The children in our lives make the holidays magical. But sussing out what, exactly, to gift a baby who’s barely aware of what’s going on, or an energetic toddler? That feels slightly less magical. And it seems like the older they get, the harder it is to wow them.
We’re here to help. We’ve culled through the top presents for kids this season so you didn’t have to. (And for the grown-ups in your life, we’ve got gift ideas for him and gifts for her, too.) So whether you’re shopping for an infant, an 8-year-old, a 15-year-old (gulp!), or any age in between, you’ll want to check out what we’ve discovered.
Clover Signature Bacon and Eggs Baby Blanket ($30; cloverbabyandkids.com)
Soft and charmingly quirky, this big blanket will keep wee ones cozy on stroller rides now and live on as a lovey later.
Koavoty Teething Mittens ($10.88; walmart.com)
A common baby problem: gnawing on those pudgy little fists while teething. Adorable solution: These.
Burt’s Bees Icy Snowscape Organic Jumpsuit ($29.95; burtsbeesbaby.com)
The brand is long-beloved for its baby toiletry line, but its layette selection is also well worth a look. This sweet and seasonal footed jumper, made with certified organic cotton, is a swoon-worthy gift for any snow baby.
Baby Jack & Co. Sensory Crinkle Tag Square ($13.95; amazon.com)
Babies love crinklies and ribbons. This take-along has a nice feature: The ribbons are sewn closed so little fingers don’t get caught. The fabrics are all designed by kids, through a partnership with children’s charities.
Baby Banana Corn Cob First Toothbrush ($7.59; walmart.com)
The “stalk” handles make it easy for babies to grip this too-cute toothbrush and teether. And its size and shape is just right to tuck inside a stocking.
KidKraft Noah’s Ark Shape Sorter ($16.99; target.com)
Lions, and turtles, and pandas -— oh, hi! Introduce your little monkey to the ones on the ark. Consider this wooden, whimsical zoo an advanced shape sorter. The irregular shapes of the animals are harder to work with than the “beginner” geometric shapes.
Melissa & Doug Chomp & Clack Alligator Push Toy ($49.99; nordstrom.com)
An easy-to-manage handle and nonskid wheels that roll backward and forward make for a push toy that’s a clear winner with toddlers. They’ll happily click and clatter many a day away. Good to know: It’s painted with completely nontoxic dyes.
LeapFrog Smart Sizzlin’ BBQ ($29.99, originally $39.99; target.com)
Toddlers learn about numbers as they turn the temperature dial and flip the skewer on this clever grill. It even talks to tots about the names of the foods they’re cooking and what they look like.
Boon Blobbles Bath Toys ($5.14; walmart.com)
Funky bubble wands as bubble bath toys! Why didn’t someone think of these sooner? BPA- and PVC-free, this set is a total bargain for the hours of giggles it’ll deliver.
Fisher-Price Power Wheels ‘Toy Story’ Jeep ($299.99; target.com)
A prime contender for the “big gift,” this colorful ride-on has a pretend radio that “broadcasts” updates from Woody and the gang. It’s big enough for two riders, squelching squabbles over whose turn it is.
Lola + The Boys Unicorn Sequin Bomber ($88; maisonette.com)
Diminutive divas will dazzle in this mid-weight topper. The lining is fleece, so even though this jacket is shiny, it’s also cozy and comfy.
Nickelodeon ‘Paw Patrol’ Mighty Lookout Tower ($78; amazon.com)
Little ‘Paw Patrol’ fan kids will get a big thrill out of this nearly 3-foot-tall command center for the Mighty Pups. It has all the fun stuff: lights, sounds, a zip line, an elevator and a working telescope.
Loog Mini Guitar ($79; amazon.com)
With a three-string design, this first guitar made of real wood is a contender for the Rock & Roll Toy Hall of Fame. Nice extra: Flash cards to help preschoolers learn chords. Move over, Eric Clapton.
Wildluvs Juno My Baby Elephant ($77; amazon.com)
This petite pachyderm — who seems, well, alive — is going to be at the top of a lot of wish lists this season. Her trunk responds in a half dozen ways to your child’s touch. And her personality blossoms as she gets to know you.
Hatchimals Colleggtibles Mega Secret Surprise ($35.99; amazon.com)
The new incarnation of last year’s crazy-popular Hatchimals is this stash of 40 surprise characters, creatures and accessories. The handle lets it be easily toted to a pal’s house when it’s time to trade tiny treasures.
Uno Flip ($5.44; target.com)
Fun card games for little kids beyond Go Fish? Yes, please. Uno is a classic, but this update brings double-sided cards that make things more exciting.
WowWee ‘Baby Shark’ Fingerlings ($9.99, originally $14.99; walmart.com)
Finger puppets get a modern makeover. This friendly fishie lights up a fin in a color to show his mood, kisses you on the cheek, and, of course, belts out the infamous “Baby Shark” song.
Hot Wheels ID Smart Track Kit ($179.99; amazon.com)
Kids scan the special Hot Wheels ID cars and digitally compete with other players. They can track their speeds, stunts and other stats in the online portal via an iPhone or iPad.
Kinetic Sand Squeez’meez ($6.99; target.com)
Moldable, enticingly squishy kinetic sand fills these charming critters. If you squeeze one, it holds its shape. That allows it to tuck perfectly into any stocking.
Gund Pusheen Christmas Candy Cane ($25.59; amazon.com)
Feline internet sensations abound but — Pusheen! The lackadaisical tabby who lives for her favorite food (all of them) is a legend in cute. Sweet catnip, if this holiday manifestation of the pleasantly plump puss doesn’t deserve a spot among top gifts for tweens, we don’t know what does.
AirHogs Zero Gravity Laser ($24.88; walmart.com)
When he was little, did you tell him (again and again) to stop “driving” his cars on the wall? Then this toy will be a dream come true. Armed with the laser controller, your kid will have the car careening up walls and even across the ceiling. And no, it won’t mar your paint.
Thames & Kosmos Alien Slime Lab ($31.37; amazon.com)
Slime continues to be a thing with tweens, but many are over making it themselves. Enter this kit. It adds a creepy-cool twist to the mushy madness, while at the same time sneaking in a chemistry lesson.
Owleez ($38.82; amazon.com)
This one gets our vote for most likely to be played with by a parent. The concept, coaxing a baby owl to fly, is irresistible.
LOL Surprise! Amazing Surprise ($119; amazon.com)
Unboxing mystery toys is huge, and this collection is pretty much the ultimate. Fourteen dolls, and myriad pets and accessories, await discovery in a challenging maze.
Gifeez Spinning GIF Art Studio ($17.99; amazon.com)
Kids choose, customize and then share their own GIFs through a free app. We like the combination of hands-on creativity with tech.
Fitbit Ace 2 ($69.95; bestbuy.com)
An activity tracker for tweens, this sturdy, water-resistant device can be worn while swimming. Parental controls clue you in to your kid’s healthy habits.
American Girl Doll of 2019 Blaire Wilson ($134.87; amazon.com)
An American Girl doll has been at the top of wish lists forever. This year’s little lady – a farm girl who aspires to be a chef – will continue to delight.
Vineyard Vines Sherpa Half Zip Pullover ($148; vineyardvines.com)
This versatile pullover will score you major points with your favorite member of Gen Z. It’s light yet really warm. And that’s perfect, since most teens seem to have given up wearing winter coats to school — yet they all love Vineyard Vines.
Kodak Smile Instant Print Camera ($99.99; amazon.com)
This editing- and sharing-optimized throwback camera will live up to its name, making your teen smile when she opens it. Snaps print on sticky-back paper, so they’re easy to display around her room, show off on her binders, or turn into mementos for friends.
’How’s it Hanging?’ Popcorn Tin ($36.99; thepopcornfactory.com)
When in doubt, think snacks. Truly, you can’t go wrong gifting a teen a week’s supply of popcorn drenched in scrumptious butter, cheesy cheese, and crispy caramel. Nab bonus points for the tin: Sloths are very much in.
Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook ($40.88; amazon.com)
Kid prone to discovering he lost his notes the night before the test? Using the included pens and a free app, his notes can be sent up to the cloud. And the notebook can be erased and reused by — microwaving it. C’mon, what teen wouldn’t love that?
Pictionary Air ($16.88; walmart.com)
You might assume classic games are a gift of the past at this point. But you’d be wrong. That old favorite Pictionary has been taken up a teen-appealing notch. They can draw in the air, and the picture will appear on smart device screens or stream to the TV.
Nintendo Switch ($299; amazon.com)
Gamers will be all about the flexibility this new system offers. The console can be detached, so they can play wherever they go.
Dinbin 22-inch Skateboard ($35.66, amazon.com)
Pennyboards are popular with city kids, and teens in the suburbs are starting to discover them. They can fill the niche between not wanting to ride the school bus anymore, but not yet driving. This model comes in 10 designs and holds up to 220 pounds. Plus, it’s small enough to fit in a locker.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.