First Things First offers ideas for best gifts for kids under age five

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Board books are easy for a young baby to hold and turn and are durable enough to take a beating (or a chewing). Pick books with high contrast (black and white) or bright, simple colors. Start reading with your baby from day one.

  ‘Tis the season for parents to race from store to store in search of the hottest toy, gadget or stuffed animal for their young child.

  This year, make the gift-giving experience easier.

  Check out First Things First’s interactive guide to free or inexpensive gifts for babies, toddlers and preschoolers that promote learning and language development at

  First Things First is a voter-created, statewide organization that funds early learning, family support and children preventive health services to help kids be successful once they enter kindergarten.

  Keep in mind, quality time with adults is the best gift an infant, toddler or preschooler can receive, and books are one of the best, most long-lasting gifts for all ages. Daily reading helps young kids, even babies, develop language skills and increase vocabulary. This is how to create good readers in the future.

  Other good choices for different age groups include:

  For babies under 1 year old, focus on toys that stimulate curiosity. Babies are fascinated by their surroundings, especially faces and bright colors. They enjoy playing hide-and-seek with different objects. Look for things such as:

• Board books

• Safe, chewable toys

• Toys with mirrors

Stimulating for little minds, puzzles are great practice for more complicated challenges kids will face later on, and simple board games are fun ways to spend time together.

  For toddlers between 1 and 3 years old, look for toys that encourage imagination and problem-solving such as:

• Pretend versions of everyday objects

• Balls to roll or catch

• Building toys, including fill and dump varieties.

• Matching and sorting toys

• Large crayons or markers with plain paper

• Simple puzzles

  For preschoolers, which covers ages 3 to 5, look for toys that help them relate to each other and the world around them including:

• Dress-up clothes

• Simple board games

• Counting and letter games

• Sports equipment suitable to their size

• Musical instruments

• Art supplies such as play dough, safety scissors, glue, etc.

  Above all, keep in mind that quality time with you — playing, talking or reading — is the best gift you can give this holiday season or anytime.

About First Things First – First Things First is a voter-created, statewide organization that funds early learning, family support and children preventive health services to help kids be successful once they enter kindergarten. Decisions about how those funds are spent are made by local councils staffed by community volunteers. To learn more, visit

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There are news or informational items frequently written by staff or submitted to the Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner, Superior Sun, Pinal Nugget or Oracle Towne Crier for inclusion in our print or digital products. These items are not credited with an author.

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