Baby Gift Guide
Toys are special to children, they not only teach our children about the world and themselves, they also communicate values. Because of this, I try to be very intentional about the toys I give to my children.
A few things to note before getting into my gift guide:
- Less is more. You don’t need any of these toys, but they are the toys my kids have loved and continue to play for many years, therefore not just for babies.
- My recommendations are listed across eight categories of toys, to encourage well-rounded play experiences. This is inspired by the Multiple Intelligence theory, which helps me to think about what to add to their existing collection.
- The toys I chose, I found to be best in class. But also, because they fit our values of simplicity, quality and sustainability, shared by the artisans who created them.
Here are the eight play categories for toys that I recommend for babies.
Nature Play. This category is about connecting children to mother nature, so they can explore and experiment in their world.
Pictured here is a Haptic lab swallow kite, whilst it is a kite, it also makes the perfect mobile for a nursery or as a décor piece in the home.
For a baby, a mobile is a must-have for focus, hand-eye coordination, movement, and shape. As a first-time mum, I bought my baby a brightly coloured mobile with hanging animals, which made music. For my second child, I hung up two haptic lab birds and I can say it’s definitely visually stimulating (especially as it catches the light breeze) as well as calming to the baby. Our kites are now hung up around our home and we can also use them as kites now.
Music Play. This category is about exposing children to music during early childhood, whether it's through listening, singing, dancing or playing music as even the youngest of babies are able to differentiate tones, frequency, melody, and stimuli from music, just like they do with language.
Both my kids have a traditional music box by Siebensachen and they make the perfect nursery or design gift. They are made from solid beech wood and the 18-note chime plays beautiful classic melodies. We play ours before bed and I can see it being an heirloom gift that they’ll keep with them forever.
Another brand we love in this category is Green Tones, which are music instruments designed for children, stemming from the long-standing parent company Horner music. Because these are instruments (not a toy), they are of high quality, perfectly pitched and aesthetically pleasing. Best of all, they are also eco and teething friendly with high compliance standards (unlike many others I’ve tried in the market). With these rubberwood instruments, the sound is much more gentle, deeper and even ‘quieter’ than other wooden instruments. We started with shakers and handheld instruments and have added many more pieces to our collection over the years.
Number Play. This category is about early numeracy, logic, questioning and problem-solving skills.
First, I think a classic set of wooden blocks is a must-have for children of any age. I’ve written extensively about our favourite wooden blocks, which you can read here. However, for babies, I’d recommend a simple set of large-sized blocks (like these cubes), which are easy to master and are a great set to add to in the future as their skills and interest in building increases. These are 4x4cm, perfect for little hands and great for starting colour recognition.
A set of wooden bowls and large wooden balls are probably my second go-to recommendation anyone starting their Grimm’s collection. Balls are a classic open-ended toy, which can be used in a ton of ways. The stacking bowls can be used for sorting, rolling, stacking, colour matching together with the wooden balls.
Lastly, the Grimm’s rainbow is probably the most classic toy in this category and doesn’t need much introduction. It’s beautiful as a décor piece and it can be used in hundreds of ways. My recommendation is always to go for the large 12 piece as you can always split it in half and give your child 6 pieces (which is the same size as the medium). As they grow older, you can give them more pieces to create with.
Action Play. This category is about action-oriented play that encourages movement and balance.
My kids love their wobbels, however for a baby, I’d first recommend the wobbel360. Firstly, the curve is much gentler and secondly because it spins – need I say more? My son learned to spin himself, as well as walk on it and spin his toys like the wooden balls and Ostheimer animals to see what happens. My kids also use the wobbel360 as a building platform as well as a safety island, where no one can catch them or tickle them when they are on it.
Social Play. This category is about developing early interpersonal skills with pretend play, sharing and interacting. Some simple gender-neutral symbols of another being for a child are great tools for helping young children express emotions, practice nurturing, empathy and role-playing.
A teddy or a cuddly toy is a must-have for any child. Our teddies are made from organic cotton, have the sweetest little face and a lovely vintage feel. I notice many kids seem to collect way too many soft toys. Personally, I think one is enough. Most kids seem to have a clear favourite which they take everywhere and to bed. I also hear that almost 50% of adults keep a childhood cuddly?!
I also think Ostheimer figurines are a great investment, which can be played for many years to come. Chances are your child will eventually build small worlds with their wooden blocks and they will want characters to inhabit them with. Ostheimer animals are definitely the best on the market in terms of wooden animals. Domestic and farm animals, I’ve found are by far easiest to learn, especially because they have such recognisable sounds, which even babies can replicate. Have you noticed that farm animals seem to feature most heavily in baby board books and nursery rhymes?
Picture Play. This category is about early spatial skills such as visualising, drawing, colouring and mapping.
We love sensory art materials like paint for babies. But I do not always like cleaning up the mess. So we’ve invested in the Kiko and gg magnetic drawing board, which is brilliant for kids of any age. You can draw, stamp, erase and do it all over again.
I did a lot of drawing for my kids on these and asked them to guess the animal, which was a lot of fun for me and the kids.
In this category are also vehicles. Cars, trucks, boat, etc. Playing with toy vehicles improves hand dexterity, teaches about cause and effect and opens up so many possibilities for imaginative play. Grimm’s wooden cars are the best for babies!
Word Play. This category is about early language exposure, therefore books. There are lots of classics (think Dear Zoo, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, etc). So I just wanted to pick an heirloom one.
This one is called What Do You Do With An Idea? It’s a wonderful book for just about any child, teenager, or adult who’s ever had a big idea and the dream to grow the idea and bring it into the world. This is a book that we will never tire of reading to our kids.
Solo Play. This category is about opportunities to practice mindfulness and to reflect and express.
This one is probably more a gift for parents. But there is nothing more special than documenting all your baby firsts, outside of your phones.
And that’s it! These are the eight categories of toys I believe encourage a holistic play experience for babies. You can shop for our Baby Gift Guide collection here
What do you own and what don’t you have? I’d love to hear your recommendations too.
Tomorrow, I’ll be featuring my toddler gift guide.
Thank you for reading!