What are the best first birthday gift ideas?

Between my daughter turning 1 recently and going to kid’s birthday parties, this question has been coming up a lot!

  • What were her favorite 1st birthday gifts?
  • What did we love amongst her presents that we want to buy for other kids?
  • What are the best toys for a 1 year old? What are the best educational toys for a 1 year old?
  • What are the unique gifts for a 1 year old?
  • What are the award winning toys for a 1 year old?

Now that we’ve had time to try out her presents and talk to other parents, here are the best presents for a 1 year old.

When I googled “best gifts for 1st birthday”, I was shocked to see that many of these weren’t on other people’s lists!

These first birthday presents will work for both boys and girls. They’re inexpensive and good value for your money! Some of these things will be enjoyed for years to come.

They’ll nurture your toddler’s development and curiosity. Very importantly – they’ll help during full-blown tantrums!

Best 1st Birthday Gifts

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21 Best Gifts for a 1 Year Old

1. Reusable activity pads

I first heard about these from my sister-in-law who was raving about how my niece spent hours playing with these reusable activity pads!

How are they reusable?

The ink is water!

When the pen (filled with water) hits the paper, a color appears. When it’s dry, the color disappears and it can be reused! As the ink is water, you don’t have to worry about messy hands! If the pen gets misplaced, you can also use a paint brush dabbed in water!

This is a unique first birthday gift! This toy has ALL of the components parents want:

  • No screen time
  • Develops reading and writing
  • Inspires creativity

This 3 pack builds language skills through the alphabet, animals and numbers. For the amount of hours your kid will enjoy, it’s good value for your money!

The pages are a thick cardboard material so they’re not easily ripped or chewed!

These pads are meant for ages 3-5, but my niece started using this at 18 months and I’ve seen other young toddlers also use them. Just supervise your child until he or she develops the fine motor skills and judgment to not use the product improperly.

great presents for a 1 year old

This is a Melissa & Doug product. If you’re unfamiliar with the Melissa & Doug brand, NBC called them the “gold standard in early childhood play”. You know you’re getting quality.

2. Bib with Sleeves

If you are new to babyhood, you might be wondering, what do 1 year olds eat? My 1 year old eats EVERYTHING I eat!

Most of the food was pureed initially, but now she’s eating food in chunks!

While this silicone bib worked well when she was 6-12 months, she’s NOW moving her bib out of the way and wiping her mess all over her clothes. She’s also bigger. The bib doesn’t cover most of her front side.

Then I heard about this Kushies bib with sleeves from another mom who got it as a first birthday present.

I LOVE this bib because it’s:

  • Wide and long so it completely covers her shirt.
  • Waterproof and easy to clean
  • Light so it’s comfortable for her
  • Got the same pocket to catch food
  • Got velcro tabs that fasten easily around her neck

Even though the sleeves cover her shirt, I recommend rolling up your child’s shirt sleeves because the bib sleeves are wide and food can get in.

Before I got this, I thought long and hard about whether we actually needed this because we already had the other bib. I’m so glad we got it! The other bib just wasn’t working as a bib anymore.

unique 1st birthday gifts

This bib with sleeves SAVED SO MUCH TIME that would have been spent washing her clothes after EVERY meal.

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3. Blocks

This was another first birthday gift that we loved!

This bag contains 80 Lego-like pieces with different shapes and sizes. They’re large and visible so I haven’t stepped on them yet unlike her other smaller toys.

The blocks come with a reusable storage bag for easy clean up!

The thing I LOVE MOST about these blocks is I can see we’ll get years of use out of them! Right now, she loves biting and taking the pieces a part. In a year or so, she’ll eventually learn how to put the blocks together and build structures.

These blocks are the #1 preschool construction toy. It’s for ages 1-5! They’re also a great development tool and will stimulate her creativity for a while! This is EXCELLENT value for your money.

what to buy a 1 year old for her birthday

4. Blocks Table

This first birthday gift idea is a bit of a splurge!

This table comes with 20 blocks and 2 rolling wheels. It’s compatible with other blocks. It’s portable so you can easily fold it and take it to grandma’s house! There’s also an interior storage.

We got this table to encourage our 1 year old to build with the blocks. The table definitely makes it easier for her to play. It provides guidance so she better understands how things fit together.

It also provides a place to contain her blocks so they don’t end up everywhere!

best gifts 1 year old

5. Phone

We love this toy phone my 1 year old got on her birthday!

It’s sturdy – it’s lasted through drool, bites and her throws! She can easily grab it one-handed.

It’s a good size – small, but not bulky so it fits well in the diaper bag. There are different volume settings so you can adjust it if you’re in a quiet environment.

There are fun songs and a green screen with animation that teaches her how to chat and count. Although this is an educational toy, it does have “screen time”. Experts say to limit screen time for kids under 2 years old. Just something to be aware of.

It’s still a great toy to have in your mix! When we were on a plane recently, this toy was a lifesaver! It’s also a great price!

unique birthday gifts for 1 year old boy

6. Musical Instruments

My 1 year old loves playing with musical instruments.

I love how this musical set includes a large variety of instruments including a xylophone, shaker, tambourine, hand bell etc. You can jam together as a family!

The different instruments will develop her interest in music and hand eye coordination. It has a carrying bag to keep things organized.

This is technically for age 3+ so you would need to supervise while your kid is playing with it. You’ll probably join in on the fun anyways!

It’s a great price for the amount of instruments you get!

birthday gifts for 1 year old

7. Non-Onesie Shirts

While I was grateful to receive onesies on her first birthday, my favorite shirts were all non-onesies.

This is because 1 year olds move around a lot! It becomes increasingly difficult to get them in and out of a onesie with the 3 buttons you have to snap together around the diaper.

Save the mom and dad in your life time and get regular t-shirts.

Amazon’s Spotted Zebra brand is highly rated, inexpensive and has many fun designs for these types of clothing essentials.

1st birthday gift ideas for niece
unique birthday gifts for 1 year old boy

If your 1 year old is going out in the sun, a fellow mom introduced me to these breathable UPF 50+ long sleeve shirts.

I would have been so happy to receive these as a first birthday gift! This saves you from having to constantly reapply sunscreen every few hours!

1 year old birthday gifts

8. Leggings or Comfortable Pants

While jeans and corduroy can look cute, it’s more of a pain for parents to navigate. This especially applies to overalls with all the buttons between the legs.

This type of material is also constricting. Babies are growing everyday and you don’t want to restrict their movements and growth.

For all these reasons, I greatly appreciated when my 1 year old received leggings for her birthday.

She got them in size 2T and she’s been able to wear them until well past 2 years old.

That’s what’s great about leggings – they have a long lifespan! You can fold or squish them up when they’re too long. Your 1 year old can also wear them when they’re too short as capris.

They’re easy to put on. There are no buttons to navigate! They’re comfortable for your 1 year old.

best birthday gift for 1 year old baby girl
first birthday gift ideas

For boys, these ones from Carter’s look like they’re just as comfortable and easy to navigate.

gifts for 1 year old

9. All-In-One Toque and Scarf

Another mom told me about this all-in-one toque and scarf. This would have been a great gift for a 1 year old.

It’s so much faster than putting on the toque and scarf separately each time. You don’t have to worry about one piece going missing.

1st birthday gift ideas
presents for 1 year old

10. Snack Storage

1 year olds are constantly eating.

A Bento Box is a useful first birthday gift for on the go meals.

It’s also practical for portioning out your toddler’s meal. There are additional compartments to separate soups or sauces.

The lunch bag that comes with this set is insulated and can maintain the food temperature for 2-4 hours.

What I love about this gift is that your 1 year old can grow with it. While it’s useful now, he or she will also be able to use it in preschool and perhaps later years as well.

1st birthday presents

11. Faucet extender

This 1st birthday gift is not the most fun present to receive, but it’s entirely necessary! And you wouldn’t even think so until you’re wrestling with your toddler over the sink to wash her hands!

This faucet extender gives your 1 year old the independence to wash his or her own hands!

best 1 year birthday gifts

She or he will not be tall enough for a while so you’ll get a lot of use out of it.

Just remember to wash it once every few weeks because it can develop mold.

1st birthday present ideas

If there are any issues, you can rest assured because there’s a lifetime warranty!(Related gift to consider: Dual Height step stool for kids that can be used under the sink or for potty training!)

birthday gifts for baby boy 1 years old

12. First Walking Shoes

I had read about the benefits of keeping your baby barefoot as long as possible.

When my little one started walking, I tried to keep her barefoot. She quickly went from taking a few steps to wanting to walk everywhere herself. We had to find outdoor options!

These Stride Rite sneakers are genuine leather with a rubber sole so they’re soft and durable.

I love how they offer great support and promote natural foot and balance development.

There’s a memory foam sole so it’s extra comfortable. They’re easy to put on with the velcro strap.

1 year old birthday gift

Stride Rite has a large variety of baby shoe styles to fit different tastes.

13. Tiny Scissors

It might seem odd to see Tiny Scissors on this list, but they have been a game changer! Making meal prep for a 1 year old is SO MUCH EASIER!

I found out about these from my mom! She got them as a gift for my sister-in-law because she was struggling to chop up food for my niece when we were at a restaurant.

While you can use any pair of scissors, these tiny scissors are DESIGNED for parents to efficiently cut up their children’s food:

  • They’re compact and portable – made for taking on the go
  • Has a child-proof blade
  • There’s a ruler on the blade so you can measure the food and not be worried about choking hazards
  • Faster and easier to use than a knife and cutting board. You can also make fun shapes for kids!
  • BPA and lead free

Like other scissors, after you wash them, dry them immediately before storing to prevent rust!

This pack comes with 2 scissors so you can have one in your diaper bag and one for the kitchen!

unique 1st birthday presents

Recap of the Best Presents for a 1 Year Old:

  1. Reusable activity pads
  2. Kushies bib with sleeves
  3. Blocks – 80 pieces
  4. Blocks table
  5. Leap Frog phone
  6. Musical Instruments
  7. Regular t-shirts, breathable UPF 50+ long sleeve shirts
  8. Leggings, Carter’s boys pants
  9. All-in-one toque and scarf
  10. Bento Box
  11. Faucet extender
  12. Stride Rite sneakers
  13. Tiny Scissors
  14. Suction feeding mat
  15. Trainer cup
  16. Fisher Price Walker
  17. Usborne 6 Books Box Set, Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?, From Head to Toe
  18. Toy ball
  19. Bath spout cover
  20. Socks with grips
  21. Diapers and wipes: Pampers diapers, Kirkland Signature Tencel Baby WipesHonest Company Diapers, Pampers Pure DiapersWater Wipes

Related 1 year old Gifts Articles:

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First birthday presents
Best Gifts for a 1st Birthday

Other first birthday gift ideas you recommend?