great gift for 1 year old?
September 19, 2012 10:32 AM   Subscribe

i want to get a great gift for my friend's daughter, who is turning 1 year old next week.

I did some googling but didn't find anything compelling, so I thought I'd give you guys a whirl. What do you suggest?
posted by akaJudge to Shopping (42 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I suggest giving the gift to the one who will appreciate it more: your friend. i.e. offer to take her daughter to the zoo for a day to give her some time off.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:36 AM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

It is almost impossible to buy something for a one-year-old, aside from a jumper that says "I still live with my parents."

I'd consider buying something baby-related for the haggard parents.
posted by musofire at 10:37 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you seen this thread, about a gift for a 9 month old baby girl?
posted by insectosaurus at 10:37 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

A 1 year old is more likely to play with the box, or try to eat the wrapping paper, than actually play with the toy. Any age appropriate gift is fine. The parents will probably appreciate a cute outfit, as at they age they tend to outgrow their wardrobe every few months.

There really isn't such a thing as a "great" gift for a 1 year old, unless you want to fully fund a college fund :)
posted by COD at 10:39 AM on September 19, 2012

The reality is that she is one - there is virtually nothing you can put in the box that the kid will enjoy more than the box itself. If you want to do something that will really be a hit, you might do zoo or acquarium or museum or puppet show tickets or something like that. You might also ask her mom or dad what she needs, because you genuinely never know: the child may need new shoes and become instantly infatuated with a new pair of Robeez or just love all the food she can eat with a new feeding set or... God only knows. One year olds are adorable Martians.

If you really want a traditional gift, though, wooden musical instruments are very popular on the first birthday social circuit these days.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:42 AM on September 19, 2012


1 year olds love cool toys. Keep it simple; get something with tactile interest, something that's nice to hold, or something that makes a really nice noise when it's hit, or something bright.

Lock box memory game - these sometimes come up cheaper other places

Puzzles - kids are just starting to be ready for puzzles around age 1

Playsilks - my 11-month-old loves hers

Hand kite

Activity cube
- make sure parents have space for that, though.

Wooden bus
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:44 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

something that was really great for my kid about 6 months after she turned one (but which she got on her 1st birthday) that she seriously loved and took everywhere was one of those wooden pull toys (hers was an alligator).
posted by oh really at 10:51 AM on September 19, 2012

Sorting bowls
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:51 AM on September 19, 2012

A wooden, quality crafted, rolling toy. There are just so many garish plastic toys and equipment for children out there. Wood toys sound better when they are rolling (my opinion), and may be more fun to play with (no child expressed an preference when asked).

While this is an esthetic choice, I think that you can't go wrong with it.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 10:51 AM on September 19, 2012

My nephew just turned one, and as his birthday party was wrapping up the gifts my sister appreciated most were the ones that did not put more junk into her house! Unless the baby is severely lacking in toys, I would skip that. Some of the appreciated gifts were a $50 savings bond, IOUs for babysitting nights, and neat pop-up books.
posted by saltwater at 10:52 AM on September 19, 2012

I guess I'm assuming that this is your friend's first baby?

Buy the parents a hotel room, a bottle of champagne, and offer to babysit for the night. It's the first anniversary of the day their lives got totally flipped upside down. And they survived! Awesome!

Give the kid a box to play with.
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:53 AM on September 19, 2012

Thanks for some thoughtful suggestions. Also, wow, I didn't expect so many "why buy a gift for a 1yr oldl" type answers. That's...disappointing.
posted by akaJudge at 10:54 AM on September 19, 2012

Babies don't know that they got a gift and only enjoys an object for so long. The parents have likely provided everything that she needs and wants. That's why so many are suggesting that you think about it differently.
posted by k8t at 10:56 AM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

I don't have a great suggestion, but I have to say: 1-year olds are awesome - totally buy them a gift with no remorse!
posted by thatone at 10:56 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a really beautifully illustrated book of Hans Christian Andersen and Grimm Brothers fairytales that my aunt gave to my parents for my 1st birthday (complete with thoughtful inscription). I obviously couldn't appreciate it as a baby but now that I'm older it's precious to me--would probably be one of the things I grabbed if my house was on fire.
posted by lovableiago at 10:58 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I strongly disagree that you can't find something good to buy for a 1 year-old!

Little drums that make music and have flashing lights are good for this age. Like this or this (my daughter had the latter one).

Another good one is a ride-on airplane with music and lights, like this or this or this.

And as a children's book reviewer I can tell you unequivocally that there are definitely books you could buy for a parent to read to a child that age, such as books with textures and mechanical pull-tabs or push-in foam pieces as well as simple books like Leslie Patricelli's books.
posted by Dansaman at 11:00 AM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

My daughter is 1 and loves push/pull toys, shape sorter boxes, and blocks. Chose something wooden and not too loud, a household full of plastic crap makes parents sad! Melissa&Doug makes nice, not too expensive stuff.
An offer of babysitting/taking kid to the park or zoo sounds great, but might be a bit early, depending on the kid/family. Yet it would be hard to turn down because somehow you're 'supposed' to be OK with leaving your kid with others at that age. YMMV, you know kids&parents and can probably gauge if it's a good idea.
posted by The Toad at 11:02 AM on September 19, 2012

I meant to add that I was thinking of something in the $30 dollar range, but the parents are good friends so it's not written in stone.
posted by akaJudge at 11:02 AM on September 19, 2012

Yup, my 12-month old loves Leslie Patricelli board books like "Tubby." She also loves "Beep Beep" by Petr Horacek. Board books for this age should be very short and very simple. Simple images and simple, brief text. On the other hand, she also likes the "My first" board books, like "My First Body," which contain more detailed photos, etc. What they both have in common is: big simple smiling human faces. The thing to avoid, IMO, would be board books that were actually first published as standard (i.e., paper paged) children's books for older young children/early readers.

Around 11-12 months is when my kid just started noticing the details on, hey, there's an image of a dog on my sippy cup, etc. So, simple puzzles or blocks with images might be good.
posted by bennett being thrown at 11:12 AM on September 19, 2012

Do they live near a zoo or children's museum and have time to visit? A membership to one of those type of places would have been an awesome gift when my kids were that age.
posted by Mimzy at 11:19 AM on September 19, 2012

I wholeheartedly disagree that you can't buy something for a one year old. They do like the box and the wrapping paper, but there are so many toys that stimulate them and make them genuinely excited (just don't take it personally if she only plays with it for a few minutes at a time, their attention spans are pretty small still!)

A collection of board books - my 11 month old loves his. A big plus if there are faces of kids or babies.

Some parents may not like toys that make noise, but many babies really do love them. My son loves his Mozart Cube. His daycare has this drum and it's one of the first toys he reaches for when I drop him off.

I just got my son this wheel-thingie, it comes with a suction cup bottom which makes it very handy for putting on, say, a high chair. He spins it and watches it so intently. It's become the toy we bring with us everywhere. It's inexpensive, so it could be a small add-on if you want.

A nice story book like loveableiago mentioned would also be very nice - it's something that she and her parents can enjoy together. I too am partial to a Hans Christian Andersen storybook - I had one that I got as a gift and treasured for years before some kid I knew tore it apart, and I still feel so sad about losing it.

A nice quality set of wooden blocks will last forever and be used for a long time. Also, toys that stack on top of each other or nest into each other, in general.

An offer of babysitting/taking kid to the park or zoo sounds great, but might be a bit early, depending on the kid/family. Yet it would be hard to turn down because somehow you're 'supposed' to be OK with leaving your kid with others at that age. YMMV, you know kids&parents and can probably gauge if it's a good idea

I really agree with this. I wouldn't feel comfortable letting someone else take my son anywhere without me. Same for offers to babysit for more than 2 or 3 hours (which would mean I'd be away from him for longer than I'm comfortable with right now). It all depends on the parents and their comfort level.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 11:21 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

A nice step-stool for reaching the sink. There are plain wooden ones available in your price range, and fancier ones with the kid's name painted or carved into it are a bit more.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:22 AM on September 19, 2012

"Playmobil 123," a sort of simplified toddler Playmobil, was in constant use here from 12mo until about 4.5. When I finally put it away -- with a few fantasies about hanging on to it for decades as I want enjoyable toys if I get to be a granny -- it still looked like new. Right now it will be mostly about picking up the pieces and identifying them as "cow" and "car," and then later more sophisticated uses will emerge. The quality, play value, and design are absolutely first-rate.

The "truck with garage" is an excellent set, but there are all sorts of good ones, and a nice bonus is that there are some wee $5ish sets so you can cheaply add to the collection on a visit if you feel like showing up with a treat.

+1 no on the babysitting. Presents for parents are nice, but if this is a first kid (1) they are probably not yet drowning in awesome toys, (2) a good present for the child is a present for the parent.
posted by kmennie at 11:35 AM on September 19, 2012

A ball, soft balls that they can grip are great (and less inclined to break someone's neck). They also love putting things in and taking things out, so gifts with bags are good.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:36 AM on September 19, 2012

My daughter really, really loved the indestructibles books featuring animals when she turned one. Her favorite is Wiggle! March! The books themselves are really nearly impossible to destroy and will survive spills, chewing and getting crinkled at the bottom of a bag. There are no words so every adult who "reads" them to her does something different. Now that she's 18 months she'll flip through the books on her own and make all of the animal noises. I take them to the zoo with me so we can compare the animals in the books to ones in real life.

They're not expensive, so you can buy several or mix them with other gifts.
posted by Alison at 11:42 AM on September 19, 2012

I think a lot of the "the baby's only going to play with the box anyway" advice may not be solely about "don't bother getting her anything", it may also be about "don't over-think this, because the baby sure as shit isn't going to".

And as for ideas - I firmly believe that at some point in their lives, a child deserve to have some kind of stuffed animal toy that is as big as they are. This is understandably a lot more feasible when the child is still very small, and even though later on they may not remember when their Winnie-the-Pooh was taller than them, you'll probably have a ton of pictures, and they'll still have the Pooh and can get their mind blown by "wow, I was that little? Huh."

(It was a Snoopy in my case. I still have him.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:44 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Agree with those who suggested books. We started reading books with our sons at about one, and some of the books were read so many times that certain lines are still ingrained in our family banter, 20+ years later: "Up, up, up, goes the utility truck. The cars are all honking. The red light is stuck!"
posted by Doohickie at 11:49 AM on September 19, 2012

I might also add, for some of the books we received as gifts, we still refer to them by the person who gave them to our sons- "The book from Aunt Debbie." At such a young age, they don't have that much stuff yet, and a memorable book can leave a profound impression.

Agree with the books with lots of gadgets and activities. Also, Jan Brett books have fascinating illustrations.

The books your friends read to their babies now will be the same ones they learn to read on when they are 2-3-4 years old.
posted by Doohickie at 11:52 AM on September 19, 2012

Books for sure. I asked my peers to only bring books to my 5 yr olds bday party. Best thing I ever did.
posted by pearlybob at 11:54 AM on September 19, 2012

One of these blankets. Amazon also carries them. My daughter is now 3.5 and has used hers every single day since she got it. It is warm and cozy and gets softer every time you wash it, and I have given serious consideration to buying four or six and sewing them together into one for myself. (they're pretty large - they cover my three yo without issue.
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:55 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

When my niece turned one, I got her this alphabet quilt which went over really well as a wall hanging. She loved the alphabet song, and liked us to point to the letters as we sing it. It was also good because her early words were mostly animals, so we helped her learn them from the quilt. (However - I can't imagine I paid $69.99 plus personalization charges for it! That seems a bit absurd.)
posted by firei at 11:59 AM on September 19, 2012

(books are also great - especially nice editions of classics; is the kid walking? at that age she loved her walking toys - get a nice wooden one that transitions into a stroller for later use).
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:59 AM on September 19, 2012

I didn't mean to imply that you couldn't buy a gift for a one year old - you certainly can buy them many gifts that I'm sure they would enjoy. It was just your phrasing regarding a "great" gift that implied you were looking for something more fancy and expensive that prompted me to suggest something like taking her to the zoo instead, I could have been reading into it incorrectly, but I stand by my gift suggestion 100%.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:02 PM on September 19, 2012

Any toy without batteries is a great gift for a 1 year old.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:05 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

You know what's in the $30 range? Decent bourbon.

I have a 9.5 month old and we've just started thinking about his birthday. I think he would like a giant stuffed animal (must have safe eyes etc and an unusual/not traditionally cute animal would be cool) or a simple percussion instrument.

But I know I would really like that bourbon!
posted by crabintheocean at 12:25 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

The best present my son got when he was about that age was one of those 8X8 photobooks from Snapfish or Shutterfly, full of pictures of himself and his family and pets with simple captions like "Baby Architeuthis likes to pet the kitty". "Mommy and Baby Architeuthis like to to swing at the park." We had to read it to him about ten times a day for a while, and he still pulls it out at bedtime 10 months later. This was especially good for me since I have approximately 10,000,000 pictures of him but have yet to organize any of them into albums.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 12:33 PM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

Elusive Architeuthis's idea is the winner. You should totally do that if you can. Face recognition at that age is great.

My 1YO also loved the band in a box she got.
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:50 PM on September 19, 2012

I know a one year old that loves her Meowsic - despite the fact that the website says it's for 2 and up.
posted by backwards guitar at 12:59 PM on September 19, 2012

I have a one year old daughter and she tends to like things that beep, blink, or otherwise make strange noises all the goddamn time. The rest of us are less fond of them.

She has no real interest in stuffed toys, although she loves our cats (the cats are split on the subject).

Books are, IMHO, always good. Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin have written some wonderfully funny books about some barnyard animals that have ambitions that frustrate poor Farmer Brown.

Or, as Elusive Architeuthis suggested, pictures of the baby. The only thing the lurglette likes more than toys that beep or flash is pictures of herself.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:56 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cheerios Play Book (yes, it does have the whole Cheerios branding thing going on, but it's also pretty awesome if you're one).
posted by anaelith at 2:34 AM on September 20, 2012

You can get a custom board book here, btw.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:32 AM on September 20, 2012

My just-turned-one-year-old absolutely has toys that he engages with, and some of his favorites were gifts.

That said, if you're not sure what she'd like, it's hard to go wrong with books. Just stop by any bookstore and pick out some nice, chunky board books or regular picture storybooks. Seriously, books are the perfect gift, especially since she's too young now to have tastes.
posted by that's how you get ants at 2:28 PM on September 20, 2012

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