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The Daily Dish Shopping

Need a Present for a Toddler? These Parent-Approved Gifts Are the Only Ones to Buy

When it comes to presents for tots ... it’s really more about the parents.

By Angela Law

"Anything with a repetitive song that cannot be turned off should be banished to the outer darkness," was my brother-in-law’s immediate response when I elicited his opinion for this piece.

I mean, fair enough. According to all the parents I spoke with, there are some very important questions you should ask yourself before buying a toddler gift: Does it make noise? Does it consist of a bajillion little pieces? And, is it potentially toxic? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, don’t even think about getting it.

Another very important thing to keep in mind: make sure the gift is age appropriate. You know what most parents don’t find fun? Having to take a toy away from a toddler and explain that he or she can play with it ... in a few years! 

So, now that we’ve gotten the no-no's out of the way, let's get to the presents that they do want!

On the list of most-wanted toddler gifts are: books, pretend play sets and costumes, craft supplies, and socks, gloves, hats, and other small accessories that are always getting lost. Runner ups include cash, in-home massages, and wine delivery. (Kidding. Sort of.)

But in all seriousness, books were the clear winner. So let us start you off with, hands down, the most popular book within the circle of parents we talked to.

Mo Willems’ Pigeon and Pals Complete Cartoon Collection

Willems' books are so funny and smart that parents actually like them and don’t mind having to read them 9000 times.


There are so many different ways to play with this toy that it really allows kids to use their imagination. It’s also made of sustainable Beech wood — total bonus with all those eco-minded parents.

Melissa and Doug Car Set

According to the parents we spoke to, Melissa and Doug can do no wrong. Everything they make is cute and fun and great for the kids developmentally. We just thought this one was particularly cute.

Rock My Socks 3 Pack

If you don’t really care about the kid’s face as he or she is opening the present, just go for something that the parents will really appreciate.

The Land of Nod Animal Matching Game

Can’t decide which animal to get? Why not just get the kid several?


Creative parents wish all kids’ toys could be Keith Haring-inspired. Alas, they are not. But at least they have this.

Food Groups - Wooden Food Set

We couldn’t help but include another Melissa and Doug toy since they were so highly recommended. If the kid becomes the next Top Chef, he or she can thank you for planting the seed.

Guidecraft Tabletop Paper Center

One of the big things our parents wish they would be gifted was self-containing (big emphasis on “self-containing”) arts and crafts supplies. We think this fits the bill?

Color Your Own Dinosaur Pillowcase

If this doesn’t get them to bed, nothing will.

Personalized Cape and Mask Set

A cape with your name on it? I mean, is there possibly a cooler present?

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