Baby’s first birthday is such an exciting occasion. And it’s definitely the kind of occasion that prompts loved ones to want to shower your little one with toys. We probably deflated some bubbles when just before the girls’ first birthday we asked everyone specifically not to buy toys for them (yup, you read that right). It wasn’t that we don’t let our girls have toys, but toys have a knack for accumulating quickly, and I am particular about the types of toys we do keep around. So I wanted to share with you all some alternative birthday gift ideas for your one-year old, as well as, a handful of tried and true toys we have found the girls (and mama) like having around.
- The best gift you can get a one-year-old is an empty gift bag filled with tissue paper (no need for an actual gift). Your little one isn’t going to remember anything from this day, but I promise you they will have a blast ripping out tissue paper (wrapped gifts are still a little challenging for a one-year-old), throwing it around, stomping on it, crumbling it and rolling in it. I am so happy that everyone took our suggestion and showed up with tons of gift bags of tissue paper. It made for quite the entertainment for the girls and the guests come gift opening time.
- An experience like a trip to the zoo, aquarium, museum, or water park. I told gift givers that they got bonus points if we they coordinated a date and place for them to join us. To us experiences and making memories always outweigh material things.
- A doll, lovey, and blanket. Safe sleep practices mean nothing in the crib until baby turns one. We give the Wubbanub pacifier instead for the first year. It’s a right of passage in our family that little one exchanges their pacifier for a set of lovies at one instead. They get a soft-bodied doll, a snuggly animal/creature and a blanket. Here’s our lovies of choice: Dinkum Dolls, Slumberkin Snugglers, and a thermal waffle weave blanket (we like these because they are a great mesh of breathable and snuggly).
- Subscription services geared towards babies and toddlers are always well-timed for developmental milestones and provide focused products. I really love the Lovevery Play Kits. This is a great gift for grandparents who are keen on getting an actual toy as a gift. They send a box every two or three months (depending on age) with developmentally appropriate toys from birth to three (you can buy the kits separately or subscribe). Their toys are exactly the kinds I actually like having around; wooden, minimalist and Montessori-inspired.
- Clothing. Birthdays are a great way to stock up on the next size or season of clothing, especially since baby shower clothing abundance rarely makes it beyond the 3-6 month mark. And by now baby’s size for upcoming seasons can typically be predicted making shopping ahead on clothing easier.
- A luggage set (we really like these American Tourister boarding bags, which are easy for little kids to maneuver) or funding the costs of a passport. What a great way to open doors for exploration! There’s no secret that we love traveling, but this concept could be applied to different interests. Our neighbors were gifted a lifetime hunting/fishing license for their son.
- A college fund, savings bonds or interest-bearing savings account. This may sound boring, but time is on your side if you start putting money away for your kid’s future. My grandfather gave us savings bonds at all of our birthdays,and it completely covered my college expenses (leftover after scholarships).
- Restaurant gift cards. Since we did baby led weaning with our girls, by twelve months they loved chomping down on “real food.” It’s always a fun experience for us to take the girls out to a restaurant for dinner. Not only will these experiences help them learn their restaurant manners early, but it’s a great way to expose them to different foods without mom having to get creative in the kitchen.
- A walker wagon. I mistakenly thought these would only be useful up until walking, but with the right one, these will continue to be enjoyed well into your toddler’s second and beyond. I like wooden walker wagons. Keep the design simple so it remains open ended. Not only will this be a walker for wobbly toddlers, but a shopping cart, a stroller and dozens of other vehicles to be determined by your toddler’s imagination. I really like the Radio Flyer Walker Wagon.
- A climbing apparatus. We love our Pikler triangle for the girls. It’s like a jungle gym for inside and is great for developing those gross motor skills. My brother made ours (see my blog post with complete instructions here), but if I were to purchase one, I would suggest this one by Lily & River because I know several other moms that have this version and love it.
- Percussion instruments like maracas, bongos, claves, a wooden xylophone, tambourines or egg shakers. Our girls also loved their kazoos. These are simple and fun instruments for your budding musician. We received this Smarkids 15 Piece Musical Instruments Set that the girls love, as well as this Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone.
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