When you choose a baby gift, you have two recipients in mind. There’s the baby, who will most likely happily drool on whatever is offered — along with the box, the wrapping and your fingers. Babies are not hard to please. More discerning is the parent, and that’s the real approval you seek.
We consulted with the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute Little Lab, who test baby items throughout the year to find the best gifts for babies — that will also be appreciated by parents too. The Lab looks for toys that are well constructed so they last through the baby stage (and hopefully long enough for hand-me-downs), any features that might help development and, of course, the cute factor, since that’s half the fun of baby gifts. There are toys, but also some baby essentials and parent helpers in there, too. We also added in some of top-reviewed items, editor’s picks and best-sellers to bring you our list of tested favorite baby gifts, including baby gifts for girls, baby gifts for boys and gender-neutral gifts. And then make sure there’s something in there for Mom and Dad, including these thoughtful gifts for parents.
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Tinkle Crinkle Caterpillar
Rainbow Silicone Toy
This rainbow looks great on a nursery shelf, and can also be used for a stacking toy or a teether. Since it’s made of BPA-free silicone and not wood, it’s soft and can even be taken in the bath. It also comes in pastel hues. Ages 0+
Good Housekeeping 2020 Toy Award Winner
My First Soft Drum and Guitar
Baby’s first instruments are usually hard, like egg shakers. These instruments are soft like stuffed animals, but still use lights and sounds to introduce babies to music and rhythm. Ages 0+
Best Personalized Gift for Babies
A lovey is a friend for life, and nothing is more special than one made with your baby’s name on it. You can choose from 15 different animals, and also select the color and font for the name embroidery. Ages 0+
Sit-to-Stand Giant Activity Book
If there’s lots of room in the play area, this may be just the toy to fill it. It’s designed to grow with a child, starting off as an activity book that lays flat. When the child can sit up or stand, it turns upright for 360 degrees of play. There are also lights and sounds that teach kids colors, the alphabet, numbers, shapes and first words. Ages 6 months+
If you’re looking for just-a-little-something, these teethers offer a lot in a small package. They’re made of BPA-free silicone, and they have a bumpy texture for babies to feel. Ages 0+
Magnetic Stacking Cactus Garden
Each of these three cactus plants comes with a base (each with a different facial expression), a mid-section and a flower, and babies can stack and mix and match them however they like. A hidden magnet on the inside of each piece keeps the stacks from falling over. Ages 0+
Tummy Time Water Mat
Ricecrunch Mini Plush
Give babies an early start on loving their veggies! Not only is this carrot stuffy soft, it has a handy velcro strap to keep it secure. Ages 0+
Personalized Nursery Decor
Wooden Name Puzzle
It’s a boost for baby’s ego and brain, as babies can practice a puzzle that features the letters of their names. Each of the letters is approximately 4″ tall, so it also looks striking on a shelf.
Board Book Bundles
Buy a board book bundle from the Brave + Kind bookshop, and the booksellers there will select a range of both chunky and soft board books and throw in a crocheted rattle or wooden teether. You can choose the size of the bundle: four books ($50), six books ($75) or eight books ($105). Ages 0+
This rattle doesn’t just make noise — it lights up, is covered in different stimulating textures and has a friendly face to stare at. For parents who want to follow along with their baby’s development, it also comes with a guide that lists how babies should be using it as they go from week to week. Ages 0+
Hooded Baby Towel
Make bath time extra-adorable with these cute hooded towels, which come in more than two dozen animal designs. Choose something classic like an elephant or lamb, or go for something trendier like a flamingo, fox or unicorn.
Letters to My Baby Book
This book comes with 12 pre-formatted letters and writing prompts. Parents fill them out during that precious first year, and then deliver them when the child is all grown — just like a time capsule.
Trunk of Hearts Elephant One-Piece
This adorable, unisex elephant bodysuit is made from certified organic cotton, and the design is made with a water-based fabric ink that’s heat-set so it doesn’t run. It comes in five colors and is perfect for future hand-me-downs.
Personalized Book for Babies
Lost My Name
Whale Bath Toy
Finally, a soft friend they can play with in the bath! Kids can also use this friendly face as a washcloth as they get older, and it comes in other animals, including a shark, unicorn, hedgehog, frog, lion, elephant and hippo. Ages 0+
Sit and See Floor Mirror
Can you find a happy baby? Hint: It’s the one looking back at you. Ages 0+
LyricPop Picture Books
Beetbox Crawl Toy
Turn on this veg, and it’ll play “beetbox” sounds as it rolls around on its own, encouraging little ones to crawl after it. It’s part of Skip Hop’s “farmstand” line of toys, which also includes other fun fruit-and vegetable-shaped developmental toys. Ages 3 months+
This snuggly friend is for babies — but it’s secretly a gift for parents, too. The SNOO bear is a white noise machine inside a stuffed animal. It makes six soothing sounds for 30 or 60 minutes, and then “pays attention” for another three hours and starts the noise up again if the baby starts to fuss. Ages 0+ (not to be placed in cribs until 1 year)
Multisensory Learning Cube
This toy is part of Manhattan Toy’s Wimmer-Ferguson line of baby toys, which feature black-and-white and high-contrast patterns that really grab a baby’s attention. Each side of this cube has some kind of surprise, including ribbons to grab, rattles to shake and a bungee-like elephant trunk. Ages 0+
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Key Toy
Subscription Box Gift for Babies
Lovevery Play Kits
When you subscribe to receive Lovevery play kits, every two or three months you’ll receive a new set of toys tailored to a baby’s age and stage, along with information about developmentally appropriate ways to play. It takes all the guesswork out of toy-buying. Ages 0+
These oddly shaped toys rattle, and also stick to a surface with a suction cup — babies have a great time looking at the bright colors, shaking them and trying to pull them off again. Adults have been known to use these as fidget toys, too. Ages 6 months+
Handmade Baby Gift
Skip Hop Pronto Signature Changing Mat
Sure, this gift is more for Mom and Dad than for baby, but, when the diaper gets changed on the go, the little ones will appreciate the built-in pillow on this wipe-clean travel changing pad.
Personalized Gift for Baby Nurseries
Minted has lots of personalized nursery wall art in every kind of design motif and color scheme imaginable. All you have to do is subtly find out the nursery’s theme, and you can find a piece of art as unique as the baby to go with it.
Muslin Swaddle Blankets
There are a million uses for these muslin swaddle blankets. Parents use them for tummy time, as swaddles, as burp cloths and as blankets — they even spread them over the couch to save it from drool. They also come in a huge range of designs.
A baby’s morning routine can be just like their grown-ups’ this this pretend-play set. It includes a coffee cup that teether, a donut that rattles and a crinkly “newspaper.” Other Fisher-Price pretend sets can match the parents’ interests, like the “Baby Biceps” fitness gift pack (which comes with a baby kettlebell!), an “Eat Dessert First” set with macarons or a Taco Tuesday set with an avocado rattle. Ages 3 months+
Best Baby Gift From Grandparents
Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Chair
If you know the color scheme of the baby’s room and his or her name, you can get a kid-sized easy chair that’ll be a favorite for years to come. The slipcover zips off for easy cleaning.
Best Group Baby Shower Gift
HonestBaby 50-Piece Gift Box
Moms have been known to buy this set for themselves, because they know it comes with everything they’ll need to get started, including short- and long-sleeve bodysuits, footed and harem pants, kimono bodysuits, kimono tops, baby gowns, swaddle blankets, hooded towels, washcloths, burp cloths, crib sheets and changing pad covers. The set also comes in a rose colors or black-and-white color if you prefer those to solid white.
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