Celebrating Baby's First Christmas
Okay, you could buy your 4-month-old a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates, let her play with the wrapping paper, and then give the gifts back to yourself. After all, she doesn't understand the concept of Christmas or gifts. But your baby needs a lot of stuff, so buying things that she both needs and enjoys is the perfect way of honoring her first holiday season with you. Keep a list of baby-friendly gifts handy for when the grandparents, godparents and cousins start asking what they can give your child this Christmas.
By 4 months, most babies are interested in crinkly, colorful toys. Grabbing for toys and manipulating them helps babies this age build their cognitive and motor skills, and she'll only get more interested in toys in the coming months. Toys like stackable rings, activity centers, wheeled animals or musical books are all perfect for 4-month-olds, and they should continue to interest your child for at least the next year.
A Christmas Ornament or Stocking
If your family has established Christmas traditions, baby's first Christmas is the perfect time to involve her in them. And even if you don't have any longstanding holiday customs, now's the ideal time to start some. Order her a stocking embroidered with her name, or start an annual practice of buying her a photo frame ornament or a pair of cozy holiday pajamas. She won't understand the significance of these gifts now, but you can take plenty of pictures and later show her evidence that she's been a special part of your traditions since her very first Christmas.
A Personalized Book
At 4 months old, your baby may not yet seem to recognize her own name or be interested in books, but she should start to hit those milestones within the next few months. Encourage the development of both reading and writing by ordering a personalized book featuring her name. Some of the companies that make these books even include the child's picture. Point to her name as you read the book to help her make the connection between sounds and printed words.
Growing babies need warm clothes―and lots of them. Clothes make an ideal gift because not only are they useful, but you can wrap individual pieces separately to give her plenty of packages that she can help open. Buy her clothes for the coming months, or if your local stores still have summer and fall clothes on clearance, stock up on 1-year sizes for next year.
By the time she's 3, your child won't be happy about getting a check. So save the bulk of your toy-buying for later on. This year, invest your gift money in her future. Set up a 529 account or other savings account for your child and let your loved ones know that you're accepting checks for that fund this Christmas. Looking at estimates of how much college will cost 18 years from now might ruin your holiday cheer, so don't do it. Just know that you're giving your baby the best gift possible: a bright future.
Kathryn Walsh has more than 20 years of experience working with children and has been writing about children and parenting topics for more than 10 years. Her work has appeared on sites including TheBump, Working Mother and Mamapedia.