1) Forget about the age it says on the box!
This can be hard as it's so ingrained in us that baby toys are for babies, but at six years old Peter loves many toys and books aimed at babies or toddlers. They are designed to stimulate senses and use simple language which is exactly what he needs.
Russell will be one year old by Christmas but isn't rolling yet and doesn't have any sitting balance, so many of the toys aimed at the 12-18 month age group will not be appropriate for him. He also has a visual impairment so we are looking for toys to stimulate his vision and encourage him to start moving.
2) Don't automatically ignore items aimed at older children or adults.
If an item relates to Peter's current interests (space, cars, maps, trains and butterflies), it's a big hit - especially coffee table or encyclopaedia type books.
As Russell hasn't left hospital yet, and in fact has only been outside three times, we're looking for gifts with mirrors or real-world imagery rather than lots of bright colours and cartoon characters.
3) Remember that many children have a "spiky profile" where their skills may be age appropriate in one area but delayed in another, so for example Peter can easily complete a 100 piece puzzle but wouldn't understand the simplest board game aimed at pre-schoolers.
4) Don't worry if you're asked to do something out of your comfort zone or that seems unusual!
Peter doesn't like wrapping paper as it makes him anxious, so we ask for unwrapped gifts for him (or unwrap them ourselves before he sees them). We've also heard of families wrapping gifts in transparent cellophane or sticking a photo of the gift on the outside so there are no surprises.
As Russell has a tracheostomy we need to insist on no glitter, sand, or soft toys with fine fibres that may go into his lungs.
5) Have fun choosing! These are all gifts that Peter and Russell would love to receive this Christmas:
Ravensburger 100 piece Snowman puzzle, Discovery 50mm astronomical telescope, B Symphony, Pintoy Tower Slope, Tidlo Double Sided Easel with Paper, Debenhams Space Rail, Funtime Newton's Cradle Executive Desktop Toy, Paladone Scrabble Light, Science Museum Magnetic Sand Timer, Disney Cars Book