Coming up with baby gift ideas – even gifts for infants – is hard! I think we all understand that babies don’t want or really need anything, but people really want to recognize special occasions.
So I put my own list together of great gifts for kids under one. It was a little tricky because shopping for an infant is different from shopping for a 10-month old but I tried to make it fairly universal for anyone in their first year of life.
Here are my criteria for baby gift ideas:
- 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 baby essentials like diapers, some people just want to buy a cool toy
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
Lovevery play kits and gym have a bit of a cult following so their block set is a pretty safe bet. The set contains 70 heirloom quality pieces that work with each other in more than 20 stage-based activities. You can find the block set here.
It’s a puppet, it’s a bath mitt, it’s something awesome to chew on! It’s a great baby gift idea. Shop here.
pipSquigz Loops may look like a randomly-shaped piece of silicone, but it has different textures, rattle rings, and a variety of places to grab and chew. Plus, they suction cups onto the table, which helps eliminate the “throw this down so mom has to pick it up” game. If you're looking for a toy, you can't go wrong with Fat Brain. The store is full of well-curated educational toys and there are very few stinkers. Shop them on the Fat Brain site or here on Amazon.
Some of the best baby gift ideas aren’t even toys. 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). JJ Cole also makes one that's a little more wallet-friendly. Shop here.
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. Shop here.
Skip Hop’s cute and colorful Ride-On Toy offers three ways to play: walk, ride and scoot. Stage one is wagon mode—a great spot for favorite toys, too. Stage two, the wagon’s storage tub converts to a seat for ride-on mode. Stage three, the whole kit and caboodle converts into a scooter. A child can play with it for a long time making it a wonderful baby gift idea. They make a puppy and a fox version too. You can find it on the Skip Hop site and on Amazon.
If your child doesn’t have an Oball, snap one of these suckers up. They are easy to grip and whip around with little damage if you take them in the face. Kids love ’em. Shop here.
These sweet little custom board books are 3″ x 3″ and feature your baby’s photo in a variety of illustrations. It’s a unique baby gift idea and there are four books to choose from. You can customize them here.
This colorful selection of this pretend play food set holds a pineapple, banana, strawberry, a slice of watermelon, apple, pear and orange. Each fruit peel-able details and teach your little one about colors, shapes and different characteristics of fruits. Shop it here.
As I mentioned off the top, these award-winning play gyms have a bit of a cult following. It’s made from sustainable material and comes with Organic Cotton High Contrast Montessori Ball, a sustainably-sourced wooden batting ring and an organic cotton teether with BPA-free silicone ring. You can find them here.
Boon makes great bath toys. They have tons of play value and don’t get filled with scuzz. You can shop them all here.
These are the best 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. Shop here.
Even if you’re not in water play weather, you will be soon enough and this is a real winner as a baby gift idea. 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. Shop here.
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 gift to remember all the special people in their lives. Shop here.
Attach your favorite toy, soother or sippy, then stick the Busy Baby Mat to any clean, smooth surface to end the ‘toddler toss’. (Think highchair, restaurant table, door, coffee table – it even folds on itself so you can use it on a grocery cart, stroller bar, etc..) When you’re done, simply roll it up and pop it in your diaper bag. You can find them here.
These have a ton of play value and improve recognition of colors and shapes. 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. Shop here.
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. They come in different styles and colors too! Shop here.
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. Shop here.
These cool climbers can be configured into a variety of playtime combinations. They are suitable for crawlers all the way up to daredevils and do a great job of building self-confidence, motor skill development, balance control, and muscle growth (with minimal risk to head injuries). They are definitely a hot ticket item amongst parents of young children. The Pikler triangle I've shown is from Avenlur at Target, but you can find other versions on Amazon and Etsy.
I saw this at a Baby Show and 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. You can find it on the Fat Brain site or on Amazon here.
Board books are the best baby gift. They are durable, short little stories that kids love. Skip the really popular ones like Guess How Much I Love You, Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny because most people have those. Check out Best Books for Babies (Including Some Hidden Gems) for some great ideas. If you read this site for any amount of time you know how much I love I Am a Bunny. BEST. BOOK. EVER!
Children’s book subscription that focuses on diversity and gender equality. Yes, it’s a great gift for baby boys too. Shop here.
These are great for home, the bath, the beach, you name it. It includes 9 multicolored stacking cups and 1 bucket with a handy handle that holds them all. You can find them on Amazon.
LeapFrog does an excellent job of figuring out what kids love. This little musical table is no exception. I found this one on Amazon.
These are easy to clean and hard to throw so mealtime stays fun for everyone. They make 100% silicone mats, bowls and accessories. You see a lot of knock offs out there but ezpz is the OG. Their entire line is amazing. Shop here.
My kids each got a personalized bag like this and I use it all the time. I’ve used it for toys, extra clothes for preschool, and overnighters. I found these on Minted and they come in a variety of styles and patterns. Pottery Barn Kids makes really nice ones as well!
Especially great for keeping track of jackets, hats and sippies at daycare (or at the park). Minted make the nicest ones. Shop here.
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. Shop here.
Today’s infant toy storage can become tomorrow’s Lego storage. Shop them at IKEA here.
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? They have a turtle, an owl, and a butterfly. Shop here.
These one-piece memory foam playmats are engineered with no overwhelming patterns or colors, no small, fiddly pieces, and only using the highest quality foam built to last the rough and tumble of family life. You can find them on their site.
These are fun and heaven knows organizing baby clothes is a damn nightmare. Shop here.
Swim diapers are an awesome alternative to disposables. No one wants a pool “fouling”. The whole Green Sprouts swim and sun line is amazing if you wanted to get a whole outfit. Shop here.
This highly coveted play couch is made up of four foam pieces (base, cushion, and two triangle pillows), and covered in a microsuede fabric cover in the color of your choice. It has an infinite number of configurations and doesn't look icky in a living room. The Nugget is the OG but you can find less expensive versions on Amazon.
These come in little mary janes, ballet slippers, skater shoes, cowboy boots, etc. They are beyond adorable and don’t fall off like shoes can. Shop here.
These guys really do make gorgeous sleepers and pajamas. I love that they have zippers instead of snaps too (they were my nemesis when I was a new mom doing late night diaper changes.) Shop here.
Lightweight, durable, and perfect for towing around their favorite toys. Green Toys are made in the USA from 100% recycled plastic and are safe and durable for indoor/outdoor play. They have no BPA, phthalates, PVC or paint AND they are dishwasher safe. The whole line is amazing. You can shop the wagon here.
Part-teether, part-puzzle, the OombeeCube is a durable, multi-textured educational toy that can keep your tot entertained while they chew, squish, and problem solve. As a bonus, the puzzle pieces don’t come off, making it a perfect high chair toy to bring to a restaurant without worrying about anything dropping on the floor. Shop here on the Fat Brain site or on Amazon.
These alphabet letter by BannorToys are just so lovely. Shop here.
Tubby Todd makes really nice natural products. I love this as a gift because you don’t need to gift wrap it as it comes in this cool box. This set comes with Hair & Body Wash, Everyday Lotion, Baby Massage Oil, Baby Fresh Spray, and their cult-classic All Over Ointment (I reviewed it in this post). Shop here.
Hatley makes these beautiful splash jackets that change color when they get wet. They also make umbrellas and rain boots if you want a full color-changing ensemble. You can find them all on the Hatley site.
High contrast art cards not only appeal to babies but would also make really cool nursery decor. Shop here.
Babies hit a stage where they love to put things in and take things out (this often involves your toilet) so toys like this have a long shelf life. Squishy and fun when they are wee, and in and out good times when they are older. Shop here.
These are chew-proof, rip-proof, nontoxic, 100% washable books for babies that are surprisingly soft and flexible. They are great for the bath, car, outside or to pop in your diaper bag. There are a ton of titles and are fun to read. You can find all the titles here on Amazon.
These are the best dolls. Despite being all fancy and French, they are a perfect size and, because the body is soft, they are extremely loveable. I bought one of these for my friend’s daughter and she hauls it everywhere. Shop here.
Growth chart that can stay up after they have outgrown fairies and fire engines but haven’t outgrown *growing*. You can find all the designs Etsy has to offer here.
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 baby gift idea. Obviously, the price range is pretty big between photographers but you can usually find something to fit everyone’s budget.
You know how I love the idea of this kind of gift. Instead of getting a gift for your newborn who is happy to stare at jingling keys, why not get them something that will save kids in other countries? Some people may not like the “no gift to open” factor on this one, but some may love the gesture this brings. (For more gifts along this line, check out my Baby Gifts That Give Back post.)
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?!) Shop here.
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. Shop here.
Creative Classes for Kids
A local hangout that offers fun classes is always a great baby gift idea (that often helps with the sanity of new parents too).
Get ’em in the water and swimming early.
What do you think are the best gifts for kids under one?
Is there a piece of baby gear that you love? Something specific for family members or newborn baby gifts? Let me know in the comments!
Our next reco: The Best Gifts for a New Mom