top toddler gifts for 18-36 months

Toddler Gift Guide: The best gifts for toddlers 18-36 months

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Hi Mamma! In my next round of gift guide posts, I’m focusing on gifts for older toddlers since we’ve now had the opportunity to test out even more toys.

I had NO IDEA what to get little ones for the holidays or birthdays until I had a baby of my own. Even then, most of her favorite toys came from good friends and family who knew what was age-appropriate for our little lady. You’ll see that I recommend a lot of Melissa & Doug wooden toys, but our recommendations certainly aren’t limited to one brand.

The list below is a toddler gift guide of tried and true toys we’ve loved in the 18-36 month stage. Hopefully, it will help you choose the perfect gift for all the older toddlers in your life!

{If you’re in the wrong age group, check out these other gift guides. For infant gifts, take a peek at the Ultimate Infant Gift Guide, or try the Top 5 Toddler Gifts for 12-18 Months}

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you buy something using one of my links I may receive a small commission – at no additional cost to you! How cool is that? It’s kind of boring, but feel free to read my full disclosure if you want more info.

A toddler gift guide for the older toddler. Tried and true products and learning activities your toddler will love, aiding in both development and fun! If you're stumped on what to get for a birthday, the holidays or just because, check out these recommendations for the older toddler.

✔️The Ultimate Toddler Gift: A Toddler Play Kitchen

Ok – I went big out of the gate. Why? Because this is an AWESOME gift that our little lady uses almost every day. It’s also an important part of toddler development to play and pretend so this checks a bunch of boxes. As a bonus, it keeps her busy and she can cook while we’re cooking dinner. She feels involved and we can let her “help” in her own kitchen.

This is the big-ticket item you probably want to consider investing in at some point. It’s a great one for the grandparents to spring for. Yes, toy kitchens are expensive. Yes, they are worth it.

Kidcraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen

Want more information on toddler play kitchens? Check out this review and full update!

Outside of the toddler play kitchen, the rest of the gifts on this list are fairly budget-friendly and would be great options to get for your little one or close family friends. The best part is that none of the items on this toddler gift guide are full of “singing plastic.”

These gifts will be loved by parents and toddlers alike, promoting fun learning without the tech.

Our all-time-favorite choice for learning toys are from Melissa & Doug, but you’ll find multiple brands and choices on this list. If you’re already sold on getting great learning toys for your friends or family, check out these great Melissa & Doug options.

Coloring Books

This is super simple and very cost-effective for a lot of the toddlers on your list. Our little one wasn’t really interested in coloring until closer to 2.5, but she now wants to color every day. She also breaks a ton of crayons or the couch eats them. New coloring books or crayons are a great (and safe) bet.

Sticker Book

Stickers also become increasingly important as your toddler gets older. They are great for rewards (ahem, looking at you potty) and are also a fun way to work on matching shapes, etc. in sticker books. Your toddler will love matching the stickers to the paper, or just wallpapering their hands. Either way, its at least 15 minutes to yourself if you need it 🙂

Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad

Wooden Animal Magnets

Our little lady started learning animal sounds pretty young. She was learning all the animals and how to say their names by 18 months. I 100% believe this is because we had all the animals on magnets stuck to the dishwasher and she played daily while we cooked dinner.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Animal Magnets

Wooden Letter Magnets

Although she picked up on the animals really quickly, letters are a little more challenging. However, at 2.5 she’s recognizing some letters and we’re working on spelling her name. It’s harder to keep her interested than the animals were, but she was ready for a new challenge. This is a great way to at least get them familiar with letters early.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Alphabet

Doctor Kit

A play doctor kit is endless fun at this age. Pretend is becoming more and more fun and a doctor’s kit has a lot of really fun gadgets. Learning about “feeling better” and making the doctor something fun only sets you up for success for your next well visit.

Fisher-Price Doctor’s Kit


Building is a creative outlet and also builds motor skills. The size of your blocks will depend on the baby’s age. If you’re closer to 18 months I’d stay away from small legos for a while. You can grab a set of the larger blocks even earlier than 18 months and the child can grow into them.

Mega Bloks First Builder Set

Little People

C loved little people as early as one year. She loves the animals, the people, and pretty much anything she can use for pretend. Her “favorites” change but we’re almost always toting around a small figurine of some sort in the car, to bed, or to the store.

Fisher-Price Little People

Shopping Cart

Kids this age love anything they can move from one place to the other. While C still pushes around a walking toy we have hanging out upstairs, she LOVES her shopping carts and routinely drags them all over the house filling them with whatever she can find. A shopping cart or small wagon is a very safe bet at this age.

Precious Toys & Kids Pretend Play Shopping Cart

Matching Games

Matching games will help them learn colors, what a “match” is, shapes, opposites, and a host of other important skills. While you can make a ton of matching games on your own, sometimes it’s just easier to get a set and forget about it!

Eric Carle’s Matching Game

This list is of items our toddler consistently comes back to. If we had a toy that wasn’t used for more than a few weeks — it didn’t make the list. Who needs another toy that will live in a closet the day after it’s opened? Feel free to leave me a comment if I missed your favorite!

Happy Shopping!

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