The Fatherly Guide to Gifts for Kids of Every Age

Fatherly’s Gift Guides cover every age and stage of life — our editors have rounded up the best gifts for every birthday, Christmas holiday, or other gift-giving occasion to come, whether you’re shopping for a 14-month-old or a 14-year-old.

Choosing Gifts for Toddlers and Young Kids 

Kids may be helplessly drawn to loud, shiny, plastic things (and on some level, aren’t we all), but child-development experts agree that the best toys, especially for toddlers and preschoolers, are the ones that do the least. The job of a toddler, after all, is to explore the world — from understanding cause-and-effect to developing spatial reasoning skills. The more a toy forces a kid to be resourceful and to use their imaginations, the more they’ll get out of it — which also means, the more they’ll use it, which means, in turn… that’s money better spent by parents. The toys we choose foster open-ended play, which means there’s no prescribed way to use them — because problem-solving is its own reward. The gifts and toys for kids we value are simple, thoughtful, and simply encourage children to be their own curious, creative selves. 

Finding Gifts for Older Kids and Teens 

With a little guidance, it’s easy enough to find great gifts for infants and even for toddlers, whose voracious appetites for novelty and repetition mean nearly any well-made educational toy will be a safe bet. But as kids develop strong opinions and a growing sense of independence and identity, finding the right gift can be a challenge. Tweens and teens are sophisticated shoppers — who are being actively pursued in all corners by marketers — and striking the right balance between edifying and teen-appreciated is not at all easy. That’s why our guides for older kids encompass all kinds of different interests and hobbies, with great gift ideas for every science-minded, sporty, outdoorsy, artistically inclined, bookish, tech-obsessed kid you know.