October 28, 2011

Our Favorite Baby and Kid Gifts

Until I had Mac, I was a little lost as to what constituted a "good" baby gift. I could find cute things or useful things, but what was both?

As he ages, my gift-giving abilities expand a bit. Were we invited to a five-year-old's birthday party, I'd be plum out of luck. But I feel like we've got a great handle on the two and under (and the baby-to-be) crowd.

Like many parents, we're not enthusiastic about migraine-inducing toys that flash, whistle, sing, dance, hop, buzz and never seem to die. We've found that Mac gets far more enjoyment, and thousands more hours of play, out of presents that engage his imagination.

(See also: Stuff People Are Trying to Buy Your Baby is Nice But Pointless)

As Mac has given and received more gifts, we've learned so much! The best part? His favorite and best loved toys aren't the priciest!

Little folks have a knack for loving the simple (or even the box the simple gift is in!), so I remind myself not to stress about finding something for the discerning one-year-old in our lives.

Our favorite gifts are always books. Beyond the classic baby titles, we've discovered (through the generosity of friends!) a number of other new, well-loved books:
I Love You, Stinky Face
All of the Curious George books
The Berenstain Bears books
Anything by Sandra Boynton
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

All in all, you can't go wrong with a book. Board books for the first few years, then hardback. Unless other toddlers are gentler readers than ours.

Non-book gift ideas:
*Personalized plates and bowls - great for when toddlers join the family table!

*Melissa & Doug Puzzle Maze: All the fun of a puzzle without pieces to lose? Win-win!
*Melissa & Doug Animal Magnets: Hours of fun in a box, or on our refrigerator, as it were.
*Melissa & Doug Take-Along Tool Set: Mac just got these, but he loves his "tooz" already.

And, while I'm on the topic, here are a few of my favorite gifts for babies-to-be:

All I need in my bag for quick errands - holds a travel pack of wipes and two or three diapers.

Curves around your neck as a burp cloth or snaps as a 360-degree bib for baby.

We never swaddled Mac in these, but they're the perfect weight and size for layering. We used them all the time.
Beautifully designed and the most absorbent ones we had. I wish we'd stocked up!

What are your favorite gifts to give the smallest people on your Christmas list? Care to help us branch out from our book and puzzle routine?

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