The Ultimate Gift Guide for Developmentally Delayed Children

Having a hard time coming up with gift ideas for developmentally delayed children? We’ve taken the challenge out of it with our guide to picking the perfect present, along with a few of our favorite ideas!

We’ve taken the challenge out of finding gift ideas for developmentally delayed children! Check out our favorites along with some dos and don’ts!


I have to be honest. Each year at my daughter’s birthday or holidays, I get stressed when it’s time to open her gifts. Well-meaning family and friends have given her things over the years that just don’t work for her. Not only do I feel badly for my daughter, but I feel badly for the gift giver, knowing that we’ll either have to return the item or wait a number of years before it can be used. If you’re trying to figure out what to give a child in your life who has developmental delays, consider the following before you head to the store – it will help you be the hero of the day!

Gift Ideas for Developmentally Delayed Children

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  1. Age recommendations mean nothing. Just because a toy says it’s for children 3+ doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate for a 4-year-old with developmental delays. Mouthing is a concern much later than a typically developing child, and small pieces may be a problem for years to come. Giving a 7-year-old a puzzle meant for a toddler doesn’t matter if that’s what is appropriate for that particular child.
  2. Fine motor toys are usually a great choice. No-mess markers and paper, stickers, a piggy bank with coins, LEGO Duplo sets, Play-Doh, and other toys that can be used to practice developing skills are wonderful options. Again, just make sure you take into account tip number one.
  3. Pretend play toys are useful and fun. Pretend play is a skill that is important for all children, and giving them toys to support that development is thoughtful and helpful. Little People figurines and sets are always welcome in our house – they are easy for my daughter to hold and she loves to act out little stories with them. You don’t have to break the bank, either. Walmart has some great dinosaur and animal sets for just 10 bucks!
  4. Music, music, and more music! Most children relate well to music, so getting a CD with music for kids is always fun. Jim Gill and Dave are two of our favorites! Musical toys are also lots of fun. Both of my kids have My Pal Scout/Violet, and they have gone to sleep with them for years. One word of caution, from my experience.  If the child for whom you’re buying is sensitive to sirens and alarms (my daughter is), make sure you take that into account when buying a gift. Also, some kids are very sensitive to the voices used in certain toys (my daughter is scared of the voice used in a popular line of learning toys), so be sure to ask the parents if that is an issue.
  5. Diapers! Okay, so this isn’t really a gift for the kid, but it sure is a gift for the parents. If the child is still in diapers, ask the parents what size, and give the parents a box or two (if it’s larger than a size 6, look online). Diapers aren’t cheap, and years of buying them really takes a toll. The parents will thank you!
  6. When in doubt, ask! Who knows a child better than his or her parents? If you’re not quite sure what to get, please ask. Undoubtedly, the parents would rather give you guidance than have to return a toy that will go unused.

A great rule of thumb when it comes to finding perfect gift ideas for developmentally delayed children is to keep it simple. Anything that is too in-depth or has a bunch of steps may be too advanced for the child for whom you’re buying. Putting just a bit of thought into the gift you buy will mean the world both to the child and their parents! If you do end up getting a toy that just isn’t a good fit, please don’t take it personally if the child’s parents return it. It doesn’t mean they didn’t love and appreciate your gift.

Do you have any favorite gift ideas for developmentally delayed children? What advice would you add to this list? Share below!

11 thoughts on “The Ultimate Gift Guide for Developmentally Delayed Children”

  1. So many fantastic suggestions! My son is on the autism spectrum and my nephew also has a few delays. This guide will come in handy for sure!

  2. Such great gift ideas! We usually just ask the parents though to be sure their kids are going to love it. But thanks for the ideas!

  3. kim@hungryhealthygirl


  4. Birthday party gift giving stresses me out. I want to give a creative gift but sometimes it doesn’t work out. If I don’t know the child, i will do a book or gift card

  5. I always struggle in buying gifts. I think the best is to ask first to know their preference. But this is a great list of suggestion 🙂

  6. Amy @ Marvelous Mommy

    I love the Little People figurines and doll houses. Plus you can’t go wrong with play-doh or legos!

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