A friend of mine recently asked me for advice on what to get for a baby’s first birthday. This sweet friend just recently married and doesn’t yet have kids but she loves on many kids in her life around her and she will be attending a close friend’s baby girl’s first birthday soon. So in honor of her request I decided to come up with a list of my favorite toys for both of my littles at or around one year old.
You can find all sorts of recommendations for this age online but here is a list of our favorites. Personally, as a parent, I prefer open-ended toys, toys that kids have to ‘figure-out’ and toys that can be used in many different types of play situations. I also try to avoid bright lights and noise on toys for my own sanity.
- Plain (or colored) wooden blocks: These blocks are by Melissa and Doug and are remarkably durable and kids can use them to create practically anything. Ellery loves to pretend they are her “ellos” (phones) and Asher likes to make them into a zoo for his animals. I recommend some form of wooden block as a staple in all toy bins/play rooms. There are countless ways kids can use them and wood is practically indestructible for kids.
- Musical Instruments: These are the one exception to my noise rules. I am not even a little bit musically inclined but I did want to expose my children to music just in case they are. You know, I am trying to make them well rounded and stuff. This set is again by Melissa and Doug (promise this isn’t a paid advertisement, I just truly like their toys). This set allows kids to explore the world of musical instruments and it also teaches them about cause and effect. Kids learn how what they do produces an action, such as shaking the maracas and so on. For us these toys are rotated in and out of the play room every few weeks to a month.
- Chunky knob puzzles: Melissa and Doug has a great variety of these sort of puzzles but any sort of big piece puzzle is great for little hands. Children can begin to learn matching and work on both different degrees of motor function.
- Stacker toys: This Fisher Price one is actually a continued favorite of Miss Ellery’s but she has loved any sort of stacking toy since she could sit up. Stacking toys of all types are a huge hit. This includes stacking cups, like these from Green Toys (another brand I love) and these wooden stacking rings.
- Schliech Animals: I specifically recommend the brand Schliech here because, in my opinion, the quality is unmatched by other brands. These animals are a bit more expensive but they will last well beyond my children’s playing years. My kids have animals of all sorts including dinosaurs and new ones are always on their list. These are again open-ended and the possibilities are endless for their imagination.
- A slide or other play piece: Babies moving into toddler hood are developing their gross motor skills more and more each day and one of the best ways to develop those skills is through climbing and big body movements. We had this exact slide in our house when Asher was near one and he loved it! He loved exploring how it worked, climbing up both the ladder and the slide and sliding down. We even moved it outside in the summer and paired it with a small pool for a fun water slide.
- Mega Blocks: This sort of building material is again open-ended and full of possibilities. But they do require a different skill set for stacking together and I think this offers children a different perspective and learning option. For our home, we had Mega Blocks until Asher was nearing two and then we swapped them out for Duplo which is another great option for slightly older kiddos.
- Melissa and Doug Barn: This is the exact barn we got Ellery for her first birthday and both her and Asher have loved it from the beginning. It is small and portable and easy for small hands to use and it provides an ‘environment’ for their imaginary worlds. They use it as a barn, house, zoo, and even a garage when Hotwheel cars come out.
These are just some of my favorite toys for one year olds. What about you? What do or did your kids love at one?