable to listen to.¬† I love how my children see people who look like them in this book but that isn’t at all what the book is about. ¬†The family is so wholesome and sweet it makes you want to sit down and eat with them.


Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

Farmer Brown’s cows find an old typewriter and take the opportunity to make some demands from their keeper. ¬†A silly tale of give and take follows. ¬†The kids will appreciate the hilarity of seeing farm animals do “people things” without realizing they are learning the basics of collective bargaining!


Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me

I think it’s one of those things every kid fantasizes about to have their Dad get them a humongous ladder to climb up and grab the moon. ¬†Children are delighted when the pages fold out to show just how huge the ladder is. NOTE: Choose the paperback version if you’re buying on Amazon as reviews indicate the board book version frustrates toddlers with the folding pages.


Mix It Up!

My kids absolutely love this highly-interactive book that teaches them about mixing colors. ¬†The pictures are so realistic, it actually feels more like finger painting than reading. ¬†The first few times I read this book to my kids they actually thought it was “magic”! ¬†If you love this one, don’t miss Herve Tullet’s other playful hit Press Here.


Just Go to Bed (Little Critter)

My kids are super into all the Little Critter books, but this is one of their favorites.  Little Critter tries all the tricks to avoid having to go to bed.  Why is it so fun for kids to watch other kids being naughty?



Wonderful illustrations and a captivating pig protagonist make this book a favorite of 2-6 year olds.  Sassy, spunky Olivia appeals to children and adults alike with her creative and precocious ideas.  The original is the best but my kids love the other Olivia books too, especially Olivia Forms a Band.


King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub

This is a cute story about a king who refuses to get out of the bath. ¬†Every time a member of his court tries to entice him to come out, he instead invites them to do the activity in the tub. ¬†While the story is fun, it’s the illustrations that make this book a top pick. ¬†Amazingly detailed, kids will¬†spot something new each time you read it to them.


Shades of People

My go-to gift for preschoolers, especially those who live in areas that are not racially diverse.  Describes the many different shades that people come in (almond, copper, tan, etc) and how even in the same family there can be many shades.  Features beautiful photographs of kids and families with all skin tones. My kids love looking through the pages on their own and pointing out people that look like them and people they know.


Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Mo Willems is pretty much an A-list celebrity in this house. ¬†My kids can’t make it through any of his Pigeon books without erupting into fits of laughter. ¬†In this book, the bus driver steps away from his bus and leaves the reader (your child) in charge of making sure the pigeon doesn’t drive the bus. ¬†As soon as he leaves, the pigeon starts asking, bargaining, and pleading for permission to drive the bus. ¬†See how your child reacts to his own persuasive techniques when he is the one in charge!


It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny

PJ Funnybunny decides he doesn’t like being a bunny. ¬†He is tired of eating carrots, his ears are too big, and he has way too many brothers and sisters. ¬†After trying to go live with various other types of animals, PJ decides being a bunny isn’t so bad afterall. ¬†An entertaining story that teaches kid to appreciate what they have.



A classic and timeless book that my children love just as much as I did as a kid. ¬†Adorable and relatable, stuffed teddy bear Corduroy is ignored by the kids coming into the department store until one special girl looks past his flaws and gives him a home. ¬†(Also answers the question “what would it be like to wander in a department store at night?”)



If you think this book is only for girls, I dare you to show me a preschool boy who doesn’t love it after reading it! ¬†After eating too many pink cupcakes, Pinkalicious starts turning pink and is diagnosed with Pinkatitis. ¬†At first the fun, relatable protagonist is delighted, but then she discovers¬†it’s better to just be herself. ¬†The magical antidote? ¬†Eating lots of healthy green vegetables!


The Snowy Day

This book about a boy’s day exploring and playing in the snow is written so simply but so vividly, your child will feel like he’s out there playing with him.


Harry the Dirty Dog

Another classic that I remember loving as a child, and now my kids love it just as much.  Harry hates baths so he hides his scrub brush and runs away.  On his adventures, he gets so dirty he changes from a white dog with black spots to a black dog with white spots (that line always makes Elle giggle!) and his family no longer recognizes him.


Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

When I first encountered Pete the Cat, I’ll be honest, I thought he was a little creepy looking. ¬†Since then, we’ve become very familiar and I now see why my kids love him. ¬†The Pete the Cat books are written to be like songs (in fact some even come with a recording of the song) or you can read it more like a poem or rap. ¬†In this one, Pete is out walking in his white shoes and keeps stepping in messes that turn them different colors. ¬†But Pete doesn’t get upset, because “it’s all good”.


Harold and the Purple Crayon

Unlock your child’s imagination as you follow Harold through a world of wonder made all with¬†his own purple crayon. ¬†An unforgettable classic.


Duck on a Bike

Zari (age 7) is taking over the blog to summarize¬†this book for you. ¬†He says, “Duck decides he wants to ride a bike. ¬†All the other farm animals have lots of opinions. ¬†It is funny to hear what they’re thinking! ¬†At the end there’s a big surprise too!” ¬†Thanks buddy.


The Watermelon Seed

Crocodile loves watermelon and eats it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  One day he swallows a seed and begins to panic in the funniest way as he is sure a watermelon is growing inside him.  My kids never get sick of this sweet story.


If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Circular logic reigns in this silly story. ¬†Kids learn cause and effect as one thing leads to another with this demanding mouse. ¬†At the end, it comes full circle with the mouse asking for a cookie again. ¬†At this point my children groan in unison: “here we go again!”

One Messy Mama
Coffee and Conversation button

Best Toys for 2 Year Olds

best toys for 2 year olds

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click one of the product links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  I have personally  chosen each product here and am not sponsored by any brands.

2 year olds are BUSY, so any toy that captures their attention for more than a few minutes is a total win.  This is a year of learning explosion and there are tons of great toys to help them master colors, shapes, sorting, number and letter recognition.  This year they will also dabble in creative and imaginative play, which will continue much more in year 3.

Here are the best toys for 2 year olds:

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Best Toys for 6 Month Olds

toys for 6 month old

Here’s my list of the best toys for 6 month old babies, great for baby shower or Christmas gifts!

(Or, if you’re the one expecting a baby, be sure to check out my list of 200 Unique Baby Names You’ll Fall In Love With!)

6 month old babies have basically one goal in life, and that is to find ALL THE THINGS and put them in their mouths!  Chew toys reign supreme with this age bracket (or regular toys, that baby will chew on anyway!).

Little ones are also developing hand-eye coordination so they will be delighted by toys that they are able to manipulate, like a shaking musical toy, which rewards their movement with a pleasant sound.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click one of the product links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.


Ike & Leo Teething Toys, Set of 4 with Pacifier Clip

These BPA-free, freezer-safe teethers really do stand out from the rest. They have a soft silicone feel to them without being filled with that questionable liquid goo. Each one of the four has a slightly different texture which gives baby some variety (and you will probably notice he’ll choose a favorite). The best part is the clip it comes with so you don’t end up having to pick them up off the floor over and over. A must-have!

Hohner 4 Piece Baby Band

Hohner is known for making great musical toys and this set nails it for babies. It includes a baby maraca (rattle), mini rainmaker, tambourine, and cage bell. All designed for babies to be able to grip them easily. When baby shakes, they discover the unique sound each one makes. Lots of fun!

Sassy Look Photo Book

Ask any Mom of a 6 month old what their baby’s favorite toy is, and they’ll answer “ME!” With this cute, drool-proof photo book, babies can stare at pictures of Mom (and other family members) to their heart’s content.

Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo

Around 5-6 months old, babies have the head control and upper body strength to sit upright in a jumperoo. This opens up a whole new world to baby whose perspective on the world just went from horizontal to vertical! There are so many great products out there, but this Fisher Price jumperoo gets seriously rave reviews. A baby happily jumping and playing in this contraption = precious minutes of freedom for Mom!

Manhattan Toy Classic Baby Beads Wood Rattle, Teether, and Clutching Toy

This clutching toy moves and glides like a fidget toy. The brightly colored balls twist and turn to promote tactile development. It is remarkably calming to play with. I had some concerns originally about the paint flaking off when babies bite it, but we have had this for years and it still looks brand new.

Bright Starts Safari Beats Musical Toy

This little drum is super easy to hit and will thrill little one when it lights up and plays music in response to their touch. The sounds are addicting and just plain fun. No lie, I have caught myself playing some beats on it when the baby’s not even around.

Lamaze Fifi The Firefly

There is something about this toy that just seems to make it baby’s favorite. It could be the many colors, different textures and panels, crinkling sound, jingle noise, or the many parts for baby to chew on. Just an excellent sensory toy that holds baby’s interest.

Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack and Baby’s First Blocks Bundle

These two classics are staples that every baby needs. My infant son plays with them literally every day. He can not crawl by without at least knocking over the stack of rings and dumping the shapes out of the sorter! As he approaches 1 year he’s now starting to put the rings on and fill the bucket of shapes. These brain-boosting toys are deserving of the name “brilliant basics”.


VTech Sit-to-Stand Learn and Discover Table

This table is like a magnet for babies and toddlers, it attracts them instantly and sustains their attention! Little ones learn cause and effect by doing various things to elicit a sound (push a button, open and close, spin, slide, and turn the page of the book). It introduces letters, numbers, and shapes and sings 13 fun melodies. A major favorite for 6-18 months.

Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Teether Toy

The interlocking soft tube design of this toy make is super easy for babies to hold and explore with their hands and mouths. Babies can’t get enough of chewing on this, especially when teething. The middle cube makes a gentle rattle sound when shaken.

Edushape See-Me Sensory Balls

These nubby balls have a spiky texture, providing little one with a new and different sensory input. They come a bit under-inflated, just perfect for baby to squeeze and chew on. As they get older they will enjoy rolling and throwing them as well.

Taggies Crinkle Me Toy, Elephant

As babies, all 4 of my kids loved toys that crinkle, and TAGS! This toy has both, plus a squeaker in the middle and a handy ring that you can attach to the car seat or diaper bag. Easy to bring with you on the go, and easy to throw in the washing machine too.

Sassy Ring O’ Links 2 Pack

Keep the links on the ring to use as a standalone rattle, or make a chain out of them to link toys to the car seat or high chair. Versatile toy that has gotten tons of use from my babies.

Oball Rainstick Rattle

This 6 inch Oball has large holes that are super easy to grib and the structure is flexible while still holding its shape. The real highlight of this toy though is rainstick inside. When the ball is rolling or shaken, the beads cascade down and make a soothing rain-like sound. Even older children will take an interest in this ball.

What are your favorite toys for 6 month old babies?

Looking ahead for baby’s first birthday? Check out the next post in this series, Best Toys for 1 Year Olds

Best Toys for 1 Year Olds

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click one of the product links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  I have personally  chosen each product here and am not sponsored by any brands.

Push and pull toys are where it’s at for this age bracket, as new walkers eagerly test out their new skills. ¬†This is also the age of¬†the “dump and fill” stage of play, so little ones will love toys where you can put things in and empty them out¬†(over and over again). ¬†Young toddlers also love toys that make music and have bright, attractive colors, so you will find lots of those on this list.

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