The Best Advent Calendar Ideas for Toddlers

Are Christmas calendars for toddlers acceptable? Sure they are! Just probably not the ones full of chocolate. Although one of my guilty pleasures is to scoff chocolate from my Christmas calendar every year, (I say this like I still get one, woe is me) I much prefer the healthier option for my little ones.

In this article, I take a look at why chocolate isn’t great for toddlers and check out some healthier (but still fun) advent calendar options for kids.

Is chocolate bad for toddlers?

The official advice on this is that toddlers under the age of 2 shouldn’t really be given chocolate. This is for many reasons, but according to LiveStrong it includes:

  • The sugar in chocolate is bad for developing teeth
  • Refined sugar present in chocolate can cause hyperactivity in toddlers
  • Frequent eating of chocolate can cause resistance to healthier foods
  • Chocolate is high in calories and can be a cause of obesity in children

Advent calendar ideas for toddlers

Instead of feeding your little ones chocolate which could be bad for them, here are some fun, healthy and tasty alternatives!


Fabric advent calendars are a great alternative to throwaway plastic calendars, and they’re better for the environment! You can use them every year; getting them out of storage and hanging them up could even become part of your Christmas family traditions. You can find calendars with large pockets and put a treat in for everyone in the family, or each child can have their own.

There are all kinds of fabric advent calendars. Some you can string along a fireplace (not really recommended if you ever light the fire; melted calendar chocolate isn’t ideal!), some shaped like Christmas trees and other more modern hanging versions. It’s easy to find one that will go with your Christmas decor theme if you have one!

Wooden advent calendars

Wooden calendars also make a striking Christmas decoration for a toddlers bedroom but can almost look too beautiful to be used!

Luckily, wooden advent calendars are hardy and can be kept for years to come. If you have a toddler, it can be fascinating to pull out the wooden drawers to see what’s inside! Not only is it fun, but it can also be used as a learning tool for counting.

Another idea might be replacing treats with something even more interesting. You could put objects like balls, rattles or mini teethers like the mini Matchstick Monkey  inside the calendar. Toddlers will have fun (or maybe eventually get frustrated!) guessing where their favourite toy is!

LED wooden house advent calendar by Hobbycraft

Paper and cardboard advent calendars

Cardboard and thick paper calendars are also perfect for kids. They can be reused for years to come and are hardy enough for young children and toddlers to play with. This one from JoJo Maman Bebe is robust but small enough to fit in a toddlers bedroom or used as a Christmas decoration anywhere in the house. The cute pictures are fun for toddlers and placing the boxes in and out of the tree can help to develop motor skills.

Cardboard calendar from JoJo Maman Bebe

Ideas for toddler advent calendar treats

If you decide to use a wooden, fabric, card or paper calendar, you might need some inspiration on filling the boxes and pouches. To help you out, here are a few ideas!

  • Home baked rusks (here’s a link to some healthy recipes)
  • Whole fruits or pieces of fruit
  • Favourite small toys like balls, toy animals, rattles or a mini teether
  • Small things your baby needs anyway like a new bib, eating spoon, socks or similar (more fun for you than your toddler, potentially)
  • A folded up piece of plain paper and some crayons

You don’t need to put in a new treat every day. A hidden favourite toy is just as joyful for a toddler to find as something they haven’t seen before!

If you’ve got any great advent calendar ideas for your toddlers, let us know on Instagram @_matchstickmonkey!