Back to basics: gift ideas for children 0-5 years
There’s never been more choice for parents when it comes to gift ideas for children. But sometimes, the huge number of toys, games and devices makes it difficult to feel like you’ve made a choice you’re happy with.
Will they get bored with it, is it good quality, will it last, and is it safe? And with the early years being such a rich time for learning, you might also wonder whether or not the latest game or gimmick is actually helping your child to develop in any meaningful way.
If you’ve ever wondered this, you’re not alone. In fact, we consider these same things with practically every resource we have in Goodstart centres.
To help you make gift choices you feel good about, we reached out for ideas to the people who know children as well as anyone: our centre directors and educators. Here’s what they came back with.
By Daniella Flamia, nursery educator at Goodstart Fortitude Valley
Gift ideas for babies
help babies learn on many levels. Chimes hanging above their head encourage them to reach out and grasp, drums or tambourines teach them cause and effect, and guitars or pianos teach them to retain information as different strings and keys make different sounds.
play to a baby’s sense of curiosity and discovery as they learn about who they are and develop an understanding of facial features and their body. I recently discovered some silver polished garden ornaments that show a clear refection. Being round, your child will not only be mesmerised by their face but will also develop fine and gross skills as they roll the ball to and fro, trying to grasp and throw it.
are easy to make, though you can also purchase them from multiple toy stores. Find some wooden or plastic blocks and attach all sorts of sensory textures like buttons, patterns, zippers or sponges to all six sides. Babies love to manipulate the blocks and explore the different textures and features.
Push and pull toys
help to promote your baby’s natural desire to be on the move. “Walker frames" are great if you want something safer than a chair for them to cruise across the room with. They help babies develop balance, strength, spatial awareness and confidence. I always opt for ones that allow the child to stand freely so they can pull themselves up from sitting position and generally encourage more freedom of movement.
Animal hand puppets
are always a hit with babies and are an excellent way to bond. Whether you are singing a song or playing a game of peek-a-boo, your baby will love it and it also helps to spark their imagination. Watching them smile and giggle at the puppets will be the best present of all.
By Nicole Van Nistelrooy, centre director at Goodstart Salisbury North
Hardcover books with textures
Gift ideas for toddlers
on each page (if you can find them) that focus on animals, numbers or body parts are great for toddlers who are beginning to build their vocabulary and learn new words that describe familiar things in their world.
that can be used both inside and out are a great way to support a toddler’s need for large movements and develop their gross motor skills.
are lots of fun and help to build strength. Make sure you purchase one with an attachable handle so that you can assist when their little legs get tired.
are great to have outside (minimal mess), toddlers love them and they can be used over and over as they get older. If you are into DIY, you can purchase wood and blackboard paint (in all colours) from your local hardware store to create a custom design.
Natural wooden rounds and wooden off-cuts
can be used for absolutely anything. Have a basket of sanded and smoothed pieces that can be used inside and out for creative play, building and construction, stepping stones and hiding around the garden. The possibilities are endless.
By Amy Meatchem, centre director at Goodstart Mona Vale
Gifts for three to five years
is a great family game and promotes turn taking, negotiation and mathematical learning. It requires attention and concentration as the timer ticks down for each player, and it’s also really fun!
stimulates sensory play and exploration. The magnetic-like properties of the sand allow for sculpting, shaping and stretching and is mess free. All children enjoy it but we have found it is particularly good for those with some additional needs such as sensory processing disorder.
offer so much to children. Especially in the capital cities there are endless choices like museums, performances, musicals and so on. Experiences offer different perspectives and keep children open to new things.
Bug catchers with magnifying glasses
encourage investigation into the natural world and support further learning as children can then research about the specific bug, create homes for them and revisit learning.
Sports and active equipment
are great fun and help to build fundamental movement skills. Things like skittles help children keep count or keep score, while pop up soccer goals and skipping ropes can be used easily and in many different ways. All these items provide opportunities for group play, rules and boundaries.