I thought that I would make a short Christmas suggestion list for the ages my children have experienced. These will be items suggested because of the amount of use they received by my children or because they help further development.
I figured I would start from infancy and work my way up to older kids. The thing about babies is they really benefit most from interaction with people. They are naturally attracted to faces in particular and notice contrast, like the lines of eyebrows and the hair line. The see black, white, and red the best in the begginning as well as things that are about a foot away. This means that toys that are bright and have lots and lots of color are not actually that interesting for a very young baby. They see much simpler patterns better, red, black, white.
Younger infants have difficulty grabbing things but this is one of the first things other than smiling and lifting their heads that will be helpful in playing. Therefore things that are good for grabbing that have interesting textures or sounds are good for baby.
Here is a small list of some good things for baby.
1. Both my kids liked either the whoozit or lamaze toys
2. I have heard great things about this Giraffe, he is great for chewing mouths and made out of natural rubber so he is safe. His long neck and legs are great for gripping.
3. A mobile is always nice for above a changing table, just make sure it is out of reach of the baby so that later they don't get it messy.
4. A swing is both fun and relaxing for a baby and helpful to the parents, although I recommend baby wearing very much (Ergo Baby and Moby are excellent carriers).
5. A tummy time toy is good for helping to encourage development of upper body strength needed to crawl. We had one similar to this that my daughter loved and it can fold up to take it along places.
6. A mirror is great for babies to learn about self recognition and faces.
7. I like rattles for babies but I don't like how they are usually hard so the baby ends up hitting their face with it. This one is nice and soft.
8. This sqeak toy is also neat:
9. Books! Fabric books are great for baby or high contrast books also consider getting one you can put family pictures into. We liked this one called Look! Look! and had one to put our own photos in. My child liked that one until she was 2 and still goes back to look once and a while. Honestly my boy like to look at it when he was 4 and 5 but I am not sure if that was just because it was his sisters.
10. A soft ball that baby can hold onto is fun.
11. Another great gift is music, a cd with either calm music or fun common songs like the wheels on the bus are great choices. If you head to my Music tab you can find some good music for kids/babies.
12. Of course since babies are not really going to know if they do not get lots of toys for holidays it is always a great idea to donate to a college fund.
Coming soon...6-12 month toys (some of these will definitely work for that age too, there are just some new ones to add to that age group that would not really be useful to a baby under 6 months).