To help you with your holiday shopping, I'm sharing my absolute favorite gift ideas for busy babies. These toys will work for a wide variety of ages, but when making this list I had babies in the 8-18 month old range in mind.

Gift Guide for Busy Babies

by | Sign & Play

The Best Gifts for Busy Babies

With the holidays here, many of us looking for gifts for our own little ones, as well as our smallest nieces and nephews. To help you with your holiday shopping, I’m sharing my absolute favorite gift ideas for busy babies. These toys will work for a wide variety of ages, but when making this list I had babies in the 8-18 month old range in mind.

Think scooching, crawling, pulling up, cruising & taking those exciting first steps.

Movers & groovers. Babies on the go!

Here in New England the cold winter months can be loooong with an active baby or new toddler, so I also thought about the life saver toys that got me through the winter when my January baby turned 1 and started walking. These are great choices to keep your baby movin’ & groovin’ – even when you’re stuck inside.

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1. Hohner Kids Toddler Music Band

Dance break! Make some noise and have some fun with these baby-friendly musical instruments. Your baby will love this now. Your toddler will love this later. Your preschooler will continue to love it. Your kindergartner will love it too. You get the idea.

2. DIY Ball PitBall Pit + Balls 

I love/hate this evil concoction I came up with. I love it because it provided so much fun for my babies (and our playgroup!) at home. I also love it because I’ve watched so many of my students have a blast with it in class. I hate it because…balls. Everywhere. You will curse my name as you crawl around pulling them out from under every piece of furniture in your house. I’m sorry.

3. LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table – $65
Another noisy toy, but it was a real favorite with my daughters. It was so attractive to my first that she actually pulled up to standing for the very first time on it!

4. Imagination Generation Wooden Wonders 5-in-1 Deluxe Activity Cube – $35

If the plastic and noise of the LeapFrog table don’t appeal to you, this is a kinder, gentler type of toy that has much of the same appeal (and none of the noise).

5. Pop-up Play Tent  – $24 (lots of options at different prices for these too)

We have a pop-up tent & tunnel that my girls (ages 6 & 10) STILL play with (well, just the tent – I think they’d get stuck in tunnel ;). A pop-up tent like this is great to have because it’s an instant fort that folds up compactly when you’re not using it. Your baby will love it if you fill it with a few their favorite playthings.

6. Play Tunnel – $29 (but there are others available for less)

If you’re not up for the whole tent set-up, a tunnel alone can still be tons of fun for crawlers and toddlers alike!

7. Little Tikes Junior Play Slide – $50 (check out Craig’s List for a hand-me-down to save $$)

You might think of this as something for playing with outside, but this is actually a great indoor toy during a long winter with a busy toddler. It’s an easy way to turn any room into a mini-playground. Just fold it up and tuck it away when not in use.

8. Fisher-Price Bright Beginning Activity Walker – $25

Push toys are a great choice for the early walker, but this is my favorite. It’s surprisingly stable and folds so you can tuck it away when not in use. A shopping cart would also be a great choice, but I’ve never found one that’s not tippy.

9. Step2 LifeStyle Custom Kitchen Playset – $80

The play kitchen is often thought of as a toy for the preschool set, but we got ours when my first was about 15 months old and she LOVED it. Your baby will love opening and closing the doors, putting stuff inside and taking it out. Hours of fun. Don’t wait until your baby is 2 or 3 to invest in one of these. There are so many options at all different price points, so do some research and find the one that works for you.

10. First 100 Words by Roger Priddy

My favorite books for this age range is a whole other list, but I couldn’t make this list without including at least one book. I love this particular one as babies love the real photos of common items and it’s great for language building. It’s also great for practicing new sign language vocabulary!

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Hi, I’m Lane. I’m so glad you’re here!

As a new mom, I wanted to use sign language with my baby, but I wasn’t sure where to start.

After a trip to my local library and lots of trial and error, I figured it out—and I was honestly blown away by how much closer I felt to my daughter!

I decided every parent should be able to experience that deeper connection with their little one. So, I added American Sign Language training to my child development background, and I created my award-winning Tiny Signs program.

I’ve helped tens of thousands of families communicate through basic sign language, and I’d love to help you, too.

Lane Rebelo, LCSW, author of Baby Sign Language Made Easy and The Complete Guide to Baby Sign Language