Finding the perfect gift at any age doesn’t have to be difficult. We spoke with an expert, Children’s National’s Penny Glass, PhD, director of the Child Development Program, to find out the most age-appropriate gifts for infants.

“Infants do not really need a direct present because they don’t understand it and they’re going to be more interested in the wrapping paper,” Dr. Glass said.

Dr. Glass suggests friends of families with infants that want to give a gift should find out if the baby is in need of a high chair or stroller, rather than a toy. She also said a great gift for an infant is one that will begin a tradition.

“Starting a tradition helps the child learn and grow, and they feel warm and fuzzy inside. It also helps the infant remember those early childhood memories,” she said. “Give a gift of yourself, maybe a tradition from when you grew up, and it will help you begin building bonds with the baby.”

Dr. Glass says that if you want to give an infant a toy, make sure that it is something plush and huggable. This item could become the child’s transitional object they take to bed or can hold on to when they’re entering a new situation.

Baby-proof decorating tips

It’s important to also think about baby-proofing your decorations during this time of year. Babies will definitely enjoy singing that accompanies the holidays, but they may get overwhelmed by all of the sights and sounds.

  • Low-lying decorations should be safe decorations
    • Do not hang sharp or glass objects low enough for an infant to grab
  • Dangling decorations will be pulled down
  • Make sure the tree is settled in well enough that it won’t tip over
  • Blinking lights will be more hypnotic, a steady light is better
  • Pay attention to your baby’s temperament, because you may have to help them calm down

One last gift tip Dr. Glass offered for infants is a donation in the child’s name. This can be the child’s first lesson in giving. 


Penny Glass, PhD, is director of the Child Development Program at Children's National.

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