Best Toys for Baby's First Birthday

Shopping made easy...

Whether you are shopping for your own child's first birthday or someone else's, it can be a daunting task. Babies have an entire store to themselves these days! On top of that, we are inundated with advertising trying to convince us that our little one just can't live without a particular toy. Well, we all know that they will survive without buying everything in the store (even if we wish we could), so how do we decide what we are going to buy? Having just gone through this myself, I offer the following recommendations along with a brief explanation for my selections:

( Note that each recommendation can be easily located, costs less than $50 and is age appropriate according to the manufacturer.)

1. Playskool Busy Ball Popper - This little gem has been a huge hit at my house. Pump the plunger and drop the balls onto the spiral track. When they reach the bottom, look out – the brightly colored balls pop out the top. It comes in different colors for boys or girls and can be found for less than $40.00. Recommended for ages 9 months and up. It makes noise, interacts with baby and is brightly colored. Baby never seems to tire of chasing the balls. Money well spent.

2. Leapfrog My Pal Scout and Violet - Another big hit at my house! Violet and Scout are interactive companions that help children learn with an entertaining twist. You can personalize your child's pal by hooking him/her up to a computer and downloading personalized messages and preferences. For instance, Violet will sing a song with your child's name, favorite food and favorite color in it. As baby grows, she can squeeze MyPal's paws to activate songs or messages. Recommended for 9 months and up, MyPal comes in violet for girls and green for boys and can be found for around $20-$25.

3. LeapFrog Learn & Groove™ Musical Table - A must for all curious one year old's! This interactive, bilingual activity table engages and entertains your baby for hours. There are songs, melodies, twinkling lights and real instrument sounds, plus lots of things to spin, roll, slide, open and close. The legs can be removed so baby can play with it on the floor if he is not walking yet. Hours of fun as well as some educational activities hidden amongst the fun. Recommended for 6-36 months, it is a little more expensive (around $40) but as you should be able to get a good two years of fun out of it, well worth it.

4. MEGA Bloks Building Imagination Bag (80 pcs)Classic - These classic blocks have been around for as long as I can remember and I have yet to meet a child that didn't love to play with them. They can be found in the classic bright colors or in pastels and come in a sturdy plastic carrying case which makes them easy to store and clean up. Recommended for ages 12 months and up. You should be able to purchase them for about $20.

5. Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes - For the baby (or the parent) who is a fan of classical music, this little inexpensive gadget is a must have. A large, easy to press button allows your baby to toggle through 7 high quality and enjoyable classical melodies at home, or for on-the-go fun. With colorful lights for baby to watch and an easy to hold handle, baby will not want to put this one down. While this can be purchsed before baby's first birthday, she will still enjoy it for some time to come after her first birthday as well. The most economical toy on my list at about $10.

I hope these brief recommendations will save you time and a huge headache from trying to sift through all the possibilities. Happy shopping and wish the birthday boy or girl Happy Birthday from me!

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