Invited to a first birthday party and looking for just the right gift? Unless you have–or have recently had–a 1-year-old of your own, finding the best birthday gift can seem difficult. After all, you can’t exactly ask a 1-year-old what he wants for his birthday. Here are some tips to find the best age-appropriate gift.
Age and Development Level
The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a first birthday party gift is the age and developmental level of the birthday baby. Most children who are about to reach their first birthday enjoy similar toys and activities because of the stage of development they’ve reached. While every child has a unique personality, there are some toys and activities that appeal to most 1-year-old babies. According to Fisher Price, one of the world’s largest and best-known infant toy makers, the typical 1-year-old enjoys foot-propelled ride-on toys, musical toys, and toys like play gyms that encourage physical coordination and development.
Almost any toy is an “educational toy” for a 1-year-old, but there are some toys and activities that are especially engrossing at that age. At 12 months old, most babies are working on both fine motor and gross motor coordination. That means that they love toys that stack and fit together, like snap-and-pop beads or stacking cups. They also enjoy toys that encourage them to climb, crawl, and practice standing up and walking. Push toys like play lawnmowers do double-duty–they help babies balance and let them play the imitation games that 1-year-olds love to play.
Books are another great choice for first birthday party gifts. By the age of 1, most babies will pay attention to colorful pictures while an adult reads to them. They’re at the age where they start pointing at pictures and identifying common items in picture books. If you’re considering buying a book for a 1-year-old child, pick sturdy board books with one picture and one or two words per page. Books with pictures of animals, toys, and household items are a great bet for this age group.
Noise- and Music-Making Toys
One-year-old babies love toys that make noise. A first birthday party is a great time to introduce a 1-year-old to the joys of making music with a toy xylophone, a toy drum, or a pair of maracas. There are also many electronic toys that play a tone or a song when baby presses a button or pulls a lever. Toys that make noise may not endear you to mom and dad, but they help teach the lucky birthday baby that she can make things happen by banging, pressing, pulling, and pushing on things.
If you decide to choose clothes as a first birthday party gift, keep in mind that 12-month-old babies come in all different sizes. Check with mom or dad to find out what size the 1-year-old is wearing. Remember, too, that babies grow fast. You can get away with choosing an outfit that’s a little too big, especially if you’re buying baby clothes at the very beginning of a season. If you buy summer clothes for a 1-year-old in May, there’s a good chance that the outfit will be a perfect fit before the summer is over.
Safety is of primary importance when you’re buying a gift for a 1-year-old child. There are several ways to be sure that the gift you choose meets minimum safety standards for a 1-year-old. Many manufacturers label toy packaging with an “appropriate age.” You can use this as a guide to choose a toy that will be fun for a 1-year-old, but don’t rely on it as an assurance of safety. Instead, check for the following: * No small parts that could be pulled off the toy and become a choking hazard * No cords or strings long enough to pose a strangulation hazard * A notice that the toy conforms to ASTM D-4236, which ensures that the toy has been examined for lead paint and poisonous substances * Riding toys with four wheels spaced evenly for balance and that allows the child’s feet to touch the floor * No sharp corners or edges that could cut or scratch the child.