Gift guide 2021: The best gifts for babies and toddlers

Kids can learn cool pop culture words from the '90s with this colorful illustrated book.
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Kids can learn cool pop culture words from the '90s with this colorful illustrated book.

Credit: Courtesy of Insight Editions

Credit: Courtesy of Insight Editions

Good things come in small and large packages, and for babies and toddlers, it is especially important to pick the right Christmas present according to their capabilities, interest and age group. To kick off the season of gift giving, this guide offers items that are appropriate for newborn to toddlers ages 3 and older. There are gifts that will “grow” with children like an activity mat or fire-engine-red customizable tricycle. This year’s selection includes ‘90s throwback words and a modern take on architecture in the form of vibrantly colored books. There’s a table and chair set, plush toys and more; keep reading to discover all. Reports of shipping delays are ongoing but the bright spot is that items in this gift guide are currently available.

Multipurpose mat. Babies will get a kick out of a soft, brightly colored Fisher Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym activity mat which features a large keyboard with light up keys, an elephant teether, crinkle panda and more. The mat can be used throughout a baby’s physical development stage, such as learning to hold their head up, rolling over, holding objects and sitting up. Spit ups are inevitable but the mat is machine washable to keep it fresh and clean. Available at Walmart. Recommended for newborns to 3-year-olds. $42.09. walmart.com.

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A customizable tricycle allows babies and toddlers to enjoy being outdoors for stroll or biking when older.

Credit: Chris Cassidy Photography Inc.

A customizable tricycle allows babies and toddlers to enjoy being outdoors for stroll or biking when older.
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A customizable tricycle allows babies and toddlers to enjoy being outdoors for stroll or biking when older.

Credit: Chris Cassidy Photography Inc.

Credit: Chris Cassidy Photography Inc.

Ready to ride. For a tricycle that can be used for several years, opt for the 4-in-1 custom trike from Radio Flyer, which is great for infants as young as 9 months old who are capable of sitting up independently to a five-year-old child who is ready to bike on their own. The trike features a three-point click harness for safety seating, built-in storage basket, activity tray, cup holder, UV blocking canopy and more. A removable footrest helps younger children enjoy a smooth ride while the long parent handle is deal for

steering during a stroll. Recommended for ages 9 months and older. Customized trikes start at $70. radioflyer.com.

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Teach children the ABCs of architecture and design with colorful Eames drawings.

Credit: Courtesy of Museum of Design Atlanta

Teach children the ABCs of architecture and design with colorful Eames drawings.
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Teach children the ABCs of architecture and design with colorful Eames drawings.

Credit: Courtesy of Museum of Design Atlanta

Credit: Courtesy of Museum of Design Atlanta

Out loud. Tell babies something good with a bevy books. The Museum of Design Atlanta offers “Baby’s First Eames” which illustrates architecture and modern design via bright, fun and accessible images for children of all ages. $11.99. 1315 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-979-6455, museumofdesign.org. Expand your child’s vocabulary with phat words and pop culture phrases through the colorfully illustrated book, “First 100 Words From the 90s.” In addition to common first words like cat, pet and ship, parents (and grandparents) can teach children the 4-1-1 of that decade with words and phrases like ice, ice baby; prince, as in “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”; beanie pet; boy bands; Doc Martens; mixtape; and cultural icons like Biggie, Whitney and Britney. There’s even a glass of iced tea. Get it? Available at Target. Recommended for ages 1-4. $9.99. target.com.

Elephants in the room. A pair of plush elephants, a large and small one, emulates the relationship of a parent and child. Available at Ikea, the Leddjur soft toys feature realistic expressions, embroidered eyes and are free from harmful chemicals, making them more huggable , snuggable and safe for children to play with for years. If your kiddo tries to feed this version of an animal kingdom, don’t worry since the elephants are machine washable. Recommended for ages 12 months and older. Online or in-store. $12.99. 441 16th St. NW, Atlanta. 888-888-4532, ikea.com/us/en.

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A three-piece desk and chair set is personal space for toddlers to eat, sit and draw and more.

Credit: Jessica Richardson

A three-piece desk and chair set is personal space for toddlers to eat, sit and draw and more.
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A three-piece desk and chair set is personal space for toddlers to eat, sit and draw and more.

Credit: Jessica Richardson

Credit: Jessica Richardson

A seat at the table. A petite-sized table and two-chair set from Lalo, aptly called the play kit, is ideal for eating, playing, drawing and more. The Scandinavian-inspired design features easy to wipe surfaces. Each of the three pieces can be customized by color to create a uniform look or a fun mix-and-match décor to suit toddlers’ discerning tastes. Recommended for ages 12 months and older. $250. meetlalo.com.

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Toddlers can sit, lounge or nap in soft convertible seating that's just the right size.

Credit: Courtesy of Target

Toddlers can sit, lounge or nap in soft convertible seating that's just the right size.
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Toddlers can sit, lounge or nap in soft convertible seating that's just the right size.

Credit: Courtesy of Target

Credit: Courtesy of Target

Flip out. Toddlers can sit, lounge or relax on a cozy Marshmallow flip open sofa. Like the name implies, the sofa is soft, spongey, lightweight and easy to use since it converts from a wide seat to a 39-inch lounger, which kids can nap on, in one quick motion. The sofa is available at Target in Paw Patrol, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Frozen 2 and Elmo graphics. Toddlers will enjoy having a convertible chair where they can read, sleep and snack while parents will appreciate the ease of zipping off the cover and tossing it in the washer when it’s time to clean. Recommended for ages 18 months and older. $59.99. target.com.

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Celebrate every day with a wooden "Blue's Clues" cake set.

Credit: Courtesy of Macy's

Celebrate every day with a wooden "Blue's Clues" cake set.
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Celebrate every day with a wooden "Blue's Clues" cake set.

Credit: Courtesy of Macy's

Credit: Courtesy of Macy's

Party time. Every day calls for celebration with a 38-piece wooden Melissa & Doug “Blue’s Clues” play set featuring cupcakes and toppings, a serving plate, birthday candles, an activity booklet and more. Available at Macy’s, the set can help toddlers with finger and hand skills like grasping while encouraging screen-free play time. When it’s time for organizing, all items can be stored in a sturdy tote. Recommended for ages 3 and older. $32.49. macys.com.

Get creative. Looking for a fun and easy-to-clean art project? Enter CreateOn Magna-Tiles which offer square doodle tiles and markers that children (and parents) can draw on and build everything from cubes to a house. Tiles can also be used to identify letters, numbers, shapes and animals then wipe them off and start anew. Fans of Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” can opt for tiles in a special paint-on set featuring fruit, a picnic basket, butterfly and, of course, caterpillars. Both items are available on Amazon. Recommended for ages 3 and older. Doodle set, $29.95; paint-on set, $24.95. amazon.com.