Non Traditional Gift Ideas for Babies, Infants + Toddlers
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A baby’s first birthday is a monumentally exciting milestone! But over-purchasing for Christmas made me want to be very intentional about how we responded to requests for what gifts to get for Brooklyn for her birthday. We live in an older home that doesn’t have a ton of extra storage so preserving space is key, and we wanted gifts that would really enhance her every day, teach her something cool, or work toward her future.
So, I’m sharing some of the amazing gifts we received, as well as a few ideas for smart, intentional gifts to think about for your babies (or infants or toddlers), or that you could gift to someone else!
Now that she’s a year old and way more full of energy, we want to start getting Brooklyn out of the house and interacting with other babies more. So we’re signing her up for MyGym and for swim classes, which I’m so excited about. Since classes and experiences can rack up a hefty monthly bill pretty quickly, we asked for gift certificates towards these experiences as one of her birthday gifts. This way our entire village could contribute toward her having these fun weekly excursions and there’s nothing extra around the house for us to store!
Other fun experiences you could purchase for gifts could be movie passes, tickets to the latest kid musical or show “on ice”, or gift certificates to local attractions like the aquarium, the zoo or the science center. All these events can get pretty pricey for 3+ people so it can help take the pressure off families a little, especially those with multiple kids. And the little ones will have a blast, complete with precious memories that will last longer than a toy might.
Learning / aspirational toys + books
All that said, books, learning toys and aspirational toys are still phenomenal gifts as well. We’ve gotten tons of classic books, several Leap Frog brand toys, and blocks / stacking toys as gifts, aimed at helping Brooklyn’s language skills and dexterity.
My sister-in-law has a particular knack for getting Brooklyn the sweetest brown girl gifts, the kind I call “aspirational”. The latest she’s gotten are a pink toy airplane with a brown girl pilot, and a book called Little Leaders that tells the story of some really gifted black women in history! I love love love gifts that show Brooklyn examples of success by people who look like her, so she can have it embedded early on in life that she’s got options for her future.
Anytime you can get something customized or personalized, it’s a win in my book. I’m a huge fan of personalization through initials and monograms on everything possible, from iPad cases to linens, I think it’s such a fun touch! So I really loved that one of the gifts Brooklyn got was a story book, personalized with her name. Brooklyn’s Tea Party is an adorable little read, and she smiles every time she hears her name. I think kids enjoy seeing and hearing their names in unexpected places, especially if they have unique ones that you don’t see everywhere, and getting to read a story where they are the star is such a treat!
So anytime you can get something unique to the child, whether it’s a book, or a backpack or a tee shirt, it’s a good play in my opinion. It shows there was a lot of foresight and thoughtfulness when you were choosing your gift.
Both of my kids received savings bonds from family members for their first birthdays and I think an investment in the child’s future is among the most thoughtful you can give! In addition to a savings bond, you could contribute to the child’s savings account if the parents have opened one; you can even make donations towards a prepaid college trust or college investment plan.
Here in Maryland there are a couple of different plans parents can enroll in that will help make college more affordable in the future and anyone can write a check to the parents with the child as the beneficiary. Depending on the plan your contribution could either go towards locking in potential future tuition at current rates, or get rolled into an investment portfolio that grows the child’s balance to a tuition-worthy amount. With the costs of college tuition in the US rising steadily, your gift now could be of huge benefit to that family in 18 years. A very worthy investment, in my opinion!
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Have you done anything cool and unique for a young child's birthday, or received super interesting non-traditional gifts for your babies? Share the deets in the comments—I’d love to read about them!