If you want to buy the best gift for 1-year-olds, a play tent or play kitchen could be the perfect c...
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32 Perfect Gifts For 1-Year-Olds, From Books To Ball Pits

Make them smile and hit their developmental milestones with these age-appropriate gifts.

When a baby turns 1 year old, it feels like they enter a gray area between being an infant and a toddler. That makes choosing the best gifts for 1-year-old kids a bit challenging. But if you do a little research on what kids this age are developing, you can choose gifts that will hold their attention, are safe, and will help them hit their physical and cognitive developmental milestones. (And if the toddler you’re shopping for is a little older than 12 months, there are tons of great gifts for 18-month-olds that cater to their wants and needs.)

What to consider before shopping for gifts for 1-year-olds

Not only are 1-year-olds part baby, part little kid, but they can vary from child to child pretty vastly. Some are walking to and fro and others are still working up to their first steps. Some are confidently saying a handful of words and others haven’t yet decided what that magical first word might be. So, even if you know a 1-year-old, you may still have no idea what to buy another.

By age 1, most children can:

  • Play social games with you, like pat-a-cake
  • Call their parents mama, dada, or another special name
  • Put something in a container
  • Look for items you hide, like a toy under a blanket
  • Pull up to stand and walk holding onto furniture
  • Pick up small items with their thumb and forefinger

So, if you’re in the market for the best toys and gifts for 1-year-olds, whether it’s for your own child or a little one you love, these presents will delight toddlers and parents alike.

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A classic board book

Pros: Sturdy pages are easier for small hands to grasp and turn and less likely to rip.

Cons: Some reviewers didn’t expect it to be small, so check dimensions before ordering.

As 1-year-olds are learning to turn pages in books (or already professional little page flippers), board books come in handy because they can take a lot of rough reading. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a classic children’s story because it helps teach numbers and days of the week, so it’s a great gift for 1-year-olds.

Review: “As a retired kindergarten teacher, this book was always available in my classroom library. It taught the stages of growth of a caterpillar. It is very entertaining with its cut out pages of the caterpillar's travels. Eric Carle's artwork makes this a perfect book choice for any young child.”


A set of pop tubes

Pros: The tubes are made with lead-free and BPA-free plastic.

Cons: Some reviewers thought they were larger based on photos, so check the dimensions.

The Nutty Toys Pop Tubes Sensory Toys have a 4.7-star rating and almost 14,000 reviews. They connect at the ends to build or make shapes and letters. They make fun popping sounds as they expand and contract too.

Review: “So I bought these on a whim because I needed something for my 1 year old to open. Turns out they are a fan favorite! Both my 1 and 3 year old play with them all the time, even after 4 months. My husband and I found ourselves randomly messing with them. Makes fun sounds, gives some nice sensory input for sensory exploration! One downfall is they will crimp if stepped on or stretched too far, so we try to make sure These get put away after use.”


A highly-rated stacking toy

Pros: The plastic is BPA-free for safe mouthing.

Cons: Some of the smaller rings may get lost easily.

With 4.8 out of 5 stars and more than 46,000 ratings from happy caregivers, the Sassy Stacks of Circles Stacking Ring seems like it’s adult- and baby-approved. The different colors, patterns, and textures are designed to engage all of your 1-year-olds senses and keep them coming back for more play.

Review: “Baby great niece turned one, this toy is a favorite now! Immediately began to disassemble and then stack up again. Mommy loved the colors sizes and textures of each ring. Toy was light enough to mail USPS with a little outfit. Will likely shop this brand again.”


A trio of swimming turtles

Pros: There are no batteries or rough edges, so they’re safe for little bathers.

Cons: 1-year-olds may not be able to wind up the turtles themselves.

Most 1-year-olds are confidently sitting up and playing in the bath tub. The SEPHIX Go, Go! Cute Swimming Turtle Bath Toys for Toddlers & Kids (3 Pcs) make an adorable addition to the bath time toy rotation. Wind them up, and watch them swim across the water.

Review: “These things flutter about pretty darn well. Happy I ordered then. Seemed like they may just be junk but we use them every bath. Party in the tub.”


A fun-size flashlight

Pros: It turns off after 45 seconds of inactivity, so it won’t sing in the toy box all night.

Cons: Requires two AAA batteries.

The VTech Spin and Learn Color Flashlight plays more than 50 songs, phrases, and sounds that teach toddlers about animals and the outdoors. It lights up in five different colors (but not so bright they’ll hurt their eyes if they decide to look into the bulb). Reviewers say it’s great for playing outside because it holds up to being dropped and tossed.

Review: “This thing is great. It's not too loud, but is plenty fun for the kids. It can take a beating. Our 14 month old constantly drops and throws it and its still going strong. We keep it in the car because it keeps attention fairly well and is like to be used both in the day and night (it is a flashlight after all). Very pleased and wouldn't hesitate to gift it at a young ones birthday.”


No-spill bubbles

Pros: The bubble solution is nontoxic and the container is reusable.

Cons: The container is only 4 ounces, so it’s a higher price point than most bubble bottles.

The Fubbles Bubbles No-Spill Bubble Tumbler is a great way to introduce bubbles to your little one, because the bottle is designed to keep the liquid inside. It can be knocked over, turned upside down, and bounced around without a spill, but small hands can learn to pull out the bubble wand and dip it back in.

Review: “I bought these for my grandsons for Christmas. They are 1 & 3 years old. They can have them and use them independently; they really are spill proof and safe for little onesI love these and will be buying them the bigger buckets with multiple wands in the spring.”


A set of maracas

Pros: It plays words in English and Spanish.

Cons: They have some weight, so be mindful of your child hitting themselves.

Does the 1-year-old you’re shopping for love music and dancing? The LeapFrog Learn & Groove Shakin' Colors Maracas include one rattling maraca filled with colorful beads, and another that lights up and sings.

Review: “We have a bilingual home and it's easy finding English verbal toys for little ones but it's a challenge finding ones that are in Spanish. Only a few of us speak any Spanish at all, so any extra forms to get that language around the baby is great! Baby loves the rattle one most right now but also likes the lights on the other. Baby still has time to grow into mimicking words though.”


A Montessori peg puzzle

Pros: It comes in primary colors or a more aesthetic, subdued color palette.

Cons: It’s got a lot of pieces to keep track of.

This PEBIRA Color Recognition Stacker is a wooden Montessori toy designed to help little ones start to sort things by shape and color. Maneuvering the pieces onto the pegs helps fine tune 1-year-olds’ motor skills, and the pieces are sized just for toddler hands.

Review: “Great learning toy. I bought this for my nephews first birthday to build his fine motor skills. It is really well made and durable. This is a great gift for a young toddler because it will keep them engaged for many years of play.”


A book of first words

Pros: It’s sturdy and essentially rip-proof.

Cons: Requires two AA batteries.

With more than 111,000 reviews and a 4.8-star rating, the LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book seems like a safe choice for gifting.

Review: “Can it take a fall? Yes. Throw it across the room? Check. Cover in yogurt, soup, and pasta? Sure, just wipe it off. But can a toddler rip the pages out? Not so easy. It’s a cute book with lots of easy to push sounds and pictures. This thing is really well built which makes it a great companion for parks, meal time, and kids who love to rip and tear the pages. I would buy this again but no need to - we’ve had this a couple months now and it’s a little battle scarred from drops on pavement but feels like it could last for years.”


Their very own ball pit

Pros: It folds down to store flat when not in use.

Cons: That collapsible design means the sides aren’t stable for little ones pulling up to stand.

Is there any experience more joyful than being a kid in a ball pit full of colorful balls? The EocuSun Large Toddler Pop Up Ball Pit comes in two colors but balls are sold separately. The fabric is designed to be durable and wipes clean in case of spills.

Review: “Cute product. Easily stores in a pouch when not being played with. I filled it with 200 balls which seem to be enough. It easily collapses if a child pushes on the sides to stand up so definitely not a good ‘babysitter.’ My grandson enjoys it when he visits. A very inexpensive, nice toy.”


A crinkle book about animals

Pros: It can clip to a high chair, stroller, etc., and is essentially indestructible.

Cons: It’s larger than most crinkle books, which parents who want to keep it in the diaper bag may not love.

The Lamaze Peek-A-Boo Forest cloth book has crinkly pages, bright colors, and soft fabric engage your baby’s senses. The sweet rhyming story introduces them to animals, forest scenes, and the concept of peek-a-boo. If your child loves this book, consider the other themes too: bugs, colors, feelings, and shapes.

Review: “The owl on the cover has a raised face for touching. This book has 6 pages and held the attention of a 1 year old for several minutes. The pages are crinkly and colorful and safe in a baby's hands. I can see this becoming a favorite carry around book.”


A small, soft lovey

Pros: The fabric is soft and doesn’t pill or shed.

Cons: It’s machine-washable, but only on cold in a delicate style.

As 1-year-olds grow and are allowed to have small, soft objects in their cribs, a lovey stuffed animal or blanket (or a combo like the Pro Goleem Sloth Security Blanket) is a more sentimental gift idea. You can choose from a variety of animals, but know that this little product has 4.8 out of 5 stars and over 13,000 reviews.

Review: “Cute blankey. Great gift for my 1 year old niece, although I hear she has to share it with her older sister with paws.”


Art for their nursery

Pros: It’s totally gender neutral.

Cons: Frames not included.

The Classic Winnie The Pooh Wall Art Decorations by HerZii Prints includes six 8x10-inch posters featuring old school Winnie the Pooh illustrations with sweet quotes from the series. The color palette looks great with any color frame, and would make a great gift for parents who love sharing nostalgic storybooks with their 1-year-olds.

Review: “GREAT PURCHASE! These prints are beautiful, great quality, and added the special touch to my daughter's recent baby shower. I would 100% purchase again! The "bonus" air freshener was very sweet as well.”


Wooden puzzles with cute faces

Pros: The puzzle materials are lead-, BPA-, and phthalate-free, and have rounded edges for safety.

Cons: Some reviewers said the puzzles are smaller than they expected.

The LURLIN Toddler Puzzles are an adorable set of six animal puzzles made of wood, so the boards and pieces are super durable. They come with cards showing the completed puzzle images so your child can try to make the two match.

Review: “This was a birthday gift for a little boy on his first birthday. He could put the puzzles together with a little effort. He even sleeps with the pieces of the Lady Bug puzzle!”


A toddler-sized splash pad

Pros: The edges are designed to resistant wear and leaks.

Cons: You have to inflate the outer rim yourself; it doesn’t automatically fill with water like some pads.

Inflatables and water toys can pop easily or just not perform like expected, but the Jasonwell Splash Pad Sprinkler for Kids has more than 18,000 reviews and a 4.4-star rating. It can be used as a wading pool for infants and toddlers who like to sit and play, or decide how high it sprays by attaching the hose and adjusting the pressure.

Review: “Fun splash time for toddlers. Great for the grandkids, ages 18mo and 3. I turned down the water pressure on the hose so the little ones could play without getting water in their eyes. fun product and worked just as advertised, would buy again.”


Their very first wagon

Pros: It’s compact enough to use and store indoors.

Cons: It’s small — some reviewers used it as an Easter basket — so taller toddlers may not love it.

This Radio Flyer Kids 12.5" Little Red Toy Wagon is a super cute gift for 1-year-olds who love taking toys in and out of containers and baskets, and are learning to push and pull. Families in apartments may not have a big backyard for typical wagons, but this little one fits easily indoors.

Review: “It's always a good idea to get toddler sized things --helps "push" independence! That said, this wagon is so cute. Our kid has so much fun wheeling toys and books around. Just get it. :)”


A customizable storybook

Pros: It comes in five languages.

Cons: It’s suited for kids up to 10 years old, so it may not engage every 1-year-old.

The “Visits The Zoo” Personalized Story Book by Dinkleboo is a thoughtful, custom option for toddlers who love their bedtime stories and books. The book is hardcover so it’s more durable than paperbacks, and you can customize the child and adult characters along with their names.

Review: “Very vibrant colors make it appealing to little ones. I gave this as part of my great grandson's first birthday. I think his Mom was impressed with the customized book and will keep it as a keepsake. I love the vibrant colors.”


Shoes for their next big steps

Pros: Reviewers say they’re machine washable.

Cons: Measure your child’s feet to get the best fit, as these shoes are listed in non-U.S. sizes.

One of the best gifts for 1-year-old who can walk, or will be walking soon, are shoes. The Charrost Baby First-Walking Shoes has a grippy rubber sole and breathable mesh upper design. They fit comfortably around ankles, leave plenty of room for the feet and toes to move naturally, and come in lots of cute colors.

Review: “Super happy with these! They bend with little feet, are breathable, and have a wide toe box so they don’t squish. They do run a little small. Excited to see how they hold up, but they look durable.”


Cars that run on push power

Pros: The cars are made of nontoxic material with smooth edges to prevent injury.

Cons: Not every child will understand the push button.

The ALASOU Animal Car Toys are bright, colorful little cars sized just for toddlers’ hands. They roll by pushing and pulling, or zoom across the room with a push on the button on top. They’re a portable size for tossing into the diaper bag to take to the store or traveling.

Review: “Bought these for my grandson who turned one. He LOVES these little cars. He has not yet mastered pushing down to get them going, but watches closely when done for him and giggles while chasing the cars as they go. Quality is great. Appearance is very colorful and cute. Would recommend.”


Straw cups for milk & water

Pros: The straw is wide enough to clean inside.

Cons: They might be heavy for little ones when full.

When babies turn 1, they transition to drinking more milk and water in cups and away from bottles. So, if you’re a practical gifter, the Zak Designs Kelso 15 oz Tumbler Set of two cups checks that box. They’re spill-proof, hold a good amount of liquid, and only have a few parts to disassemble and clean after use.

Review: “Great cups!! I own a daycare and am always looking for a good leakproof, easy to clean and not super expensive cup for our littles. Now these aren’t the cheapest but they are sooo worth the price!! Absolutely leek proof and very easy to clean with a straw brush. I love that they come in so many different designs too because I bought a different one for each child. Everyone from our 1 yo to our accident prone 4 yo (still using a lid cup) loves these cups and have no problem using them.”


A counting dinosaur

Pros: Has adjustable volume and shuts off automatically.

Cons: Requires AA batteries.

A 4.8-star rating and almost 12,000 reviews? That makes the VTech Chomp and Count Dino feel like a safe bet the 1-year-old you’re buying for will love. The little dinosaur is a great introduction to colors, shapes, food names, and counting. Your child can feed the dinosaur the snacks he requests, join in on sing-along songs, have a conversation (it responds to 100+ phrases), and pull him along on their own adventures.

Review: “I LOVE IT!! Got this for my nephew who was turning 1. It is his favorite toy to play with. As he is only 1 he’s not the most gentle so this thing is definitely durable! It’s so fun and makes a great gift!”


A musical mat

Pros: The material wipes clean.

Cons: The manufacturer recommends using this on carpet or rugs, and wearing nonslip socks, to prevent falls.

For 1-year-olds who are taking first steps (or off and running), the M SANMERSEN Piano Mat is a fun gift to explore with their feet. It includes eight piano keys and eight animal sounds, and comes with adjustable volume controls too. It can also fold up to about the size of a Kindle, so it can be stored just about anywhere.

Review: “This was wonderful. I bought it as a 1st birthday gift for a little girl. It looks and works exactly as advertised.”


A princess play tent

Pros: It doesn’t require assembly; it just pops up.

Cons: When it’s open, it requires some space (it measures 49” L x 49” W x 33” H).

The crayline Pop Up Princess Tent with Star Light is a sweet addition to any child’s room who loves anything pink or princess-related. It’s large enough to double as a ball pit, has a roll-down door flap, and comes with star-shaped lights to add to the magic.

Review: “It is very big and comfortable. My 2 year old girl loved it. It has enough space for two children, it is easy to assemble, and it comes with some star-shaped lights to decorate.”


A projector night light to dazzle them

Pros: It can take batteries or be plugged in.

Cons: If you opt to use batteries, it takes four AAAs.

1-year-olds are big enough to enjoy a little magic, and the MOKOQI Night Light brings a little bit of wonder to their bedroom. It comes in five colors and projects a night sky scene in 17 different hues. It also has a night light setting for kids who use one.

Review: “Blown away! First thing i noticed was the quietness. My fellow parents with light sleepers know how much that is appreciated. Now onto the light show... What variety! The color patterns really blew me away but most importantly my 1yearold son had a big smile on his face. I will be ordering again in April for my next bundle of joy to enjoy.”


Spinning toys that stick to anything

Pros: They’re very portable.

Cons: Some reviewers say the suction cups don’t work well.

The Fat Brain Toys Whirly Squigz are the perfect gift for 1-year-olds and their parents. They’re colorful and easy to spin, and parents can use them to occupy little ones in their high chair, the car, and at the doctor’s office.

Review: “AMAZING TOY. We bought these 7 months ago and still use them almost every day! They sit on our fridge the play with while I cook, we take them to restaurants to put them on the table while we wait, we’ve used them in travel, and the list goes on! Definitely worth the investment…we love them!”


A table with magnetic doodle board

Pros: The legs are detachable so you can travel with just the drawing board.

Cons: Some reviewers say the legs don’t stay on well.

One of the best gifts for 1-year-olds is a doodle board, like the BABLOCVID Magnetic Drawing Board, so they can practice drawing without making a mess.

Review: “Mess free fun! This was an easy entertainment set up and he and loves it!i literally had it assembled in minutes as it just snaps together. The desk itself is bright and colorful and is a great height to use if he is sitting in the floor or over top of him in the couch. He loves drawing with the magnetic pen, and erasing and starting over. It’s all very easy to use and child friendly without any help! It’s mess free is my favorite part yet he can draw in multiple colors.”


A truck and trailer with lots of little cars

Pros: The truck builds momentum and rolls forward with the tiniest push.

Cons: The small vehicles don’t all fit in the trailer, so the set gets separated easily.

The TEMI Toddler Carrier Truck lights up and makes all the sounds a truck should, like honking and engine revving. The truck and trailer disconnect, and come with six miniature vehicles to haul. All the little cars, planes, and busses pull back to roll too.

Review: “Lots of different options for play. The truck is solid, durable plastic. Both the large truck and the smaller vehicles have little wind up engines in them. The use of the wheels/engines and flashing lights/sounds has provided a lot of fun for my 18 month old.”


A tiny tool bench

Pros: This toy is designed to help toddlers develop their spatial skills and hand-eye coordination.

Cons: Requires two AA batteries, and they’re not included.

The CifToys Musical Learning Workbench Toy for Kids is a cute, colorful toy workbench loaded with tools that will delight little engineers. The lights and sounds keep kids engaged as they play with the drill, chainsaw, clamp, hammer and nails, screwdriver, wrench, and shape sorter.

Review: “Great toy! My 1 year old loves this toy! It keeps him so busy and engaged. He loves the lights and sounds. It has features that he will be able to use for several months as he learns his numbers & shapes.”


An indoor basketball hoop & soccer goal combo

Pros: This is a good hoop-and-goal combo toy for people in small spaces.

Cons: There are little indents on the base to store the balls, but they don’t stay well.

The VTech Smart Shots Sports Center has more than 27,000 reviews from parents and grandparents saying their toddlers love dunking and scoring with this toy. It comes with two balls, counts and keeps score, and introduces little ones to numbers, counting, and the rules of the game.

Review: “Easy to put together. Purchased this for my grandson’s 1st birthday and of course he loved it. His 5 year old brother loved it more and wouldn’t stop playing with it. It was really easy to put together. Would be a great gift for any child.”


A block and table set

Pros: The table folds down flat to store more easily.

Cons: It doesn’t support weight, and toddlers could climb on top.

The MEGA Bloks First Builders Build 'n Learn Table is designed to corral all the random blocks your 1-year-old has around the house. The tabletop lifts up to store blocks underneath, and the surface includes bumps for building on and a small track for cars to race on. It’s a great height for both standing and sitting.

Review: “Bought this for my 18m grandson and he loves it, perfect height for him to sit and play on floor. Colorful and sturdy, but the thing that is the best is that it fold up and had a locking latch in the middle that keeps everything inside for travel ! Love that feature!”


The one and only Cozy Coupe

Pros: It has tough tires that rotate 360 degrees (so it’s easy to maneuver in every direction).

Cons: The opening on the bottom is big enough for kids to slide out of if they’re not comfortable pedaling themselves.

Does your kid need something to cruise around in in the driveway? The Little Tikes Cozy Coupe 30th Anniversary Car has been around for decades because kids just seem to love it. It has a removable floor and handle so parents can push the car along, or children can pedal themselves. Don’t forget to pop a water in the built-in cupholders.

Review: “This will always be a treasure. This was my little boys present for his first birthday. It was also his favorite toy for at least four years. We lived in an apartment some of that time and he drove it all over the place. Thirty years later I have my first grandson, who is only four months right now, but his Pappy and I have this as his Christmas present ready and just needs its big red bow. I hope he loves this half as much as his dad loved his. His birthday is in January and he is getting his gas station then.”


Foam blocks for climbing

Pros: It safely helps develop skills like climbing, stepping up and down, and more.

Cons: They aren’t non-slip, so be mindful of using them on hard surfaces and with socks on.

If the 1-year-old you’re buying for is on the move, the ECR4Kids SoftZone Climb and Crawl Activity Playset is a gift they’re sure to enjoy. You can arrange the pieces in any way so your little one can practice all kinds of new skills, and as they grow, use them to build huge structures.

Review: “I bought these for my granddaughter’s 1st birthday. They’re the perfect size for her to use for a few years! We rearrange them in the living room or set them in her pool (without the water) for a safe place for her to play when we are working outside. She loves climbing on them! The only thing that would make them better is if they had a side that was better suited to keeping them in place - like a non-slip surface. As it is, we have to sit with her and hold them in place when she’s climbing on them or they slip apart and she will fall.”

Whether you’re buying a gift for your own child or choosing something for a little one you know, this list should guide you in the right direction. Happy shopping (and playing with whatever you pick out).