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

Our toy expert visited 10 local stores to bring you the hottest gifts for the holiday season. Here are Chicago Parent’s picks for the toddlers in your life.

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

12m+, $20.95

ALEX Jr. Click, Click Camera

You’ll be singing “It’s Easy Being Green,” thanks to theseearth-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

green tones Instruments

Your little one will be ready for lights-out thanks to thisplush toy that doubles as a nightlight. It also projectsconstellations on the ceiling, so they’ll feel like they’resleeping under the stars.

2+, $36.95

Cloud b Twilight Turtle

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

12m+, $29.99

Tolo Toys Teatime Shape Sorter

Sick of your tot using your smartphone as a teether or gettingtheir tiny prints all over your iPad? Check out these pretendversions (shh, they’ll never know!) that double as educationaltools.

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

Imagine Toys Tech-Too Smartphone and Mirari myPad

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

12m+, $35

Manhattan Toy Baby Stella

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

1+, $14

Brilliant Basics Chatter Telephone

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

18m+, $19.95

Constructive Eating Construction or Garden Utensils

  • Becky & Me Toys, Gleview (additional location in Evanston);
  • Building Blocks Toy Store, Lakeview neighborhood, Chicago(additional location in Wicker Park neighborhood, Chicago);
  • Cat and Mouse Game Store, Bucktown neighborhood, Chicago;
  • Galt Toys + Galt Baby, Skokie (additional locations downtownand in Lincoln Park neighborhood, Chicago);
  • Geppetto’s Toy Box, Oak Park;
  • Marbles: The Brain Store, Skokie (additional locations inNaperville, Schaumburg, and downtown and Lincoln Squareneighborhood, Chicago);
  • My Favorite Toy Store, Downers Grove (additional location inElmhurst);
  • *play, Logan Square neighborhood, Chicago;
  • Timeless Toys Ltd., Lincoln Square neighborhood, Chicago;
  • Toys et Cetera, Andersonville neighborhood, Chicago (additionallocations in Hyde Park and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, Chicago);

Where We Shopped:

It’s never too early for puzzles! Toddlers can become familiarwith shapes, colors and spatial concepts with this cute game wherethey attempt to re-create a challenge card using blocks and abunny.

2+, $24.99

Smart Toys and Games Bunny Peek a Boo

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

2+, $39.00

Uncle Goose Foreign Language Blocks

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Skydeck Chicago Family Guide

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Foundation for a Strong Future

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