Inside: The best toys for 1 year olds – toys that will grow with your child.
Wondering what the best toys for 1 year olds are? Here’s the list for you.
Toys are important.
Play is the work of childhood and toys are the tools for play – so let’s give our kids the tools they need.
Owning the “right” toys can make or break independent play to YIKES! Let’s take our toy buying seriously.
RELATED: Interested in other toy lists? See my “Best Toys for Kids” list!
Not all toys are created equal!
There are two kinds of toys in this world: “One and Done Toys” and Open-ended toys. We want to fill our homes with the latter.
“One and Done Toys” are flashy – they often have batteries, they are meant to entertain a child, ask questions, and usually have just ONE purpose (meaning you can’t use the toy in any way other than how it was intended).
Open-ended toys are the exact opposite.
RELATED: Need some new board books? Check out this list!
What kind of toys should you buy for one year olds?
As you build your toys collection, fill it with open ended toys.
If you want a child who plays independently, these are the tools they need to get their work done.
They need open-ended toys will help our one year olds learn to imagine, create, and think. These toys help them learn to navigate the world, to act out social situations, problem solve, and explore.
Open-ended toys are powerful. “One and Done Toys” won’t grow with your child – a light up toy for a 15 month old isn’t likely to be loved by a 4 year old.
The best toys for 1 year olds
This is my complete list of the absolute best toys for 1 year olds. These toys have longevity. These toys have unlimited play potential. These toys will let our kids play, and play well.
One last thing…toys don’t have a gender
All toys are GENDER NEUTRAL. Everything on this list is perfect for both boys AND girls, and will enrich both gender’s play lives.
In no particular order…
These are the best toys for 1 year olds (and toys will keep loving, and using, and playing with far into the future). This list is not just for one-year-olds! Because these toys grow with your child, many of these items are loved by children years older.
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Between the hammer, the xylophone, and the balls – let’s just say the play potential here is through the roof.
Your 1-year-old needs some sort of shape sorter. This little cube teaches so much – problem solving, spatial awareness, and determination. It’s a big day when they finally get this one down, but don’t worry – they’ll keep using this for years to come.
I’m a big fan of vehicles for all kids – cars and trucks have no gender. One-year-olds love cars and trucks so make sure to get them a few big ones. This dump truck is awesome for loading and unloading. We also love the fire truck, ferry boat, and garbage truck. Don’t overlook trucks!
These cars are the perfect size for little hands – juuuuust right. There’s colors, there’s numbers, there’s endless ways to play with 10 cars.
Laugh all you want about how simple this toy looks and I’ll show you an almost four-year-old who still plays with it. There is something magical about this little bus and the bouncing people. Sometimes the bus is part of the play; sometimes the people are part of it. It’s the best little toy.
Ramps are awesome, and they actually never get old. This one is fantastic, and so is this one with little cars. They’re the perfect quiet toy and little ones will sit so a long time playing with these simple ramps.
This is my only toy on the list with a battery – but that’s because the songs it plays are irrelevant. It doesn’t blast flashing lights at your child, or ask them silly faux academic questions. A few little farm songs never hurt anyone – and the open ended farm play this invites is awesome.
This is the version my family has (and we love it!) but they discontinued it.
Stacking and nesting toys are great, but these buckets really take things up a notch with their size. Surprisingly, these buckets do a lot: they hold, they build, they carry… they do everything.
This toy is full of options: cars, buildings, stacking, sorting, hiding, moving. There’s a lot of invitations to play here, and so many years of fun.
Puzzles are like books – you can’t have too many. The limit does not exist. Getting kids started on puzzles early on is a great gift to give. Puzzles promote problem solving and spatial awareness something fierce.
This Big Knob Learning Puzzle Set has been a hit at our house for 3 years now.
Here’s a little gem that has been a hit with all my kids, starting when my youngest was 10 months old (he’s 25 months old now and this is still his favorite)
They sort the buttons into the box, play with the buttons on the carpet, pattern with them, design with them – yes, it’s just buttons… but to kids, they’re a whole lot more.
A staple, a classic, a must own: even just one bag of these is all you need for hours / days / years of building fun. These blocks are perfect for little hands – right around age 20 months, the play with these really takes off.
Need a quick gift for a one-year-old? These squeaking eggs are magical and constantly in use at our house. You’d be surprised how much play these little eggs are a part of…
Again, boy or girl – every house needs a baby. You need a baby doll for playing doctor games, to rescue from the fire, and to use in social stories (like pretending to be a Mom or Dad). Baby dolls are a huge play tool for all genders. Here’s the version dressed in blue.
Something to add to your collection is a toy that sorts – something your child can both open-ended play with, but also can do some sorting with (sorting is a HUGE math skill). These bears are a favorite and you can sort them by size and color.
It’s a simple toy to have, but it’s perfect for imaginary play. A set of animals (like these) are so much fun and invite so many play opportunities. It’s an ageless toy too – kids will be playing with these same animals for years.
You can’t go wrong with balls – the mother of all open-ended toys. These little animal balls are favorites in our house – they’re used for much more than just throw and catch.
Push toys – even simple ones like these – can have years of life in them and can be used in so many games. Don’t overlook them! (I like this one because it isn’t noisy…)
This is an unexpected toy that’s full of open-ended play. Toys with “small” pieces like this make for great imaginary play. Kids will play with all the pieces from this (together or separate for years).
Best toys for 1 year olds
Remember, toys are a big deal, and the right toys can make or break some serious play opportunities.
Our 1 year olds don’t need a lot of toys, but they do need the right toys.