One of the wondrous things about watching kids grow is seeing them learn to figure stuff out on their own. What no one tells you is how quickly they go from sitting to crawling 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, it can be irresistible to help them along their journey by throwing all kinds of stuff their way. Rattles, lovies, crinkly sheep, avocados that make music, worms that glow — there’s a plethora of educational toys for 1 year olds on the market, and it can be overwhelming to figure out which toys are appropriate to gift a developing toddler.
“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 encourage open-ended play as well as shape sorters, walkers, and sensory board books with bright colors and different textures. “Children can control board books a little easier and turn the pages for a new surprise every time,” Sutton says.
With all these recommendations in mind, Scary Mommy has curated the development toys that make the best gifts for 1 year olds.
Play Sets For Infants
“Toys such as play sets encourage children to explore and play naturally,” Sutton says. “They can pull, push, bang, turn, and discover many different ways to manipulate play set toys.”
Our top play set picks:
Move over, Old McDonald, there’s a new farmer in town. Kids can practice pretend play by helping Farmer Jed care for his farm animals — opening and closing stall doors for the horses, ringing the bell for dinnertime, turning the silo to feed the chickens, and tucking in the cows with a blanket. The perfect idea for a 1-year-old birthday gift, this set features discovery buttons for fun songs, animal sounds, and lights, which are a great intro to cause and effect.
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.
Shaper sorters are one of the best learning toys for 1 year olds. They help develop fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and introduce shapes and colors. Here are our top picks:
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 problem solving skills for screen-free fun.
Although infant walkers (the kind that babies sit in, allowing them to move around before they’re ready to walk) are not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, toddler walkers — toys that toddlers push around when they’re — are great for development. According to Sutton, “Walkers encourage children to be mobile and move around their environment.”
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.
This walker has over 6,400 5-star reviews on Amazon! Before they’re walking, babies can play with the removable play panel and discover music, animals, lights, colors and ABC’s. Attach the panel once kids are ready to practice walking and off they go! Encourages musical creativity, motor skills development, and pretend play.
This unique walker launches balls with a push of a button. Toddlers chase after the ball and rolls over them to reload the chute. Encourages gross motor skills and cause and effect.
Musical Toy Benches
This multifunctional toy encourages kids to explore music while developing hand-eye coordination
With a library of over 70 songs, your brand new toddler will groove and jam along to music as they bang away on the colorful collection of instruments that include a piano and drums.
Sensory Board Books
Sensory books for 1 year olds “allow children to see different images, bright colors, and feel different textures” which helps with their sensory development.
Your little one can explore a dragon’s silicone “scales” with this board book that offers a new tactile surprise with every page.
This colorful book is full of traceable cut outs of shapes your little one is learning to recognize.
Puzzles For Infants
This beautifully made farm puzzle has extra-large knobs for little fingers to grasp. Not only does it teach kids about hand-eye coordination, it also introduces them to all the animals on the farm.
Watch your toddler build, build, build, and then topple these blocks over. This building bag comes with 80 large, easy to stack pieces that encourages play and imagination.
It’s never too early to introduce a second language to a toddler and these bilingual building blocks make learning fun.
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