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How to Choose the Right Gifts for
Other People's Babies and Kids

Choosing a gift for a friend's child, particularly one you don't know well, presents a tough holiday scenario for many. Does the child have this toy already? Does he like action figures or Legos? Should you buy something practical, something educational or something just for fun? And what is appropriate for a 1-year-old?

Money Savvy Pig gift

Gifts that are educational and fun, like the Money Savvy Pig, will please children and their parents.

"It's all about paying attention and finding something that fits a child's interests, abilities, your sensibilities and your pocketbook," says Claire Green, president of the Parents' Choice Foundation.

Of course, this sounds easier than it probably is, but this year, have no fear. You can find the perfect gift for your friend's, distant relative's, co-worker's … child simply by following these simple tips.

  1. Brainstorm what you DO know about the child. Aside from age and gender, think of any interests you know of. Is the child into sports? Art? Reading? The outdoors? Anything you can think of will help.

  2. Buy something age-appropriate. Only buy toys that are recommended for that child's age group, as toys that are too advanced could be dangerous for younger children. Most toys will have this age range right on the packaging, however if you're not sure ask a sales associate for help.

  3. Keep the parents in mind. If this were your child, would you want him or her to have this toy? If it could be used as a weapon (slingshot, water balloons, squirt gun, etc.), is excessively loud (drum set), unhealthy (lots of candy), or could be dangerous (a small toy that a toddler could choke on), probably not.

  4. Think outside the toy box. Most kids do love toys, but there are other gifts out there for kids as well. You could make a charitable donation in the child's name, buy them a gift card to a bookstore, or give them a unique and fun potty training chair.

  5. Keep safety in mind. The worst gift for a child is one that could cause harm, so keep in mind these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

    • To prevent burns and electrical shocks, don't give children under age 10 a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.

    • Children under age 3 can choke on small parts contained in toys or games.

    • Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.

    • Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.

Further, choose only phthalate-free teethers, bottles and other plastic toys for babies.

  1. Look for something educational and fun. Why not choose a gift that will both challenge and entertain? There are many toys on the market today -- such as the Money Savvy Pig, which has been called the "Educational Toy of the Year" by the Parents' Choice Foundation -- that will help children and babies to enrich their minds, and which children love to play with.

The Top Toys of 2006

Baby's Time Capsule gift

Seeking something truly unique and memorable for baby? Parents, family and friends can fill this adorable Baby's Time Capsule with memorabilia and then it is sealed, only to be reopened years in the future when baby is grown!

If you're still not sure what to buy, and want more of a cheat sheet, "Today's Parent" magazine released their 2006 Top Toy Guide in their November issue.

"Generally we focus on toys with price tags that fit most family budgets," says contributing toy editor Marcia MacQuarrie. "But this year there were a number of pricier toys that just looked too interesting to ignore. It's not too surprising that most of these toys absolutely dazzled our testers, but we asked them to pick which ones were really worth saving their pennies for."

And the top toys out of nearly 500 tested, broken down by age range, are:



100% Cotton Personalized Stork Baby Blanket gift

Personalized gifts for babies make an excellent present that will please Mothers as well, such as this 100% Cotton Personalized Stork Baby Blanket.



Recommended Reading

How Much Should You Spend on Holiday Shopping?

The 10 Worst Gift Ideas to Keep in Mind This Holiday Season


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