Let’s be real, everyone knows it doesn’t matter what you get your baby – no matter what it is, he’s just going to want to play with the box it came in. Or a spatula. Or the TV remote. Or the dang Christmas tree that now has multiple layers of security surrounding it to protect it from his sticky, grabby, destructive paws.
But, we all still have this irrational desire to get our child the “perfect” gift, one that will surely bring him endless joy, that he’ll remember forever and ever and definitely not forget all about the instant he spots the pile of wrapping paper trash from across the room. So, now that I’ve gotten a year of overzealous toy-buying under my belt, it’s easy to look back and remember the ones that actually did stick around for more than 5 minutes. Here are some of the favorites at our house from each stage:
- Fisher Price Sit-Me-Up Seat, $27.99 – Someone probably bought you a Bumbo seat at your baby shower, but return that overpriced hunk of rubber ASAP and get this instead. The Sit-Me-Up seat can be used much longer (basically as soon as baby can hold their own head up), because it’s much more supportive than the Bumbo. We got this when my son was 8 weeks old, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it changed my life… it was the only thing that made him happy, and it allowed me to do crazy, frivolous things like eat meals, do dishes, and brush my teeth.
- Sassy Wonder Wheel, $7.75 – Babies at this age are fascinated by colors and moving objects. Stick this thing to the table in front of them and spin it, and watch their minds be blown.
- Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes, $5.00 – This thing is basically a baby iPod. We keep one at home and one in the diaper bag, and it still rescues us when we’re stuck out and about somewhere and the monster gets bored. A whole year later! It’s $5! Just buy it!
- Noggin Stik, $19.99 – If you buy one thing off this list, make it this toy. I know, it’s a $20 rattle and that’s nuts. But my 1-year-old literally still laughs at this damn thing every time we pull it out. I don’t know what’s so funny about it, but he’s had it for 6 months and it hasn’t gotten old yet (and according to the Amazon reviews, he’s not the only one), so it’s clearly made of magic.
- Manhattan Toy Winkle Rattle and Sensory Toy, $10.00 – Babies at this age just love to make noise and whack themselves in the face with stuff. This toy allows them to do both, and thankfully it’s soft enough that he won’t hurt himself when he does.
- “If I Were a Monkey” Board Book, $12.50 – This is the age that babies start to be fascinated by different textures and fabrics, so touch & feel books are perfect. This one has a tail that you can fluff in their face, which is always a big hit in our house.
- Playskool Rocktivity Table, $47.90 – Probably any activity table, but this is the one we inherited from a friend, and it’s the bomb. It’s a little baby DJ table, but the music it plays doesn’t make you want to shove toothpicks in your ears after 5 minutes. When my baby started pulling up, this was his absolute favorite toy, and it’s still in our regular rotation.
- Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Learning Center, $39.99 – This thing will keep your crawling baby busy. The batteries died on ours a couple months ago, and I keep forgetting to replace them, but my baby still plays with it, so that’s a plus.
- Ball Pit + Balls, $33.50 – Y’all. This ball pit is the single best thing I’ve ever done for my kid. We got it when he was about 7 months old, and he is still obsessed. He spends 75% of his day just climbing in and out of it. Sometimes he sits in it and throws every single ball out of it. Sometimes he runs around to the back of it and smooshes his face against the mesh to look through it. Sometimes he tries to climb on top of it (you win some, you lose some). If you have room for it, you must do this.
- VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker, $24.99 – Another long-term toy. This one can really be used as soon as baby is sitting up. Mine would sit in front of this thing banging on it long before he could pull up and try to walk with it. But once he started cruising, this thing was his best friend. (Downside: he started walking at 11 months, and this thing might be to blame for that.)
- Little Tikes Activity Garden, $73.41 – This one is great for crawling babies and walking babies (and the awkward, destructive phase in between). Mine would go in through the slide, out through the window, in over the side, back out the door… ’round and ’round. Now that he’s walking, we keep it opened up and he just runs around it.
- Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Blue Crawl Around Car, $50.00 – In and out, in and out, in and out (are you sensing a pattern with my child?). All day long. There are so many buttons for him to press, and things to turn and grab and pull; it’s pretty close to endless entertainment.
Let me know what you’re getting your babies this year–in case by some miracle we don’t already have it stashed away here, obviously I’ll need to get it. And don’t forget about mom: in case you missed it, check out the Gift Guide for Hangry Mamas, too!