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Holiday Gift Picks: Infant - Age 2

Our Holiday Gift Lists By Age offer a sampling of some of our favorite products from the past year.
All Things Bright and Beautiful All Things Bright and Beautiful
Ages: Infant - 5 yrs.
Author: Ashley Bryan   Contributions From: Cecil F. Alexander  
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

In one of his most stunning works to date, Ashley Bryan has chosen to illustrate the first stanza of the beloved hymn, "All Things Bright and Beautiful" written by Irish poet, Cecil Frances Alexander. Here, Bryan's incomparable, double-page collages begins with an image of the sun's rays as the spokes of a Ferris wheel with the children of the world riding in star-decorated baskets. Using only the dressmaking scissors inherited from his mother, this master of collage, cuts out detailed, stylized, and beautiful, sharp-edged flora and fauna and occassionally paper. He then arranges and overlaps and layers until he has filled the double-page spreads with exquisite, exuberant life.

Natural Skwish Natural Skwish
Ages: All Ages
Manhattan Toy, $15.00

The classic Skwish toy has been redesigned using natural, replenishable rubberwood and coated with a non-toxic water-based finish. This eco-friendly toy is ideal for babies beginning to explore their own dexterity. It is easy to grasp and hold from any angle and can be stretched when held with both hands. Balls attached to the interior rods slide to make rattling sounds. This toy quickly became a favorite among our infant testers, as well as their mothers who appreciated its safe, simple and sturdy elegance.

Tobbles Neo Tobbles Neo
Ages: 0 & Up
Fat Brain Toys, $26.95

Tobbles Neo received enthusiastic approval from our evaluators. The toy consists of 6 spheres and a base. The spheres are indented on one side so they can nest in to one another making a tower. They can be stacked straight up and down or turned at different angles to make a wobbly looking tower. You can spin them and roll them and they even seem to feel good on sore gums. The material the toy is made of is very comfortable to the touch and easy for baby to grip and hold. The bright colors and modern design make the Tobbles Neo very aesthetically pleasing.

Stand-Up Ballcano™ Stand-Up Ballcano™
Ages: 9 months - 3 yrs.
Fisher-Price, $40.00

The Stand-Up Ballcano is all that Fisher-Price claims it to be. First, it was a cinch to assemble. The directions were very easy to follow and we had it up and going within minutes of opening the box. The Ballcano is an attractive low standing toy designed to hold 6 balls in its center/top. When the child bats at the roller component, the balls are erupted from the center, sending them cascading down the three legs which holds the toy upright. Each leg has a base which catches the balls as they come down. Parents really liked this feature, as it keeps the balls close to the toy instead of letting them scatter all over the room.

Flow 'N' Fill Spout Flow 'N' Fill Spout
Ages: 9 months & Up
International Playthings, Inc., $16.99

Although most bath toys are designed for the water, few teach anything about water. This simple and colorful toy playfully demonstrates how water moves and motivates. A spout attaches to the tub and draws water up through it to create an endless stream.Three different activity tumblers turn tub time into science time: create a shower effect with one, turn a propeller with another and watch what happens to the surprise hidden in the third tumbler when it's filled with water.

Maxville Blocks Maxville Blocks
Ages: 0 & Up
ALEX, $43.95

The Maxville Block Set includes thirty double-sided wooden blocks with brightly-colored artwork, patterns and glitter. The attractive, well-made blocks feature faces, arms and feet so that children can create people and creatures of their own design. The blocks' appealing decorations as well as their interesting and unusual shapes are sure to grab the attention of any toddler. In addition to building an infinite variety of structures, many of the shapes are interlocking and double as basic puzzles for curious minds and hands.

Quicksmart Scramble Bug Quicksmart Scramble Bug
Ages: 1 - 3 yrs.
QuickSmart, $49.99

Scramble Bug is a colorful, ride-on toy with quiet, non-scratch wheels that I trust as much on my wood floor as I do on my driveway. It comes fully assembled. The legs and handlebars pop out and easily fold back up, like a stroller, for travel. The toy moves in all directions and helps hone physical skills such as pushing, steering and coordination. On top of all of that, it features a colorful, bug-inspired design and paint job that looks friendly and hand-drawn.

Build ’n Learn ABC Spell! First Builders from Mega Bloks Build ’n Learn ABC Spell! First Builders from Mega Bloks
Ages: 1 - 5 yrs.
Mega Bloks, Inc., $9.99

Mega Bloks Build 'n' Learn ABC Spell includes thirty brightly-colored building blocks with over one hundred letter and beginning word stickers in a sturdy vinyl carrying case for travel and storage. The picture stickers, which are of beginning phonetic words such as dog and cat, are designed in such a way that the correct number of letter blocks fit above or below them. For example, the block with a picture of a dog has three spaces so that a child (or parent) can place the corresponding letters above or below the picture. The set, which can be used alone or in conjunction with other Mega Bloks sets, helps children with letter recognition and early vocabulary development as well as fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, creativity and imaginative play.

YouTurns by B. toys YouTurns by B. toys
Ages: 1 - 5 yrs.
B. Toys (by Battat), $19.99

The YouTurns toy is a steering wheel lap toy that has a cushioned base. It features a screen that displays gameboard-like scenery of a windy street complete with buildings, cars, and pedestrians. Turning the wheel gives the illusion of driving through the streets of a little picture book town. There is a gear shift to drive forward, backwards, or sit in neutral. There are right and left turn signals, a horn, engine sounds, and even driving music. Our parent test drivers had as much fun as the kids.

Baby Stella™ Sweet Sounds Doll Baby Stella™ Sweet Sounds Doll
Ages: 1 & Up
Manhattan Toy, $45.00

Baby Stella is a beautiful, soft, and cuddly baby doll for children twelve months and up. She comes in six styles and makes three gentle baby sounds. Children can squeeze her hand to hear her say "Mama!", tickle her foot to make her giggle, and put her magnetic pacifier to her mouth to hear her suck on it. Stella comes filled with a squeezable mix of stuffing and beans, and her features are embroidered. She is a safe and sturdy choice for children receiving her as their first doll. Parents may wish to use a ribbon to tie Stella's pacifier to her, however, as it is small and somewhat easy to misplace.

Green Toys Flatbed Truck & Race Car Green Toys Flatbed Truck & Race Car
Ages: 1 & Up
Green Toys Inc., $30.00

To children these are just two really cool cars to push around. The blue truck hauls a sleek red "hot rod" on its back, and has a flatbed that tilts up to allow the car to roll off. But to parents, these are prime examples of the rugged indestructibleness that all toddler toys should have. So far, testers have proven that the flatbed and the racecar are just as good outdoors in the dirt and sand - as well as plummeting from the tops of sliding boards - as they are indoors. Because of the way they're made, it's a cinch to rinse them off in the sink and then let them air dry.

Push, Pull & Ride Push, Pull & Ride
Ages: 1 - 3 yrs.
Radio Flyer, Inc., $49.99

The Radio Flyer Push, Pull & Ride is a multipurpose walker, wagon and ride-on toy for toddlers; it's pleasant slim design that doesn't scream "big plastic toy." The interchangeability is a big plus for those of us with limited space; not only can this stable vehicle be used as a walker/ride-on/wagon but it also works as a place to store a small cache of toys - during play and after. The bucket removes with ease and allows children to explore what's inside.

Lego(R) DUPLO Creative Sorter 6784 Lego(R) DUPLO Creative Sorter 6784
Ages: 1 & Up
The LEGO Group, $19.99

The Lego Duplo Creative Sorter (6784) is the perfect multi-tasker. First off, it is a twenty-three piece set of bright, colorful Lego Duplo blocks with which toddlers can build a bird, an elephant, a giraffe and a tree with the help of sturdy, plastic templates which, by the way, also serve as the lid to the container. However, in addition to being used as a building set, the various templates can be placed on top of the container to be used a shape sorter. Building sets, such as Lego, are great for fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, patience, creativity and imagination.

Goodnight Moon...and More Great Bedtime Stories Goodnight Moon...and More Great Bedtime Stories
Ages: 2 - 9 yrs.
Foundry Communications, New Video,

This 36-minute DVD is presented by Scholastic Storybook Treasures is a charming bedtime companion for young children, whether they're hearing-impaired or just interested in learning American Sign Language for the Deaf. In addition to Goodnight Moon, this DVD includes A Creature Was Stirring, a Christmas poem by Carter Goodrich; and Gladys Goes Out to Lunch, a story by Derek Anderson about a gorilla who leaves the zoo in pursuit of something that smells delicious. DVD extras include games and quizzes; and, a very useful vocabulary list broken down by story.

CitiBlocs Little Builder Rattle Blocs CitiBlocs Little Builder Rattle Blocs
Ages: 2 & Up
CitiBlocs, LLC, $35.00

A clever take on a traditional favorite. Simple design additions to a tried and true toy-the wooden building block-give it a whole new dimension. As a city dweller, my child instantly recognized the simple colorful squares on the blocks as windows and doors. He jumped right into building skyscrapers and whole villages, putting the steps in front of the buildings and adding the roof. The rattle inside of the blocks made for a fun addition to our play. "Instruments!" exclaimed my son when he heard the rattle.

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