I’ve been working on my son’s Christmas list per the request of my family. I was supposed to have it ready to pass out at Thanksgiving, but couldn’t get it together. I put a lot of thought into the toys we use with our son. One, because we live in a town home and have very limited space, so the toys we do have must be worthy. Two, because I want my son to play with toys that support and enhance his cognitive development. Toys that require him to think and do, not just push a button and get immediate gratification. Three, because I look for toys that we can interact with together.
From a Speech-Language Pathologist perspective, I’m not a big fan of toys that use batteries. In my experience, I’ve found that they limit speech, language and socialization opportunities. Often times toys with lots of lights, bells and whistles consume children in their own little worlds, leaving minimal reason for kiddos to have to communicate or engage with others. Also, I want my son and the kiddos I work with to make actions, sounds, noises, music and words themselves, instead of the toy doing it for them. As I’ve been out doing my Christmas shopping I’ve noticed a lot of battery operated toys in carts, so I felt it important to share this post. Not only to help me get my ideas out for my own son, but to spread the speech and language love with littles and parents. Also to save you some money and reduce obnoxious toy and battery replacement headaches. Don’t get me wrong, battery operated toys have their place. I’ve added a few to the list, but not many.
The toys on this list are ones I recommend to support speech and language development and I hope my son gets for Christmas! I’ve broken this list up in to four groups: toys my son is getting from Santa, toys on his wish list for friends and family, toys he already has/loves, which I recommend for toddlers and a couple of battery operated toys that I use in speech and language therapy and am giving my son.
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What Santa is bringing my son, Shhhh don’t tell:
Little Tikes Basketball Set (Essential toddler toy! Lots of turn taking and following directions to be done with this.)
Melissa and Doug Hand Puppets (Yes, hand puppets! Had to sell my husband on these, but I know my son will love them. Get ready to make animal sounds!)
Edushape Sensory Balls (Can’t have enough balls, love the extra sensory input of these. Check out my post on The Benefits of Rolling Balls with Babies.)
Lego Duplo Building Blocks (My son loves putting things together and taking them apart. Big blocks are great for little hands and minds. You can work on on/off, naming, colors, following directions etc. These were daddy’s idea.)
Melissa and Doug Table and Chairs (These just arrived and I want to give them to him now! Toddlers quickly learn and wish to sit by themselves. I highly recommend a table and chair set for this age. It’s a great place to sit down, chat and do fun things with your little.)
Toys on his Christmas Wish List that I hope he gets AND my husband cut me off from buying:
Melissa and Doug Latch Puzzle (Any puzzle with latches and doors is great for this age. You can work on “open/close,” “knock knock,” naming and counting.)
Anywhere Chair (My parents ordered this from The Land of Nod. So excited, my son loves sitting in big boy chairs now and reading his books.)
Toddler Shopping Cart (My son loves playing with these at friends houses. I have him “go shopping” for the things I name.
Toddler Slide (I want my son to have this! It’s so developmentally appropriate right now! He LOVES to climb and slide, but we have nowhere to put it. It’s a great toy to work on saying “ready, set, go.”)
Squigz (Awesome, awesome little suckers that kiddos just love! Talk about and choose colors, together/apart, take turns and just be silly-they stick to your face!)
Toddler Stepping Stool (My little loves going up and down on steps, plus I want him to start having access to wash his hands more independently.)
Toys my son has and loves that are developmentally appropriate for young toddlers:
Fisher-Price Corn Popper (Not sure what the attraction is, but he plays with it daily. We say “pop pop pop” as he goes goes goes!)
Melissa and Doug Nesting and Stacking Blocks (I use these in therapy tons and my son loves stacking and knocking them down while saying “up” and “down.” Any toy that stacks is good for this age.)
Water Table (We gave our son one for his first birthday and he loves it. Now that it’s cold out we don’t have water in it, but he still plays with the toys. You can also use other fillers such as sand.)
Board Books (You can’t go wrong with board books! My son is really into lift-the-flap and touch and feel books. Please make sure at least one book is under the tree for your little!)
Battery Operated Toys:
When it comes to battery operated toys, I choose ones that require communication to be turned on or have parts such as balls that have to be asked for. I look for ones that encourage engagement with others, turn-taking and reciprocal communication. Below are the toys my son is getting for Christmas. I generally stay away from battery operated toys that he can operate independently.
Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Piggy Bank (This is a great toy to work with littles on requesting “more” or “money.” I use it in therapy quite a bit and I think my son will enjoy it. I usually don’t turn it on, kiddos just love to put the coins in and take them out.)
Toy Vacuum (Any push and pull toy is great for toddlers. I’m not sure how my son will respond to this toy Dyson vacuum, but he loves our vacuum and oddly enough it was one of his first words. We will work on asking to turn it on and pretend play with it.)
Ball Popper (I think putting the balls in, wondering where they will come out, then putting them back in will be fun for my little man. Of course, I plan to work on using the words “ball please” and choosing which color ball he wants.)
Most all toys have the ability to support speech and language development. It’s the person that sits down with the child that unlocks their potential and makes the magic happen! I hope you found this list helpful and that it makes your Christmas shopping a little easier! If you have a toddler on your Christmas list, you may wish to consider these toys. They are developmentally appropriate and support speech and language skills. Happy shopping! And may you want to buy gyro bowl.