Grandparents, family and let’s be honest, parents, can tend to go a bit overboard on toys for a baby’s first birthday. We’ve compiled 10 fun and unique gift ideas for your 1-year-old that won’t add to your clutter, and will instead, offer you and your child fun experiences and lasting memories. These are creative alternatives to toys that you can use yourself or give to your peeps when they ask you “what should we get for baby?”

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Photo: TMV Designs via Flickr

1. Memberships

Going to the aquarium, zoo, or children’s museum are super fun outings that can get pricey very quickly. Having a yearly membership is a great gift that will give you something free to do whenever you need to get out of the house.

2. Donation to College Fund

Let’s be honest. It’s never too early to start saving for college, or a down payment on a house, or a car, or whatever you think will be the right fit for your baby.

3. Children’s Books

Reading aloud to babies has tons of benefits and cultivating a collection of timeless children’s stories is a gift that will keep on giving.

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Photo: Visa Kopu via Flickr

4. Personalize It

Putting a monogram or name adds a fun and special twist to an otherwise lackluster gift. Items like beach or bathing towels, a small backpack or tote are great and useful gifts that parents and Baby will love.

5. Free Babysitting Coupons

Nothing says love like a night out among adults. And it’s great for your baby to get extra cuddles from willing hands. Providing coupons that can be readily redeemed for babysitting is a win-win for all involved.

6. Get Classy

Mommy and me classes come in many shapes and sizes – yoga, music, sign language, movement, art – the sky is the limit. Being gifted with a set of classes can be a real morale booster for a mama with a new baby.

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Photo: Marc Latremouille via Flickr

7. Music

Whether it’s an itunes giftcard or a CD, buying music for baby and parents to jam to, is always a great idea. Music helps babies make connections in their brains and let’s be honest, it’s fun to have family dance parties while in the car.

8. Charity Donation

If there is a cause close to your heart, let your family and friends know! Making a donation is a fabulous way to honor your little one while also doing some good for those in need.

9. Plant a Tree

Going to the nursery and picking out a tree to plant for your little one can be a super special and unique gift and watching it grow and flourish with your child from year to year is even better.  If you don’t have a yard where you can plant it, you can make a donation to the U.S. Forest Service Plant a Tree Program. They will plant seedlings and will send you a  certificate acknowledging your gift.

10. Have a Seat

Babies love things that are just their size, soft armchairs included. There are tons of choices of adorable, soft, fuzzy armchairs that baby will have a blast, climbing and maybe occasionally sitting still on.

What non-toy birthday gifts have you given that your baby loved? Please share.

-Sarah Blight