Best (expert-approved) toys for your Easter basket

Easter is fast approaching, and that means many of us are helping the bunny assemble Easter baskets for our kids.

If you have ever been paralyzed by indecision in the toy or game aisle, here are a few ideas of gifts that can help your child's development - from local experts.

Dr. Vikram Agrawal, a pediatrician at Unity Point Clinic in Moline, explains: "Although the Easter Bunny gets the credit, you can make your little angel's Easter special by choosing age-appropriate gifts."

Gifts of health.

Candy often fills out baskets and eggs for Easter - but think about ways to keep kids healthy and safe when gifting treats and snacks.

While some candy is fine, remember to choose items that are easily chewed and swallowed. Jelly beans and small chocolates can be a choking risk.

Instead, think about gifting crackers, fruit snacks or cereal, too. These are items many young kids already love - and you can find some of these items in fun shapes and colors.

Gifts of activity.

Spring is almost here, so Easter can be a great time to choose toys that get kids outdoors and active. Not only do these help a child move outdoors, but they can have more longevity than some indoor toys.

"Fill a basket with toys, new sand, shallow-water toys, different types of balls to throw or some toys with wheels," Dr. Agrawal suggests.

Gifts of building.

Blocks of all shapes and sizes are wondeful gifts for kids (from large wooden blocks to Magnetic tiles to Legos).

Not only do they help hand-eye coordination, but they can also help a child develop more language skills, according to Abbie Keibler, a speech language pathologist at the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency.

When playing together, use words like "on top," and "more please."

Gifts of experience.

There are some gifts that truly keep on giving - and these are gifts that go beyond a toy in a box. Does your child love animals? Try a membership to the zoo. Does your son or daughter enjoy bowling or mini-golfing? Give a gift of a night out. Maybe your family loves game nights? Give a new game and a promise for a game night.

The best part of these gifts is that they also create memories between parents and children - which last longer than anything you'd get at the store.

Gifts of reading.

Books are a great choice for kids of all ages and a perfect way to fill that Easter baket. They help children develop an early love of literacy. And by choosing one of our book selections, you can help kids learn emotional intelligence, about their body, or other important topics.

Gifts of safety.

Dr. Agrawal warns parents to avoid the eggs this Easter - real eggs can spoil if not properly refrigerateed and plastic eggs pose a choking risk and are typically too small to include safe toys for smaller children.

"Use some egg alternatives, such as paper gift bags and Chinese takeout containers in bright colors," Dr. Agrawal explains. "They are safe and hold toddler-safe toys."