Finding the perfect Christmas gift (or birthday present) for any child can be a daunting, confusing, and sometimes dangerous endeavor (have you ever been to Toys”R”Us this time of the year!?) But what about buying a Christmas present for a baby born with Down syndrome?
Are there special toys for these special kids you may be wondering? (spoiler alert: there aren’t.) You may be worrying about offending a parent of a child with special needs by giving their child a toy that is to advanced for their developmental skill level. Or maybe you’re the new parent of a child born with Down syndrome trying to find the best toy for your kid-o!
No matter who you are, or whose child your purchasing a gift for, this holiday season I’m here to help! First I hope you are already giving your child the 3 free gifts that any child would like better than an iPad. Second, I want to give you some general advice for purchasing toys; not only for children born with special needs, but for all children. If you’re in a hurry feel free to scroll down and check out our top ten Christmas gift ideas for babies born with Down syndrome at the bottom of the page.
2 Tips On How To Purchase The Best Christmas Present For A Baby Born With Down Syndrome
1. Follow the age recommendation on the box…just like you would for any child.
I’ll be honest, before Noah was born I had no idea how to buy a Christmas gift for a special needs child. (Pretty silly, I know.) I would have been super worried that I was going to buy something too advanced for their child. I’d be embarrassed and they would be offended. I would have thought the age suggestions that are clearly printed on the front of any toy box only applied to typical children. Boy, I had a lot to learn.
Children born with Down syndrome like Christmas presents, birthday gifts, toys, and lots of fun just like any other child. A baby not liking fun baby toys would be weird. 🙂 Being born with Down syndrome means you have 3 copies of your 21st chromosome. It doesn’t mean your weird. Here’s a quick pro toy buyer tip: When in doubt just stick to the manufacturer’s age recommendation’s printed on the front of every box and you’ll be just fine.
2. The more it flashes, lights up, beeps, chirps, sings, dances, etc….the better!
All children (not just children born with Down syndrome) benefit greatly by being exposed to a variety of sensory stimulation. In other words, the louder and brighter…the better! You’ve probably noticed that most baby toys have two things in common. Loud and Bright! I used to think this was just the toy companies way of Punk’ing parents…but I was wrong. Those lights and silly (and sometimes annoying) songs are actually extremely helpful for all children. So when you’re cruising the aisles of your favorite toy store this holiday season, let your eyes and ears be your guide. (By the way when I’m looking for a fun, new toy for Noah the first things I look for is: something bright, and something loud .)
Quick Tip: If you’re in a hurry I’ve found that almost any toy in the v-tech section passes the bright / loud test. So when in doubt, grab a V-tech toy!)
We’ve been on this journey for a year now and during that time we’ve brought MANY toys for our child who was born with Down syndrome. Some good. Some bad. And some we have kept going back to time and time again. If you are looking for a Christmas gift, birthday present, or a “I’m your grandma and just want to spoil you rotten gift” for a baby born with Down syndrome (or any child 0-12 months old) it’s my pleasure to present to you the following list of toys that made it to the top of our “awesome toy stack” this year. I hope you find it helpful.
Top Ten Christmas Gift Ideas For A Baby Born With Down Syndrome
1. Fisher-Price Go Baby Go! 1-2-3 Crawl Along Snail
The Fisher Price Crawl Along Snail was one of the first gifts Noah’s grandmother bought for him, and he still enjoys playing with it. This would make a perfect Christmas present for any child under one year old. A few of Noah’s favorite things about it are its fun light up face, the catchy songs it plays, and the mirror. Mirrors are great developmental tools, and babies benefit (and have a lot of fun) spending hours looking (and kissing!) their self in the mirror.
2. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Fun with Friends Musical Table
The Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Fun with Friends Musical Table is a toy that grows with your child. All of the major toy companies make musical tables like this one, and we did a lot of research before buying this one as a gift for our son. The reviews on this one were better than all of the others we say, and I feel like the variety of activities you get with this one are more fun than all the others. Here’s a video of Noah having some fun with it! What I like the most about this are the detachable legs. We were able to take them off and sit the table on the floor for Noah during tummy time, than again as he was learning to sit up by himself, and now that he is learning to stand we have attached the legs so he can pull himself up. Win! Win! Win! If you are looking for a great musical (developmental) table to buy as a gift you can’t go wrong with this one!
3. Fisher-Price Go Baby Go! Stride-to-Ride Dino
I could write an entire blog post (in fact I did) about how much Noah (and I) like the Stride-to-Ride Dino. We have tried so many of these walkers and haven’t been completely happy with any of them. Most of them are real flimsy, or made out of cheap, lightweight plastic that causes it to tip over when a child tries to pull himself up. (Especially those toy shopping carts – Yuck!)
But the Stride-To-Ride Dino is not like any of those. It’s very well put together. It’s hard to describe it to you other than to say it just feels better than all the rest. It’s nice. It’s sturdy. It has a seat (for when your child is older and wants to ride it) but when your little one is learning to walk the seat spreads apart and allows the child to sort of get inside of it to walk (if that makes sense.)
You don’t feel like it’s going to tip over on him. The music is fun. The dino lights up. And Noah seems to really like it. If you are looking for a fun walker for a child born with Down syndrome (or any other kid) this is the best one I’ve used (and I’ve used a lot of them!)
4. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case
I was hesitant to include the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity iPhone Case on this list of great Christmas gift ideas because you have to have an iPhone (or iPod touch) to use it, but it’s so much fun that I couldn’t leave it off! This iPhone / iPod touch case for kids is especially great because it comes with 3 free iPhone developmental apps that are a ton of fun! Another great thing about this iPhone case is that you don’t have to worry about your precious Apple product getting damaged because it’s completely protected in its own little baby friendly vault! Totally safe from slobber, buggers, snot, runny noses, or anything else your cute little baby may throw at it. It’s great! (It also has a mirror which I really like!) It’s fun for road trips, and even with no phone in it Noah still likes to chew on it, and look at his adorable face in the mirror!
5. Tickle Monster Laughter Kit Children’s Book
Kids (and their parents) are always on the look out for fun new books, and The Tickle Monster would be a great one to add to their collection! I encourage you to take a second to read about the top 3 reasons why The Tickle Monster is one of our favorite children’s books. If you don’t have time to read that post I’ll just say that this book is interactive. You don’t’ just read it to your kids, you read it with your kids. The Tickle Monster allows a parent to create some awesome memories with their children, and so while the book in and of itself is great, it’s so much more than just a book. It’s an experience. And experiences help you win with your kids!
6. Vtech Roly Poly Learning Tree Toy
The Vtech Roly Poly Learning Tree Toy is an older toy, but thankfully if you look around hard enough (or check out the link above) you can find one. With so many great toys that you can simply walk into any store and purchase you may wonder why I would include one that isn’t as easy to find? Because it’s that good! I don’t’ know what it is about this toy that’s so great, but Noah can’t get enough of it. It’s almost always in his crib. He enjoys the songs, the way the apple moves around the tree, the multiple bright lights; he can’t get enough of it! I’d highly suggest checking out the link I posted above to buy it from Amazon, or check out your local thrift store. It may not be as easy to find as simply walking into your local Babies R Us, but I promise you it’s worth taking the time to find it! Any baby would be happy to find this present under their Christmas tree!
7. Fisher-Price Precious Planet Kick and Play Piano
The Fisher-Price Precious Planet Kick and Play Piano was one of the first toys we bought Noah when we was only a few month old. We wanted to get him something fun and safe to play with that we could hang in his crib. He really likes it, and at one year old still has a wonderful time in his crib with it. The songs are great, and it also doubles as a “baby wake up monitor”! (We often hear the fun songs playing from this keyboard in the morning as Noah kicks and plays with it.) It’s been a great toy, and one of the ones we’ve actually had to change the batteries in most often due to how much he enjoys playing with it (As an extra bonus the batteries last I long time in this toy before they need to be changed!)
8. Globe Multicolored LED Flashing Wand
The Multicolored Globe LED Flashing Wand is one of those lucky finds! Noah’s occupational therapist uses it often as a developmental play toy, and I stumbled upon this one during one of my “trying to find the perfect developmental toy for my son born with Down syndrome” trips to Babies R Us. And I’m glad I did! We forget to include this on our Four Cheap But Effective Child Developmental Tools post, but we should have! I only paid 5 bucks for this, and it is without a doubt one of Noah’s favorite gifts ever! You press the button and the lights inside the globe spin around in brilliant, bright colors! It’s a sensory party! 🙂 You can buy them on the link I posted above for a great price, or from Babies R Us in their five dollar bins at the front of the store. Oh, and don’t let the cheap price fool you, this toy has held up great! It has survived our two dogs, and a very playful and curious one year old for almost a year. I can’t say enough good things about this toy (and its great price!)
9. Fisher-Price Little Superstar Sing-Along Stage
Noah’s physical therapist has been using the Fisher-Price Little Superstar Sing-Along Stage with Noah for a while now, and my wife was lucky enough to find one used (and at a great price!) at our local Once Upon A Child (A baby 2nd hand store.) In fact, this may be Noah’s favorite toy right now. He just started to learn to pull himself up now, and every time he sits in front of this toy that’s exactly what he wants to do. (I can’t wait to share one of the videos I took of him first pulling himself up to a standing position on this toy. His entire face light up with excitement and pride! It was awesome. I’m so proud to be this little boy’s father!) I’ll be posting one of those videos in a few weeks, but until then I’ll tell you that he especially likes the huge mirror and all of the bright fun lights!
If I were buying a toy for a child with Down syndrome (or any kid for that matter) who was 10 months old – 18 months old this would be the one…without a doubt!
10. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby’s First Blocks
Last, but certainly not least, are the Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby’s First Blocks. We have used these blocks more than any other toy during Noah’s occupational therapy visits as they also double as fantastic developmental toys! They started out by having Noah just hold the blocks (to work on his grasp), then they had him work on grabbing the blocks out of the box. After that he was able to hold a block in each hand and bang them together (another developmental milestone), and now at 12 months old he sits they often have him sit on an exercise ball while he turns his body, grabs a block out of the box, transfers it to his other hand, turns and grabs another, and finally bangs them together. I could on and on about other creative and fun ways we’ve used these blocks, but without a doubt these blocks should be one of the first gifts any baby receives.
Warning: If you have dogs (we have to) they will enjoy playing (and eating) these blocks just as much as your little one. So keep them away! 🙂
Final Thoughts And A Helpful Special Needs Christmas Gift Buying Guide Tool
I hope this list helps any of you out there who are looking for Christmas gift ideas for babies with Down syndrome (or for any baby 0-12 months! ) There are a ton of great toys and gift ideas out there and this list is by no means comprehensive. Although all of the gift ideas on this page are ones that our son has personally used (and enjoyed) this past year.
Oh, and one more thing: Our son is only 12 months old, so the Christmas gift ideas on this page are for children 0-12 months old (although some of them can be used for children up to 36 months old). If you are looking for other gift ideas Toys “R” Us has a fantastic Differently-Abled Toy Guide on their website. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s great! You can search for toys by certain developmental areas, age ranges, and a variety of other ways.
Additionally be sure to check out our post on the best developmental toys for a child with Down syndrome.
Take a second to leave a comment below and let me know any that I’ve missed (I want to hear what some your favorites are!) your experience with any of the gift ideas on this list, and if you ended up purchasing any of the ones I suggested.
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