If you’re the kind of person who already has toys and outfits picked out that you want to give your friends who have babies, you don’t need this post. This is for people who have no idea what a one-year-old likes and need to give their nephew something.
There are some kinds of presents I think you should avoid unless parents request them:
- Presents that imply a particular parenting strategy—the baby carrier you loved may not work for parents who want to use a stroller, or vice versa, and then they’ll feel weird for not using it.
- Presents that make electronic noises, because the child will find them fascinating long after the parents have lost their minds. (Jeff has been known to cut the wires in such cases.)
- Toys that take up a lot of space.
So here are some ideas:
- Really, presents at this age are mostly for the parents, so pretty much get them anything they requested.
- Default for baby shower: A gift certificate to Target, Amazon, or whatever the big-box store is near you. My sister said she was apprehensive about giving a gift card to a friend, until the friend breathed, “Oh my God, thank you, we’re so broke.”
- Clothes for 9-month-olds. Everyone gives you 0-6 month clothes when your baby is born and after that you’re on your own. Think ahead to what the weather will be like in 9 months.
- Balls of various kinds
- Grabby things
- Stacking rings
- Pull toy (alligator, caterpillar, snake) for when they’re walking.
- Bath toys: I really like these whale scoops and duck scoops.
- Sidewalk chalk
- Large rubber balls like they sell at the dollar store
- Books: Kids this age aren’t so good at following a storyline, particularly if the pictures are of the same characters talking to each other over and over. Lily has loved books with pictures of different objects, pictures of babies, and pictures of animals. Goodnight Gorilla has enough animals to be interesting to kids with no understanding of plot, and a plot illustrated rather than told so Lily can follow it at 19 months – “Night night. Key! Open!” (Of course, she also considers the banana integral to the plot, which it is not.) At 20 months she got into Richard Scarry and Sandra Boynton.
- Some kind of soft animal or doll – lots of kids seem to latch onto a toy they got for their first birthday (Jeff still has his much-repaired polar bear).
Note that we don’t need any of these things because we already have them.