The Best Gifts for Kids for 2020 – The New York Times


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The best gifts for 1-year-olds Image: Sarah MacReadingThe best gifts and toys for 1-year-olds are those that engage their rapidly developing motor skills, sensory exploration, and boundless curiosity. Open-ended toys that encourage exploration with shapes (such as geometric stacking toys), with colors (like a brightly hued wooden rainbow), or with textures (like this silicone cube sorter) are great choices for babies because these toys engage their hands, eyes, and, often, their mouths in learning and play. Toys that offer surprises tend to be hits with curious babies, such as the classic Playskool Poppin’ Pals (which has levers, switches, and buttons that make adorable animals pop up) or a carton of a half-dozen plastic eggs that open to reveal different colors and faces.See all of Wirecutter’s recommendations for the best gifts for 1-year-olds.The best gifts for 2-year-olds Photo: Michael HessionIt can be tough to keep up with a 2-year-old since their curiosity and boundless energy send them chasing after new fascinations and discoveries. Kids this age are learning to manipulate objects in more-precise ways, so look for toys that challenge their fine motor skills, such as the interactive toy piggy bank or the stackable peg board set. Any toy that runs, rolls, or chugga-chugga-choo-choos is likely to delight a 2-year-old, be it a classic dump truck or a fire truck (both durable and dishwasher-safe) or a build-your-own rolling Duplo train. And since 2-year-olds are beginning to enjoy group play with friends, toddler-appropriate board games—like Haba My Very First Games—First Orchard—help teach them how to take turns, make choices, and work toward a goal.See all of Wirecutter’s recommendations for the best gifts for 2-year-olds.The best gifts for 3-year-oldsThe best gifts for 4-year-oldsThe best gifts for 5-year-olds Photo: Michael HessionAt age 5, kids are starting to develop the patience for projects and an interest in hobbies. Ready-made kits like starter gardening tools (with seeds), an experiment-filled lab set (with safety goggles), or a grow-your-own butterfly farm (with caterpillars) allow 5-year-olds to explore their passions safely and independently. Five-year-olds may be ready for more-serious (albeit still kid-appropriate) gear, such as a starter guitar or a beginner bike. And they continue to love silly stuff, whether that’s building a big blanket fort or browsing a boxed set of the beloved Elephant & Piggie books.See all of Wirecutter’s recommendations for the best gifts for 5-year-olds.The best gifts for 6-year-olds Photo: Michael HessionSix-year-olds are navigating their worlds both at school and at home, and they’re deepening their passions as well as developing an awareness of what’s cool among their peers. At age 6, kids can follow instructions and work independently, so look for projects and activities that challenge them to be both precise and creative. Examples: a mechanical robot crab that can skitter across a table, clay-modeling kits with app-based instructions for a range of animals and other creatures, or a tie-dye set to make psychedelic color combinations. Gear and toys that get 6-year-olds outside and moving around are also great choices, such as an upgraded scooter, a super snow tube, or (if you’re willing to break out some tools) a home rock-climbing wall.See all of Wirecutter’s recommendations for the best gifts for 6-year-olds.The best gifts for 7-year-olds Photo: Michael HessionBy age 7, kids have fully transitioned in elementary school, and they are developing more-complex thinking and problem-solving skills. Seek out games that combine strategy and fun, like Ice Cool, a zany, fast-paced game that involves shooting and spinning penguins around the board, or Invasion of the Cow Snatchers, a one-person magnetic puzzle game that gets trickier as you play. Gifts that encourage self-expression—a first journal or a whimsical rock painting kit—can be excellent choices for kids who are learning to use their reading, writing, and artistic skills. Increasingly independent 7-year-olds are ready for kits that require some patience and perseverance, like a cool box of geodes you have to pound and chisel open to discover the sparkling crystals within.See all of Wirecutter’s recommendations for the best gifts for 7-year-olds.The best gifts for 8-year-olds Photo: Michael HessionMany 8-year-olds have developed the dexterity, independence, and interest to take on more-complex projects. STEM toys—like an electronics kit with real circuits or a multi-project robotics set—offer a greater challenge and more engagement than one-and-done activities. But don’t disregard the simple stuff: A bean-bag juggling set or a classic friendship-bracelet weaving kit can help an 8-year-old develop a fun, new skill—and the confidence boost that goes along with it. Eight-year-olds are also curious and concerned about themselves, their peers, and the world around them, so consider books that tackle big topics, like Jyoti Gupta’s Different Differenter: An Activity Book About Skin Color. They also may have the maturity and appreciation for higher-quality (but age-appropriate) gear, like a pair of great-sounding Bluetooth headphones (sized for kids and designed to keep the volume at safe levels for developing ears).See all of Wirecutter’s recommendations for the best gifts for 8-year-olds.The best gifts for 9-year-olds Photo: Michael HessionMany 9-year-olds are beginning to look toward more grown-up roles and responsibilities, and they may be ready to graduate from the “kid” versions of tools and activities. For a budding baker, consider sturdy, stainless steel cookie cutters, a cake decorating kit, and professional-grade food dyes; for a kid who loves art, look into a 60-color set of vibrant, artist-quality acrylic paints. Strategy-heavy board games, like Kingdomino (an updated take on the classic tile game) or Blokus (a geometry-based puzzle game that gets devilishly tricky) will engage a 9-year-old’s nimble mind. But even though they are definitely big kids, 9-year-olds are still likely to appreciate a cute, plush snuggle buddy.See all of Wirecutter’s recommendations for the best gifts for 9-year-olds.The best gifts for 10-year-olds Photo: Michael HessionTen-year-olds are on the cusp of becoming teens, growing into themselves and their passions. Look for entry-level gear that will push them beyond the familiar. An instant camera can encourage a selfie-loving 10-year-old to try their hand at shooting on film. A drawing tablet can be an entry point into digital art and design. And a build-your-own computer kit can teach them the basics of computing and programming. For 10-year-olds, seek out board games with adult-level challenges and more grown-up themes (which you’ll likely enjoy playing along with them): Disney Villainous has players portraying classic-movie bad guys; Exit: The House of Riddles is a complicated, escape-room-style mystery game.See all of Wirecutter’s recommendations for the best gifts for 10-year-olds.The best gifts for tweens Photo: Michael MurtaughSo-called tweens (ages 9 to 12) straddle the line between wanting to be grown up and still enjoying kid stuff. Finding the right gift that checks the tween boxes—fun and challenging without seeming babyish or boring—can be tricky. Simple, stylish accessories (like a classic pair of sunglasses) and indulgent but kid-appropriate self-care items (such as sparkly nail polish and animal-themed sheet masks) can be great gifts for a tween. Grown-up tools like a powerful hand mixer, a useful screwdriver, or a real hammer are items that can show a tween you recognize their transition toward adulthood. You may soon find yourself asking to borrow their gear.See all of Wirecutter’s recommendations for the best gifts for tweens.The best gifts for teens Photo: Sarah KobosShopping for a teen is exciting because the possibilities are endless. Introduce teens to classic, high-quality staples, like a sleek metal water bottle, well-made and flattering sweatpants, and tinted lip balm. Teens likely know what they love and are old enough for investment-quality gear: a turntable for a music lover; a drawing stylus for an artist. But keep in mind that teens are also enmeshed in their wider environment, with its anxieties and struggles. Self-care items like fizzy, rainbow-hued bath bombs, a soothing scent diffuser, or a comfortingly hefty weighted blanket can help a teen carve out an oasis for themselves in a stressful world. And a gently rousing sunrise alarm clock can help them face a new day.See all of Wirecutter’s recommendations for the best gifts for teens.The best stocking stuffers for kids
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