Seeing a baby's delight in the everyday world can make it easy to want to shower him or her with gifts, but babies in our culture may actually be better off with just a few special things that are suited to their natural development. When shopping for your baby, think simple, with fewer bells and whistles. Give your baby time to enjoy exploring, rather than trying to keep your baby constantly entertained. It's interesting to note that having fewer high-interest things, rather than lots of variety, can help your baby to develop skills that will benefit him or her for a lifetime—like the abilities to observe carefully, concentrate deeply, and persevere with a difficult task.
Here are some great gift ideas for babies that might surprise you:
A collection of songs that you and your baby can listen to and learn to sing together. Consider Raffi songs that you can learn the words to, so you can sing for your baby (and later sing together when your baby is a toddler). Babies are developing language rapidly, and songs that you sing repeatedly so that your baby can watch your mouth move will fascinate your baby. Singing to your baby will also give you lots of opportunities to connect! Example on CD. Example on Spotify.
A bar for pulling up on the wall, or a nice heavy wooden walker wagon. Once babies start focusing on learning to walk, they need lots of opportunities to pull up, and a basic bar on your wall in places where there's nothing else to pull up on might just be your baby's new favorite thing. This special walker wagon will be fun for your baby when he or she is a toddler or preschooler, too. Example of Walker Wagon.
Your baby's very first chair and table. A sturdy and supportive chair is perfect for a baby who has just learned to sit and is ready to learn to feed herself at a table. Your baby can pull up into the chair and eventually sit down on her own. The linked example of a chair and table set is great for home and will last for years, as it is designed to be used in different ways as your baby grows. Example.
Real utensils. Most utensils sold for babies are so bulky that they are almost impossible to use for eating. Choose a spoon that is thin and slips under food easily. Choose a fork with thin tines, so that as soon as your baby is ready for a fork, she has one that will work to poke food. Choose a thin butter knife without serration so that your 18-month-old can slice a banana or spread peanut butter on toast. Example.
These simple gifts that your baby will use to grow and learn are the kind of things that you'll want to save and share with future generations as well!