It's true that your toddler tends to destroy most electronics. But there are gadgets specifically designed for those sticky fingers and unsteady grips. In fact, these gadgets do double duty -- they entertain the little ones and keep your toys safe from harm. For example, the Fisher-Price Kid Tough Portable DVD Playercomes in pink and blue -- and the initial reviews are nothing short of stellar. This player can stand up to whatever your toddler can dish out and keep playing movies. Which means you can keep doing whatever you need to do -- Junior's got his entertainment right in his hands.
A kid-friendly computer, like the Fisher-Price Fun-2-Learn Computer Cool School, or the LeapFrog Clickstart My First Computer (both available at Amazon) can keep your own desktop safe from your child's curiosity.
You can also find MP3 players, digital cameras, and even television remotes specifically designed for small hands. Start by thinking about which of your gadgets your child abuses the most, and look for a kid-friendly version.
Once your child hits the ripe old age of 6 or so, she's full of opinions -- and baby toys just won't cut it anymore. If you're not quite ready to hand her an iPod, consider the Disney Mix Max MP3 player. You can load MP3s from your computer or purchase Disney Mix Stix with music and videos for your child to enjoy, no PC required.
Handheld video games, like the Fisher Price Pixter Color or the Leapfrog Leapster can also keep kids entertained, and many sneak in a little learning on the side. If you're looking for a higher-end system, the Nintendo DS is a popular choice -- and your child can theoretically get many years of use from it. (Theoretically, because who knows what's coming out next year?)
At this age, your child has highly specific preferences. Think about accessorizing the gadgets he already has -- high-end headphones for his iPod, or fun new software for her computer. Look into DVD games, as well -- Amazon has a large selection of these interactive goodies.
Video games for your child's console of choice will also be a hit. And even if you weren't sure the Nintendo DS was right for your younger child, your teens and tweens will really love it. Bonus: Many available titles are actually pretty cool, like the personal trainer that teaches cooking skills.
There are gadgets out there for everyone -- really. For example, Mom might love this digital recipe reader with 2500 recipes or the Smart Shopper -- a grocery list on steroids. For Dad, this automotive diagnostic tool will let him hold his own at the garage. Or, the Harmony universal remotewill let him feel like he's got mission control right in the living room.
And what about the technically unsavvy? Well, Weemotes makes an easy-to-use remote control designed for older adults. It reduces the remote to only the relevant buttons. And a webcam that you come and set up will give Grandma easy access to the grandkids.
Individual gifts are great, but with the cash crunch hitting everyone this year, maybe a single gift the whole family can enjoy is a better idea. Consider springing for a Wii, which really will engage everyone. Or, take a look at the miBook, a funky digital photo frame with proprietary software that turns it into a portable how-to device, with modules for everything from parenting to plumbing.
Whatever you decide you give your family this year, let us know how you're scoring the best possible deals!
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