It's been almost a whole year since your little one made their grand entrance into the world.
As with all babies, they were born with the mystifying ability to turn this into both the shortest and longest year of your life! No matter how you're feeling about this mammoth milestone, know that you have done, and continue to do, an incredible job.
You might feel as though you still have no clue what you're doing (or maybe you do, in which case that's awesome!), but your baby loves you endlessly, you are their world, and they are your heart and soul. Maybe they're toddling around, maybe they're saying "mamma/dadda", or maybe they're happily sitting on the floor watching "The Wiggles" (the TV is theirs now, but you knew that already). They're doing just fine wherever they are on their journey, and so are you, Mama.
So relax, take a deep breath and enjoy celebrating your baby's first birthday!
What is a good first birthday gift?
It's up to you if you want to buy a present for Bubs or not. In reality, they're not going to wake up thinking, "it's my birthday!" but that doesn't mean you can't make their day extra special if you want! Celebrate as modestly or as extravagantly as you like; you're the one who is going to remember it the most, so celebrate how YOU want! In terms of presents, there's an ongoing supply of options to choose from, which is both really handy and a little overwhelming. From DIY to fully-assembled, from sensory to sleep-aiding, from one-time use to everyday use, picking a first birthday gift can take a bit of time! We've listed a few ideas below that might help you narrow down what you're looking to get for your little one's special day. The good (or bad) news is, if it comes inside a box, then you've got it made...because a box wins every time!
Pulling and Pushing Toys
Whether your baby is already walking, has taken a few tentative steps or is an Olympic gold medalist at bum-scooting, toys that assist with their balance and coordination are an excellent idea for children around this age. They're often finding their balance and becoming more curious about the world around them, so these types of toys are great at helping them strengthen their leg, core and arm muscles to get them up and moving. If your wee one needs some extra help with their mobility, you may need to consult their doctor or physical therapist first to find a toy that will be most beneficial to them, but there are plenty of toys that aid with gross motor development for all types of babies. Some of these toys have extra activities built-in, like puzzles, musical buttons, moving pieces and more, to engage Bubs in sensory play.
If you didn't know before, you probably know by now - babies are MESSY. As they near that one year mark, you might find your little one is into everything and anything that is squishy, wet (hide your pet bowls!) or is generally just really hard to clean up - so convenient! Why not lean into their mess-making and give them their very own designated squish station! We're not guaranteeing that this will prevent the alternative messes, but at least now you have somewhere to redirect them! Sand and water play stations are easy to make or buy as a ready-to-use kit. If you're looking to make your own, it's as simple as buying or repurposing a container with sides high enough to keep most of the mess in while allowing your baby to access it easily (under supervision, of course). Pop it onto a table that your wee one can reach from standing or onto the floor (if you're doing this inside, we recommend putting a waterproof cover down first). Then, pour sand or water (or both!) into the container and let them squish and splash up a storm! Be sure to clean this station regularly and keep it out of reach of kids when not in use.
This one is for the whole family! While a yearly pass may seem expensive at first, it means that you have the freedom to go whenever you want, as many times as you want! Plus, you will often receive additional discounts, like reduced entry fees to affiliate attractions or discounted entries for extra visitors that aren't named on the pass. One significant upside with annual passes is that you no longer need to budget for a visit to that location after paying the initial fee, which can help take some of the stress out of planning future activities for the family. Additionally, many places like zoos or family-friendly locations allow you to bring food from home, saving you the cost of purchasing from often expensive on-site cafes!
It may seem obvious, but clothes are always an excellent gift for birthdays! Your baby has most likely cycled through many of the adorable outfits they were gifted or bought when they were born, so now is the time to refresh their wardrobe and stock it with clothes for the next few months. Whether these be second-hand or brand new, there are TONNES of gorgeous pieces you can find in-store and online without having to empty your savings account. Of course, if you're a planner, you can always take advantage of the seasonal sales that many stores have to offer and pick up a bargain well before your little one hits the big 0-1.
If a physical present isn't the way you want to go, spending time with your baby is absolutely enough. Whether you're a stay-at-home-mum, a work-from-home-mum, a work-away-from-home-mum or somewhere in between, the most valuable thing you can give to your baby is your time. Presence is a present in itself! Read them an extra bedtime story, play their favourite game with them a few minutes longer, head out for a walk to the park or just sit and cuddle with them on the couch. Any time you can give to your baby is going to matter to them. They might not be able to tell you or show you how much they love you, Mama, but they do. The best birthday gift in the world will always be the one you gave them a year ago when you gave them the gift of "Mum".