Thinking Out of the Box Gift Ideas for Baby’s First Birthday


I think we all can agree that a one year old baby would be happy with an empty cardboard box or a toilet paper roll for their birthday. Heck, even my five and two-year-old were entertained for an hour by a long piece of yarn the other day. Little kids don’t need much.

Not only do one-year-olds not care what you get them for their birthday, but their needs are limited. While toys are possibly the easiest and most popular option for gifting to a child on their first birthday, why not think outside the box?

  1. Gift Card

True, gift cards may seem like a cop out, but if you are intentional about them, they can still be meaningful. Instead of a generic box-store gift card, switch it up with one for iTunes so your media-loving friends can purchase a new movie for their baby or create a new nighttime music playlist. For the friend who never has time to print out or hang photos, get them a Shutterfly or Mixtiles gift card. If the baby’s parents are more into fashion, try a gift card to a baby boutique that they wouldn’t normally spend their own money on.

  1. Bedroom Décor

Sure, many parents spend lots of time preparing a nursery for their newborn baby, but when the child hits that one year mark, they might start feeling ready for some less baby-ish décor. Since many one-year-olds are just learning to stand, a cute growth chart like this would be a fun option.

  1. Birthplace Map

My husband just ordered these for my kids, so I can confirm they are very meaningful and a perfect gift for the child of your sentimental friend. Several sites sell customizable maps of where the baby was born and you can add other info like name, birthdate, or GPS coordinates. They are cute, meaningful, and unique!

  1. Big Kid Items

Babies are going through so many transitions around their first birthday. Capitalize on these changes by gifting them with functional items that parents will love and will make the birthday boy or girl feel like a big kid. Some possibilities are a toddler sized pillow with a fun pillowcase, colorful and easy-to-hold toothbrushes, sippy cups for when they are transitioning off the bottle (my kids loved these from Munchkin), or large hooded bath towels. Extra points for personalizing them with the kiddo’s name.     

  1. Membership

Instead of a tangible item, give the gift that keeps on giving: a membership to a fun local spot. My favorites around here for one-year-olds are Teeny Town Playland in Litchfield Park and Luv 2 Play in Phoenix.

  1. Puzzle Stool

Stools are perfect for one-year-olds, who within a few months will be using them frequently for reaching all kinds of things around the house. My kids both have these personalized stools from Damhorst Toys and they use them all. the. time. You really can’t beat a gift that’s both functional and educational!

  1. Soft Shoes

Many one-year-olds are just getting the hang of walking, and hard soled shoes are tough on baby feet during this stage. Pediped has some adorable and practical shoes that are great for little ones. You can also find Robeez brand at Target at a lower price point.

  1. OK, I know I said to forget about toys..

…but small, entertaining toys for parents to keep in the diaper bag will be a huge hit. These magnetic wooden blocks and cars are some of my favorites. Small enough for the purse, but not so small that you have to worry about baby chewing on them a bit.

Remember, just because a one-year-old doesn’t know or care what you get them for their birthday doesn’t mean you should forgo any effort when choosing a gift. Instead of blowing it off, transition your thinking to focus more on what may actually be useful to the parents of a one-year-old. The baby will most certainly reap the benefits of the grateful parents!


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