Arriving at Adam’s house, I noticed twice as many toys as the last time I was there. Mom said they were gifts from his recent first birthday party. There was an abundance of toys requiring hammers and balls. His mom lamented the fact that she would have preferred educational toys but these were all gifts. Certainly there is educational merit to pound-a-ball toys and basketball hoops. These are “investigative toys” where your child learns to accomplish a task through trial and error and gets the fine and gross motor benefits. There is less language to elicit in these toys since there is not much flexibility or opportunity to change the action as there is with a “pretend” toy like a parking garage or dollhouse. But they have their merit in other developmental areas.

Parents ask me if it is okay to request certain types of toys for gifts, especially as the holidays approach. I say sure. I think grandparents and other relatives would welcome some suggestions. As a grandmother, I like to know what my kids and grandchild can use. Offer a list of books appropriate for your child’s age as suggestions, or give them a few websites like,,,,, or Most sites allow you to look for toys by age, theme, or gender.

Who says you are too old to write up a list for Santa?