I don’t know if there’s a more perfect gift for a baby than a great set of modern alphabet blocks. (Besides maybe a great alphabet poster.) They start as decor in the nursery, become a great toddler toy, and eventually you get to watch as your kid turns them into towers, cities, fortresses of all kinds. My grade-schoolers still play with a set they got as babies — I’d call that a great shower gift.
Here, I’ve put together some of the coolest modern alphabet blocks. I especially love how each one is perfectly gender neutral. Modern indeed.
Classic Upper and Lower Case Alphabet Blocks ($19.95 on sale, Fat Brain Toys)
This set has all the factors for really teaching kids their letters — bright, a clean sans serif type, with textures that keep toddler hands busy.
Big and Tall Blocks ($80, House Industries)
From the same designers of the USA blocks we love and made by the wonderful Uncle Goose, I love the gender-neutral colors, engaging designs, and the fun of multiple shapes.
Wooden Alphabet Picture Blocks ($58, Little Sapling Toys)
While we adore the personalized wooden blocks from this wonderful Etsy shop, this set is an adorable traditional gift–and great for showers when you don’t know the baby’s sex or name. Plus, they plant a tree with every toy sold.
Neutraface Slab Blocks ($40, House Industries)
It’s never too early to introduce your baby to the importance of good typography. Plus I love the bold color palette, which is a nice change from all the baby pink and blue.
Alexander Girard Alphabet Blocks ($100, My Sweet Muffin)
No modern alphabet block collection would be complete without the iconic keepsake set from designer Alexander Girard. Turn each block around to alternate between playful letters, smiling suns, and a colorful house puzzle.
XYZ Alphabet Blocks ($41.99, Perpetual Kid)
If you have a sense of humor, you’ll love this wooden block set where J is for Jackalope, Q is for Quicksand, and U is for Underpants. Which never stops being funny. Also, it makes me miss the HBO series Carnival.
Handmade Wooden Alphabet Blocks ($37.50, Stackblocks)
There are so many cute options in this Etsy shop, but I love the bright colors of these handmade blocks, and the fact that all five come in a muslin bag ready for gifting.
Gilded Alphabet Set ($195, Cabin 7)
For the serious alphabet block collector, I think we’ve found your set: US-made from sustainable Michigan cherry wood, debossed, then gilded on two sides. The one catch: They’re probably not for the kids to play with; a high shelf seems the right place. The other catch: They’re only making five sets. Keep your eye on the shop, where they’re coming soon.
For more beautiful wooden blocks of all kinds, visit our archives.