Perfect Gifts

The Best Gifts for 1-Year-Olds, According to Child Development Experts

You want toys that engage kids' imaginations and let them explore their world.

by Donna Freydkin
Originally Published: 
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So you survived the first year of parenthood and maybe even got your kid to sleep through the night. Nice work! And seemingly overnight, you now have a toddling, babbling, drooling little person in your home who’s grabbing everything in sight and shoving it into their mouth. Twelve-month milestones vary wildly, which is why finding 1-year-old birthday and gifts can be tougher than changing a diaper while standing up. Gifts for 1-year-olds should, of course, be fun, but also help kids this age explore the world around them while mastering gross and fine motor skills.

You want products like shape sorters or stacking toys — any toy that encourages problem-solving is a winner. And because kids are figuring out how stuff works, give them things that look like the real deal: Pretend food is a great example. Plus, you want to invest in toys like Mega Bloks that will grow with your kids and are modular, so toddlers don’t get bored. And you can never go wrong with books.

“From 1 to 2 years old, babies become ‘big kids’ — walking and talking. They increasingly want to do more for themselves and enjoy toys that give them a sense of independence and mastery. Think about stacking rings, simple knob puzzles, chunky toy cars and trains, big balls to toss, roll, kick and throw, and push-toys they can move,” says Rebecca Parlakian, the senior director of programs at Zero to Three.

One thing worth noting: The less a toy does, the more your child has to do with his or her imagination. And that’s what you want. Which is why our editors’ recommendations are light on electronic and battery-powered toys that engage kids through hi-tech prowess — and loaded instead with beautiful and thoughtful designs.

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The Best Toys for 1-Year-Olds

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