Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Last-Minute Holiday Gifts for Babies (0-12 months)

Dec 10, 2020Lizzy Greenburg

At Curious Baby, we are always focused on finding ways to do more with what you already have at home.

Our activities are made to be as accessible as possible so that everyone can benefit from the developmental research for their baby, no matter what your income or personal circumstances may be. 

However, as the holidays roll in, we have been inundated with requests to create a 'toy guide' or give some perspective for what new moms and dads can ask for that make quality and valuable investments for their home. So we finally obliged. 

Here are our 7 of our favorite gifts for new moms and dads that we've loved in our own home this year, and that have been able to grow with us as our babies nad toddlers have grown up. 

Focus on the toys that last. 

We are grateful to be in the position of having youngest kids in our extended family. We have a 9 month old and a 2.5 year old at home, and this means that we benefit from a whole heck of a lot from the "hand-me-down" toys. So we've had the experience of seeing what 'sticks' and what gets passed along as fast as the kiddos grow up. 

We try and limit the number of 'plastic' toys, as they typically have a quicker shelf life and tend to break easily or lose their star power. And we are more inclined to Montessori style toys. because our toddler was at a Montessori school (Before COVID-19).

Shop small, when you can

We're a small business, and we appreciate it when customers look to us to shop small on important holidays like Christmas. However, with national shipping delays affecting a number of holiday deliveries, we wanted to recommend some products from Amazon that have a higher likelihood of arriving by Christmas. 

And, as you may know, there are tons of small business that sell on Amazon, too. Just like us :) You just need to know 'how' to shop. So even though you're shopping at the world's behemoth superstore and enjoying fast and easy Prime shipping, you can still help support small businesses if your purchase from Amazon's third-party sellers

Let's get started

1. Tumble Blocks ($133 at the time of posting)

Tumble Blocks Amazon

This is by far the most expensive item on our list, but we've had so much endless fun with these that we had to include them. I can say that our 9-month old has a great time climbing all over them and our 2.5 year old can't stop building camp forts and 'ice cream shops' with them as well. 

Our family has been fortunate to remain in our home during COVID-19, and with a new baby and a toddler at home 24/7, these have been a lifesaver. If you're missing going to the local playgym or climbing on playgrounds that are closed right now, this is a great way to burn off some energy in your home. 


2. Canvas Toddler & Baby Swing ($65 at the time of posting)

Baby swing

This is on our gift guide as a COVID-19 special addition-- just for 2020. You can always find a swing for FREE in your nearby park or school, but in our neighborhood the parks have been closed due to the pandemic and our kids are swing-obsessed, so we've found this to be a huge winner. We've also used it with Charlie from when he was just a few weeks old, to now as he crosses the 9 month mark. And our 2.5 year old loves it. So the reason we are adding it to this list is because it's an item that grows with the kids as they grow up. 

We hung this swing in a doorway drilling it right into the frame, but there are tons of alternatives that don't require permanent installation, like these.  

I've found that time in the swing  helps Charlie calm down when he's particularly fussy.

Developmentally, the swing has helped Charlie build his core muscles as he learned to sit-up on his own and also work on his balance. Learning to hang on to the ropes also has worked on his fine motor skills as well.

When he was younger, we supported him in the swing with some pillows and stuffed animals like this... 

 Baby in Swing with Stuffed Animals

💵 Budget Tip: We find a lot of our kids toys second-hand on facebook or craigslist, so we recommend always looking simple things like swings on these marketplaces first to save a little extra. 


3. Montessori Rainbow Stackers ($15.99 at time of posting)

If you're a dedicated Montessori-lover, then you may think that these aren't the "real -deal". I get it, they aren't the wonderful handmade works of art that you can find on Etsy, but if you're budget-conscious, you can still have a lot of fun with these and they are only $15. 

Our toddler loves playing with these and making them into a "tunnel" as you see below, and they were super fun when working through colors with her. Charlie loves clapping them together and watching items that we hide inside/outside of it.

Developmentally, it helps reinforce object permanence, and helps build vocabulary with learning the colors/shape-fitting. 

Montessori Rainbow and Xylophone


4. Foam Magnets ($12.99 at time of posting)

Toddler Magnets

These have been another great item that we've used in every single room of our house. In our office, we have a whiteboard, where Charlie is playing with the magnets here. We've also taken them into the kitchen to let him stick them on the oven, the dishwasher and our trash can (Although we don't recommend using the trash can as a play area 🗑🤮🤷‍♀️). 

They are also a great grab & go activity to take wherever you may end up (Grandma's house, you name it).

Developmentally, these magnets have helped us work on fine motor skills and grasping. They also have helped us develop his cognitive abilities with learning new vocabulary, colors, shapes and sizes. And we have to admit that most of them have also been used as a teether at some point in time. 


 5. Ikea FLISAT Bookshelf/Pull-Up Bar ($14.99 at time of posting)

Bookshelf Pull Up Bar

Although its from Ikea, and not on Amazon. It's so good that we had to include it here. This bookshelf has been an awesome item to have in our home that we've used in so many different ways. 

First, as a bookshelf. You can probably figure that one out. Next, we've used it as a pull-up bar. (Making sure that it's securely attached to a stud in your wall is essential for this). And lastly, we've also used it as a ball-run of sorts. Putting a ball on one side, and engaging with Charlie as he sits to roll the ball across the bar from one side to the other. 

Developmentally, this bookshelf helped Charlie work on his gross motor skills like pulling-up and standing. And through having a place that we store books and read to him, we're building his vocabulary and reading as much as we can to him. 

6. Skip Hop Travel Mat ($49.99 at the time of posting)-

⭐️ This one is for Mom & Dad!

Skip Hop Travel Mat

While the one that we have is a hand-me down and not sold anymore online, the one that we've linked to looks quite neat and even more travel-friendly than ours!  

When you have an infant at home, chances are that your arms are dying from holding them and you're looking for a safe place to set them down to wiggle. As they grow, when you set them down at the park, they instantly try and eat everything in sight (leaves, sticks, etc). So we've loved taking this folding play mat with us wherever we go. It's also waterproof on one side so it makes sitting on the grass comfortable, and we love having picnics and enjoying the outdoors as much as we can. 

There are so many developmental benefits to being outside. For younger babies, it helps align their circadian rhythm and build better sleep habits, they get their natural dose of vitamin D and it allows them to see and explore the world around them. 

7. Blocks: There are so many options at really any budget. You can always find blocks second-hand on Facebook Marketplace as well. 

Baby Charlie Playing with Blocks

Pictured are the Janod Paper Blocks ($34 at time of posting). We got as a hand-me down from a relative. I wouldn't suggest paying this much for these new if you are looking for a new set as there are many budget-friendly options. 

We also love the Infantino Stackable Blocks  ($9.99 at time of posting)

There are so many fun things you can do with blocks. So many educational activities to help build cognitive ability and fine motor skills. We believe that every home with kids around should have some kind of blocks for fun play. If you're a grandparent or occasional caregiver to a child, do yourself a favor and grab some blocks to keep at home. 

Developmentally, stacking or nesting builds baby's fine motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination. Counting helps her develop language skills by associating the numbers with the blocks.  By 12-18 months, your baby should be able to stack three blocks, and by 18-24 months, your baby may stack four to six. 

More Toys Don't Make Them Happier

While these are all great additions to your playroom or home, we want to emphasize that babies learn in so many ways and buying them more toys doesn't make them smarter or happier. 

While it may buy you a few more moments of peace and quiet, young babies thrive on the love and attention from you, and there are tons of ways to get creative with what you have already. 

So while we agreed to write this post to share some of our favorite tangible goods, know that no matter what your budget or circumstance, loving your baby and getting creative with imaginative play are two of the most inexpensive and fun things you can do together as they grow. 

Join the conversation

Do you have a favorite baby toy that has stood the test of time? Share it with us in the comments below! We're always learning too. 






Please note: Items above may contain Amazon affiliate links. Purchasing directly from these referral links helps support the Curious Baby Blog and costs nothing to you! 

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