All through the year we get stressed-looking shoppers in the store searching for something different, so here goes. This series of posts will be divided by age of the recipient.
Infants (Birth to age one)
Don’t worry about picking just the right item, as babies change and grow so quickly that it’s practically impossible to hit the target every time. Consider, instead, choosing a gift for the next higher age increment — for the child’s first birthday, say, pick a toy designed for an eighteen-month-old. Odds are that, on any given occasion, the child will get an embarrassingly large number of gifts that he will grow out of quickly; this way, the parent can put away your gift for a couple of months and pull it out when the child grows into it, and all his current toys suddenly seem too young.
This strategy works well as long as you don’t zoom too far ahead: don’t give a baby anything designed for a child over the age of three, or that has obvious small pieces, unless you make it quite clear to the parents that this is a keepsake item not suitable or safe for their baby to play with at this time. All toys which are not considered to be safe for children under the age of three are required by law to be so marked on the package.
- traditional infant crib toys such as rattles and baby-safe mirrors, musical toys, and so-called “tummy toys” like patterned floor quilts with interesting visual components.
- toys that encourage exploration and coordination, such as blocks, stacking and nesting cubes, and bead frames.
- soft fabric books with simple art and words
- first wooden puzzles with large pieces (make sure they are not the ones with small plastic knobs, which are designed for older children)
Next time: ages one to two years.