If you’re like me, you love to give practical gifts that will get a lot of use. Maybe it’s not as “fun” for the kids, but I guarantee they’ll appreciate something they can use almost every day.
And, their parents will as well, right?
So, without further ado, here’s my gift guide for all ages from newborn through the teen years. All gifts loosely have the goal of helping families be healthier.
This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission on qualifying items purchased. See full disclosure here.
Gifts Starting at the Newborn Stage
Here are a few suggestions that would make a great baby shower gift or a way to welcome a new little one into the world. They are things that can be used within days of a baby’s birth.
Every baby needs a way to keep their nails trimmed. These scissors have blunted ends for safety and a slight curve to get the angle just right. Quite simply, they work. I tried a few other ways of keeping nails trimmed, and these were my favorite.
Piyo Piyo nail scissors (affiliate link). Please note: I recommend these often and notice that the Amazon price fluctuates a lot. They are wonderful though.
100% white petroleum jelly
I have yet to meet a baby who needed no moisturizing or diaper-area creams at all. If a family is shopping for a new baby, my easy recommendation is 100% white petroleum jelly (a common brand name is Vaseline). It works as both a moisturizer and a diaper cream. I talk more about why I think Vaseline is great (along with some skin care tips) in this post.
100% white petroleum jelly (affiliate link)
A Quick Reference Booklet
Shamelessly, I need to recommend my little booklet for parents of newborns. It’s a quick flip-through-kind-of-read that answers the most common questions I heard from new parents when I worked as a general pediatrician.
Gifts for Infants
Once a baby is the past the newborn stage, their needs change slightly. The following make great gifts for babies over about age 2 months or so.
Baby Sun Protection
Depending on your family, sun protection may also be on your mind. This product was a happy discovery. Honestly, I didn’t know full length swimming suits were so readily available for kids. There are many similar suits like this, but this is the one I have used for my child. My favorite thing about it is that it limits time/energy/battles over sunscreen. (We can just focus on applying sunscreen to the face, hands, and feet). I love that it is easy to get on and off with a full leg zipper. It’s loose enough to wear easily over a swim diaper. And, I chose the bright orange/red color intentionally. I wanted something easy to spot in a pool.
As a bonus, we use the hat year-round, swimming or not.
Full-length baby sun/swimsuit (affiliate link)
Speaking of sun protection, a separate sunhat is always nice to have on hand. I liked this one because it also protects the neck. And, it folded down so small, I kept it in the glove compartment or diaper bag with minimal added bulk. The best hat is one a baby will actually use, right? And it’s easy to use if it’s always on hand.
Anything to help support a family feed their baby makes a wonderful gift. Maybe start with a breastfeeding parent’s favorite beverage. (A coffee gift card?) See this post for my complete list of breastfeeding and pumping supply recommendations.
Gifts for Older Infants and Toddlers
Once babies start solid foods and begin moving a lot more, there are even more gifts to consider.
For Children on Solid Foods: An Easy Way to Add Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids have many benefits! We often think of seafood as the best source, but flaxseed also has one type of omega-3s. I find that ground flaxseed is easy to add to a variety of food for my kids, including smoothies, chaffles, and oatmeal. Below is what I’ve enjoyed. I like that it’s organic. The fact that it’s ground already makes it more convenient (though many prefer grinding the seeds themselves).
Here’s a similar product from Target, in case you’re more likely to get groceries there.
Sun protection is essential for children who spend time outside. As I’ve mentioned before, hats and sleeves are important parts of keeping our little ones shaded. We’ve gone through a lot of hats in my family. This is one of my favorites. It has an adjustable toggle around the circumference, so my kids have worn it from under age 1 until 5 with no fitting issues. The chinstrap is Velcro, so it is strong enough to stay put, but not so strong that it could get caught or tangled at the playground. The brim is wide enough to provide real sun protection (and it has UPF of 50). It’s also pretty hardy in the water and folds down easily. Our hat has gotten a lot of use, and aside from the color fading slightly, it’s still in great condition.
Sunhat (affiliate link)
Safer Nightlight with Option for Red Light
A night light is a sweet way for the toddler in your life to think of you at bedtime.
When my child transitioned from a crib to a toddler bed, I wanted to make sure their bedroom was totally child-proofed and safe. So, I took out the previous nightlight which had been plugged into the wall. I wanted something that did not need any cords or wires. Also, we seemed to do well using a red-colored light (less eye stimulation), so I looked for that option as well. What we’ve used for a few years now is similar this. (Our exact model is no longer available on Amazon, but this seems to be nearly identical). It charges pretty quickly with a USB. The charge lasts all night. We almost always use the red color for nightlight purposes, but the white color works well enough for reading in bed.
As for safety, I did not trust a 2-year-old when we first got the light. We kept it out of reach (but didn’t have to worry about cords dangling). Now that my child is a bit older, it stays within reach. To be fair, I think a child would have to try pretty hard to experience any safety issues. However, many kids are persistent enough that I wouldn’t let a child snuggle with it unsupervised (despite the product images).
Gifts for Preschoolers and Older Kids
At these ages, I’m thinking of a few gifts that are fun, practical, and that foster some fine motor skills.
A simple plastic tray has endless uses. We got one that I’m pretty sure is exactly like those used in elementary schools 30 years ago. It can be used for food, of course, perfect for transporting a backyard picnic. We also use it to provide boundaries with Play-Doh. It corrals art supplies, especially helpful if a young child is gluing or painting. When my child enjoyed threading beads, this was a perfect workspace. A dropped bead could be easily caught. My youngest enjoys pouring water from one cup into another, so the tray is helpful then too. Any spilled water is easily poured into the sink afterwards. I’ll share the link of one tray, but I’ve noticed that the price varies widely depending on company and color. So, search until you find what’s reasonable for your little one.
This could make a great accompanying gift to a craft supplies or pouring cups.
cafeteria-style tray with endless uses (affiliate link)
Crafts and activities that use the fingers (beading, modeling clay etc) are great for developing the small muscles in the hands and fingers. (For more about what skills kids develop, see this post on examples of toddler motor milestones).
Paint by Sticker Books
These “paint by sticker books” are a wonderful gift, especially for families spending a lot of time traveling, in waiting rooms, or cooped up in doors for longer than ideal. It’s also great for families trying to limit screen time (though some screen time might be fine ). I first learned about them from Counting With Kids (an excellent math-at-home resource).
I love how these sticker books playfully promote spatial awareness and letter or number recognition. It’s a wonderful way to support math literacy which is an important part of health literacy. What I love most though? I love how much my kids enjoy them. They come in a variety of themes. If you get these, I’d genuinely love to know what the kids in your life think. And, yes, they have more detailed ones for older kids and adults. These look amazing, but I can’t personally vouch for them like the ones for younger kids.
Gifts for Teens and Adults
Staying with the theme of good health for families, these gift recommendations are for older teens and adults.
A Chic Water Tumbler
This product recommendation is a bit tongue-in-cheek. I won’t pretend we all have the same preferences or needs here. The best parenting happens when we parents take care of ourselves. My favorite form of achievable self-care is hydration. I got this water tumbler when I was pregnant and have loved it ever since. It’s stainless steel, so the water stays cold, even in hot cars. (It fits in car cupholders). And, somehow it’s easy to carry around even though it holds a reasonable 28 ounces. The plastic straw is a downside, but I replaced it with a stainless steel straw easily enough. It has the option of holding hot drinks and came with an additional top (I’ve never used this feature). And, it’s pretty. Sometimes, its appearance alone is the motivation needed for a calming breath or a sip of water.
My favorite water tumbler (affiliate link)
An Engaging Book
For someone who loves to read, here are a few good ones for adults and older teens: ( I’ve mentioned these on Instagram before)
- For child development in the preschool years, The Importance of Being Little: What Young Children Really Need from Grownups is an excellent read.
- If anyone ever has questions about vaccines (or vaccine ingredients), I usually recommend this book: On Immunity by Eula Biss. And, if you and I have spoken in the last few years, I probably recommended it then too. It’s highly readable, relatable, and fascinating.
Reminder: Children Don’t Need Much
I say it often. There’s not much children truly need in the way of physical objects: A safe place to sleep. A safe way to travel outside the home (a car seat if applicable). A few things to keep clean (diapers) and comfortable (clothing). Beyond that, they need a loving person who holds them, sings or talks to them, and reads to them. That loving person needs to be able to take care of themselves as well.
So even if kids don’t need much, sometimes it’s fun to give the child in your life something that they’ll use and will also help them be a bit healthier. If that’s the case, I hope this list is helpful. (And if you’re looking for Pure Toy, a ball is always a fun choice. (This post explains what I mean).
Do let me know if you’ve tried any of these and what you think!
This is for information only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Full disclaimer here.
Maya M. Mahmood, D.O., FAAP is a board-certified pediatrician and mom. She is passionate about parents having evidence-based information to help their families be healthier.