Looking for the perfect gift for your young toddler? Here are the best tried-and-true toys for 1-year-old kids.

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Shape sorters are the bane of my existence. Sure, they sound like the perfect toys to help make the babies smarter while having fun. But after purchasing different ones and trying for the life of me to motivate my baby into playing with them, I am putting these toys in the donation pile in the garage.

With my daughter turning 1, I reflected back to toys that my son really loved, as well as the ones she actually plays with for more than 5 minutes at a time right now. I also draw inspiration from fellow mom friends who gave me recommendations on gifts to get for my daughter’s first birthday. Here are a list of toys that your one-year-old will LOVE!

This train is hands-down the best toy purchase we ever made. We got it when my daughter was around 6 months old, and she still plays with it every single day. Before she started crawling and pulling herself up, she sat on the floor and pushed the buttons and flipped the storybook. Now she loves dropping the alphabet blocks down the chute, as well as sitting on the wagon or push the wagon around like a walker.

When my son was young, he was extremely fussy. He was never really a happy baby, with one exception – when he was playing with water. So for the hot summer months, we got a water table in our backyard and that saved us from hours of crying and whining. Now that my daughter is pulling herself up, she can join her brother at the water table and splash to her heart’s content.

My daughter loves hammering things. Maybe she is frustrated that her brother kept stealing her toys and needs and outlet. Maybe she loves M.C. Hammer. Whatever the reason is, she can sit there and hammer away at the pegs long enough for mommy to load the dishwasher, get a sip of water, and maybe even run to the bathroom alone.

I love toys that grow with your kids because you get more bang for your buck. My son got the trike for his first birthday and absolutely loved it. Now that he is 3, he still rides on it except instead of getting pushed around, he actually pedals and uses it as a tricycle. With my daughter’s birthday coming up, we may put the safety tray back on and re-gift it to her, though I have a feeling the big brother will have something to say about it.

I walk my dog every day for at least half an hour, and my daughter no longer has the patience for the stroller. For some reason, she likes the push car and doesn’t mind being in it for a long period of time. The best thing about the push car is that you can push it with one hand, leaving the other one free to – well in my case anyway – hold the leash for the dog. And if you have an older child, he can even help push his younger sibling!

My son absolutely loved pull along toys. Even before he could walk, he would pull the string to make the toys move, and carefully observe all the moving parts on the toys. He continues to play with these toys even now because they are so interesting to watch and the ones we have make clicking or clacking noises when they move.

DO NOT go for another brand when it comes to toy vacuums because this one actually sucks up dirt and makes realistic vacuum noises. When I vacuum, my son would follow me around with his toy vacuum and pretend to help mommy. Sometimes, he would randomly decide that the carpet is dirty and take his little vacuum and literally vacuum the entire house. Only if the suction works even better and the canister is big enough to accommodate for all the pet hair … mommy can dream.

There are many activity centers out there to choose from, so pick one that fits your child’s interests! Since my daughter loves hitting things, we have one with a hammer so she bangs on it all day long. The activity center is also great for babies who are pulling themselves up because all the fun toys up top motivate them to stand up! We have one wooden activity center and one electronic one to give my kids some variety.

Need something to occupy your toddler while traveling? My kids love buckle toys because it helps them practice the skills  they are most interested in improving at this age – fine motor and hand eye coordination. The playful plush is easy to throw in the diaper bag, shopping cart, or stroller so you can take it anywhere you go, including car and plane rides!

Similar to hammering, my daughter loves drumming; so, basically hitting things with an object. This musical instrument set includes drumsticks, jingle bells, a maraca clacker, a tambourine, and two egg shakers. I like to put music on and jam it out with Zoe. The best part for mommy? The drum opens up and you can throw all the instruments inside for storage, which means less mess on the ground!

We received this ice cream cart as a gift and it has been a family favorite ever since. My kids love pushing it around, making their own ice cream cones, and playing with the cash register. Every time we have friends over for a play date, all the children are just drawn to this ice cream cart. Now pretty much all my friends have purchased one for their kids because they all love it so much!

This walker was recommended to me by a pediatric physical therapist. Unlike traditional walkers, the Pewi Ybike’s multi-direction caster wheels allow a baby to move the walker in any direction instead of just straight forward. This allows the baby to develop spatial awareness, balance, and gross motor skills. After your baby’s legs are long enough to touch the floor while sitting on the Pewi Ybike, he or she can ride it around the house or outside on smooth surfaces.

Other Gift Ideas for a 1-Year-Old

Admission Tickets or Season Passes

What is the old saying? Toys are temporary and memories are forever? I am sure I pretty much just made that up, but it’s true. Instead of buying toys, you can purchase admission tickets or season passes to fun places like the zoo, aquarium, children’s museum, etc. Now, if someone could just get my family the Disneyland annual passes, that would be the best present ever.

Gift Cards

You can buy gift cards to fun activities, such as dance lessons, gymnastic classes, or swim lessons. Or, you can buy gift cards to places that have toys so that mommy and daddy can take the birthday boy or girl to the store and have them pick out toys themselves.

For both the admission tickets/season passes and gift cards, you may want to consider buying a small side gift along with the gift card or ticket because one-year-old babies probably won’t understand why you got them a piece of paper or card. This way, the baby is happy about the inexpensive gift, mommy and daddy are happy about the ticket or gift card, and you are happy that you didn’t waste your money on yet another shape sorter (grrr).

Happy Birthday to Your Little one!

We all want our children to be like Einstein, minus the crazy hair. However, we have to keep in mind that every child is different and has different interests; hence, one toy that is preferred by one may not be touched at all by another. Hopefully, these toys that my children enjoyed so much will be a big hit at your house as well!

What is your one-year-old’s favorite toy?