Pretend play. It’s fun, engaging and great for their development, from helping to build their imaginative skills to encouraging social interaction. But when you're choosing a gift, what piece of pretend play kit suits their stage?
6 to 12 months
They won’t be fully grasping the pretend play stuff at this stage, but, at around six months, babies' grasping skills will have developed enough for them to hold something for a couple of minutes. A simple toy can help with imaginative play later on. These B.Toys Luckeys Play Keys are a great choice. Full of bright colours and realistic car noises, they’ll help develop their imagination. Oh, and they won’t be stealing mummy's keys later on either. Bonus.
At this point, toddler imaginations are really beginning to form. They may not be making up stories just yet, but if you give them a toy car, they’ll whizz it across the floor. They may also add some baby babble that resembles an engine sound. Brum, brum. Why not invest in a car track, like this two-lane waytoplay Expressway Set, that'll enhance your toddler's cognitive skills and hand-eye coordination. Including straight and curved roads, it can be fitted together in lots of different ways.
With those grasping skills in full flow, now’s the time to keep a close eye on your phone. Anyone else found theirs in the toy box after hours of searching for it? Or, had to prize it off them when you have an urgent work call? The Plan Toys My First Phone is here to save the day.
18- 24 months
As their cognitive skills grow, they’ll now start to identify more with the world around them. They’ll miaow at a cat or want to change their teddy’s nappy. (We’re currently right in the middle of this stage). As well as teddy nappy changing, our toddler is obsessed with her Little Dutch Market Stall. It's got everything she needs for hours of role play - a lovely fabric canopy, chalk board and 4 wooden crates, crammed with 10 pieces of tasty fruit and vegetables, made of soft materials.
Say hello to dress up. This type of play is great for helping boost their confidence and, if they have siblings or playdates, their social skills too. And it doesn’t have to be all superheros or princesses either. French brand Meri Meri does a great selection of subtle and not-so-subtle costumes for every personality. Currently on our list of faves is their Dragon Cape Dress Up - a detailed dress-up that's perfect for fantasy role play. Alternatively, Tell Tails do a range of animal tails that can turn your child from a pretty mild-mannered kid into a Wild Thing in an instant. Handle with care.
By this point, their pincer skills and their brains have developed enough for them to handle tools - both physically and as a practical concept. With twenty pieces, including a hammer, saw and screwdriver, the Kid's Concept Tool Box will encourage little ones to hunt out DIY projects in the home. The box, as well as storing the set, has pre-made holes to allow little ones to practice tightening washers around screws. Made from quality wood, it's a toy that will be played with for years to come.
At this age, once they're in school, kids start to want to have their 'own' space that they can feel a little bit territorial about. The Childhome Cotton House is easy to set up, and its lovely modern monochromatic design looks great in bedrooms, playrooms or living rooms. A perfect space for pretend playing, reading or resting, this little house will definitely become one of their favourite spots at home.
Like this? There’s more. Check out our full selection of present ideas in our Christmas Gift Shop. Still not sure what to get them? Pop us a message on live chat, we're here every day from 7am-11pm and we will happily help you suss out the Best Gift Ever. Just hit that purple button bottom right.