10 Perfect First Birthday Gifts

by - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

baby boy on his first birthday

One of the unexpected things about having a baby is that you end up with a gaggle of baby friends. This turns out to save your sanity, but for the first time ever, we are looking down the barrel of a first birthday party season. My niece will turn one at the end of the month, so we are starting to look for her as well. The first of the birthday parties is in a few weeks (and they last until into December), but unlike wedding season, we are not seasoned vets.

 We don't know what we are doing! Having a baby only sort of helps!

For first birthdays before, I think we got the babies clothes? Probably niceish clothes because I figured that it's easier to splurge if you aren't responsible for the whole wardrobe. I know I bought my niece Aubrey a purple tutu which she preferred to wear on her head (in my defense, that's some damn foresight, because she woulud love it as a kindergartener)! Now as a parent, I have some ideas of what might make good gifts (most of which we own, so I can vouch for them).
replay forks and spoons
Replay from Amazon

1. Eating Tools, Snack Storage, and Sippy Cups- Toys make great or at least cute presents, but as a mom, I now live in fear of them taking over our house. I feel like if the first birthday party truly celebrates the survival of the parents, help them continue to survive by buying actually useful things while the baby is too small to care anyway. These little ones will quickly grow out of their veggie mush and baby bottles, so getting the next phase of eating stuff could be fun and helpful! It may not seem like a fun gift, but the Bub carried around a spoon for two+ hours today, so he would tell you differently. Sometimes these simple gifts which are useful to the parent can be the most interesting to a curious little one year old.

Green Eats sells all recycled, Made in the USA silverware set that we already use all the time with our adventurous eater. The spoons are my favorite. They also makes all kinds of bright, affordable, and earth-friendly plates and bowls.

I think Re-play has the best selection of sippy cups, some of which we might buy for the Bub. They have some really simple sets that I think would be perfect (and are clearly well-loved). If the baby or his/her parents are obsessed with their lifefactory glass bottles (like I am), you could get them the sippy cup tops, so those same bottles can last multiple years (I think you owuld have to be pretty close to know that). If you want something with a little more pizazz, maybe get them one of these cute Lollaland bird sippy cups!

I know buying people snack storage may sound like the absolute worst, but I think this might be the ultimate first birthday gift. Awesome for the parents, fun for the baby, good for the Earth that baby will one day inherit. We have these stackable containers from Kids Konserve, and we use them every day to lug around cheerios and raisins (The Bub enjoys using them to bang on things on the daily). I can't even imagine how many zip loc bags we will bypass just with these three little cylinders of greatness. I would love to receive a second set or even a different snack set like this Snack Stack from Re-play, because I know things get lost, but I am hopeful we can use these throughout his cheerio-laden early years.

2. Clothes- If you want to give a kickass gift of clothing, I have two very important tips for you. First, buy in a variety of sizes (12-18, 18-24, and 2T maybe?), because parents of babies are always thinking ahead to the next size. Second, buy basics and one cool thing, avoid cutesy sets or outfits that can't really be used on a regular basis. We always need pants, socks, and pajamas. We are in less need of baby suits or foofy dresses (moms of girls please let me know what you think is most useful). We have no need for anything that says "Daddy's Future Accountant" or the like. Babies are cute on their own, so you don't have to point out how cute they are.

About 90-95% of the Bub's wardrobe is used (either a gift from my amazing cousin or bought in consignment), and I know I would think it was cool if people bought clothing items at places like these for gifts. For example, you can buy one super cute button up onesie on the Gap for about 30 bucks. Or you can buy 5 or 6 of them in consignment for the same amount of money. You can get a lot more bang for your buck!

Like I said, I loved buying the babies I knew cute things from the Gap, because they really do have adorable stuff. But they aren't ethical at all. They waste fossil fuel travelling a long way and have pretty unimpressive labor standards. Now, I've replaced their clothes with adorable (and completely reasonably priced) basics from LA-Made City Threads or fair trade companies like Pact.

onesies from etsy.
from Garbella on Etsy
 If you want to get something with a bit more impact, you have lots of great options as well! Winter Water Factory makes one pieces, pajamas, and dresses in really unique adorable prints.

On Etsy, you can get all kinds of baby leggings that are basically the cutest things ever. If Etsy trends are any indication, all toddlers will be wearing these- my favorite came from Lola and Stella, but you can also find cool designs at Hazel and Holly, Haus of Zoe, Hold You Me, Skuttlebum, and Lucky Palm Tree.

Baby Bear Threads,  Garbella, Oh Little Rabbit, and First Love Threads sell adorable t shirts and onesies. Garbella won my heart with their pierogi onesies. I am slightly obsessed with the baby clothes (especially the cuffed jeans) at Mabel Retro out of Vancouver. Lindsey Lee sells super cute Dino hoodies that might be perfect.

 I can't speak for other moms, but I freaking love baby hats and hair stuff, so I feel like this would make for a fun gift. You can get hats for bubs their size in basically every design known to man- pineapple, Yoda, viking, lions, truly anything.  I also love the turban headbands that are very in right now and keep unruly little girls' hair in line (though in general, I support unruly little girls' anything). Haus of Zoe, Hazel and Holly, miniwhatnots, Princessory, Lucky Palm Tree,

blowing bubbles
3. Bubbles- They easily fit in your diaper bag and are endly fascinating to small people. Not expensive, but sometimes the simplest gift is the one that kicks everything else's ass. I think bubbles are the gift that makes the baby ignore all the fancy plastic Fisher Price nonsense. A perfect little addition to any gift. 
uncle goose blocks
Uncle Goose on Amazon
4. Uncle Goose Nursery Rhyme Blocks- This company sells many great sets of good old fashioned wooden blocks, all of which would make a beautiful gift, but I LOVE our nursery rhyme blocks, because it opens up multiple avenues for play and learning at once. We can build towers and I read the nursery rhymes off the block as we do it (I forgot them all). I imagine Uncle Goose as Mother Goose's kid brother, so it serves reason that he make this spectacularly cool block set for those of us who need a nursery rhyme refresher. They also make regular alphabet blocks and ones in other languages for all the bilingual babies out there!

5. Books- If you want to buy board books, I recommend looking at children's consignment stores first, because board books are almost all printed elsewhere. If you want something tactile, you can get soft quiet books at Etsy stores like Rose in Bloom Creations. On the other hand, most regular children's books are still printed in the US, so you can support children's writers, illustrators, and publishers. Books never get old as a gift, as the Bub and I read at least 3 books a day (2 are the same and 1 of those is epically stupid, but he loves it).It's a gift that benefits everyone. And don't get goodnight moon, because every one year old you know already has it. Same with that book meant just to make moms cry.

 I would recommend going to a local bookstore for recommendations- there are still kids bookstores lots of places and lots of people have very helpful opinions to share. There are so many children's books out there, and many of them prove just how hard it is to write children's books. I am no expert, but a few of our favorites so far are The Pout Pout Fish, Giraffes Can't Dance, Pigeon Wants a Puppy, and The Monster at the End of this Book. Dr. Seuss never gets old. We also love all the Little Critter books, The Day the Crayons Quit, and a bunch of books left over from when I was a kid. Going to show, for the millionth time, that kids could care less if something is new.


6. Date Night Gift Card (and babysitting?) for the Parents- Happy parents = happy baby. It's another one of those gifts that encourages family survival, so I am all about it. I have thought about putting a coupon for one night of free babysitting in each of the birthday cards, because sometimes people need a reason to go for it, but a dinner out (or going to a movie, do you know how much new parents miss going to the movies?) might make a perfect gift!

green toys pink dump truck
Green Toys on Amazon
7. Green Toys Tug Boat, Airplane, or Kitchen Set- When I found out we were having a boy, I had waking nightmares of trucks, hot wheels, and Larry the Cable Guy as an old truck. Eeek! Still, if you are going to get the little one some toys (even horrifying ones with wheels), it won't get better than Green Toys. These gems are made in the US out of recycled plastic. With that much good behind them, it's hard to fight with a convertible or boat or helicopter, no matter how tedious I find masculinity in general. I personally love this kitchen set, and am plotting the basket it could live in on ou kitchen floor underneath a desk (A+ parenting, but he likes it back there).

We have 2 Green Toys so far, and they remain beloved by Baby and mother alike. If you want to go the toy route, these are a homerun. I also love their kitchen sets, which we may start getting for the baby to play with while we cook.

If you have another plasticy gift you are dying to give, may I suggest trying Buy Nothing or thrift shopping before you get it? Fisher Price is just the worst for the environment, so even if their toy is oh so cute, it may not be worth it.

8. Artifact Uprising Gift Certificate- I have an addiction, so this feels a little like shouting into the wind that I want cake (I do! I always want cake!), but I think that this makes a good gift for anyone who spawned, because they took lots of pictures in the last year. Artifact Uprising offers lots of products, but even if they just want to put their instagram pictures into an album, the site makes that happen pretty easily.
little wagon
from Amazon

9. A First Wagon or Outdoor Toy- Wagons are a rock solid gift idea, because they will probably need one in the coming year, and children love them. You can also find one used pretty easily. My son loves putting things in things and taking them out over and over again. Those little red wagons are all made in China, so let's look at some other options- Berlin has a wood wagon made in the US. If you want a plastic one, Step2 wagons are listed as Made in the USA and look like the kind of thing you take to a parade.

Other outdoor toys can be real winners as well- Little Tykes still makes about half of their stuff in the US (be sure to check if this matters to you). We have one of their little cars at my Nana's house that was a hand me down when she got it 20 years ago, and it is still a grandchild favorite. So this could make for an awesome gift? Even cooler? Buy an old faded one and refinish it in colors all their own!

Bears for Humanity found on Amazon

10. This Teddy Bear- After doing my research for the babies in our life, this teddy bear and something practical may be the winning combination. The fact that Bears for Humanity even exists makes me feel better about the world. They are made in the US and their filling is even recycled, but best of all, for every bear that is bought, another is donated to a kid in need. You are basically making 2 little ones happy with one purchase. You can get the 20 dollar bears or they have larger 40 dollar ones.  I just love the idea, and I feel like it is doing good on so many levels, so I think we will do this and see how they land. I will let you know, but I highly recommend this if you are thinking about something soft and loveable. This is just awesome.

I would also recommend puppets- we bought an eagle at the consignment store, and our son loves him. Bizarrely, even, because that eagle is always getting kisses. How about a kiss for your mama? I gave you life, for goodness sake.

If you are looking for more gift ideas, shops like Muse and Scripts Gift Co offer all artisan-made, made in America, or ethical gifts. Good places to browse and wish you could buy them all!

Parents of tots, what do you think a perfect first birthday gift is? Do you have one you particularly remember? If you want more shopping inspiration, check out the Giant List of Shopping Lists!

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  1. Great ideas for gifts - i have lots of nieces and nephews so this will come in handy.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Aww so cute for baby gifts...Saw some cool items here too http://lacellebrothers.com/

  4. Great ideas for gifts - i have lots of nieces and nephews so this will come in handy Birthday Gift Ideas For Boy



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