Nov 13, 2014

The Ultimate Baby Gift Guide

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It is my favorite time of year, and with all of the holiday excitement and cheer comes the need for another one of our trusty gift guides! Last year we brought you the much loved Ultimate Toddler Gift Guide and Ultimate Toddler Stocking Stuffer Guide. These are two invaluable guides that can definitely work for older infants and young preschoolers also. This year, with the arrival of our sweet baby Bentley, we are focusing on the babies in your life! This gift guide is separated into 8 easy to navigate categories ranging from inexpensive items to moderately expensive items. This guide isn't just for the holiday season though, these products would make excellent gifts for a baby shower or for any other one of baby's first holidays! A few of these items you will see are aged for slightly older children, but we don't like to hinder our babies' development over here and always offer toys at slightly more advanced levels. Use your best judgement when purchasing toys for your little one! Babies are super fun to shop for and there are plenty of exciting toys to pick up for them that will be both stimulating and educational. Don't leave them out! Get them something awesome this year!

When I think "baby gear", I think big ticket items or those items that take up a lot of floor space! We have a lot of baby gear over here and use it all at some point in baby's first year of life. Most of these items make phenomenal baby shower gifts, but if the baby you're shopping for doesn't have one of these, you can't go wrong with purchasing something that will definitely get used. I know I love getting my money's worth when purchasing a gift. One of the quintessential items that I think is fun for baby is the activity gym. It is where baby typically receives their first exposure to toys. The Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym is an awesome gender neutral rainforest themed playmat with vibrant colors and lots of different animals. Another attractive option is the Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym. I love the woodland theme of this activity mat and the sweet little animals that hang from the top to entertain baby. A super unique option is the Fisher-Price Piano Gym, Kick and Play which features a piano at the foot of the mat for your little one to kick. This develops both their muscle tone and strength while fostering a love for music. 

A swing is a must for younger babies. We love the Ingenuity Cradle and Sway Swing, Briarcliff. Both of my boys have used this gorgeous gender neutral baby swing. It has a little bit of a footprint and take up some space, but it is worth it. It is versatile, swings multiple ways and plays a variety of sounds and songs. We would be lost without this! A smaller rocker option is the Fisher-Price Infant-To-Toddler Rocker. We love how light this is. It gives you the option to move from room to room with it while doing chores during the day. It is comfortable and comes with bright hanging toys. The best part is that it turns into a rocking chair for your toddler. Kingston loves to sit and rock in it. It fits him perfectly!

As your infant gets a bit older, stationary activity centers are must haves that make spectacular gifts. The Evenflo Exersaucer Triple Fun Active Learning Center is our favorite. I've talked about this in posts before. Two years later, it is STILL the most visually appealing and most interactive exersaucer of its kind. We recently took a trip to Babies R'Us and everyone agreed, ours was the coolest one! I would definitely recommend it. It has three options - a playmat for when your child is a young infant, an exersaucer as they grow, and a fold out play center as they become mobile. This would make an amazing gift. Another great option is the Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo. It takes up a bit of floor space, but gets great reviews and is full of great objects for your baby to explore. A perfect option for smaller spaces or for a baby who loves to jump is the Evenflo SmartSteps Jump and Go. It has an activity center attached to it so that your baby will be able to have a blast while they jump. It hooks right into the molding of the doorway. Kingston loved this one, and I am excited to use it with Bentley in a couple of months!

For an older infant who is on the verge of walking, the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker  is amazing!! When they are smaller, they can sit on the floor and play with it. As they learn to walk, they can use it to build their confidence and skill level. It is really interactive and will even keep toddlers entertained. Kingston has always loved this walker and will still go over and play with when we are in the playroom! It has a lot of different interactive components, and will keep your little one busy all day. 

Books make the very best gifts. I truly believe that. For babies, the gift of a well stocked library is the gift that keeps on giving. There are so many fantastic options for books geared towards infants, but there are a few great ones that stand out in my mind. It's no secret that we love Usborne books. They make awesome and unique books for babies-teens. Their baby selection is really great! A favorite among everyone I know is the "That's Not My..." series. There is tons of books in the series from animals to mermaid/pirates to vehicles. Your baby will have plenty to look at. We love that the repetitive words and descriptive phrases provide ample opportunity for your little one to learn while reading. The That's Not My Animals 5 Book Collection is a great place to start! It comes with books about a bunny, duck, monkey, panda, and lion. Another great touchy-feely option from Usborne is Animal Hide and Seek this is part of the Farmyard tale series. On each page are plenty of tactile spots for your child to explore as well as lift the flaps. The story is really cute too! 

Another classic from Usborne is Find the Puppy. On each page there are fantastic illustrations and a sweet little puppy for your baby to spot. As your baby is developing, this book helps develop brain function, spatial reasoning skills, problem solving skills, and fosters language development. They also have a duck version: Find the Duck

Looking for some great bedtime stories specifically developmentally appropriate for your baby? Baby's Bedtime Storybox is a beautiful choice that will become a keepsake for your family! It is crucial to establish bedtime routines early with your little ones, and this box of books is the perfect introduction to bedtime reading with your baby. 

If you could only choose one book to give as a gift to a baby, I would choose Baby's Very First Big Playbook! There is something exciting on every page. There is a side panel full of different sounds for baby to explore, tactile spots on every page, lift the flaps, cut outs, and places for your baby to trace. Baby's explore and learn with their senses, and there is so much to discover inside this book. 

Looking to REALLY give an amazing gift? This Usborne Home Starter Library is AMAZING! It has so many awesome books for baby, it is a library in itself. This would make a great gift for any expectant mom or for baby's first holidays. 

Some other favorites of ours are: Llama Llama's Little Library - We LOVE Llama Llama over here! Kingston is really into the older books, but these board books are perfect for baby. Little Bentley will be getting these this year for sure. Jellycat® Soft Books, Pet Tails is a book we've had for years and is still in use! They have a lot of different books in this series. Each book is a soft fabric book with different animal tails protruding from the side. It makes the story very interactive, and your baby is using their sense of touch while learning about different animals. The Baby Lit series is an awesome way to introduce your little one to the classics while introducing a learning concept. There are plenty of titles in this series, but for the holidays, A Christmas Carol: A BabyLit® Colors Primer is a great choice! What baby doesn't love looking at themselves? For this purpose we love the Sassy Look Photo Book. It is so much fun for babies to look at themselves and their family members. It is a great way to work on family vocabulary such as, "Grandma, Papa, Mama, Dada..." etc! Quiet books are also amazing for babies. We like making our own here, but they take a ton of work. If you don't have the time or desire to create your own, My Quiet Book from Learning from A to Z is a great option. If you ARE interested in making your own (they make the most amazing interactive keepsakes) And Next Comes L has a great Guide to Making Your Own!

There are SO many toys out there for babies that the choices can be overwhelming! It can be daunting to choose something for your baby who hasn't been exposed to many toys yet. It's important to weed out the junk and choose quality. Classic toys are a great place to start! When I think baby's first toy, one of the products that comes to mind is a shape sorter. We love this Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube! Looking for a shape sorter that isn't wood, but is still made from natural materials? This Green Toys Shape Sorter is awesome too. Shape sorters are fantastic for learning spatial acuity, fine motor skills, shapes, colors, and more! They are an inexpensive and versatile toy that will definitely grow with your child. 

We are loving Hape toys lately! They are so durable and such quality. I also like that they use bright colors mixed with the natural wood. One gift that our baby will be getting this year is their bead maze. The Hape Double Bubble bead maze is an awesome first toy for your little one. It develops fine motor skills, promotes hand-eye coordination, and builds problem solving skills as your little one transfers the beads from one side to the other. The Hape First Pounder is another awesome Hape toy. It helps to develop gross motor skills and also hand-eye coordination! It also will help your baby develop strength in their hand and arm muscles. Pounding benches are classic toys that will last well into toddlerhood. Another classic toy that you can't go wrong with is an age appropriate puzzle! Big knobs and chunky pieces are a perfect match for infants who can grasp. Hape First Shapes Puzzle is an excellent first puzzle for your little one. The chunky shapes and simple design will help your baby learn colors, shapes, and spatial skills! 

Stacking toys make great gifts for baby. They have so much versatility and can be used in different ways throughout their childhood. We use stacking cups in sensory bins, water play, sand play, pretend play scenarios, and more! They can be used to learn colors, counting, and sorting skills. Tobbles Neo by Fat Brain Toys is a unique, award-winning stacking toy. It has phenomenal play potential as it can be played with in so many ways. It is a visually attractive toy and teaches all kinds of skills. For a more classic stacking cup, Stacking Cups by Green Toys are a really cute choice. They are star shaped and the set has three different colors in it. They can be stacked or nested. Blocks are also a phenomenal first stacking toy for your child. Blocks provide open-ended imaginative play and help to develop cognitive problem solving skills. We love the B. One Two Squeeze Blocks for baby's first block! They are colorful and soft, though they still retain their shape. They squeak, float, and can be chewed. These are long lasting and incredibly durable. On each block there are shapes to count and animals to look at. 

Two motor developing toys that we love are the Plan Toy Punch and Drop and the Playskool Busy Poppin' Pals Toy. With the Punch and Drop, your older baby is able to whack the different colored balls to make them drop into the bottom and pop out the side. This is a great toy to teach cause and effect. The Busy Poppin' Pals also teaches cause and effect as well as fine motor skills. My pressing, flipping, and turning the different knobs, your child can make an animal pop up. This toy can also be used to teach about different animals and about colors! These are both awesome classic toys that can grow with your baby. 

Looking for a first toy for your baby's bath? We love the boats from Green Toys! Both of my boys have a different one. The Green Toys My First Tug Boat and the Green Toys Submarine are our favorite. They are made of recycled materials and are incredibly durable. They make for great rinse cups too. I use them to rinse their hair and bodies!

Classic toys make great heirlooms. When I think of heirloom toys, immediately rocking horses come to mind. Rocking animals are awesome to pass down throughout the family, and make great gifts. The Melissa & Doug Plush Rocking Horse is attractive and delightful! This is a gift that will grow with baby. From the older infant stage where they can find it supported by an adult to the toddler years where they can ride it themselves, this is a gift that keeps on giving! Another heirloom gift that we personally love in this house is the B. Zany Zoo. We have had this toy since Kingston's first Christmas. He has grown up with it and it has proven to grow with him. At over 2 years old, this toy still gets attention weekly, if not daily. We are excited to pass it on to baby Bentley. There are four sides of play options that teach the alphabet, develop fine motor skills, and teach cause and effect. On top there is an awesome interactive bead maze (this is the part that Kingston still loves playing with the most). This toy is high quality and extremely durable. Ours isn't showing any wear after 2 years of play. We give this five stars and would definitely recommend it for your baby's first holiday! 

We are big on sensory over here - sensory bottles, sensory bins, sensory bags etc. Sensory toys are a great way to bring that aspect of sensory play to your very young baby without worrying about them getting messy (although we love that around here!) or worrying about any kind of activity setup. Every baby should have one of these fabulous sensory stroller toys such as the Lamaze Play & Grow: Torin the T-Rex . Two others that we love are Lamaze Play and Grow Take Along Toy: Rusty the Robot and the classic Lamaze Play and Grow, Freddie the Firefly, These toys are packed with things to look at touch, touch and manipulate, listen to (squeakers and crinkle), and chew. There are so many different textures and tactile areas to experience. These are great for on the go, clipping to bouncey seats, or exploring on a play mat during tummy time. 

Speaking of tummy time, two sensory items that are phenomenal for just that are mirrors and water mats! We like the Sassy Crib and Floor Mirror for learning self awareness and for developing neck strength. Baby will love holding their head up and strengthening their necks while gazing at their reflections in this sweet mirror. Infants are just learning about the world around them, and discovering their own reflection is important for sensory awareness! For water mats, we like the Earlyears Fill 'n Fun Water Play Mat. This mat is perfect for tummy time. Your baby can squish and pat the water mat and watch the ocean animals swim in the water. This is an awesome mess-free sensory activity that your baby will love even as they develop sitting and crawling skills. 

Sensory balls make a fun gift and excellent addition to a baby's toy box. This year, Bentley is receiving the Infantino Textured Multi Ball Set. This inexpensive set of sensory balls is colorful and durable. Each ball has a different color and texture for baby to explore with both their hands and mouth. Another sensory ball/shape set I have been eyeing is this amazing Ball Bounce and Sport TOYS Sensory Shapes. They are a variety of shapes and colors and are filled with small nubby spikes for your baby to explore while playing. A really cool sensory ball option is the Oball Rainstick Rattle. This ball and rattle allows your little one to use their sense of sight, sound, and touch to explore. The rainstick makes a fantastic sound that will engage your baby throughout play. Another engaging ball-type sensory toy is the Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Activity Toy. This is a unique toy made up of a series of different tubes that will be easy for even a really young infant to grasp and explore. The middle of the toy houses a noisy little rattle to engage your babies auditory senses.  

Musical toys are an excellent way to engage your infants auditory sense and they make great gifts! The gift of music is a beautiful gift to give to a baby. Creating a musical environment for you infant is so valuable. Click here to learn more about Creating a Musical Environment for Your Baby! Classic instrument toys like the Melissa & Doug Learn-To-Play Piano , Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Classic Xylophone and the Plan Toy Solid Wood Drum are awesome stand alone gifts to give to a baby. The piano is an awesome well-made piece that can grow with them. We like to gift babies with presents that can grow with them because the infant stage is such a fleeting time period. The basic xylophone is a classic gift that your little one will love tapping on. The Plan Toy drum is simple, well-made, and durable. It will encourage years of play from infancy and on, developing both musical ability and gross motor skills. 

Bentley will be receiving the Parents Magazine Bee Bop Band Play & Learn Drum & Instruments for Christmas this year. This is the perfect first instrument set for your baby. I also included it in The Ultimate Toddler Gift Guide because it is the type of instrument set that will definitely grow with your child. The instruments are whimsical, colorful, and very well made! 

Two musical toys that we really like are the Lamaze Musical Inchworm and the Fisher-Price Go Baby Go Poppity-Pop Musical Dino. The Lamaze Inchworm is a great naptime companion, with different squeaks, crinkles, and various noises for your baby to explore. It plays music when squeezed! The Musical Dino has over 8 songs and encourages the development of motor skills as well as color learning while developing musical awareness.

Every baby loves soft toys! They are snuggly and squeezable, much like them! When it comes to soft toys, just any won't do. Though stuffed toys are everywhere and it is very easy to acquire to many, we like to stick to quality when purchasing them. A first baby doll such as the Baby Stella Sweet Sounds Soft Nurturing First Doll makes a great gift. Also, a first teddy bear such as the adorable Gund My First Teddy Bear Baby Stuffed Animal. This bear is super soft and of superb Gund quality. It also comes in multiple colors! We like to choose special stuffed animals for each of our children that will transition to sleeping animals as they grow. I don't like adding lots of extras to the crib for safety reasons, but a sweet well chosen stuffed animal or two at the foot of the crib is a sweet addition. Each of my kiddos has a Ty Beanie Boos Zippy Green Turtle Plush, the larger one for K and the smaller one for baby B. We also love the Jellycat® Cordy Roy Fox which B will be getting for Christmas. Another really cute stuffy are the lanky leg animals from Melissa and Doug like this Melissa & Doug Lanky Legs Black Bear. These are really cute and easy for baby to grasp!   

The gift of sleep is not only great for babies, but for their parents too! Here are some items that make great gifts while ensuring your little one is happy and slumbering peacefully. A sound machine and mobile are extremely helpful additions to the nursery. We love our Tiny Love Soothe 'n Groove Mobile, and while B isn't out of our room yet, he thoroughly enjoys laying in his crib and gazing up at the different animals while listening to the variety of songs and sounds it comes with. There are so many options for this mobile, one of the coolest being that it transforms into a little boombox for your toddler once they are too old to utilize it in their crib. I think that is a really cool option that makes it an awesome gift for the family. The sound machine that we love the most is the myBaby SoundSpa Portable. We take it everywhere! It is such an awesome little sound machine. The noises are quality. The white noise especially is amazing. Both of my kids love sleeping with it, and I must admit I've gotten very attached to it too! 

Two other popular sleeping buddies are the Cloud b Gentle Giraffe On The Go Sound Machine and the Cloud b Twilight Constellation Night Light, Sea Turtle. Who wouldn't want a super cute giraffe who doubles as a sound machine in their little ones nursery? This giraffe plays four soothing sounds and has different time settings. It is also awesome for daycare and travel. The twilight turtle is a constellation night light that puts stars on your little ones ceiling. Your baby will love gazing at the different colored stars. 

The last item is a lovey! Loveys make adorable keepsake gifts that the baby AND the parents will cherish as a favorite. Of course, when purchasing a lovey, it is a personal preference. The one pictured here though is just too cute. If you haven't hopped on the "fox" bandwagon yet, this Fox Lil Snugglers 13" by Douglas Cuddle Toys might make you do it! I think this little lovey would make a really adorable gift for a baby boy or girl. 

When you think of how babies explore toys, the first thing that comes to mind is mouthing. Babies mouth toys for a variety of reasons. It is one of the first ways that little ones explore objects. Older babies also orally explore to soothe aching gums caused by teething. Some toys that we absolutely love for mouthing and chewing on are The First Years John Deere Massaging Corn Teether (this massager is great for soothing sore gums and is also just so darn cute!) , My Natural Soft Comfort Teether, Dino (this dino is made of natural materials and will be a joy for any little chomper),Vulli Teether Fanfan the Fawn (like it's Sophie counterpart only way cuter), and the Skip Hop Explore and More Roll Around Toy Hedgehog (which is both a ball and a teether in one!!). Each of these has a place in baby's toybox and would make great gifts or stocking stuffers!!

Looking for a cute gift for a pacifier loving baby? We are obsessed with Wubbanubs!! Kingston never took a pacifier, so I never understood what these cute little pacifiers with animals attached to them were all about. Now that my binky loving baby B is here, I get it! They help your little one keep the pacifier in their mouth, gives them something to hold onto, and doubles as both a soother and a toy. We are in love with the variety of animals that they have, but especially this WubbaNub DRAGON Pacifier

Another awesome teething related gift is an amber teething necklace. You can get these all over the place, but want to make sure you are purchasing a legitimate one. Typically the lighter the amber the stronger the relief. This The Art of CureTM *SAFETY KNOTTED* Butter w/white flecks is an excellent choice. The gift of teething relief is an excellent one for both baby and parent! 

The last, but DEFINITELY not least, gift idea that I want to share for you baby are SUBSCRIPTION BOXES! If you have never heard of subscription boxes, you are in for a treat. These are monthly boxes that get sent to your house every month full of goodies for your little one. These make AMAZING gifts because they can be gifts that keep on giving all throughout the year. You can purchase just one single month, 3 months, 6 months, or a year. Each month there will be a box delivered full of toys, books, health and wellness products, and/or snacks. The best part is your baby will get to be surprised while getting new toys and products each and every month.

We have both Bluum and Citrus Lane and love them both! I have reviews of multiple boxes (though the toddler ones on the blog), however, Bentley will be receiving both of these box subscriptions from various family members this year. These are great ways to be introduce to new brands and products that you may not have necessarily heard of before.

You can sign up for Bluum: HERE and receive 50% off your first box.

You can sign up for Citrus Lane HERE and receive 50% off your first box!

Interested in finding gifts for the rest of the kids in your life separated in convenient categories by age and interest? We are part of Gift Guides for Kids brought to you by bloggers from the Kid Blogger Network! There are over 75 unique and amazing gifts for every child, budget, and interest! Hop on over there to view all the rest of them.

Looking for gifts for your toddler? Don't forget to visit our Ultimate Toddler Gift Guide and Ultimate Toddler Stocking Stuffer Guide! A lot of the items featured can work for younger and older children also. 

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  1. Such an awesome guide. I have bought some gifts a month ago from Ginger Kids for the birthday of my niece. I bought some bibs, baby thermometer and baby backseat mirror. Do you think this presents are the best?

  2. We all need suitable baby gifts for the special occasion of our baby shower program. Most of the cases we have found that parents are looking for different types of baby shower gifts and products for their kids from different retail and online shops. Here in this article we have found some suitable example on how to choose different baby shower gifts for our baby; most probably baby products includes toys, diapers, clothes, baby gear items and many others. I am really thankful to get these kinds of valuable instructions about what kind of baby products we choose for baby shower programs.