Finding the best gifts for one year olds can be a challenge at best. You want toys for one year olds that inspire and challenge them, and help them develop crucial social, fine motor, and hand-eye coordination skills. Plus, you want one year old birthday gifts to be engaging and fun, while still achieving all the above.
So what to look for, you may wonder? Here’s what you need to know. At this age, according to the CDC, your child plays simple games like peek-a-boo, can wave bye, and say simple words. Your child will shake, bang, and throw toys and objects, and will drink from a cup or brush his or her hair. They’ll put things in and take them out of a container. And, of course, your child has likely started walking! So naturally, you want gifts for your one year old that help his or her development.
Experts at the early childhood development nonprofit Zero to Three concur that you want toys that are open-ended and can be used in a variety of ways. You want things like shape sorters or stacking toys that encourage problem solving. Because kids are figuring out how the world works, give them things that look like the real deal: Pretend food is a great example.
For the most part, you want simple toys without an overabundance of flashing lights and sounds, because those can actually freak little kids out, so we included only a few select options on this list. And you absolutely want toys like Duplo blocks that will grow with your kids. The toys below are great options for any one year old.
Best Gifts for 1 Year Olds
If you haven't heard of Janod, you should. It's a French company making some of the most stunning developmental toys we've ever seen. Like this set, which includes a wooden hammer, three balls, and a removable xylophone.
When your one year old uses the bee hammer to hit the three falling balls, the xylophone’s keys ring out. Cause and effect in action! And the xylophone is removable, so your kid can play it anywhere.
These beautiful wood blocks have a push and click feature that lets babies put all of the blocks together until they create their own magical garden.
Stacking blocks are a perennial toddler favorite, and this set takes blocks to a new level but letting babies click them together to create their own stunning garden.
You'll never go wrong with this classic set of soft stacking rings.
This cuddly set of stacking rings helps babies develop hand-eye coordination as they play with textures and colors, and stack the rings on top of each other.
Another standout from Janod, this cube features eight activities that promote hand-eye coordination and concentration.
The top of this activity cube has a bead maze with wooden balls, butterflies and clouds. The other sides of the cube feature gears, a flipping caterpillar, and a twisting moon.
Wood blocks can be stacked or piled to build a castle or a fort or a car or a mountain. It's nonstop open-ended play that feeds the imagination.
Your kid will have hours of fun piling up and knocking down these 70 pieces that come in 18 colors, more than a dozen shapes, including arches, wheels, bead threader, rolling ramp, and shape sorter. And it all converts into a pull car.
We absolutely love these soft plastic pop-together manipulative toys. Kids get 10 mix-and-match pieces to build a horse, cow, pig, sheep, and hen.
Not only does this help kids develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, but it’s also dope AF. That’s because kids can build a half sheep – half hen, or any other barnyard creation they dream up.
Another great option from Melissa & Doug, these toy cars teach kids about motion.
These bright cars are stackable, and have wheels that are easy for little hands to maneuver.
This sensory toy helps kids learn about shapes, colors, and even word recognition.
Plus, this silicone toy makes a very satisfying pop when kids push each button. It’s compact and great for travel or restaurants, too.
You can go super high-tech with toys, but we love this back-to-basics stacking cup set. It's a surefire winner.
Kids can scoop and pour water, build towers and forts by turning the cups upside down, or just sort the cups by size. It’s fun as hell. And the cups are made from recycled plastic milk containers.
Haba's shape sorter is actually a zoo feeding slot. Kids pretend to feed the animals while becoming ever more comfortable with color and shape recognition.
Oh, but there’s a twist. With each opening, if it’s pushed down, only the half wood shapes fit through the opening. If pushed upward, the opening is large enough for the whole wood shape to fit through. Cause and effect, anyone?
The Crawl N’ Go Snail rolls and spins its shell when kids touch a button, thereby helping kids learn cause and effect.
But that’s not all. The snail’s shell detaches and becomes, what do you know, a stacking toy, helping them develop hand-eye coordination.
Brilliantly simple, this play tunnel encourages youngsters to move around and be active.
This pop-up tunnel is mad fun for little kids and when you’re done with it, it’s easy to collapse and pack up.
Kids learn about shapes and colors when they mix, match, and arrange leaves and flowers.
This beautiful 25-piece toy teaches kids the basics of stacking and building, and helps them learn about shapes and colors.
When kids push the ball, they hear a sound, and when they turn the knobs, they hear clicks and see things spin.
This baby toy is perfect for sensory exploration, cause and effect learning, and the development of your baby’s fine motor skills. Plus, it’s colorful and just plain sweet.
Kids can learn their first 100 words, with the help of a turtle, tiger, and monkey.
When kids touch the words on the pages, they hear the words spoken, plus sound effects and fun facts. And they hear learning songs when they press the light-up star button.
This performing sloth claps its hands and bobs its head when listening to songs and music, and helps one year olds learn about cause and effect.
Yes, that’s right, a dancing sloth. Kids press the buttons on the sloth’s feet to hear songs and phrases about the alphabet, numbers, opposites, and colors.
Just when we'd thought we'd seen it all, here's a motion-activated rattle that changes colors.
When kids lean his red legs down, the spots glow red. Kids move his green legs and the spots turn green. Plus, the textured legs are great for teething babies.
It's like Dancing with the Stars, toddler edition. This toy has 11 interchangeable gears that spin, play music, and flash lights.
This toy is fun, it’s tactile, and it’s a great way for kids to learn the basics of cause and effect.
Kids insert coins into this piggy bank, and learn about animals and numbers. It's never too early to start saving, after all.
Kids press the pig’s nose and hear songs and phrases. And when they insert coins, and hear more phrases. It’s the basics of cause and effect, and helps kids with concentration as they focus on getting the coins into the slot.
So this doesn't actually mow your lawn, we're sad to say. But it does help kids develop their coordination, balance, and motor skills.
When kids pull this lawnmower, they run around on the grass and pretend to mow it. Colorful blocks clack to sound like something resembling a lawnmower. Fun is had. And as a bonus, kids develop their physical skills and learn all about movement.
You may have the next Lin-Manuel Miranda on your hands. This symphony gears toy mixes music and self-discovery. Kids play with the gears, see lights, and hear new sounds every time. And oh yes, there's a volume control setting.
Kids stack the gears to hear new sounds. And they learn cause and effect, too.
One year olds match each brightly-colored ball to its designated slot. The hammer toys help promote hand-eye coordination and improves dexterity. Plus, it lets kids bang stuff while learning their colors.
What’s more fun than banging stuff? Nothing, that’s what. And this ball hammer toy teaches kids to recognize colors when they fit each ball into its designated color slot.
Sorting shapes is an integral part of child development. This set is made from recycled plastic, and the shapes are the perfect size for little hands to try and fit them into the correct slots. They learn color-matching, too.
Not every kids’ toy needs to make noise or have flashing lights. This classic shape sorter teaches kids to recognize colors and shapes, and help develop hand-eye coordination.
The Melissa & Doug wooden activity table has eight different hands-on activities to help one year olds build developmental skills, including fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Plus, it's hella fun.
This animal-themed activity table has a ton of activities to keep your one year old occupied. There are gears to turn, a tube to roll, beads to slide, flaps to open, and a wheel to spin. All the while, your kiddo is honing his or her fine motor skills.
This is a fully immersive toy for your one year old. It's basically his or her own entertainment center. The hub features a crawl-through door, a porch light, mailbox that opens and closes, light-up house numbers, drop-through rain gutter, and a recycling bin that's also a shape sorter.
But wait, there’s more. So much more. There’s a home office area with a light-up thermostat, office light, and clicker-clock, plus a kitchen area with shape-sorter fridge and role play pieces. And kids can hear more than 200 songs, sounds, and phrases to teach them colors and numbers.
When your little walker pulls the alligator along, the wooden pieces make rhythmic click-clack sounds.
When kids pull this alligator along on their walks, he wiggles and makes clapping sounds. It’s simple. It’s fun. It’s timeless.
Little kids love making music and this melody-making music machine comes with a xylophone, a drum, a cymbal, a guiro, a clapper and drumsticks. No earplugs, sadly.
Music is a key part of development in kids, and this solid wood toy more than delivers. Kids can either play solo, or take turns and create their own band. It’s meant for kids two and up. The toy includes a wooden drum, cymbal, guiro, xylophone and a clapper.
Made of natural hardwood, this mad-cool activity cube has six sides to keep your kid entertained with geometric shape sorting, counting beads, sliding animals, spinning gears and a wire bead maze.
Kids quickly get bored with activity cubes, if you get one that’s shoddy and small. Which is why we’re fans of EverEarth’s Cadillac of activity cubes. They learn shape recognition and develop hand-eye coordination while playing with this cube, which has moving beads, a maze, shape sorter, an abacus, moving cogs, and counting blocks.
Kids this age love moving stuff from one place to another, and this gorgeous stroller is the perfect size for them.
A stroller like this wooden beauty encourages kids to engage in pretend play, which, in turn, can help them develop problem-solving skills. Plus, loading it up and moving it from one place to another is just endless amounts of fun.
Kids can prep their food, and the cash register reads all four menu cards. Plus, chefs can ring up orders by pressing number buttons and push the music buttons to hear songs. They learn cause and effect, and number recognition.
Play kitchens are a key part of imaginative play, and this food truck is a great beginner toy for kids. It has a light-up grill, and a cash register with four different menu cards. Kids make their food, ring it up, and serve it up.
Sure, kids can pull the car. But even better, they put different shapes into the mixing bucket and each shape makes a crunching noise. They develop hand-eye coordination, and learn to differentiate colors and shapes.
Kids fit shapes into the truck’s cement mixer, thereby learning to sort and figure out which objects fit into which openings. This great toy encourages problem solving, and hand eye coordination.
Kids can create their own songs, or sing along to ones they know and love, with this sweet wooden piano.
With this wooden piano, kids just tap the keys to make it play. Kids can play classic melodies, or create their own.
This rocking horse, designed for kids one and up, has a specially-designed seat so your kiddo doesn't fall forward or back.
A perpetual child favorite is back! This rocking horse has no sharp edges, and helps children learn balance and coordination. And the high seat helps prevent any spills. As an added bonus (and this is a major one), it comes fully assembled.
Your one year old can stack these egg-shaped pieces, topple them over, and stack them again. They're weighted, sturdy, and encourage kids to build their fine motor skills.
Perfect for little hands, these Tobbles encourage kids to strengthen their fine motor and visual-spatial skills, all while having a blast. Is there anything more fun than knocking things down? No. No, there is not.
Pretend play gets a real-life twist with toys that look just like what's in an actual adult kitchen.
Kids can whip up dinner or snacks with this 11-piece set, which features two kid-sized metal pans, a pot with a lid, a spatula and a ladle. And the broccoli will, we hope, teach them to love their veggies.
It's never too early to enter the Lego universe, and this colorful train is a solid entrypoint.
The chunky train is easy for small hands to grab and build. And the cars have numbers on them, so your child will be exposed to counting and number recognition. There’s even a cat, because why wouldn’t there be?
This is a great toy for your budding engineer. It's a musical learning workbench toy with fun sound effects and construction tools.
You get four shape blocks that are inserted into the shape sorter, and your child will hear the name of the shape. Plus, you get an electric drill, chainsaw, bench clamp, detachable hammer, screwdriver, wrench, and a nail for every kind of pretend-DIY building project.
This five-sided musical toy will teach your kids to love tunes, and it has an adjustable volume switch, which is crucial.
This toy is a super-fun music table that lets kids control what they hear, and the instruments they play. You can adjust the volume accordingly (you’re welcome) and switch into karaoke mode to create your own songs. But for those who can’t handle noise, this is not the toy for you.
What does a pig say? This product teaches your kids the alphabet, plus animal names and corresponding sounds.
Yet another stellar toy from an industry leader, this LeapFrog ball features three modes of play. Kids press the three light-up buttons to learn letter names, animal names and sounds, and music. And they can sing along to the ABC song or a song about colors and shapes.
Get ready for hours of fun, while also teaching hand-eye coordination, and releasing a much-needed dose of energy.
This hoop works both indoors and outdoors. You can adjust the height from 2.5 to 4 feet, and you can weigh down the base with sand for added stability. It helps build coordination and motor skills while your wannabe Lebron James has a blast.
Your kiddo will build his or her fine motor skills with chunky, peg-shaped pieces that fit to the back of this adorable hedgehog.
Sure, it’s fun, but this little critter also helps kids recognize colors, learn to count, and figure out how to sort.
No more bath-time tantrums. These animals rattle and roll in their balls and are weighed to stay upright. Yes, they're fun, but they also help built hand-eye coordination.
They’re the right size for 1-year-old hands, and they’re noisy enough to be fun without driving parents insane, thus making this the perfect 1-year-old birthday gift.
The minute your toddler demands an actual dog, get this one instead. You pull the cord, and you hear music and other sounds. The puppy trots along and all is well in the world.
This canine plays more than 60 songs and has a light-up nose to keep your child’s attention focused. It helps teach numbers and colors, too.
Now admittedly, if you have delicate ears, maybe skip this toy. But it's a fun and colorful way for little ones to connect with their inner musicians.
These are the ideal size for little hands to grab, shake, rattle, and roll. Colorful rattle beads whirl around on one side, and you grab the maracas using the soft handles.
This gorgeous toddler ramp race track toy is made of wood, is BPA-free, and stained with bright non-toxic water-based paint. Plus, it's just fast-paced fun and an ideal 1-year-old birthday gift.
It’s bright and engaging and most of all, it encourages kids to take turns and work together to race their cars.
True story: This board game kept one toddler engaged for hours. It's simple to follow, and results in hours of fun as you help hungry animals find food.
This game teaches kids about colors. Plus, it’s easy to follow, as you complete to help squirrels find acorns.
You open the fridge, and it's got an off-and-on light switch, an interactive faucet, a clock/timer with a spinning roller and multiple shapes to sort.
You’ll indeed get more laughing than cooking out of this kitchen. It teaches sorting skills, and helps your child learn about different foods.
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