I’m diving into one of my favorite mom topics – how to choose the best age-appropriate toys for a 1-year-old that will aid their development, without overwhelming them.
As mamas, we want to nurture our babes to reach their full potential. But sometimes we overcompensate and push toys meant for older kiddos that end up not helping at all! Over the last year with my little one, I’ve learned so much about age appropriate play.
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So in today’s blog, I’m breaking down the best types of toys for one year olds based on what I’ve learned from pediatricians, teachers, and my own mama intuition. I’ll share my top picks that our kids have loved this past year and that have helped him hit milestones without becoming baby clutter.
My hope is that you feel confident you’re picking toys that truly nurture your one year old’s growing mind and body. Playing with purpose is so important at this magical age!
I’ve broken the toys out into sections to help you find just what you’re looking for, riding toys, climbing toys, outdoor toys and push toys.
If you’re looking for Montessori style toys, I’ve got a whole post dedicated to our favorites!
Factors to Consider
If you’ve recently stumbled down the toy aisle at your local box store, you’ve noticed how absolutely overwhelming it can be! There are so many toys, making so many noises!
But not all toys are created equally!
First and foremost, you’re little one is in need of age appropriate toys that help them developmentally! These little sponges are eager to explore the world around them and learning through play is so powerful. Get them some toys that will help them grow!
Kids are also incredibly rough with toys in general, but especially while they are developing their motor skills. So pick some toys that are durable and won’t break into thousands of plastic pieces when they are banged into oblivion by an excited 1 year old!
I prefer to buy wooden toys and will avoid those cheap plastic ones as much as possible.
Be honest, what’s your opinion of the toys that are really loud and flashy? They get annoying pretty quickly, right?!
While your child may initially like the sounds, these types of toys can be very overstimulating. These quick hits of dopamine can also have long-standing impacts on their ability to focus.
Kids are incredible at make-believe! Try to choose toys that foster their imaginations and encourage free play. Where they make the rules of the game up rather than some piece of plastic!
Ride On Toys For 1 Year Olds
I know it might just seem like fun and games, but pedaling, steering, and zooming around on play vehicles offers some amazing benefits for your child’s growth and development.
Ride-on toys are a total blast that helps your kiddo strengthen coordination, balance, and confidence as they learn to propel themselves. All that pedaling and maneuvering builds crucial gross motor control and spatial reasoning skills without them even realizing it!
Plus, ride-on play encourages healthy movement and exercise in such an engaging way. You’ll love watching your child zip around while working on those core muscles and cardio – no sedentary behaviors here!
Have you heard of balance bikes? They’re a super fun ride-on toy perfect for nurturing coordination and confidence in toddlers.
Balance bikes are lightweight, pedal-free bikes that allow little ones to zoom around using their feet to push off the ground. With no pedals or training wheels, they learn to steer, balance and propel themselves using those key gross motor skills.
Kids as young as 12 months can learn to ride these strider bikes, scooting themselves forward and controlling the handlebars to change direction. And the bikes can be used inside or outside for year-round play.
The magic of balance bikes is that they build coordination naturally at a young age by letting kids find their own rhythm and pace. You’ll love watching your toddler gain that look of independence and pride as they ride on their own without stabilization wheels.
These strider bikes are great ride on toys for 1 year olds as they help develop leg muscles, balance, spatial awareness and control. But shhh – don’t tell them that! For kids, it just feels like freeing, confidence-boosting play.
This pony-themed musical walker is perfect for little ones aged 9-36 months and has 3 ways to play as your baby grows from walking to bouncing to riding. The super-squishy seat provides extra-springy bouncing action, making it a fun and comfortable experience for your little one.
With over 50 songs, sounds, tunes, and phrases, this toy introduces colors, the alphabet, and counting 1-10, making it a great learning tool for your baby. The lights and sounds encourage and reward your baby as they walk and push or scoot along on the pony.
This walker is perfect for little walkers and riders and is sure to provide hours of entertainment and learning. So, if you’re looking for a fun and educational toy for your little one, the Fisher-Price Walk Bounce & Ride Pony is definitely worth checking out!
Climbing Toys for 1 Year Olds
I’m thrilled to share with you the benefits of climbing toys for 1-year-olds! As a mom, I understand the importance of finding toys that not only entertain but also aid in the development of our little ones’ minds. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the top benefits of climbing toys for 1-year-olds:
- Physical Development: Climbing toys provide an excellent opportunity for your little one to develop their gross motor skills. As they climb, balance, and navigate through the toy, they are strengthening their muscles and improving their coordination and balance.
- Cognitive Development: Climbing toys also stimulate your child’s cognitive development. As they explore and figure out how to climb and maneuver through the toy, they are enhancing their problem-solving skills and spatial awareness.
- Sensory Stimulation: Many climbing toys come with additional features such as lights, sounds, and textures, which provide sensory stimulation for your little one. This helps to engage their senses and promote their overall sensory development.
- Confidence Building: Climbing toys offer a safe and controlled environment for your 1-year-old to explore and challenge themselves. As they successfully navigate through the toy, they gain a sense of accomplishment and build their self-confidence.
- Social Interaction: Climbing toys can also encourage social interaction and play. Your little one can enjoy climbing and exploring with siblings, friends, or even you, fostering important social skills and promoting bonding experiences.
- Versatility and Longevity: Many climbing toys are designed to grow with your child, offering different levels of challenge as they develop. This means that your little one can continue to enjoy and benefit from the toy as they grow older.
So, if you’re looking for a toy that not only entertains but also promotes your 1-year-old’s physical and cognitive development, climbing toys are a fantastic choice. They provide a fun and engaging way for your little one to explore, learn, and build important skills.
I’ve found the most amazing modular climbing set that grows with your little explorer.
This 4-piece wooden climber lets kids creatively build ramps, arches, triangles, cubes – the options are endless! Mix and match the pieces to create new challenges as your child develops.
I love that it’s based on Montessori principles, helping build motor skills, courage, and coordination through play. And the solid wood construction holds up to 50 kg for years of use.
Watch your kiddo gain confidence as they climb and balance at their own pace. The set is sized for ages 1 to 8 so it truly grows with them!
With pastel rainbow or natural wood options, this modular climbing system blends into any playroom. No clunky plastic in sight!
Let their creativity soar by combining climbing play with imagination and discovery. This Montessori-inspired set nurtures growing bodies and minds in such an engaging way!
This option was cheaper than the Nugget and doesn’t have the long lead time like they often do. While I really like the Nuggets and will likely purchase one in a few years, I think they are geared more toward older kids too.
I’ve got the perfect two-stage playset to nurture your little one’s development as they grow from immobile infants to busy toddlers.
First up – the crawler stage! This innovative climber encourages crucial gross motor skills with its ramps and soft, textured blocks. Watch your little one explore new colors and textures while building grip strength and coordination. The soft ramp is ideal for tummy time and rolling practice too!
Then, as your baby grows into a toddler, it unfolds into a configurable block set for imaginary play. Fold up the ramp to create a comfy seat for storytime. Or let your toddler’s imagination run wild stacking blocks into forts, garages, rocket ships, or whatever they dream up!
With six thoughtfully designed pieces on slip-resistant bases, this 2-in-1 climber/block set builds key developmental skills safely from 6 months and up. And it looks great in any space with its modern design – no loud primary colors here!
Nurture your little one’s growth from crawler to toddler with a toy that grows with them!
Outdoor Toys for 1 Year Olds
Now, I know it’s tempting as mamas to stick to indoor toys and activities. It’s easy, it contains the mess, and you don’t have to prep. But hear me out, the great outdoors offers so many developmental benefits for our babes that indoor play simply can’t replace.
In this section, I’ll be getting real about why outdoor play is absolutely crucial at the one year old stage. based on advice from teachers and pediatricians as well as my own experience, it nurtures key physical, cognitive, emotional and social skills .
I’ll also cover some of my favorite outdoor toys that I’ve used to get my kids outside engaging their senses and skills every single day, rain or shine!
I’ve got the perfect playhouse for sparking imagination and skill-building during indoor AND outdoor play.
This colorful two-level playhouse packs tons of fun features into a compact design that fits through standard doorways. So the adventures can continue no matter what the weather!
Kiddos will love cooking up pretend meals in the play kitchen, doodling on the art board, mailing letters through the working doors, and peeking out the second-story portholes. Talk about kid paradise!
With climbing ramps, ladders, and crawl spaces, they’ll build crucial coordination and gross motor skills without even realizing it. And the open-ended play nurtures creativity and cognitive growth.
Made from durable plastic with rounded edges, this climbing playhouse is built to last for years of play. It can even be combined with other playsets as your little explorer’s backyard adventures grow!
I’ve found the creme de la creme of sandboxes that will turn your backyard into a kid paradise. This cabana-style sandbox from KidKraft lets imaginations run wild in the sand while keeping your kiddos cool.
The roomy honey-colored wooden box gives tons of space for digging, building, and sensory play. And the adorable striped canopy provides much-needed shade on those sunny days. I just love the upscale look – it complements any grown-up patio furniture with its chic design!
Kiddos can explore different textures with the two built-in plastic bins for separate sand and water play. Build a mini castle in one while creating a splashy moat in the other! When playtime is over, the included mesh cover keeps things clean.
With raised edges for extra seating, even parents can get in on the fun. Game changer! This sandbox takes outdoor play to the next level so those kiddos can dig to their hearts’ content in total comfort.
While this is technically for ages 2+, with supervision, this should be alright for your 1 year old. Just gotta make sure they don’t eat all the sand!
Let me introduce you to these amazing sensory balls for babies and toddlers!
These soft, lightweight balls are perfectly sized for little hands to grip and are filled with tactile magic. All kinds of textures inside like rattles, chimes, and crinkles stimulate those growing senses!
Playing with the balls helps babies improve their hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills as they reach, grasp, and explore the balls’ shapes. All that rolling back and forth is great for balance and coordination too.
With bright colors that grab their attention, sensory balls turn tummy time, stroller rides, and playmat explorations into exciting sensory adventures! And the BPA-free construction is soft and safe for tender skin.
Remember the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe – that iconic ride-on we all know and love? Well, it just got even better for your little speed racer!
This kid-powered car now has a removable floorboard so they can use their feet for that extra zoom, building leg strength, and coordination. Such a smart design!
And the handle on the back lets you control the steering for those beginning push rides. They’ll love clicking the moving ignition switch and opening the gas cap as you roll.
With its sturdy construction, 360-spinning wheels, and high seat back with cupholders, this ride-on is ready for years of zooming inside or out!
The Cozy Coupe has been a classic for over 40 years because of its quality and fun. Now the new friendly face and innovative floorboard make it even more awesome.
Let your kiddo’s imagination soar as they cruise in this iconic car built just for them. It encourages independence, movement, and fun – the best kind of play!
Push Toys For 1 Year Olds
As mamas, we want to encourage those milestones and build key skills during this magical first year. And let me tell you, a good ol’ fashioned push walker or cart does just that!
Push toys aren’t flashy or high-tech but sometimes simple and traditional is best, especially in baby’s first year. Let’s boost those babes the old fashioned way
How cute is this wooden alligator push toy from Melissa & Doug? With its chomping mouth and clacking beads, it makes walking practice so playful. And the bright colors pop which my kids love.
Here’s what I love about it:
- Easy to grasp handle helps them walk steadily (those gross motor skills!)
- Clicking gators and spinning beads encourage movement and coordination
- Vibrant colors boost cognitive and visual development
It rolls smoothly thanks to non-skid wheels and is sized just right for 12 months and up.
I’m thrilled that this simple push toy keeps them engaged while helping them hit milestones. And Melissa & Doug toys have become our go-to because their beautiful designs and quality stand out.
This high-quality walker has it all – shape sorters, xylophone, and drums to hit – keeping kiddos engaged and learning. Who doesn’t love making music while walking!?
It’s got gorgeous gender-neutral colors and is made to last with sturdy wood, rubber wheels, and non-toxic paint. Such a thoughtful gift idea!
Here’s what I love most:
- All the activities build cognitive, social, and motor skills through play
- A sturdy frame provides support for those beginning steps
- Musical elements boost coordination and creativity
- Shape sorting encourages problem-solving
It’s a walker and activity center all in one! My kids have a blast while honing crucial developmental skills. Whether for your own little one or a gift, this walker is total magic!
Sensory Toys for 1 Year Olds
Sensory toys provide a wealth of developmental benefits for 1 year olds. During this rapidly changing stage, sensory play helps babies explore their environment, stimulate the senses, build nerve connections, and improve fine motor skills.
Tactile toys like rattles, teethers, and soft blocks expose 1 year olds to new textures and sensations. Manipulating these toys encourages hand-eye coordination, grasping, reaching, and object exploration – crucial skills at this age. Meanwhile, sound-based toys like activity cubes, musical instruments, and singing toys nurture auditory development. The cause-and-effect of pressing buttons and getting fun sounds engages their curiosity.
Sensory toys also supply physical stimulation through sight, sound, and touch. This helps babies process sensory information and strengthens sensory integration. Even simple toys like shape sorters, stacking cups, and pop-up toys promote hand-eye coordination and problem solving.
This shape sorter frame from MINGKIDS is made from super soft, baby-safe plastic with different textured shapes for little hands to explore. I just love the bright colors and smooth, rounded edges.
Here’s what we’ve enjoyed:
- Different textures like bumps, grooves, and ridges stimulate sensory development
- Vibrant colors and shapes build cognitive skills
- Pushing shapes through openings promotes hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills
It’s a major win for open play that gets the senses firing and little ones love discovering each shape’s unique feel. Such a great toy for birthday and holiday gifts too with its beautiful design!
Designed for toddlers aged 12-15-18 months, this interactive toy offers a variety of engaging activities that mimic daily supplies such as latches, Velcro, switches, gears, key locks, zippers, buttons, and more.
With the busy board, your little one will have a blast exploring fun, sensory, challenging, and colorful activities. They’ll exercise their cognitive abilities as they identify the role of different products and develop their attention and learning skills.
Not only is the busy board a source of entertainment, but it also helps toddlers explore the world around them. Fine motor skills, dressing skills, dexterity, and brain development are all enhanced through the elements of this wooden learning toy. Your child will train their finger grip, practice turning movements, and learn how to control their hands. Every way of playing with the busy board is related to real-life experiences, promoting excitement and learning as they discover the most common things in life.
Safety is a top priority with this toy. The busy board is made of smooth natural wooden materials with smooth edges and no burrs. The metal hinges are not easy to rust, and the pieces are not detachable, ensuring that little hands cannot lose them. Activities on the board are challenging and educational, helping to improve your child’s hands-on ability while keeping their feelings and safety in mind.
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What do I get for a 1 year old who likes to climb?
Finding an age-appropriate climbing structure for your 1 year old is a crucial first step. You’ll want something that is low to the ground, made of non-toxic materials, and modular so it can be moved when climbing play time is over.
What age is good for ride on toys?
1 year old is a great age to introduce ride on toys! These toys can be incredibly beneficial to their development as they help to strengthen their legs and core which makes them more mobile and less wobbly!
These should be used only under adult supervision of course.