Maggie’s birthday is about two weeks after Christmas so, this year we’ve decided (since she’s still so little) to do one “big ticket” item and then just a Santa sack full of things she can pull out on Christmas morning! She loves pulling toys out of her toy bin, so I figured – why not fill her sack with things that SHE can pull out, play with, and enjoy? That’s much more exciting than me opening a bunch of small gifts for her anyways.
So this is what I am going to be putting in her Santa sack – if I’m planning on a small shop item, I’ll also include links to Amazon/Etsy/other, for my US readers (because shipping can be a… pain). Keep in mind she will be 11 months old, so most of this will be appropriate for a baby around a year old. That doesn’t mean there won’t be items that are appropriate for other age groups – just I am building it for her, so you may have to sub in items
I have released a sensory toy guide before (don’t worry, I’m not done with those!) specifically for the younger age range (4-6 months). You can see that here.
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The Santa Sack
A Santa sack is essentially a larger stocking, however some people use it to place all their child’s gifts inside too.
Where do you get one?
Well if you’re crafty (it’s funny because I typed crazy accidentally here originally) you could make your own using these DIY steps.
Or, if you’re like me and sometimes feel crafty but also aren’t the best at making things then you could buy one. I got one from Home Sense (can’t link because Home Sense doesn’t do online – lame), but Michael’s has very similar ones as well.
If you’re trying to support a local shop this season, check out Inscriptions 4 You on Instagram! I just ordered a beautiful Santa sack from her, and she has other decor items as well.
Santa Sack Items
I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been dying to get one of these for Maggie. Here is a relatively affordable customized one from Etsy! I love the colour options.
The one I actually ended up getting is a bit different and comes from a small shop in Ontario called Life Bits Wood. It is an animal name puzzle – so cute! You can check them out here, and I’ll share photos in future (will likely do a post on everything Maggie receives & how she likes it).
Note: This is a very simple “starter” puzzle which is perfect for this age group! Puzzles help to develop fine and gross motor skills, shape recognition, spatial awareness and memory.
I’ve been wanting to grab some blocks for Maggie for awhile – we have a few wooden blocks that go with our Whale Shape Sorter, but not a complete set.
Small shop? I saved a set of beautiful, custom name blocks from Farmhouse598.
There are so many options when it comes to buying a baby doll, but since I love Melissa and Doug toys, that is the one we are looking at and I’ve linked (they are also available at Indigo).
Doll play is really important for babies – yes, both boys and girls! This is why I hate that toys get labelled as “boy” and “girl” toys – there is no such thing.
Doll play helps children to develop their social and emotional skills (teaching them things like empathy), and of course helps to build their imagination. Maggie loves the dolls at daycare – so I know she will love to have one of her own at home!
Is it just me, or do you remember loving these things when you went to the doctors office and they had toys? Not sure my kid will ever see a toy in a doctor’s office, especially after this pandemic.
Bead mazes are an obvious sensory toy, but they can also be imaginative too. This isn’t a great source (I will always admit this), but it does talk about some of the benefits of bead maze play.
Ok, not every toy I get Maggie has a very clear developmental purpose. I of course & most of all, want her to have fun – I usually watch to see what she is loving either at home or daycare, and then try to think of other similar items.
Well right now she loves stuffed animals. She also loves “dumping” things out of containers, or pulling things out (my laundry ahem…) one at a time. So I saw this on the Melissa & Doug website and I was like I need this. Wait, I mean Maggie needs this. I am a huge sucker for stuffed toys (I think they’re adorable and I love seeing Maggie love them!) but I like that this one does more than just “be” a stuffed animal. Oh and guess what? It’s also educational – bam.
It has different sensory experiences on all the sea creatures that the pelican can “eat”, and is noted as good for sensory, motor, creative development and more. I like that it sort of teachers her some science too – like how our body works (which mommy is of course, passionately interested in).
We have two shape sorters – I mentioned our FP Whale Shape Sorter above, but we also have the classic FP shape sorter (which I have linked below).
I like that this one moves – it is just a little bit more “challenging” for her and exciting.
All shape sorters have the benefit of helping children improve their hand-eye coordination, and understand concepts like “in” and “out” (which I’ve already mentioned, Maggie loves to figure out), among many other developmental benefits.
Maggie already has a push walker, but we’ve discovered she loves pushing on anything with wheels, including her highchair.
Pull toys are great for toddler development (problem-solving and fine motor skills). Babies push before they pull, but by getting a toy that can do both, you’re getting a toy that will likely last for longer.
Bigger push-pull toys can also help children with developing their balance. We have this Baby Shark Walker, because Maggie loves baby shark but there are plenty of “aesthetically pleasing” options as well like this baby pram from Coco Village.
A Selection of Books
- Soft Activity Books like this one
- STEM books for babies like these
- Touch and feel books (Maggie’s favourite) like this one
Reading to your baby and child has so many benefits that you can explore here. Between 6-12 months, babies will begin to show more interest in the pictures of books, or in touch-and-feel book sensations.
I like to get Maggie books she can explore on her own (so the soft books and touch and feel books particularly) but also ones I will enjoy reading with/to her (STEM). And who knows, maybe one days he will be a female in STEM and say “I remember my mom reading these STEM books to me as a kid!” haha.. (I will obviously support her no matter what she does BTW, can’t believe that has to be said).
Books are totally a preference based purchase! So don’t be afraid to explore topics that interest you (since you’re going to be the one reading them for the time being), but also ones your baby can explore when they play.
Some Things We Already Have I’d Throw In (If We Didn’t Already Have Them!):
Looking For Small Filler Items?
I love the dollar store & Maggie loves kitchen utensils – measuring cups, spoon/spatula sets & wooden spoons, a small pot, tupperware, a remote control without batteries- these are all items we have in our play sets already that Maggie loves. She likes some of these items more than her actual toys, if I’m being honest.
They make great small & affordable filler items for a santa sack or even just a small stocking for baby!