The 8 best gifts grandparents can give their grandchildren

When you read the worst gifts grandparents could give their grandchildren, you were probably contemplating what kids should get instead. So it’s only fair to post our BEST gifts grandparents can give. If you want to avoid the doghouse your grown children could potentially put you in, search for these gifts for your grandchildren.

1. Wooden trains. Train sets have withstood the test of time, and there are beautiful trains at all price points available this season. Small, toddler hand sized wooden trains that are easy to manipulate and don’t require batteries are as classic today as they were 50 years ago. If your grandchild has already started a set, adding a fun piece to their track is always a hit. If they have no experience with trains, starting with a small circle of track and one or two little trains is lovely.  Try this Thomas Wooden Railway or Thomas Brio Chuggington.

2. Train table. These tables are so useful for the 5-and-under crowd but require a bit of space, so it’s important to get your children’s okay on this before purchasing one. Train tables that come equipped with storage drawers are best. In addition to using the table for trains, these tables are just the right height for art projects, tea parties, and snack time. They vary in price and materials so they can fit nicely into a playroom or even into the corner of a living room without being an eyesore. Melissa and Doug makes this great wooden multi-activity table. Fisher-Price also makes this railway play table. Or try this waterfall mountain.

3. Kitchen toys. Kids love to be just like their parents, and working in their “kitchen” is something they enjoy from the time they can walk well into preschool. Many people are anxious to get their kids cooking, and pretend kitchen and food objects are a great way to start an interest in food and food prep without all the mess. Try this pizza party set or this food groups set.

4. Play kitchen. Like the train table, a toy kitchen requires space and therefore the approval of your kids before gifting to grandchildren.  They are also often labeled ‘some assembly required’ so beware of your obligation to be the kitchen engineer before dropping off a huge box on a holiday eve.  Play kitchens delight toddlers and preschoolers. They are wonderful in that they foster independent play and a child’s need to recreate what they see adults doing every day. Like train tables, they come in all materials, décor, and price points.

5. Toys that mimic common household objects. Dusters and vacuums are loved by kids. Again, children want to be just like the adults in their lives, and these toys let them do ‘real’ chores alongside their favorite people. Gardening tools are also a favorite.

6. Art supplies. Crayons, markers, finger paint, smocks, and art materials are wonderful gifts for children of all ages. Put them into a colorful storage box for a great, self-contained gift that will make everyone happy! Just make sure everything is labeled “washable”!

7. Art easel. Easels are a great gift for preschoolers. Combined with art supplies, the easel is a lot of fun for kids. Again, they come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials, so consider where it will be used (outside vs. inside) to make the best choice. Try this standing easel or this all-around easel.

8. Balls. This may sound silly, but little children like balls from the time they are sitting. Balls that are soft and easy to manipulate are great for little ones. As they get older, smaller versions of adult soccer balls, basketballs, and footballs are fun and won’t break the bank. For infants, try this rattle. For sensory development, try this ball set. Here’s a beginner’s sports bag for all ages.

Remember, what your grandkids REALLY want from you is to PLAY! So whatever you decide to give them, match it with an hour or two of your undivided attention spent playing together. The time you spend playing will be your grandchild’s best gift to you.

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About Dr. Sara Connolly, Board Certified Pediatrician

Sara Connolly, MD, FAAP, is a Board Certified Pediatrician who practices in Palm Beach County, Florida. She completed her residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, where she served as Chief Resident. She has a passion for child advocacy and has worked on the local, state, and national level to increase access to care for children. Her interests include nutrition, breastfeeding, and parenting skills.


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