Best Educational Toys for a 1 Year Old

Asian American boy sitting on a mat on a wooden floor with a light blue table in front of him that has a yellow top. There are small plastic plates that are pink, gree, and white, a light green cup, a cream colored pot, a pink pan with a yellow lid, a green pepper, and yellow corn

When we think about educational toys for 1-year-old babies, it’s critical that we also consider the whopping number of milestones and skills children achieve in this one short year. 

Between 12 months to 24 months, a child’s brain is expanding with connections that help them piece together their world. It is a time of curiosity, exploration, and new experiences. 

Quick Picks for Toddler Physical Play

Best Push Toy – Radio Flyer Walker Wagon

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Best Ride-on Toy – Wooden Bee Ride-On Toy

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Best Climbing Toy – Radio Flyer Tumble Town Foam Blocks

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Best Stepping Stones – Step-A-Trail Logs

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Quick Pick Closed-Ended Toys for 1 Year Olds

Best First Puzzles – Hape First Shapes Toddler Puzzle

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Best Stacking Towers – Fat Brain Toys GeoPeg Stacking Tower

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Best Game to Develop Representational Thinking – Object & Picture Matching Game

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Best Puzzle for Spatial Awareness – Timy Wooden Bead Maze

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Best Open-Ended Educational Toys for 1 Year Olds

Best Wooden Blocks: Beka Deluxe Wooden Block Set

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Best Play Ball: Crocodile Creek Playground Ball

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Best Surprise Pretend Toy: 15 Pack Nylon Bean Bags

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Best Grow-With-You Toys

Best Toy for Understanding Parts and Whole: Citrus Fractions from Tender Leaf Toys

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Best Magnetic Wooden Blocks: Tegu 6 Piece Magnetic Blocks

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Best Art Tool: Hape All-in-One Wooden Kid’s Art Easel

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Best Building Toys: Magna Tiles Metropolis Set

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Best Stuffy Brand: Jellycat Amuseables Pineapple Plush

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When you are busy learning to walk and talk, there’s little room for ABCs and 123’s. That’s why the best educational toys for 1-year-olds are those that help children succeed in the basics; namely, how to move, think, and speak like a big kid!

At 12 months, your child is hitting some pretty big developmental milestones. As a mom, you likely want to help them achieve these milestones, but perhaps you aren’t a children’s physical therapist. And so, you turn to the internet, but there’s a TON of information out there.

What next? Let’s take it back to the basics with play. You don’t need to learn fancy therapy techniques to help your one year old with playing–they already love to do that! And this curated list of toys will help them play in a way that supports those important milestones.

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Developmental Toys for 1 Year Old: Physical Play

Physical milestones at this age include crawling upstairs, pulling to stand, and walking. These are skills that require strength in the legs, arms, and abdomen. It’s funny to think of your baby strength training, but that’s exactly what’s happening!

And you can be their little trainer by offering new challenges and new ways to move their bodies during play. The following toys are specifically geared to do just that!

Radio Flyer Walker Wagon

Product Features

  • Resistance clickers to keep walker from rolling away from your toddler too quickly
  • Furniture bumper on the front protects against toddlers banging into your walls
  • All-wooden body + removable wooden side panels
  • Radio Flyer is Certified B Corp

This little push wagon is ideal for both pre-walkers and new walkers who need a little support to get going. My son loved to fill the basket with all manner of items from around the house! Side note: this is how I lost my keys one time for a solid week, so make sure you put important things out of reach lol.

Toddlers this age want to tote things around, but they are still learning how to walk while holding objects. With the walker wagon, they can carry their hoard of found objects (minus your keys) and stay on the move.

Wooden Bee Ride-On Toy

Product Features

  • Wooden ride-on toy with handles and a smooth ride for your little one
  • Plush seating
  • No assembly required!
  • Recommended for 18+ months

Bee still my heart! This adorable scooter is the perfect introduction to bike riding and will help children build the muscles necessary for riding a balance bike in a year or two. 

What makes this toy so special is the natural wood frame paired with a plush seat for comfy cruising. The 360-degree wheels make it easy for even the youngest riders. My son had this as his first little bike, and he loved scooting around our kitchen island on it. It makes me smile just to think of it.

Radio Flyer Tumble Town Foam Blocks

Product Features

  • 6 large foam blocks for climbing
  • CertiPUR-US certified foam, phthalate and lead free
  • Stain resistant and easily wiped clean
  • Several color ways available

Large foam blocks that are sturdy and wipeable? It’s a miracle! Now you can let your sticky, icky little one tumble away without worrying too much about clean-up.

These are also great for supporting children who are crawling, pulling to stand, and climbing, and you don’t have to worry about them getting hurt if they topple over. Pro-tip: put these in your living room, and give your toddler a place to move around while you can go about your day and still keep an eye on them.

Step-A-Trail Logs

Product Features

  • 3 plastic long logs and 3 plastic stumps at different heights for more challenge
  • Grippy bottom edges and non-slip texture on top
  • Easily supports weight of an adult

Create a mini obstacle course with this colorful toddler-sized stepping stones set. The durable non-slip rubber bottoms are safe for indoor and outdoor use on firm surfaces. With a weight capacity of well over 700 lbs, don’t hesitate to invite the entire neighborhood to come to play–and get in on the action yourself!

Learning Toys for 1 Year Old: Closed-Ended

Close-ended toys are toys that have a definitive conclusion. You solved the puzzle. You won the board game. Yay!

There is so much focus online on open-ended play that close-ended toys seem boring or not worth the investment. This is simply not true! The science around cognitive development tells us that playtime with specific rules and parameters promotes better executive function. This in turn allows children to control and manage thoughts and emotions into their adult lives. 

(Check out our article on Emotional Development in Toddlers for more on executive function!) 

Hape First Shapes Toddler Puzzle

Product Features

  • Four chunky wooden pieces
  • Wood sourced from environmentally sustainable forests
  • Non-toxic paints

While many early learning puzzles have knobs or pegs to grip, this puzzle requires children to feel the shape as well as observe it.  Tactile learning (or touching to learn) is a big deal at this age!

This puzzle exposes children to both primary colors and the most common geometric shapes. It’s about as educational as you can get for this age group, and we love that it’s non-toxic and environmentally friendly, too.

Fat Brain Toys GeoPeg Stacking Tower

Product Features

  • Wooden 3-peg base for stacking 3 sets of colorful wooden blocks
  • Not limited to stacking from largest to smallest
  • Non-toxic paints

Stacking and unstacking are favorite past-times for one-year-olds, and this triple stacking puzzle adds an extra layer of excitement. The rings are removable for open-ended play or repurposed for color matching games. We give it bonus points for looking gorgeous when stored on the shelf!

Object & Picture Matching Game

Product Features

  • Set of 36 laminated cards and 12 matching objects
  • Laminated cards come in 3 sets – image only, word only, and word + picture
  • Use with supervision for young children who may put objects in their mouth

Object to picture matching games help toddlers make the connection between real-life things and the two-dimensional images that represent them. It’s a gateway into abstract thinking activities like reading, art, and imaginative play.

This set is unique in that it includes some larger objects that don’t pose a choking hazard. You can always add in the small pieces during supervised play. 

Timy Wooden Bead Maze

Product Features

  • Colorful beads and sea animal patterns
  • Easy-to-grasp thick beads
  • Solid beech base

A wonderful activity for practicing fine motor skills and a staple in pediatrician’s offices everywhere. The thick wooden beads are easy to grasp, and the thick metal tracks are just complex enough to keep your toddler’s brain busy while still offering some success.

Educational Toys for 1 Year Old Toddlers: Open-Ended

Open-ended toys ignite curious minds and spark imaginative play. 

They can be used in traditional ways, but are also easily commandeered for a tea party, pretend cooking class, dance recital, or any other type of play your child dreams up!

Keep in mind that while children 12-18 months enjoy open-ended toys, you probably won’t see a lot of pretend play until closer to 24 months. You can help with this by setting the stage for your little one and then following their lead.

Beka Deluxe Wooden Block Set

Product Features

  • 68 blocks in 12 different shapes
  • Hardwood makes these heirloom quality
  • Heavier blocks make towers and structures more stable

Wooden blocks are timeless and beloved by all ages, but there are a lot of poorly constructed options out there. This set is made from dense hardwood, giving them a satisfying and balanced weight. They are also produced from renewable forests and manufactured in the US!

Crocodile Creek Playground Ball

Product Features

  • 5″ size perfect for toddlers
  • PVC and BPA free natural and synthetic rubber construction

When my son was one, it felt like 86% of my day was spent reminding him not to throw stuff – pens, bananas, ornate brass candlesticks, you name it! Toddlers need a good bouncy ball to satisfy that urge to throw without hurting themselves (or the cat). 

Crocodile Creek makes the best bouncy balls for outdoor/indoor play. With a thick rubber tread in funky, colorful patterns, your one-year-old will never put it down. 

15 Pack Nylon Bean Bags

Product Features

  • 4.7″ bean bags are perfect for pretend games and tossing
  • Includes 15 bean bags
  • Comes with storage bag

Bean bags are rarely found outside the classroom, but those in the know use them at home.  Their construction makes them perfect for tossing but also balancing, squeezing, and stacking. 

Bean bags have the gentle calming effect of a weighted blanket and make perfect little doll pillows too. The possibilities are endless! 

Best Learning Toys for 1 Year Old Toddlers That Will Grow With Your Child

Emerging research in child development suggests that your child can actually benefit from having fewer toys. When the number of toys in a child’s environment goes down, creativity and engagement go up. Think of it like this: you have less decision overwhelm when faced with fewer choices, right?

Slowing down on toy purchases can give you the time to buy new toys with thought and intention. We recommend focusing on toys that will grow with your child. 

These toys were carefully selected to appeal to a wide range of ages from one year and beyond!

Citrus Fractions from Tender Leaf Toys

Product Features

  • Includes a wooden knife and 5 fruit slices to “cut” into different fractions
  • Eco-friendly toy made from renewable rubber tree wood with non-toxic paints

Your young toddler will love chopping fruit with a “real” knife while conveniently absorbing basic math concepts. Tender Leaf Toys (my current favorite toy company) includes examples of fractions all the way up to ⅕ as well as the whole value 1. This is an educational toy that can easily last to age five or six!

Tegu 6 Piece Magnetic Blocks

Product Features

  • 6 wooden blocks with magnets
  • No plastic, uses lead-free, non-toxic water based lacquer
  • Afforable

Our family loves Tegu products for their durability and portability. This set is simple enough for toddlers, but since it’s designed like other Tegu blocks, it’s easy to combine it with increasingly complex block sets. 

While enjoying these high-quality blocks, children will also get a hands-on lesson in the scientific concepts of attracting and opposing magnetic forces. 

Hape All-in-One Wooden Kid’s Art Easel

Product Features

  • Double sided easel with blackboard, magnetic whiteboard, and paper roll on top
  • Comes with 3 paint pots and holders
  • Height adjusts from 37.5″ to 43.5″

As soon as children are able to stand, they can use an art easel. This height-adjustable wooden easel includes built-in paint or crayon storage as well as hooks for aprons and washed clothes. When they’re not painting, the easel offers a chalkboard and a magnetic dry erase surface for hours of artsy fun.

Magna-Tiles Metropolis Set

Product Features

  • 110 pieces in several shapes, including 2 wheeled chassis
  • Compatible with all other MAGNA-TILES sets
  • Lattice structure prevents cracking and rivets keep magnets safe and secure

Magna-Tiles are one of the few toys we have never rotated into storage, and while it took my child many months to learn how to use them to construct things, he never tired of trying. 

While I appreciate the durability and vibrant colors of the Magna-Tiles brand, there are plenty of more affordable options like this 33-piece set.  I’ve even seen them on sale at Aldi! 

Jellycat Amuseables Pineapple Plush

Product Features

  • 15″ plush suitible for all ages
  • Made of polyester

Nothing stands the test of time like a treasured stuffed animal, but why stop at animals? Why not a beloved head of cauliflower? Or a snuggly salted pretzel? Perhaps this cuddle-worthy pineapple with big, fluffy leaves!

Jellycat makes the softest, most whimsical stuffed toys available, so you can find a stuffie that is as unique as your child. 

Age appropriate Developmental Toys for 1 Year Old

In this fast-moving period of development, one-year-olds are learning the names of people and objects in their environment and can respond to simple requests. 

They are the perfect task rabbits if you need something from across the room, and they love to imitate everyday activities like sweeping or folding laundry. 

If they are not walking, they will be soon enough.  Constant exploration is expected, and their need for movement is insatiable.Educational toys for this age range are designed to help them work on mastering basic physical and intellectual milestones. 

While educational toys may have letters or numbers on them, it’s far too early to expect our children to recognize and name them. 

At this age, exposure is enough. They will have plenty of time for academics as they get older.

Look for toys that are simple with depictions of everyday things – vehicles, flowers, animals, etc. Shoot for a mix of both open-ended toys (blocks, dolls) and closed-ended toys (puzzles, shape sorter).

How to choose the Best Educational Toys for 1 Year Old that will grow with your child

One-year-olds are in a period of significant transition. This is the year they develop the physical, mental, and emotional skills that take them from helpless infant to confident toddler. 

If you’ve read our popular post on Montessori Toys for 1 Year Old Toddlers, you already know that toddlers at this age are highly active and lack the ability for long periods of focus. 

They may not be able to sit and enjoy classic educational toys like puzzles, activity books, or games just yet. That’s fine! We want to meet children where they are without rushing them.

This is why it’s great to offer a range of educational toys. Some may be unique to this particular stage while others are more complex and advanced. (Avoid small pieces due to choking!)

If your child isn’t interested in a particular toy, that does not mean they hate it. 

Put it away and try again in 3 months. This is a temporary and rapidly progressing stage of development for kids. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Mix And Match Your Educational Toys For 1 Year Old Toddlers

Offering a range of toys and activities for your busy one-year-old helps them tackle milestones with confidence. 

Whether it’s hours of big physical play or a few minutes of quiet focused work on a puzzle, we hope your newly minted toddler enjoys these educational toys for 1-year-olds!

Learning Toys for 1 Year Old FAQs

How can I stimulate my baby’s brain development?

To stimulate your baby’s brain development, consider introducing educational toys designed for one-year-olds. These toys can engage their senses and encourage exploration, problem-solving, and cognitive development. Look for age-appropriate options that promote sensory play, fine motor skills, shape recognition, cause-and-effect relationships, and language development to create a stimulating and fun learning environment for your little one.

How many toys should a 1 year old have?

When it comes to the number of toys for a one-year-old, quality is more important than quantity. While there isn’t a specific number, having a selection of well-chosen, age-appropriate educational toys can provide a stimulating and enriching play experience for your one-year-old while avoiding overwhelming them with too many options.

What is a Montessori toy?

A Montessori toy is an educational toy that aligns with the principles of the Montessori method, which emphasizes independence, exploration, and hands-on learning. These toys are typically made of natural materials, have simple designs, and encourage open-ended play, allowing children to engage with them in a self-directed and meaningful way.

Often playtime can feel like a hassle, but some toys are fun for kids and adults. Which educational toys for 1-year-olds get you on the floor and playing with your child?

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