Please don’t let the title of gender neutral gift ideas for 1 year olds put you off reading this. It doesn’t have to mean that you buy everything in yellow and rigorously avoid anything with even a hint of polarity to it. I just like to offer suggestions of toys and gifts that will do for either girls or boys, especially as, at only one, they’re still so fluid in their play and haven’t succumbed in any way to societal expectations of what’s appropriate. So if you have a grandchild, godchild, niece or nephew to buy for – or even if you’re struggling to think of something your own child will enjoy this Christmas or for their first birthday, perhaps this will help.
Plus, having witnessed my friend’s pink and glittery sitting room when her 1 year old daughter had opened all her gifts from family and heard her describe it as “looking like a unicorn had vomited over it” I figured that maybe a few alternatives would make a nice change for those who struggle to think of ideas.
1 – (a) A dolly. Yes! A dolly is gender neutral. My son adores his ‘baby’, especially once his little sister was born. If you’re going to get your knickers in a twist about it you can even buy boy dollies for little boys, but these make really great toys for little children. Even if the child is not fond of role play games and doesn’t play mummies and daddies with his/her new ‘baby’, a dolly can still provide a really useful opportunity for *you* to do role play with them putting ‘baby’ to bed, in a bath, changing nappy – it can be a simple way for a child to visualise their daily routine or to regain some power by acting out those routines with someone smaller than them. I prefer the rag doll styles like this one, but sometimes a nice waterproof plastic one works best!
1 – (b) – Dolly accessories. Our dollies get bathed in a washing up bowl, it’s true, but you can get little plastic baby baths. We do, however, have two dolly slings, a dolly-sized moses basket and stand, several blankets and a few babygros. If there’s something your child particularly loves ‘pretending’ then buy the accessories for that. Have fun with it! Great for kids who already have a much beloved ‘baby’.
2 – A walking companion – Any type of push- or pull-along toy will suffice. Currently The Girl is rather besotted with Duck-Duck (the poor fellow has even lost his beak now he’s been dragged on so many walks) but the Duck Family, Mousie and Flowery-Cow have all been in and out of favour over the last few months! This blue flappy duck is similar to the one she loves, but there are lots of different designs out there, so you’ll find one that’s perfect.
3 – Musical fridge magnet. We got this second-hand when The Boy was 1 and it has been in almost constant use ever since. It stops the child from lusting after the ‘grown up’ magnets higher up the fridge and keeps them happily entertained in the kitchen without dragging in tonnes of toys for you to trip over when you step backwards. Children upwards of 5 still like to play with this toy and the annoyingly catchy tunes will have you humming all day!
4 – Musical instruments – yes, you may well regret this, but one year olds love to make noise, so drums, xylophones, glockenspiels, annoying electronic guitars with flashing lights, hell – even an old water bottle filled with dried beans or rice will provide hours of endless fun. Though you may want to get yourself some ear defenders at the same time…
5 – Headbands/ears/masks – it’s the precursor to ‘proper’ dressing up and many small children just love to pretend to be something else. Even if they don’t there’s a good chance they’ll find it endlessly amusing to hand it to you and watch *you* look silly, so whether it’s bunny ears or a lion mask, a sparkly tiara or a pair of flashing deely boppers the chances are these will be a popular gift – plus they can go towards your stock of “oh help it’s world book day tomorrow” emergency fancy dress gear!
6 – Stacking Blocks – Whilst Duplo may be played with it’s probably a bit advanced until they’re reaching the tail end of being one, whilst some nice wooden blocks can be built up, knocked down and banged together by most small children. If you want bonus points get some blocks that come in a little truck. Even early walkers like The Girl, who have perambulation totally nailed by the time they’re one, still like to take a truck for a walk and they’re great for pushing various other toys around in. Other stacking toys, like this beautiful wooden rainbow are also popular and even look like cheerful little works of art on your shelves.
7 – Scuttlebug/trike – yes, they will probably go backwards at first, but watch any small toddler at play group and they will gravitate towards the ride-on toys like bees to a flower. We like the Scuttlebug because it’s light, yet stable and you can fold the legs up for easy storage and portability. Some parents like to buy these little Tike tricycles with the push-along handle as a follow-on from a buggy, but neither of my kids would be content to just sit quietly whilst they’re pushed along, plus we have nowhere to store this rather more bulky item.
8 – Books – To be fair I recommend books for every age, but for one year olds the touch and feel ones like the “That’s not my…” books are great. The ‘Acorn Wood’ series from Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler are very popular too, with lift-up flaps which The Boy and The Girl fight over when he’s ‘reading’ to her. Bit of a bargain at £2.99, as well*. Animal books are fun too, helping smalls learn animal noises which are often some of the first words they utter (although I personally think ‘poo’ is more useful than ‘moo’, but go figure).
9 – Toy cars – eco wooden ones, colourful plastic ones, ones with big wheels, teeny metal ones which you steal from your big brother – anything with wheels is fun to play with as you zoom it back and forwards. A nice lead in to things like Brio which makes a great present for a two-year-old as it requires a bit more co-ordination to get the track together.
10 – Plastic or wooden animals – as with the books these are endlessly fun to play with because they make grown ups say silly words like ‘moo’ or ‘oink’ and children are nearly always fascinated by animals. Get wooden or plastic, any size and I can guarantee they’ll get played with for hours – plus they go on and on as even older children find ways to integrate them into games.
I’ve added in some links to show you examples of the kinds of things I mean. If you click through and decide to buy then I get a tiny kick back as a thank you, so if you’re going to buy anyway and would like to support my blog then do consider it. I’m not necessarily recommending the specific brands linked to, so feel free to shop around once you click through!
*Price correct at time of publication