Sure, any gift you give should be accepted with gratitude and appreciation. But you should know that there are some gifts best left to the parents to buy (or not) for their own children.
Microphones and Other Loud Toys
Buying a noisy toy for someone else's child is the oldest "bad gift idea" cliché there is. Somehow microphones seem to have escaped the bad rap of loud toys and fallen into the "musical instrument" category. But a microphone's sole purpose is to make things louder. Don't do it.
I know it sounds like I'm being anti-fun. But when kids play with toys like these inflatable boxing gloves, it always ends in either tears or the sound of something breaking. You don't want to be to blame for that. Let the parents bring that kind of misery on themselves.
When a kid wears a onesie or a T-shirt with words on it, it reflects back on the parents as well as the kid wearing it. That's why statement clothing is best left to the parents to choose (or the kids, when they're old enough).
Easy Bake Ovens come with one (just one!) baking kit. The refills cost about five bucks each. There is nothing sadder than a little kid with an Easy Bake Oven and nothing to cook in it, so if you buy a kid this toy without you are basically signing up the parents to buy weekly refills.
Gift cards are a fun way to give a child the experience of shopping and choosing their own gift. But if you give a gift card to a child, make sure the amount on the card is enough to allow the child to pick out something decent at the store. Otherwise you've only given the gift of public disappointment (and possibly begging the parents to make up the difference).
The bummer for parents about kid furniture is that in those rare moments when the house is all clean and all the toys are all put away, that darn overstuffed kid lazy boy still "belongs" in the living room, no
matter how many bug-eyed Disney character faces are on it. Let the parents at least choose a kid couch they can live with.
Unless you check with the parents first, never buy someone
else's kid a gift that might be considered a "milestone" moment. Obvious
examples of milestone toys are things like training bras or cell phones. Less obvious
examples include a first Barbie doll or first bicycle. Think about it like this: If you
are buy the kid their first one, that probably means it was sooner than the parents
wanted them to have one.
Avoid giving any gift that specifically aims to help the child share your interests, learn about your occupation or understand your world view. Yes, I am guilty of doing this to my own child, and I think all parents are. But when a non-parent does it, it's just creepy.
You can sometimes get a real
bargain on toys by buying them unassembled. But before you jump at that low-priced playhouse, ask yourself two questions. Does it require power tools or more handyman
skills than the parents possess in order to put together? If so, are you willing to put
it together for the parents? If not, skip it.
Most parents don't mind a toy that takes batteries as long as it's not too obnoxiously loud and it has an on/off switch. But when toys require hard-to-find batteries that we can't pick up at the grocery store with the rest of our shopping list, that toy becomes our nemesis. Also, button cell batteries are extremely dangerous for kids anyway, so best to steer clear of them entirely.