The Best Gifts for Kids Under Five

Better Together: The 321 Blog

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Christmas gift buying can be stressful. It can also be fun! As a mom of six and occupational therapist, I have found the best thing to do is follow these five rules when gift buying: want, need, wear, read, and experience.

Want: What have they been eyeing? Do they have a favorite character, show, or toy they have played with? A lot of kids under five may not have an idea of what they want so buying a gift may be easier. 

Need: Do they need some good shoes for their AFOs or simply some good walking shoes? Stride Rite has great boots that help with ankle support for early walkers. 


Wear: My kids always like fun clothes they can dress up in. Costumes on sale, pajamas, onesies, and favorite character sweaters are always a good idea. Buying oversized tops can help with supporting your child’s dressing skills. 


Read: Board books are best for small hands. 

Experience: Season/day passes to the zoo, museums, or parks are great gifts! There may be some great sales during the holiday season. Experiences don’t just have to be places to visit, but can also be sensory bins, toys, or creative items. 

Keep it simple! You want to give children the opportunity to problem solve, get creative, and learn as they play. Developing social skills, interacting with others, engaging in self-play, and incorporating fine/gross motor skills are all part of play. 

Kids love unwrapping gifts! Be sure to wrap the gifts using wrapping paper, tape, boxes, and tissue paper. The experience of opening the present is part of the fun. Kids love to play with boxes; they love to sit, draw, and create with them. 

Here are some of my favorite low-cost gifts for kids under 5:

Magnet Tiles

magnetic tiles


wooden blocks

Mr. Potato Head

mr. potato head


colorful tunnel

Soft Play Toys

soft mats

Bouncy Horse 

blue soft horse

Grace Merkley

Gracie Merkley is a mom of six who recently moved back to the San Antonio area. She is a graduate of Texas Woman’s University where she earned her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. Gracie has worked with the pediatric population in a private clinic setting, and is now navigating health care therapy for her three-year-old son who was born with Down syndrome. She is learning every day what it is to be an advocate and therapist for him while being his mom. Gracie loves spending time with her family, traveling, baking/cooking and having a good laugh!