The Best Gift for a Toddler’s Birthday

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When my son and his friends have birthdays, a lot of the invitations say “no gift necessary,” which is a polite way to say, “no more friggin’ toys! our house is full! leave us alone!”

Whether the invitation says so or not, I know that my friends–every one of them–has felt overwhelmed by the number of toys they’ve accumulated at one time or another. People love to give kids toys. People love to buy toys. People love to hand down toys to their friends, whether they want them or not.

People also love to ignore that “no gifts necessary” caveat or, if they’re like me, they might get so excited about the kid’s party that they’ll miss it entirely.

So here’s a suggestion for you: one of the most useful items in our home, which allows us to go on fun adventures that our toddler’s short legs would otherwise preclude.

A hiking backpack.

IMG_20180422_130927.jpgA lot of parents wear their babies nowadays and front packs are awesome, but even the ones that can flip around and turn into a backpack have their limits. A hiking backpack provides a much more comfortable ride for both kid and parent, plus they have compartments for snacks, drinks, diapers and such.

And they’re not just useful for literal hiking. Maybe you’re not so woodsy. Maybe you like to walk around a track or you’re going to Disneyland and your kid doesn’t like to stay in a stroller. Hail the baby backpack!

Of course, we found ours on the side of a road, marked “free” and I have no idea how old it is or what brand it is or if that brand still exists, so I can’t recommend a specific type, but there are a lot of good ones. And if you/the family you’re giving it to are going to hike rough terrain or hills, a set of hiking poles is a good idea, too, so the wearer of the backpack doesn’t fall down the mountain, baby, backpack, and all.

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