First birthdays are tough. On one hand, it’s a huge milestone – you and baby made it through 12 months of 2am feedings, militant (or non-existent) nap routines, hundreds of kilometres of walking with the pram, first words, perhaps first steps – so naturally you want to mark it with the perfect gift and the perfect day. On the other hand, if you put him in the laundry hamper with some tissue paper and a balloon, and then let him mush packet mix cake into his hair, he’ll be the happiest baby on the planet.
So what do you do? We like the middle road: a special gift with a side of tissue paper and cake. With that in mind, here are our top picks for special presents.
Toys with longevity are the best. You get the most bang for your buck, and there’s less clutter in your house. Sound relevant to your interests? Then the Peace and Love Blocks from Wooden Story (above, $259) is the gift for you. This is the age where wooden blocks become a stack of fun, but these stunners, handmade in Poland, are also imprinted with messages of freedom, friendship, love and peace. All perfect ideals to bestow on the occasion of a first birthday.
Some people live in teeny tiny units (ahem, me) and others have dreamy sprawling properties or even just more than two bedrooms. For those families with a bit more space, a remote control Motorama Fiat is such an amazing first birthday present. Just imagine the photo ops for the party.
Around age one, a lot of stay-at-home parents are returning to work and babies are going off to child care. The most important bit of gear is a good backpack, and these colourful Japanese fabric, handmade packs from Lori Barcelona are perfect to hold all your little one’s most precious things: drink bottle, blankie, and a million changes of clothes.
Perfect for babies with older siblings is the retro Wishbone Wagon ($359). It starts out as a wagon for older kids to (carefully) pull the baby along, and transforms into a gravity racer or foot-to-floor car. It’s beautifully designed, and looks like it can stand a couple of generations of kids crashing it.
Sometimes the big presents are best left for grandma and grandpa to buy (and to keep at their house), and parents can get something that’s small and encourages creativity. Kid O toys make lovely colourful toys like the Mix & Match Animals ($34.95) or the Pattern Stacker.
It’s never too early for a geography lesson, and a World Map Peel & Stick wall decal (from $54) is a perfect place to start, not to mention it makes for a pretty nice nursery decoration. The design is geared towards pre-readers with continents bedecked with local animals and landmarks.
Age one means walking, and walking means my favourite thing ever: shoes. Lieblinge from Germany designs darling, soft baby shoes with a fashion forward edge. Take for example the buttery soft leather tan moccasins with fluoro pink tassels and soles. With most kids’ shoes, you only need to blink twice before they’ve grown out of them, but Lieblinge shoes stretch a full two sizes.
Every special occasion calls for a special outfit, and we love Purebaby’s spring/summer 2015 collection for little boys and girls. The flutter sleeve, embroidered sundresses or little checked shorts and cardigan ensembles are great for summer birthday parties.
Babyhood is all about the simple pleasures: crawling through the middle of a picnic and taking all the food with you, splashing the biggest splashes in the bath to effect a total bathroom soaking. We can’t save your bathmat, but we have found some bath toys that don’t get mouldy and disgusting: these natural rubber duckies, boats and shapes from Oli & Carol.
My grandma was a librarian and believed that no present haul was complete without a book, and we’ve got the perfect one for this particularly special birthday: The Adventures You’ll Have, a collaboration between online retailer Hippo Blue and author/illustrator Brett Curzon. The book comes personalised with your child’s name in print and is all about the adventures that she can have in the world. An apt first birthday gift if ever there was one.
Our last first birthday gift isn’t a thing, but rather an experience that the family can enjoy for a whole year, especially on those rainy days when no one can face another moment of being cooped up in the house. It’s a museum pass. I can personally vouch for the awesomeness and one-year-old appropriateness of the Australian Maritime Museum in Sydney. They’ve got two play areas, wide open spaces and great tours for older siblings.
Happy birthday to your little one. Here’s to an amazing year!