Resident Wife, Mommy, Pedi OT: Top 10 Favorite Christmas Gifts to Encourage Development (Ages 1-3)


With the holidays quickly approaching, I thought it would be helpful to gather a list of gift ideas. Not just any “gift” ideas but those that are meaningful and encourage development. 

I enlisted the help from my colleagues, and together (as experts on development as pediatric occupational, physical, and speech and language therapists) we were able to identify our Top 10 Favorite Christmas Gifts to Encourage Development for Ages 1-3 (and an abbreviated list of skills they encourage.) 

Item Skills
Baby Dolls
  • Fine Motor (i.e. clothing fasteners), Language/Cognition, Self-Help, Caregiving, Imaginative Play, Social Skills
Play Kitchen (and accessories)
  • Fine Motor (i.e. manipulating handles and knobs, play food, hand to mouth), Gross Motor (i.e. pulling to stand, endurance in standing, navigating spaces), Language/Cognition, Self-Help, Caregiver, Imaginative Play, Feeding/Eating
Board Books
  • Language/Cognition, Fine Motor (i.e. turning pages, pointing)
Helper Tower
  • Gross Motor, Self-Help, Feeding/Eating, Prosocial, Participating in Routine and Family Roles
Fischer Price Little People Sets
  • Fine Motor, Language, Social Emotional, Role Playing, Imaginative Play
Sorting Games and Sets


Farmer’s Market 

Stack and Sort Board

  • Fine Motor, Visual Motor, Cognition/Language (i.e. in/out, color/shape identification, matching, similarities/differences)
Stacking Games and Sets


Stacking Cups

Spin Stacking Toy

  • Fine Motor, Visual Motor, Cognition/Language (i.e. on/off, counting, colors, matching, letter recognition)
Balance Bike
  • Gross Motor (i.e. balance, coordination, left and right)
Toy Cars
  • Fine Motor, Language/Cognition (i.e. directions, cause and effect)
Fill and Spill Toys
  • Fine Motor, Visual Motor, Language/Cognition (i.e. in/out, concepts, sequencing, counting, naming)


What gifts have you loved for your littles?

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Bailey is a wife, mommy, and pediatric occupational therapist. She and her husband Tyler were married in the summer of 2012 and moved to Southeastern Idaho in February of 2014 shortly after Bailey graduated with her Master’s Degree. They welcomed their beautiful daughter, Arlo Mae, in September of 2021 after 6+ years of struggling with infertility. Bailey primarily works with pediatric patients as an occupational therapist and also serves as adjunct faculty at ISU. Bailey is a homebody and enjoys spending time with family, playing with her fur baby “Thorin,” collecting rocks and gems, drinking good coffee, and eating good food.