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Holiday shopping for kids is fun ... but it can take some work as well. We want to make sure our kids get toys they love – and that will survive all that loving. It's even better if those toys pull double duty by being fun and helping our children learn at the same time! Here are nine toys that teach early concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and are perfect for babies and toddlers.
Manhattan Toy Atom Rattle & Teether (babies)
This sensory teether helps babies as they learn to reach and grasp, and helps strengthen their gross motor skills. Bright colors are great for babies' developing vision, and the sliding rings offer movement and stimulation.
Manhattan Toy Atom Rattle & Teether
The First Years Stack Up Cups (babies & up)
They seem so simple, but these stacking cups offer several ways for babies and toddlers to play. Turn them over and stack them into a tower. Hide things under them. Put things inside them. Toss them in the tub for water fun. And use them to practice color, size, and number recognition (the underside has a number on it). The price makes these great stocking stuffers!
The First Years Stack Up Cup Toys
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed Padded Board Book (newborn & up)
Books are another great way to introduce STEM concepts to young children. This counting book features the familiar rhyme, along with adorable illustrations of those mischievous monkeys. Have your kids count along with you as you read.
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed Padded Board Book
Sassy Stacking Ring (6 months & up)
This stacking toy teaches hand-eye coordination and helps kids' development as they grasp and maneuver the rings. You can also talk with your child about a lot of concepts – what colors are the rings? What do they feel like? Are some bigger and smaller? What's different and what's the same about them?
Stacking Ring STEM Learning Toy
Melissa & Doug Large Farm Puzzle (12m & up)
Puzzles are great for helping toddler development. From grasping the pieces to working out where each piece goes and talking about the different shapes and animals in the puzzle, there are so many things to learn. Melissa & Doug have a number of wooden puzzles with jumbo knobs that are the perfect size for toddlers' fingers.
Melissa & Doug Large Farm Jumbo Knob Puzzle
Fat Brain Toys Shape Sorter (12m-3yrs)
Practice grasping and maneuvering, as well as shape and color recognition with your children. They'll use puzzle skills to figure out which shape fits where, and everything's kept conveniently inside the wooden box – you just have to lift the lid to empty it out and start again.
Fat Brain Toys Shape Sorter
Hape Stacking Wooden Blocks (12 months to 3 years)
Child-safe materials and bright colors make these blocks a wonderful toy for kids. They can practice building and engineering structures, or combine them with other building toys for even more impressive creations. Also, Hape makes quality toys that last for years.
Stacking Wooden Block Educational Toy Set
Boon Building Bath Pipes Toy Set, Set of 5 (12 months & up)
These pipes can be attached to walls with suction, and kids can experiment by sending water through one pipe or by building a chain of them to divert water through. Each of the five pipes has a different shape, color, and function.
Boon Building Bath Pipes Toy
Lego Duplo My First Bricks (1 1/2 - 3 years)
Lego bricks are some of the best STEM toys you can get kids of any age! Duplo blocks are perfect for younger hands to grasp, and as children get older, they can create with the smaller Lego bricks. At every stage, kids learn about building and engineering and can spend hours getting creative with their designs. This set is a perfect starter gift, but of course there are numerous options – farms, trains, and circuses, and many more.
LEGO DUPLO Colorful Toys Building Kit