The 52 Best Gifts for Kids of Every Age, From 0 to 15
It’s been a tough year (and by year, we mean nearly two!) for everyone, and kids are no exception. So yeah, they deserve a great gift this holiday season. But not just any old thing—you need to find something suited to the interests of the kid in question. A STEM toy for the budding scientist, perhaps? Or how about a jewelry subscription for the fashionista in the family? Good news: We reached out to the experts—child therapists, nannies, teachers, toy shop owners, parenting coaches and actual parents—to get their recommendations for the absolute best gifts for kids. The result is a list of killer presents that includes everything from stacking toys for tots and balance bikes for big kids to mini fridges for teens and subscription boxes for, well, just about everybody. In other words, you’re guaranteed to check off everyone on your list. (You’re welcome.)
Best for Ages 0 to 2
1. Infantino Squeeze and Stack Block Set
Abbi has been a nanny in New York City for over eight years and specializes in early childhood. One of her favorite playthings for infants are these colorful blocks that babies can chew, squeeze and practice stacking. “The reason I love them is because they don’t make a crashing sound when they fall down and scare the baby!” she says. They’re also great for toddlers to practice learning their numbers and letters.
2. Mushie Stacking Cups Toy
“I am obsessed with these!” raves Abbi. These pretty stacking cups are great for developing hand eye coordination, plus they can be used in the bathtub for water play. “They also work great in a sensory bin or in the sand.” And teething babes will love to gnaw on them.
3. Manhattan Toy Atom Rattle
The brightly colored stems and rings on this grasping toy are sure to catch the eye of any newborn or infant, and its atom design makes it particularly easy to grab onto. Best of all, the auditory stimulation this guy provides is easy on the ears—you know, so you won’t get rattled by your baby shaking it all day long.
4. Kissy the Penguin
This adorable pint-sized stuffy blows kisses to your baby and teaches her how to blow them back—all to the tune of a sweet (but not so sweet that it will drive parents nuts) jingle. And sure, it might take her a while to master the motor skills involved in blowing kisses but she’ll get a kick out of singing and dancing until then.
5. JC Toys Baby Doll
What’s nanny Abbi’s number one favorite toy for kids? Dolls. “I am a huge believer that any child of any gender should have at least one baby doll,” she says. “It teaches empathy, compassion and allows kids to learn about their own anatomy.” This one is lightweight, fragrance-free, comes with a pacifier and blanket and is available in multiple skin tones.
6. Sarah’s Silks Enchanted Playsilk
Tiny tots love playing with these lightweight silks, but Abbi uses them with kids up to 8 years old. “Tie it like a cape and play superheroes, flutter them through the sky like butterflies or play peek-a-boo with your babe...the options are endless!” You can find similar items in craft stores on big-name retailers, but you can’t beat real silk for softness.
7. Building Bath Pipes
Give your tot’s daily wash a seriously fun upgrade with these colorful and BPA-free tubes. “These Building Bath Pipes can be used individually or put together to make a chain and help children understand cause and effect,” says Claudia Walker, founder of The Black Toy Store.
8. Mega Bloks First Big Building Bag
Classic Legos pose a choking hazard to toddlers (they’re a pain to clean up, too), but these brightly-colored blocks are just the right size for tots to work with safely, and an excellent toy for building fine motor skills, to boot. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the joy of a little kid who just built the biggest tower ever…and is about to gleefully tear it down.
9. Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog
This cute little critter boasts easy-to-grasp quills that toddlers can remove and rearrange to their heart’s content—an activity guaranteed to give color recognition, sorting and fine motor skills a boost. File this one under ‘baby’s new best friend.’
10. XJD 3-in-1 Baby Balance Bike
This lightweight balance bike (it weighs just 7.5 pounds) makes it easy for toddlers to hop on and roll away. Even if your kid has only just started to walk, the low step-through frame, detachable training wheels, and adjustable seat means that they can easily glide around the park. Available in five different colors.
Best for Ages 3 to 6
11. Black Fairy Tales Coloring Book
This pick from toy shop owner Walker depicts scenes from classic tales (like Cinderella, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood) with black characters. Because representation matters.
12. Square Panda Multisensory Phonics Playset
“This is a favorite of mine to help little learners with phonics and reading,” says Princess Netherly, a primary school teacher in Wylie, Texas. There are multiple free apps you can use with this toy that allows kids to manipulate letters on the base to practice spelling and phonics. “Directions on how to play the games are easy to pick up as soon as you connect the game,” she adds.
13. KidKraft Amazon Alexa Enable 2-in-1 Kitchen and Market
This two sided playset (a kitchen on one side and a grocery store on the other) is no ordinary toy: The ingredients are equipped with RFID chips so that they can interact with an Amazon Echo device. Let Alexa “guide” your budding chef through recipes and let them know if they add the right ingredients to a pot with realistic sound effects. Let’s say your kid is making a hot dog recipe—Alexa will tell them to put a pot of water on the stove, and then make a bubbling sound when the water is “boiling” and a splashing sound when the hot dog is dropped in. Cool, right?
14. Little Likes Kids A Day at the Barbershop Memory Game
“Kids of color rarely see themselves reflected in games,” says toy shop owner Walker. “But Little Likes Kids, the creator of this memory game set, is out to change that! Children get to test their skills while playing with cards that depict familiar scenes at the local barbershop.”
15. Giant Globe Beach Ball
“My kids love this ball,” raves Kristine Geering, content director of Parent Lab. “It’s a fun way to move and play even when you're stuck indoors, and they can play fun games while learning geography.” Here’s a game she likes to play with her children: Pick a country and then throw the ball to a sibling. That person then has to find that country before throwing it back. “It may sound corny, but when we were stuck inside for weeks on end the kids really had fun with it!”
16. Prank Camera
It’s safe to say your kid could use a break from screens (even if just for an afternoon). The alternative? “Get your kids back to ‘old school’ fun where they prank their family or friends with a camera that squirts water,” suggests family therapist and author of Anxiety...I'm So Done with You! Jodi Aman.
17. Hape Super Spirals Quadrilla Marble Run Building Set
When PureWow editors and 54 families across the country were tasked with finding the best toys for kids, this marble run construction set came out as a top pick for the under-six set—and it's no wonder, considering it features spiral twists, a see-saw, control blocks and everything else you can think of for an immersive STEM building experience. Time to put away those super-sized Legos—your kid is ready to really build in the big leagues now.
18. Stomp Rocket Stomp Racers
The only thing better than a good stomp-etition is one that involves sending race cars flying across the finish line, which is precisely why you can expect this toy to keep kids 6 and under entertained for hours on end, indoors and out.
“These have been a fav of all my kids!” says Abbi. “They are magnetic and easy to stick together, allowing imagination to soar.” Seriously, you can create houses, castles, cars, towers and more out of these tiles—the possibilities are endless.
20. Got2Glow Fairy Finder
Another PureWow Happy Kid Awards winner, this whimsical fairy finder game syncs with an app that will get your kid running all over creation trying to catch up to 30 different fairies that magically appear on the screen as they hunt around. What's more, once the fairies have been caught, the toy turns into an interactive experience that allows kids to feed and nurture their pet fairies through the app. Pretty neat, huh?
21. Osmo Starter Kit
“This is a must have for primary aged kids,” raves Netherly. “Osmo helps kids learn math, reading, and problem solving. You simply connect the Osmo base and reflector to an iPad or Fire tablet and select which free app you'd like to use while playing. Play and learning can be customized based on age level.”
22. Squeakee the Balloon Dog
This robotic, interactive balloon dog is one of the most creative (and silliest) toys on the market. “He has so much humor that kids will absolutely love, and he's highly responsive so they can engage in tons of imaginative play with him,” says Marissa DiBartolo, Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Insider. “Kids will love feeding this strange little pet, who is definitely going to bring lots of laughs this holiday season.”
23. Crazy Forts
Kids love building forts and this time-honored activity just so happens to be excellent for developing STEM skills, too. This cool set comes with 69 child-safe toggles and rods that join together so kids can build whatever structure they can think of (a pirate ship! A castle!). Just throw on a couple of old bedsheets and their imaginative play space is ready to go.
24. Kapla Blocks
Unleash your kid’s inner architect with these wooden blocks that can be engineered and played with in endless combinations. “While my older daughter loves to build homes for her dolls, my 4-year-old son has a blast pretending they're firewood and knocking down his sister's creations!” says Dr. Han Ren, a psychologist based in Austin, Texas. She’s a big fan of open-ended building toys without rules and endpoints, and these blocks in particular are great for nurturing creativity.
Best for Ages 7 to 10
25. Circle Society Classic Adjustable Children’s Roller Skates
Roller skates are back, baby! These neon skates can adjust from sizes 12 to 3, making them a great investment for years to come (unlike your kid’s regular shoes that you have to toss out every six months). Just push a button to adjust the sizing. Another reason why we rate these colorful skates? They can be used indoors or out.
26. Razor RipSurf Caster Board
This isn't your ordinary skateboard, friends. In fact, this PureWow Happy Kid Awards winner really lives up to its name, in that riding on it actually feels a whole lot like catching a wave. Something between a balance board and a skateboard, this number will have your kid gliding to school in style—once the gross motor skills required are mastered, that is.
27. Grow ‘N Glow Terrarium Kit
For parents who are looking for a way to lower their kids’ stress, increase their movement, get them to eat healthier, and positively impact their mood, parenting coach Deborah Ann Davis knows just the thing: gardening. “It’s never too early to get your clan interested in growing their own food, and along the way, you can take a few measurements, try a few experiments, and get those STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) juices flowing.” This cool kit includes everything kids need in order to grow their own ecosystem (just add water). Extra cool factor? It glows in the dark.
28. Skywalker Trampoline
When the young people in your home start bouncing off the walls, it’s time for some outdoor fun—and a giant trampoline is guaranteed to keep restless kids entertained for hours. This one comes with a safety net and is designed for older jumpers but there are plenty of options out there for younger kids, too.
29. Dash Coding Robot
“We love STEM toys and this Dash robot teaches children that they can create anything they can imagine,” says Walker. Dash is a real robot that teaches children how to code and actually responds to voice commands. (Sadly “go clean your room” isn’t one of them.)
30. 24 Challenge Card Game
When it comes to educational toys for kids, this math game is a winner. It comes with a deck of cards that is coded for difficulty level but each with four numbers. The goal? For your child to think her way to the sum of 24, using only the digits on the card and the basic mathematical functions of multiplication, subtraction, addition and division. This game can be played solo, like a flash-card exercise, but the real fun comes with a healthy dose of competition.
31. Animal Crossings New Horizons - Nintendo Switch
Got a kid who’s into gaming? This fan favorite allows children to build a community on a deserted island, customize their characters and bond with other residents.
32. Nintendo Switch
Oh wait, your kid doesn’t have a Switch yet? Here’s what you need to know about this popular game console: It’s a portable tablet with two detachable controllers (aka Joy-Cons) and can be connected to the TV (but doesn’t have to be). It’s easy to use and has games for multiple age groups, meaning that your little kid will enjoy it as much as your teen.
33. Puffin Hardcover Classics Box Set
OK, but now it’s time for your kid to put down the device. Everyone should read the classics at some point and this set happens to be adorably color coordinated so that it doubles as bookshelf decor.
34. LEGO Marvel Shang-Chi Battle at the Ancient Village Set
If you've got a Lego lover in your home, you might have second thoughts about this one; after all, you've ended up with raw fingers and hours of your time lost on building those intricate figurines while a small and not so helpful kid hovered over your shoulder. (Just us?) Before you let out a groan, though, hear us out: When tested for the Happy Kid Awards, parents raved about the simplicity of this set, which, by all accounts, grade school kids could actually put together independently. Oh, and the Marvel theme is a shoo-in for the age group, too.
35. Fun Family Chess Set
In case you missed it, chess boasts some seriously impressive list benefits for kids: Memory, problem solving, critical thinking, pattern recognition and focus are just a few of the skills that get a boost from this classic game. Now that you’re sold on the game, it’s time to score a set. This number—designed with beginners and brand new players in mind—can be played the standard way, or with a die and playing cards for a family-friendly spin on chess that helps kids master the basics of the game.
36. Chocolate Pen
This sweet toy makes a great family activity, says DiBartolo. “Kids can create sweet treats in minutes, and that is a huge plus because there's nothing worse than waiting an eternity for your dessert to be ready!” Use the pen to add the finishing touches to holiday cakes or cookies, or create brand new chocolate treats. “I love that it comes with so many molds as well, because we know kids love a good variety,” she adds.
Best for Ages 10+
“Bloxels is another tech toy that combines coding and critical thinking,” explains Netherly. With this toy, you build your own video game with small cubes called Bloxels. Each color Bloxel represents a different component of the game such as water or land. It’s basically minecraft meets Legos and your mini programmer will love it.
39. Crossed Signals Game
A fast-paced spin on Simon Says? A high-tech pat-your-head-and-rub-your-stomach challenge? However you want to describe it, one thing's for sure—this electronic remote control game relies on light and voice commands to ensure that any tween in your house burns off energy like nobody's business. Better still, it can be played with up to four players, so the fun can be shared with friends and family alike. (Game night, anyone?)
40. Exit: The House of Riddles
This escape room style game is a great way for siblings and friends to work together to solve a mystery—namely, how will they “escape” from the “locked” house? Only by completing the series of riddles and puzzles. Although each game can only be played once (since players have to draw on and cut up game pieces), it takes about 90 minutes to complete which means that it works out cheaper than taking your kids to the movies.
41. Carrom Balance Board
Want to work on your core? Pick up one of these for your teen and borrow it when it’s not in use. “This is a good way to build concentration and balance,” says Aman. (But seriously, can we borrow it please?)
43. Claire’s GlitzyDrop Subscription Box
Filled with an array of sparkly jewelry and accessories, it’s safe to say that the tween in your life will swoon for this oh-so glamorous subscription box. That said, if you’re worried about your kid’s fickle fashion sense, you’ll be relieved to know that you can opt to purchase a single box—no recurring subscription required.
44. KiwiCo Tinker Crate
Sign up for a Tinker Crate subscription from KiwiCo and your kid will be rewarded with a new brain-boosting STEM activity every month. The tinkering process is reliably stimulating and fun, and the finished projects—walking robot, hydraulic lifting claw, and ping pong ball launcher, to name a few—are just plain cool.
Best for Ages 15+
45. Weighted Blanket
For teens that toss and turn all night, try a weighted blanket. The benefits of weighted blankets (decreased anxiety, increased feelings of calm and a more restful snooze) are pretty cool. This one is available in a range of weights (from 8 pounds to 25 pounds) and colors.
46. AstroAI Mini Fridge
The fridge downstairs is packed, but your teen can store their skincare and snacks in this mini version instead. Just be prepared for all her friends wanting to crash at her place—after all, she does have the coolest room of her all pals.
47. The North Face Etip Gloves
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that your teen shouldn’t be able to scroll through the ‘Gram.
48. Billie Smooth Operator Gift Set
Billie has made a big splash on IG and other social media platforms, so there's a good chance your kid hasn't missed the hype. This gift set includes a razor, four razor refills, and a full-size shaving and 'Dry-Bye' body lotion so the teen in your life can put the claims to the test, and perhaps even enjoy the (coveted) cleanest shave ever. Report back, please.
49. Gooseneck Bed Phone Holder
This inexpensive accessory—a flexible phone holder that can be attached to a bedside table—has everything the teen in your life wants, in that it provides the possibility of lying in bed all day scrolling through social media without their arms starting to ache.
50. Apple AirTag Phone Tracker
Your teen would be devastated if he lost his smartphone...and so would you. (That thing cost a pretty penny, after all.) Give the big kid in your life a gift that’s 100 percent practical with the AirTag phone tracker—a keychain you can carry around to quickly locate a misplaced iPhone and avoid a worst case scenario.
51. Cards Against Humanity
This card game is full of hilarity and fun. But yes, the content is at times irreverent, vulgar and R-rated, so definitely reserve it for the oldest and most mature teens in the household. That said, there are far worse things a teenager could do than to play Cards Against Humanity with friends—and if you’re not easily embarrassed, it’s also a good addition to family game night, too.
52. Moon Pod
This is not the bean bag from your college years, friends. The moon pod is not a crunchy, unsightly sack of beans; but rather a memory foam-filled work of art designed to provide a lounging experience so comfortable, your teen will feel like they’re floating on a cloud. The only drawback of this gift—aside from its potential to considerably extend screen time—is that you might end up fighting with your kid for it.