You and your baby have celebrated a lot this couple of months. From baby’s first Halloween costume to baby’s first Thanksgiving to tracking other baby developmental milestones and more, Hanukkah is yet another joyous time for families. Whether your baby’s first Hanukkah comes when they’re one month old or eleven months old, it can be a precious time for the whole family. Naturally, you’re looking for ways to celebrate!
From shiny chocolate coins to their first Dreidel, some traditional Hanukkah celebrations are best saved when your baby grows a little older. For example, medical experts recommend avoiding foods with added sugars during the first two years of your baby’s life. You might want to save traditional Hanukkah sweets like sufganiyot when they’re a little older.1
But other traditions and baby gifts can make your celebrations joyful at any age. For kiddos under five, Hanukkah is often about sensations like songs and storytelling, beautiful lights, matching family outfits, and cuddles with family—along with some unique Hanukkah gifts, of course.2
We’ve created a list of baby-friendly ideas to help you celebrate your baby’s first Hanukkah in a way that feels special from the start.
#1 Songs and Storytelling
During this special Jewish holiday, Jewish families all over the world gather to remember a story of hope and resistance. It makes sense, then, that stories and songs can serve as a wonderful way to share Hanukkah with your little one.
Here are some ideas for incorporating song and story into your baby’s first Hanukkah:
No matter what time of year it is, singing to your baby, reading and talking to them, and cuddling with them can help be a powerful way of bonding with your little one. Bringing those moments into your family’s Hanukkah tradition can help you make memories (and traditions) you’ll want to return to year after year.
#2 Lights and Crafts
We all love looking at beautiful candles during Hanukkah. But if your baby’s under four months old, they may seem especially fascinated. In their first few months, babies love looking at high-contrast items, movement, and—of course—lights.3
You can share the lights of the season with your little one by:
You can plan different activities for every night of Hanukkah or repeat one your baby loves every night. Some babies like novelty, while others like routine. It’s up to you to choose the balance that feels best for your family.
#3 Cuddles with Family
When it comes to celebrating Hanukkah with your baby, one of the most valuable things you can impart is a sense of family, closeness, and special nights together. Whether you’re reading books together or just relaxing and enjoying the lights, cuddling with your little one can help you both savor the holiday and the closeness it brings.
If you’re planning on celebrating with other members of your family, Hanukkah can also give the other important adults in your baby’s life a chance to cuddle and bond.
#4 Share Eight Gifts to Celebrate
Is there anything more fun than watching your baby smile and laugh as they discover a new toy? The eight nights of Hanukkah mean eight opportunities to delight your child with a toy they’ll enjoy all year long.
While it might feel tempting to try an electronic toy with tons of gizmos and sound effects, experts actually recommend choosing simpler toys that provide more opportunities for your baby to interact in different ways with their toy.4 They're more likely to grow bored when all they have to do is push a button.
Here are eight of our favorites for babies in their first year:
- PlanToys Pull Along Snail –A pull toy can help your little one develop fine motor skills by grasping, holding, and pulling this snail.4 As an added bonus, this toy uses only eco-friendly materials, making it a positive choice for your family and the planet.
- Llama Soft Book by Manhattan Toy – This soft book includes colorful pictures, a baby-safe mirror, crinkly sounds, engaging textures, and—best of all—an attached squeaker llama. Approved for ages 0 months and up, it’s perfect for babies to explore on their own or for when you want to cuddle up together on those long winter nights and read a book.
- Adorable Petals Unicorn Medium by Manhattan Toy – Designed for children of all ages, this stuffed unicorn has an unbelievably soft texture. It’s excellent for curling up with when they're little and excellent for bringing on adventures as they grow older.
- Oli & Carol Fruit & Veggie Teethers – As your baby grows, they may want to mimic what you’re doing, including when you’re in the kitchen.4 These fruit and vegetable teethers can soothe your baby’s teething gums while letting them copy you as you cook. Plus, they’re easy to grasp and fun to play in the bath.
- Meri Meri Lion Rattle – For the littlest Hanukkah celebrants out there, we love this organic cotton lion rattle. Beautifully crafted with stitched details and a wood grip ring, this rattle makes a soft noise when you shake it, which will entertain the baby and preserve your peace of mind.
- Whale Floating Fill n Spill by Manhattan Toy – Designed for ages 6 months and up, this five-piece bath time playset includes a soft floating whale that stores four sea creatures: an octopus, a starfish, and two sponge fish, all made of quick-dry terry cloth. In addition to bringing even more joy to bathtime, these toys encourage motor development, cause-and-effect learning, and fill-and-spill play.
- Wimmer Ferguson Mind-Shapes by Manhattan Toy – These vibrant shapes with noisemakers inside encourage your baby to look, listen, and touch. Designed for ages 0 and up, they’ve won several prestigious awards for their simple, enticing design. All those parents—and babies!—can’t be wrong.
- Musical Lili Llama by Manhattan Toy – For babies about to turn one, we recommend this musical llama. With four spinners, two gears, a five-bar xylophone, one maraca tail, a set of notches that make washboard sound, two clacking saddle blankets, and two mallets, this toy provides tons of stimulation and fun for your budding musician.
One last Hanukkah tradition hint: If you’re having trouble finding eight individual toys you like, try choosing a few multi-piece toy sets you love, like that Whale Floating Fill n Spill set, and splitting their pieces up to use as gifts across multiple nights. We’re always fans of making the holidays as simple as possible, so you can focus on what matters most—spending time with your family and cherish your baby’s first Hanukkah.
Find Toys for Every Celebration at Monica + Andy
However you choose to celebrate your baby’s first Hanukkah, we’re sure you’ll find some new traditions (and new toys) to enjoy for years to come. Along the way, be sure to treasure the new memories you create with your little one. They might not be able to remember their first Hanukkah, but you can look back with photos, stories, and songs to relive that first celebration once they’re older.
At Monica + Andy, we’re here to help you celebrate. We started because one mom wanted to ensure that every fabric touching her newborn daughter’s skin was as soft and safe as possible. Because we want to help new moms in as many ways as possible, we’ve partnered with amazing toy companies like Wimmer Ferguson, Manhattan Toy, and Oli & Carol.
With a full range of delightful, trusted baby toys designed for babies one and under, we’re ready to help you celebrate every one of your baby’s firsts—from their first Hanukkah to their first birthday and beyond.
- Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Scientific Report of the2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-07/ScientificReport_of_the_2020DietaryGuidelinesAdvisoryCommittee_first-print.pdf
- PJ Library. The 2022 Quick Guide to Celebrating Hanukkah With Kids. https://pjlibrary.org/beyond-books/pjblog/august-2022/hanukkah-2022-with-kids#:~:text=HANUKKAH%20WITH%20KIDS%20UNDER%20AGE%205&text=Introduce%20your%20little%20ones%20to,Hanukkah%2C%20Oh%20Hanukkah%22%20together.
- Memorial Care. What Does It Mean If Your Child Stares At The Ceiling Fan? https://www.memorialcare.org/blog/what-does-it-mean-if-your-child-stares-ceiling-fan
- Insider. The best toys for 1-year-olds that encourage fun and development. https://www.insider.com/guides/gifts/best-toys-for-1-year-olds
- Raisingchildren.net.au. Bonding with newborns and babies: in pictures. https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/connecting-communicating/bonding/bonding-pictures