It can be hard to buy a birthday present for a toddler boy, ages 2 to 5, unless you have one or can borrow one. To make toy shopping easier, here are the top five birthday gifts for toddler boys that will last longer than the current favorite licensed character or movie.
Educational toys please the parents and please the child. They reach far beyond video game systems like V.Smile or Leapster. While video game systems do teach reading and math, they can be expensive. Smaller games like VTech’s line of laptops and LeapFrog’s Scribble and Write pad are under $25 and can engage the child so much that he doesn’t know he is learning.
The broad category of educational toys includes puzzles, which help develop hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Most major chain toy stores or craft stores carry jigsaw puzzles with a variety of themes and images. Wooden jigsaw puzzles are more durable, and a favorite brand is Melissa and Doug. Their line of wooden puzzles includes jigsaw as well as peg puzzles, which have a board of shapes that are removed by a peg. You can order at the Melissa and Doug website, Melissanddoug.com, or at Amazon.com.
Another good option is to give a book. You can help the child build his library and inspire a life of reading. The American Library Association has recommended reading lists by age groups, and Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak are two great recommended choices for boys. The Public Broadcasting System’s website, PBS.org, has a book finder where you can search for a book by age and theme.
Boys like to build, so blocks are another great gift. But Legos and Duplos are not the only kinds of blocks available. There are also wooden and soft foam blocks. Lego and Duplo brick-style blocks come in a range of theme and specialty kits, such as helicopters and pirate ships. The simpler wooden blocks are durable and promote more imaginative play. And if the toddler in question throws blocks, the soft ones are best. If your favorite toy or department store doesn’t have wooden or foam blocks, you can shop Toys “R” Us at their website, www.toysrus.com.
Cars and trucks are popular gifts for boys, so why not give them a car or truck of their own to drive? Battery-powered tractors and cars are featured items in toy stores, but there are plenty of pedal-powered vehicles if you have a smaller budget or want to promote exercise. Target.com has pedal trikes as low as $15, and if you’re buying in the spring or summer, check your local store ads to see what’s available in store.
Toddlers learn by imitating the adults around them. They usually want to play with daddy’s toolbox or mommy’s smart phone. Toys stores are full of smaller versions of the tools that adults use every day, whether it’s a hammer and nails, pots and pans or a laptop. While it’s natural to give a boy play saws and wrenches, consider giving him a kitchen set or a doctor’s kit. With these tools, he can imitate the world around him for hours of play.
American Library Association
PBS book finder