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20 Practical Gifts For Toddlers That Parents Will Actually Appreciate Too

Toddler-tested, parent-approved.

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1. A monthly subscription to Literati, a kids' book club featuring titles that are both well-curated *and* often cheaper than Amazon.

Melissa Jameson / BuzzFeed, Literati

I first subscribed to Literati back in April, once it became clear my family's local library wasn't opening up again anytime soon. Seven months later, I've kept the subscription going because I've been super impressed with the book variety, and my 4-year-old genuinely loves getting the bright blue box delivered each month.

Literati has book club collections for ages 0-12, and for $10/month, you're mailed a set of five books. (Plus some fun freebies, like personalized stickers with your child's name on it and themed literary art prints!) You keep the books you want, send back the ones you don't — and for the former, Literati either matches or beats Amazon's list price.

Get a kids' book club subscription from Literati for $9.95 per month.

2. A character-themed kids' electric toothbrush (instead of a manual one) for easier and more effective bedtime brushing.

amazon.com, amazon.com

For the first few months of teaching my toddler how to brush her teeth, it was a struggle. But that all changed when I switched her from a manual toothbrush to an electric one. Suddenly, she went from not being into it — to loving the "game" of sweeping the spinning bristles over her teeth. It's still not perfect (she'll attempt her cleaning, then I'll go in for the final), but since the bristles are always moving, it's a much better clean than before.

Get an Oral-B Frozen-themed kids' electric toothbrush for $7.99, or a Star Wars-themed one for $4.89, both from Amazon.

3. An easy-to-use (and fun to look at!) kid-friendly cookbook that actually lives up to its name.

The cover of "America's Test Kitchen: My First Cookbook"
America's Test Kitchen

There so many kid-centric cookbooks out there, but IMO, most of them don’t really nail it — especially if they’re aimed at much younger kids. Recipes are either overly complicated, gimmicky, or not actually something most toddlers would want to eat. But this one, America's Test Kitchen: My First Cookbook, avoids all that. The recipes are all-purpose and written with smart, legitimately-doable tips and tricks built in. And each one is photographed in an eye-catching and step-by-step way — so tiny cooks can follow along and help!

Get it from Amazon for $15.84, Bookshop for $18.39 (to support local bookstores), or check your local library.

4. A moisturizing lip balm for the winter months that toddlers can actually easily apply thanks to its cant-miss shape.

amazon.com

I love the EOS lip balms for toddlers, because compared to the typical stick-shaped balms, the little ~orb~ is easier for little hands to grab, twist open, and apply on their own.

Get it from Amazon for $3.49.

5. And an adjustable kitchen apron that can also double as an art smock.

amazon.com

This one has a useful adjustable neck strap (so you don't have to constantly knot and re-knot up top) plus a front pocket for gadgets or supplies. Another Amazon reviewer also points out that it works well as an XL bib when you need to cover their lap for extra-messy meals.

Get it from Amazon for $8.99+. (Available in five different designs.)

6. A Spotify Premium Family subscription — which includes access to the separate (and very good) Spotify Kids app.

Screenshots from the Spotify Kids app
Spotify

If your household has managed to survive stay-at-home orders in 2020 *without* a Spotify Family account, I tip my hat to you. (And then I highly encourage you to get one!) IMO, the $14.99/month cost — which includes accounts for up to six people — is worth it for the Spotify Kids app alone. It's visually *really* easy (and pleasing!) to use. So easy, in fact, that a toddler can pretty much navigate the whole thing independently just by scrolling through the large photos of their favorite characters.

(And the fact that it's a stand-alone app means you can rest assured they won't accidentally drift over to anything that needs a parental advisory.)

Get a Premium Family account from Spotify for $14.99 per month.

7. A super colorful (and classic!) matching game that lets you adjust the difficulty over time.

An animal-themed matching game illustrated by Eric Carle.
amazon.com

There are themed matching games for just about everything (see: Paw Patrol, Disney princesses), but I love this one most because it dovetails off Eric Carle's classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear book. You can control and adjust the difficulty because it comes with 72 tiles, or 36 different matches. So you can start the game off pretty easy (or with less tiles) — then add more in as your toddler's memory and skill-set strengthens.

Get it from Amazon for $8.62.

8. Or, for the next level: a clever Bingo-esque starter game that covers language, identification, and early reading skills.

The kid-friendly "Zingo" game
amazon.com

If your kiddo has already graduated from basic tiled matching games, Zingo is a great next step. It's basically a toddlerized version of Bingo that works their matching skills — and also adds in language, sight-reading, and speed.

Get it from Amazon for $19.99.

9. And a pair of comfortable kid-sized headphones with built-in volume control – and that can fold up for easy storage.

amazon.com, Melissa Jameson / BuzzFeed

These over-the-ear headphones have seen my kid through a travel season or two — and more recently, a stay-at-home season 😅— and they still hold up really well. The volume max and easy-fold function are equally great and functional, though you'll need an adapter if you're plugging it into a newer iPhone.

Get it from Amazon for $18.99+ (available in four colors.)

10. A four-pack of todder-sized Bombas that won't slip down — because, let's face it, you can never have too many socks.

A toddler's feet with pink and gray Bombas socks on them
Bombas / BuzzFeed

I've found fan-favorite Bombas to be sturdy, comfortable, and well-made — and unlike most toddler socks, they don’t slip down or stretch out after several wears. The brand *does* come with a higher price-tag than most, but with a toddler size range of 1 to 5 years old, cost-per-wear would go way down if you bought them on the earlier side of that. For every pair sold, Bombas also donates one pair of socks to an organization in need.

Get a four-pack of toddler socks from Bombas starting at $19 (available in various colors and styles.)

11. A fun potty training book — starring your kid-fluencer of choice — for when the inevitable time comes.

amazon.com, amazon.com

If potty training is in your toddler's near future, might as well start to intro the idea with a book — and better yet, an interactive one that stars one of their favorite familiar friends, like Daniel Tiger or Elmo. (Then, check out our comprehensive guide to potty training.)

Get them from Amazon: 'Elmo's P Is For Potty' for $5.68, or 'Daniel Tiger's Potty Time' for $8.

12. A functional tabletop paper roll, so toddlers can draw and color as much as they want without taking up the real estate of a bulky easel.

Melissa Jameson / BuzzFeed, amazon.com

The main reason I love this thing is that it can be as big or small as you want — and can set up anywhere. Just roll the paper out the length of whatever flat surface you'd like. I also find it's easier for little hands to draw on these in general. They can use two hands, and since the paper lays flat — instead of at the easel angle — markers don't run off. When you're not using it, it's easy to stash it away since it's not obtrusive.

Get them from Amazon: a tabletop roll dispenser for $11.99 and a paper roll refill for $4.99.

13. Or a water-based magic mat for when you want to encourage art without the worry of marker, paint, or crayon cleanup.

Kids drawing on a water-based magic mat
amazon.com

An elementary school teacher friend tipped me off on the brilliance of magic mats — which change color as toddlers and kids "draw" on them with water-filled markers. The mat dries quickly, folds up and stores easily, and cleanup-wise, the only thing you might have to deal with is some spilled water. (Which, as any parent knows, is about a million times easier than spilled paint or stray marker!)

Get it from Amazon for $16.47.

14. A toddler-sized Dyson toy vacuum that (bonus!) actually has some working suction.

amazon.com, amazon.com

If your toddler loves to help around the house, this tiny Dyson vacuum will be right up their alley. It's super lightweight, easy for little hands to maneuver, and bonus points in that it actually *does* have suction capability — and a removable compartment that collects some lint and dirt. (Keyword: Some! You won't be able to totally offload vacuum duties quite yet. 🙃)

Get it from Amazon for $26.99.

15. A wooden 48-piece rainforest puzzle set that's sturdy, durable, and beautiful to look at.

A rainforest-themed puzzle set
amazon.com

When it comes to puzzles, I'm a big fan of the ones from Melissa & Doug — and the 48-piece ones are perfect for toddler-dom. The puzzle pieces are durable (not flimsy), the prints are really vibrant, and they last for a long time. We've got a stack of scenes at home that still get a lot of mileage — including ones for the rainforest, outer space, and underwater mermaids.

Get it from Amazon for $9.99.

16. A cute (yet functional!) elephant watering can so little hands can help with mom or dad's quarantine plant projects.

An elephant-shaped watering can next to plants.
amazon.com

Toddlers want their own version of just about every adult thing. And at least for mine, that included an animal-themed watering can for the vast amounts of plants my household gathered during 2020. 😂

Get it from Amazon for $8.22.

17. A kids' dome umbrella that's sturdy yet lightweight — and won't flip inside-out after a gust of wind.

A Totes rainbow-dotted umbrella for kids
amazon.com

Kids' umbrellas are subject to the same flimsy-ness of cheap adult umbrellas — but luckily, this one from Totes is super durable. The clear top makes it easy for kids to see what's ahead while in use, and the canopy dome keeps their little heads dry.

Get it from Amazon for $15.78+(available in seven different designs.)

18. A jumbo container of bubbles with a heavy-duty wand — because when all else fails: what toddler *doesn't* love bubbles?

amazon.com, amazon.com

I know, I know. $10 for a big thing of bubbles?? But here's the thing: all bubbles are not created equal, and these are legit. They're called "Gazillion Bubbles," probably because that's approximately how many bubbles get made after a few fool-proof shakes of the seven-holed wand. They beat cheap dollar spot bubbles by a mile.

Get a liter-sized bubble container from Amazon for $10.64.

19. A nonslip kid-sized yoga mat that comes in several different colors and designs.

A pink kid-sized yoga mat with an owl design
amazon.com

Smaller than a normal-sized yoga mat, this one from Gaiam is comfortable, durable, and non-slip. Pair it with some Cosmic Kids yoga or a Trolls-themed dance session.

Get it from Amazon for $17.98+ (available in six designs).

20. And a colorful and comfortable kid-sized mask that'll actually stay on thanks to adjustable ear loops.

Melissa Jameson / BuzzFeed, vistaprint.com

A mask... as a gift??? YEP. (2020, baby.) My favorite kiddie masks so far have been the ones from Vistaprint because the material is comfortable, cute, and doesn't fade or stretch after lots of washes. The best part? These masks have adjustable ear loops, which means they'll actually stay up on tiny toddler faces. Their adult masks are equally great, too.

Get a kids' face mask from Vistaprint for $13+ (available in dozens of designs and colors.)

Looking for the perfect gift for any occasion? Check out all of BuzzFeed’s gift guides!

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