What babies really want for their first Christmas

The festive season is suddenly upon us, and like most new parents in a baby bubble, you may not have the usual time to run around the shops or for that matter – the energy! So, if you’re stuck for gift ideas for baby’s first Christmas, we’ve put together this list of 20 inexpensive or free present ideas that your baby actually wants.

There are plenty of beautiful baby products on the market, but your little one isn’t really fussed about how much you spend so save your money this year. Their favourite toys are often whatever items they discover around the house or in your handbag.

Here is our top 20 list of simple present ideas for babies first Christmas:

1. Cardboard boxes of different sizes

A few smaller ones to stack and post things into, plus a big one for them to sit in or make a tunnel out of. Bonus points if you string a few fairy lights or hang some ribbons or fabric scraps for them to stare at in wonder as they crawl through it.

2. A packet of baby wipes

Simple but effective. It must be the type with the plastic flap that they can open and close. They won’t believe their luck when they have the opportunity to pull each wipe out and stuff it back in (or suck on it, which isn’t recommended).

3. Containers with lids

Sort out your overflowing drawer of containers, and dig out a few that you rarely use. These open-ended toys provide hours of fun – stacking them, filling them with other items, finding the matching lid, banging them, and of course, sucking on them.

4. A ball

You can’t go wrong with a ball of any size or design. A great game you can play with a ball is peek-a-boo, which also helps them to learn object permanence (particularly important for bubs who are experiencing developmentally normal separation anxiety). Simply show them the ball, cover it with a box or a wrap, and then reveal it over and over until they realise it’s still there and then start looking for it themselves.

5. A DIY sensory bottle or bag

Don’t have a crafty bone in your body? Don’t worry, this DIY gift is as simple as pouring a few items into a clear plastic bottle or ziploc bag, and sealing it closed with glue or strong tape. Check out our article Sensory bottles and bags – How to make your own for fun ideas and simple instructions.

6. An empty plastic bottle

If filling a bottle seems like hard work (especially if you’re sleep deprived), just give your bub an empty (or full of liquid; either is highly entertaining) bottle or two, and watch them suck on them, roll them around and chase after them, and bang them on the floor.

7. An old TV remote (without batteries)

Babies essentially want whatever they see you use. That’s why they want your mobile phone and the TV remote. If you’ve got an old one lying around in a drawer somewhere, wrap it up, and your little one won’t believe their luck! Although, chances are they’ll probably figure out that it’s not actually the one they see you use, and they’ll throw it to one side and try to grab yours. They’re clever like that!

8. A roll of toilet paper

Since you probably never get to go to the toilet alone, your baby has probably seen the roll of toilet paper hanging up and thought it was so intriguing, especially once they work out how to pull it off the roll. Give them their own roll or two and let them decorate the house with it. You don’t have to worry about it being wasteful. Once they’ve done that, stuff it all into a box or bag, and let them start all over again.

9. A box of tissues

The same applies here as the toilet paper and wipes (imagine how much you’d make your baby’s Christmas if you gave them all three gifts!), with the bonus fun of pulling them out of a box one at a time, and stuffing them back in. Throw them in the air so your baby can watch how they magically float back down to the floor.

10. Their own set of keys

Forget about the plastic keys, they simply don’t compare to the real deal. Again, they want what you have, plus unlike their plastic counterparts, they make a great jingle jangle sound when they shake them in their little hands. You’ll no doubt find some keys in the junk drawer that you have no idea what they’re for. Give them a wash and a sterilise (and see if you can keep them out of your child’s mouth as they can be a bit rough on little gums).

11. Hair accessories and tools

Give your baby a selection of hairbrushes and combs (preferably not baby ones, of course, as that would be too safe and boring), and throw in some large hair accessories (nothing that’s a choking-risk), empty shampoo bottles, some old hair rollers, and a shower cap. The rule generally is that the more random the item, the more interesting it is.

12. A basket of ribbons

If you’ve done all of your Christmas present wrapping, pop any leftover ribbons, bows, rolls of sticky tape, and gift tags into a basket to provide endless excitement and intrigue.

13. A book

For a more sensible gift, give your baby a new Christmas-themed book every year, and snuggle up together as you make some memories during their first Christmas. For more simple ideas, you might like to read 10 ideas to make Baby’s First Christmas special. 

14. Kitchen implements

Wooden spoons, spatulas, pastry brushes, and tongs all make exceptional baby gifts. There’s no need to race out and buy new ones unless you want to, but you could just give them ones you already have in your (probably over-stuffed) drawer. Remember that the novelty of most things you give them will wear off quickly, so you’ll have them washed and back in your drawer by the new year. 

15. Any safe and washed rubbish from the recycling bin

Start setting aside clean yoghurt pots, egg cartons, magazines, berry punnets, and milk bottles, and you’ll have one very happy baby on Christmas morning! The beauty of these gifts is that you can keep replacing them and changing them up endlessly as they get damaged or dirty. That way they’ll never get bored of them.

16. Some old sunglasses

Have you ever had your baby try to pull your glasses or sunglasses off your face? It’s not always the most pain-free experience. Give your baby some of your spare or old ones, preferably in a case for added enjoyment, so that they leave yours alone (fingers crossed).

17. Christmas baubles

Giving them some tree decorations that they can play with might deter them from getting at the Christmas tree (we have some more tips for baby-proofing the tree here). Baubles are colourful and sparkly, and fun to watch rolling across the floor and following after. Just make sure they’re plastic and robust enough to withstand this kind of treatment.

18. A purse or wallet filled with cards you no longer use

This gift is a great opportunity for babies to work on their fine motor skills as they pull cards out and slot them back in. And of course, they get to be just like mummy or daddy and have the same things they do.

19. The Christmas wrapping paper

Collect any scraps or extra pieces and pop them in a box or Santa sack, and your bub will be absolutely thrilled. Tearing, scrunching, throwing, shuffling across the floor, playing peek-a-boo, wrapping and then unwrapping things around the house…there are endless possibilities!

20. Your presence is present enough

Obviously the most important gift you can give your little one, which sounds cliché, is your time and love. Slowing life down during a time that is often busy and stressful, being present, and filling your bub’s cup, is truly all they could ask for. Have a wonderful Christmas with your baby!


If you have a newborn, all they want is milk and cuddles for Christmas. While you’re doing that, read them a Christmas story or play ‘Jingle Bells’, and that’s them sorted. If you have an older baby, we promise that they will appreciate almost anything from this list.  Trust us, you might think these ideas are a joke, but babies are easily pleased!

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