Ten must-have gifts for Chicago toddlers

 
 

We know how it goes: the holiday season has arrived, so you're in a race against time to find some gifts that a) your kids will actually like; b) fit your budget; and c) can be bought, wrapped and handed over to the munchkins sometime near the appropriate holiday.

So this year, we did the work for you. We visited 10 toy stores in and around Chicago to find this holiday season's hottest items. Best of all, every gift is less than $50, so you won't break the bank in order to see that awed expression on your child's face.

Here are the results for Toddlers (1-3 years).

- Elizabeth Diffin

 
 

ALEX Jr. Click, Click Camera

Your toddler has starred in enough Facebook albums to last a lifetime, so this play camera lets them go behind the lens. It features real-sounding clicks, music, giggles and a flash on top, plus a mirror to keep them engaged. Say cheese!

12m+, $20.95

 
 

green tones Instruments

You'll be singing "It's Easy Being Green," thanks to these earth-friendly instruments. All products, from whistles to drums, are made from chemical-free Rubberwood. We love the Mama Bear Drum, Papa Bear Glockenspiel and Baby Bear Shaker.

12m+, $14.99-$29.99

 
 

Cloud b Twilight Turtle

Your little one will be ready for lights-out thanks to this plush toy that doubles as a nightlight. It also projects constellations on the ceiling, so they'll feel like they're sleeping under the stars.

2+, $36.95

 
 

Tolo Toys Teatime Shape Sorter

It's time for tea-and some fun! The teapot comes with four mini-tea cups that are color-matched to their respective holes, making it a shape sorter that doubles as a real teapot (a liquid-filled beaker can be placed inside).

12m+, $29.99

 
 

Imagine Toys Tech-Too Smartphone and Mirari myPad

Sick of your tot using your smartphone as a teether or getting their tiny prints all over your iPad? Check out these pretend versions (shh, they'll never know!) that double as educational tools.

18m+, $19.95 and 12m+, $26.99

 
 

Manhattan Toy Baby Stella

Isn't it time your baby gets a baby of their own? Baby Stella is a great first doll, soft enough for little ones to snuggle and with clothes to change as they get older.

12m+, $35

 
 

Brilliant Basics Chatter Telephone

Introduce your little one to the toys you used to love, thanks to the Classic Toy line from Fisher-Price. It looks just the same as the original, but this time around, you can call its old-fashioned look retro.

1+, $14

 
 

Constructive Eating Construction or Garden Utensils

Meal time becomes a lot more fun (and less of a battle) with these utensil sets. Silverware newbies will love pushing food onto their fork with the help of a bulldozer or garden hoe-and mom and dad will love having their own hands free.

18m+, $19.95

 
 

Smart Toys and Games Bunny Peek a Boo

It's never too early for puzzles! Toddlers can become familiar with shapes, colors and spatial concepts with this cute game where they attempt to re-create a challenge card using blocks and a bunny.

2+, $24.99

 
 

Uncle Goose Foreign Language Blocks

These might look like the blocks that tykes have been playing with for generations, but they come with a twist. Kids can build towers and their language skills, thanks to cubes that come in Spanish, Japanese and even Cherokee.

2+, $39.00

 

Where We Shopped:

  • Becky & Me Toys, Gleview (additional location in Evanston); beckyandmetoys.com
  • Building Blocks Toy Store, Lakeview neighborhood, Chicago (additional location in Wicker Park neighborhood, Chicago); buildingblockstoys.com
  • Cat and Mouse Game Store, Bucktown neighborhood, Chicago; cat-n-mouse.com/ocart/
  • Galt Toys + Galt Baby, Skokie (additional locations downtown and in Lincoln Park neighborhood, Chicago); galtbaby.com
  • Geppetto's Toy Box, Oak Park; geppettostoybox.com
  • Marbles: The Brain Store, Skokie (additional locations in Naperville, Schaumburg, and downtown and Lincoln Square neighborhood, Chicago); marblesthebrainstore.com
  • My Favorite Toy Store, Downers Grove (additional location in Elmhurst); myfavoritetoystore.com
  • *play, Logan Square neighborhood, Chicago; playlogansquare.com
  • Timeless Toys Ltd., Lincoln Square neighborhood, Chicago; timelesstoyschicago.com
  • Toys et Cetera, Andersonville neighborhood, Chicago (additional locations in Hyde Park and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, Chicago); toysetcetera.com
 
 
 







 
 
 
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