Tuesday, December 16

Gift Ideas for One Year Olds

One year olds are fairly easy to please. They are interested in anything and everything so finding worthwhile Christmas gifts should be easy, right?

This is partially true, but sometimes it can be hard to choose the best gifts without spending too much money. I like to know that the gifts we're giving her are going to be played with--especially since we're trying to stick to giving 4-6 gifts (basically the four-gift rule* with a little wiggle room).

One way we have tested out which gifts will be played with is by doing trial runs with the toy at various toy stores or at other kids' houses. If the toy distracts your child for several minutes in the store, you know they will most likely play with it at home. In contrast, if they lose interest quickly and move on to something else, you can tell the toy is probably not going to be worthwhile at this time or that it is not age-appropriate for your child.

1. Mini-Me Appliances or Tools
For toddlers like Tenley--who is very independent and likes to copy what mom and dad are doing--mini versions of things make fun gifts. For instance, Tenley loves when I pull the dust pan out and she is fascinated by the vacuum. A child's vacuum or mini dust pan would therefore be a good gift for her so she can pretend to be helping (or really help one day). We got a mini dust pan for Tenley from the Dollar Store (and they have other mini versions of cleaning tools there, too) and though we haven't bought her a vacuum yet, they have some good ones for $15-$20 on Amazon (like this Dirt Devil). Another alternative would be to buy a corn popper ($10 on Amazon), also shown below (though for me, the sound of that would put me over the edge at some point). Other mini-me ideas include a mini toolkit set, a mini kitchen set, play food with a grocery basket or cart, or a mini dishwashing set (I saw a cute one at TJMaxx!).

2. Wooden or Foam Floor Puzzles. 
Another gift I think Tenley would enjoy playing with (with help) is a giant floor puzzle. I know she would not be able to figure it out on her own but she loves any excuse to play with mommy and daddy and honestly, I think she would just like to mess around with the pieces. Both of these puzzles were about $15 on Amazon.

3. Baby Dolls, Strollers & Accessories
For little girls (and even little boys, too), baby dolls and strollers make excellent gifts. Tenley loves her baby dolls and says "baby!" whenever she sees one at the store. She also loves anything she can push around like a baby stroller which she has had experience playing with at her Great Grammy's house and other places. She likes to pretend feed her baby with a bottle that makes noise and change the baby's diaper. I'm sure she would love to carry around a baby carseat or splash her baby in a mini bath as well.

4. Wooden Blocks or a Wooden Train Set 
Tenley loves playing with anything wooden. I wonder if it's partly because of the sound because she loves knocking blocks over and banging them together. She also loves train sets and it's hard to get her to leave when we are in a waiting or play area that has one. The only thing stopping us from getting one for her is the cost--those sets (especially the nice Thomas the Tank Engine ones) are expensive!

5. Ride-on or Push-along Toys
Two of Tenley's favorite toys are her wooden wagon (for pushing toys in and, if you're Tenley, for riding in) from Nana Searle and her Fisher Price 3-in-1 Bounce, Stride & Ride Elephant from Grandma and Grandpa Gunnell. She loves being pushed around on them but she also has no problem playing with them by herself.

6. Books
Books that pop-up, have touch and feel aspects, light up, or make noise are favorites for little kids with short attention spans. Tenley loves books in general but she is also dangerous with paper books. Sometimes I catch her starting to gnaw on the cover or rip pages, so we mostly stick with board books for now.

7. Bath toys 
Some babies love baths and water and will even cry or attempt to hold onto the support bar when mom makes them get out (Tenley is one of those). She loves playing with her little rubber bath toys and even just with the mini shampoo and conditioner bottles we kept from a hotel. She will sit in the tub while I shower and be completely distracted the entire time and probably wouldn't even get out if I didn't make her. Rubber squirting bath toys or small floating boats would be good gifts for your bath lover.
8. Learning Toys with Buttons and Sounds
Leap Pad and other companies make fun learning pads for toddlers. They love pushing the buttons and even though they won't understand what is being said, eventually they will get excited about knowing what button they are being commanded to find (Tenley has the pad below and it says "Find the color green. Find the owl," stuff like that).
9. Non-toxic Art Supplies
Crayola makes a whole line of mess-free products for toddlers and everything they make (as far as I know) is non-toxic (which made me feel better when Tenley ate a crayon). Toddlers love mimicking their parents so especially if you're into writing or art like I am, it's nice to have something for them to keep busy with while you work on your own projects without having to worry about the mess and everything else.

10. Any Melissa & Doug Products
Melissa & Doug make tons of awesome wooden products. They have play food, flat wooden dolls, blocks, bead mazes, and many other things that are perfect for toddlers. Their products can get expensive but they are such high quality that you know you'll only have to buy something once. If you plan on having multiple kids it's probably worth the investment because they'll last forever!
11. Classics: Balls, Baby Legos, & Stuffed Animals
These things make great small gifts or stocking stuffers. Tenley loves balls that light up, and though she doesn't really get stacking Legos yet, she loves taking them apart. She also loves a select few of her stuffed animals. Her favorites are the softest ones and the little ones like this little Ty Beanie toy (the owl's name is Swoops:) These are good toys to bring to places like Church or the car because they easily fit in purses.

Well, Tenley has been tearing up the house while I've worked on this post all morning so I had better go do some damage control. I hope this list helps you and that you find some great deals on gifts for your special little person in your life. Also, like always, I love suggestions, so if you have anything to add, please comment!

Happy toy shopping!

*The four-gift rule covers want, need, something to wear, and something to read. We love the simplicity of this idea but sometimes you need or want more than one thing which is why we will probably be lenient. 

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