38 Gift Ideas for the 1-Year-Old in Your Life
October 14, 2019
Wondering what the best gifts for 1-year-olds are? Now that little ones have a year of learning and growing under their belts, they’re even more interactive in their play—and enthusiastic about their toys. But knowing which toys will truly capture their attention can be a little daunting. After all, toddlers are developing at warp speed, and their abilities and interests are constantly changing. To help you narrow it down, we checked in with an expert to determine the types of playthings that are most appropriate and engaging for tots this age—and included some awesome, shoppable gift ideas for 1-year-olds you can toss into your cart. Gifting made easy!
Young toddlers probably can’t tell you what toys they want, but watching what they do is a great way to brainstorm the best gift ideas for 1-year-olds, since it gives you a peek into their developmental stage and interests. “At 12 months, your child is bursting with new skills,” says Christina Low Kapalu, PhD, a clinical child psychologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City in Missouri. And given that toys are simply tools to help kids practice new abilities and learn about their surroundings, picking out a good gift for a 1-year-old that encourages those newly gained skills is key.
While every child hits developmental milestones on their own unique schedule, at the one-year mark many toddlers can manage a pincer grasp (aka holding something between the index finger and thumb), Low Kapalu says. That fine motor skill paves the way for a first attempt at scribbling with a chubby crayon—so toddler art supplies can make for good gifts for 1-year-old boys and girls.
Many 1-year-olds also often love taking items in and out of containers, which helps them hone those fine motor skills and spatial awareness—which is probably why so many toddler toys are designed around this action. Also, your mini mover and shaker might start to look for (and find) hidden objects incorporated into toys, and appreciate playthings that demonstrate cause and effect. It’s pretty thrilling to watch as the 1-year-old in your life realizes, “Oh! When I do that, this happens!”
Toddlers who have just hit their first birthday are typically all about tossing and shaking toys, and banging two objects together–which, as you can imagine, can get noisy. “You can use their natural interest in being ‘noise scientists’ with toys that can be easily manipulated and make fun sounds,” Low Kapalu says.
She also notes that toys with high-contrast colors make for some of the best gifts for 1-year-olds. “And soft toys, like stuffed animals, are great for your 1-year-old to interact with, especially when you join in,” she adds. “Finally, books always make my list of gift ideas for 1-year-olds. Reading to your child daily promotes language development.”
Now that you have some idea of what types of toys are perfect for this age group, it’s time to get shopping. Here, some of the best gifts for 1-year-old boys and girls.
Lamaze Grab & Hide Ball
This squishy sphere makes a chiming sound when rolled. One-year-olds can “hide” and then “find” the cheery characters—but don’t worry, the critters are tethered to the ball so they won’t go missing. As one is pulled out in giggly glee, another slides inside.
Buy it: $12, Amazon.com
Baby’s First Words Ring Flash Cards
A good gift for 1-year-olds is something that will help them developmentally, like these colorful flash cards. The pack of 26 cards have cute illustrations to encourage tots to say their first words. You can separate them to hang on the walls or your little one can carry them while in the stroller, thanks to the handy, easy-to-grab ring.
Buy it: $13, TheTot.com
Fat Brain Toys Dimpl
The eye-catching simplicity and tactility of this hand-held toy is what makes it completely captivating—and a good gift for 1-year-olds. Jewel-tone silicone bubbles push through to the other side with a satisfying pop. (Basically, it’s the fidget toy of your dreams.) Trust us, it’ll preserve your sanity more than once during long car rides.
Buy it: $13, BuyBuyBaby.com
Melissa & Doug Bead Maze
Here’s another gift that’s an updated take on one we all likely had as kids. This colorful playset is a good gift for 1-year-olds because it packs a lot of early learning opportunities (colors, shapes, movement and more!) into a compact space—no cleanup required.
Buy it: $30, MelissaandDoug.com
Radio Flyer Classic Wagon Walker
This tot-sized version of the iconic wagon can be set to roll easily or with more resistance to help beginning walkers build confidence. Bumpers ensure your furniture goes unscathed. Bonus: Since the sides come off, it can have a second life as a unique toy or book bin in your child’s room.
Buy it: $80, Walmart.com
Put Me in the Story All Tucked in on Sesame Street Gift Set
Send a newly minted toddler off to dreamland with this personalized bedtime story. When figuring out what to get a 1-year-old, a 2-for-1 gift like this bedtime read and Elmo plush toy is a win-win. The book is personalized with the little boy or girl’s name, photo and a special dedication message.
Buy it: $49, PutMeintheStory.com
Munchkin DuckDunk Bath Toy
Parents will think this is an ingenious gift idea for 1-year-olds because it makes cleaning up toys part of the fun. The hoop suctions to the wall and you can use the drawstring to open and close then net for when bath time is over. It also comes with three balls that squirt water.
Buy it: $8, Munchkin.com
Finn + Emma Macrame Swing
No need to wait for the perfect weather or situation to take baby to a playground. This handmade bohemian swing is perfect for a little one’s nursery or playroom. Plus, it can be used indoors or outdoors, making it one of the best gifts for 1-year-olds that they’ll be able to enjoy for years to come (it’s good for toddlers up to 40 pounds).
Buy it: $99, FinnandEmma.com
Janod Sophie La Girafe Train
Not sure what to get a 1-year-old? You can’t go wrong with anything that includes Sophie La Girafe. This wooden adjustable train (with its adorable, familiar-faced conductor) has three carriages and 14 blocks in different shapes and colors to help little ones learn colors and improve motor skills.
Buy it: $28, Maisonette.com
Flora Forager ABC Book
You’ll be as fascinated by this beauteous board book as your child will. To illustrate each letter, the artist-author arranged images with petals, plants and other natural materials found in the wild and her Pacific Northwest yard. From angel fish to zebra, it’s a stunning gift for 1-year-olds.
Buy it: $13, Amazon.com
Lovevery The Organic Cotton Play Tunnel
Best known for their baby items like their subscription play kits and play gym, Lovevery is making moves in the toddler space. They’ve recently expanded their line to include some of the best presents for 1-year-olds, like this fun play tunnel. Toddlers will have a blast inching their way through the nearly 4-foot tunnel or playing peekaboo with someone on the other side. It even comes with its own carrying case so you can bring it to the grandparents house.
Buy it: $50, Lovevery.com
Skip Hop Explore and More Egg Shakers
The shape, size and weight of these mini musical instruments make grabbing them irresistible to 1-year-olds. After all, shaking stuff is something they’re really good at. The fox, owl and hedgehog each make a different sound.
Buy it: $10, SkipHop.com
LilyandRiver 5-star Little Climber
This beautifully made wood climber is a good gift for 1-year-olds who are already showing an adventurous spirit and those who could use a boost when it comes to balance and motor skills. The best part? It’s foldable, so parents won’t have to keep it out when not in use.
Buy it: $180, Etsy.com
Jellycat Medium Odell Octopus Stuffed Animal
A beloved British kid brand, Jellycat is known for irresistibly tactile and oh-so-soft stuffed animals, and are some of the best gifts for 1-year-old girls and boys. This gangly octopus, sporting ribbed, floppy tentacles, is the ideal size for toddler hands to explore.
Buy it: $49, Nordstrom.com
Lalo The Play Kit
We’re big fans of Lalo, especially The Chair, and they recently released a fabulous play table and chairs in a similar Scandinavian-inspired design. Made from sustainable beech wood with an easy-to-clean surface, it’s a great gift idea if you’re wondering what to get a 1-year-old. The table and chairs can be purchased individually, or you can gift The Play Kit, which includes a table and two chairs (matching or not—your choice!).
Buy it: $250, MeetLalo.com
Step2 Spill & Splash Seaway Table
If you’re shopping around for gifts for 1-year-olds, you’re going to love this two-tier water table. It comes with plenty of toys for little hands to splash around with, and an umbrella so toddlers can stay cool and comfortable out of the direct sun.
Buy it: $175, Step2.com
Gund My Little Gym Bag
You’ll be a real winner with this sports-themed gift for athletes-in-training. The soft velcro gym bag includes everything 1-year-old girls will need to get their hands and feet moving. There’s also a similar bag in primary colors, making it one of the best gifts for 1-year-old-boys too.
Buy it: $25, Bloomingdales.com
Toothbrushes as gifts for 1-year-olds? Absolutely, when we’re talking about funny finger puppets doubling as pearly white polishers. These first toothbrushes are made in the USA and come with a matching book starring the monkey, piggy, whale and dinosaur, all extolling oral hygiene in the cutest possible way. Because good habits start young.
Buy it: $30, TheBrushies.com
Manhattan Toy Treetop Adventure Activity Center
What do babies who are no longer infants yet barely toddlers love to do? Pull themselves to standing, and then explore. This stylish, gadget-filled activity table gives them a spot to do just that. The four “neighborhoods” of this mini jungle are populated with birds, bees, monkeys, ladybugs and more friendly faces, all ready to play. We’ve seen plenty of good gifts for 1-year-olds in our day, but this is among the most exciting.
Buy it: $115, Maisonette.com
Hape Pound & Tap Bench
Unleash your budding maestro’s musical genius. This toy offers two ways to play: Drop the balls through the holes onto the keys, or remove the Xylophone and bang on it with the mallet. (Musical fun and banging? You can see why we named this among the best gifts for a 1-year-old.) This classic toy with a twist is primed to become a prized hand-me-down.
Buy it: $29, TheTot.com
Mega Bloks First Builders Building Bag
The easy-to-grab shapes and bright colors make these stackable blocks one of the most popular presents for 1-year-olds. With 80 blocks in different shapes and sizes, these building blocks give newly minted toddlers the perfect opportunity to get creative with their building.
Buy it: $15, Walmart.com
BusyPuzzle Wooden Alphabet Name Puzzle
Gifts for 1-year-old boys that don’t light up or make a lot of noise aren’t always the easiest to find. Help a little one learn their name, numbers, colors and shapes with a personalized puzzle. Made with primary color wood pieces, this is a great gift idea that can be kept on display.
Buy it: starting at $54, Etsy.com
Little Tikes Cozy Coupe
You likely had one of these toy cars growing up—it’s been one of the iconic presents for 1-year-olds for decades. While a just-turned-toddler may not yet be able to drive themselves around independently, in a few short months they’ll be riding up and down the sidewalk. There’s also a pink version, if you’re looking for gifts for a 1-year-old girl.
Buy it: $55, BuyBuyBaby.com
Fisher-Price Linkimals Smooth Moves Sloth
Move over, llama: Sloths are the new “it animal.” This dancing dude is one of the best toys to encourage your child to get grooving (aka polishing up on gross motor skills) by clapping and bobbing to music. Aside from a variety of tunes, your little one can activate learning games by pressing a button.
Buy it: $24, Walmart.com
Manhattan Toy Musical Lili Llama
This award-winning toy is one of the most clever gift ideas for 1-year-olds. Packed with bells and whistles from head to tail—the llama’s removable tale doubles as a maraca!—this colorful wood activity stand is a great way to introduce children to music.
Buy it: $50, Maisonette.com
PlanToys Coast Guard Boat
A bath toy made of wood? You don’t see that every day, but here’s proof toys can be sustainable and wonderfully functional. Captains-in-training will explore the high seas of their imaginations with this buoyant rubberwood craft.
Buy it: $15, Amazon.com
Little Birdie Told Me Lewis & Fitz Rocking Horse & Stuffed Animal
Many adorable rockers are actually intended as gifts for kids age 2 and up. But with a sturdy base and plush seat, this one can be used earlier. The classic argyle print is accented with turquoise and yellow shapes, making it a great gift for 1-year-old boys and girls to help improve their balance and coordination—while still being able to horse around and have fun.
Buy it: $160, Nordstrom.com
If (or rather, when) your 1-year-old tosses things around the house, you’ll want those things to be these soft, handmade balls that won’t leave wreckage in their wake. They’re sold as a set of six—handy, since you know one is getting lost the first day. You can make up your set from any combination of nine colors.
Buy it: $20, Etsy.com
Skip Hop Zoo 3-in-1 Ride on Toy
This colorful multi-use wheeler has three modes of play, making it one of the best gifts for 1-year-old girls, since it’ll last them through toddlerhood. Whether she still needs the assistance of a walker or is teetering around on her own, she can use this ride-on toy to boost her motor skills for walking, riding or eventually, scooting her way around the house.
Buy it: $60, SkipHop.com
Custom Mini Elephant
Never underestimate the play power of a simple, squeezable friend. A 1-year-old’s concept of pretend play is just starting to take hold. This budget-friendly pachyderm stands ready to accompany your child on every adventure ahead. (It comes in a choice of fabrics.)
Buy it: $15, Etsy.com
Honeysticks Beeswax Crayons
One-year-olds are just starting to make their mark, so to speak. Encourage your toddler’s artistic side with a set of these chubby first crayons. The shape makes them easy to use but hard to break—a hallmark of the best gifts for 1-year-olds! They’re made of New Zealand beeswax (a natural byproduct of honey production) and food-grade colors. They even smell sweet!
Buy it: $23, Amazon.com
Step2 Play Ball Fun Climber
With easy-to-climb steps, a slide and several spaces to crawl through, this climber playset is one of best gifts for 1-year-olds. They’ll have fun using their gross motor skills to explore the space or play hide-and-seek. The ball pit can also be filled with water or sand for added sensory development.
Buy it: $100, Step2.com
Maxim Preschool Collection 40-piece ABC Wooden Block Set
Help a toddler improve their language and motor skills development with this colorful block set. The best gifts ideas for 1-year-olds are both fun and educational, and this set will keep even the most active kiddos occupied for a while.
Buy it: $20, BuyBuyBaby.com
Lakeshore Learning Soft & Safe Cozy Ball Pit
A ball pit is one of the most fun gift ideas for 1-year-olds. And kids will be on cloud nine playing inside this particular one. Made with removable pillows and a washlable base mat, it’s a comfortable playing surface and easy to clean.
Montessori Sorting Toy
Matching, sorting, stacking! Tots will get plenty of pincer-grasp practice as they fiddle with rainbow-hued spheres and pots of this handmade set. Burgeoning color-recognition skills will also get a workout, especially when you join in the play.
Buy it: $22, Etsy.com
Melissa & Doug Flip Fish
Curious about the world around them, 1-year-olds go ga-ga over uncovering surprises—and yours will have crazy fun lifting up this fishie’s crinkly scales to peep at hidden pictures. Plus, its tail squeaks when squeezed! Up the aww factor by getting it personalized with the child’s name. Personalized gifts for 1-year-olds can get pricey, but here, up to 10 characters are included in the cost.
Buy it: $36, personalcreation.com
Pottery Barn Kids Animal Wooden Puzzle
A puzzle is among the most classic presents for 1-year-olds. Why? Because they help toddlers practice hand-eye coordination, motor skills and imaginative play. This wooden puzzle is extra a-roar-able thanks to the dinosaur pieces and tactile materials underneath.
Buy it: $39, PotteryBarnKids.com
Haba Fire Brigade Stacking Cubes
Toys that are lightweight but long-lasting are a winning combination for newly minted toddlers. Enter: these super-sized cardboard blocks. They’re easy for little heroes to stack and will hold up splendidly for many more daring rescues to come. Such a great set of tools for open-ended play deserves a spot on any list of the best gifts for 1-year-old boys and girls.
Buy it: $18, Amazon.com
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