11 Best Toys for One-Year-Olds (Tried and True)

Looking for the perfect Christmas or birthday gift for your young toddler? Here are the best tried-and-true toys for 1-year-old kids that my kids loved.

1 year old birthday present ideas

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 is a list of toys that your one-year-old will LOVE!

The Top Toys for One Year Olds

VTech Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train

VTech Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train, Red

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.

Water/Sand Table

Simplay3 Kids Indoor Outdoor Sand and Water Activity Table with Storage

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 that doubles as a sand table, 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.

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench Wooden Toy

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench Wooden Toy With Mallet - STEAM Toddler Toy

My daughter loves hammering things, especially this colorful pounding bench. Maybe she is frustrated that her brother kept stealing her toys and needs an 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.

4-in-1 Stroll ‘N Trike

Radio Flyer Deluxe EZ Fold 4-in-1 Stroll 'N Trike, Red Tricycle, Toddler Bike

I love toys that grow with your kids because you get more bang for your buck. My son got the Stroll ‘N 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.

Push Car

Step2 Whisper Ride II Kids Push Cars, Ride On Car, Seat Belt, Horn, Toddlers Ages 2 – 4 Years Old, Max Weight 50 lbs., Quick Storage, Stroller Substitute, Blue

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!

Pull Along Toys

Walk-A-Long Puppy Wooden Pull Toy by Hape | Award Winning Push Pull Toy Puppy For Toddlers Can Sit, Stand and Roll. Rubber Rimmed Wheels for Easy Push and Pull Action, Red , Red/Orange

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.

Dyson Toy Vacuum

Casdon Miniature Dyson Ball Replica for Children Aged 3+, Grey/Yellow

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.

Activity Center

Manhattan Toy Tree Top Adventure Activity Center 22.50 x 18.00 x 18.00 Inches

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.

Buckle Toys

Buckle Toys - Bizzy Square - Learning Activity Game - Develop Motor Skills and Problem Solving - Occupational Therapy Toddler Travel Toy

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!

Musical Instruments

B. toys – Drumroll Please – Muscical Drum- 7 Instruments Toy Drum Kit - Musical Toys for Kids 18 months + (7-Pcs)

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!

LeapFrog Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart

LeapFrog Scoop and Learn Ice Cream Cart Deluxe (Frustration Free Packaging), Pink

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!

Pewi Ybike Ride On Toy and Walking Buddy

YBIKE Pewi Walking Ride On Toy - Toddler Walker for Ages 9 Months to 3 Years Old, 10 inches, Red, One Size (YPIW1)

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?

toy gift ideas for 1 year olds

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25 thoughts on “11 Best Toys for One-Year-Olds (Tried and True)”

  1. I seriously am in love with that push car. I think I need one for my baby! All of these toy options would be great for my little ones upcoming birthday!

  2. Chasity L Boatman

    I’d also add a cardboard box to the list. We’d give our son a box and some markers and he’d entertain himself for hours. It’s amazing what simple, inexpensive items children love.

  3. So much yes to the water sand table. My granddaughter got one for her first birthday and she absolutely loves it.

  4. Sometimes when I get invitation for 1 year old baby. I got confuse what to gift them. But thanks for cleaning my confusion.

  5. Educational toys or sensory toys are great for kids at this age! I love that the toys are colorful as well. I’ll keep this guide in mind the next time we celebrate a first birthday with family or friends.

  6. We had an activity center for our child and I think it’s what he loved most. After that, it was anything he could bang on and make noise…but most of all, and to this day, he loved his books.

  7. I love the 4-in-1 Stroll ‘N Trike but I never got one for my kids. My daughter had the push car and she loved it. It had a cute cup holder and everything.

  8. Rebecca Swenor

    I have to agree about the shape in hole toys they loose interest almost instantly. The musical instrument set is a great toy for the one year old I believe. I know my boys used to love playing with the pots and pans with the wooden spoon. Thanks for sharing the gift ideas.

  9. So many good picks to be given. Here are my top two: I love the activity set to enhance the kids IQ and the push car so that the kids get to enjoy traveling and it would not be so hard to carry them.

  10. I love the idea of “Dyson Toy Vacuum “. Why didn’t I find this article earlier? My son is 1.5 years old. Everytime when I clean the house, he always tries to “help” me. Great idea! Why not just get him one!! Thank you!

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