8 Thoughtful Non-Toy Gifts for Baby

Welcome to the December 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Greatest Gifts

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have suggested go-to gifts and gifting experiences for the holiday season for all your loved ones.


Just what do you buy for a baby outside of a board book or the same ole’ little toy? Here’s a list of thoughtful presents. Your family asking for hints? Send this article to them before the holidays!

Enrichment Classes: Ask baby’s parent what classes they would like to take: ASL? Gym? Music Together? I teach a combo of world languages, ASL, music, and sensory play. ButIndirayellow academics are not what we’re really aiming for with babies even in my own classes — fun and friends are key. Social learning and parent connection are the greatest joy money can buy. If baby is not born yet or just born, the family may enjoy breastfeeding drop-in groups, newborn groups, etc.

Snacks: Make baby a delectable treat. Babies can eat real food with real spices, and it doesn’t have to start with purees. Homemade sweet potato crackers. Apple butter without sugar. Carrot muffins. Dried Apple Teething Rings.

Books: The classic gift that endures the test of time. Board books are wonderful, but don’t be afraid to buy “older kid” books so that they can be enriched with real literacy. Used books? Hand-me-down books? All good!

A Potty: Did you know that babies can crawl onto a potty and use words and signs to communicate potty needs by 10 months? Besides peeing in them, potties are fun to climb and read a book on. As a potty coach for 10 months old and up, here’s my favorite inexpensive one: The Potty Pod Basix.

First Art Supplies: First art experiences can happen much earlier than preschool! Artsensorykitchenmemesupplies can be enjoyed with the hands, feet and all the senses. Glob paint is safe, gluten-free, sugar-free, and just sticky enough to be really interesting. It’s more of a watercolor consistency once mixed. Get a big, long roll of paper for baby to just go wild on!

DIY Sensory Tubs: Make your own sensory kit to gift to baby. A big and shallow tupperware, some organic lentils, quinoa, cups for water play, possibly some silica-free, preservative-free sand. Some bulk items in bags, some bowls, and supervision will also do just fine!

Parenting Classes: The parent of the baby you love might want some help in the arena of gentle and effective discipline, communication, how to cloth diaper, how to use various baby carriers, infant CPR, or baby massage. Ask the parent what they are interested in, and beloved baby will reap the benefits! You can even find some of these classes online, like my gentle discipline, potty savvy, and sleep savvy online programs.

Membership: To the local children’s museum or play center? To the aquarium? To the pool! Botanical Gardens? Ahh…the gift of getting out of the house!

What non-toy gifts would you recommend for little ones?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon December 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • I Want to Buy All of the ThingsThe Economama discusses whether there’s a way to buy all of the baby stuff she desperately wants for her daughter without spoiling her.
  • The “Collectors” and the “Concentrators”: How Children React to Lots of Presents — Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., at Parental Intelligence discusses two types of children who receive gifts: the “Collectors” who rip open the wrappings on their their presents and love to count them and the “Concentrators” who spend endless time on each gift ignoring the array of presents around them.
  • The Joy of Giving and Receiving — Ellen at Life With Lucien shares her three-year-old son’s new favorite toy for imaginative play.
  • Books: Best Present Ever! — Holly at Leaves of Lavender discusses some of the many reasons why books are the ideal gifts for little ones.
  • 10 DIY Gifts You Still Have Time To Make — A roundup of 10 DIY gifts that don’t take much time to make from Doña at Nurtured Mama.
  • Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaves – A Delicious Holiday Gift — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares one of her favorite recipes to make and give during the holidays. This Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaf is much anticipated by her friends and loved ones. Learn how to create this delicious gift from the heart!
  • Christmas gifts for dreamers — Tat at Mum in search shares her favourite books and resources that have helped her get inspired and move forward towards her dreams this year.
  • Natural parent’s baby shower registry — Since she had everything already for baby #3, Lauren at Hobo Mama is amusing herself by building a list of essentials and a few fun fripperies for a natural-parenting nursery.
  • Gifts of love — Charlie at PeelingClementines recalls her favourite Christmas gift of all time and thinks about how to add this magic to her little one’s first Christmas.
  • The Gift of Letting Go — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has discovered that when you’re a perfectionist, sometimes the best gift is simply releasing yourself from self-imposed expectations.
  • Montessori Inspired Gifts for Babies and Toddlers — Rachel at Bread and Roses shares gift ideas that were a hit with her son last year and what’s on her wishlist for this year.
  • Giftmas Ideas for KidsMomma Jorje offers an original gift idea that hasn’t been overdone and is good for the kids!
  • Favorite CDs for Babies and Toddlers {Gift Guide} — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her family’s favorite CDs for babies and toddlers, some of which were favorites of her children and are now favorites of her granddaughter.
  • The Birthday Turned Christmas Wish ListThat Mama Gretchen forgot to share her birthday wish list this fall, but she’s still wishin’ and hopin’ a present or two will arrive for Christmas!
  • 8 Thoughtful Non-Toy Gifts for Baby — Is your family asking for hints for presents to give baby? Moorea, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, offers this list of ideas that won’t overwhelm your little one with toys.

Photo Credits


About The Author: Moorea

@mooreamalatt My NPN Posts

Moorea Malatt is the founder of Savvy Parenting Support (and MamaLady blog), an online resource for gentle and naturally-minded early parenting challenges. Moorea is an expert and Parent Educator in gentle (and early) potty learning, gentle sleep learning and gentle discipline. She authors online learning programs, books and blogs, leads sold-out workshops and provides private phone consults. Moorea has 20 years of experience with parents and young children as a preschool teacher, certified postpartum doula, infant nanny and mom. Moorea also wrote an album of songs called, “Whip It Out: Songs for Breastfeeding.” Moorea continues to study the behavioral sciences and anthropology. She is a bit of a flop as a dinner chef loves a good sugar-free “paleo” baking experiment! http://www.facebook.com/Savvyparentingsupport

8 Responses to 8 Thoughtful Non-Toy Gifts for Baby

  1. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama  

    *Excellent* list!! I would have welcomed everything you mentioned when my two were wee ones 🙂

  2. Lauren Wayne  

    Great list! I’ll add another one — my mother-in-law is great at getting subscriptions. Highlights, for instance, has a magazine out now for babies (and others for older kids). I know there are other baby-centric subscription boxes out there that would be a treat!

  3. Holly S

    These are all great ideas! Here in San Diego, I know we have all kinds of great non-toy gift options. There are ASL classes for babies, music classes for littles of all ages, the zoo, lots of kid-friendly museums, art classes, and more! Thanks for putting all of these ideas in one convenient place.

  4. Ellen Hahn

    Yes! Great list! Classes at My Gym and Music Together, museum memberships, a zoo membership, and a children’s museum pass are all on our gift list. Highlights High Five is also a fantastic gift idea. Something like Kiwi Crate or a science club subscription is also great. My son adores his monthly Clifford science kit.

  5. Gretchen  

    Love all these ideas! Art supplies are always a hit around here and I super appreciate when my kids receive contributions to lessons like swim and ballet. It’s something they get to enjoy every week 🙂

  6. Deb @ Living Montessori Now  

    I love your list, Moorea! I give a lot of books as presents, but I also love to give experiences. The enrichment classes would be unique, easily personalized gifts. 🙂

  7. Laurie Hollman, Ph.D.  

    Non-toy gifts are the very best kind. Thanks for all your ideas and inspiration.
    Enjoy your holidays.
    Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence

  8. Momma Jorje  

    Oh man, I wish I had thought of some of these in recent years (to request for my kids). My son is in serious need of sensory bins… though I doubt our family would make them. I need to just do it.

    Also, I love the “permission” to give used books. I wish more people would feel okay with regifting used items. It just makes sense!