How to Find the Best Toys for 1 Year Olds

Latest posts by Caroline Lambert (see all)

I share your excitement because I also couldn’t contain mine when my kids turned one. It was the wrap of the first year and felt like an accomplishment. However, learning how to find the best toys for 1-year-olds determines how much value you add to purchasing the new toys for the first birthday.

Age-appropriate toys are plenty, and there are more themes and types than I can explain. Jumping from a baby to a toddler opens a new world of playtime activities and experiences. I was so excited that I wanted every toy at the right age. Still, quickly gathered my knowledge from a pediatrician and did extensive research first.

I wanted my babies to have their favorite toys and themes for their first birthdays, but I liked the toys to offer more than an enjoyable time. So, let me share how I considered and chose the best toys for one-year-olds.

My Ultimate Toy for 1-Year-Olds

It helps to look at how each toy benefits your one-year-old toddler before buying the cutest thing you find. Many toys (and brands) offer ideal playtime activities for the age group. They are safe enough to use for independent play. I focused on finding toys that work to the max for little ones with curious minds.

My ultimate toy for one-year-olds is the Top Bright Wooden Activity Cube because it inspires them to learn while completing fun activities. It’s a classic wooden toy that encourages Montessori play, which has immense developmental benefits for little ones. It comes with shape sorting, object permanence, and guidance games.

TOP BRIGHT Wooden Activity Cube Toys  How to Find the Best Toys for 1 Year Olds

However, there are more incredible toys for one-year-olds. Check them out before finding out how I got the top picks.

More Fantastic Toys for 1-Year-Olds

  1. Baby Einstein Toddler Jams Musical Toy
  2. Fisher-Price Cuddle & Snuggle Hedgehog Plush
  3. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Pull Wagon
  4. Fisher-Price Ride-On Musical Truck
  5. LeapFrog Dino’s Delight Day Book
  6. LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket
  7. Learning Resources Spike the Hedgehog
  8. Little People Interactive School Bus
  9. Little Tikes Go & Grow Rolling Giraffe Ride-On
  10. Melissa & Doug Poke-A-Dot Board Book
  11. Melissa & Doug Wooden Stacking Train
  12. Mindsprout Pound a Ball Stacking Game
  13. Montessori 5-in-1 Wooden Play Kit
  14. Top Bright Wooden Activity Cube
  15. VTech Count & Chomp Dino
  16. VTech Drop & Go Dump Truck
  17. VTech Push & Pop Bulldozer

How to Find the Best Toys for 1-Year-Olds: Complete Guidelines

Your child’s first birthday brings a feeling only a mother knows, and I get that. I get the excitement of wanting to buy ten new toys. However, there are some essential tips and developmental milestones to know before purchasing every rave toy on the market. The advice also determines how I pick the best toys for one-year-olds.

What You Need to Know About 1-Year-Olds

1-Year-Old with Toy

Your little one is a keen learner around the first year. They’re sticking their fingers into everything, feeling different textures to experience new sensations, and listening to weird sounds that still seem alien to them. It’s one of the best milestones in a child’s life; they’ve just gone from a baby to a toddler.

Exciting things are happening for your little one. I did an essential thing when my kids turned one. I spoke to my pediatrician about their developmental milestones and researched the essential ones I could support with playtime activities. Babies and toddlers learn so much about the world through play.

I had to understand what my kids were learning at one before I could consider the best toys. So, here are a few critical milestone developments a one-year-old needs to experience and learn:

Cognitive Skills

  1. How to put items in a hole or container or fitting shapes through appropriate gaps
  2. Object permanence (that something still exists if you hide it under a blanket)
  3. Using both hands for different tasks (holding a crayon box in one hand and taking one out with the other)

Creative Skills

  1. Scribbling on paper
  2. Recognizing primary colors and shapes
  3. Placing items in a row

Fine Motor Skills

  1. Pushing buttons to get responses
  2. Pinching items between the thumb and index fingers
  3. Stacking blocks
  4. Rolling cars on wheels

Language Skills

  1. Repeating basic words
  2. Waves goodbye (which works well with toys that teach them about simple greetings)

Sensory Skills

  1. Feeling various textures
  2. Listening to different rhymes and tunes

Social and Emotional Skills

  1. Recognizing familiar faces (which helps for kids who watch popular shows suitable for one-year-olds)
  2. Communicating with parents and talking toys or plush
  3. Interacts with plush toys and dolls
  4. Plays games with mom or dad

A one-year-old’s skill development is pretty straightforward, which makes playtime and toy introductions simpler. However, the greatest challenge is to keep a one-year-old engaged with a toy that encourages (directly or indirectly) the skills they need is another story.

Toy Advice for 1-Year-Olds

TOddler with Yellow Bus Toyy

I constantly searched for toys that encouraged my kids to practice the milestones they needed at one. Many incredible toys are suitable and safe for new toddlers to enjoy while learning. Safety is another crucial factor to consider before buying any toy for a one-year-old. Never buy a toy with a recommended age over three.

Age-appropriate toys are the priority with one-year-old toddlers. Safety isn’t the only concern. Many toy designs target specific milestones, which is why the brands recommend this age group. My second tip is to keep a one-year-old engaged with the toy that slowly supports the development of critical milestones.

I could best hold my children’s attention with two key methods at this age. Firstly, they’re learning social and emotional skills, meaning any toy that allowed me to play with them (without controlling how we played) was a winner. Secondly, it came down to their favorite themes, colors, and activities.

For example, my daughter went wild for musical toys at one, and she loved pink and yellow. I used these passions to keep her engaged with the toys. In contrast, my son loved animal-inspired toys like dinosaurs, horses, and farm animals. He loved green the most, and I targeted his passions to keep him better engaged.

In addition, I would play with my children at this age as much as they wanted me around. My daughter never grew tired of scribbling on paper; she loved it when I first showed her how a new color looked. My final tip is that you allow a young toddler to learn some independence. Be around for the social practice during play.

However, give them a little space when they want to play alone, and never take control of the activity.

How to Select the Best Toys for 1-Year-Olds

I want variety and plenty of it. However, various toy types will only work if they target a few essential milestones a one-year-old needs to practice. Hence, my variety will appeal more to the skills they need to exercise. Additionally, every toy must be perfectly safe for independent play for one-year-olds.

Finally, the toy must be a well-known, baby-safe brand that targets the very milestones young toddlers need, including:

  • Baby Einstein
  • Fisher-Price
  • LeapFrog
  • Learning Resources
  • Little People
  • Little Tikes
  • Melissa & Doug
  • Mindsprout
  • Montessori
  • Top Bright
  • VTech

My Top Toy Recommendations for 1-Year-Olds

Everything sounds technical, but I’m particular about the toys my kids enjoy. Now, I’ll get to the exciting part of how each toy supports development, encourages engaging playtimes, and what might feel like setbacks. Welcome to my top recommendations for one-year-olds.

#01 Baby Einstein Toddler Jams Musical Toy

I love Baby Einstein’s brand name because everyone wants a little Einstein. Musical toys undoubtedly encourage one-year-olds to explore their senses and repeat words and sounds they hear. In addition, this Baby Einstein toy supports little ones in learning to push buttons to get a response, which engages their attention better.

Baby Einstein Toddler Jams Musical Toy

Baby Einstein Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Musical toy
  • Activities: Musical and interactive play
  • Milestone Support: Fine motor, language, and sensory

Baby Einstein Toy-Pros

  • The toy is uncomplicated with simple buttons and reactions for one-year-olds to enjoy
  • The toy has 30 songs and connects to three baby-friendly music stations
  • It also has lights and an easy-to-grab handle

Baby Einstein Toy-Cons

  • The buttons are a little flimsy for the brand and may break

#02 Fisher-Price Cuddle & Snuggle Hedgehog Plush

Fisher-Price is one of my all-time top early childhood development toys and activities brands. The brand focuses heavily on making toys that appeal to the needs of every child, and they recommend which ages work with their toys. Additionally, they make the best sensory toys for one-year-olds who need textures.

Fisher-Price Cuddle & Snuggle Hedgehog Plush

Fisher-Price Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Textured plush
  • Activities: Social and sensory play
  • Milestone Support: Social, emotional, fine motor, and sensory

Fisher-Price Toy-Pros

  • Fisher-Price did it again with this gorgeous hedgehog plush that welcomes little ones
  • The hedgehog sensory plush has eight textures, some including embroidery and soft quills
  • The sensory plush also makes a few noises when kids interact with it

Fisher-Price Toy-Cons

  • Sensory plush toys aren’t evergreen, and little ones outgrow them

#03 Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Pull Wagon

Fisher-Price had many options, and I found it challenging to pick only a few. The Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Pull Wagon is ideal for one-year-olds because it encourages them to keep trying. They’re learning to pull themselves up, and having this wagon they can pull along will motivate them to stand on their feet.

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Pull Wagon

Fisher-Price Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Interactive pull wagon
  • Activities: Interactive and sensory play
  • Milestone Support: Cognitive, social, sensory, and creative

Fisher-Price Toy-Pros

  • The pull wagon is a gorgeous toy with blocks, numbers, and buttons for little ones to explore
  • Kids learn cause-and-effect and gain fine motor skills by pulling the wagon along
  • The toy wagon also has sound and light effects to offer some sensory play

Fisher-Price Toy-Cons

  • Your one-year-old might not be ready to pull it along yet

#04 Fisher-Price Ride-On Musical Truck

This toy has to be my ultimate favorite from Fisher-Price. Sadly, your one-year-old might not be ready to use ride-on toys yet. They need a little balance before enjoying the ride-on toys. However, buying this sensory and interactive toy before they can ride it will help them enjoy the buttons, music, and experience it offers.

Fisher-Price Ride-On Musical Truck

Fisher-Price Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Ride-on toy
  • Activities: Sensory, interactive, and social play
  • Milestone Support: Social, emotional, cognitive, creative, and fine motor

Fisher-Price Toy-Pros

  • One-year-olds will love the social experience if they can’t enjoy the ride-on toy alone yet
  • The toy has countless buttons to press, noises to make, and lights to show
  • Little ones get exercise rolling around on a ride-on toy

Fisher-Price Toy-Cons

  • Again, your little one might not enjoy independent play for the first few months

#05 LeapFrog Dino’s Delight Day Book

LeapFrog is another excellent early childhood toy brand my kids know well. However, I picked a LeapFrog product that fits the one-year-old capacity better than the 100-word books. My son would also have loved this as a young toddler because he was always obsessed with dinosaurs. It’s a simpler book for younger minds.

LeapFrog Dino's Delight Day Book

LeapFrog Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Interactive learning book
  • Activities: Educational, sensory, and interactive play
  • Milestone Support: Social, emotional, cognitive, fine motor, and language

LeapFrog Toy-Pros

  • The Dino’s Delightful Day book from LeapFrog is more suitable for one-year-olds than others
  • The book has countless buttons with noisy responses to help them learn the basics
  • Little ones learn about fruits and counting as early as one

LeapFrog Toy-Cons

  • One-year-olds will outgrow this book faster than the 100-word books

#06 LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket

One-year-olds aren’t keen on sharing anything, which is a challenging milestone. Fortunately, it’s not a loss if a one-year-old isn’t willing to share. However, you can start encouraging it as young as possible. I’d recommend using this more for social playtime with mom or dad than as an independent activity.

LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket

LeapFrog Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Role-play toy
  • Activities: Sensory, interactive, social, and imaginative play
  • Milestone Support: Social, emotional, cognitive, and language

LeapFrog Toy-Pros

  • The Fisher-Price sharing playset welcomes the youngest minds to imaginative play
  • Little ones learn a lot about object permanence and cause-and-effect with the lid and foods
  • The foods are also conveniently in different shapes for added lessons

LeapFrog Toy-Cons

  • It might not be the best independent playtime activity

#07 Learning Resources Spike the Hedgehog

You won’t believe it, but hedgehogs are one of the most famous animal toys for one-year-olds. Perhaps it’s the spikiness that inspires textures and buttons. However, Spike, the Hedgehog, is slightly different from the previous one. Instead, he’s a toy that encourages fine motor skills more than sensory play.

Learning Resources Spike the Hedgehog

Learning Resources Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Interactive hedgehog toy
  • Activities: Interactive and educational play
  • Milestone Support: Cognitive, emotional, and fine motor

Learning Resources Toy-Pros

  • Spike, the Hedgehog, has gorgeous spikes coming from his back for little ones to fit into holes
  • It’s the ideal exercise for one-year-olds to learn how to place items in holes
  • The toy is simple and safe enough for independent play from 18 months

Learning Resources Toy-Cons

  • The toy requires social play with mom or dad before 18 months

#08 Little People Interactive School Bus

I loved Little People as a brand for my kids between the ages of one and five. The toys are super safe and target the youngest toddlers. The Little People interactive bus is a sensory experience waiting to wow your little one. It’s also a Fisher-Price toy that welcomes the earliest understanding of transportation.

Little People Interactive School Bus

Little People Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Interactive and musical toy bus
  • Activities: Musical, interactive, and sensory play
  • Milestone Support: Cognitive, social, emotional, fine motor, and creative

Little People Toy-Pros

  • The interactive toy bus has music, sounds, lights, and everything to stimulate the right senses
  • The toy bus is perfectly safe for one-year-olds and can work for independent play
  • The wheels roll around, and it comes with two mini-figures

Little People Toy-Cons

  • I’d remove the backpack from the one figure because it seems risky

#09 Little Tikes Go & Grow Rolling Giraffe Ride-On

Little tikes is another excellent brand for one-year-olds. However, I’d supervise and interact with my little one using this ride-on toy before they could take a few steps. Again, ride-on toys require that a child has some balance before you can trust them independently. Nonetheless, the ride-on will work for 18 months and over.

Little Tikes Go & Grow Rolling Giraffe Ride-On

Little Tikes Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Ride-on toy
  • Activities: Physical, social, and interactive play
  • Milestone Support: Fine motor, gross motor, social, and cognitive

Little Tikes Toy-Pros

  • Giraffes are one of my most-loved animals, and one-year-olds find them amusing
  • The ride-on is safe as a social activity, and it will work once your little one has the balance
  • The handlebars also encourage a child’s grip and fine motor strength

Little Tikes Toy-Cons

  • It can’t work for one-year-olds without balance

#10 Melissa & Doug Poke-A-Dot Board Book

My kids loved board books more than most toys at one. Board books welcome little ones with curious minds to venture into the story within the pages. In addition, this board book from Melissa and Doug offers a sensory and interactive experience. It has popping buttons with lessons behind each one.

Melissa & Doug Poke-A-Dot Board Book

Melissa & Doug Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Interactive board book
  • Activities: Social and educational play
  • Milestone Support: Social, language, fine motor, and cognitive

Melissa & Doug Toy-Pros

  • Little ones get to pop buttons inside the board pages to get a response
  • Each button reveals a telling secret from the ocean creatures inside the book
  • Kids can also learn early counting skills by poking each soft button

Melissa & Doug Toy-Cons

  • Little ones may get bored with this book after a while

#11 Melissa & Doug Wooden Stacking Train

Stacking toys and wooden classics offer one-year-olds a Montessori playtime experience. They learn so much from stacking blocks, shapes, and numbers on top of each other, and the train moves on wheels to enhance the learning experience. Wooden classic toys are one of my favorites for one-year-olds.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Stacking Train

Melissa & Doug Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Wooden stacking toy
  • Activities: Interactive, social, and Montessori play
  • Milestone Support: Social, cognitive, fine motor, and creative

Melissa & Doug Toy-Pros

  • Durable wooden blocks make up each piece of the train and easily fit into each other
  • The wooden stacking blocks fit over pegs to encourage one-year-olds to experiment with fitting pieces
  • Kids enjoy rolling the train around on its wheels, and the bright colors of this playset

Melissa & Doug Toy-Cons

  • Wooden playsets often have little to no details, but one-year-olds might prefer it

#12 Mindsprout Pound a Ball Stacking Game

Mindsprout’s stacking playset is slightly different from the wooden classic because it teaches one-year-olds about cause-and-effect. The balls fall through holes and roll down slides once kids pound them through. Each slide also looks different, and little ones get a set of stacking cups to enjoy the game.

Mindsprout Pound a Ball Stacking Game

Mindsprout Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Mechanical toddler toy
  • Activities: Sensory, interactive, and social play
  • Milestone Support: Social, cognitive, emotional, creative, and fine motor

Mindsprout Toy-Pros

  • One-year-olds find everything astonishing, and they’ll feel happy to see the balls rolling down
  • There’s an adorable owl at the end of the slide, and the balls are easy to pound through the top holes
  • The stacking cups are a bonus for the playset and offer an added activity

Mindsprout Toy-Cons

  • The balls may get stuck on the slides, which can frustrate kids

#13 Montessori 5-in-1 Wooden Play Kit

Combining wooden toys with Montessori inspirations is the dream for one-year-olds. Montessori isn’t a toy brand but rather a type of toy that offers the best educational benefits for younger ages. The toys are simple enough to inspire experimentation and independent play, and they’re durable wood.

Montessori 5-in-1 Wooden Play Kit

Montessori Toy-Facts:

  • Toy Type: Wooden Montessori toy
  • Activities: Educational and Montessori play
  • Milestone Support: Cognitive, social, creative, emotional, and fine motor

Montessori Toy-Pros:

  • The Montessori toy brings object permanence to life with a box balls roll through before reappearing
  • Little ones also have various shapes to fit through different wooden boards
  • Kids get some textile experience with the spiral wooden rods

Montessori Toy-Cons:

  • Little ones quickly outgrow targeted age toys like this one

#14 Top Bright Wooden Activity Cube

Top Bright is a newer brand in the early childhood development toy range. However, my ultimate toy for one-year-olds comes from them. I found many activity cubes for one-year-olds, but this one stood out as a wooden classic with durable, lasting pieces. It also doesn’t overstimulate a one-year-old toddler like others.

Top Bright Wooden Activity Cube

Top Bright Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Toddler activity cube
  • Activities: Sensory, interactive, educational, and Montessori play
  • Milestone Support: Social, emotional, fine motor, creative, language, and cognitive

Top Bright Toy-Pros

  • The Top Bright activity cube for toddlers is ideal for one-year-olds to learn basic activities
  • The activity cube has spinning pieces, buttons, a clock, and the famous guidance activity on top
  • Little ones also enjoy various shapes they can fit inside the box for object permanence lessons

Top Bright Toy-Cons

  • The clock is pointless for one-year-olds as they won’t learn to read time yet

#15 VTech Count & Chomp Dino

VTech is one of the best toddler toy brands because they have a gorgeous variety. The little dinosaur with a bright light on his head is beyond adorable for one-year-olds, and it adds so much fun to their playtime activities. It’s a full-blown educational toy with opportunities for younger toddlers.

VTech Count & Chomp Dino

VTech Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Educational dinosaur figure
  • Activities: Educational, sensory, and social play
  • Milestone Support: Language, cognitive, social, emotional, and fine motor

VTech Toy-Pros

  • The VTech dino toy is an interactive model with lights, sounds, and plenty to keep a child’s attention
  • It has buttons to press, wheels to spin, and toy coins to insert into the mouth and stomach
  • The dinosaur toy cutely chomps the cash to add object permanence lessons

VTech Toy-Cons

  • A chomping dino might scare little ones to think animals will chomp their fingers

#16 VTech Drop & Go Dump Truck

Young toddlers can also enjoy construction toys with simple features like dumping and stacking. I love the puppies inside this VTech toy dump truck because many kids love dogs. It might also introduce little ones to puppies unfamiliar with the pets. In addition, it’s a pull toy for one-year-olds.

VTech Drop & Go Dump Truck

VTech Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Musical toy dump truck
  • Activities: Musical, interactive, educational, and social play
  • Milestone Support: Cognitive, creative, sensory, fine motor, and social

VTech Toy-Pros

  • Kids will love pulling the musical dump truck around when they start taking steps
  • The toy dump truck has countless buttons and levers for fine motor exercises
  • The sound effects are fantastic, and one-year-olds can place the balls inside the truck

VTech Toy-Cons

  • The wheels are super smooth and slip easily

#17 VTech Push & Pop Bulldozer

VTech’s Push and Pop Bulldozer offers similar benefits to the last toy, but one-year-olds learn to push this version around. It also has a picture of the adorable puppies inside and offers many of the same features. For example, I love that the bulldozer’s bucket launches the balls into a hole for little ones.

VTech Push & Pop Bulldozer

VTech Toy-Facts

  • Toy Type: Musical toy bulldozer
  • Activities: Musical, interactive, social, and educational play
  • Milestone Support: Cognitive, sensory, creative, social, and fine motor

VTech Toy-Pros

  • The toy bulldozer is an interactive joy with sound and light effects to hold a child’s attention
  • The bucket rises to drop balls into a hole, showing one-year-olds how to do it
  • There are countless buttons to press for music and sound effects

VTech Toy-Cons

  • The toy might feel better suited to little boys than girls

Top Q&As

Question: What Type of Toys Are the Best for One-Year-Olds?

Answer: One-year-olds enjoy toys that engage their attention with bright colors, sounds, and actionable buttons or levers. These kids are developing sensory and fine motor skills. Two top-notch toy ideas include the VTech Drop & Go Dump Truck and the Little People Interactive School Bus.

Question: What Toy Do You Buy for One-Year-Old Boys?

Answer: One-year-old boys are curious about the world, how it sounds, and what happens when they push buttons. The Little People Interactive School Bus works for their curiosity, and it gives them one of their first toy vehicles. Alternatively, the Melissa & Doug Wooden Stacking Train offers them their first massive engine toy.

Question: What Toy Do You Buy for One-Year-Old Girls?

Answer: One-year-old girls love touching new textiles, hearing new words, and exploring the world on their little feet as soon as they walk. The Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Pull Wagon is an incredible idea for little girls who have just become toddlers. Otherwise, I recommend the adorable VTech Count & Chomp Dino.

How to Find the Best Toys for 1-Year-Olds: Conclusion

One-year-olds are impressive, adorable, and our heart’s pride. However, they’re also curious, willing to learn, and need to explore. Toys offer them a means to explore the world safely, especially with the well-known toddler brands. So, double-check their needed skills, and start looking for the right toys to help your little one.

I recommend the Top Bright Wooden Activity Cube because it’s the ideal educational toy that holds a young toddler’s attention long enough for them to learn something. It’s also a wooden classic with Montessori benefits, undoubtedly worth every second a child spends with the toy.

You’re the parent and know where your little one’s development lies. Some toys are better for 18-month-old toddlers, and you don’t need to worry about them yet. Always consider a child’s safety and capacity before buying a toy. Instead, go with something that offers educational qualities at 12 months.

For More Age-appropriate Toys:

Best Learning Express Fidget Toys – Avid Toy Insider

Complete Guide to Tonka Toys for Young Engineers – Avid Toy Insider

Best Imaginext Toys Guide for Imaginative Play – Avid Toy Insider

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