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Best First Birthday Gifts
Updated on
October 30, 2023

Best First Birthday Gifts

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Best First Birthday Gifts.
Best First Birthday Gifts

Welcome to toddlerhood! Your baby turning one is an exciting milestone that’s definitely worth celebrating. Once you’ve finished planning their first birthday bash and ordered the smash cake, it’s time to pick out a gift. You’re sure to get a bit more of a reaction than from their newborn gifts!

Most one-year-olds have started developing their own unique interests, but they’re typically not picky when it comes to things to play with (most would be perfectly content with a cardboard box and tissue paper). The best first birthday gifts are open-ended, will grow with your toddler and ideally offer some developmental benefits.

Although it can feel a bit awkward to some parents, creating a birthday wishlist to share with your guests is helpful for giving them ideas when shopping and letting them know what your toddler is currently interested in.

Whether you’re looking for something sentimental, educational or just plain fun, here are our favorite first birthday gifts that are loved by child development experts, parents and (most importantly) toddlers.

Babylist’s Top Picks for the Best First Birthday Gifts

Play Kit Subscription

Subscriptions are an excellent gift for a developing child. Lovevery’s Play Kits feature a set of high-quality Montessori-inspired toys and activities that are curated based on your child’s developmental stage. Each kit comes with a Play Guide that teaches parents how and when to introduce each toy in the kit, as well as the key areas of development they’ll help grow.

A Book Club Membership

Now that you’ve got a toddler on your hands, it might be time to add some new titles to their library. And what better way to discover new favorites than a monthly box of books curated based on age. Each month, Literati sends five books plus cute personalized stickers, art and surprise extras. Simply keep what interests your toddler and send the rest back. You’ll only be charged for the books you keep plus a monthly membership fee of $9.95.

Building Blocks

Wooden blocks are a classic open-ended toy and this colorful set is sure to provide tons of entertainment. Building blocks are also a great example of a toy that’ll encourage learning through play. As they’re having fun making towers and knocking them down, they’re also developing their fine motor skills, problem-solving skills and creativity.

Another Building Toy

These colorful tiles are another must-have for toddlers’ building supplies. They’re great for fine motor skills, spatial awareness (as they build flat and 3D figures) as well as color recognition. They even create a really cool stained-glass effect if you place them near a window or on a light table. Magnatiles also makes sets with dinosaurs, safari animals and construction vehicles to add to their collection as they grow older.

A Musical Toy

Unleash your toddler’s inner virtuoso with this fun magic touch wooden piano. It features two modes—either freestyle their own tunes or play along with classic melodies. They’ll also get to practice hand-eye coordination and color recognition by using the included sheets of music to play. There’re also two volume options so you can crank it up when they’re ready for a grand performance.

To Spark Creativity

Every budding artist needs their own easel and this pick provides the perfect blank canvas no matter the medium. One side features a dry-erase board while the other has a chalkboard. Or you can use the included clips to hang up easel paper for painting or drawing. There’s also a convenient tray on either side for holding paint cups and other art supplies. Don’t forget your splat mat and smock for easier cleanup!

Personalized Board Book

Artifact Uprising’s custom board books are not only sturdy enough to stand up to little hands, they’re fully customizable——you can upload your own photos and customize the layout and text on each page. And there’s no limit to how creative you can get! Write your little one a story about their first year, recount all of their sweet “firsts”, tell them all of your favorite things about them or write about all of their favorite things—the options are endless. Plus, personalized gifts end up being lifelong keepsakes.

Custom Name Puzzle

Puzzles are good for getting those little brains and fingers working and this custom name puzzle makes such great gift. This puzzle’s rainbow letters are engaging and on the larger size which makes them easier for toddlers to manipulate. It’s made from high-quality wood and each letter is painted on both sides with non-toxic paint. We also love the wooden stand for displaying when they’re not playing with it.

A New Friend

Playing with dolls inspires both imagination and creativity and also encourages the development of social-emotional skills. This doll features a soft, cuddly body and an adorable dress with an embroidered toucan.

For Pretend Play

Toddlers really enjoy imitating whatever they see adults around them doing. Which is why they’ll love this wooden fruit set. Each half is connected with velcro, allowing toddlers to practice “cutting” the fruit. This set also makes a fun addition to a play kitchen.

An Activity Walker

Toddlers love to push things around, so they’re bound to enjoy this activity center on wheels. Even if they’re not quite walking on their own yet, they’ll have fun practicing while cruising around with this push toy. And when they’re not taking it on the go, the built-in activities on the front (like the maze, shape sorter and detachable wooden cell phone) will keep them entertained.

A Pull Along Toy

Toddlers also love to pull things. This little train offers so many ways to play. It comes with 17 colorful geometric blocks that can help your toddler learn both shapes and colors, as well as practice fine motor skills while building and stacking.

A New Ride

Every brand-new toddler needs their own sweet ride. From the signature eyes to the bright red and yellow colors, the Cozy Coupe has been a favorite for generations. The car features 360-degree wheels for easy maneuvering and a removable floorboard plus a handle at the back so parents can safely push their little one without dragging any feet. And when they’re ready to drive on their own, simply remove the floor and they’re able to ride around Flinstone-style.

Their First Bike

Balance bikes pose a ton of benefits for young toddlers, including building confidence and coordination. This Jovy option is a great introductory bike since it’s low to the ground and has thicker wheels for a sturdy yet smooth ride. Its handlebar also has a 135-degree steering limit to help prevent sharp turns (and toppling over). Just be sure to grab a helmet and they’ll be ready to roll!

A Climber

Toddlers are notorious for climbing any and everything. It turns out it’s not only fun for them (and nerve-wracking for you), it’s actually good for their gross motor development. This Pikler triangle gives them a safe structure to explore. It also folds up for easy storage and comes with a fun double-sided ramp that they can climb or slide on.

A Ball Pit

Bring the play place (minus the germs) to your home with this cute foam ball pit. Its smaller size lets it fit into your living room, playroom or toddler’s bedroom without taking up too much space. It comes with 200 balls but you can add as many of the soft plastic balls as your toddler can handle (and you’re willing to pick up). The cover zips off for easy cleaning and since it’s memory foam you can compress it down and store it away when you need a break from wrangling up the balls.

A Bounce House

This mini bounce house will make an exciting addition to your toddler’s playroom. It features mesh walls so your little one can safely bounce (around without tumbling out) and is small enough to fit in your living room or playroom (about 4.5 feet by 4.5 feet). Setting it up and taking it down also is super easy. The whole thing blows up in just three minutes and stays inflated without a blower, which makes it a lot quieter than other options out there. And when you’re ready to put it away, it deflates with the push of a button and packs up easily for storing.

A Cozy Nook

Whether it turns into a playhouse, reading nook, rocketship or anything else they dream up, a play tent is the perfect gift to spark all kinds of imaginary play. This one from 3 Sprouts is easy to assemble and comes in neutral colors that’ll fit in with your home decor.

A Play Table

This versatile toddler-sized table and chairs set is sure to become an everyday staple in your home. It’s the perfect spot to do crafts, work on puzzles or have a snack. Parents appreciate the smaller footprint and modern, minimal design.

Briana Engelbrecht

Assistant Editor

Briana Engelbrecht is Babylist’s Assistant Editor, where she brings her passion for early childhood development and the perinatal period, plus experience as a mom of two to Babylist articles and guides. A former preschool teacher, she loves children’s picture books, cats, plants and making things.

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