Creative Gifts for Baby's 1st Birthday

Today, we have the pleasure of hosting Crystal Rowe, the creative force behind Soul Munchies. Crystal is a devoted mom of two who writes in whatever little free time she can find about life, love, and faith. She loves to cook, read, and explore what it means to live simply in the great city of Atlanta. From motherhood to social justice, Soul Munchies is her place to talk about whatever is on her mind. It’s a place to explore ideas, to share thoughts, and to build community. So go on over and check it out! And...keep reading for a little surprise for our readers: a FREE download of Crystal's eBook! 


It’s so hard to believe that my last baby is turning one in just over a month. As we come up on this milestone, we are trying to figure out what kind of gift to get her. We learned a lot at our oldest’s first birthday. Perhaps the most important thing we learned is that most of the toys babies get for their first birthday never get played with.  I am a huge proponent of making gifts, or buying something that will last them through many years to come, so today I’m offering you the five best presents you can get a baby for their first birthday. Parents will love you for them, and they won’t break your wallet! Most of these you can make yourself (or have a crafty friend make for you) - or you can find inexpensive, but no less creative, versions to purchase.

Babies LOVE balls. And balls are something that will last for years and years and years. I make balls out of scrap cloth I have lying around. It doesn’t have to be fancy fabric - old clothes you don’t wear anymore, blankets, towels, sheets - pretty much anything you have suck in the back of your closet will work. I love to make balls using this pattern - it’s pretty easy, and there are three sizes to choose from. A set of three is one of my favorite DIY gifts for the littlest ones. If you aren’t the crafty type, IKEA has great soft toys, or my littlest loves this playground ball. But really - any ball will do.

I'm not talking about scary monsters. No, I'm talking about adorably cute, insanely soft stuffed monsters! We have several different stuffed monsters in our house, and they are a huge hit with the babe. They foster creativity and imagination, and my girls just can’t get enough of them. This is something else you can make pretty easily out of anything lying around your house. This is my favorite pattern because it’s incredibly versatile and super easy. If you don’t want to try your hand at making one, you can find loads of cute ones on Etsy.

An empty box
You may think I’m kidding with this one, but trust me … I’m not. Anytime we get a new box around here, the box ends up being played with so much longer than whatever came in it. I’ve even been known to rescue boxes from curb recycling because my daughter has fallen so in love with it she doesn’t want to part with it. Boxes are, in my opinion, the ultimate best gift for any baby or toddler. They have a thousand uses - and talk about inexpensive. If you want to “fancy” it up because you don’t want to give your friend’s baby an old empty box, you can paint the outside, or wrap it with wrapping paper.

Or really anything that makes noise when they shake it. Babies love to make noise. At 1, they are exploring with sound and movement, and they adore shakers for that reason. You can make them out of old plastic containers and rocks or beans - just make sure to seal the top so they don’t come out and present a choking hazard. You can also buy these for under $10, or we often find them at our local Goodwill or other thrift store.

My husband is a drummer, so we have various drums lying around the house. We’ve discovered the small drums played with your hands (think bongo) are a favorite for babies to play with. An empty plastic container works well when placed on the ground upside down, or you can use an old coffee tin or formula can. If you’re feeling really adventurous, try your hand at this pattern. If you just can't stand the DIY version, this one looks awesome, and this one is pretty cool, too!

Ultimately, this first birthday is all about the parents anyway. If you are one of those parents coming up on that one year mark, WAHOO - you made it! If you are someone who has been invited to a first birthday party, don't forget to congratulate the parents on making it through the first year!

This book includes essays written during my journey through pregnancy and the first year of motherhood. Most were originally published at Soul Munchies, but there are several that you won’t find anywhere else. This is my story. The story of one family. My prayer, as you read this book, is that you see a glimpse of God in the journey I traveled. Your story may be similar in some ways, but it will also be different. No matter what, it will be your story. As you travel along your own journey, may you know you are never alone – that God is with you every step of the way.
— Crystal Rowe,