Figuring out what to get a one year old for their birthday is generally a bit of a challenge.  They're not really a baby anymore, but yet, they're still not a full-fledged toddler.  And if you're like me, you're always in search of toys with staying power, toys that will still be relevant as your child gets older.  So this, my friends, is a list of our favorite First Birthday presents - and all of these toys have X and S's stamp of approval.  :)

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1.  Ball

A ball is such a great gift.  Kids can never have too many to play with and they are always fun.  Some of our favorite balls are:

and those $2-4 balls at grocery stores and Target (not pictured)

2.  Ball Pit and/or Slide

This is one of the absolute favorites at our house, both with our kids, and with their visiting friends.  Below is the set-up we had for S until last Christmas.  Her Christmas present from us was a big kid super-sized ball pit and slide (you can see it in our Art Room tour if you haven't already).   The set-up pictured below has 200 balls.

3.  Blocks

We love our block sets!  There are two different kinds of blocks that would make excellent gifts - large stacking block sets and regular wooden building blocks.  The large stacking blocks are so fun to knock over for babies and toddlers and S likes to use them as houses for her "guys" (plastic animal and people figurines) now in imaginary play.  The regular wooden building blocks are great for teaching shapes, colors, and for learning how to stack blocks.  Both kids use ours basically every day.

4.  Swing

So we're admittedly on the ridiculous side and have several swings - including some inside our house (it's really fun to have a swing inside - you should try it!).  These are three of X's favorites.

5.  Water Table

We use our Water Table all the time!  In both winter and summer.  If you're not already familiar with water tables, we have a post on Why You Want a Water Table that's worth reading - if not for any reason other than enjoying X's amazing expressions in the post's photos.  :)

6.  Cape

Yep.  A cape is so much fun.  For those little ones who are not yet walking/running, the cape is just perfect for Peek-a-Boo, and very shortly thereafter it will become a running cape...and then a beloved dress-up item.

7.  Pop-up Tents

We have had this set of pop-up tents for nearly three years now and they still get a lot of love.  The best part about them is that they collapse and store SO easily - something that was super necessary when we were really tight on space.

8.  Trampoline

Though X can't actually jump yet, he still loves to practice bouncing on this trampoline.  S is a full-fledged giant jumper now, and this trampoline is a great way to burn energy.  It also folds and stores really easily if you are tight on space.  :)

9.  Crayola Color Wonder

These are my favorite art supplies for teaching little ones how to make art.  The markers and paints only color on the special Color Wonder paper - so if little ones draw on themselves, the table, the get the picture...nothing happens!  This is great news for your table and walls and it also provides some great positive reinforcement for only drawing on paper.  S still enjoys using these now that she's older - she thinks they are magic.  They last quite a long time, too!

And just a final thought - all of the toys mentioned above do have great lasting power - meaning that it is often easy to find them in great shape secondhand, either at a consignment shop or via the classifieds.  Most of my kids' toys are secondhand and they don't mind at all - but we appreciate the savings!!!!

If you have any favorite first birthday gifts that weren't mentioned above, feel free to leave them in the comments below!  :)

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All activities here are activities I feel are safe for my own children.  As your child's parents/guardians, you will need to decide what you feel is safe for your family.  I always encourage contacting your child's pediatrician for guidance if you are not sure about the safety/age appropriateness of an activity. All activities on this blog are intended to be performed with adult supervision.  Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful, such as scissors, or items that could present a choking risk (small items), or a drowning risk (water activities), and with introducing a new food/ingredient to a child (allergies).  Observe caution and safety at all times.  The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any of these activities on this blog.


  1. We've given each of our kids a doll, a teddy bear and a car/truck for their first birthday. Simple and meaningful without being overboard.

  2. This is a fantastic list.
    We gave our first child a 13-piece set of pop-up tents (included standard pop-up tents, a few tunnels, and one ball pit) from Playhut. Almost 4 years later, those tents are still used almost daily by both our son and his little sister (and the many friends who come over to play), and they are still in great condition. I tell everyone it was the best $130 I ever spent.
    I was never a fan of the inflatable pool style ball pits, we had several friends who bought these and they were always popped within 6 months. Our ball pit is left out at all times but it collapses flat so no risk of popping. Perhaps with families who don't have pets, they might work well. It always seems to be the dog or the cat who pops the inflatable toys.
    We also gave our first born a trampoline for his second birthday and that is used daily as well. Excellent investment.
    Of course, because we gave our first born a trampoline and pop-up tents and a ball pit, we now struggle with what to give our second child for her birthdays. Since her brother happily shares all of his larger toys, we find ourselves giving her smaller gifts like books and blocks and balls. She seems happy enough but there is still a twinge of mommy-guilt for giving all the best gifts to the first born. Perhaps I should add those washable balls to her Christmas list. They look wonderful.

    1. Thank you Suzy Homeschooler! Ooooh - a 13 piece set of tents would be AMAZING! That is a great point about inflatable pools - we had to move ours to a cat-free room for that very reason! We do still love it, though I wish that the more permanent ball pits were less expensive but hoo boy are they pricey! Oh, I think that your second born is probably happy as a clam! X barely gets any gifts since all our toys are in great shape from S and he doesn't care one bit! :)

    2. Great List Asia! Our 13 month daughter loves all the things that she has that are on that list, and I'm sure she would love all the ones that she doesn't! I love the idea of magnetic blocks!

      As for ball pits, I really struggled with getting an inflatable one too! We have 2 little dogs and I didn't like the idea of always having to add air. But I love how squishy and fun they are. I ended up sewing one out of fabric and pool noodles. It only took an evening to do and I am NOT a very crafty person! Same squish factor as inflatable, but a lot more longevity.

    3. Oohhhh, that's so smart, Stephanie! I totally didn't notice that it wasn't inflatable, but it's ADORABLE and now I like it even more knowing you made it! Pretty sure once you've made something that cute, you can't call yourself "not crafty" anymore. Great solution to the inflatable problem!!!

  3. Awesome. Our big stacking/nesting blocks were majorly loved by both of my kids, as were the baby swing and trampoline. In fact, I can't recommend mini trampolines enough for kids- I'd much rather take the squeaky-jumpy sounds than a spastic kid with too much energy in the wintertime!

  4. Awesome post, awesome ideas! Totally in agreement about the balls. Our two-year-old still loves the very first balls we ever gave him - classic toys never go out of style!!
    Same with the cape, and they have the added benefit that everyone finds them super cute, and little ones go running around turning heads wherever they go :) .

    1. Thank you Renata! And excellent point about the cute factor with capes - added bonus!!!

  5. Great list. My husband came up with the perfect 1st B-day present. He got him a really high quality kids backpack. He loves to wear it and he now carries his own diapers!

    1. Oh, so fun and ohmygosh that has to be SO CUTE, Sea Sew!!!

  6. Great list! We gave our firstborn a rocking horse, a balance bike and a personalized backpack for her first 3 birthdays. Now our second child's 1st birthday is coming up and I'm wracking my brain to come up with a gift that matches the ones her sister got.

    1. It's so hard! Hope you got some ideas here... And happy birthday to your baby!


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