Whether you are about to buy a gift for a baby yourself, or looking to give suggestions to friends or relatives, I have some great baby-friendly ideas for you. These simple toys are great for babies' attention span, creativity, and growing brains!
1. Kitchen equipment
Kitchen equipment makes great toys as it is already food safe. For a six month old, my favorite gifts to give are measuring spoons or silicone baking cups. Measuring spoons make a wonderful rattle, and silicone makes a satisfying teether. Mixing bowls and condiment cups are also delightful!
2. Big water jugs
For an older baby, my favorite gift to give is a large, wide-mouthed water jug. I often give this as a set with some small objects like hair rollers, wooden clothespins, or wiffle balls to put inside it. Of course, children often have more interesting ideas about what to do with these loose parts than I do, so I never show them that they "should" put the objects in the big jug...they will figure it out. That is part of the fun!
Every child, boy or girl, should have at least one realistic doll. In my RIE® Parent Infant Guidance™ Classes, I always have at least one realistic doll so that the children have a place to explore eyes and hair without disturbing other babies. As children get older, they use dolls to process their lives through pretend play, especially care activities like diapering and feeding. A realistic doll is also a useful tool for a parent to help the child understand something that will happen soon. For example, a parent can take a doll to the "dentist" or demonstrate a new bedtime routine. This is a great way to help children understand their lives.
4. Gross Motor Structures
In my classes, I like to joke that babies are filled with helium, because the inborn desire to move up in space is so impossible to stop! From those first efforts to lift the head when lying on their back, through crawling, sitting, climbing on low platforms, walking, running, and climbing trees, babies are very much upwardly mobile. If you have the space for it in your home, the gross motor structures from RAD Children's Furniture are just fantastic. If you are local to the San Francisco Bay Area, I highly recommend the RIE® style "Free To Be Movers" furniture being made by f(x) cutting.
5. Tools for building
Older children thrive on building. Duplo Lego blocks and wooden unit blocks always get a lot of use! The building phase of play starts around 3 years old and continues through preschool and the school years.
6. Tools for independence
Once children can stand securely, you can invite them to participate in cooking with you. A learning tower, or kitchen stand, is a great tool for this, and I particularly love this one on Etsy that can fold into the perfect toddler eating (or coloring) bench. You can use this fantastic tower to make it safer for your toddler to wash dishes, chop food with a Montessori style knife, or simply watch you cook.
There are LOTS more toy ideas in my toy guide. And if your problem is you already have lots of toys...this post on toy overload has got your back! Do you have other good gift ideas for babies under two?