Early learning toys are a fantastic way to introduce fundamental understandings and encourage creativity in very young minds. Sadly, even at this early stage, several toy makers and retailers are sorting their products according to the all too familiar pink and blue division.
In this gift guide, we’ve picked out toys that help babies and toddlers grow their minds without restricting them according to gender.
All shops featured on this page have received the Let Toys Be Toys “Toymark award” – our good practice award for the stores that are getting it right.
Stimulate your little one’s senses and develop shape and colour recognition, problem solving and motorskills all in one toy! The different shapes fit neatly into the tray and each represent a different sensation or skill to discover- sight, sound, touch and dexterity.
Le Toy Van toys are ethically made by their trusted manufacturing partners. They use natural materials, including replenishable, legal quality smooth rubber and wood and employ an array of techniques from screen printing to water staining, ensuring a hand-finished, quality product.
Recommended age 1+
£16.49 from Peaches and Eaches
Fairtrade cotton girl doll with brown skin and dark hair, and removable outer clothing, one of a range of cotton dolls reflecting 5 ethnicities. Handwoven fabric used for clothing can vary as each doll is unique, but bright colours and high quality cotton are guaranteed! The dolls are made by hand in a fairtrade company in Sri Lanka. The company has developed an educational foundation supplying books, pencils and daily milk to a number of rural schools in Sri Lanka, resulting in a greater engagement with education and increased opportunities for the children.
The doll has polyester filling and acrylic hair and removable outer clothing. The colour and design of clothing fabric can vary from that in the image. Height: 22cm
Suitable from birth onwards
£14.00 from One World Shop
A great little pop-up wooden pretend play hairdresser’s salon in a handy carry case. With this kit, your child can play the role of a hairdresser or beautician for the day. The set includes a comb, round brush, play wooden scissors and hairdryer, play wooden razor and shaver and various little bottles, all in a neat carry case made of unlacquered timber.
Recommended age 3+
£25.95 from Wood and Wonder
Eco conscious brand Wee Gallery’s cuddle friend is both a comforter and a book in one. Watch your baby flip through bear’s day from a ‘happy bear’ in the morning to a ‘hungry bear’ at lunch, all the way to a ‘sleepy bear’ at bedtime with this cuddly friend that’s designed to spark their curiosity while following the rhythm and comfort of a daily routine. Bear is made from 100% organic cotton and comes in an organic cotton drawstring bag.
£29.95 from Ottie and the Bea
Encourage their interest in animals early with this lovely knitted toy dog. Dachshunds, or Sausage Dogs, are one of the most popular dogs in the UK. Very cute, feisty and full of character there is no doubt why they are so popular. Our knitted sausage dog toy is suitable from birth so great for kids but also a fab gift for sausage dog lovers. Approximate dimensions: Length 23cm (Sizes are given as a guide only and can vary)
Suitable from birth
£14.99 from Best Years
Beautifully illustrated wooden peg puzzle featuring favourites from the Les Papoum range of Moulin Roty Nursery range: elephant, hippo and lion. Lifting the 3 separate puzzle pieces and removing them reveals each of their babies. Fun, colourful puzzle for baby.
£12.50 from Gifts for Little Ones
A lot of fun for 3 year olds and above, but younger babies will enjoy this too, just in a less coordinated… louder way! Xylophones great for hand-eye coordination, this can also be used to practise colours. Measures 30x22x4.5 cm
Recommended age 3 +
£12.99 from GenNeu
This great Franck & Fischer lion wrist rattle will do a great job of keeping your little ones entertained. It features a sweet yellow lion with white spots, grey ears, long whiskers and green and white patterned strap. Inside the lion is a rattle and its ears make a crunchy noise when touched. This lovely Franck & Fischer rattle can be strapped around babies wrist or ankle with velcro so they can always have it with them.
Made from 100% cotton. Printed without chemicals.and machine washable. Approx height 9 cm.
Suitable from birth
Currently on sale for £5.50 from Little Tiger Gifts
Race to the top of the mountain and catch sight of the chequered flag! Stacking puzzles are a hit with children and this will be a hit with parents too. 10 round stacking boxes that when put together in correct order form a racetrack. The boxes are numbered 1 through 10 to encourage number recognition and the colours are cheerful and classically Janod. A great first birthday gift that will take them through to their first day of school.
Suitable from 12 months
£13.99 from Rachel’s Toy Shop