Tag Archives: toys

Stocking Stuffers for Babies and Toddlers

This time of year, I’m always looking for great gift ideas for Buddy. Stocking stuffers are especially difficult for little ones because anything too small can be a choking hazard. But there are still a lot of great things available for stocking stuffers for young kids.

Buddy was 8 months old at his first Christmas, and a year and a half at his second Christmas. This year he is two and a half. Below is a list of things that I’ve gotten  for his stockings. I’m also including a few of our favorite travel toys that we got at a different time of year, but that would be great in a stocking.

*Disclaimer – I have included affiliate links for your convenience.  Should you choose to purchase a product through one of these links, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting my family*

Great for Both Babies and Toddlers

  • Bath Toys – I got the Munchkin Barnyard Friends bath toys for Buddy’s first Christmas, and we still play with them. This year I bought the Munchkin Fishing Toy to go in Buddy’s stocking.
  • Balls – I bought the Bright Starts Activity Balls for Buddy as an infant, and they were a favorite for a long time. We throw beach balls around all the time at our house, and that would be great in a stocking. Koosh balls are also lots of fun.
  • Pull back vehicles – I got a pull back James train last year and it is by far the best pull back toy I’ve ever seen. Buddy didn’t even know Thomas and Friends at that time, and now that he’s obsessed with trains, he loves it even more.
  • Cars – Buddy got O’Ball Go Gripper cars last year. This year I have a small Lightning McQueen car for him.
  • Small board books – As an infant, Buddy loved small finger puppet books. We have also done Indestructible books in stockings, and they are so great because they take up no space! The dollar store also has nice, small board books.
  • Snacks – Puffs, yogurt melts, fruit snacks
  • Small stuffed animals
  • Toy phone or remote – Buddy got this Fisher Price phone in his stocking as an infant and this VTech remote last year. This year we got a Thomas the train “phone” that makes sounds for a small board book.
  • Finger puppets
  • Mittens and mitten clips
  • Ornaments – This year I bought a firetruck ornament for Buddy on one of our trips this fall that will be in his stocking.
  • Small instruments – kazoos, egg shakers, or other small instruments. Buddy loved this musical instrument set as an infant (his favorite gift on his first Christmas.) Some of them are too big for a stocking, but several would fit well.

Baby Stocking Stuffers

  • Teethers
  • Rattles
  • Bibs
  • Pacifiers

Toddler Stocking Stuffers

  • Two piece puzzles – We got a great one from the Target dollar spot. This one is similar to one I made for Buddy.
  • Crayons – We love Crayola triangular washable crayons. Our current set is well loved and it will be nice to have a new box.
  • Color Wonder markers – We have one book (Thomas – of course) but it only comes with a few markers. Buddy will find more in his stocking and extra Color Wonder paper later on Christmas day.
  • Card games – Buddy is just starting to get into games. We have a family memory game made on Shutterfly, this Go Fish animal game, and an World of Disney Eye Found It card game for his stocking this year.
  • Thomas the train minis – I bought one set of these minis before a trip this year and Buddy LOVED it! I’m excited to give him some new ones with some of his favorite trains.
  • Stickers – Puffy ones are our favorite, and right now there are some great ones at our dollar store. Party stores also have great stickers for cheap.
  • Duplo animals – Buddy is obsessed with Duplos. We got him this animal set earlier this year. I found some small bags with a mystery animal and a few squares at Toys R Us that we will put in his stocking this year.
  • Colorforms – They are reusable stickers that are so travel friendly. We love them! Here is a link to some great ones from Frozen, but you can also find them sometimes at the dollar store.
  • Fun Band-aids – Buddy wants Bandaids all the time. I’m sure he’s not the only toddler who would find this fun.
  • Play doh and tools – Last year I wanted some small tools that we could use on a plane. I found these dough tools from Caryko that are great!

I hope this helps with your holiday shopping! Please add a comment if you have a great stocking stuffer that I’ve missed!

Best Toys for Older Infants 6 – 12 Months

*Disclaimer – This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you purchase an item with one of these links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my family.*

I have always valued other mom’s opinions of kids’ products. Before I’ve purchased anything for Buddy, I’ve looked at reviews from other moms. I wanted to share some of Buddy’s favorite toys as an older infant for anyone who is looking for a gift for a child between 6 and 12 months. Many of these toys are continued to be played with currently (at 22 months).

  1. TRY-ANGLE by Discovery Toys

Buddy loved his try-angle for a long time. There are two sides of activities to keep babies interested. Buddy especially loved the gears, sliders, and mirror. I would recommend this for 6 – 18 months.

2. Tangiball by Discovery Toys

Our family still loves this ball and plays with it often. (Hubby might like it even more than Buddy!) It squeaks and is great for throwing or rolling. I would recommend it for ages 6 months and up.

3. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Puppy’s Smart Train

When we first bought this train for Buddy, we were hoping it would help motivate him to crawl. It was one of the first things that moved that he was interested in following. He still plays with it a lot, and he loves to make it go around the room. There are multiple levels of play on it, so I’m sure it will be played with for a long time. I would recommend it for crawling infants and toddlers, ages 8 months – 2 years.

4. Toddler Bands:  Hohner Kids Toddler Band and B.Parum Pum Drum

Buddy received both of these bands for Christmas when he was 8 months old. Both said they were for older kids, but they were perfect for a sitting infant. The Hohner Kids Band was Buddy’s favorite gift that year! He still plays with both bands on a regular basis. I would recommend it for ages 8 months – 3 years.

5. Puppet books 

These were some of the first books that held Buddy’s interest. We bought the first one for Buddy at 2 months, but after 6 months was when Buddy really started to be interested in reading. We still read these books all the time. I would recommend these for ages 6 months – 2 years.

6. Baby Touch and Feel books

We were given some of these books as baby gifts when Buddy was born. We now have seven different titles in this series. (We also check out others in this series all the time from the library.) This was the first type of book that Buddy pulled off the bookshelf to “read” independently. (The picture above was the first time he did this, and this teacher mom was so proud!!) I think we are on the verge of outgrowing these books, but we do still read them on a regular basis. I would recommend these for ages 4 – 18 months.

7. Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Learning Table

We were given this activity table as a Christmas gift when Buddy was 8 months old, and it has grown with him really well. When he was smaller, we played with it on the floor. Once Buddy was able to stand and play, we put the legs on the activity table. The phone receiver is a rattle, and that continues to be Buddy’s favorite part. We still play with this all the time. I would recommend this for ages 6 months – 2 years.

8. Bright Start Roll, Shake, and Spin Activity Balls

Buddy loves balls of all kinds, but these balls have always been a favorite. They’re easy to hold and some of them make a noise when shaken. I’ve already blogged about some of our activities with these balls (read about them here: balls in a tube, balls in a muffin tin, and colander activities). I’m sure we will continue to play with these for a long time. I would recommend these for ages 6 months and up.

9. B. Zany Zoo Wooden Activity Cube

We received this as a hand-me-down from friends, and we’re so lucky they gave it to us! This was a great activity to help Buddy build strength in playing while standing. He still loves playing with it! I would recommend this for ages 9 months – 3 years.

10. Munchkin Baby Bath Ball

This was an impulse stocking stuffer, and we ended up loving it so much we bought a second one for Grandma’s house in Florida. As I mentioned before, Buddy loves balls, so it’s fun to have one to play with in the bathtub. We’ve also used it in our water table and at the pool. It is a strainer, and there’s a ball within the ball that makes noise. It’s a lot of fun. I would recommend this for ages 6 months – 2 years.

11. High chair toys Melissa and Doug Wooden Bead Maze and Sassy Fascination Station

Whoever invented toys with suction cup bottoms for high chairs was a genius. We have two different ones (linked above), and we love them both. It is so nice to have a toy on hand while finishing cooking, unpacking groceries, or cleaning up after dinner. The Sassy one in the picture we used more when Buddy was younger, and we use the Melissa and Doug bead maze more now. I would recommend these for ages 6 -18 months.

12. Baby Einstein Activity Jumper

The activity jumper was another hand-me-down from a friend. But it is totally worth the money to buy one if you don’t have one that you can borrow. Buddy loved this so much! He would jump and laugh for a long time. It was great having him contained, so I could do things like grade papers or clean. We were all so sad when Buddy outgrew his jumperoo. I would recommend this for ages 7 months – 12 months.

13. Stacking rings

There are a lot of variations of stacking rings out there. Ours lights up and makes noise, and I know Buddy loves it. It was a challenge for Buddy to do this independently at first (at 8 months), but he was so proud once he could do it. I think he’s almost outgrown it, but we do still play with the stacking rings from time to time. I would recommend it for ages 6 – 18 months.

If you’re looking for a gift for a younger infant, read my blog about toys for infants 0-6 months here.

More Airplane Activities for a One Year Old

*Disclaimer – this post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you choose to buy a product through these links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting my family.*

This Christmas, Hubby, Buddy, and I flew to Florida. Buddy’s Nana lives in Melbourne, and the flight is a couple hours for us.  This was our first flight with Buddy since July, and I was amazed how much he’s changed during the last five months. I blogged about our airplane activities in July (read that blog post here), and some of those items were brought with us on this trip as well. However, since I created many new things for this trip, I wanted to share them on the blog.

Currently, Buddy is 20 months old. Every day, he’s becoming more of a toddler and less of a baby. He is much more mobile than he was in July, so I was concerned about finding airplane activities that would be interesting to him and make him willing to sit still for a couple hours. Just like I did for our last trip, I put these activities in two packages. The items in the picture above were in a gallon ziplock (except for the Kindle and headphones which were separate.) I also had a pencil pouch of items with a carabiner that clipped on to the back of the seat for easy access. We didn’t use everything on either flight, but I’d rather have too many activities than not enough.

New for this trip, I wanted to make some travel versions of some of the activities that have been featured on this blog. I used small water bottles to make a travel straw in bottle activity (original blog post here). Buddy has been into his I Spy bottle recently, so I used another small water bottle to make a travel sized one (original blog post here).  I put some of our homemade playdoh in a container (original blog post here) and bought some small cookie cutters and a roller to go with it. This was probably our favorite activity. Buddy loves playdoh and is willing to play with it for a long time. Buddy is just starting to get into TV, so at the last minute we bought Kidz Gear volume controlled headphones. These headphones allowed Buddy to watch his show  shows on my Kindle Fire without disturbing the people around us. While he didn’t spend too much time watching shows, it was great to have as a backup for when he was getting really antsy. I also downloaded some ebooks from the library on the Kindle.

Other items from the picture above:

  • Indestructibles books – These are one of my favorite things for travel because they take no space. Buddy loves to read, so the more books I could bring, the better.
  • Quiet book – I put this together for our July trip (original blog post here).
  • Playing cards from the dollar store
  • Small container with a strip of bells inside
  • Window cling gels – These are one of our favorite activities. I usually get them in the dollar section of Target. Buddy decided that these were fun to tear apart, so they didn’t all survive the trip.
  • Bath book from the dollar store.
  • Oball Go Grippers Car – Small and easy for Buddy to hold. When we aren’t traveling, this car lives in our diaper bag.


Items in the pencil pouch:

  • Chip clip animals from the dollar store.
  • Finger puppets
  • Small toys from the library reading program (I love freebie toys for the diaper bag and traveling!)
  • Small tape measure from the dollar store – Buddy loved this! He had a great time pulling out the tape and releasing it.
  • Small board books
  • Little slinky from the dollar store
  • Roll of painter’s tape – Whoever was the first mom to come up with this idea (not me) is brilliant. Buddy had a great time peeling and restocking the tape on the back of the seat.
  • Stickers in an Altoids tin – Buddy put some in a little notebook, but most of the time he just liked to pull them in and out of the tin.
  • Button snake
  • Triangular Crayons – I love how these don’t roll and they wipe off of surfaces with just water. We actually didn’t use these on the plane, but Buddy did have fun with them at Nana’s house.
  • Light up dinosaur from the dollar store
  • Pom poms in a small container (originally for dressing!) from the dollar store – Buddy had a lot of fun flipping the lid open and shut and poking the poms into the container.

Not pictured –

  • Toddler apps on my phone – Peekaboo Barn was particularly helpful when Buddy was getting antsy prior to take off.
  • Snacks and juice – particularly for taking off and landing to help with ear pressure
  • Built in entertainment – I always try to get Buddy to have fun with things already in the plane before I break out the toys. Buddy loves looking at the other planes and things out the window. He had a lot of fun looking through the airplane magazine and safety card and pulling them in and out of the back seat pocket. Buddy also liked playing peekaboo with the big kids behind us on the flight down to Florida. On the way back, the person behind us was sleeping (“Nappy!”), but Buddy was able to make a friend next to us who gave him some grapes and showed us pictures of his cat.

I didn’t get any pictures of Buddy on the airplane, but here’s one of him having fun on the beach in Florida.

I’m not sure when our next trip will be, but I’m always looking for new travel activities. Please comment if you have any ideas to share for toddler activities for travel.


Best Toys For Infants 0-6 Months

Christmas is just around the corner, and I’m already thinking about the items I want to put on Buddy’s wish list. Any time I’ve gone to buy things for Buddy, I’ve always looked for ideas from other moms. When buying toys, I want things that will entertain Buddy for a long time (at least 15 minutes in one setting) and will last for a long time (at least 6 months, and for older age toys, preferably at least a year). These 10 toys were Buddy’s favorites as an infant, and several are even still being enjoyed today at 19 months.

Disclaimer – this article contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you choose to purchase an item using these links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting my family. 

1. Freddie the Firefly


Freddie was Buddy’s first toy. The back side of the wings are black and white patterns, and he loved looking at them as an infant. As Buddy got older, he loved all the sounds the firefly makes (crinkly wings, squeaker, jingles) and all the textures on his body. The rings at the bottom were also fun for him to pull. I love that the ring at the top made it easy to clip Freddie onto the diaper bag or stroller. Buddy loved this toy from 0-14 months, and I was really sad when he outgrew it.

2. OBall Rattles


We have a lot of different OBall rattles, and we love them all. They are easy to grab, and there are lots of different parts to look at. Buddy still plays with the OBall car, and I’m sure he will continue to do so for a long time. We have played with these from 1 month – 19 months.

3. Kick and Play Piano Gym


This piano gym was Buddy’s favorite activity for a long time. There was one point in time that we loved this so much that a friend loaned us another one so we could have one on each floor of our house. Buddy loved kicking the piano and making music. He also loved all of the dangling objects. We still have this out in our family room, and Buddy still likes to play with the keyboard. So far it’s lasted us from ages 1 month – 19 months.

4. Indestructibles Books

These are the best books for travel! They take up literally no space in the diaper bag, which is amazing. They were also the first book that really held Buddy’s attention (at about 3 months). We have a couple with animals and some nursery rhymes as well. Right now Buddy is obsessed with books, so these are great to throw in the diaper bag any time I know we’ll be waiting. (Am I old fashioned in wanting Buddy to be doing something besides looking at my phone in a doctor’s office?) We were introduced to these at age 3 months and we are still loving them at 19 months.

5. Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium

When Buddy was smaller, he really loved watching the fish when he was awake and in the crib. It was great for holding his attention while I used the bathroom or threw in a load of laundry. Buddy still has it in his crib, but he doesn’t look at it as much anymore. I would recommend it for ages 0-12 months.

6. Sophie the Giraffe


Buddy was very picky with his teething toys, and Sophie was one of the only ones he liked. Thankfully he is done with teething, but he still likes Sophie and her squeak. I love that Sophie is the perfect size to throw in the diaper bag and is easy to clean. I would recommend Sophie for teething infants (for us that was 6 months – 18 months).

7. Hello Baby Mirror Board Book

It might be the reading teacher in me, but I wanted to read with Buddy as a newborn. The Hello Baby Mirror Board Book has high contrast pictures that are interesting to newborns. There are many different books in this series, but I liked this one the best because of the mirror. Buddy liked the mirror a lot. We enjoyed this book from ages 0 – 9 months.

8. Taggies clip toy


We named our Taggies clip toy Ellie, and she went everywhere with us during Buddy’s first year. Buddy loved the crinkly fabric and the silky tags. I love how easy it is to bring Ellie along because she takes up very little space. I would recommend Taggies toys for ages 0-12 months.

9. Exercise ball

I bought an exercise ball towards the end of my pregnancy, and thank goodness I did. Bouncing on the ball was the only thing that would calm Buddy down. Beyond that, bouncing on the ball together is an activity that we continue to do together. I would recommend an exercise ball for any age.

10. Fisher-Price Deluxe Bouncer


We used this bouncer at my cousin’s house on Buddy’s first road trip. He loved it so much, we ended up taking it back home with us. Buddy wasn’t into swings, but he loved the bouncer because he could move it himself. He outgrew it at 6 months, but he loved it so much, I had to put it on this list. I would recommend it for ages 1-6 months.

Stay tuned for more recommendations for older infants. And if you have any ideas for great toys for 18 months – 2 year olds, I’d love to hear them!

Washing Toy Cars

On Water Wednesday, I wanted to do a new water play activity. I saw the idea of doing a car wash on Things to Share and Remember. Buddy loves playing with water and cars, so a toy car wash seemed like a good thing to try.

To create the car wash, I put dish soap and water in a glass baking pan. I did this so I could easily pour out the soapy water at the end. The washing tools we used were a sponge cut in half and a microfiber towel. Since Buddy still crawls everywhere,  I put everything on a towel to make it a little more comfortable. I set up our water table as well, because I figured Buddy would eventually want more water to play with.

Car wash set up

Buddy was very interested in the bin of cars, but he wasn’t sure what to do with the water at first. After I showed him how to wash the cars, he was interested in trying.

washing cars

I was glad I cut the sponge in half, because the smaller sponges were easy for Buddy to hold. Playing with the sponges was Buddy’s favorite part. He’d never held a sponge before, and he spent a lot of time just squeezing the water on his leg.

washing cars 3

It was great to have a sitting water activity, because it allowed us to play for much longer than if we’d done it in the water table. When Buddy got antsy, we stood up and played in the water table. When his legs got tired, we sat back down with the car wash. Between the two activities, we played for more than an hour.

water table play

We love our water table (affiliate link), and the rain cups from the making rain activity continue to be one of his favorite water toys. These cups moved from the water table to the car wash, and Buddy loved making it rain on the cars.

Overall, it was a successful Water Wednesday, and I hope to do a car wash again soon. We might even try washing some animals or other plastic toys. If you have any fun water activities, I’d love to hear them.