hoosing a toy for a one year old child can be difficult – what can they actually play with?
Well, there’s a lot going on in that tiny person and playtime forms the main part of the day where they learn, develop and have fun.
The best toys for one year olds are enticing, multifunctional and are able to withstand plenty of rough, repetitive play.
What kind of toys should you get a 1 year old?
By their first birthday, most children are working hard on those gross motor skills (big physical movements that require the core muscles) and are on the move in some shape or form; whether that’s crawling, bottom shuffling or even toddling. For this reason, toys that encourage movement such as push and pull along, ride-on toys and walkers are very popular.
12 month olds are also developing those fine motor skills such as ‘the pincer grip’ (picking up smaller items with the thumb and index finger) as well as starting to recognise shapes, sounds, colours and patterns, so toys that can be picked up, sorted, stacked, opened, closed and pushed over will all be big wins.
In this next year, one year olds will also start to develop their speech so look for toys and books that can help little ones to identify the world around them and practice their language skills too.
What to look for in toys for 1 year olds
Unsurprisingly, at this stage playthings will often be treated very enthusiastically (aka bashed and dropped again and again), so look for toys that can withstand a fair amount of action. Wooden toys are often very hardy and have the added bonus of being more ecologically-friendly too.
What’s most important at this stage is a wide variety of toys for 1 year olds to explore, enjoy and develop with. Toys that don’t have too many rules and allow open-ended play are likely to be the most popular and aid their learning too.
Shop the best below
Little Bird Told Me Dexter Dog Push Along
The cutest walker around, Dexter is an adorable fluffy Labrador on a sturdy wooden, wheely frame. The toy features lovely details such as crinkly ears, a smart collar, smooth rubber wheels (that work well on both hard and carpeted floors), oh-so soft fur and a squeaker in his tail.
Dexter is guaranteed to become a well-loved member of the family, and also help 1 year olds to gain balance and confidence on their feet. We liked the fact that Dexter is also strong enough to be ridden (up to 20kgs) and made a very comfortable ride-on toy.
This simple little ride-on toy ticks so many boxes. Its colourful frame and friendly face is instantly appealing to toddlers – we tested the ladybird design, but the butterfly and bee are also lovely. It is the perfect size for one year olds and the three wheel design is very stable, but light enough for children to really move around on and practice their steering.
It easily folds down into a fantastically compact package so it can be chucked under the pushchair, when little legs get tired. Oh, and at under £20, it’s also affordable too – what’s not to love?
SmartMax My First Sounds and Senses
Don’t be fooled by this simple-looking toy. There’s so much here for a 1 year old to discover. There are four balls and four sticks in each set that appeal various senses with bright colours, different textures to explore and musical sounds when you shake them.
Each piece is also magnetic so your child can hone those fine motor skills by pulling them apart and putting them together again. We really loved the little faces on each ball representing assorted emotions as they opened up discussions, encouraged a bit of storytelling and brought a whole other level of play potential.
Olli Ella Dozy Dinkums
It’s never too early to start developing those nurturing, caring skills and at around 12 months, many children start to show more of an interest in a ‘special object’ which they may use for comfort and play.
Our pick of nurturing toys has to be the Dozy Dinkums, which are almost like a cross between a doll and a soft toy and are suitable from birth. There are four different newborn baby styles to choose from, each with a peaceful sleeping face (just like real newborns, obviously) and a 100 per cent cotton, pastel-coloured fixed outfit. They are gently weighted and are just the right size for toddlers – our little one immediately started cuddling and cooing over their Dinkum. Their soft limbs are also posable, so they’ll also sit up nicely in a bouncer or high chair too.
Hape DJ Mix and Spin
Got a budding musician on your hands? This little mixing deck is the perfect toy for a beats-loving one year old (and their cool parents). The DJ Mix and Spin Studio has so many amazing features including a tempo and pitch slider, sound effects and a DJ scratchpad!
There’s also a mini keyboard which has different instrument sounds to experiment with. We loved that it was small enough to fit on a high chair table so our child could sit and spin some tunes. It also came with key stickers and a song book so you can actually introduce them to playing music. Look out Coachella 2042…
Le Toy Van Petilou Sensory Shapes
This gorgeous shape sorting set has the timeless look of a toy that will be passed down through the generations. Each of the nine, pleasingly chunky, colourful blocks features a different sensory experience, whether that be rattley beads, jingly bells, a kaleidoscope, twisty blocks or a fluffy bunny tail.
It offered a whole load of entertainment to our little tester and provided many minutes of blissful, self-contained play. We loved the cute illustrations, and it would make a really beautiful first birthday or christening present.
If you’re looking for a one year old toy with plenty of longevity, then the Yoto Player is a fantastic choice. This robust little audio player is designed to put children in control of tech and allows them to listen to their favourite stories and songs, without screens getting in the way.
The Yoto works by slotting cards into the top and the audio playing out of the speaker cube. We tested ours with a selection of Julia Donaldson stories (our one year old’s favourite), but there are also podcasts, songs, phonics, meditations and soundscapes available – as well as blank cards to record yourself reading, singing or talking (a handy feature if you have to miss bedtime once in a while).
Although a child under three should not be left alone with The Yoto Player for safety reasons, we think it is the perfect gift for young children; it can sit up on a shelf quite happily, until they grow into it, it doubles as a nightlight and clock for the nursery, and new cards can be added to their library as they grow and develop.
Orchard Toys Farmyard Heads and Tails game
Enjoy flicking through these farmyard themed cards and practice naming animals and making all the noises with your one year old. In a few months’ time they may well start matching the heads to the tails and once they’ve mastered that, you can then turn the cards over and develop it into a pairs memory game for several players.
We loved that this game could grow and develop with your child and it’s wonderfully affordable too. The large cards are the perfect size for little hands to grab and the fact that they’re wipe-clean is a bonus.
Fisher Price Linkimals, Cool Beats Penguin
This adorable little penguin pal is basically a toddler magnet. As soon as we switched it on every small person in the vicinity stopped and became entranced by the music, the lights and the very cool dance moves.
This interactive toy aims to teach your one year old about the alphabet, opposites and phrases using (incredibly earwormy) songs, sounds and patterns on his light-up tummy. The chunky buttons are easy to press, and the soft squeezable flippers are a nice touch too. The instructions are simple enough for very little ones to follow, but even preschoolers were big fans of this funky fella.
Janod Sweet Cocoon Rainbow Turtle
This adorable toy combines two tried and tested elements of play that any 1 year old will absolutely love. It’s a pull-along toy with a smiley springy head that bobs along as it wheels along the floor. Plus, it’s also stackable, with a wooden rainbow shell that comes apart into six wooden arches which can be built up – either on the pull along or separately – or even balanced together in various shapes and formations.
There’s no need to hide this toy away in a box either, the muted colours have a lovely Scandi-feel and it’ll look beautiful on display in any nursery.
Green Toys Submarine
Sometimes the simplest toys really are the best, and this yellow and blue submarine is the ideal bathtime toy for a one year old. With an easy-to-grasp handle, little ones can scoop and pour water until their heart’s content. There’s also portholes and a spinning propeller to add extra interest.
It’s a handy jug to make hair washing fun and it’s also made entirely from recycled plastic and contains no BPA, PVC, phthalates or external coatings. Oh, and it all clicks apart easily and can be bunged in the dishwasher too, so it won’t be covered in mould in a few months’ time either.
The Little Bird Told Me Dexter Dog Push Along is a dream toy for any one year old and we love that it works both as a walker and a ride-one. Little ones will love Dexter’s super-soft fur and fun details and he looks great in the nursery too. The Smartmax My First Sounds and Senses also provided a lot of different play possibilities and our one-year old loved the various noises and textures.