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It can be tough to find the best toys for toddlers, but finding the right gift for a 1-year-old might be easier than you think: It’s that age when the box really can be more exciting than the toy inside.
That’s because favorite activities at age 1 include pushing and pulling, putting things together and taking them apart and — yes — moving things in and out of boxes.
“It’s a very active time,” said Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of “How Toddlers Thrive.”
1-year-olds moving on from baby toys are also practicing speaking and recognizing rhymes, so they’re primed for books that teach words or engage them with lifting flaps. In toys, look for a variety of textures they can explore with their hands, said Marie Conti, head of The Wetherill School in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, and a board member of the American Montessori Society.
Development experts agree open-ended toys are best. Look for something that lets toddlers do what they want instead of following specific instructions.
To quickly jump to the category you're looking for, click on the links below or keep scrolling to see all 41:
- Best toys for 1-year-olds
- Best blocks for 1-year-olds
- Best push, pull and ride-on toys for 1-year-olds
- Best stuffed animals for 1-year-olds
- Best books for 1-year-olds
Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s Gift Guide to find the perfect present for everyone on your list!
Best toys for 1-year-olds
Kids can get an early start developing a love for music and rocking out.
Melissa & Doug makes great puzzles for all ages. This is a good starter puzzle as tiny hands learn to fit pieces together.
Drums are great for pounding out rhythm and developing fine motor skills. When the drum rolls around, it emits melodies and flashing lights.
This puzzle has jumbo knobs that are perfect for tiny hands.
Little ones pound the balls on top until they cascade down to the xylophone, which also pulls out for independent play.
Spin the "pit" to see different faces and emotions on these pull-apart avocados that let your 1-year-old work on fine motor skills, colors and feelings.
These 12-inch cuddly baby dolls are appealing to boys and girls alike. (It comes in a blue version, too.)
At 1 years old, babies love to pull themselves up to stand, which they can do with this interactive wooden tree-themed toy, jam-packed with motor-skill activities.
Lovevery toys are designed by development experts to be just right for kids as they grow. Sign up for a subscription and get a new kit every three months.
This play box is a shape sorter, maze and more all in one, with plenty of colorful, playful activities on each side.
Best blocks for 1-year-olds
These blocks are perfect for teaching your little one how to identify shapes and colors. Plus, once playtime is over, they can be neatly stored in the bucket and stowed away.
Each block in this set is embossed with a letter and corresponding animal. They come in a variety of different shapes so in addition to learning, the kiddies can get creative and build any structure.
These building blocks are frustration-free for the littlest builders, according to educational toys expert Lauren Leisk.
These rainbow blocks are a favorite for expanding creative thinking — they stack any which way to promote a baby's ability to problem-solve.
Great for kids as young as 6 months who are teething, 1-year-olds can also learn animals, shapes, fruit, patterns and more with these soft, durable, chewable, stackable blocks.
These beautiful stacking stones let little ones explore balance with irregular shapes. Plus, they're fun to bang together.
These classic wooden blocks will entertain toddlers for years to come.
This classic wooden shape-sorter lets 1-year-olds put things inside a box and take them back out — similar to the joy of opening a gift box.
Best push, pull and ride-on toys for 1-year-olds
Targeted for kids aged one to three, this turtle has buttons at the base for floor play and an attachable handle for when they're ready to get moving.
They're sure to get a kick out of this push toy that makes popping sounds as they stroll around.
This walker toy features chomping alligators, fish on the wheels, and spinning butterfly and ladybug beads. It also makes a gratifying click-clack sound as toddlers push it along.
This classic train comes in a baby-friendly size for pushing, pulling apart and putting back together.
Your little one can learn to walk and balance on a bike at the same time with this balance bike walker.
Anything with wheels is fun to push as it moves. Your toddler can pull around this wee elephant by its leash or grasp their little fingers around its hollow center to push it along like a car.
The alligator “dances” and makes click-clacking noises as a child pulls. It also comes in unpainted, natural wood.
This classic Fisher Price toy is always a favorite among babies, thanks to its fun sounds and ease of use. It's perfect for new walkers who need extra practice!
The classic wagon is a perfect pull toy that will last for years to come.
It’s a stroller; it’s a tricycle; it’s a bike. This little ride-on is designed to grow with your toddler. Best of all, it comes out of the box fully assembled and folds up for easy storage so it's easy to take on-the-go.
The Wishbone Flip grows with a child from age 1 to 5, converting from rocker to push toy to ride-on.
Best stuffed animals for 1-year-olds
This friendly-looking fox is sure to become their new BFF.
These cuddly friends are perfect bedtime companions, and better yet, it comes with a carrying case for storage.
Available in a variety of animals, these stuffed toys are scented with French lavender and are microwavable to bring warmth, comfort and stress relief for bedtime, daytime or on-the-go.
Best books for 1-year-olds
This beautiful book tells of a little girl's stuffed(ish) best friend who is always there to love and support her as she grows — no matter the wear and neglect that comes its way.
Boynton has expanded on her classic “Going to Bed Book” with a song and revised illustrations to celebrate the board book’s 36th anniversary.
Fragrance designer Dawn Goldworm created scents for each color of the rainbow for a multi-sensory board book that teaches colors.
Make your own book of baby's favorite people with this custom board book that lets toddlers match faces and names — a great choice when relatives are far away.
Written in lyrical rhyme, this story takes children through a sentimental journey through their childhood, enforcing the view that a parents' love is unconditional.
In this playful introduction to the seasons, all the animals are ready and dressed for the seasons, except for Cow, who seems to have great difficulty deciding what to wear.
A young boy rides an old boat through shifting tides, discovering ties to generations and the environment as he goes in this follow-up to "The Old Truck."
A sweet reminder that no matter how big, a child is smaller than your love.
This family has to get the house in order — and bathe the cat — before grandma arrives. But the clever cat finds a way to scramble the chore list into ever more ridiculous chores, like sweeping the dishes, scrubbing the fish and mowing the floor.