Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas

This sponsored post is brought to you courtesy of UnityPoint Health – Des Moines.

healthy holiday gift ideas
The holiday season is upon us, and parents everywhere are searching for the perfect gifts for their little ones. With the rising popularity of electronics, even with the very young, it’s tempting to focus on buying gifts that our kids will use while sitting down and staring at a screen, such as tablets and video games. Have you considered healthy holiday gift ideas? 

Rose Giorgio-Nelson, pediatric speech pathologist, and Kathy Pilch, pediatric physical therapist, at Blank Children’s Hospital encourage us to think outside the gift box this year and consider healthy holiday gift ideas that get our kids up and moving.

“Gifts that involve quality face-to-face time, without the distraction of screens or social media, will have the most benefits for both the giver and receiver, for every age,” says Giorgio-Nelson. “Screens, social media, and electronics advertise entertainment and educational content; however, the quality they provide is significantly less than personal experiences, and they carry negative risks as well. The same entertainment and educational content can be found outside of screen time and will have a more positive effect all around.”

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, an increase in screen time for young children means those children are less likely to reach developmental milestones in communication, motor skills, and problem solving by age five. In addition, increased screen time has been linked to a decreased quantity and quality of sleep for all ages, which in turn leads to problems with mental and physical health, as well as lower cognitive and academic performance. In short, the more screen time your kids get, the sicker they are and the worse they perform in school.

This holiday season, consider giving gifts that get your kids moving their bodies and working their brains. Active toys that get children up and moving their bodies are an excellent choice for a child of any age, from babies to teenagers. Parents may also want to consider group games or experience gifts that encourage family time and personal interaction. –Kathy Pilch, pediatric physical therapist at Blank Children’s Hospital

Not sure what kinds of healthy holiday gifts to look for? Here are some great suggestions.

Healthy holiday gift ideas

healthy holiday giftsAge-Appropriate Gift Ideas to Encourage Active Play and Learning

0 – 6 Months

  • Babies this age don’t need a lot of toys! But if you insist, consider:
  • Rattles
  • Floor activity mats. Be sure to get down on the floor with your baby and interact!
  • Books to read together, especially books with pictures of faces, such as picture albums that include photos of loved ones

6 – 12 Months

  • Cause and effect toys (if you push a button, something pops up)
  • Nesting toys, like cups
  • Tunnels to crawl through
  • Books to read together
  • Bubbles
  • Balls
  • Blocks
  • Things with doors, such as a play kitchen
  • Pounding toys, such as a play hammer or drum

12 – 18 Months

  • Containers
  • Shape sorters
  • Musical instruments
  • Play kitchen or grill
  • Tool bench
  • Floor wedges or bolsters to climb on, over, and around
  • Foam balance beam
  • Books to read together
  • Games to play together

18 – 24 Months

Same as above plus: 

  • Play food, especially pieces that can be put together and taken apart
  • Puzzles
  • Baby dolls with accessories
  • Toys that encourage imaginative play

2 – 3 Years

  • Puzzles
  • Blocks
  • Sorting toys (by size, shape, or color)
  • Games to play together
  • Small cars
  • More imaginative play objects, like a doctors’ kit
  • Art activities
  • Large building toys and activities

4 Years and Older

  • Books they can read on their own
  • Longer books you can read together as a family
  • Games you can play together as a family
  • Memberships to places like Blank Park Zoo or the Science Center of Iowa
  • Experience gifts, such as indoor water park passes, ice skating lessons, or art camp
  • Sports equipment, such as a basketball and hoop, roller skates, or a jump rope
  • Imaginative play items, such as puppets, costumes, or construction toys

Tweens and Teens

What healthy holiday gift ideas would you add?

Want to learn more about the negative effects of screen time on children and what you can do about it? Visit these helpful sites:

Children’s Screen Time Action Network

Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood

Screen Free Parenting

Screenagers Growing Up in the Digital Age

Zone’In Programs Inc.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

American Academy of Pediatrics

Connect with UnityPoint Health Des Moines




This post is part of a series of sponsored posts by UnityPoint Health Des Moines.



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