1-Year-Old Birthday Gift Ideas

More Birthday Gift Ideas for a 1-Year-Old

Jamming and Grooving

Musical toys hold great appeal for toddlers, who gravitate toward anything that helps them make noise. Although they may not be ready for instrument lessons, they can still benefit from musical experiences. Exposing children to music stimulates important areas of the brain, including language development, social skills, and gross-motor development. "Making music provides endless opportunities to practice imitation, conversational turn taking, and social cooperation," says Julia Priest, director of Music and Movement of Newton in Newton, MA. Toys that create music are better than those that just make music on their own. LP Rhythmix makes maracas and egg shakers that are perfectly sized for little hands, and Edushape makes a baby-friendly drum that is always popular. Musical instrument sets, like the Parum Pum Pum Drum from B. Toys, offer a variety of sounds all in one. Toddlers love repetition, so if you do want an electronic musical toy, choose one with volume control. Once they are confident on two feet, there will be a whole new musical experience waiting for them: dancing.

Creating and Pretending

During the next year or so, your tot will gain the language skills for following instructions. Until then, as you nurture her expression through art, choose materials that are easy to clean. The company Alex has a range of Little Hands art supplies and kits, designed for toddlers, which don't require too much fine motor control. Finger crayons, finger-paints, and Play-Doh are all excellent choices for this age, as are washable markers, which can be even better than crayons because very young children won't need to press down as hard to make bright, vivid colors. It's also okay to buy a set of art supplies that are more appropriate for slightly older children, so they can have fun together.

Drawing pictures for your baby is a smart way to practice language skills and to demonstrate what she'll be able to do as she gets older and strengthens coordination and grip. Get a giant pad or a paper roll with a cutter and a large set of crayons or markers -- all which you can use for many years. But creativity isn't just about drawing, of course: Make-believe is another way for expression and play. But your toddler is just learning how to pretend, so collect toys that are age-appropriate and that will enhance imaginative play. Consider baby dolls, toy trucks, and play food that can be repurposed in different ways as props.

Soothing and Snuggling

Nighttime rituals vary from family to family, but most parents have some routine of bath and books before bedtime. Bath toys echo the same styles of play your baby is engaged in outside the tub. Bathtub crayons and finger-paints are a fine gift because you can never have too many. There are shape sorters and stackers (with pieces that float and squirt) that are made for the bathtub, and toy boats and rubber ducks are also a hit. Books are always a fail-safe gift, no matter what age. "They're important for social and language development," Dr. Lewis says. Reading books aloud repeatedly helps toddlers understand anticipation and practice prediction, and allows for a chance to develop vocabulary and language skills. For a toddler-size attention span, choose board books that are fairly simple, with bold, vibrant pictures and interactive elements, like cutouts to poke little fingers through, touch-and-feel pages, or finger puppets.

How to Invest in the Best Gifts

The best toys are multifunctional and long-lasting, not to mention engaging. If you want to give a gift that will make an impact and be an excellent investment, choose something kids will use for years, not days. Toys made of high-quality materials like wood or heavy-duty plastic are more likely to withstand inevitable abuse from a toddler. And those that look more realistic and less "babyish" also have a better chance of staying in the mix as children get older.

A toy with a recommendation for age 2 and up can still make a first-rate gift for a 1-year-old. Safety standards dictate that any toy with a choking hazard has to be labeled for ages 3 and up, so if a toy is suitable for a 2-year-old, it's usually safe for a 1-year-old. Your toddler may not use the toy exactly in the way it was meant to be used, but that's a good thing. It reinforces the idea that flexibility and creativity are welcome.

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

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