Let’s give Baby a present

It's time to gather around the crèche, the menorah or the non-denominational dinner table and show Baby what the holidays are all about — spending time with family and friends, honoring our religious/social traditions and getting lots and lots of presents. 

“What should I get my baby for Christmas?” is a commonly considered question for parents with babies under the age of 1.

The possibilities are endless. 

Your child is showing signs of impending walking — perhaps an “activity walker” would make the milestone more engaging? 

But plastic toys are so impermanent — an $85 wooden “rainbow stacking tunnel” is super cute and could become a cherished family heirloom!

And furthermore, what holiday celebration isn’t made sweeter with an appearance by Sophie the Giraffe?

It’s easy to get caught up in the mania, especially when sentimentality sets in. 

After all, it’s Baby’s First Big Holiday Experience — it needs to be meaningful!

It needs to be memorable!

And most important, it needs to look really good on Facebook. 

Or you could dial it back 

Yes, I’m a little jaded about the “holiday season” — at least as far as babies are concerned. 

What if we could all slow down and embrace some radical honesty?

We might all come to recognize a liberating fact: Baby isn’t going to remember any of this. 

Whether little Mason is dressed up in a cute little Santa suit or a stained onesie, he simply won’t have the social conditioning to feel embarrassed about the non-efforts of his lazy, selfish parents.

If you must 

I’m of the opinion that babies really don’t need much in the way of official “toys.”

Instead, start with what they most definitely don’t need — for instance, toys with small, chokeable pieces, anything doused in lead paint and their own personal iPads — and go on from there.  

Simple and classic 

Despite all my “babies don’t need toys” blather, both of my babies actually had plenty of toys —toys I bought them, toys their grandparents bought them, toys handed down from any number of friends with older kids.

And this was all fine and good. 

But sometimes I would get overwhelmed by all the stuff, so I’d box up about three-quarters of it all and leave out a much smaller selection.

The items that made the cut were almost always very basic — balls, blocks, scarves and cute little maracas, for example. 

Simple toys have remarkable staying power and often get used throughout the toddler and preschool years.

‘For them’ (but really for you) 

Since your baby can’t really express his opinions very clearly, now’s the time for selfish gift giving. 

Say you’ve always wanted a membership at the science museum or the Walker. This is the year to get one! After all, it’s not just for you — it’s also a gift of culture to your accompanying infant. 

Books are another good idea.

Because if you haven’t figured it out yet, children’s books can be super annoying. 

And no matter how discerning you think you are, some of these irritating books will get into your house — and eventually become your child’s favorite books. 

So attack the problem early and start stocking up on books that you actually want to read out loud. 

Everyone has their own taste, of course, but I particularly enjoy the collected works of William Steig and Dr. Seuss.

As for those annoying books you weed out? Sneak them out of the house, drive them across town and deposit them in an obscure little lending library. 

Shannon Keough lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to skeough@mnparent.com.