1. Baby Einstein: Alphabooks These have been, without a doubt, one of our most used items over the past six months. Twenty-six books, one for each letter of the alphabet, come in a little box that has stood up to Finn literally standing on it. The books are perfect for little attention spans, are sturdy enough for little hands, and just taking them in and out of the box is fun too. I credit these with Finn knowing most of his letters and sounds. (Updated: these don't seem to be available new anymore. I would still recommend buying a decent used set- they are awesome and still in good shape three years of play later.)
2. Melissa & Doug Food Groups Nice quality wooden toy foods. We like to sort them into the little boxes, feed them to our stuffed animals, and to Duncan (thankfully he hasn't actually taken a bite yet). These have been great for Finn learning the names of foods.
3. Signing Time Volume 1: My First Signs DVD I bought this right after Finn turned one and it was one of the first things on TV I felt okay about him watching (I'm over it now- he totally watches an episode of Babar every single morning). He loved it and as he learned the signs in the video he would do them along with the kids.
4. See Kai Run Smaller Shoes My absolute FAVORITE baby shoes, and I'm so sad that Finn has now outgrown the See Kai Run "Smaller" line. He wore these soft soled shoes from six months to eighteen months all over the place, including outdoors at the playground and on our sidewalk. The suede bottoms somehow are totally soft yet stand up to that kind of wear and tear. I'm totally that creepy mom that pulls out the three pairs he's outgrown from time to time and gets all sad about how quickly he's growing.
5. Hatley Rain Coat I remember wondering if it was a silly purchase when I bought Finn a size 1T raincoat, but it was so adorable I couldn't help myself. Turns out it was a really useful item and allowed Finn to walk around (or ride in a backpack carrier) during some rainy days. He's getting rainboots for Christmas so his rainy day ensemble will be complete. Toddlers MUST get their energy out outdoors no matter the weather. Okay, and Hatley stuff is ridiculously cute. Wish they made the whale raincoat in my size.
6. Curious George's Box of Books We are into books in boxes in case you can't tell. Finn's Mimi got us two boxes of these and they are very popular around here. I remember some of the stories from my childhood so I'm guessing that I must have made my mom read them to me over and over as well.
7. Melissa & Doug Wooden Duck Push Toy Finn's version of this was a gift from my brother who lives in Italy, but this one would work just as well. I'm not sure what it is about dragging something around on the end of a stick, but he could do it for hours.
8. Haba Jumbo Peg Board My mom saved this from my childhood and I am thrilled that Finn seems to enjoy it as much as I did. A little pricey for a toy, I know, but this one (obviously) has a long life and works at many age levels. Right now Finn likes to take the pegs off and put them back onto the board, and is starting to learn his colors. In the future we can use it to talk about size, sort the pegs in different ways, and talk about patterns. It's a super nice quality toy that I don't mind having out in the living room. (Updated: here is a less spendy, maybe slightly less sturdy version.)
9. ZoLi Bot Straw Sippy Cup Blue Our favorite sippy cup would make a good stocking stuffer.
10. Play Doh Animal Duffel Bag Another hit gift from Finn's Mimi, this one has been worth its weight in gold for HOURS of entertainment. Finn is particularly enamored with the blue garlic-press-like thing that makes worms. And the rolling pin. And the scissors for cutting off the worms. Good stuff, you guys.
Let me know in the comments what's awesome that I've missed!
Up next... gift ideas for 18-24 month olds...