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15 Best Toys For 1-Year-Olds, From Musical Instruments to Shape Sorters

Toys For 1-Year-Olds
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updated: July 8, 2024
edited by Robyn Moreno

No longer a baby but not quite a big kid yet, 1-year-olds are just entering the very busy toddler stage and working on walking, talking, problem-solving, strengthening fine motor skills and exploring cause and effect. They’re super curious about the world around them and how everything works. As any parent can attest to, they’re not exactly gentle with their toys so safety and durability is a must.

Some toddlers have already developed a strong interest in toys like balls and cars or characters like Elmo, whereas others would rather bang on kitchen pots and pans or unravel the toilet paper. In general, “plush dolls, stuffed animals, stacking toys, shape sorters, lightweight balls, soft blocks, wooden toys, large puzzles with chunky pieces, simple musical instruments, and push-and-pull toys are typically well-suited for a 1-year-old’s developmental needs and interests,” says psychotherapist, parenting coach, and Founder & CEO of Parenting Pathfinders Michelle Felder, LCSW, MA. Below, I break down the best toys for 1-year-olds according to experts and parents.

Our top picks for the best toys for 1-year olds

Wooden Car Ramp Racer

Wooden Car Ramp Racer - Toddlers Race Track Toy Ball Track with 3 Wooden Cars and 2 Balls for 1 2 3 Year Old Boy and Girl Gifts

Wooden Car Ramp Racer - Toddlers Race Track Toy Ball Track with 3 Wooden Cars and 2 Balls for 1 2 3 Year Old Boy and Girl Gifts

“This classic wooden toy keeps kids entertained and helps promote hand-eye coordination,” says Amanda Vierheller, COO and Co-Founder of Playgarden Prep. They’ll love racing the colorful cars down the ramp and watching as the balls roll down each level. Everything is crafted from 100% natural pine wood and is BPA-free with non-toxic paints. Parents will appreciate that it arrives fully assembled and ready to play.

Specifications:

  • Material: 100% natural pine wood
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 1 - 3 years
  • Price at time of publish: $33.96

The bottom line:

This Montessori-approved wooden car ramp racer strengthens hand-eye coordination and is a blast for little ones to do again and again.

Get it here: Wooden Car Ramp Racer


Melissa & Doug Take-Along Sorting Barn

Melissa & Doug Take-Along Sorting Barn

Melissa & Doug Take-Along Sorting Barn

What does the cow say? “Learning about animal names and sounds is a natural type of play which is very appropriate for this age group,” says Michelle Mintz, M.S.,CCC-SLP, an early childhood development expert and creator of Baby Blooming Moments. “With this toy you get animals as well as a little puzzle work.” It comes with ten extra-thick wooden farm-themed play pieces so little ones can easily grasp and maneuver them. The portable handle means it’s easy to take anywhere too.

Specifications:

  • Material: Wood
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 2 - 5 years but expert-recommended and enjoyed by many one-year-olds
  • Price at time of publish: $20.99

The bottom line:

This portable toy barn doubles as a puzzle and helps with color and animal recognition, sorting, matching, fine motor skills, and more.

Get it here: Melissa & Doug Take-Along Sorting Barn


Baby Stella Doll with Pigtails

Baby Stella Doll with Pigtails - Brown Hair - Baby Toys & Gifts for Babies - Fat Brain Toys

Baby Stella Doll with Pigtails - Brown Hair - Baby Toys & Gifts for Babies - Fat Brain Toys

“Dolls and stuffed animals provide companionship and teach children to connect with others,” says Vierheller. She recommends this super soft and snuggly doll, as it’s the just the right size and weight for one-year-olds. “With a soft plush body and magnet pacifier, Stella is the perfect doll for 1-year-olds to love.” Her dress, bloomer, and diaper are removable for creative role play, and the company sells different soft-doll versions that come in a variety of skin tones and hair colors to choose from.

Specifications:

  • Material: Polyester
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 1+ year
  • Price at time of publish: $36.43

The bottom line:

Little ones will love snuggling and playing parent to this super soft, award-winning baby doll.

Get it here: Baby Stella Doll with Pigtails


Art 2 The Extreme Personalized Coloring Crayons For Kids

Art 2 The Extreme Personalized Coloring Crayons For Kids

Art 2 The Extreme Personalized Coloring Crayons For Kids

The perfect 1st birthday present does exist! This cute and colorful crayon set is customized to spell out your child’s name and writes in a rainbow of colors to delight them. They're big and easy to grip but hard to break because you know your toddler will try. I like that they’re handmade in the USA from recycled premium brand crayons with no other ingredients added. And they look adorable on the shelf in case your little one isn’t quite big enough to get a handle on them just yet.

Specifications:

  • Material: Recycled crayons
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 1+ year
  • Price at time of publish: From $19.95

The bottom line:

These personalized rainbow crayons are easy to grip, hard to break, and make an excellent first birthday gift for toddlers.

Get it here: Art 2 The Extreme Personalized Coloring Crayons For Kids


Lalo Play Box

Lalo Play Box

Lalo Play Box

For busy parents who don’t want to have to think about the perfect toys to purchase, Lalo’s Play Boxes are expertly curated with beautifully-made and developmentally-appropriate modern toys for toddlers. There are several boxes designed for 1-year-olds, which you can purchase individually or sign up for a subscription to receive every two to three months. This particular box is made for children ages 13-15 months and includes a mini phone, wooden drum, push and pull puppy, and suction spinners. It also comes with a play guide to offer parents loads of playtime ideas. I like that the toys are durable, non-toxic, and BPA-free and made from earth-friendly recycled materials. Shopping tip: Lalo’s Play Boxes also made our list for the best baby toys 0-6 months.

Specifications:

  • Material: Chemical-free rubberwood and FDA approved non-toxic, BPA-free, food grade silicone
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 13+ months
  • Price at time of publish: $125

The bottom line:

This expertly-curated play box is made with your child’s development in mind and is chocked full of high-quality, aesthetically-pleasing and earth-friendly toys you can pass down.

Get it here: Lalo Play Box


Taf Toys Sensory Crinkle Tissue Box for Toddlers

Taf Toys Sensory Crinkle Tissue Box for Toddlers

Taf Toys Sensory Crinkle Tissue Box for Toddlers

Inspired by toddlers' fascination with wet wipes, this colorful tissue box comes with 10 soft and crinkly brightly-colored fabrics that helps toddlers develop color recognition and movement. The sensory box allows toddlers to pull out and put fabrics into the box as they explore, problem solve, and work on important fine motor skills. The toy is well made and beautifully designed.

Specifications:

  • Material: Organza, printed box, plastic lid
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 12 - 18 months
  • Price at time of publish: $34.99

The bottom line:

With lots of color and sensory possibilities, this tissue box inspired toy will keep your toddler entertained on the plane, car rides, at restaurants, and more.

Get it here: Taf Toys Sensory Crinkle Tissue Box for Toddlers


Lovevery The Music Set

Lovevery The Music Set

Lovevery The Music Set

“Musical toys encourage exploration of cause and effect and can stimulate language skills,” says Mintz. We have this gorgeous, well-curated Lovevery music set in our home, and it’s a huge hit with my 1-year-old. It comes with real, brain-building instruments, including color-coded pentatonic pat bells, a color tab pan flute, concertina, jingle bracelet, loud and quiet stackable shakers, an animal metronome, plus a rhythm and songs book, color match song cards, and a play guide for parents with expert tips to help them.

Specifications:

  • Material: FSC-certified wood and paper, soy-based ink, child-safe plastics, steel and stainless steel
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 18 months - 4 years
  • Price at time of publish: $120

The bottom line:

This thoughtfully-designed modern music set includes six real instruments and color match song cards for little ones to learn to play.

Get it here: Lovevery The Music Set


Bobike Baby Balance Bike

Bobike Baby Balance Bike Toys for 1 Year Old 10-24 Months Toddler Walker Bicycle Blue

Bobike Baby Balance Bike Toys for 1 Year Old 10-24 Months Toddler Walker Bicycle Blue

Vierheller calls this “the best first bike for little speedsters!” According to her, its innovative design is perfect to promote balance, coordination, core strength, and spatial awareness. It only takes a few minutes to assemble and comes in lots of fun colors so you can choose their favorite (or yours). The modern design is easy on the eyes too, which parents will appreciate. It’s made for indoor and outdoor use, and kids adore the cute little rubber ducky on the handlebars.

Specifications:

  • Material: Carbon frame, anti-slip EVA handlebar
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 1 - 2 years
  • Price at time of publish: $34.99

The bottom line:

Kids will quickly get the hang of riding on this perfect first balance bike for 1-year-olds.

Get it here: Bobike Baby Balance Bike


 

Angelcare Magical Dreams Bobbi The Whale Projector

Angelcare Magical Dreams Bobby The Whale Projector, Washable Sleep Soother, Includes lullabies, White Noises and 3 Light intensities

Angelcare Magical Dreams Bobby The Whale Projector, Washable Sleep Soother, Includes lullabies, White Noises and 3 Light intensities

For parents who want more sleep and little ones who need it, this plush whale projector is what sweet dreams are made of. It plays soft lullabies, underwater sounds, and white noise heartbeats with a light show featuring moving waves and fish to completely mesmerize your child. It doubles as a night light and features an automatic shut-off after 25 minutes so you don’t have to go back in and risk waking them. Parents can control the volume, and there are three different light intensities you can play around with to find their sweet spot. When the whale plush part gets dirty, simply throw it in the wash for a quick clean.

Specifications:

  • Material: 70% plastic, 30% cotton
  • Batteries required: Yes (three AA, not included)
  • Age range: 0+ months
  • Price at time of publish: $34.99

The bottom line:

Toddlers will love relaxing and drifting off to sleep with this nightlight, sound machine, and projector all in one.

Get it here: Angelcare Magical Dreams Bobbi The Whale Projector


Hellowood Wooden Sorter Cube

HELLOWOOD Montessori Toys for 1+ Year Old, Wooden Sorter Cube with 8pcs Rattling Shapes, Developmental Learning Toy Gifts for Baby Toddler Boys Girls, Gift Packaging

HELLOWOOD Montessori Toys for 1+ Year Old, Wooden Sorter Cube with 8pcs Rattling Shapes, Developmental Learning Toy Gifts for Baby Toddler Boys Girls, Gift Packaging

“This toy combines two classic Montessori activities in one charming play experience,” says Vierheller. “Little ones build sorting and fine motor skills while learning about object permanence.” With over 400 five-star ratings, this popular wooden sorter cube is sure to be a hit. It comes with eight unique shapes all in different colors, plus a durable box with colorful rubber bands for kids to push the shapes through and to contain everything when not in use. It helps enhance hand-eye coordination, finger dexterity, sensory perception, spatial reasoning, color and shape recognition, problem-solving skills, and more. Plus, the shapes make a little noise when shaken.

Specifications:

  • Material: Wood, non-toxic paint, elastic bands
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 1 - 5 years
  • Price at time of publish: $21.99

The bottom line:

This wooden shape sorter offers plenty of ways to play, with eight easy-to-grasp shapes that make a soft noise when shaken.

Get it here: Hellowood Wooden Sorter Cube


Melissa & Doug Soft Activity Baby Book

Melissa & Doug Soft Activity Baby Book

Melissa & Doug Soft Activity Baby Book

Reading to your 1-year-old is essential for language development, speech, fostering their imagination and so much more. Because toddlers can be quite rough on books, trying to rip out pages, Mintz suggests this Melissa & Doug soft “Whose Feet?” book. “It’s fun, silly, and won't tear,” she says. “Exploration of books and an introduction to reading at this age is a gift.” I like that it’s machine washable, and includes some squeaking and crinkling throughout to capture kids’ attention.

Specifications:

  • Material: Cloth
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 1 month - 3 years
  • Price at time of publish: $13.83

The bottom line:

This soft activity book is silly enough to keep 1-year-olds entertained and can be machine-washed for cleanliness.

Get it here: Melissa & Doug Soft Activity Baby Book


ShyLizard Toddler Farm Animal Sorting and Stacking Toys

ShyLizard Toddler Farm Animal Sorting and Stacking Toys, Nesting Boxes and Blocks With Finger Puppets - Gifts for 1-3 Year Olds

ShyLizard Toddler Farm Animal Sorting and Stacking Toys, Nesting Boxes and Blocks With Finger Puppets - Gifts for 1-3 Year Olds

“Kids love stacking these nesters and matching the adorable animals to their homes,” says Vierheller. “The cute critters double as finger puppets for even more fun with pretend play!” The durable set comes with six numbered nesting and stacking blocks, each in a different color, as well as six farm animal finger puppets to play with. They’ll learn about colors, shapes, numbers, animals, practice problem solving, and so much more.

Specifications:

  • Material: Cardboard
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 1+ year
  • Price at time of publish: $19.99

The bottom line:

These numbered nesting blocks can be stacked, double as animal houses, and come with the cutest animal finger puppets for pretend play.

Get it here: ShyLizard Toddler Farm Animal Sorting and Stacking Toys


SmartMax Start Plus STEM Building Magnetic Discovery Set

SmartMax Start Plus STEM Building Magnetic Discovery Set

SmartMax Start Plus STEM Building Magnetic Discovery Set

As a parent myself, I will happily invest in a high-quality open-ended toy my child can creatively use for many years to come. These big and colorful SmartMax Start Plus STEM Building bars and balls are just that. They’re super strong and the magnets easily attract (and come apart), making it fun and easy for even 1-year-olds to build and create with independently. “We bought the 25-piece set and came back for more because they were such a hit with our 15-month old son,” writes one Amazon reviewer. “These are expensive, but a very well made and seemingly long-lived toy.”

Specifications:

  • Material: Not listed
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 1+ year
  • Price at time of publish: $49.99

The bottom line:

This popular STEM magnetic building set is easy for 1-year-olds to use and is well worth the splurge, sparking their imagination to create the coolest structures.

Get it here: SmartMax Start Plus STEM Building Magnetic Discovery Set


Beetoy Ball Set

beetoy Ball Set for Toddlers 1-3, Assorted Balls Toddler Sports Balls Kids Balls Soft Toy Balls - Soccer Ball Playground Balls Basketball Volleyball Baseball Rugby - Inflatable with Pump, 6 PCS

beetoy Ball Set for Toddlers 1-3, Assorted Balls Toddler Sports Balls Kids Balls Soft Toy Balls - Soccer Ball Playground Balls Basketball Volleyball Baseball Rugby - Inflatable with Pump, 6 PCS

If there’s one thing almost all toddlers are intrigued by, it’s balls. They can throw, kick, carry, toss, bounce, shoot them, and so much more. This affordable sports ball set comes with six easy-to-hold assorted sports balls, including a mini basketball, baseball, football, rugby, soccer, and playground ball for toddlers to have a ball with. It makes a great first birthday gift, and balls can easily be stowed in the bottom of a stroller to bust out for park play or at home to burn energy. I like that you can easily inflate them and deflate them for storage or travel.

Specifications:

  • Material: Plastic
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 3 - 6 years but almost all reviewers agree the balls are the perfect size for babies/toddlers (my 1-year-old loves them)
  • Price at time of publish: $17.99

The bottom line:

Any ball-obsessed toddler will get a kick out of this versatile sports ball set designed for little hands.

Get it here: Beetoy Ball Set


Le Toy Van Petilou Sensory Shapes

Le Toy Van Petilou Sensory Shapes

Le Toy Van Petilou Sensory Shapes

This gorgeous chunky wooden puzzle is sure to excite their senses, as each block presents a new sensation just waiting to be discovered. Toddlers can shake to hear a bell, feel fluffy fabric, look through the kaleidoscope piece, and more. Parents can practice color and shape recognition with littles as they explore and play too. As one reviewer puts it, this puzzle is “a happy medium between a cute toy and one they actually want to play with. Most of the pieces have things in them, so you also get a noise component, but my daughter loves this thing—and I don't mind looking at it.”

Specifications:

  • Material: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) plywood, FSC teak wood, cotton string, polyurethane, steel
  • Batteries required: No
  • Age range: 1+ year
  • Price at time of publish: $39.95

The bottom line:

This modern chunky puzzle is well made and lovely to look at with a fun sensory aspect on each piece to keep toddlers entertained.

Get it here: Le Toy Van Petilou Sensory Shapes


How we selected the best toys for 1-year-olds

I spoke with multiple play experts to narrow down exactly what parents should look for in the best toys for 1-year-olds, from safety and quality to age appropriateness. I also got their input on what types of toys 1-year-olds are generally most interested in and that aid in crucial aspects of development. I relied on product suggestions from our play experts, as well as included several toys that have been used and loved in my own home by my 1-year-old.

What to consider when shopping for the best toys for 1-year-olds

Whether you’re a minimalist or just like to do your research, it’s important to consider the toys you’re purchasing and the value they will provide your child. Here are a few factors to keep in mind when shopping.

Is it safe?

At this age, children put everything in their mouths so safety is of utmost importance. Toys should be “free from small parts that could pose a choking hazard, toxic materials, or sharp edges,” says Felder.

Is it well-made?

You want sturdy, high-quality toys that will last even when your child chews on it or throws it across the room a hundred times. “Because of the need to explore objects orally, as well as because children at this age are prone to bang toys together, pull at its parts, and tend to play more roughly with objects, it’s important to consider the durability of the toys chosen for 1-year olds,” states Felder. “Wooden blocks, durable BPA-free plastic toys, or cloth books with reinforced stitching can be engaging options.”

Is it developmentally and age appropriate?

It’s always best to look at the recommended age range of a toy prior to purchasing, in addition to considering where your own child is at developmentally. “Age-appropriate toys can foster a child’s fine motor and gross motor skills, language skills, cognitive skills, and their social and emotional development,” says Felder. If a toy is too advanced, your child may get frustrated. “The size and weight of toys should also be considered, and toys that are easy for a 1-year-old to handle and manipulate should be available.”

Is it open ended?

Open-ended toys with unlimited ways to play are excellent for any age group, as they can flex little ones' creative muscles and often grow with kids so they can be used and enjoyed for many years to come.

Is it interactive?

Another aspect to consider, according to Felder, is whether the toy includes interactive features that respond to a child's actions or that encourage interactions with caregivers. “Features such as books with flaps to lift or buttons to press, or toys that play music when activated can enhance engagement and support a child's social and emotional development.”

Does it engage the senses?

Felder encourages parents and caregivers to consider toys that engage multiple senses and support their child’s sensory development. “Toys with a variety of textures, colors, scents, and sounds can create a rich learning experience and provide children with a deeper understanding of their world,” she says.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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