A round up of gifts for one-year-olds.
Credit: Amazon, Tomy, Chronicle Books, Manhattan Toy

The Best Gifts for 1-Year-Olds, According to Parents Who Know

updated Oct 27, 2023
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Take it from both of us, one mom of twins and another mom of two girls, watching a one-year-old play with toys is a joyous experience. Everything is new and exciting to them, and they can be enthralled by even the simplest toy. At this key developmental stage, play is serious business. And we’ve each experienced first hand the difference the right toy can make in the hands of a little one. But we also know that every child is unique. And so, in compiling this ultimate list of toys, we took varying interests and abilities into account.

What to Look for in Baby Toys for 1-Year-Olds

One-year-olds are all about exploring the world around them, and it’s important to give them toys that help them safely do so. Many one-year-olds still put a lot of things in their mouths, so always choose toys that don’t have small pieces. Kids in this group have varying abilities; some are pros at walking while others are still crawling. They are also rapidly developing and refining skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends toys for one-year-olds like board books, things to create with, toys that promote imaginative play, and toys that engage children’s small and large muscles. So for our list we include toys that help develop language, gross motor skills, and fine motor skills. 

This is the age where children really start to show their personalities, though, so most importantly we encourage you to take your child’s lead when searching for toys they might like.

Quick Overview

Our Top Pick

Our top pick is the Pop2Slide Kids Indoor Slide ($29.99), which is also our top choice for the best toy to give a kid on their 1st birthday. Little kids love slides, but they’re particularly great for help one-year-olds who are learning to walk and climb and need some help to develop their gross motor skills. The Pop2Slide is affordable, collapsible, and way sturdier and more durable than you’d think. It’s perfect for families living in small spaces — or just families who don’t want an indoor slide to take up a ton of space. If you’ve got stairs and a bigger budget, by all means upgrade to this StairSlide, but if you want it keep it simple, it’s hard to beat the Pop2Slide

Gifts Under $20

1 / 9

Once babies begin crawling, crawl tunnels are excellent for their motor skills and development. Not to mention, crawling through a tunnel is just plain fun! Add some balls, toys, or books to encourage them to spend time in the tunnel. —Alicia

2 / 9

Many parents can’t wait to play that first game of catch with their baby. You won’t have to wait long to start practicing with this fabric ball, which is safe for kids six months and older. It's easy to grasp for kids who are still working on their grip. —Alicia

3 / 9
Fat Brain Toys

Shape sorters are a must for one-year-olds. They can help develop problem-solving skills and very early math skills. This beautifully designed wooden shape sorter cube set is a can't-go-wrong classic. —Cambria

4 / 9

Many one-year-olds begin to dabble in pretend play, and they enjoy mimicking their environment — like "cutting" their own vegetables while cooking, just like Mom and Dad. This vegetable basket set will delight them. —Alicia

5 / 9

This super cute frog pull-along is just the right size for one-year-olds. They can push it along the floor as they're learning to crawl and then let it trail behind them when they're walking. —Cambria

6 / 9

This tiny car may not seem like much, but its small size, smooth, rounded edges, and open design make it the perfect size and shape for tiny hands to grasp and start vroom-vrooming around the floor. And the poppy red is just so fun! —Cambria

7 / 9
Melissa & Doug

Giant knob puzzles are right in the zone of proximal development for a one-year-old, which means they’re not too easy and they’re not too hard. This set is in the form of something familiar, a home, and it also exposes kids to colors and shapes. —Alicia

8 / 9

You'd be amazed how much a one-year-old can do with a simple bucket. This classic German-made bucket will last for years as they tote it around the house, in the backyard, on a walk, or at the beach, carrying whatever their little hearts desire. —Cambria

9 / 9
was $19.99

My kids loved these nesting and stacking cubes when they they were toddlers. They loved building them up and knocking them down, and then figuring out how to put next them all back together neatly. Bonus for the numbers and cute illustrations on the side! —Cambria

Gifts $20 – $40

1 / 10

My kids loved these beautiful interactive books when they were really little. The pages are made of die-cuts with raised, shaped elements that teach letters, numbers, shapes, and colors in a tactile way. Really, really lovely and helpful. —Cambria

2 / 10

Wee Baby Stella is an excellent first doll. She’s soft, cuddly, safe for one-year-olds, machine washable, and can give little kids an opportunity to practice empathy, personal hygiene, among other skills! —Cambria

3 / 10

Bath toys take an already fun experience and make it even more fun! This set includes 13 pipes and gears to create different paths for the water to run, which is highly delightful for little kids. —Cambria

4 / 10

A slide is one of the best toys to give a one-year-old! Every little kid loves a slide, and this option is both sturdy and small-space friendly; when they're done playing, just collapse it and tuck it behind a bookshelf or under the bed. —Alicia

5 / 10

Jellycat's reputation for having the cutest, coziest stuffed animals around is well-deserved — they are truly the best. The one year mark is when little kids start becoming really attached to stuffies, so this is a great age to give them one they can love for years and years. —Cambria

6 / 10

Unlike wooden toddler xylophones and glockenspiels, which rapidly lose their pitch, Hohner's metal bars have (and keep!) their tuning, a fact I can attest to. The included safety mallet makes it easy to start bouncing their way around the instrument. — Cambria

7 / 10
Pottery Barn Kids

In this tea party set, you’ll get a teapot, a serving tray, three tea cups, and three dessert pieces. The cups and desserts nest into the tray as triangles, squares, or circles. Tea sets have long life spans; my four-year-old still plays with the set we got her when she turned one. — Alicia

8 / 10
Pinhole Press

I love this personalized board book from Pinhole Press. You can fill it with pictures of family members, beloved pets, and favorite places and things to help your toddler learn about their life. The pages, like any good board book, are rigid and indestructible. Years later, it'll serve as a great snapshot of life through your child's eyes at that point in time. My now 9-year-old loves that her dear bunny is in the book from all those years earlier. — Cambria

9 / 10
Fat Brain Toys

The InnyBin is the ultimate toy to hone in on fine motor skill development. It seems simple, but kids will work hard putting the textured toys in and out of the bin, which builds their sense sense of exploration and discovery. —Alicia

10 / 10
Bella Luna Toys

Suitable for kids of all ages, Grimm's rainbow-colored wooden nesting bowls are the OG of open-ended tot toys. The bowls can be used for so many kinds of play at every age, and they're sturdy enough to be put into use as early as 12 months. I bought these bowls when my oldest was a toddler. They've seen years of play between my two kids and have been used for everything under the sun. I'm pretty sure one of the bowls is a swimming pool in the doll house right now. —Cambria

Gifts $40+

1 / 5

Push and pull toys like this wagon help one-year-olds get stronger and develop their gross motor skills. While this toy is pricey, they can use it long after they turn two as a functional companion for all their adventures. They can load it up with toys, use it to store stuffed animals, or pretend it’s a car as they begin to dapple in imaginative play. —Cambria

2 / 5

If you’re tired of toys that light up and make sounds, you’ll love a subscription to LovEvery. Kits ship every month and are full of Montessori toys designed to meet your child at their developmental level. Oh, and listen up, grandparents: LovEvery subscriptions also make wonderful gifts! —Cambria

3 / 5
Fat Brain Toys

Before you freak out that I'm recommending a marble run for a one-year-old, know that these "marbles" are the size of plums, so we're all good there. Your toddler can watch them roll and drop, over and over again, all day long! —Cambria

4 / 5

This wooden shopping cart is another one of those versatile, all-around, open-ended toys that can be so many things at once. It's a shopping cart, but also a dolly stroller, a push toy, and a toddler walker. —Cambria

5 / 5
was $169.99

This fantastic, sturdy play cube from Hape has five sides of activities, games, and puzzles that will stimulate one-year-olds and keep them interested and occupied (for a little while, anyway!). —Cambria

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