If you have a soon to be one year old, or Christmas is coming and you need a gift for a 1 year old in your life then take a look at this round-up of the best toys for a 1 year old.
The best toys for kids of any age are those that encourage open-ended play or can grow with them so your investment isn’t lost after a few months. Every toy will encourage some kind of developmental milestone be it minor or gross motor skills, small world play, imagination, problem-solving or empathy.
Young children especially find wonder and enjoyment in the simplest of toys so don’t worry if your choice doesn’t seem big and flashy enough- your baby will still learn and grow using their toy.
1. Sorting Toys
Sorting toys are great for encouraging motor skills as well as problem-solving and a lot of them also double up as a vehicle toy like the bus shape sorter or a small world play toy like the Noah’s Ark playset. Buy one in wood for a long-lasting and more environmentally friendly toy. The Hide N Squeak Eggs are a different type of sorting toy that has bestseller Amazon status- encouraging sensory development from a young age.
2. Stacking Toys
Brightly coloured stacking toys help develop hand-eye coordination as well as dexterity and problem-solving. Lots of them have different colours or numbers on them so you can encourage learning and counting when you play. A stacking cups set is great for taking on holiday with you- endless play options in the house or in the bath and also really easy to carry around.
The rainbow learning toy is a perfect example of open-ended play that grows with your child. When little they may just like exploring the shapes and colours but as they get older the pieces can be used for building, in pretend play and for geometric puzzles.
3. Ride-On Toys
A ride-on toy is a great buy for a one-year-old, especially if they’ve started to be a bit more mobile. The classic is the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe. Our 4 year old still zooms around on hers so it’s a good investment and will hold up in resale value as well.
Something like a Scuttlebug or a baby balance bike is also a good buy- they encourage motor skills as well as teaching balance and coordination. If you want something with a bit of interest for a less mobile baby then try a combined ride-on and push-along toy that has other things to play with on it so can be used if your child is still sitting and learning to walk.
4. Activity Tables
Activity tables are really stimulating for little minds with loads of sensory exploration available through lights, sounds and touch. They are great for one-year-olds as they promote exploration of their environment and fun cause and effect games such as pushing buttons, turning pages and moving counters. Even if you’re baby isn’t walking yet, they can still be stood at the table and it gives an added incentive to pull themselves up to explore.
They can be a bit bulky if space is tight, but the plastic ones like the VTech Play and Learn Activity Table have detachable legs to make storing a little bit easier.
5. Walking Toys
Baby walkers and push along toys encourage your baby into taking their first steps through fun and play. With a sturdy base to aid balance and loads of sensory exploration, a baby walker is a good multi-function toy that will encourage your one-year-olds development. The VTech Baby Walker has a detachable play panel so when your baby has tired of walking they can still explore the toys.
The sit-in baby walkers are great to keep your baby occupied while you get on with chores around the house. Pop them in the walker with some toys or snacks on the tray and they will be safely playing while you are busy.
6. Small-World Toys
Develop your baby’s understanding of their world and social interactions as well as imaginative play with small-world toys. Some of the best to start with are house based toys that they can relate to their own experience. Farm play sets are also a good way of learning about the world around them and mean you can practice all your animal noises!
Tea party playsets are another big winner with little children- lots of fun pretending to be mummy and daddy. If you have a baby showing an interest in cars or vehicles then Toot-Toot sets are a good investment with lots of expansion packs to buy.
7. Construction Toys
Start them early with a love for building and construction with a set of blocks or Lego that are perfect for little hands. Duplo is the baby version of Lego that can be used by babies to make into anything they want. The blocks will still be compatible with all sizes of Lego so should keep them occupied for a few years.
Wooden blocks in different shapes are also a good first construction toy. Teaching dexterity and motor skills, building blocks test their hand-eye coordination and provide lots of open-ended play opportunities to spark their creativity.
8. Messy Play Toys
Babies love to get messy and encouraging sensory experiences and mark-making skills is a key area of development. Some of these messy things don’t even need to be messy at all- Aquadoodle mats allow your one-year-old to draw using water but still make colour pictures. Big chunky crayons and marker pens are perfect for little hands- set up an easel or have a big roll of paper for them to complete their masterpieces on.
If you want to go full ‘baby in a bath of beans’ sensory exploration then a small paddling pool is the way to go. Set it up in the garden or at least on some wipeable sheets and let your baby go wild!
9. Baby Doll Toys
Lots of babies and toddlers are fascinated with other babies. Direct that fascination into nurturing their very own baby doll. Loads of dolls are suitable for younger children with soft bodies and clothes that can be taken on and off to encourage dexterity. Caring for their very own baby grows empathy and social interaction into their play. It is also a good way to teach them about skills such as dressing, nappy changing, using a potty and feeding by demonstrating on their dolly.
You can even get a doll’s pushchair that doubles as a walker so they can be learning to walk while taking baby for a stroll. Many of the accessories available for dolls are suitable for younger children such as baby sleeping bags, baby baths, dolls cribs and beds.
10. Pull-Along Toys
A pull or push along toy is the perfect encouragement for a little walker to carry on exploring their environment. Promoting coordination as they walk as well as hold onto their toy, many of the pull alongs you can buy offer something else as well.
The classic pull-along telephone from Fisher-Price is perfect for one-year-olds as they learn to imitate their parents by talking on the phone! Other pull or push alongs combine with sounds to encourage walking and playing.
11. Musical Toys
Your one year old will love to express themselves using musical instruments and will be learning and developing along the way. Things to hit and shake are brilliant at this age so drums, xylophones, baby pianos and any type of shaker will be perfect. Play along to songs or sing yourself so they can begin to find their rhythm and coordination.
Another great musical toy is a floor piano, combining newly found walking skills with music-making will be lots of fun for your baby.
12. Vehicle Toys
Vehicle toys are perfect for developing role-play skills, imagination and help with colour and number recognition as well as learning about the world around them. Just a handful of colourful cars such as the London car icons set from Le Toy Van will inspire your one year old into endless play.
If budget and room allow you can get a parking garage type toy or a wooden race track so your child can create even more imaginative scenarios as well as discover cause and effect through play.
13. Puzzle Toys
When your baby is one, they should have enough hand control to play with puzzles whether the chunky wooden board puzzles or jigsaw puzzles with big pieces. Fun animals and designs on the puzzles keep your baby interested and also encourages learning. Puzzles are also a quiet toy so parents will be thankful you choose one to gift instead of all the loud and flashy toys that are marketed for babies.
14. Outdoor Toys
Get your baby enjoying playing outdoors from a young age with a garden toy. Things like slides can be enjoyed even when your baby isn’t yet mobile and if you get a junior one, it won’t be long before they are climbing up and sliding down by themselves. A small seesaw is also lots of fun- with three seats it means your baby can enjoy it on their own or when they have friends over to play.
Popp-up tents or tunnels are also another good play thing for the garden- fun for crawlers and easy to put away when the weather isn’t quite as nice. If you have space inside then all of these toys can also be enjoyed inside when it’s too cold or wet to play out.
15. Bath Toys
Bath time is a great time to bond and play with your one year old so make sure you’ve got lots of fun things for them to explore in the water. Once they’re able to sit up on their own, it means you can bring out loads of fun toys.
the best bath toys are ones that are interactive so you can squirt, pour or splash with the water in lots of different ways. Brightly coloured toys will spark their imagination as well as hold their attention. Bath books are also great to start the pre-bed wind-down.
16. Interactive Books
Obviously, your baby won’t be reading just yet, but there’s nothing wrong with getting them loving a good book from a young age. Interactive books are great for babies- you can read them the story and they can busy themselves with lifting flaps or pushing buttons to make the noises. Make sure you get a proper board book as it’s likely to become a teething toy at some point as well!