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Why Baby Stocking Stuffers Are Good for Brain Growth

Let’s start this article by addressing the giant reindeer in the room: Why bother messing around with baby stocking stuffers in the first place?

It’s a fair question. After all, your baby is 99% clueless when it comes to the holidays, so why go to the trouble of filling up a decorated toe-cover? Three reasons…

Why You Should Bother with Baby Stocking Stuffers

  1. Taking items out of something (like a holiday stocking) is a BLAST if you’re a baby.
  2. Purchasing baby stocking stuffers is brilliant way to skate through the holidays when money is short. (Remember:  Baby = 99% clueless)
  3. Removing said stocking stuffers is actually a brain-activity that helps your child master a whole host of developmental tasks like gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and object permanence (that things still exist when we can’t see them directly).

That said, if you have other kids in the house, skipping the stocking may cause a whole host of other problems:  

  • Preschooler:  “Why didn’t Santa bring a gift for Baby Johnny?”
  • Dad:  “…because Johnny spit up on Daddy’s favorite Packer’s shirt.”
  • Mom:  “…because Santa ran out of toys.”

The logical result of that conversation is a preschooler who grows up with either a perfectionistic complex or severe anxiety problems. #parentingWIN

In an effort to prevent such trauma, here are ten different ideas for baby stocking stuffers that will cost you less than $10. (And in some cases, like this shaker, way less than $10.)

Baby Stocking Stuffers #1:
A Cuddle Clutch Animal

If your baby hasn’t picked out a lovey yet, a small stuffed animal in the stocking can be the perfect little surprise!

What’s a lovey?  A little animal your baby can bond with.  A new little part of the family.  So at night when he’s sleeping, he can be reassured to stay sleeping and secure, because his little “Lamby” or “Buster” is holding his hand all night long.

The best time to introduce a lovey to your baby is when he’s over 5 months old and has built up his neck strength and rolling skills.  The size of the lovey (small but not too small) and those motor skills will keep the lovey from becoming a hazard in the crib.

Look for an animal your baby can easily hold in his hand and carry around.  Animals with different textures and ears are a bonus, since your baby will enjoy fiddling with the ears and petting the “spiky” hedgehog quills.

Put a Cuddly Critter in Your Baby’s Stocking!

1. Hedgehog  |  2. Bunny  |  3. Penguin



Baby Stocking Stuffers #2:
A Bedtime Board Book

The act of reading a board book before bed is a wonderful way to help your baby start to slow down and get that melatonin pumping through his brain, making him sleepy.

It’s true, his attention span may only get you through a few pages, but that’s okay.  It’s the routine that counts!

Besides using this as quiet bonding activity, he can turn the pages (motor skill practice) and eventually help you make animal sounds and point at colors.  It’s a sweet part of the evening you’ll cherish forever.  (I do, anyway!)

For more of favorite bedtime book ideas from other parents, check out Sleeping Beauty’s Top 10 Best Bedtime Books for Babies.

Put a Bedtime Story in Your Baby’s Stocking!

1. Baby Elephant Puppet Book  |  2. The Going to Bed Book
3. Little Owl’s Night



Baby Stocking Stuffers #3:
A Tasty Treat

As the older kids may be getting little candy surprises in their stockings, why not have something tasty tucked in that stocking for baby too! Obviously, if your baby is younger than 6 months, it’s probably best to skip this…unless you want to toss a bottle of breastmilk or formula into the stocking instead!

Unexpected bonus: It pushes having to make breakfast out a little longer! woo hoo!

Put a Sweet Snack in Your Baby’s Stocking!

1. Organic Yogurt Melts |  2. Apricot, Peach, and Pumpkin
3. Organic Crispy Chews



Baby Stocking Stuffers #4:
A Useful Toothbrush

I’m pretty sure Santa was a dental hygienist before being called North, because my kids always get a new toothbrush at the bottom of the stocking (along with an orange for some reason…perhaps Mrs. Claus was a pirate and carries a mortal fear of scurvy???)

These toothbrushes are soft enough to be gummed and gnawed. As a proudly raised Iowan, I have to applaud #1 below, not only because of the clever design (although it is a bit corny — thankyou thankyou I’ll be here all week!) but also because it has a natural mouth guard (like #3) that prevents your baby from accidentally gagging himself and tossing up Christmas dinner all over Great Grandma’s silk blouse.

Put a Toothbrush in Your Baby’s Stocking!

1. Corn Toothbrush |  2. Totz Toothbrushes  |  3. Green Sprouts Toothbrush



Baby Stocking Stuffers #5:
A Soothing Teether

He’s going to gnaw on everything that comes out of that sock, so why not give him something his aching gums will thank you for?

It’s a Festivus Christmas Miracle!

Want other teether inspiration? Check out 10 Unique Teething Toys Will Make Your Baby Drool.

Put a Teether in Your Baby’s Stocking!

1. Comotomo Teether |  2.  Pretty in Pink Rattle/Teether  |  3. Nuby Teething Ring



Baby Stocking Stuffers #6:
A Bath Toy or Two

My kids love bath toys. We have a huge bucket under the sink filled with various Barbie dolls and plastic animals. That said, I’m an Ebenezer Scrooge when it comes to the huge ecosystem of bacteria and mold flora that can congregate inside them. (So nasty!)

I squash out the micro-life with a chorus of gleeful Bah Humbugs.

Before placing the toys in the tub for the first time, I seal up that little vortex hole at the bottom with a dab from my glue gun.  Nothing is going in or out of that thing.

Sure, they can’t squirt water, but that’s why we have the Caterpillar Spiller Stackers, right?

Put a Bath Toy in Your Baby’s Stocking!

1. Silly Squirts  |  2. Caterpillar Spiller  |  3. Float & Play Bubbles



Baby Stocking Stuffers #7:
Baby Crayons

One of the hardest skills your growing baby will learn to conquer involves coordinating those fingers of his. This is why giving your baby chunky crayons is such a great idea – especially as a baby stocking stuffer.

It’s a fine-motor-skill workout routine! These are the pre-writing skills that Shakespeare, Hemingway, and JK Rowling all had to accomplish. Watch out world! Here comes the next Dickens!

Put Some Crayons in Your Baby’s Stocking!

1. Palm-Sized Crayon Rocks |  2. Jumbo Crayons  |  3. Star Crayons



Baby Stocking Stuffers #8:
A Rockin’ Rattle

If it shakes and makes a noise, your baby will love it. That said, certain personality types will prefer different rattlers. Take the three below, for example:

  1. The first will appeal to babies who like to focus on one thing for a long period of time.
  2. The second is a winner for aggressive/active babies who like to carry their toys all over the house.
  3. And the last will appeal to babies who are gnawers and will love the drool-drenched cloth ends.

Major bonus:  Each can fit in the diaper bag as a “Crap, I need a distraction!” kind of sanity-saver.

Put a Noisy Rattle in Your Baby’s Stocking!

1. Flip Flop Frog Rattle |  2. Oball Shaker |  3. Rattle & Rock Maracas 



Baby Stocking Stuffers #9:
Feeding Tools

As your little baby gets bigger, it will be nice to have a few spill-free snack bowls and sippy cups to grab out of the cupboard. Even if you’re months away from starting solid foods, it doesn’t hurt to think ahead!

Learning how to make homemade baby food can save you a ton of money and takes less time than you think. Check out How to Make Homemade Baby Food in 15 Minutes or Less

Put a Feeding Tool in Your Baby’s Stocking!

1. Snack Keeper |  2. Fresh Food Freezer Pops  |  3. Trainer Sippy Cup



Baby Stocking Stuffers #10:
Car Seat Distractors

The more distractors within your baby’s reach during long car rides, the better. That is, unless you would enjoy singing Old MacDonald for an hour to keep him settled?

Yeah…stock up with a few low-priced back seat toys and arrive at your destination with your speaking voice in tact!

Put a Car Seat Distractor in Your Baby’s Stocking!

1. Travel Pals |  2. Sensory Giraffe | 3.  Lots of Links 



There’s More Going on Here
Than Just a Few Baby Stocking Stuffers

Don’t be fooled into thinking that Santa is leaving your baby a stocking stuffed with toys. Nope. He’s leaving your baby a developmental wonderland. 

  1. Let your baby explore all the textures on the outside of the stocking for a few minutes. BOOM! Brain Growth—textures
  2. Let your baby discover the opening, and start pulling items out of the stocking. BOOM! Brain Growth—fine motor skills
  3. Let your baby notice that hidden items can be found, even if you can’t see them directly. BOOM! Brain Growth—object permanence
  4. Let your baby realize that certain things do other things, like rattle, or color, or jingle. BOOM! Brain Growth—cause and effect

True, it may take about 2 hours for your baby to get through the entire stocking, but that’s okay, right? Because a distracted baby is a happy baby! 

Got $10? Then you can buy any of these baby stocking stuffers.

And those video memories are going to be priceless.


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2 thoughts on “Why Baby Stocking Stuffers Are Good for Brain Growth

  1. Great article! You are 100% right on “taking things out of things” being a huge entertainer for babies (and toddlers).

    Besides your list, we like to put in socks or slippers. Polar Feet has some awesome baby and tot fleece socks, which are a bonus because oooh, soft texture. But regular socks from Old Navy or wherever are good too! Older toddlers who are in to getting dressed and undressed can play with these for no lie, twenty minutes at a time.

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