Picture this: You’re thumbing through the mail and find an invitation to a 1-year-old’s birthday! It’s little Johnny’s first birthday and you are invited! You check the calendar and everything looks great to be able to attend . . . now, what do you buy for a 1-year-old birthday gift?
We’ve all been there with a birthday invite and then completely blank on unique gift ideas, whether it has been a minute since you’ve had a 1-year-old, you don’t have any children of your own, or you just need some fresh ideas: I am here to help!
What Makes for an Age-Appropriate 1-Year-Old Birthday Gift?
Before I give you a list of options for a 1-year-old’s birthday gift ideas, it might be helpful if you know what types of milestones a 1-year-old should be hitting and then decide on a toy that will be helpful to their development, but also fun!
Best Developmentally Appropriate Gifts
By one year of age, a child will start to enjoy the experience of having a parent or other adult play with their toys with them. They may begin to bring you things to play with, such as cars, baby dolls, or the beloved play phone (“ring-ring”–everyone answers the phone no matter what!). Storybooks with bright pictures, interesting characters, or the “touch and feel” books are a great idea to keep the child interested all the way through. One-year-olds enjoy peek-a-boo and patty cake, and there are plenty of toy options that sing or play games with them.
- Set of 4 Push and Go Friction Powered Car Toys
- Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Jenna
- Fisher-Price Classics – Chatter Phone
- Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? (Board Book)
- The Rainbow Fish (Board Book)
- Baby Animals (Board Book)
- VTech Touch & Teach Elephant With 16 Interactive Story Pages
Best Toys for Cognitive Development and Motor Skills
Cognitive development is starting to take off at this age, as well. Cognitive development is the thought process of remembering, problem-solving, and decision making. They want to explore more on their own and learn every little thing about what they are playing with, such as what happens when you throw, bang, or shake the object. Handheld toys that are easy to grasp are perfect for practicing these skills!
Best Gifts for Facilitating Pretend Play
Playing pretend is also fun for young toddlers. Toys that facilitate pretend play include dolls, pets with pet carriers, doctor kit, camping sets, kitchens, shopping carts, play food, and playhouses. All of the things that mimic what they see mom or dad doing every day are things they want to play with, like playing with remotes, phones, laptops, and tablets. Lots of these toys have lessons built into them with songs and music to teach kids colors, numbers, shapes, and letters.
- Little Tikes Grocery Store Shopping Cart
- Manhattan Toy Baby Stella Doll
- Manhattan Toy Nursing Pets Plush Toy
- Aurora Unicorn Fancy Pals Pet Carrier
- Fisher-Price Medical Kit with Doctor Health Bag Playset
- New Sprouts Camp Out Toy
- KidKraft Uptown Natural Wooden Play Kitchen
- Little Tikes Shopping Cart
- Melissa & Doug Cutting Fruit Set
- KidKraft Garden View Outdoor Playhouse
- Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Puppy’s Remote with Light-up Screen
- Chat & Count Smart Phone
- VTech Brilliant Baby Laptop
- My First Learning Tablet
Gifts with a Practical Edge
To go a step further with these ideas, pick something up to keep your chosen gift organized. When my boys get Play-Doh, I love it when it comes in a bin, so I can throw it all into it when they are done. That way, it’s all away and on the shelf, and when they want it again, I can just grab one bin. They received a set of puzzles one year, and it came with a stand so that after they were done, we could slide each puzzle into the slot and put it up on the shelf, and everything was together. Bath toys that have a net to go in after bath time are helpful to keep the clutter from becoming overwhelming in our small bathroom.
The Gift of Experience
If parents are opting for no gifts or more of an “experience” based gift, passes to the zoo, a local water park or splash pad, Legoland, or local indoor play park would be fun and something the whole family could enjoy later. Ask the parents about any upcoming vacations or classes they are taking and help either with the fee or equipment that’s needed. For example, if they are going to be taking a swim class, you could get them a new swimsuit or cute towel and a wet bag to throw their wet clothes in after class. It is helpful to the parents and fun to know you played a part in an activity they love.
Miscellaneous Fun Gifts for a 1-Year-Old
- Crawl-thru tunnels
- Little People house
- Teepee tent
- Musical instruments
- Plastic sandbox
- Character plates or bowls
- Sippy cups
- Toddler-sized table and chairs
- An oversized chair their size
- Ball pit
- Little Tikes car
- Farm animals with a barn
- Water and sand table
- Fisher-Price corn popper
- Magnetic blocks
- Plastic pool
- Basketball hoop
- Foam letters and numbers
- Magnetic doodle board
Something to make Mom and Dad’s Life Easier:
A fun gift option that is more for the parents is offering a couple of nights a year of volunteering for child care. You could wrap up cute coupons or just a calendar marked with “date nights” written in, anytime free child care is an option with people we love, and trust makes for a much more enjoyable date night, and the trade-off of hanging out with a sweet little one isn’t so bad either.
Whether you opt for a traditional toy or a not so traditional “experience” gift (read more), or just the gift of your time, I hope some of these ideas sparked something new for you and leaves you feeling excited to attend this birthday party with confidence in the choice you picked!
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