Gender-Neutral Gift Guide for ages 1-5 9

This is not a list of this year’s hottest toys. This is a short list of tried and true toys that my toddler has loved. (with affiliate links – disclosure)


gender neutral gift guide

There’s nothing worse than buying a toy you think your child will love, only to find out it’s a total flop. It’s sometimes hard to predict what a young child will like (especially if you are not their parent), so I’m sharing with you some toys that I’ve noticed my almost-three-year old has really enjoyed for a long time. While every child is different, and there’s no guarantee that the toddler you’re shopping for will like the same things as my Pooky, these suggestions will hopefully help point you in the right direction.


Melissa & Doug Latches Board

My Age Recommendation – Ages 1-3

This was another gift Pooky received for her first birthday.  She wouldn’t play with any of her other gifts the rest of that day.  Some of the latches were too difficult for her to maneuver at first, but I think that’s what kept her interested in this toy.  It was just challenging enough to make her want to keep working on it. Every once in a while I take this out, and she STILL loves playing with it.

Mega Blocks First Builders

My Age Recommendation – 1-4

I think every child should own these blocks.  They are great for improving manual dexterity, and I’ve used them for fun educational activities.  Pooky’s current favorite thing to do with these is build a dinosaur.  The only limit to your fun with these is your imagination.

Electronic Baby Keys Keychain and Remote

My Recommended Age – 6 mos.-3 years

This is one of the few electronic toys my daughter actually likes.  Even though she’s almost three she still loves playing with the buttons.  I put two layers of clear packing tape over the speaker which made it quiet enough to not be a bother to the adults in the house.

Toddler Musical Instruments

My Age Recommendation – 3 and up 

My daughter has a similar set and thoroughly enjoys it.  She has grown into the drum and xylophone as her fine motor skills have improved.  The more she learns about music and rhythm, the more she makes good use of her set.

Djeco Topanimo Cubes 

Age Recommendation – 18 mos and up

Pooky was able to start playing with these at a year old although she couldn’t stack them in order by size.  She has grown into this toy over time and will play independently with it for a long while each time she takes it out.  There are many skills to be practiced with this toy (numbers, ordering, color naming, animal recognition,etc…). And there are many ways to play with it.  I love the look and feel of the soft plastic animals.

Infantino Animal Park Shape Sorter

My Age Recommendation – 1-3

My daughter first started playing with this at our public library before she was even a year old.  The reason I like this shape sorter over others is because little tykes can play with it early on before they’re strong and coordinated enough to use most other shape sorters.  Before my tot could put the shapes in the correct spots, she could still play with it by opening the doors and putting in and taking out the shapes.  Gradually, she became better able to put the shapes into the correct places. Some reviews have claimed this toy to be of poor quality, but we’ve had it (and played with it A LOT) for two years and have never had any problems with it. Ours is still in like-new condition.

B. Wheee Cars

Age Recommendation – 3 and up

These cars that you pull back and release were an immediate hit with my daughter.  They’re the perfect size for toddler hands and are made of durable, yet soft, plastic. Another reason I like these is because it gives us an active but safe way to play indoors (which is very important now that the weather has turned frigid here).

Sands Alive!

Age Recommendation – 3 and up

I got this for my daughter a few months ago and she played with it for over an hour straight.  She begs me constantly to pull it out for her to play with.  It does make a mess, but if you set it up on a plastic tablecloth or such, it’s pretty easy clean up.  It also vacuums right up out of the carpet.  It’s non-toxic, doesn’t stain, and is tons of fun!

Fun Years Soft Starts Bowling

My Age Recommendation – 2.5 and up

I got ahead of myself and bought this for my daughter’s 2nd Christmas. She wasn’t coordinated enough to do much with it, so we put it away for several months. At about age 2.5, we took it back out, and she’s been having a blast with it. We play with this set very often and it leads to lots of giggles. The ball and pins are so soft I don’t worry about anyone or anything getting hurt. We practice counting each time we set up the pins.


Age Recommendation – 3 and up

My daughter loves building with these.  She’s fascinated with their magnetic property. These keep her entertained for a good while whenever I take them out.  They’ve been a great sanity saver for us when we travel.

Play-Doh Fun Factory

Age Recommendation – 3 and up

This is another thing that keeps my daughter entertained for a good while.  Whether I make my own playdough or get the ready-made stuff, she has lots of fun with this.

Sit n Spin

My Age Recommendation – 2 and up

My tot loves to twirl and spin so this toy is perfect for her.  We have it on the carpeted floor to help cushion the occasional fall. I think this toy could be great for other active toddlers (who don’t get motion sickness).

RoseArt Washable Finger Paints

My tot loves “art”! What toddler doesn’t? This non-toxic washable paint is a fun and safe way for little ones to develop their inner artist. We use it very informally.  I usually just pull out some thick construction paper and let her choose a few colors to work with.

Thomas the Train Wooden Railway

Age Recommendation – 3 and up

We don’t actually own a Thomas the Train set, but I know my daughter loves it because our local bookstore has quite a large set up.  Every week we go for story time, and then she spends a great deal of time playing with the trains.  She’s been playing with it almost weekly for two years and still gets excited when I mention “going to play with the trains.”

Edushape Building Blocks

Recommended Age 3-5

My daughter has had these blocks for about two years, and they are still in very good condition and provide lots of fun for her.  We’ve also used them to practice identifying colors and shapes. She likes to build castles and zoos and put her little toy animals in among the blocks.  

Ty Beanie Boos 

Recommended Age 3+

Something about the large eyes on these Beanie Boos just draws kids to them. My 4 year old is in love with them and already has quite a collection going. You can find almost any animal (and some of them in multiple colors). They come in multiple sizes too. 

Of course, I always think books make great gifts too! If you need some inspiration in that area, you should check out these lists of picture books that Pooky and I have been enjoying.

Bedtime Books

bedtime books Collage.jpg

Books about Love


Winter Books for Toddlers


Those are the toys (and books) that have proven themselves in our house.  I hope our list has given you some good ideas of what to get for the toddler in your life.

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