Gifts You Can Buy, Gifts You Can Make, Gifts You Can Find: Gift ideas for Infants, Toddlers, and Pre

Question: What are some suggestions for timeless gifts for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers?

I love natural materials for babies especially when they are not just touching, but mouthing things as they learn about the world. Wood, metal, cotton . . . I also like to hunt for toys in unusual places like restaurant supply stores, farmers markets, or the forest.

I want to give children toys that don’t do everything for them. “Passive toys, active baby,” as we say in RIE®. We say, that if an adult can think of 3 uses for a toy then a child can think of even more, ha!

I like open-ended toys that can become different things with the child’s imagination. I also prefer toys where adults don’t feel they have to teach the child how to use them.

For the tiniest baby, the only gift they need is the gift of time – time to discover their hands which can become their first plaything! After that wooden teethers can’t be beat. They make sweet soft sounds as they move, and are great to chew.

Dried gourds found at the farmers market . . .

Different size metal bowls from the restaurant supply store . . .

Hand-knitted balls if you are so inclined or store-bought works as well . . .

A basket of silk playclothes once the child is no longer chewing on things . . .

A basket of woods for building or gathering that you can make yourself or buy . . .

After the child is over 2 years old a kitchen or even just some kitchen items are fun . . .

A basket of pine cones (as long as they are no longer putting things in their mouth) –these are good for all ages . . .

Pails to gather things in and to dump out . . .

Our favorite books. There is no text – just beautiful illustrations. So much to look at!

My favorite gift for the preschooler is a basket of fruit. My nephew once received a beautiful basket of fruit and he just lit up and said, “Can I have one now!” He couldn’t wait!

My next favorite gift for the preschooler is a tree to plant and care for. Like a tangerine tree.

The best present ever in the whole world?

Giving children the gift of time and the space to play freely!

Well, maybe that’s the second best gift after giving them your love, your kind attention and respect.

Don’t you think?

I almost forgot balls!!! Yes, balls! Good for one and all.


RIE® Associate Bio: Hari Grebler is an early childhood development expert. Her work is based on the work of Magda Gerber, Dr. Emmi Pikler with insights from Waldorf education. She has been a RIE® Associate since 1985. She is also trained in Waldorf Early Childhood Education. Hari founded Hari’s RIE® Studio in Santa Monica in 1990 where she teaches parent child classes and courses for

professionals. She also does private consulting for parents around the world. She has been offering support to families and early childhood professionals for over 35 years. Hari lives in Venice, California with her husband and her two children.

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