If you have a baby you’re going to be asked about gift ideas sooner rather than later. I think we all understand that babies don’t want or really need anything, but I totally get that people really want to recognize special occasions.
The challenge is finding stuff that lets people express their generosity while actually being useful and that ain’t always easy. Let me tell you, my older son was around 10 months old for his first Christmas and he had two sets of grandparents, two aunts, three uncles and a set of great-grandparents all chomping at the bit to buy him his first Christmas presents. If left unchecked, my grandmother would have come down trumpeting on a sled full of gifts like the final scenes of the Grinch that Stole Christmas.
So I put my own list together of great gifts for kids under one. It was a little tricky because shopping for a two-week old is different from shopping for an 11-month old but I tried to make it fairly universal.
Here is my criteria:
- gifts that have great play value – so it’s not ditched by dinnertime
- gifts that have a long play life and educational elements so you get the most bang for your buck
- gifts that get excellent reviews from a number of sources
- a little variety – because no matter how much you need diapers, some people just want to buy a cool toy
I have to give a special thanks to all you readers who made suggestions – your ideas rocked it and many have been added to the list.
I’m going to keep adding items so check it out and let me know what you’d add. I’m dying to know what you think.
Great Gifts for Babies Under One
It’s a puppet, it’s a bath mitt, it’s something awesome to chew on!
This is an amazing car seat cover that keeps your baby toasty and warm but is also safe to use (it goes over the baby, not behind)
These are fun little instruments to spark your future musician.
$30 on Amazon
This is a super popular walker that gets amazing ratings.
This is an amazing first game for kids. Simply roll the cube and choose the matching color card and perform the simple activity shown, such as “Make a happy face”, “Moo like a cow” or “Find something blue”. It’s fun and easy and something you can do together.
Kids love things they can sit on and rock. This sturdy, little pony is easy to climb on and converts to a rolling toy when your child is done rockin’
If your child doesn’t have an Oball, snap one of these suckers up. They rattle, are easy to grip and whip around with little damage if you take it in the face. Kids love ’em.
Who doesn’t love a camping theme?! Includes a light-up firefly, turtle mirror, bear rattle and musical raccoon with wooden teether that plays “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”
Boon makes great bath toys that have tons of play value and don’t get filled with scuzz
Boon Pipes Water Pipes $12
Okay, Scout is awesome. Scout can learn your child’s name and favorite things for personalized learning in 15+ activities. Plus, Scout has 40+ learning songs, melodies and lullabies. If only Scout could put away laundry.
Even if you’re not in water play weather, you will be soon enough and this is a real winner. I love that it’s not too big so you can move it into the shade and dump it at the end of the day so it doesn’t grow sea monkeys.
Nothing beats hours (okay minutes) of fun like a cause and effect toy. This one is sturdy and the doors are less likely to fail causing a kid meltdown. It’s been around for a while and it’s a tried and true toy.
Pinhole Press $25
Kids are freakishly amazing at memory games (probably because they aren’t burdened with 20 years of t.v. jingles) so these make a really lovely to remember all the special people in their lives.
These have a ton of play value. There are shapes at the bottom of each egg that fits in the bottom. Kids can match the top of the shell to the bottom and they squeak. These will drive you crazy but kids love them.
I love that they can play with the animals before they’ve mastered the puzzle part.
Depending on the age of your child, this may be jumping the gun, but these little cars are fantastic when you have a blossoming walker that doesn’t dig the stroller. It’s easy to get in and out of and kids love catching this ride to the park.
You may feel like a mirror is just ‘meh’ but you know who else thinks your baby is the cutest, most interesting person on the planet? Yep, your baby. It does a whole bunch of cognitive stuff but, most importantly, it keeps your baby interested.
I saw this at a Baby Show and even I was totally mesmerized by it. Each time you add a gear to the spool it gently spins down. It’s easy to thread so there’s no frustration factor too. It’s a winner.
Board books are the best. They are durable, short little stories that kids love. He are some of my faves that are tried and true but without the really popular ones like Guess How Much I Love You, Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny because most people have those. If you read this site for any amount of time you know how much I love I Am a Bunny. BEST. BOOK. EVER!
Not only do wagons come in handy for carting kids around, they come in handy for carting crap around too.
$20 on Amazon
This sweet elephant can hold toys, pacifiers, and whatever else your kid can’t live without at the moment.
These are great for home, the bath, the beach, you name it. The stack and nest and one even has holes for water.
These are inexpensive and tons of fun. Babies love the feel of them, plus, they are safe to chew on.
LeapFrog does an excellent job of figuring out what kids love. This little musical table is no exception.
Dolls like this are great because they are loved and used for a long time so you get a ton of play out of them.
You can take it apart, the balls have little shaker stuff in them AND you can drop it like it’s hot. What more could you want?
$20 on Amazon
Hey, ya need a place to put all this stuff.
These guys convert any cup or glass into a sippy cup. It’s a handy thing to have on the go too.
These towels are huge so you can use them all the way up to toddlerhood.
$20 on Amazon
These are easy to clean and hard to throw so mealtime stays fun for everyone.
I fully recognize that this look like a torture device (I felt the same way when I saw it) but this thing is magic and babies LOVE it and so do parents. You can use it in the tub or a pool too.
If you’re just about to move out of the infant seat stage nothing says “great gift” like a new car seat.
My kids each got a personalized like this and I use it all the time. I’ve used it to for toys, extra clothes for preschool, and overnighters. Be sure to get the zip top so it doesn’t tip over and you have little socks everywhere. LL Bean also makes one so be sure to check them out to compare styles.
Especially great for keeping track of jackets, hats and sippies at daycare (or at the park).
These little chairs have a long shelf life. My kids read, played and even slept in them. My husband is actually sitting in one right now playing a video game — I kid you not.
Today’s infant toy storage can become tomorrow’s Lego storage.
These are awesome. It’s a cold compress you keep in the freezer. It gets nice and cold but not “ouchy cold”, you know what I mean?
Just keep asking for these until you stop having babies. You can’t have too many.
I have mixed feelings about zoos, but there’s no denying that kids love them. Zoos are just plain fun and when you’re wracking your brain about where to go to get out of the house, this is always a hit.
Fish are soothing and it’s a damn nice place to hang out on a rainy day.
A photo session with a local photographer is always a wonderful gift. Obviously, the price range is pretty big between photographers but you can usually find something to fit everyone’s budget.
There are some really incredible apps out there for babies and toddlers, so if you’re lucky enough to own an Apple device this is always a good ask.
You get a little stuffed chick, certificate, card, etc. too. There are all kinds of animals you can adopt so it could be cool if a particular animal had special meaning. You can even adopt a raccoon (WTF?!)
Some of the gifts you can donate here are really incredible and truly life changing. You can even sponsor a child the same age as yours.
A local hang out that offers fun classes is always a great gift.
Get ’em in the water and swimming early.
Swim diapers are an awesome alternative to disposables. No one wants a pool “fouling”
These sweet little flowers have special little clips that can gently hold on to the wispiest hair.
These come in little mary janes, ballet slippers, etc. They are beyond adorable.
These are the best damn baby boots. They are warm. They never come off and they cover up the bare spot between the top of your socks and the bottom of your pants. They are also great for indoor slippers.
Any baby that needs to transition out of swaddling will love this little sleep suit because it’s heavy enough to muffle their reflexive startles that tend to wake them up.
Whew! What else would you add? Let me know in the comments!