The best toys for 1-year-olds that encourage fun and development

toddler playing with blues clues wooden puzzle, one of the best toys for 1-year-olds
Simple toys for 1-year-olds like this wooden Blues Clues puzzle from Melissa & Doug make great gifts.

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One-year-olds are beginning to interact and play, which makes gifting toys exciting for both them and you. In addition to researching and testing products, we spoke to two toy experts and a developmental psychologist to find the best gifts for 1-year-olds. Our experts include Jim Silver, CEO of TTPM, Maddie Michalik, senior editor of The Toy Insider, and Bronwyn Charlton, PhD, developmental psychologist and cofounder of Seedlingsgroup. 

It doesn't typically take much to excite a 1-year-old, but when buying them a gift or toy, take their age in months into consideration. A 12-month-old is very different developmentally than a 23-month-old. To account for this difference, some of our gift suggestions are recommended for ages 18 months and up.

Silver recommends only buying toys that are graded age-appropriate. Charlton cautioned gift buyers should think twice before buying electronic toys. "The more a toy does in terms of lights, music, sounds, batteries, the less your child has to do themselves, and the less they benefit," she said.

Whether you're looking for that big gift or just need a few small toys to round out your shopping, we've found a gift for the 1-year-old on your list. 

Here are 27 of the best toys for 1-year-olds:

An interactive crockpot

Child playing with LeapFrog Learning Pot, best gifts for 1-year-olds

LeapFrog Choppin' Fun Learning Pot, available at Target, Walmart, and Amazon, from $19.97

One-year-olds are at the age where they want to be involved in everything you're doing. While they can't handle kitchen tools and appliances just yet, they can join in the fun with this interactive pot. It comes with the pot, a bowl, a cutting board, a knife, a spoon, and four different vegetables. 

Recommended ages: 12 months and up

A baby shark bath toy

Three Baby Shark toys swimming in a bathtub full of bubbles

Robo Alive Junior Baby Shark Battery-Powered Sing and Swim Bath Toy, available at Amazon and Buy Buy Baby, from $12.59

The same reason adults can't get "Baby Shark" out of their heads is why 1-year-olds love it so much. The song is incredibly catchy, and it doesn't take long for kids to learn the tune. This swimming bath toy is water-activated, so all they need to do to play is drop it in the tub. 

Recommended ages: 18 months and up

Toys that stay put with a suction cup

Kids playing with whirly sqiugz toys on wood floor
Fat Brain Toys

Whirly Squigz, available at Fat Brain Toys, $21.95

Young kids are notorious for throwing their toys or otherwise misplacing them. Keep these fun swirly toys exactly where you want them with the attached suction cup. These are perfect for strollers, high chairs, airplane windows, or anywhere else you can stick a suction cup. And they're not just fun to play with — they can safely be used as teethers.

Recommended ages: 10 months and up

Their first finger paints

Lineup of 6 different colored tubes of Crayola fingerpaints

Crayola My First Fingerpaints, available at Amazon, $22.99

Sensory play is incredibly important for development, and most kids love nothing more than to get their hands messy. You'd be surprised at how long some paint can occupy a 1-year-old. The best part: These paints are washable and nontoxic. 

Recommended ages: 12 months and up

A wooden stacking toy with their favorite characters

Two children playing with a wooden rainbow stacker puzzle

Melissa & Doug Blue's Clues & You! Wooden Rainbow Stacker Puzzle, available at Amazon and Walmart, $16.49

This simple Montessori-style toy includes six rainbow stacking pieces and three figurines. Kids can play with them as a puzzle, or they can stand them up to build their own little play world. We tested an editorial review sample of this toy and found the pieces to be very well-made and sturdy. 

Recommended ages: 18 months and up

A drum set with built-in games

toddler playing LeapFrog Learn & Groove Caterpillar Drums

Learn and Groove Caterpillar Drums, available at Walmart and Amazon, $17.59

What kid doesn't want a drum set? Start them early with these caterpillar drums that have built-in games as well as a free-play mode. The three drums light up, the caterpillar's body twists, its feet wiggle, and its tale rattles. The included songs will encourage young toddlers to get up and start dancing. 

Recommended ages: 6 months and up

A plush elephant that plays peek-a-boo

gray plush Gund Flappy the Elephant is a great toy for a 1-year-old
Buy Buy Baby

Gund Flappy the Elephant, available at Buy Buy Baby, $34.99

Flappy the Elephant is a stuffed toy that sings "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" and plays a game of peek-a-boo as its ears fold down to cover its eyes. Little ones can interact with Flappy by squeezing its feet to play music or a game, and they'll return to it for months. 

Recommended ages: 0 to 24 months

A play kit tailored to their age

toddler playing with string and beads from Lovevery Play Kit

Lovevery Play Kit,  available at Lovevery, from $36/month

Lovevery Play Kits are subscription boxes designed to match a child's developmental stage. Every three months, subscribers get a new kit filled with toys like a ball run, wooden coin bank, puzzles, and flashlight. Each box includes a play guide to help parents understand their child's development and maximize play time with each toy. 

Recommended ages: 0 to 48 months

A soft and cuddly baby doll

wee baby stella doll with coveralls and a miniature bunny puppet

Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella, available at Amazon and Bed Bath and Beyond, from $19.98

Charlton said Wee Baby Stella is a toy that can grow with children as they move through different developmental stages. The soft doll is 12 inches tall, a great size for a 1-year-old. Kids can remove and replace the doll's binky as well as change its clothes, both actions that strengthen fine motor skills. 

Recommended ages: 12 months and up

An animal push-and-pull toy

toddler playing with Hape wooden giraffe, elephant, and zebra toys

Hape Push and Pull Elephant, available at Amazon, $9.99 

Hape Push and Pull Giraffe, available at Amazon, $10.95

If you're looking for an active toy, Charlton recommends pull-along toys. Kids can hone their gross motor skills while they push and pull one of these painted wooden animals. As they near 2 years old, the elephant or giraffe will likely inspire pretend play as well. 

Recommended ages: 12 months and up

A Mickey Mouse stacker

child playing with red, blue and yellow Mickey Mouse Stacker

Green Toys Mickey Stacker, available at Amazon and Walmart, $9.99

From eco-friendly brand Green Toys, this stacker toy is made from 100% recycled plastic. It comes with red, yellow, and blue graduated pieces, with a Mickey-themed top and base. Stackers promote problem-solving, motor skills, trial and error, and spatial reasoning. 

Recommended ages: 6 to 36 months

Books that can withstand teething

older baby holding Indestructibles Book

Indestructibles Books, available at Amazon and BuyBuyBaby, from $5.95

Indestructibles are ideal books for toddlers because they are water- and rip-proof. Whether kids are teething or don't yet understand how to handle a book, they will have a hard time destroying these. The books also hold a 1-year-old's attention with colorful illustrations front and center. 

Recommended ages: 0 to 24 months

A hooded towel for post-bath snuggles

animal bath wraps hanging from hooks including raccoon, unicorn, bear, and dog
Pottery Barn Kids

Animal Bath Wraps, available at West Elm and Pottery Barn Kids, from $34.50

After bath time, 1-year-olds get cold quickly. They'll be excited to snuggle up in one of these cozy hooded animal towels. There are five designs with embroidered details: puppy, unicorn, bear, raccoon, and lion. The 31-by-23-inch towels are made of soft cotton terry. 

Recommended ages: 0 to 24 months

A sturdy toy chest

child opening brown Melissa & Doug Wooden Toy Chest
Alicia Betz/Insider

Melissa & Doug Wooden Toy Chest, available at Amazon, Walmart, and Melissa & Doug, from $112.99

One-year-olds tend to amass an overflowing collection of toys, so storage is a must. After nearly two years with a toddler, this toy chest is still in great shape. In addition to its durability, we appreciate the safety features, including a hinge on the lid to prevent pinched fingers. 

A Lego set with letter blocks

child and adult playing with Lego Duplo My First Alphabet Truck

Lego Duplo My First Alphabet Truck, available at Amazon, $20

Michalik recommends toys that encourage hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. This Lego Duplo set activates both of these skills as kids stack blocks and maneuver the truck. It includes 36 Duplo pieces, including 26 letter bricks, a truck, and 10 other bricks and figures. 

Recommended ages: 18 months and up

A puzzle with easy-to-grasp knobs

small child playing with Melissa & Doug Farm Animals Jumbo Knob Wooden Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Jumbo Knob Wooden Puzzle, available at Amazon, $15.99

At a year old, kids can begin putting together big knob and peg puzzles, which Charlton recommends for developing fine motor skills. These farm-themed jumbo puzzles also help toddlers develop vocabulary, perception, hand-eye coordination, and matching. 

Recommended ages: 12 months and up

A walker, bouncer, and ride-on toy in one

toddler pushing Fisher Price Walk Bounce & Ride Pony Musical Infant Walker

Walk, Bounce, and Ride Pony, available at Walmart, $48.99

One-year-olds will work their gross motor skills when they ride, push, or bounce on this pony. The toy plays over 50 songs, sounds, and phrases. When they're done walking, the back handle folds down for easy riding. 

Recommended ages: 9 to 36 months

A classic activity center

toddler playing with green Battat Wooden Activity Cube
Alicia Betz/INSIDER

Battat Wooden Activity Cube, available at Amazon, $59.99

This farm-themed activity cube is chock-full of manipulatives and play scenes. Features include doors that open and close, spinners, bead roller coasters, and movable animals. Charlton recommends this activity cube to encourage exploration and problem-solving in 1-year-olds.  

Recommended ages: 12 months and up

A cause-and-effect musical toy

toddler hammering blocks into Hape Pound & Tap Bench
The Tot

Hape Pound and Tap Bench, available at Amazon and The Tot, from $27.89

Cause-and-effect is incredibly fun and educational for 1-year-olds. With this bench, kids pound balls through holes so they land on a xylophone below. They can also play the xylophone independently. At this age, creativity is blooming, according to Charlton, and musical toys such as this one help foster that creativity. 

Recommended ages: 12 months and up

A set of bath rattles

four Munchkin Float and Play Bubbles Bath Toys floating in bathtub

Munchkin Float and Play Bubbles Bath Toys, available at Amazon and Walmart, from $7.78

Kids can splash and explore in the tub with these floating, rattling bath toys. Each set comes with four transparent balls, two with animals inside and two with whirly toys. A textured ring on the outside can be manipulated to rotate around the ball. "Look for toys that help 1-year-olds to explore and discover colors, shapes, sounds, and textures," Michalik told Insider Reviews. This toy covers all four. 

Recommended ages: 4 months and up

Magnetic building blocks

two kids playing with Blockaroo Magnetic Foam Building Blocks while two adults look on

Blockaroo Foam Magnetic Blocks, available at Amazon, $19.99

Stacking can be difficult for 1-year-olds, but these magnetic foam blocks remove some of the frustration with magnetic areas that easily bond together. The blocks don't have hard edges, making them safe for little kids who like to throw things. Silver recommends building blocks to promote creative play. 

Recommended ages: 18 months and up

A Batmobile play set

​toddler playing Fisher Price Little People DC Comics Super Friends 2 in 1 Batmobile

Fisher-Price Little People Batmobile, available at Target, $16.99

This Batmobile transforms into a play set complete with a gym and a dining table for Batman. Little People are designed to be safe for kids under 3, and 1-year-olds will likely enjoy pushing the car and playing with the figurine. As they get older, they'll begin to be more creative with pretend play. 

Recommended ages: 18 months to 5 years

Five musical instruments

B. Toys Drumroll Please Instrument Set

B. Toys Drumroll Please Instrument Set, available at Amazon, $35.99

Charlton recommends this musical toy to promote imagination and creativity. It includes a drum, two drumsticks, castanets, a whistle, a tambourine, and a shaker egg. When kids are done playing, all of the instruments fit inside the drum. 

Recommended ages: 18 to 36 months

A frustration-free shape sorter

toddler playing with Fat Brain Toys InnyBin

Fat Brain Toys Innybin, available at Fat Brain Toys and Amazon, $24.95

The Innybin is the ultimate toy to develop fine motor skills. It includes a sorting box with elastic bands and six shapes to squeeze into the box. Traditional shape sorters will likely be too difficult for younger 1-year-olds, but this one will be just challenging enough to spark curiosity. 

Recommended ages: 10 months and up

A wagon to transport their toys

toddler pulling Green Toys Elmo's Wagon on porch

Green Toys Elmo's Wagon, available at Amazon and Walmart, $24.99

Charlton recommends toys that keep 1-year-olds active. This wagon will do just that as kids push, pull, load, and unload the wagon during indoor or outdoor play. At under 2 pounds, it's just the right size for them. 

Recommended ages: 18 months and up

Building blocks for little hands

Mega Bloks Peek A Blocks Schoolhouse Preschool Building Set

Mega Bloks Peek a Block Schoolhouse, available at Amazon, $32.13

This mega bloks set includes interactive features that inspire creativity and fun like a slide, a launcher, and two "peek a blocks." Mega Bloks are large, making them safe for 1-year-olds and easy to grab. Charlton explained that blocks are "open-ended toys; ones that your child can use in many different ways."

Recommended ages: 12 months and up

A shape-sorting picnic basket

LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket with plates, cups and play food

Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket, available at Walmart and Buy Buy Baby, from $19.99

Take shape sorting to a new level with this picnic basket that includes a shape sorter, two cups, two forks, two plates, six food items, and a picnic blanket. Silver recommends learning toys that focus on fun first. While 1-year-olds have fun playing picnic, they don't realize they're learning concepts like shapes, colors, manners, and sharing. 

Recommended ages: 6 to 36 months

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Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at

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