Personalization the key to giving unique holiday baby gifts

(ARA) - Gift-buying season is just starting and will soon be in full swing. You may have a few new names on your list with newborns joining your family and friend's families. More than any other gift-buying task, finding unique baby gifts can be a challenge.

For adults, teens or even children, you can find out what the recipient likes and tailor your gift purchase accordingly. But babies are a clean slate. So what guidelines can you follow when choosing a gift for them?

Personalized options are unique baby gifts that both delight parents, and provide kids with plenty of playtime enjoyment. Seeing their own name or image on a beloved possession helps reinforce children's sense of self and encourages them to interact with their environment.

Here are five ideas for personalized baby gifts that you can give at any time of year:

1. Make her the star of her own story. Celebrity moms Brooke Shields, Courtney Cox and Jessica Alba have all purchased personalized books from children's publisher ISeeMe.com. The site offers a large selection of colorful, appealing, age-appropriate books that can be personalized with a child's name. Some books include the child's name on the cover, others throughout the story, and still others feature rhymes and text about the spelling of the child's name.

"Personalized books increase a child's self esteem and celebrate their uniqueness," says Maia Haag, author and co-founder of ISeeMe.com. "The goal is to show each child how absolutely unique and special he or she is, to teach the child how to spell his or her name, and to build vocabulary skills."

2. Help him grow into his personality. Kids love growth charts. Being able to track their own progress helps anchor children to their past while encouraging them to look toward the future. Personalizing growth charts can be as simple as adding the child's name to the top of a wall-mounted chart. You can also find plenty of options that elevate the level of personalization. For example, Redenvelope.com offers a growth quilt. Hung on the wall, the quilt's tree design features 12 circles that can be personalized with the child's handprint, allowing parents to chart every month in one year of a child's life, or stretch the fun over 12 years.

3. Let her make her mark on the world. Craft-making has an almost universal appeal for children, and when the crafts involve personalization, kids enjoy them even more. It's easy to find stepping stone kits that can be personalized with a child's name, handprint or even footprint. Young children will enjoy making the kit with a parent and putting their handprint in the finished product. Parents of infants can also cherish the project when they create it themselves and press their baby's footprint into the clay.

4. Protect his "lovey" from all challengers. It's not unusual for babies and very young children to have a favorite stuffed animal or security blanket. A "lovey" helps them fall asleep, and can provide comfort and even companionship. Personalizing a child's security blanket or stuffed animal with her name can help reinforce her sense of self and understanding of the concept of possession.

5. Pictures are worth a thousand words. It's easy to find online software and photo websites that allow you to create high-quality photo books with your own images. Parents will love seeing their pride and joy featured in a photo montage. Babies love looking at pictures of faces, something that helps stimulate their brain development. Younger children also love picture books and it's easy to tell them the tale of their young lives using pictures of themselves and loved ones.

Personalization is a great way to make unique baby gifts even more precious, for both children and their parents.