Unique Gift Ideas for First Birthday and Toddler Christmas Gifts for Boys and Girls

October 28th, 2011

As Maya has just celebrated her first birthday and there is a lot of talk in the forums I frequent about good first birthday gifts and toddler Christmas gifts, I thought I would write a post about the presents I got for her and the gifts I am planning to give her for Christmas. We decided to go fairly low key for her 1st birthday, partly because she’s too little, partly because Christmas is but a few months away and partly because I don’t like her to have too many new toys at once.

I’m happy to say that she loved her presents so I think my strategy was the right one. In my opinion, the best gifts for a baby’s first birthday are simple open ended toys made of high quality natural materials like wood. I much prefer to buy classic toys like this that encourage creative thinking and motor skills as there is plenty of time for all the electronic plastic gifts for toddlers later.

Baby’s First Birthday Gifts

The first birthday gift we gave her was this classic pop-up toy by The Original Toy Company. This has proved to be a great toy so far and has lots of opportunities for further play as she gets older. Basically the wooden pegs are placed into the holes which are sprung loaded so if you push the pegs down they pop up and fly out of the holes. Maya just loves putting things in/on other objects at the moment – lids on jars, stones in bottles etc. so I think this is a great toy for children around 12 months old (ignore the big Amazon warning saying it’s for children over 3 years due to choking hazard, the manufacturer’s recommended age is from 12 months and it would be pretty impressive if you managed to choke on one of those pegs) honing their fine motor skills. I thought it would take her a while to get the trick of popping the pegs up but after about 10 minutes she’d mastered it and there were pegs flying all over the place, much to her delight. When she gets older this toy will also be great for color matching as the pegs are all different colors and have a matching hole. This is a simple well made toy at a great price and I highly recommend it.

1st birthday gifts - Classic pop up toy

first birthday gift - Classic Pop-up Toy












Click here to buy the classic pop-up toy on Amazon



The other wooden toy we got her was this Plan Toys Dancing Alligator. Maya has been walking for a couple of months now so I thought a pull-along toy would be great for her and I wasn’t wrong. The alligator makes a click clack noise when it is pulled along and Maya loves walking backwards and watching it come towards her. As well as being a great quality and well made toy, Plan Toys uses all natural and non toxic sustainable materials so if being environmentally friendly is important to you, you’ll want to look out for other toys from this company. It is recommended from 19 months but I think basically as long as your toddler is walking, you’re good to go.


first birthday gifts - pull along alligator

Plan Toys Dancing Alligator










Click here to buy the Dancing Alligator on Amazon


little tikes purple trikeWe also got her a tricycle which she loves although she hasn’t got the hang of peddling yet (and her legs are still a little too short!). Due to size and weight we just bought a cheap local one here but I would have definitely gone for one of the new smart trikes like this Little Tikes purple trike if we’d had the option. I think smart trikes are a great idea as they grow with your child and can be used just like a stroller for older babies and then as a parent-powered tricycle for younger toddlers when you go out on walks with the option to convert it to a normal tricycle as your child gets older. This model also has a sun shade which would be very useful here. I’m really quite jealous that I can’t get these here as I know Maya would love it and it’s PURPLE!!

Click here to buy the Little Tikes 3 in 1 purple Trike on Amazon


Toddler Christmas Gifts

With Christmas just a few months away I kept back some of the toys I’d bought for Maya so that I could give them to her at Christmas (I find the toys here to either be very poor quality or very expensive so I generally order them direct from Europe or the USA and I stocked up when we were in the UK. Of course any toy suitable for a baby’s first birthday gift will also make a great first Christmas gift for babies and toddlers around the age of 12 months. This is technically Maya’s 2nd Christmas but as she was only 2 months old last year, we didn’t really bother with presents. This is what I’ve got her and my recommendation for top toys for toddlers this Christmas:

Wonderworld Eco-friendly Sound Blocks

toddler christmas gifts - wonderworld wooden sound blocksI ummed and ahhed about buying these for a while because they are expensive for blocks but after receiving them, I was glad I did. These blocks are really beautiful objects that I can’t wait to display in the window – they have colored plastic windows with beads inside them so they look great with the sun shining through them. Each block makes a different noise when you shake them. I think blocks are a great toy for any baby or toddler in general  as they promote creativity and I really prefer to buy beautiful high quality toys that will last. These blocks definitely fit the bill and I think they’d also be great for a baby. For older toddlers they can be used for color matching, constructing and musical activities. I think I may just want to play with these more than Maya!

Click here to buy the Wonderworld Eco-friendly wooden Sound Blocks on Amazon


Plan Toys Stacking Rings

toddler christmas gifts - plan toys stacking ringsStacking rings are of course a classic toy for very good reason. There are lots of educational learning opportunities in this simple toy from just putting the rings on the peg to sorting them by size and color order. There are lots of stacking rings available but I really wanted a nice quality wooden one rather than a cheap plastic version and I think this stacker by Plan Toys is great value. I think a lovely bright wooden stacker is also great on display in a kid’s bedroom


Click here to buy the Plan Toys Stacking Rings on Amazon



Melissa and Doug Pound a Peg

toddler christmas gifts - melissa and doug pound a pegMaya will probably still be a little young for this when we give it to her for Christmas as it’s recommended from 2 4 months but she does love hitting things with sticks so who knows! This will be a great toy for using up some of that crazy toddler energy and I’ve bought quite a few toys from Melissa and Doug before and always found them to be great quality.



Click here to buy the Melissa and Doug Pound a Peg on Amazon



Fisher Price Chatter Telephone

toddler christmas gifts - fisher price chatter telephoneI used to have one of these telephones when I was little so of course when Fisher Price re-released, their classic toys, I couldn’t resist. I’m also sorely tempted by the record player but I think I might see if I can pick up a vintage one on ebay first. Maya is obsessed with telephones at the moment – if she hears one ringing she’ll put her hand to her ear and say “ehoh” and pretty much any object can stand in for a telephone – a computer mouse, a knife and fork container… so I know she’ll love this! It also doubles up as a pull-toy which is a bonus.


Click here to buy the Fisher Price Chatter Telephone on Amazon


Corolle Calin Baby Doll

toddler christmas gifts - Corolle calin baby dollI’ve been wanting to get Maya a doll for a while and when I found out I was pregnant again, it was even more reason to get her one. I think a nice doll makes a really good first birthday or chrismast present for a girl and they’re great for open ended role play. The problem was when I started looking, 95% of all the dolls I found freaked me out  with their weird staring faces and ‘realistic’ bodily functions. Then I found these dolls by Corolle which I think are just perfect as a first doll. They look cute, not scary, they’re soft-bodied so great for cuddling and this one is vanilla scented! They are a little more expensive than some other dolls but I think it’s worth paying a little bit more for a good quality toy and these dolls have great reviews. I can’t wait to give it to her to be honest!

Click here to buy the Corolle Calin Baby Doll on Amazon



Melissa and Doug wooden Cutting Fruit

toddler christmas gifts - Melissa and Doug cutting fruitAnother great toy from Melissa and Doug! Again I think this may be a little old for Maya at the moment but I’m sure she’ll enjoy sticking the bits of fruit together and it will be great for practicing knife skills later – each fruit is segmented and joined together with Velcro so it makes a realistic noise when you ‘cut’ it. I think play food of all kinds is a great toy for toddler and I have my eye on some other Melissa and Doug sets like the sandwich-making set and the wooden sushi set. It also may be good for encouraging your toddler to eat their fruit and vegetables!


Click here to buy Melissa and Doug wooden Cutting Fruit on Amazon



I’ll update this post with photos of Maya enjoying her new toys after Christmas J

In the meantime, have fun shopping for first birthday and Christmas gifts for your baby or toddler!

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