Monday, May 16, 2011

What do I buy for a ___ month old?

Yahoo!Answers commonly has posts asking for advice on what to buy a child for a birthday present. However, there are many other occasions for gift giving between birthday. Here are my recommendations for age appropriate gifts based off our experince with Natalie thus far.

Newborns / 0-3:
  • Books! Black and white pattern books and close ups of baby faces are best for the first few months. Also, books mom and dad can read to the baby right from birth. Nursery rhymes are perfect, but other best sellers like Goodnight, Moon; Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?; and Where the Wild Things Are help parents start a nice home library.
  • Rattles and teethers are the best toys for a newborn. Look for bold colors or black and which contrasts, easy grips, and multiple textures.
  • A toy gym is a great gift from birth until the child is a strong sitter. These are the mats with toys that hang down for baby to look and bat at.
  • Linking rings are an awesome early toy because they can be played with alone, or used to connect other toys to a stroller or toy gym.
  • If you are looking to get something the baby will use in the future, think about a Bumbo chair or door way jumper.
  • Unless its a baby shower, you probably want to skip toiletries, blankets, and bottles, unless the parents have specifically said they need them.
  • If buying clothes, keep a few things in mind. Parents want quick diaper access at this age due to frequent changing. The baby's comfort is also very important; parents don't want to deal with a baby cranky because there are uncomfortable buttons all down her back or scratchy fabric. Don't over buy the NB / newborn sizes because they only fit for a very short time. If buying clothes for the months ahead, think about the season changes, if you live where the weather is drastically different. Shorts are no good in January just as fleece is no good in July.
4 - 6 months:
  • Books! Continue to get books for mom and dad to read to baby, but you might want to start branching out from the best selling classics to avoid duplicates. For baby to hold, cloth, vinyl, and board books are best. Look for books with simple, large illustrations. Books that are rhymed or can be sung are great for listening to, as well as holding. Some babies are ready for lift the flap books.
  • Still focus on small, easy to hold toys. At this age, Natalie still loved her rattles and teethers the best. Look for ones that make different sounds when banged or shaken. Keep looking for different textures, as well as parts that move or spin. And, just because it says six months on the package, doesn't mean a six month old will enjoy it; it just means that a six month old probably can't choke on it.
  • A bucket is a great toy for a six month old because over the next few months he or she will learn to put toys in and out of containers.
  • Consider a walker that can also be used while seated. Natalie has a stroller that was a walker, but is still great for walking her dolls. Some ride on toys are convertible.
  • If they parents don't already have one, a forward facing stroller could be a good gift at this age.
  • Baby proofing items are also a good gift for mom and dad since between rolling, creeping, crawling, and cruising baby will soon be on the move.
  • At six months, it is okay to introduce a sippy cup to make transitioning to drinking milk from a cup easier later. So, sippy cups are a fine gift. Parents want ones that are easy to clean and won't leak!
  • Most babies also start solids during this time, so bowls and spoons as well as large bibs are nice gifts.
  • As for clothes, just continue to keep seasonal weather changes in mind. Also, if buying in advance for around 9 months, try to avoid clothes that get in the way of crawling, such as long skirts, but look for gripper socks.
12 months:
  • Books! Board books and read aloud books are still great. Most kids will like flaps and touch and feel sections. Also great are books with every day objects labeled, but avoid pages that are too cluttered.
  • We found that starting around 9 months, Natalie played with a larger range of toys. There are so many great things to get!
  • Small, cheaper toys: stickers, crayons, bubble solution, balls, plastic bangle bracelets, alphabet and number posters.
  • Larger toys with no batteries: pop bead sets, blocks, play food and dishes, dolls and stuffed animals, puppets, drums, maracas.
  • Larger toys which probably need batteries: toys that mimic adult items (tools, phone, computer); toys with buttons, dials, and doors.
  • A ride on toy is a great gift for this age.
  • For the gift giver or receiver that doesn't want toys or clothes, consider: larger car seat (preferably one that is convertible for forward facing later), a front facing stroller, advanced baby proofing items, booster seat for kitchen table, toddler dishes and silverware.
  • Gift certificates to a local museum or place to play in doors are a great gift!
  • Money for lessons of some kind (Music Together, Mommy and Gymnastics, Water Babies) is also a great gift!
  • For the big spender, some type of jungle gym for the child to climb up and through, including a slide, it a wonderful gift.
  • Be careful about buying DVDs. Its recommended that children don't watch TV until 2 years old. Although most families disregard this recommendations, find out if TV is allowed before you invest in a gift. Also, children this age can be easily frightened by any violence. Even most Disney movies have scary parts. Try to stick to shows featuring the child's favorite characters. If you must by a DVD and all else fails, Sesame Street is a pretty safe bet. The best ones I ever purchased were Learning about Letters, The Great Numbers Game, and Sing, Hoot, and Howl. These are about letters, numbers, and animals respectively and are comprised of short segments (mostly songs).
  • Music cds are a great gift. Just be weary of TV and movie tie-ins, and check them with parents first. A great child's musician is Laurie Berkner. She is independent of any TV show or movie. For those who do watch TV, Sesame Street has many great cds, and the show Yo Gabba Gabba is very focused on music and dancing.
  • For clothes, remember seasons and that anything on the feet shouldn't be slippery.
18 months:
  • Books! It was around this age that Natalie started to have less interest in board books and more interest in story books. Look for stories that are about things the child is interested in (trucks, frogs, dinosaurs, etc). The text should still be short because the need to move still usually out weighs the ability to sit still. Books that tie-in to TV and movies should only be given if you know the child likes the characters (otherwise you might start a struggle with the parent-child to see the show or movie).
  • Smaller toys: all those under 12 months as well as foam bath letters, play dough, color books, figures of favorite TV characters.
  • Larger toys: doll accessories (clothes, bottles, crib, high chair), puzzles, xylophone, Little People farm, toy cars.
  • Finger painting is possible at this age, so giving a smock, brushes, sponges, heavy paper, and paint makes a great gift all together or given in small pieces.
  • DVDs and music cds can be great gifts, just remember to check about house hold rules about TV.
  • A toddler sized table and chairs is great for this age, especailly as the child starts to play with messier toys (paint, crayons, play dough). We have an awesome Little Tykes picnic table that our daughter loves!
  • Some parents start thinking about switching to a toddler bed at this age, so toddler bed sheets can be a good gift. Or, if parents are going to move right to a big bed, bed rails and child themed twin size sheets can be an exciting gift.
  • Some parents start potty training at this time, so books about the potty or the potty itself can be a good gift.
  • Clothes from here on out should be easy for the child to put on and take off alone. This not only helps the child learn to dress him or herself, but won't get in the way of potty training. No more shirts with snaps at the crotch and pants should be easy to pull up and down.
24 months:
  • Doctor kit
  • Dress up clothes
  • Dolls and toys for family role play
  • Markers, water colors, and play doh, including accessories like cookie cutters, spaghetti maker, and rolling pin
  • assorted musical instruments
  • Various picture books, including some on the potty - Pre-Reading / Level 1 readers, Elephant and Piggie
  • children's magazines by Cricket, Zoobooks, and Highlights
  • museum passes and money towards music and swim lessons
  • Mr. Potato Head
  • blocks
  • various puzzles
  • more realistic play food and wider variety of dishes
  • Various clothes, books, figures, and DVDs with her favorite characters

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