Gifts for a 1-year-old’s birthday are some of the most meaningful to pick because they celebrate such a memorable milestone. Moving from being a baby into toddlerhood is a big moment for the little one in your life, full of growth and learning. That’s part of what makes choosing a first birthday present so much fun.

Things that make noise, things that they can build up and knock down — this is where babies can have some agency.

Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

Professor of psychology at Temple University and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute

Dr. Kathy Hirsh Pasek headshot

The right present can help contribute to the birthday baby’s quest to explore and play. Beyond the cake smash and festivities of a first birthday, there’s a lot to celebrate in your little one’s development. This is the age of new abilities, and many firsts will occur in the coming months, such as walking, speaking, and self-feeding. It’s a big world, and in the second year of life, a toddler is ready to interact with it.

Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, says that although technology may have changed the toy offerings over the years, the classics still provide the enrichment toddlers crave. “What they really need are things they can touch, things they can smell, things they can hear, and things they can see.” A mom and grandmother herself, Hirsh-Pasek is the co-author of The New York Times bestseller “Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children” as well as “Making Schools Work: Bringing the Science of Learning to Joyful Classroom Practice.”

The best toys, Hirsh-Pasek suggests, are simple things like plush animals, construction toys, and items babies can play with to experience cause and effect. “Things that make noise, things that they can build up and knock down — this is where babies can have some agency.”

Best 1-year-old birthday gifts

If you know a baby who’s about to celebrate their first birthday, getting a thoughtful gift from this curated collection is the perfect way to mark the milestone. Get ready to wrap with confidence knowing the new toddlers will enjoy discovering these presents on their first birthday, offering them plenty of playtime fun for months to come.

First birthday gifts under $25

first birthday gifts soft lamb toy

Soft lamb toy with teether

With its soft, furry body and chewable ears, Bahbah the Lamb from Tikiri Toys makes a great new friend for the birthday toddler who will love its cute and cuddly design and charming huggable face. The perfect companion for a little one’s imaginative journey, it will also provide welcome relief during fussy teething times with its natural rubber teether head.

first birthday gifts Personalized Baby Hooded Towel

Personalized baby hooded towel

Let your tot indulge their imagination in some pretend play after bath time with the Woodland Adventure Personalized Baby Hooded Towel. Choose from a fox, owl, bear, deer, or raccoon, with the animal of choice appearing on the hood in a charming design that allows any child to live out their nature-inspired make-believe. Each towel is personalized with the child’s name both across the hood and within the adorable forest critter pattern motif.

First birthday gifts under $50

first birthday gifts plush Llamacorn

Plush llamacorn

Shimmering in rainbows and comforting pastels, the Gund®Sparkles™ Llamacorn is as mythical as it is endearing, with a sweet smile and cuddle-worthy soft plush unicorn-llama hybrid body. It’s sure to inspire plenty of magical moments and sweet dreams for the birthday child.

first birthday gifts plush Personalized Plush Teddy

Personalized plush teddy

Remember that stuffed animal you loved as kid? The one that was so soft and squishy and was always there to give a warm and comforting hug — or just carry around wherever you went? Give that same memory to that new toddler with the My Big Day Personalized Plush Teddy Bear. It includes an adorable bib that comes customized with your choice of six color motifs along with the recipient’s age and name, making it an instant keepsake. Birthday baby not a fan of bears? How about a kindly dinosaur instead?

first birthday gifts plush Tummy Time Ocean Buddy

Tummy time toy

With all the crawling, sitting, standing, and walking the little one will be doing, gift them a friend who will be right by their side for all the play and exploration. The Tummy Time Ocean Buddy is a whale of a gift that’s big enough to be a snuggle buddy or an interactive toy thanks to its seahorse and starfish plushie friends. There’s even a teething star attached for those moments when gums need soothing.

first birthday gifts plush Personalized Play Mat

Personalized playmat

Encourage tummy time play and the safe exploration of playthings with the Transportation Village Personalized Playmat. With its colorful “town” graphics, toddlers are whisked off to an imaginary community that makes a big world feel like it’s easily within their reach. Parents will also appreciate this mat offering a safe and sanitary floor environment that can be set up in seconds and is easy to clean.

first birthday gifts Personalized Kids Keepsake Box

Personalized keepsake box

Think of the fun you’ll have stocking the Woodland Adventure Personalized Kids Keepsake Box full of mementos from baby’s first year. It’s a priceless gift that anyone would love to enjoy looking through over the years. Or, build your own time capsule of iconic items from current times. In a decade or two, it will make a monumental gift to open!

first birthday gifts plush Tree Kit

Tree kit

Want a gift that will be remembered for years to come? How about planting a tree with the Seeds of Life Tree Kit?! Let little ones learn about gardening and ecology from an early age as they watch a grown-up give a baby tree a start on life in the included elegant pot. Then, when the seedling is big enough, it can be planted in the ground to grow along with the birthday baby.

first birthday gifts personalized plush playsets

Personalized plush playsets

Ready to pack in the first birthday fun? How about not one but multiple gifts all wrapped into one fun first birthday present? The My First Mini Tackle Box Personalized Playset by Baby Gund® includes a host of adorable fishing-themed plushies, from a pretend rod to a too-cute plushie worm, all stored in a super-soft “tackle box.” Not into fishing? How about a personalized soft toolbox for the tiny builder that includes a saw crinkle toy, screwdriver rattle, wrench squeak toy, and hammer with sound. You can also pick a personalized sports bag, complete with multiple plushie sports balls, or an extra-soft and toddler-friendly My First Purse, which, of course, includes all the essentials, such as a plush compact mirror, crinkly credit card and keys, and mini plushie “cell phone” rings.

First birthday gifts under $100

first birthday gifts Animated Mother Goose Plush Book

Animated Mother Goose Plush & Book

Introduce your little one to some of the most cherished nursery rhymes of all-time with the Animated Mother Goose Plush & Book. Not only will the tot be visually stimulated by the gorgeous illustrations from famed children’s author Tomie dePaola, but he or she will be mesmerized as the Mother Goose plush recites all the classic poems aloud. And what’s better for a 1-year-old than an interactive story time experience?!

first birthday gifts Personalized Blanket with Plush Puppy

Personalized baby blanket with plush puppy

Every toddler needs a special blankie that will be there for them from playtime to naptime — and it’s even better when it’s custom embroidered with their name on it. The Embroidered Satin Trim Baby Blanket with Plush Puppy Set allows you to personalize with not only a name but one of 33 thread colors and 18 unique fonts for a truly personal present. Pick between blue or pink, and each set includes the cutest color-coordinated plush puppy with irresistible puppy-dog eyes that just beg for a hug. Best of all, the entire set is machine washable and safe for all ages.


Jackie Rupp is a longtime writer and editor who enjoys covering home, family, and lifestyle topics. She usually writes with at least one cat by her side and juggles fostering kittens with dabbling in handmade crafts. A connoisseur of pancakes, you can find her brunching when not writing or working on home renovation projects.

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