The Ultimate Gift Guide for a One-Year-Old
Shape sorters are the bane of my existence. Sure, they sound like the perfect toys to help make the babies smarter while having fun. But after purchasing different ones and trying for the life of me to lure my baby into playing with them (seriously, I don’t think anyone could have sounded more excited about pushing a block through a hole), I am putting these toys in the donation pile in the garage. When I asked my mom friends about their experiences with these toys, they confirmed the same thing – their babies have no interest whatsoever. Well, unless these toys give off an invisible aura of brain-boosting energy, they are doing my baby no good by just sitting around on the shelves (or most likely, scattered all over the place on the floor).
With Zoe turning 1, I reflected back to toys that my son really loved, as well as the ones she actually plays with for more than 5 minutes at a time right now. I also draw inspiration from fellow mom friends who gave me recommendations on gifts to get for Zoe’s first birthday. What a wonderful walk down memory lane as I looked through thousands of pictures of my son when he was around 1 years old. Time sure passes fast!
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1. VTech Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train – This train is hands-down the best toy purchase we ever made. We got it when Zoe was around 6 months old, and she still plays with it every single day. Before she started crawling and pulling herself up, she sat on the floor and pushed the buttons and flipped the storybook. Now she loves dropping the alphabet blocks down the chute, as well as sitting on the wagon or push the wagon around like a walker. What’s more? My son at 3 years old loves it too! He often rides it around the house with his sister crawling after him, and sometimes, she, unfortunately, gets in the way!
2. Peg Toy – Zoe loves hammering things. Maybe she is frustrated that her brother kept stealing her toys and needs and outlet. Maybe she loves M.C. Hammer. Whatever the reason is, she can sit there and hammer away at the pegs long enough for mommy to load the dishwasher, get a sip of water, and maybe even run to the bathroom alone.
3. Water/Sand Table – When my son was young, he was extremely fussy. Even though he got better as he approached toddlerhood, he was never really a happy baby, with one exception – when he was playing with water. So for the hot summer months, we got a water table in our backyard and that saved us from hours of crying and whining. Now that Zoe is pulling herself up, she can join her brother at the water table and splash to her heart’s content.
4. 4-in-1 Stroll ‘N Trike – I love toys that grow with your kids because you get more bang for your buck. My son got the trike for his first birthday and absolutely loved it. Now that he is 3, he still rides on it except instead of getting pushed around, he actually pedals and uses it as a tricycle. With Zoe’s birthday coming up, we may put the safety tray back on and re-gift it to Zoe, though I have a feeling the big brother will have something to say about it.
5. Push Car – I walk my dog every day for at least half an hour, and Zoe no longer has the patience for the stroller. For some reason, she likes the push car and doesn’t mind being in it for a long period of time. The best thing about the push car is that you can push it with one hand, leaving the other one free to – well in my case anyway – hold the leash for the dog. And if you have an older child, you might even be able to go hands-free!
6. Pull Along Toys – My son absolutely loved pull along toys. Even before he could walk, he would pull the string to make the toys move, and carefully observe all the moving parts on the toys. He continues to play with these toys even now because they are so interesting to watch and the ones we have make clicking or clacking noises when they move.
7. Dyson Toy Vacuum – Do not… I repeat, DO NOT go for another brand when it comes to toy vacuums because this one actually sucks up dirt and makes realistic vacuum noises. Both of my kids have loved the vacuum ever since they were born. As soon as my son could walk, he wanted to help push the vacuum whenever we were cleaning the house, and it became a really time-consuming process. Therefore, we got him his own vacuum, and he absolutely loved it! He followed us around when we vacuumed and carried it everywhere. At 3 years old today, he randomly decides that the carpet is dirty and take his little vacuum and literally vacuums the entire house. Only if the suction worked even better and the canister was bigger to accommodate for all the pet hair in this house…mommy can dream.
8. Activity Center – We got not one, but 2 activity centers for my son when he turned 1, but we had the same ones out for Zoe ever since she could sit by herself. There are many activity centers out there to choose from, so pick one that fits your child’s interests! Since Zoe loves hitting things, we have one with a hammer so she bangs on it all day long. The activity center is also great for babies who are pulling themselves up because all the fun toys up top motivate them to stand up! My son joins Zoe sometimes and tries and teach her how to play with the activities. And by teach I mean him yelling at her that she is doing it all wrong and pretty much taking over the whole table. She doesn’t mind.
9. Musical Instruments – Similar to hammering, Zoe loves drumming; so, basically hitting things with an object. This musical instrument set includes drumsticks, jingle bells, a maraca clacker, a tambourine, and two egg shakers. I like to put music on and jam it out with Zoe. The best part for mommy? The drum opens up and you can throw all the instruments inside for storage, which means less mess on the ground!
10. Pewi Ybike Ride On Toy and Walking BuddyPewi Ybike Ride On Toy and Walking Buddy – This walker was recommended to me by a pediatric physical therapist. Unlike traditional walkers, the Pewi Ybike’s multi-direction caster wheels allow a baby to move the walker in any direction instead of just straight forward. This allows the baby to develop spatial awareness, balance, and gross motor skills. After your baby’s legs are long enough to touch the floor while sitting on the Pewi Ybike, he or she can ride it around the house or outside on smooth surfaces. I am looking forward to purchasing this for Zoe for her birthday!
Other Gift Ideas for a 1-Year-Old
Admission Tickets or Season Passes: What is the old saying? Toys are temporary and memories are forever? I am sure I pretty much just made that up, but it’s true. Instead of buying toys, you can purchase admission tickets or season passes to fun places like the zoo, aquarium, children’s museum, etc. Now, if someone could just get my family the Disneyland annual passes, that would be the best present ever.
Gift Cards: You can buy gift cards to fun activities, such as dance lessons, gymnastic classes, or swim lessons. Or, you can buy gift cards to places that have toys so that mommy and daddy can take the birthday boy or girl to the store and have them pick out toys themselves.
For both the admission tickets/season passes and gift cards, you may want to consider buying a small side gift along with the gift card or ticket because one-year-old babies probably won’t understand why you got them a piece of paper or card. This way, the baby is happy about the inexpensive gift, mommy and daddy are happy about the ticket or gift card, and you are happy that you didn’t waste your money on yet another shape sorter (grrr).
We all want our children to be like Einstein, minus the crazy hair. However, we have to keep in mind that every child is different and has different interests; hence, one toy that is preferred by one may not be touched at all by another. Hopefully, these toys that my children enjoyed so much will be a big hit at your house as well!
What are your children’s favorite toys when they were around 1 year old?