What else does a one-year-old need?
November 10, 2017 6:18 AM   Subscribe

Many, many relatives want to buy my very well-stocked baby Christmas presents. I feel like we have everything. I am at a loss and looking for outside the box suggestions for wants/needs I might suggest.

Baby has inherited nearly every toy my brothers played with as kids thanks to my packrat dad, and thanks to a thrift store savvy mama, has nearly everything else. We don't have a yard or a basement space but I am open to toys we can take in the snow.

So what am I missing?


- Role play: Little People house, farm (I got him this for his present from me, for $4.99 from a thrift store) and castle. He's just started responding a little to stuff like 'look, a puppy, woof woof!' but mostly these are just things with doors that open and close, and little stuff to put into bigger stuff. He's getting more animals that go with the farm and I think he's ready to learn that stuff.

- Vehicles: Oball dump truck, car carrier and set of little cars. He has a little fisher price ramp he can race them on, but he's not interested in this yet. He also has a tractor and mail truck that go with the little people stuff.

- Classic baby toys: shape sorter, ring stacker, balls, knob puzzles, large collection of board books, alphabet blocks. He also has two talking books which he loves, but I don't think he needs more talking books. He also has stuffed animals but is not into them yet.

- Standing up play: wagon with wooden blocks, toy that converts from walker to ride-on, activity table, food truck toy with kitchen aspect and car driving aspect. This is pretty much all we have room for. We could not fit a climbing toy in our space.

- Activity cube: large collection of peek a boo blocks and a big cube they interface with which has a plinko side, shape sorter etc. This is currently his favourite toy and he is always carrying those blocks around.

- Toys to Grow Into: Duplo, Thomas trains, bristle blocks, schleich animals and hot wheels, mostly inherited from my brother, which do not interest him yet but I am sure he will grow into.

- Electronic toys: he has a baby laptop and baby phone but they do not interest him. He likes putting in and taking out, turning gears and beans etc. He is not as into toys where you just push a button and wait.

- Misc: just put up the Ikea circus tent for him and he likes it. He also likes those foam shapes to climb on from daycare, but we don't really have space for that at home.


- He has a snowsuit, winter jacket and stroller cover. He might benefit from those mittens which go all the way up the arm, or from snow boots, but I'm not sure yet how winter gear is going to go.

- He has a big stroller and also has a smaller fold-up one for grandparent/car use. He also has an Ergo carrier, which we use for daycare drop off.

- Has a backpack with his name on it for daycare. This was one of his birthday presents. He also has a blanket and room sign with his name on it. I have seen puzzles and books you can customize with their names but I'm not sure how many name things a kid needs?

- He does need new pajamas and I suggested this to my sister-in-law so I think he will be getting them.

What else? I've had at least six people ask me and I just don't know what else to say. I am okay with asking for stuff he might need/want for later and saving it, but I literally can't think of a single thing. I'd love some more active toys, but we are in an apartment and although our space is decent for that, it is still an apartment.
posted by ficbot to Shopping (34 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
College/education fund?
posted by mochapickle at 6:21 AM on November 10, 2017 [14 favorites]

My cousin was in a similar position when she was approaching her baby shower. She had everyone bring a favorite childhood book. They weren't a specific age range, just childhood in general.
posted by raccoon409 at 6:21 AM on November 10, 2017 [15 favorites]

How are you doing on memberships to things like the local zoo and the local kids' museum and playspaces? Or lessons to things like group music classes?

Our kid has been obsessed with these since about nine months old.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:22 AM on November 10, 2017 [16 favorites]

Best answer: What about musical instruments? A triangle, maracas, finger cymbals, tambourine, xylophone, etc. These are all small enough to fit in a basket or cube.

Does he have a toddler-sized suitcase for travel?

Dress-up costumes? People might still be able to find some things on deep clearance from Halloween. Also can be stored in a basket.

Seconding zoo membership.
posted by timestep at 6:28 AM on November 10, 2017 [4 favorites]

I don’t see mention of him having dinosaurs, pirates, or superheroes. I can almost guarantee that he will get into each of these three things sometime in the next few years, and there are many, many toys available for little ones under each of these headings.
posted by amro at 6:30 AM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Honestly, grandparents often love to provide luxuries that thrifty momma can‘t/won‘t.
What about some fancy clothes for toddler size? Like, a cute little suit.
A magazine subscription like Babybug?
Cheap but nifty: Soap based paints, crayons etc for the bathtub.
Expensive: A Fatboy. folds up nicely for trips to the park, inflates eeeeeeasily and my kids love tumbling about on it.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:30 AM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I second memberships to zoo, museums, etc. All my friends with kids find those very useful and I'm starting to do more of that stuff with my kid (16 months).

For Christmas we are asking for / getting her / have been thinking about: a play kitchen, something to ride on like a bike or toy car, a shopping cart (she absolutely LOVES pushing a kid's size one around at a friend's house and putting toys in it and taking toys out), more bath toys, a bathrobe and slippers, a sand and water table (probably not great for apartment living!).

Some stuff she has that is currently a BIG hit: a learning tower (we did the Ikea stepstool hack), play-doh for supervised playing on the kitchen counter, a toddler-sized backpack, a million stickers.
posted by cpatterson at 6:34 AM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Memberships to any of the following in your local area: zoo, museum, children's museum, science center, toy library, baby gym.

Subscriptions to: Baby Bug (my kid still loves his old Baby Bugs), a baby/toddler-oriented subscription box
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:35 AM on November 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

For my son's 1-year-old Christmas, I got him this toy kitchen and this set of accessories. We put it in our actual kitchen, and it was a great place for him to play while we cooked. Over the years, assorted toy food items (thrifted, or new and culturally relevant, or whatever) have found their way into it. It's a perfect size for a 1-year-old; at 7, he and his 4 year old sister still play with it.

I enthusiastically second the magazine subscription. We started with Zoobies, and then eventually graduated to Ranger Rick Jr.

Oh, and when my daughter was 1 and my son was 4, we got them Micro scooters. I got my daughter the Micro 3-in-1 deluxe, and she has used all the stages of it. That first winter, we let her use it indoors as a push/ride toy. At 4, she's using it with the big-kid handle, and really learning to ride it. These scooters are fanTASTIC - 3-wheel stability, but they drive well and can really go. In contrast, the friends' scooters my daughter rode with two wheels in the back are tippy and awful. The Mini2Go Deluxe is new on the scene since we bought ours, and looks like it could also be a good option.

And, on preview, YES TO LEARNING TOWER. We have very limited space, but I got one off Craigslist some years ago and it has been absolutely worth its square footage. Easily adjustable, easy for kid to learn to get in and out of, easy to let them "help" you in the kitchen while you do stuff.
posted by telepanda at 6:44 AM on November 10, 2017

BOOKS. You can store them and really nice hardcover books are pricey. Link to specific editions if you can on a wishlist. DK and Caldecott winners would make a gorgeous starting library for years to come for a young child.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:46 AM on November 10, 2017 [4 favorites]

Books! It's never too early to start the habit of listening, learning about letters/numbers, building a library. You could ask them to give a copy of their favorite children's book. Bonus points for writing an inscription to your child saying why they loved it. I still have some treasured books that friends & relatives gave me, even after 40 years.
posted by jhope71 at 6:47 AM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I LOVE the college fund idea but in case that’s not going to go over well (for whatever reason), books! books! books! Besides practical items that are really for the parents, giving books to my friends’ kids is my default move. Even if they end up too young for a book now, they can grow into it over the years. And never too early to introduce the concept of books to a wee one, or to start their personal library.

If you’re worried about pages being ripped when the curious young one wants to handle the thing, as they surely will (yay!!), ask for just board books for now.
posted by phonebia at 6:48 AM on November 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You've outfitted him so well. A lot of American kids have too many toys; they get overwhelmed with all the stuff. Plus, so much to clean up. So, I think you're wise to not want a lot more. How are his toys stored? We had shelves and buckets for smaller toys, so picking up was easy - the action figures go in the blue bucket, duplos in the red one, etc. You could ask for a half dozen plastic buckets. My exceptions are books, music and art/ creative supplies. I love the favorite book idea. Also, maybe ask somebody to save a big cardboard box. Sit him inside it with washable markers. A ream of paper, or a stack of manila folders are great for art play, though he sounds a bit young. Is there a music player in his room? That might be nice and useful for a long time.
posted by theora55 at 6:51 AM on November 10, 2017

An opportunity to ask for contributions to a time capsule, to be opened when he's older?

This was something that we did with my son that he LOVED when he was 16.

Bonus, they could wrap them, you could open them all with him now, take pictures of him with the items at one (which he won't remember), and include the photos in the time capsule as well!
posted by liquado at 6:59 AM on November 10, 2017 [6 favorites]

I like getting babies clothes for when they're a year or two older. People tend to flood new babies with clothes, which they outgrow very quickly.
posted by FencingGal at 7:03 AM on November 10, 2017

I always ask people for books for my kid. I always give books to other people's children (unless there is something else they really, really want or need).
posted by BlueJae at 7:05 AM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

A family portrait session
Annual pass to state parks, local science museum, local kids museum, etc
posted by jillithd at 7:17 AM on November 10, 2017

Book Subscription boxes like Bookroo, Highlights or Little Fun Club.
posted by soelo at 7:27 AM on November 10, 2017

I don't see any music stuff?
My 9 month old has an intense interest in my ukulele, I'll be putting a plastic one for him on the xmas list for relatives.

Lots of cool real music stuff available for $35 or (much) less:
Tambourines, maracas, glockenspiels, kazoo, slide whistle, train whistle, toy accordion, etc.

Hohner has a nice kid's line
. Surely 1 year old is not ready for all of that, but kid can/will be ready for most of it before 2 if you show interest and encouragement.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:30 AM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

We ask for "experience" presents like memberships to the local museum, zoo, aquarium, tickets to an amusement park, shows, stuff like that.

This has be VERY well-received by our family. We send pictures when we take the kid to those places, when that relative comes to visit, we go. It's fun.
posted by Aquifer at 7:46 AM on November 10, 2017

I actually recommend against books. Most baby books are terrible, lazily written garbage, and that includes Dr Seuss' less famous work, and you will feel bad throwing books in the trash, and storing them gets ridiculous.

Second all of this: "memberships to the local museum, zoo, aquarium, tickets to an amusement park, shows, stuff like that."

Also, the number of toys and stuffed animals you will receive will get out of control, so you have to set boundaries for stuff like that.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:11 AM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Organization? A nice toy chest, bookcase, cubbies, bins, baskets, one of those hammocks for stuffed animals, a small desk or table

Consumables? A little on the young side for most arts and crafts, but crayola makes finger paints and giant crayons and stuff for toddlers. An easel to grow into?
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:21 AM on November 10, 2017

A subscription to High Five magazine by Highlights.
posted by gryphonlover at 8:43 AM on November 10, 2017

Is there any way you can redirect this well intentioned giving to a charitable option? I know that's not always an option, but it may be for some people. Here's an article about potential ways to give to other children.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:56 AM on November 10, 2017

we purchased the melissa & doug metal shopping cart for our son when he was just starting to walk. we were worried that once he was walking he wouldn't care about it anymore but a year later he's graduated from walking to running around the house with it. he still puts stuff in it just about every morning and does a few laps. when his friends visit (some of whom are older) they always love it too so i think it's a long-term win for us!
posted by noloveforned at 9:01 AM on November 10, 2017

I paid for baby swimming lessons for my godson - he loves being in the water but the preferred place was kinda expensive.
posted by koahiatamadl at 9:06 AM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

What about musical instruments? A triangle, maracas, finger cymbals, tambourine, xylophone, etc. These are all small enough to fit in a basket or cube.

Only cruel relatives buy noisemakers for babies without parental requests for them.

If your kid loves music, great! Support that! But most kids manage to make plenty of noise with devices not intended to fill a space with sound. (Finding the instrument your child loves = terrific. Encouraging someone else's child to make fifteen kinds of percussion sounds, switching from booming to tinny to bells when they get bored with one = nightmare for the parents.)

Books, especially cardboard, cloth, and plastic bath-able books are good. Clothes for the next year or two are good. I never had enough yard-and-a-half square blankets. Childsafe versions of whatever tools the adults in the house use are good.

Instruments and noisemakers are definitely a "talk with parents to confirm it's okay" purchase. Some families love them; others live in situations where the noise causes problems with neighbors or the parents can't get enough sleep to get to work.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:25 AM on November 10, 2017

Anything to personalize his space or art supplies? Winter gloves, gift certificate for shoe store?
posted by typecloud at 9:41 AM on November 10, 2017

Cricket Magazine
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 10:22 AM on November 10, 2017

Baby swimming lessons and gear is a gift that will last a lifetime.
posted by dame at 10:56 AM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Experiences, not stuff.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:02 PM on November 10, 2017

A bigger apartment? ;) Playmat or rug with roads for trucks. Amazon echo and music subscription. Babysitter “bucks”. Kiddie gym passes (whatever those are called in your area). A floor mirror if you don’t have one — hours of fun. Costco membership. Small aquarium or a small faux aquarium. A bug cage. Soft soccer ball.

If all else fails, head to a few store (I know, I know....) or friends with kids or daycares and see what he gravitates towards.
posted by Kalatraz at 11:12 PM on November 10, 2017

Craft supplies? Non toxic paint with chubby brushes, chunky crayons, bingo dabbers etc. Crayola makes great stuff for that age.

Bath stuff? Bubble bath, scoops, cups, small water wheel, boats. Ooh, tablets that dye the bath water but not the kid. For example.

One of those pop up tunnels might be fun, they fold up for easy storage when you're not using them. Something like this.

Nthing experience things like gift cards or memberships to local children's museum, rec centre, pool, indoor playgrounds. Also nthing books- board books for now, picture books for now and later. Lots of books.
posted by Lay Off The Books at 9:35 AM on November 11, 2017

I actually recommend against books. Most baby books are terrible, lazily written garbage

So curate your book request list with specific books you would like to have for him. Also, don't limit yourself to board books and baby books - there's no reason you can't start to add books with beautiful illustrations and/or a higher reading level to his environment.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:15 PM on November 11, 2017

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