The coolest first birthday gifts: Toys and keepsakes for 1-year-olds

Coolest first birthday gifts: Curated developmental toy boxes from Love Every Baby

First birthday gifts can be particularly special for parents and grandparents (i.e. the givers, not the getters) who want to preserve the memory of the big milestone. Because admittedly, most one-year-olds would be perfectly satisfied with a slice of gooey cake in front of them as a first birthday gift — and probably a few empty boxes to play with too.

Whether it’s a keepsake gift a child will hold onto for years, decor that helps evolve their room from nursery to kid’s room (sniff) or a beautifully made, developmentally appropriate toy that they can play with well into toddlerhood, we’ve rounded up some of the coolest first birthday gifts for any budget.

Be sure to see our full list of the coolest birthday gifts for kids by age

All gifts have been editorially determined by our staff, there is no compensation in exchange for picks.
CMP is an rstyle and Amazon affiliate. That means we may receive a small commission from certain purchases to help us remain independent and support our staff.

This post has been updated for 2022.

Best gifts for 1 year old: Cool Mom Picks birthday gift guide 2022

The coolest first birthday gifts

We think these are the best first birthday gifts for 1-year-olds and we hope you love them too! (Of course you can always check our list of best gifts for 2-year-olds as well — it’s not like a 1-year-old will remember when you gave them that super cool toddler toy!)

Please note that we’ve included links to both big and small shops for convenience and price. But we always encourage you to shop your own local independent toy stores, book stores, and boutiques!

 

Love Every Baby's quarterly subscription box | The Coolest First Birthday Gifts

Curated toy subscription box by developmental stage

($120 per box every 3 months at Love Every Baby)

Order these age-appropriate play kits for toddlers filled with items that have been selected to be developmentally appropriate.  As educational as they are  fun– and so gorgeously and smartly curated. (Also shown at top.)

Best first birthday gifts for kids: Tiny TOMs shoes are a great birthday gift for a 1-year-old

A pair of cool toddler shoes

($38+ at TOMs)

They’ll be the cutest toddlers on the playground in Tiny TOMs first walker shoes. Love their sparkly Alpargata slip-on style as well as the glow-in-the dark Black Galaxy sneakers that are both sturdy enough for new walkers but still soft and comfy. Also, the new collab with TOMs x Tonka is wonderful.

(Psst, another great resource is the collection of Freshly Picked’s gorgeously made shoes, with all kinds of colors, patterns and designs. Check to see what’s new and cool right now.)

This sleek Baghera Speedster Plane makes an awesome first birthday gift

Baghera speedster plane

($210 at The Tot)
Looking for a splurge first birthday gift? A child’s first silver speedster plane by the French metal-toy car maker Baghera will get a lot of mileage. Ha.

 

Mindful board book bundle from Pottery Barn Kids | Cool first birthday gifts

Mindful modern board book bundle

($42.95 at Pottery Barn Kids)

Count on them getting duplicates of the classics, and instead opt for sets like this mindful board book bundle which includes wonderful titles from Ibram X. Kendi and the latest from Drew Daywalt. You can even add to this bundle with progressive and inclusive board books we’ve recommended over the years!

 

HC Woodcraft personalized wooden stacking toy | The Coolest First Birthday Gifts

Personalized wooden stacking toy

($27 at HC Woodcraft)

This mom-and-pop Etsy shop offers up an update of the classic stacking toy which swaps out plastic for wood, while keeping all the vibrant color with quality non-toxic paint, then finished in beeswax polish. It’s the ultimate developmental toy, allowing toddlers to try to and get all the rings on the base in order. The personalization makes this an extra-special birthday first birthday gift for under $30.

Best first birthday gifts: TEGU magnetic wooden tram toy is safe for toddlers

Tegu magnetic tram building blocks

($49.99 at Amazon)
We love Tegu’s beautiful made, magnetic block sets, and now they’ve added this colorful tram set–with peg people–rated for 1 year and up. It’s the perfect size for little hands to take apart and push around. Plus, the pieces can be rearranged in so many different ways as toddlers learn about both balance and magnetism as they play.

 

Best first birthday gift ideas: Ida Pearle's personalized children's artwork with a custom name

Custom children’s name prints

($98 unframed, $188 framed at Ida Pearle)

We’ve long loved Ida Pearle’s exquisite custom name prints which are based on her original cut paper artwork. Choose from any of the 26 designs from her Alphabet card series then add a child’s name — she can even customize the skin tone and hair color.

Star Wars bath set | Cool first birthday gifts

Star Wars bath set

($19.99 at Disney)

Luke, I’m in your bathtub. . . along with Chewie, Yoda, R2-D2, and BB-8. Get them started on their Star Wars fandom with this cute and affordable bath set at the Disney Store which helps to make bath time a bit more fun. Way cooler than a rubber ducky, plus they can blame any bath rings on the Wookiee.

3-in-1 ride-on toy from Wishbone | The Coolest First Birthday Gifts

Wishbone Mini Flip Mix n Match 3-in-1 ride-on toy

(from $149.99 at Amazon)

What’s better than a cool-looking walker for baby? How about one that can easily be changed into a gentle rocker and a sturdy ride-on toy as your child grows! Comes in eight cool colors too.

Meaningful gifts for kids: Donation to a 529 fund with a Gift of College gift card

A 529 fund donation

(varies at Gift of College)

They’re still so little, but trust us–college will be here soon! It’s the perfect time to make those important donations to college before they start expecting toys. Gift of College offers 529 gift cards or compare your own best options.

Cool clothes from Rowdy Sprout and Nununu | Cool first birthday gifts

The one cool clothing item that makes you the cool gift giver

(Prices vary at Rowdy Sprout and Nununu)

Searching for something amazing for the first birthday child to wear? Try hip new clothes that will make them the coolest toddler on the block. We love Rowdy Sprout and Nununu which are fabulous baby boutiques to get you started. This retro-and-iconic CBGB raglan tee ($45, Rowdy .Sprout) and the tough-and-tender Nununu star multilayered dress ($64 on sale, Nununu) are great picks for a modern toddler.

 

Cool first birthday gifts | Crayola's washable finger paints made for toddlers

Washable toddler finger paint set

($14.99 at Target)

Crayola’s Washable Finger Paint set is the perfect sensory art activity for a one-year-old birthday gift, and the price is terrific. Paper is included — clean-up is not. But since the paints are washable it won’t be a nightmare either.

Suzy Ultman's shape sorter toy | Cool first birthday gifts

Night and Day shape sorter toy

($31.95 at MOMA)

If you want a single toy for a first birthday gift, remember that one year olds are curious and more dexterous, ready for more complex toys than rattles and clutch balls.We love this beautifully illustrated toy from Suzy Ultman —who we’ve featured before, and all the interesting pieces will delight a toddler’s senses as they play.

The best first birthday gifts: Be my neighbor board book for toddlers is under $15 and makes a big impression!

A colorful board book under $15

($14.39 at Amazon)

Terrific birthday gifts don’t need to be expensive! We love this bright and fun “seek and find” board book illustrated by Suzy Ultman, who we featured above. This little book has so much for one year olds to explore while also learning about being a good neighbor.

PRIMO ride on toy for toddlers | Best first birthday gift

Ambosstoys’ Primo ride-on toys

($249 at The Tot)

This pint-sized Vespa-style motorbike is like a balance bike, but with Italian flair. Vroom Vroom!

Portable electric keyboard from Baby Einstein and Hape | Cool first birthday gifts

Baby Einstein & Hape electric keyboard

($59.99 at Amazon)

Encourage their love of music, bright colors, and dragging their toys from room to room with this fun-to-play electric keyboard created by Baby Einstein and Hape. The wooden surface makes it easy to clean should maestro play with sticky fingers.

Smiling Tree Toys personalized wooden crate | Cool first birthday gifts

Personalized wooden toy crate

($51 with personalization at Smiling Tree Toys)

Each birthday means more stuff to store, and we love this gorgeous, handcrafted, personalized toy crate which remains one of our favorite handmade toys for back-to-basic gifts for kids. Grab a set of their beautifully made solid hardwood alphabet blocks ($51), if you want something really special to go inside the crate.

Little Blue Olive handmade birthday crowns and hats | Cool first birthday gifts

Handmade birthday hat or crown

(from $19.95 at Little Blue Olive)

Make those zillion first-birthday photos even more special with one of these handmade party hats or crowns. There are loads of colors to choose from, and you can find clever designs like mermaid tails or even go fancy with glitter and confetti. Hey, they only turn one once!

 

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