The Best Gifts for a 1-Year-Old

March 28, 2015

Stuck on what to give your 1-year-old? Check out these 9 gift ideas that will keep him entertained!

Are you trying to find just the right gift to mark the meaningful first birthday? Whether you're shopping for a friend's baby or looking for an amazing gift for your own little one, the best gifts for a 1-year-old are not only entertaining but also educational. By providing a 1-year-old with the toys that are best for his age range, you'll be helping develop his gross and fine motor skills.

"Kids between the ages of 12 and 24 months are at a turning point in their development," says Marissa DiBartolo, a senior editor of The Toy Insider. "Typically, toys for kids ages 1 to 2 are very gender-neutral and focused on vibrant color palettes, engaging textures and stimulating sounds -- all of which help with sensory and motor skill development." Some toys for little ones are obvious, such as blocks. "Blocks facilitate fine motor development and hand-eye coordination and start introducing mathematical concepts such as patterns, numbers and shapes," says Meryl Neiman, a play expert and advocate and co-founder of Playdate Planet.

Based on these insights, here are 9 of the best gifts to give a 1-year-old:

  1. Stacking Toys
    Get building! Toys like the Green Toys Stacker are a great gross motor activity. When choosing a stacker, look for one that's meant for your child's age so it won't cause frustration. When your baby is not in the mood for stacking, he'll have fun with the brightly colored pieces on their own.
  2. Bead Mazes
    There's a reason this is adoctor's office staple: it's perfect for kids of all ages. The Melissa & Doug First Bead Maze is a great way to let your 1-year-old play with small objects without worrying about choking. Working with small items will help your infant develop fine motor skills and also helps with shape and color recognition.

  3. Fantasy Play Toys
    Pretend toys, such as the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Learning Kitchen, get little imaginations going! Toys that facilitate make-believe let your little one's creativity soar, or he can pretend to be just like Mom and whip up a feast.
  4. Shape Sorters
    Heart, star, square -- help your baby can learn them all. Sorter toys help develop recognition of shapes and colors while also encouraging hand-eye coordination, problem solving, and fine and gross motor skill development. The Tupperware Shape-O Toy also doubles as a rattle and ball, sure to provide hours of fun.
  5. Push Toys
    "Some of the best toys to buy for this age group are ones that transition," says DiBartolo. Plan Toys Baby Walker helps get little ones up on their feet, and the handle adjusts to your walker's growing height. Using a push toy to aide in walking helps your 1-year-old practice moving on his own while reducing the chance of falls.

  6. Stuffed Toys
    Introduce your baby to his first best friend: the Gund My First Teddy comes in a variety of sizes and comes in pink or blue. A plush toy gives your child a chance to practice emotional awareness and offers comforting snuggles in the dark.
  7. Puzzles
    Even babies can benefit from brain teasers. Puzzles help children with their dexterity, problem solving and encourage fine motor skills. Bright colors like those found on the Melissa & Doug First Shapes Knob Puzzle stimulate the senses, and wooden knobs make it easy for small hands to manipulate.
  8. Blocks
    Try a wooden set, such as Hape's Maple Blocks, for endless opportunities for free-form play and lasting durability.
  9. Board Books
    Start your child's love of reading at an early age! Not only are board books nearly indestructible, but children learn language skills by trying to decipher what the pictures and words on the book mean. Touch-and-feel books like "Pat the Bunny" have different textures on each page so your baby can interact with books in more ways than one.


When choosing gifts for a 1-year-old, look for toys that help develop their sensory and motor skills, but don't make it overly complicated. "Play is how babies and children learn," explains Neiman. "Play is critical to every aspect of a child's healthy development: social, emotional, intellectual and physical. The best toys are often the simplest because then the child controls the play."

For more gift ideas, check out the Citrus Lane's gift guides for all ages.

Stephanie Glover is a writer living outside of Philadelphia, PA.

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