“What should I get a 1-year-old?” is a surprisingly frequent question around here, especially around the holidays. Here’s what I tell people:
1-YEAR-OLDS LOVE BLINKING, MUSIC-PLAYING PLASTIC TOYS. Their parents may hate them, but 1-year-olds love love love them. Why not make a kid happy? And though I’m always one to champion the little guys, toys from big companies are often great hits. Fisher-Price (with their Laugh & Learn line), VTech, Leapfrog, and Playskool all test their toys on real kids and pretty much nail what young toddlers want. Just pay attention to the age grading on the packaging. If it says “12 months and up,” don’t buy it for a 9-month-old and expect him to do much with it. If it says “3 years and up,” take that to heart; it usually means there are small parts that a child under 3 could choke on.
We got a lot of mileage out of this toy car!
TODDLERS ALSO LOVE TO IMITATE THEIR PARENTS. I just adore this about 1-year-olds, and 2-year-olds too. Before babes can walk around on their own, they are more or less stuck watching grown-ups, so when they begin to play, they imitate what they’ve seen, to often hilarious results. My daughter Grace had a toy cell phone, but instead of talking on it, she mostly pretended to be listening, and then would give an occasional big, fake laugh. Anything from pretend cell phones and keys (Parents makes these with Manhattan Toy, see them here) to kitchens (Step2 and Little Tikes make the classics) and toy cars have that I’m-just-like-Mom-and-Dad appeal. Both my kids were obsessed with the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe. We got a lot of mileage, ahem, out of that one!
1-YEAR-OLDS WILL PLAY WITH PRETTY TOYS TOO. And these will make their parents much happier. Simple wooden cars are nice, or stacking blocks. Or a pretty wooden rocking horse. A rocking toy is such a classic, and there are so many fun versions. Our executive editor’s mom got her grandson, Julian, this adroable one. Is it a dino or a dragon? Doesn’t matter—the birthday boy loved it!
This year I’m liking Woody the Rocking Horse because he’s a modern-looking but totally classic toy. He’s also only $80, which makes him as affordable as many of the big plastic toys. And he’s got a nice story; Prince Lionheart, the company that makes him, started off in 1973 making rocking horses, you can see their story here. Note: Woody is age-graded 18 months and up, so make sure you’re buying it for a kid heading toward his second birthday!
And good news! One of you lucky ducks will win a Prince Lionheart Woody the Rocking Horse of your very own. Just leave a comment below; you can post once a day through Wednesday. I’d appreciate it if you posted what your own 1-year-old loves to play with! Click here for the full rules. Goody luck!
Just in time for the holidays, we’re giving away enough toys to make your kids very happy on Christmas morning. That’s right! You can take home the awesome playthings in one of five age groups (from baby to big kid) that’s in our November toy guide. To enter to win a fab prize pack, click here to go to the parents.com contest page. And don’t forget to check back for more great giveaways. Goody luck!
Watch out Silly Bandz—there’s a new bracelet in town. When I stumbled upon the website for Braced-Lets—colorful, collectible bracelets made with actual orthodontic braces—I knew I had to blog about them. Not only are they great for stacking and trading, they’re the perfect present for kids and preteens sporting braces (as well as those who simply worship a metal-mouthed babysitter or older sib).
Resarch revealed the following information about these four gifter categories:
The Emotional Gifter: Forty-two percent of women identify with this profile and buy unique, thoughtful gifts for each person on their list to show they really understand that person, plan ahead, wrap their own presents and take the time to hand-write a card.
The Practical Gifter: Nearly a quarter, 21 percent, of women consider themselves to be practical gifters, often giving gift cards or cash, and prefer to allow the recipient to make the decision about what’s best to buy.
The Convenience Gifter: Sixteen percent of women identify with this profile, approaching holiday shopping with maximum efficiency, getting shopping done at one store or on one website. These women feel holiday shopping is something that needs to get done, rather than a joyful experience.
The Last Minute Gifter: Thirteen percent of women consider themselves to be last minute gifters, typically buying gifts close to the holidays. They don’t often plan ahead and hurry through the mall at the last minute.
70% of women feel pressure to find the perfect gift, but for 60% shopping brings more stress than joy. 76% also believe exchanging gifts in person is important. More surprising information revealed that Last Minute Gifters were composed more of Gen Y/Millenial women around their 20s while Practical Gifters were composed more of Boomers women around their 50s.
Unique merchandise from the theme park is now being sold in their new online store, and there is something for every Potter fan in your house. Along with the requisite t-shirts, tote bags, scarves, and mugs, you can buy a Sneakoscope from Dervish and Banges, a Pygmy Puff from Zonko’s, the Sorting Hat and Mad-Eye Moody’s staff from Filch’s Emporium, the Elder Wand from Ollivander’s, and Hedwig from Owl’s Post. There’s something for fans of every Hogwarts House…even something for fans of the Dark Arts.
Skip the Black Friday mall madness and take a virtual Hogwarts Express to buy Harry Potter gifts quicker than you can say, “Wingardium Leviosa.”
Video games are going to be hot stuff again this year, thanks in large part to the launches of new systems, such as PS3′s Move and Xbox 360′s Kinect. With the help of our friends at Children’s Technology Review, we covered 15 of our fave games of 2010 in the December issue of Parents (click here to read). Now we’re squeezing in 10 more titles that will top kids’ wish lists for the holidays. Check them out!