Escape the Stereotypes

Kids’ Gift Ideas by Age Group

Kids’ Gift Ideas by Age Group

The Escape the Stereotypes blog is written by GenNeu, the gender neutral toy and book store for kids.

Are they old enough for that toy? What kind of thing do toddlers like? How are there this many choices?!

When you’re sending your friend a present for their child, it can be hard to know where to start, especially if you want to avoid the usual ‘pink for girls blue for boys’ stereotypes.

To help you pick an Insta-worthy gift that your friend and their little one will love, we’ve put together this children’s gift guide that’ll make sure you nail it every time.

Gifts for Newborns

When sending a gift to celebrate a new tiny human, the first decision is whether to focus on the new parents or the baby.

If you want to offer those poor sleep-deprived parents something, think about putting together a little gift pack of food and magazines you know they like. If you’re short on time, head over to Don’t Buy Her Flowers for one of their beautiful ready-made care packages.

If you’re focusing on the little one, muslins are a great choice for a practical present. These super soft cloths are used for everything from protecting clothes from baby spew to cuddle time. Look for ones made from organic cotton and bamboo for good quality that’ll last.

folded cotton muslin with grey clouds

As your friends are nesting, something for baby’s nursery is a great present. Louie Loupin’s Sleep-o-saurus or “Hello world, I’m new here” prints are perfect for adding some colour.

A soft toy is also a great gift that will brighten up their crib while they’re tiny, but become a firm favourite as they get a bit bigger.

While they’re still squeezably tiny, look for cuddlies that are super soft and not too big so they’re not scary. Soft toys with long limbs like our giraffe or bunny are also much easier for babies to grab.

stripey donkey, stripey rabbit and purple giraffe

Also double check they’re washable so when the inevitable chewing, spewing, or worse happens, they’re cuddly friend can be easily rescued.

If you really want to buy them clothes but want to avoid the usual pink and blue, check out Baby Acorn. Their gorgeous unisex designs are all made in the UK, and the clothes sets come with matching blankets.

All of these gift ideas would also work well if you’re heading to a baby shower.

First Birthday Present Ideas

From cuddly lump of cuteness, babies start to grow up pretty quickly once they hit their first birthday.

At this age, it’s all about moving. As well as being able to easily sit up and crawl, they are starting to really explore their environment, pulling themselves up using furniture and taking their first steps.

Toys that help build these early motor skills make great gifts. Think wooden blocks that they can stack (and knock over) or toys that move so they can chase after them, encouraging them to walk.

wooden colourful alphabet and number blocks

Sorting and fitting shapes can also provide hours of entertainment. Search for gifts like shape sorters or hammer benches that’ll help them build early hand-eye coordination skills.

wooden shape sorting blocks

wooden hammer bench hedgehog

A great first birthday present idea is a bead coaster. They combine colours, movement, and noise, and are great for beginning to develop fine motor skills. They come in a range of sizes, so make sure you double check how big it is before buying.

bead rollercoaster with forest animals

For a bigger gift, mini pushchairs or trolleys with blocks that they can push along make a great walking aid as well as a fun toy.

If you’re on a budget, something as simple as a ball is a great present as kids learn to throw a ball and will try and catch it at around 18 months old.

What to Get a 2 Year Old

Send the parents alcohol. We’re joking (mostly). As toddlers realise they’re an independent human being, they start to test the boundaries.

At this age you’re looking for toys that with either use up some physical energy and put those developing motor skills to good use or something that will calm and distract them.

To burn off some energy, look for toys that move. Trucks and cars are great examples — they can push them, chase after them, and play pretend.

fire engine red woodenyellow wooden crane truck

Building blocks are another winner. At two years old, toddlers can usually make a tower of around 8 blocks and love knocking them down as much as building them.

Traditional-style blocks often have letters or numbers too which can add to the learning experience, or you can also get themed sets like our zoo blocks or alternative shapes like rainbows which are very popular on Instagram at the moment.

wooden zoo building blocks

wooden rainbow blocks

At this age, they’re also beginning to understand and enjoy pretend play — though they may not stay engaged for very long.

Two year olds are the ultimate mimics, so toys that let them practise and mirror what the grown ups do are popular. Look for play cleaning sets or things like toy phones or cameras.

wooden camera kaleidoscope

A Waldorf Steiner doll can be a really good tool: these dolls don’t have faces, allowing little ones to project whatever scenario they want on to the doll. It can be a great tool for working through emotions when language skills are still developing as well as facilitating pretend play.

Waldorf Steiner dolls in red, blue/yellow, purple and green

Most two year olds love bath time. Anything they can play with in the bath — think foam letters, a water wheel, rubber duckies — makes a great gift.

To help parents get a bit of peace, some calming or distracting toys will also go down well. Get creative without the risk of crayons or paints with some magic water painting or find the perfect bedtime story.

Pick books that are colourful and have interesting pages that they can turn and play with.

Our favourites are Mister Seahorse that has see-through pages they can peep through (and are really hard to tear!) or Beautiful Oops that shows kids mistakes aren’t so bad and has lots of interactive pull-out elements.

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle front cover

Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg front cover

Super budget option? A mini watering can will keep them busy in the garden or in the bath. Sticker books can also be a post-friendly option for a small gift.

What to Get a 3 Year Old

Who knew such tiny humans could have such big opinions?! While they might be (mostly) over the terrible twos, they can now chatter away and explain what they want. Their favourite word? Why!

With their newfound communication skills, they’re starting to enjoy playing with others (though sharing is still a work in progress).

Toys that encourage imaginative play, such as a play kitchen or play house, are very popular and will grow with them during the preschool years.

wooden kitchen in a case

Make sure you double check the size while shopping around: some can be quite heavy for shipping or take up a lot of space in the playroom.

Toys that move, like train sets or cars and trucks (the car transporter is our favourite), are still popular at this age. These combine motor skills with pretend play for a busy play time.

wooden zoo train

wooden car transporter toy

Most kids will be heading to nursery or preschool at this age, so they may start to show an interest in learning things like colours, the alphabet, and numbers.

Get some brownie points with parents by buying presents that help teach at least two of these.

For example, our crocodile puzzle helps kids learn the alphabet through a puzzle, as well as giving the opportunity to practise naming colours.

wooden crocodile alphabet puzzle

More likely to sit and listen to a story all the way through than their previous two-year-old self, books also make a great gift.

Put their developing communication skills to good use with books that have a message or teach them about the world around them.

We love the classic Giraffes Can’t Dance about Gerald who learns to dance to his own tune and Who’s in My Family to show that families come in all shapes and sizes.

giraffes can't dance front cover

The bargain gift option? Play dough all the way.

What to Get a Four Year Old

Four is a big milestone: kids will be speaking clearly, their motor skills have come on leaps and bounds, and they’re even starting school!

They’ve also progressed from tolerating other children to enjoying company and playing better in a pair or group.

Toys that can be shared with new friends are a great opportunity to develop those social skills even further.

A play house, play kitchen, or even a pretend shop are great for creating imaginary worlds. If they already have a play kitchen, extra accessories like pretend food or a pan set make great additions.

wooden pan set for play kitchens with green lids

Now that they can do more for themselves, four year olds love to exercise that independence: parents are likely to hear “I’ll do it myself” a lot as they try to help with tasks like doing zips up and getting shoes on.

Celebrate that independence by sending them a project of their very own to complete. Our first sewing kits have a plastic needle and are suitable from age 4 — they’ll make their very own cuddly felt lion or elephant.

completed felt lion sewing kit

A building or construction toy also makes a great gift for four year olds. Things like K’Nex or Octons are very versatile, or our construction train is a great way to develop fine motor skills.

To get brownie points from the parents, build on what they’re learning at school with an educational gift.

Things like our puzzle clock can help them cement number skills and learn to tell the time, or build on their reading skills with a new book.

wooden puzzle clock with coloured number blocks

If you’re on a really tight budget, get some outdoor chalk for everything from drawing to playing hopscotch.

What to Get a 5 Year Old

Between school and new friends, they’re now growing up fast. They’re getting more comfortable with the alphabet and numbers, as well as skills like reading and writing.

Look for gifts that will link to what they’re learning in the classroom, like a science kit, and help them exercise their creativity and problem-solving skills.

make your own kaleidoscope kit

A tangram puzzle makes a great educational gift: little ones have to replicate the picture they’re seeing using shapes — they’re excellent for developing spatial awareness and helping kids get ahead in subjects like maths.

tangram puzzle in travel tin

Their gross motor skills are good by this age — they’re running, jumping, and climbing with confidence.

Pick something that will help them work on their fine motor skills as well as make the most of their improved attention span and newfound creativity. Our sew-your-own mouse house kit is popular with five year olds.

completed sew your own mouse house

Increase the difficulty and cement time-telling skills by building a clock from scratch. Bonus points for gifting something that keeps them busy and can decorate their room.

make your own clock toy

Try and find things they can use with friends or siblings, like walkie talkies or water pistols if they have a summer birthday.

Games are also a great choice for this age group: whether it’s a classic board game or a puzzle they can do themselves, they’ll like the interaction with friends and family — though they’ll probably still take losing pretty badly!

puzzles in a box kit

If you’re on a budget and looking for a last-minute gift, head to the stationery aisle: colouring books and pencils are always popular with five year olds.

Thanks for reading! While you're here, check out our range of gender neutral toys and books. If you're stuck for ideas, take a look at our best sellers or view all collections.

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