parents

The best holiday gifts for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and big kids--most under $50!

Oct. 28, 2013 at 8:13 PM ET

There's nothing better than seeing your kid's excited face when he gets exactly what he wants—and nothing worse than having to shop at 100 different stores to find the perfect gift. Don't stress mama—we did the heavy lifting for you. Here are the absolute best Christmas gifts for babies, toddlers and preschoolers this year.

Balancing blocks
We love toys that seem like a game but are really on-the-DL educational. A perfect example: these faceted wooden blocks, which your kids can balance to create cool, colorful structures. See how tall it can get before it topples over. A drawstring bag keeps the pieces from migrating around the playroom. ($48 at Areaware)

Sweet on you
Working at a bakery is pretty much a kid’s dream job. Make it a sugar-free reality with this LEGO playset, which comes with tons of sweet accessories, like baked goods, an oven and a pastry case to show off creations. ($40 at LEGO)

You dig?
If your kid can’t make it to a fossil hot spot like Mongolia or Argentina, bring the dig to him with the Expedition Dino board game, which includes a hammer and chisel for excavating bones. Roll the dice to see which tools little paleontologists can use for each turn and collect boulders for the win. ($37 at Haba)

To the moon
A budding astronomer’s dream, this scope magnifies up to 90x, letting kids see out-of-this-world stuff like mountains on the moon and Saturn’s rings. Far out! ($37 at Amazon)

Hit the spot
Animal prints are big this year but a little goes a long way on kids. The Sperry Top-Sider, a preppy standby, gets a wild makeover with these semi-dressy shoes girls can actually dance, play and jump in. ($50 at Stride Rite)

Going global
This cool globe lets kids color and label countries with erasable markers as they discover them. Animal stickers can be added to show what’s indigenous to the area. Fun and educational? We like it! ($40 at Moolka)

Drum up
Kids are hella noisy, especially when they play “music band.” At least the sounds can be a bit more ear-pleasing when they’ve got this tone drum, which produces different mellow notes when you beat the rubber mallet on the four chambers. ($30 at Magic Cabin)

Camp it up
If sleeping in a tent outside isn’t your thing (we’re with you), this cute indoor version lets your kids “camp” without actually preparing for the great outdoors. The whole thing collapses into a canvas storage bag, but in the meantime, looks pretty cute in your living room. ($99 at Land of Nod)

Use the force
Light sabers are awesome for fighting off Empire enemies but—who knew?—also make nice room décor for your Jedi nut. This kit teaches you how to build the saber and then provides a mount for the wall. Your kid can use the force, er, the remote control, to turn it off from bed. ($30 at Think Geek)

Wiggle room
Perfect for squirmy tots: The Ziggle from Radio Flyer, which moves when kids wiggle the back and twist the front. Once they really get going, they can even spin out 360 degrees. Bonus: the seat adjusts back to accommodate older siblings or growth spurts. ($50 at Radio Flyer)

New twist
Your kiddos can have (pretend) ice cream as often as they like with this Play-Doh Perfect Twist Ice Cream Playset, which executes a perfect swirl using the softer Play-Doh Plus. Sprinkle molds let kids go to town on toppings. ($15 at Amazon)

Make tracks
Part race track, part pinball machine, part puzzle, this rainbow pinball run lets kids piece together a wild, winding ride for metal marbles. Just keep it away from kids under 3—those little balls are choking hazards. ($44 at Amazon)

Play the game
Pop both DS and 3DS games into the Nintendo 2Ds, a new, less expensive entry-level handheld aimed at first gamers. The console retains many of the features of the 3DS, which your kid will love—and you'll love the price. ($130 at Walmart)

Flight patterns
Little kids love all things that go vroom and zoom, and this Disney Planes-themed LEGO DUPLO set gives your tot three characters (er, vehicles)—Dusty, Skipper and Sparky—to pilot around once he’s built the cool blue hangar. The hours will fly by! ($40 at Lego.com)

Mash up
Dinosaurs + Construction = BEST TOY EVER. The T-Top bulldozer eats sand and leaves tracks as it plows through the dirt. ($40 at Educational Insights)

So fly
Think pixie dust is required to make fairies fly? Not with this cool doll. Just press the button on this Flutterbye Flying Fairy Doll and she spins up into the air. When you see her losing altitude, pop your palm underneath and she lifts off again. Magic! ($35 at Toys R Us)

Hopped up
We heart multi-purpose products, like this adorable hopscotch carpet, which even includes beanbags for play, since rocks are so not being thrown around on your hardwood. ($69 at Land of Nod)

Mirror mirror
Your daughter’s itching to play with makeup but you’re not ready for that yet. Here’s the compromise: the Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror, which turns your iPad into a looking glass and then let’s her “try on” virtual eye shadow and lipstick. ($70 at Mattel)

Superfine
Playing superheroes is cool, but creating your own superheroes is much, much cooler. This book gets kids started with illustration how-tos, cut-out masks and figures, and tons of heroic activities. ($16 at Chronicle Books)

Fits to a T
If you enjoy artisanal pickles, Instagramming your dinner and bragging about your brie-eating kid eats, this punny foodie tee’s for you, or at least for your kid. ($24 at Etsy)


A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.

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