‘Tis the season…to start wracking your brain over ways to surprise and delight your niece, best friend’s kid or your very own spawn. Sure, they have a wish list, but maybe it’s a little sparse, picked-over or, ahem, borderline impossible (you want an actual pet unicorn, Jackson?). Whatever the reason, if you’re looking for fresh gift ideas for kids they’ll love, you’ve come to the right place. We polled parents and toy experts nationwide to uncover the toys and games children are loving right now, focusing on presents that are a gift to adults as well. Whether they provide parents with a little quiet time for themselves, a bonding moment or a toy that’s accidentally educational, these gadgets don’t disappoint.

RELATED: The 15 Trendiest Toys of 2021, According to Amazon, Target & BJ’s Wholesale

Target

1. Tiny Love Tummytime Mobile

You know tummy time is important, but isn’t there a way to engage little ones, so they aren’t fussing through it? Yes, there is, and it’s this spinning, teetering gadget. It has a peek-a-boo window and plays music to entertain babies, but there’s also a quiet mode. And it doubles as a mobile for strollers.

Birth to 2 Years Old

BUY IT ($25)

Amazon

2. V-Tech Pop-a-Balls Push & Pop Bulldozer

Improve their walking skills—while taking in all kinds of toddler giggles—as kids push this bulldozer around the room, scooping up balls and watching them pop from the toy’s smokestack and into a bucket on its back.

Birth to 2 Years Old

$18 AT AMAZON

haba usa

3. Roly Poly Bear

It rocks, it’s cuddly soft, it helps babies learn to stack and—best of all—it encourages a solid 15 to 20 minutes of quiet play, giving new parents a much-needed break from being always on.

Birth to 2 Years Old

BUY IT ($25)

Amazon

4. Disney Wooden Toys Stacking Train Set

It’s called compromise: Little ones can delight in seeing Mickey on this train, but it’s wooden design is still pretty chic, as far as kids’ toys go. Plus, the 18-piece set helps tots improve their fine motor skills.

Birth to 2 Years Old

$30 AT AMAZON

Lion & Dragonfly

5. MB’s Personalized Storybook Collection

Send in your child’s age and interests, and Lion & Dragonfly’s librarian will select five books for them. While it is a bit pricey, parents raved that the picks are always spot-on—and deviate from what you’d find in major booksellers. For time-pressed moms and dads, that convenience is worth it.

Birth to 2 Years Old

BUY IT ($100)

Amazon

6. Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards

There’s a certain magic in turning all kinds of wooden shapes into mosaic bunnies, stars and snails. And, while they’re having fun bringing these designs to life, they’ll be learning about creating linear patterns, sorting, counting and problem solving—all while improving their motor skills and color and shape recognition.

3 to 4 Years Old

$17 AT AMAZON

Walmart

7. Elefun Flyers Butterfly Chasing Game

This under-$20 wonder earned a 2021 Happy Kid Award not just because it got little ones up and moving, but it got them excited to take turns. Sharing that occurs naturally among preschoolers? Now that’s a gift.

3 to 4 Years Old

BUY IT ($17)

Amazon

8. Pop-Up Play Tent with Tunnel

It’s like bringing Chuck E. Cheese to your house, minus the $30 in tokens you spend to earn a plastic whistle and a Tootsie Roll. Plus, the whole thing collapses to take up less space than a three-ring binder.

2 to 4 Years Old

$33 AT AMAZON

Target

9. Magna-Tiles 50-Piece Grand Prix Set

ICYMI: Magna-Tiles are the new LEGO, and they’re way less painful to step on in the middle of the night (not to mention much easier to clean up). There are countless kits out there, but this set stands out because it lets kids build their own magnetic cars and racecourses.

3 to 8 Years Old

BUY IT ($68)

Amazon

10. Little Tykes Real Wood Pizza Restaurant

Forget the play kitchen—your kid has more entrepreneurial aspirations. This full-blown restaurant comes with everything kids need to play pizzaiolo, so you can put your feet up and wait to be served.

3 to 6 Years Old

$263 AT AMAZON

Macy's

11. Smithsonian Super Dig

Yes, a dinosaur dig can be messy, but they can keep a kid occupied for an hour or more. That’s worth the clean-up in our book.

5 to 9 Years Old

BUY IT ($20)

Wonderbly

12. Wonderbly’s Where Are You? Save the Multiverse! Book

Where’s Waldo and I Spy are 10x more interesting when kids are searching for themselves in mystical worlds. You design their cartoon avatar and personalize the book; they’ll ask you to read it to them again and again and again.

5 to 9 Years Old

BUY IT ($35)

Target

13. Healthy Roots Zoe Doll

Zoe has washable, naturally curly hair that kids love to style, and in the process, they learn to care for their own curls.

5 to 7 Years Old

BUY IT ($80)

Amazon

14. Insect Lore Butterfly Garden

You’ve planted the pollinators; now let your kids cultivate a little butterfly family to enjoy ‘em. This pop-up butterfly house comes with a cup of live caterpillars and everything you need to care for them.

5 to 8 Years Old

$37 AT AMAZON

https://amzn.to/3C6xjIw

15. Jumbo Push-Bubble Toy

What’s even more cathartic than a palm-sized fidget toy? A 256-bubble, tie-dye popper, of course. 100 percent of parents we spoke to admitted to getting in on the popping after their children went to bed.

5 to 10 Years Old

$14 AT AMAZON

Amazon

16. Countaloupe Game

From the makers of Bananagrams, this risk-and-reward counting game has garnered rave reviews for getting kids excited about solving math problems. We’re not kidding.

6 to 11 Years Old

BUY IT ($15)

Claire's

17. Nee-Doh Cool Cats Fidget Toy

Stress balls have come a long way. These collectible Cool Cats come in bold, neon colors and are strangely satisfying to squish and squeeze. Buy a second one for you—you’ll be glad you did, because chances are slim your kid will share.

6 and Up

BUY IT ($5)

Amazon

18. Moon In My Room

Glow-in-the-dark star stickers are cool and all…until you see this remote-controlled moon light. It mimics the lunar phases (complete with 12 settings) and comes with a poster that teaches kids about each one. Astronomy, but make it décor.

8 to 11 Years Old

$26 AT AMAZON

Amazon

19. Rainbow Loom

Crafts of all kinds took off during the pandemic, and for the under-12 set, friendship bracelets were all the rage. We had kids try half a dozen kits, and this classic set got rave reviews for how easy it was to use. (Read: Your child won’t be shouting for your help every 30 seconds.)

8 to 11 Years Old

$10 AT AMAZON

Hammacher Schlemmer

20. Wall-Projecting Virtual Target Game

Remember how much you loved playing Duck Hunt on Nintendo? Share the joy with this projector, which lets you use laser blasters to play one of five target-practice games. They’re boosting their hand-eye coordination; you get to school them in the art of a classic video game.

8 to 11 Years Old

BUY IT ($70)

Amazon

21. Crayola STEAM Paper Butterfly Science Kit

Crayola’s STEAM series is such a hit with kids that it’s a two-time Happy Kid Awards winner, and this latest set stands out for teaching kids about capillary action and physics as they dye and decorate paper butterflies.

8 to 11 Years Old

$23 AT AMAZON

Amazon

22. Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro Instant Camera & Photo Printer

What’s old is cool again. The Kodak Mini Shot 3 looks like the original Instagram app logo brought to life, and it features one of the highest-quality instant printers you can get at that price point. It’s perfect for your selfie-obsessed tween to step away from the phone and start exploring their creative side. Or at least bond with you over the “old-school” way people would take pics.

12 and Up

$120 AT AMAZON

Urban Outfitters

23. Icon Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Button Cover Set

They finally got their hands on a Nintendo Switch. Now it’s time to make it their own (and get more mileage out of your big splurge) with this eight-piece button cover set.

12 and Up

BUY IT ($12)

Urban Outfitters

24. Foam Axe-Throwing Game

Axe-throwing bars may be trendy, but uh, Sophia’s not hosting her 13th birthday at one. Find a more agreeable middle ground with this axe-throwing set from Urban Outfitters. It can hang on the wall, but if your kid’s aim is horribly off, you won’t end up with mangled walls.

12 and Up

BUY IT ($40)

Urban Outfitters

25. Dream Journal and Sticker Set

OK, maybe you’re not interested in hearing your kid dissect every detail of their latest dream. (Hah, as if they’d tell you in the first place!) Give them an outlet to process that forgot-to-wear-pants-to-school nightmare with this spiral-bound journal set.

12 and Up

BUY IT ($14)

RELATED: 52 Best Gifts for Kids of Every Age

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