What Gifts Should You Bring to a Baby's Birthday Party?

Gift shopping can be stressful, but the Experts at Curated are here to help! Check out these crowd-pleasing birthday gift suggestions for kids ages one to five.

A baby holding a toy and smiling. There are balloons in the background.

Photo by Douglas Moreira

How do you know what to bring to a birthday party when that party is for a child? You want to be known as the favorite uncle or the best grandma, but little kids will be very honest if you flop on the birthday gift! It's even harder when the child is too young to let you know what toys they really want. To help you achieve that Best Gift Giver status, I've listed out the best gift ideas for young children by age.

Gifts for One-Year-Olds

A baby's first birthday is a special time for parents. It's so exciting to see your baby eat their first birthday cake and open their first presents. Babies range a lot in their development, so some babies may be walking by this age and some may think crawling is still a lot faster, so what kind of toys are good for a first birthday gift?

Sensory Toys

The Fat Brain Toys Neo Tobbles Stacking Toy.

The Fat Brain Toys Neo Tobbles Stacking Toy

At this age, babies are exploring the world around them. They delight in using all the five senses to figure out what things are. Noisemakers are a big hit, but mom might ban you from birthday parties in the future if you give a toy that makes loud noises!

Babies love to see how big of a tower they can build, so stacking toys are a great gift. Also, it's good to remember that babies are notoriously rough with their toys with all the chewing, drooling, throwing, and banging they do while they play, so durable toys are going to be the way to go.

A great sensory toy gift idea for young babies are Fat Brain Toys. These toys are amazing for little hands to explore, and they look great in the nursery too with their bright rainbow colors. Babies can pop, spin, stack, chew, and more with the different toys available.

Books

The Indestructibles Book: Taste The Fruit.

Indestructibles Book: Taste The Fruit

You want to give babies a head start on learning, but you don't dare give a one-year-old a book or it won't come back in one piece! To avoid fishing a bite-sized piece of a storybook out of your baby's mouth, look to Indestructibles books as the perfect gift for a future reader; they literally are indestructible. These books can't be torn or eaten, and you can wash them after sticky hands get a hold of them.

Noisemakers

Hape Toys Toddler Music - Beaded Raindrops.

Hape Toys Toddler Music - Beaded Raindrops

Just remember, if you give a noisemaker toy as a birthday gift to your sibling's child, beware of retribution on your own child's next birthday. However, regardless of the revenge that may be coming your way for gifting a noisy toy, they do make great first birthday gifts. A lot of noisemaker toys are great for exploring cause and effect, and you may even catch adults playing with them from time to time!

Gifts for Two-Year-Olds

Toddlers still love sensory toys, but your standard baby rattles or stacking blocks aren't going to hold their attention for very long. Toddlers are on the move and will totter around the house to play, leaving a trail of toys behind them, so why not give a toy that will go with them?

Pushing / Pulling Toys

The Hape Walk Along Snail Shape Sorter.

Hape Walk Along Snail Shape Sorter

A toy that a two-year-old can bring with them on the go is perfect. If it has wheels and will move, whether it is pulled by a string, pushed along the ground, or shoved off the table, a toddler will love it. Bonus points if you give a toy that not only can be pushed or pulled but can carry a cute stuffy as well!

Soft and Cuddly Stuffies

The Jellycat Bobbleton Pig.

The Jellycat Bobbleton Pig

Adorable stuffed animals will take over the nursery if you let them, but who can resist how cute they are! This is a gift that will work for all ages, but age two is when children really start appreciating fluffy friends and deciding they have a favorite buddy that they want to take for rides and adventure with.

Musical Toys

The Hape Learn With Lights Drum.

Hape Learn With Lights Drum

Music is so important to a child's development. Children already make noise and try out rhythms and sounds with any object available, so why not give a music gift? Listening to a xylophone or a drum will be a lot nicer on your ears than your toddler putting on a concert using your pots and pans!

Gifts for Three-Year-Olds

Young preschoolers are in a transition period between babyhood and older kids. While they may still play with younger siblings' toys, they are entering a whole new realm of play that will start to move from exploration to creativity. Children of this age are also gaining skill in movement and balance that opens up a wider variety of toys for them.

Imagination Toys

The PlanToys Detective Set.

The PlanToys Detective Set

Children learn through playing, and young preschoolers are just getting into imaginative play. Baby dolls, finger puppets, and costumes will help your child explore the world around them through make-believe play.

Children are also natural mimics, and they want nothing more than to be just like the adults in their lives. Toy kitchens and tools give your child a safe environment to be just like you. However, it is very important that you never break the one rule of pretend play; if a child hands you a pretend cookie, you must eat it!

Toys For Hand-Eye Coordination

The PlanToys Meadow Ring Toss.

The PlanToys Meadow Ring Toss

Hand-eye coordination is an important skill for your child to develop. Toys children can toss, roll, swing, and hit are perfect for gaining skills that will stick with them throughout their lives.

Bikes

The Micro Kickboard Balance Bike.

The Micro Kickboard Balance Bike

A balance bike may not seem like much at first, but it is a perfect bike for a preschooler. Not only do they get to go fast on what looks like a grown-up bike but a balance bike teaches the same skills needed to ride a bike.

A tricycle is another good bike option for a three-year-old. Preschoolers love to pedal around the block on walks with the family, and a tricycle gives the feeling of moving faster for the little speed demon in your life!

Gifts for Four-Year-Olds

Older preschoolers are extremely creative. Art and imagination are super important to this age group, and toys that indulge their desire for exploration are going to be big hits. Also, children at this age are starting to prepare for kindergarten so they are at the right age for more detail-oriented crafts.

Art Supplies

The Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Shop Chalk Set.

The Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Shop Chalk Set

Nature scenes, people, animals, abstract colors, and lines; the sky's the limit on the type of art a four-year-old can produce. They love art with every medium possible, whether it's Play-Doh, crayons, paint, or chalk. You can't go wrong with art supplies for a child at this age, but you might need to purchase more magnets for your fridge to display all the artwork.

Creative Play

The Usborne Dragons Sticker Activity Book.

Usborne Dragons Sticker Activity Book

Imaginative play takes on a new level with four-year-olds. Their fine-motor skills are developing more, and manipulating stickers on a storyboard is something that could hold their attention during a long car ride. Everyone knows the frustration of stickers folding over and being useless, but with reusable stickers, that isn't a problem and they can be used over and over again.

Puzzles

The PlanToys Weather Dress Up Puzzle.

PlanToys Weather Dress Up Puzzle

Puzzles teach so many important skills that children need. Wooden puzzles are great for young kids because the pieces are easy for little hands to pick up and manipulate. Puzzles for this age group also teach matching, shapes, numbers, letters, and colors—skills that the child will need for kindergarten.

Gifts for Five-Year-Olds

Kindergartners, or almost kindergartners, want to be seen as one of the big kids. They're active, learning to read, and oh-so independent, so how do you pick out a gift for a little kid that doesn't want to be seen as a baby?

Active Toys

The Micro Kickboard Maxi Deluxe Foldable LED Scooter.

The Micro Kickboard Maxi Deluxe Foldable LED Scooter

Sitting still for even 30 minutes can feel like an eternity to a five-year-old. Kids need to move and use up their eternal fountain of energy, so toys that encourage movement are desirable. A scooter is a great way for a child to explore while out on walks and gives them a quick way to check out the largest worm they’ve ever seen.

Exploration Toys

The Hape Nature Detective Set.

Hape Nature Detective Set

Kids are collectors; in their eyes, the world is no less fascinating than the West was to Lewis and Clark! Help your little explorer discover the world by gifting a toy to explore the world around him full of fascinating rocks, flowers, and, yes, even worms.

STEM Toys

The Magna-Tiles Freestyle 40-Piece Set.

The Magna-Tiles Freestyle 40-Piece Set

The sky's the only limit to a child's imagination and STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) toys are good for a growing brain. Toys that lock together, like Legos, or use magnets to build are just a step up from the stacking blocks that toddlers love to use, except these toys give the ability to build in 3D!

STEM toys also encourage problem-solving and creativity which pushes the limits on what is possible. With just a little bit of encouragement, you might find that you have the next Frank Lloyd Wright or Marie Curie who will change the world.

By no means is this gift guide an exhaustive list of the best toys available. There are just too many amazing toys out there to be able to list all of them! Before you head over to a child’s birthday party, don't forget to ask a Baby & Toddler Expert for any tips on the right gifts to achieve the status of Best Gift Giver!

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Written By
I have been a mom for 15 years. For a time I had three kids aged 3 and younger; then my fourth and youngest child was born when my oldest was still only 5 years old. Life was a slightly controlled, chaotic, busy, loud, and beautiful mess. I have great memories of that period of my life even though a...

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