Open-Ended, Gender Neutral Christmas Presents for an Infant

Despite being a secular family, as I discussed in my Top Ten Tips for  a Humanist Christmas post, Christmas has always been a big deal to us. We enjoy getting together to eat a big dinner, spend time with one another and contest the annual games tournament. I love decorating our home and sending cards out to family and friends.

Giving and receiving presents is an important part of the holiday to us as well, though this year I’ve tried to be more mindful about it. The consumerism Christmas can become surrounded by is something I’ve tried to avoid, not buying presents for the sake of it and sticking more rigidly to a budget (especially as maternity pay will only stretch so far).

I’ve been reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. Chapter three is all about environment, particularly concerning children’s toys and their play environment. Although Lefty Baby is not yet at the playing stage, I’m trying to absorb the book’s messages, as well as the lessons Montessori teaches us, about quality of toys over quantity and the importance of the toys being developmentally appropriate.

With this in mind, I selected a small number of toys for LB before he was born for his Christmas presents. They are ones that will grow with him over his first year and beyond, are open-ended and gender non-specific. They are largely designed to develop his motor skills, as he is in the sensitive period for movement.

Hevea Star Ball: light enough for LB to pick up, safe to chew on and can be combined with play silks as a sort of threading game.

Play silks: bright, light enough to throw around, and can be used to create backdrops for imaginary play as LB gets older. If he enjoys using them in this way, we may invest in some dyed muslins or more expensive play silks, but these are fine for now.

Nana clutch doll: a lovely, simple first doll for LB. In Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue, which I’ve recently finished reading, Christia Spears Brown talks about the importance of caretaking play in order to develop empathy in children. Boys are often shortchanged in this area; I’m determined my boy won’t miss out. Although the doll will initially be a grasping toy, I hope as LB matures, we can roleplay nurturing scenarios together.

Gnome doll with rattle in head (I’ve forgotten the actual name/manufacturer): Similar reasons to above, though I hope LB will enjoy the rattle element as he starts to discover his hands. EDITBabipur, the retailer, informed me via Instagram that this is a Keptin Jr. Baby Comforter – thank you!

Simple cloth balls: both from IKEA, different sizes, weights and textures.

Small wooden boat: LB enjoys his baths and we’ll start to introduce this toy to them when we feel he’s ready.

Balloon holder: More for my mom than LB, as she’s frightened of balloons and this will enable us to play with them without her freaking out!

LB is also receiving a teddy bear, stacker and building block set from his grandparents, which will become of interest throughout the year and grow with him through childhood. I’m also in the process of constructing the Gobbi, Dancers and tactile Montessori mobiles which I may gift him at Christmas and introduce when he’s ready for them.

These toys were purchased from a mixture of shops including Babipur, Myriad Online, IKEA and Amazon.

Which toys were your baby’s favourite when they were very young?

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