Whether they're walking, crawling, or just sitting, having some toys on hand is a must for busy households. So, as you’re shopping be sure to look out for toys with a wide range of applications.
Our editors tested the best toys with their little ones, considering the recommended age, educational value, safety, and longevity of each. Based on those hours of play and our research, the Hape Pound & Tap Bench earns our top spot. The long-lasting wooden toy inspires musical appreciation, while fostering fine motor skills and critical thinking.
Here, the best toys for 1-year-olds.
Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone
Inspires musical appreciation
Wooden toy is long-lasting and durable
Some users say it's out of tune
This award-winning musical toy has been praised for its colorful, wooden design and its ability to teach kids about cause and effect. Rather than push a button, kids make their own music with a wooden hammer and balls, which little hands place into the corresponding holes. In addition to fostering a love of music, the toy also teachers motor skills, problem-solving, matching, and critical thinking.
This toy is made of high-quality wood with child-safe paint and rounded edges, making it easy to clean for little hands and mouths. Our tester loved how this toy kept her son engaged and entertained for hours and how he was able to find more and more ways to play.
The only downside our tester found was that her son liked to throw the wooden balls while playing, which can be loud and even cause damage if used around fragile objects. Still, the musical toy is too engaging and multifunctional for the price to give up.
Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle & Sensory Teether Toy
A teething and sensory toy
Easy to hold
Hard to clean
Babies up to two-year-olds can clutch and teeth on the Winkle Rattle all they want. It's colorful and lightweight, so it's fun to fiddle with and throw around. It's big enough to keep baby entertained, but small enough to easily tuck into a diaper bag or under the stroller. Manhattan Toy claims that the teething tubes are made of BPA-free plastic, perfect for tiny hands and teeth.
ECR4Kids SoftZone Climb and Crawl Activity Play Set
Encourages physical play
Easy to clean
Some users wish there was a floor mat for more security
Infants and toddlers can crawl, climb, and slide on this foam play set. It comes with five pieces that have a non-slip base. Note that when assembled together, it takes up a good amount of space, so be mindful of this in case you're considering for a smaller home. Each colorful part is super soft and easy to clean with mild soap and water.
VTech Pull and Sing Puppy
Can bare rough play from a toddler
Features fun sounds
String is a little short
If your family isn’t quite ready for a real puppy, this fun pull toy is a great alternative. This dog’s got plenty of tricks: He walks, sings, and even teaches numbers, colors, and body parts through more than 60 songs, melodies, sounds, and phrases.
First 100 Words: A Padded Board Book
Sturdy to stand against toddler play
Users say some words don't make sense with the pictures
At one year of age, baby’s vocabulary is likely on the verge of exploding. This comprehensive book, complete with 100 words essential to baby’s daily life, provides a gentle nudge in the right direction. The board-book style makes the book easy for tiny hands to maneuver, and bright, bold illustrations keep kids engaged.
Melissa & Doug First Shapes Jumbo Knob Puzzle
Jumbo knobs for little hands
Fishy smell from packaging
A great introduction to puzzles, this brightly colored wooden toy has extra-thick pieces and features large knobs, so even the littlest fingers will have no trouble picking up the pieces. In addition to promoting dexterity, the toy also teaches problem-solving skills, spatial relations, shapes, colors, and basic environmental items like tree, sun, and house.
FoxPrint Rocket Ship Space Themed Pretend Play Tent
Some users complain that it doesn't glow in the dark
It's never too early to encourage the joy of imagination. This rocket ship play tent is out of this world and perfect for kids from 12 months to 7 years old. The tent easily fits in most corners or can be folded flat in no time. Kids will enjoy having a play space all their own and when they get older, the tent can be a cozy reading nook.
Fisher-Price Settle & Sleep Projection Soother
Attaches to crib or can placed on tabletop
Easy to turn on
Can be too bright
If your child has trouble falling, or staying, asleep, then this might be a solution. The Settle & Sleep Soother easily attaches to a crib, but can also be placed on a tabletop for older kids. It features 30 minutes of music and sound that transition to white noise. There's also a projection of images on the ceiling or wall for a soothing light show that will lull them to bed before you know it.
Leapfrog Spin and Sing Alphabet Zoo
Great learning toy
Comes in pink and blue
Images tend to fade after use
This toy is more functional than it looks. Even though it's small, the buttons on the base let baby choose one of three modes of play: letters, animals, or music. When baby interacts by spinning the wheel or pushing any number of colorful buttons, they’ll be building their vocabulary, plus improving motor skills.
Lovevery Play Gym Activity Gym and Play Mat
Excellent for developing cognitive skills and play
Grows with baby
Kids grow so fast, so it's great any time you can buy a toy that grows right along with them. This play mat has five zones that focus on visual, motor skills, cognitive learning, and more. Accessories are removable based on the child's age and needs and parents will love the set up process takes just a few minutes.
Little Tikes First Slide
Older kids can also play
Slightly sharp edges
When your tot is still a little too small for the playground, this beginner-level slide is a great alternative. It’s suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, so you can enjoy active play no matter what the weather is like. Parents love that it folds flat for portability and convenient storage. Note that this slide is suitable for older one-year-olds, or 18 months and up.
Manhattan Toy Tree Top Adventure Activity Center
Keeps children engaged for hours
Difficult to assemble
There’s no shortage of fun to be had with this award-winning wooden toy. The freestanding activity table, which features dozens of bead runs and gliders that facilitate grasping skills, is just the right size—small enough for the younger set to sit and play, but large enough for toddlers to tinker while standing.
Radio Flyer 4-in-1 Stroll 'N Trike
Grows with your child
This ride-on toy is perfect for growing youngsters hitting new milestones all the time. It has four different ways to ride: Use it as an infant trike or a steering trike with help from adults or as a learn-to-ride trike or a classic trike suitable for more independent riders. Though this toy is on the pricier side, it’s a worthy investment—it’s suitable for children as young as 1 year and as old as 5 years.
Mega Bloks 80-Piece Big Building Bag
Grows with your child
Inspires creativity improves building skills
Blocks don't secure tightly
This set of 80 large-scale blocks provides the perfect introduction to building blocks. The colorful pieces easily click together, so kids can harness the power of their imagination and create any number of things—from robots, to castles, to cars, and more.
Boon Building Bath Pipes Toy Set
Fun bath toy
Pipes suction to wall
Hard to clean
Get those creative juices flowing and those problem-solving skills into tip-top shape with this fun bath time building set. Kids will love figuring out how to connect the pipes to create a maze of working waterfalls.
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Light-Up Learning Vacuum
Easy to pick up
Makes real vacuum sounds
On the shorter side
Did you know that kids learn a lot of skills simply from mimicking their parents? Foster good habits and an inclination to help around the house with this fun light-up vacuum. Baby can push the vacuum around just like their parents might, but this version plays learning songs and phrases as they push to help expand their vocabulary, too.
B. toys by Battat FunKeys Toy
Makes real car key sounds
A little heavy for babies
There’s just something about keys—little kids love them. To ensure your set doesn’t go missing, give baby their own special set of keys they can chew on, rattle, and carry around. In addition to the eye-catching colors, these baby-safe keys have a realistic design and a functional remote that emits car sounds and turns on a flashlight.
VTech Drop and Go Dump Truck
Can endure rough play
Slightly flimsy packaging
This colorful dump truck is so much more than just a pull along toy. It’s a great tool for teaching kids basic counting—as they load the truck’s hinged bucket with rocks, the toy counts each one aloud. It also plays a variety of melodies and phrases that teach additional vocabulary words, including colors and shapes.
BabyPuzzle Personalized Name Puzzle With Pegs
Doubles as decor
Shipping takes a while
For a unique gift that both baby and parent will love, try a personalized name puzzle. This artful toy is crafted with high-quality material to give it a super sophisticated vibe, but it’s functional, too. It’ll provide hours of fun that help baby build problem-solving skills and fine motor function, and—eventually—teach them how to spell their name.
Fisher-Price Baby's First Blocks
Good size for tiny hands
Included bucket makes for easy cleanup
Lid design could be better
This classic toy is an ultra-affordable option that won’t feel like you phoned it in. The set includes ten colorful blocks that fit into identical slots in a convenient carry case. The blocks promote a host of important skills, including matching, sorting, and problem-solving.
Fat Brain Toys SpinAgain Kids Stacking Toy
Mesmerizing for kids
Base isn't attached to main pole
A twist on the classic stacking toy, this set of six brightly-colored, graduated discs spin down a corkscrew pole, encouraging hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and the concept of cause and effect. Parents say that even though it's simple, there’s something mesmerizing about the toy—even for adults.
VTech Smart Shots Sports Center
Provides positive feedback to kids
Fun sports toy
Toddlers are notorious for their short attention spans, but this activity center gives tots two choices—basketball or soccer—to ensure there’s no shortage of fun. The light-up scoreboard provides positive feedback when kids score and plays fun songs and sounds.
What to Look for in a Toy for a 1-Year-Old
Always check the labels on the toys you’re considering, particularly the manufacturer’s recommended age. This guideline is there to help you decide whether the toy is safe and stimulating enough (or too stimulating) for your child, says Kristin Morency Goldman, senior advisor of strategic communications for The Toy Association.
Naturally, you’ll want to consider safety when purchasing a toy for a 1-year-old. Watch out for toys with small parts that can be a choking hazard—generally these toys are labeled 3+, says Morency Goldman.
Because toddlers grow and progress so quickly, you’ll want to consider how long they’ll be able to use the toy you buy. You may want to look for one that children can use as they get older, instead of an expensive toy that’ll only be used for a few months.
It’s also beneficial to think about whether the toy you’re buying is educational. There’s a lot for one-year-olds to learn, from basic motor and language skills to letters, colors, sounds, and more. Consider what toys they already have and what skills they’re working on when you start shopping.
“I encourage toys that hit all the developmental dimensions, says Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in South Overland Park, Kansas. “Toys like books to read together or explore independently, cause and effect toys that have a light or sound when the child engages, balls to kick and throw, blocks to stack and tumble, dolls and stuffed animals, and tactile toys for texture exploration and fine motor play.”
Where can I get age-appropriate toys for my 1-year-old?
Choosing the best toys for your 1-year-old’s stage of development will help them practice age-appropriate skills, such as basic motor and language skills, as well as explore letters, colors, sounds, and textures. Age-appropriate toys also keep your child engaged for longer periods of time. Many toys list recommended age of use on the package, for instance: 0-12 months, 6-12 months, 12-18 months, or 12-24 months.
Where can I get safe toys for my 1-year-old?
Safety is a big consideration for 1-year-olds. Avoid toys that have small parts or pieces that might be choking hazards. Toys with small parts are typically labeled 3+. To find safe toys for 1-year-olds, look for toys that are labeled for 12 months of age or under.
What toys will last longer into the toddler years?
Toddlers develop quickly and may outgrow very basic toys within months of purchase. Some toys are designed to grow with your child, offering different features for different ages. Such toys offer more value; they can be used for many years. When looking for toys that will last longer into the toddler years, choose those recommended for a wider age range that begins with your child’s age now (for example, 1-3 years) as opposed to a narrow window that your child is about to outgrow ( for example, 6-12 months).
What are some sustainable options for toys for this age group?
Sustainable toys are those made from renewable, natural materials, such as cotton, wool, bamboo, wood, paper, and cork. Eco-friendly toys may be made from recycled materials or materials that eventually break down. Many companies that make eco-friendly toys are concerned about protecting the environment, using manufacturing processes and materials that won’t harm the earth.
Why Trust the Spruce?
This article was written by Julie Evans, a writer and editor who has worked with a host of diverse companies including Microsoft, USA Today, Realtor.com, Brit + Co, CafeMom, and SheKnows among others. She started writing for The Spruce in August 2017. Additional reporting was done by Shanon Maglente, the Senior Editor at The Spruce, covering all things toys, gifts, and holiday.