30 First Birthday Gift Ideas Worth Celebrating

Once they hit the one-year mark, baby is officially a toddler—and the milestone deserves a memorable gift. Here are some surefire winners.
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By Martina Garvey, E-Commerce Editor
Updated April 4, 2023
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Baby is turning one—toddlerhood, here they come! If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve squared away your party plans and maybe even organized a cake smash—now you just need to think of some standout first birthday gift ideas. But it’s hard to know what to buy for the special occasion. Should you pick up something sweet, sentimental, fun or educational? As it turns out, the best first birthday gifts combine a mix of these key qualities. As hard as it is for parents to select something baby truly loves, it can be tricky for friends and family members too. Help them out by dropping a few subtle hints and suggestions—if you’d prefer wooden toys or practical gifts, just say so! Or you could go one step further and send them this gift guide (just saying).

Ready to start shopping? Whether you’re an aunt, uncle or friend looking for a small token, or a first-time parent searching for a show-stopping present, here you’ll find tips on how to choose the best gifts for baby’s first birthday. Plus, browse a few of our favorite products for one-year-olds to streamline your shopping experience.

How to Choose Baby’s First Birthday Gifts

Once children pass the 12-month mark, they officially enter toddler territory. What does that mean? They’re more mobile, perceptive and exploratory than ever before. One-year-olds can sit, and sometimes even start to stand and walk. They’re curious about their surroundings and extra interested in tactile sensations. At this stage, they’re fine-tuning other senses too and enjoy looking and listening simultaneously. And that’s not all—their one-of-a-kind personality will also continue to flourish as this milestone approaches. So when picking out baby’s first birthday gifts, find things that’ll spark their interest and encourage these skills. Some of our favorite developmental toys for one-year-olds include push-and-pull items, flash cards, textured toys and other stimulating playthings.

Before you buy, make sure that the item in question is age-appropriate and safe. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), toys that can fit entirely in a young child’s mouth—or items with small removable parts—are a no go, as they pose a choking risk to children under the age of 3.

Best First Birthday Gift Ideas

For first birthday gifts to really stand out, opt for presents that are surprising and feel personalized in some shape or form. That could mean a really cool design or even a custom-made product. Ready to see what we mean? From personalized presents to trendy toys and party outfits, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite first birthday gift ideas for girls and boys below.

Personalized story book

Wonderbly *Happy Birthday To You* Personalized Book
Image: Wonderbly
Buying Options

Here's how you can really encourage those perceptive eyes and ears. Storybooks are always thoughtful one-year-old birthday gifts, but this literature is next-level. Each page in this celebratory tale features a different animal to match the letters of baby’s name. The rhyming book is designed to help your little one identify their moniker and (eventually) learn how to spell it.

Wooden activity center

Manhattan Toy Tree Top Adventure Activity Center
Image: Maisonette

Engage your little one with this super-interactive first birthday gift idea. The wooden activity center features a colorful tree with six different bead runs and animal-themed gliders for hands-on learning. Not only is it excellent for developing kids’ fine motor skills, but it’ll keep them entertained for hours.

Ball pit for tots

Melissa and Doug Turtle Ball Pit
Image: Melissa and Doug

Imagine the sweet photo opportunities you’ll get with this totally awesome ball pit. Shaped like a friendly green turtle, baby can sit inside and play with 60 multi-colored balls that are easy to squeeze, grasp and roll. Once playtime is over, simply zip up the turtle for easy storage.

Montessori play kits

Lovevery Play Kit Subscription
Image: Lovevery
Buying Options
Lovevery|$120 per kit

Take the guesswork out of playtime with this awesome toy subscription by Lovevery. Designed by childhood development experts, each box is filled with age-appropriate toys and a guide that helps parents engage with baby through play. Oh and did we mention that this pick has been a Best of Baby winner for a few years running?

Star sign board book

Roxy Marj Baby Astrology Board Books
Image: Uncommon Goods

Introduce baby to their zodiac sign from the get-go with these beautiful board books. Based on the unique traits of each star sign, each tale boasts wonderfully whimsical illustrations alongside a few words of wisdom.

Plush sensory book

We've all seen textured kids' books, but none have caught our eye quite like this one. Your little one will delight in grabbing the "unicorn tails" poking out from the pages. Each one looks or feels different, encouraging your tot to learn and explore with their hands.

Classic outdoor toy

Little Tikes Rocking Horse Blue
Image: Walmart

Looking for first birthday gift ideas that offer serious bang for your buck? This classic rocking horse is hard to beat. It can be used inside and out, and the intuitive design means it’ll soon become baby’s favorite toy—not bad for $35.

Adorable stuffed bunny

Jellycat Bashful Beige Bunny Stuffed Animal
Image: Amazon

Plush toys are among the best first birthday gifts. Cuddly companions make great additions to playtime—plus, they can reduce anxiety for little ones at bedtime or during new experiences. This adorable bunny is just begging for hugs.

First birthday-themed doll

Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella Doll & Accessories Set
Image: Manhattan Toy

A doll is a great first birthday gift, as a plush toy can help kids self-soothe when they’re overwhelmed with big emotions. This pick is extra-special as it comes with a crown, cake and a bib that reads “happy birthday”—perfect for the milestone occasion!

Comfy PJs

Hanna Andersson Baby Zip Sleeper
Image: Hanna Andersson
Buying Options
Hanna Andersson|$35

First birthday gift ideas don’t have to be toys. A cozy pair of pajamas will always be welcome—especially if they happen to be from Hanna Andersson. Crafted from organic cotton, this sweet sleepsuit is just one great option available from the beloved brand.

Monthly book subscription

Little Feminist 0-2 Year Old Book Club
Image: Little Feminist

Kickstart a love of literature with a book subscription that celebrates diversity and inclusion. Each monthly box includes one picture book or two board books, plus bonus activities and discussion cards. And did we mention that this service is a Best of Baby award winner?

Plane ride-on toy

For memorable first birthday gift ideas, look for playthings that grow with your child. This push-and-ride toy isn't just totally awesome in appearance—the older your tot gets, the more fun they'll have, especially when they master the airplane's functioning steering wheel.

First birthday gift basket

Munchkin 1st Birthday Gift Basket
Image: Munchkin

Searching for practical first birthday gift ideas? Look no further than this gift basket packed full of best-selling baby essentials. Each item—from a leak-proof sippy cup and teething-friendly utensils to bath squirters—has been specially selected for one-year-olds.

Versatile ride-on toy

Skip Hop Zoo 3-In-1 Ride-On
Image: Skip Hop

This clever ride-on toy has three play modes that adapt to a child’s current stage of development. Early walkers can enjoy it as a push-and-pull wagon, tots on the move can use it as a tricycle, while older kids can take it for a spin in scooter mode. Bonus features include flashing headlights and fun sound effects. You can count on this present to be a favorite for years to come!

Colorful bath toys

Boon Fleet Colorful Stacking Boats Bath Toys For Toddlers With Drain Holes
Image: Boon

For one-year-olds, there's nothing quite like the look, sound and sensation of falling water. Bring playtime to the tub with this set of bath toys. We love that they’re shaped like cute little boats, come in a bunch of attractive colors and are stackable for easy storage.

Toy racing cars

WOW Toys The Turbo Twins
Image: Wow Toys

These cute race cars will delight your little car lover. With matching drivers and eye-catching colors, your toddler will have tons of fun racing them around, while strengthening their motor skills.

Sentimental journal

Elf Personalized Gifts Birthday Letters to my Baby
Image: ElfPersonalisedGifts/Etsy
Buying Options

Here's a perfect example of a unique first birthday gift that keeps on giving. This fill-in journal has space to write a letter to your child each year. What’s more, it’s personalized with baby’s name on the front cover. How memorable is that?

First ukulele

Get the party started with this rockin’ first birthday gift idea. The colorful ukulele is small enough for little hands to grasp and plays a variety of instrumental and animal sounds to teach your kiddo about cause and effect. They’ll love performing their one-of-a-kind songs for you!

Montessori climbing set

Cassarokids Etna Climbing Playset
Image: Cassarokids
Buying Options

This playset combines a pikler triangle, rocker and slide to create the climbing frame of your little one’s dreams. It’s a great tool to support baby’s physical development, all while having fun. Made from natural birch wood, each piece can be used individually or together.

First birthday custom wall art

Baby's First Year Custom Photo Art
Image: Minted
Buying Options

On the hunt for a first birthday gift that parents will adore? This custom wall art has got you covered. Personalize the present by adding baby’s name and a sweet photo from each month of their life so far. Then choose from several stylish frames to create a keepsake that’ll be cherished for years to come.

Super-soft towel set

Super Soft Animal Baby Hooded Towel & Washcloth Set
Image: Pottery Barn Kids
Buying Options
Pottery Barn Kids|$49

Thought luxury towels were just for grown-ups? Think again. Made from 100 percent cotton, this hooded bath towel is embroidered with playful eyes, a mouth and ears. Talk about a winning first birthday gift.

Organic cotton birthday tee

1st Birthday Milestone Graphic Tee
Image: Finn + Emma
Buying Options
Finn + Emma|$22

Commemorate baby’s big day in style with this graphic tee that reads “1st birthday.” It’s made from super-soft 100 percent organic cotton and printed with non-toxic, eco-friendly dyes. Plus, how cute will this first birthday gift look in party photos?

Personalized baby shoes

Memorable Baby Shoes Golden Boy Baby Shoe
Image: MemorableBabyShoes/Etsy
Buying Options

About half of one-year-olds can stand unaided, while a quarter start to walk at this age. Of course, it's A-okay if your child hasn't done either, but there's nothing wrong with a little encouragement! When it comes to birthday gifts for one-year-old boys and girls, it doesn't get much cooler than these personalized kicks. They'll support your little love’s first step, whenever it happens.

Punch and drop xylophone toy

B. toys Pounding Bench & Xylophone
Image: B. toys
Buying Options

Musical toys are always big hits with tots. Why? Kids love repetition (and making noise, of course). This cool toy combines both interests. Little ones can use the hammer to pound balls through the bench, and listen as they bounce off the xylophone.

Building block set

MEGA BLOKS Big Building Bag
Buying Options

Searching for a first birthday gift baby will actually play with? Go for a classic block set. Stacking the easy-to-grip bricks, clicking them together to make new shapes and knocking them down with a satisfying clatter will provide endless entertainment.

Shopping cart push toy

Wooden Shape Sorting Grocery Cart
Image: Melissa & Doug

This first birthday gift idea is so fun, baby won’t even realize they're improving their problem-solving skills as they play. The wooden grocery cart includes a built-in matching game, two puzzle boards and 12 wooden shape-sorting pieces. This pick is perfect for kiddos who love mimicking the adults in their life; they’ll have tons of fun filling their little cart with items around the house, and placing the mini coffee cup in the holder as they “shop”.

Interactive kitchen set

Is the one-year-old in your life a mini chef in the making? Then you can’t go wrong with this interactive kitchen set. The two-sided toy consists of a garden and a kitchen, teaching your tot about preparing tasty recipes from farm to table. It comes with 30 play pieces and features more than 175 sounds, songs and phrases for endless fun. Better yet, this pick is suitable for children up to 3 years old, so you can count on it to engage your kiddo for many playtimes to come.

Garden-inspired block set

The one-year mark is a great time to introduce your little one to STEM toys. These wooden blocks will encourage your child to think strategically as they build a garden, a tower or anything else they have in mind. What’s more, these toys click together, making it easier for newly minted tots to create sturdy structures.

Cozy armchair

Caramel Sherpa Bear Anywhere Chair
Image: Pottery Barn Kids

Make the most of your little one’s penchant for sitting with first birthday gifts they can, well, sit on. Take this cuddly chair, for instance. The lightweight design is easy for kiddos to move independently, so they can create a cozy corner anywhere in the home. And when messes occur—don’t worry. The slipcover is machine-washable and zips off for easy cleaning.

Farmhouse playset

Fisher-Price Little People Caring For Animals Farm
Image: Amazon

Last but not least is a farmhouse playset that your little one is sure to have heart eyes for. Think of it as a barn-themed dollhouse, complete with characters and animals that are easy for tiny hands to hold. Your kiddo will have fun inventing imaginative scenes as they explore the toy’s interactive elements, like the musical door, the hatching chicks and the ringing bell.

How We Chose the Best First Birthday Gift Ideas

We get it—parenting requires a lot of gear, and it can be hard to find the best fit for your family. To streamline your decision-making process, our goal is to do the bulk of the research for you, so you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through online retailers. We do this by considering a list of criteria when sourcing products, including ease of use, quality and durability, value, style and, last but definitely not least, safety. This way you can count on getting the best bang for your buck, while also having a dependable product that will meet your family’s needs.

To decide which products are the best options on the market, we leverage our familiarity with leading baby brands to make sure items are from reliable manufacturers. We read user reviews to get the lowdown on how these products work for families, and typically don’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating. And since many of us are also parents, we rely on our writers’ and editors’ experience using these products with their own families.

To make sure we’re highlighting products that are safe and effective, we followed the safety recommendations of the AAP to source safe playthings for your one-year-old.

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.

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