The best gifts for 1-year-old boys and girls instill curiosity, nurture learning, and yes — keep their attention! One of the wondrous things about watching kids grow in those first 12 months is seeing them learn to figure stuff out on their own. What no one tells you is how quickly they go from sitting in a floor seat to crawling all over the house to devouring that smash cake at their first birthday. As they transition from adorable little lumps to sentient creatures interested in the world around them, you’ll begin searching for the best learning toys for 1-year-olds to help them along the way.
And it turns out, there are a plethora of educational toys for 1-year-old boys and girls on the market, but it can be overwhelming figuring out which ones are appropriate for a developing toddler. So if you’re looking for the best 1-year-old birthday gifts, award-winning toys for 1-year-old, or an amazing Christmas present, consider taking an expert’s advice.
For more gift-giving inspo, check out our toys for 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds, 10-year-olds, 11-year-olds, and 12-year-olds.
What is a good gift for a 1-year-old?
“One-year-olds are extremely active at this time in their lives,” says Monica J. Sutton, a New York and New Jersey-based Early Childhood and Special Education expert. “They are moving, pushing, pulling, taking things apart, and putting them together. Your little one may have just started walking or is on the verge of walking, so they need some toys to encourage them to be mobile.” Sutton recommends gifting toys that promote open-ended play — shape sorters, activity cubes, and other interactive toys are great for keeping a tot’s attention (at least for a few minutes).
For a bigger option that provides lots of activities in one, “toys such as playsets encourage children to explore and play naturally,” Sutton says. “They can pull, push, bang, turn, and discover many different ways to manipulate playset toys.” On that note, you may want to consider a slide and climber set for especially active little ones.
Sutton also suggests interactive walkers to keep Baby engaged. FYI: The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend infant walkers (the kind that babies sit in, allowing them to move around before they’re ready to walk). However, toddler walkers — toys that toddlers push around when they’re becoming mobile — are great for development. According to Sutton, “Walkers encourage children to be mobile and move around their environment.”
What can you get a 1-year-old that isn’t a toy?
When it comes to raising a little bookworm, Sutton points out that sensory board books “allow children to see different images, bright colors, and feel different textures” which helps with their sensory development. “Children can control board books a little easier and turn the pages for a new surprise every time,” she adds.
Also, don’t be shy about asking Mom or Dad if there’s a baby gear essential they need as their infant enters toddlerhood, and nursery decor is another non-toy gift that’s both different and useful (as long as it goes with the theme, of course!).
With these recommendations in mind, we’ve curated the best developmental toys and practical presents so you’ll have plenty of gift ideas for the 1-year-olds in your life. Needless to say, these smart picks go beyond the typical stuffed animals.
**Please note: All these picks are great for either boys or girls, but since some people like to search for gifts based on gender, we wanted to include some options!**
The Best Gifts For 1-Year-Olds
This beautifully made wooden toy features 12 brightly-colored, easy-to grip-shapes that fit into corresponding holes. Melissa & Doug are experts at making award winning toys for 1-year-olds and this one is no different. This cube promotes color and shape recognition plus problem-solving skills for screen-free fun.
Your musician-in-training will love learning notes, instrumental sounds, and songs, thanks to the LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table. It includes tons of interactive elements like a keyboard, storybook, and buttons for hours of educational play.
These “polk-a-dot” (get it?!) style books provide babies and tots (and let’s face it — adults) the same satisfaction as popping bubble wrap, only these plastic dots don’t deflate. Perfectly toddler-sized, once the birthday girl or boy starts poppin’, they’ll be fascinated by the feel and sound, plus adorable animal pictures will keep the pages turning. Not only are we big fans of Melissa & Doug, this 3-pack of books will provide triple the entertainment.
Your little one can explore a dinosaur’s textured “skin” with this board book that offers a new tactile surprise with every page. Despite the title, as your child will learn, it’s actually quite fun to touch dinos. (Also check out Never Touch A Monster and Never Touch A Shark!)
This multifunctional toy encourages kids to explore music while developing hand-eye coordination. Its bright colors capture attention and different ways to play keep it there. The three bright balls can be tapped onto the xylophone for a tinkling serenade, or the instrument can be be removed from its base for kiddos to make up their own tunes. This award-winning wooden toy has a nostalgic look to it, too.
This colorful book is full of traceable cut-outs of shapes your little one is learning to recognize. Combined with bright hues, adorable illustrations, and raised, touchable shapes, young kiddos will love learning about the colors of the world.
This walker has over 7,000 5-star reviews on Amazon! Before they’re walking, babies can play with the removable activity panel and discover music, animals, lights, colors, and ABC’s. Attach the panel once kids are ready to practice walking and off they go! This encourages musical creativity, motor skills development, and pretend play.
This activity walker features three chomping alligators that make a soft clacking noise when pushed, encouraging walking and discovery. Non-skid wheels allow kids to walk on smooth surfaces without moving too fast. Plus, you gotta love that classic wood construction!
Best Gifts For 1-Year-Old Boys
Tots can take their own little town — well — around town with this plush playset. It includes 9 soft sensory cars that crinkle, squeak, or rattle, plus a mat that’s decorated with a little city center. It folds up and has two carrying handles for easy entertainment and free play anytime, anywhere!
With over 1,500 reviews and a near-perfect star rating, you know this toy has to be good! Featuring tons of tools, sounds, music, and lights to keep busy babies entertained, any energetic 1-year-old will love exploring this multi-faceted toy.
Best Gifts For 1-Year-Old Girls
This isn’t your typical stuffed animal — it’s an adorably animated stuffed bunny that’ll excite any playful tot! Press her foot, and Flora sings “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” while wiggling her own floppy pair; the other foot engages Baby with an adorable peek-a-boo game. If bunnies aren’t the birthday girl’s thing, there’s also a clapping monkey, a kiss-blowing penguin, and a flappy-eared elephant that sings the same song as Flora!
There’s so much to explore with this set of plush baby dolls! For starters, it’s a fantastic introduction to diversity since these huggable friends represent several different skin tones. They come with easy on/off outfits that velcro at the shoulders (ideal for little hands just learning coordination), plus hand-sewn features eliminate potential choking hazards because there are no small parts that could fall off. (The hats are also sewn on, so there’s no risk of losing them!) Little ones will love tucking these sweethearts into their basket and toting them around the house, while parents will appreciate that they’re machine-washable. With an impressive 4.9-star rating and over 2,000 reviews, you really can’t go wrong with this unique gift!
Best Christmas Gifts For 1-Year-Olds
This multi-functional play center is a world of wonder for a 1-year-old. Kids can crawl through the archway, sort shapes in the mailbox, look through the movable telescope, and more. It can also be positioned to be fully enclosed in case Mom needs to step out of the room for a minute. A removable take-along panel features a bead tumbler, spinner with mirror, gears, clicking bugs, and a button that plays songs.
Inclement weather doesn’t have to put a stop to playground fun. This Little Tikes Climber is like a mini jungle gym for indoor or outdoor adventures so your youngster can play, rain or shine. In addition to riding down the slide and playing “bus driver,” tots will love the interactive dashboard, which plays music and sounds from buttons, levers, and more.
Best Practical Gifts For 1-Year-Olds
Right around this time, the honorary 1-year-old is going to need a nice big play mat if they don’t have one already. We’re not talking the tummy time kind used for infant play gyms — we’re talking a roomy foam mat that’ll provide some cushion for an increasingly mobile baby (and it’s perfect for lining the inside of a playpen). But not all mats are created equal, and some cheap versions quickly succumb to wear and tear, which could ultimately be dangerous for Baby. So commemorate Mom and Dad’s first year of parenthood with a quality play mat from Skip Hop that’ll last through the toddler years. Featuring a map and animal explorers on one side and a neutral gray pattern on the other, they’ll appreciate that this one isn’t an eyesore, even when it’s smack-dab in the living room.
Everyone else is showering the little prince or princess with excess clutter, but you? You’re the hero with the gift for storing all that clutter (even if you did fill it with a toy or two … heh, heh …). This bear-shaped rope basket is an adorable storage solution that’ll look cute in any nursery or playroom, plus Mom and Dad will definitely thank you.
Extra 5% off with listing coupon
The sequel, if you will, to Artifact Uprising’s ever-popular Baby Book is the gorgeous “The Story Of You” memory book that helps parents capture precious moments beyond the first year. This sleek fabric-covered hardcover comes in seven color combos that feature a classic design with metallic foil lettering — you can even have a special message embossed on the inner cover. Inside, parents will find pages that guide them through the process of recording their favorite memories from those toddler years. Each book comes in a box with a pen, photo adhesive stripes, and a voucher for a free set of Everyday Prints to get them started. This is one gift that won’t be outgrown and will be cherished forever.
Best Personalized Gifts For 1-Year-Olds
We know and love Baublebar for their fun jewelry accessories, but new to the market are these super chic (super cozy!) customizable throws. Made with a sweater-like knit material these modern personalized blankets are especially suited for parents who aren’t into decor that screams “baby.” It measures 54 by 36 inches so it’s big enough for wrapping not-as-little ones up from now through their big-kid years. (*Sniff*) There’s also machine-wash friendly, which — as any parent knows — is a big plus.
This thoughtful personalized puzzle is part plaything, part work of art. Customize it with first and last or first and middle names up to 11 letters per line (just note, as the amount of letters increase, so does the price). You can further customize this gift with a color scheme, and you even have the option to add an engraved message on the back (for free!), making it even more special. Since these puzzles are handmade-to-order in Ukraine, be sure to order yours a few weeks ahead of time. P.S. There’s even a listing coupon for an additional 10% off.
Extra 10% off with listing coupon