It’s that time! Your baby is finally entering that awkward stage between infant and toddler. By the age of 1, your baby knows how to play but now you have to ask yourself this question: What, exactly, do they want to play with? It’s never too early to start with educational toys that will encourage your child to use basic skills, however, you also don’t want to overwhelm your baby with multiple sensory items. Toys for 1-year-olds should be simple and fun.
Finding the perfect sensory toy for your busy 1-year-old is not an easy task as parents still can be completely unsure of what exactly their child wants or needs during play time at this age. That’s what we’re here for. Chances are you’ll find something on this list of the 10 best. We’ve scoured the best toys looking for those that gave us seriously fun vibes, a bit of educational skill improvement, and, overall, won’t become boring too quickly. We’ve culled the 10 hottest toys in the market for your little one, and we’re quite positive you won’t be disappointed by looking at this list. If anything, you might be less overwhelmed than when you started. This time, it’ll be because you have too many good options to choose from rather than none. Continue ahead to see what we think are the perfect toys for that playful 1-year-old.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Shape Sorting Rubbery Cube
- VTech Activity Cube
- Encourages Crawling
- Mega Bloks Building Bag
- Enhances Creativity
What Determined the Most Popular on Our List
One of the first things we did was to listen to child development experts and what they had to say about the need to choose items that are appropriate to the 1 year old child’s developmental needs. We have gained this knowledge in our own search of the best 10 and most appropriate gifts for 1 year olds so that parents will have a better chance of choosing the right toy for their child. We’ve also had to take into consideration the overall design, quality, ease of use and safety. We have read feedback, comments and parental reviews of these products to help us better understand what makes these stand out in the market. Credibility and trustworthiness of the manufacturer were also factored in as well. These formed the framework of our selection process to give you the best 10, most-popular and most-appropriate items you can ever give a 1 year old.
A Look at the Developmental Milestones of a 1 Year Old
When your child’s first birthday approaches, you can expect a lot of changes in their development. These changes can include his or her cognitive, language, communication, social and emotional skills. This is the time that they are beginning to develop awareness of their surroundings and may already begin showing understanding of the concept of object permanence. When they enter their second year, your child will already be exploring more about the things around them. They will also begin showing remarkable signs of curiosity. They’ll start searching for more exciting play time activities as they will start getting bored easily. By this time, they already have learned to appreciate cause-effect relationships such as that if they beat the drums then they know that it will produce a loud noise. While the if-and-then relationship is not as refined as it is in older children, 1 year olds already have a firm grasp of cause and effect. It is therefore, crucial to provide the items that will help encourage exploring of cause-effect relationships as well as develop early cognitive skills.
By their first year, parents can expect their children to be able to refine their motor skills. Their child is now starting to become very mobile which allows them to explore, experiment and exercise within the safe confines of their surrounding environment. One-year-olds need to strengthen their larger muscle groups first, like those in the legs and in the arms, before they can start enhancing their fine-motor skills. Nevertheless, their pincer grip will get stronger which should allow them to stack cups and bricks by the time they reach the age of 2.
One-year-olds are more fascinated with pictures although they would appreciate you reading to them. They also require simple repetitive songs to help them grow and expand their language. This means that products that play nursery rhymes or even children’s songs can be beneficial in stimulating optimum language development. This can become the basis for the development of their communication skills and allows them to express themselves in a more creative way. By the time they reach their second birthday, they will already know a lot of words and this will help them communicate and express their thoughts to others. Pretend play and interactive items will be important at this stage in their development.
You won’t be able to expect your 1-year-old boy to share and interact or play with other kids. He will, however, engage in parallel play. As his self-assurance and self-confidence grow, he is able to play in a more independent manner. They will also begin to reflect the behavior of other people especially their primary caregivers so it is crucial to be a good role model for them. This is often evident in their choice of role-playing activities toward the second year of life. It is therefore beneficial for them to be provided with make-believe toys and other playthings that will allow them to model the behavior of those people they admire.
Thinking of a gift to give a 1-year-old boy can be tough especially if you don’t know what you are looking for. Hopefully, with our list for 1-year-olds coupled with our overview of their developmental milestones, we are able to provide you with the correct tools to make the right decision.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Toys for 1-Year-Old Boys
When selecting for this list, we placed safety and cognitive development as the top priorities. Even at the age of 1, your son is growing both mentally and physically into the man he will be for the rest of his life. But before entering school, playtime is one of the most-engaging learning experiences they will come across. It’s important to not only keep them safe but to develop their minds for proper communication and connection to their peers. For young boys, especially, emotional development can difficult. Every item on this list won’t only entertain your son, but aid in these difficult developmental periods.
Cognitive development within a child refers to their growing ability to remember concepts, solve problems, and make decisions. Factors such as emotional understanding, motor skills, and lingual abilities all affect your child’s overall cognitive development. All the toys on our list are designed to further your child’s development in fun, engaging ways and promote further growth.
Emotional: Emotional growth and understanding can be difficult to teach children, especially young boys who’ve yet to fully process their aggressions. Boys typically lack the emotional development that girls do, so implementing activities that help your son recognize and understand emotions is wonderful for their overall development. Once they understand their emotions and feelings towards certain situations, it’s that much easier to communicate complex ideas with their peers and parents.
Psychomotor: Psychomotor skills deal with the relationship between physical activity and your child’s consciousness. This is akin to decision-making, where your child makes a conscious decision to throw a ball and the body then performs the action. Play items that involve stacking, button pushing, or immediate response to an action your child has taken aids in this type of development. This also produces quick thinking within children to react immediately and physically to new stimulus.
Language: Products that improve your child’s language skills involve sounds, words, music, and conversation. Linguistic ability within children appear as early as 4 months, infants typically using a babbling sound to communicate with the outside world. By 1 year old, children have an extremely small vocabulary consisting of two to four clearly definable words. The sooner you begin exercising your child’s linguistic abilities, the larger their vocabulary will be in the future. This allows young children to communicate and learn more complex ideas and also allows them to read at younger and younger ages. One of the best things you can buy and one of the best activities you can do is read to your child.
A huge concern for us when selecting these is your child’s safety. We carefully evaluate all possible hazards, concerns, and parent reviews before considering anything on our lists. To be considered safe for play, only nontoxic materials must be used in its making, all pieces must present no choking hazard, and it must be sturdy enough to not break or shatter after rigorous use.
Nontoxic Materials: Materials such as lead-based paints have been linked to multiple cancers and respiratory issues, so none of our products include lead. Any item that your child might chew on or put in their mouth needs to be free of any toxic residue, not just free of lead. So all of the products on this list are approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and have been given the Children’s Product Safety Certificate. This is an FDA-regulated process, therefore this ensures that only the safest materials are used during production.
Choking Hazards: All products on this list pose no choking hazard to 1 year olds. All pieces provided in the toy kits are at least 1.25 inches in diameter and 2.25 inches in length to prevent swallowing or lodging within the throat. Even though these products are safe for children, please always watch your children closely during play time to avoid any trouble.
Damage Proof: All on our list are also resilient, washable, and flame-retardant. These features ensure that no matter how rough your child is, they will not break into smaller pieces, catch fire, and can stand up to machine washing. This also ensures that your child cannot pop out the batteries of their electronics, thus preventing choking hazards or poisoning.
Learning and Education
Though your 1 year old is a few years away from formal schooling, it’s never too early for a child to learn. When selecting toys for this list, we greatly considered their features for the intellectual development of 1 year olds. All come equipped with some aspect of school learning such as colors, numbers, and words. These also instill creativity and communication skills within toddlers to help with the social aspect of a school. Not only will these items get your children ahead of the curve, but they will also allow your children to develop into social butterflies.
Preparing for School: Products that teach your children colors, numbers, and basic skills as such help your child for the rest of their life. Advancing their education before formal schooling begins makes the curriculum less difficult and lowers your toddler’s frustrations during pre-k and kindergarten. And at the rapid pace schools are presenting new and harder materials, it will only benefit your child to get a head start now.
Creativity: Items that work the right side of your child’s brain, the side most associated with the arts, language, and abstract thinking, promote and advance creative thought. This advancement in your child’s brain power allows them to solve more complex problems than those in their age group. This also allows your child to communicate more complex ideas to you and those around them, aiding in their overall linguistic and social abilities.
Social Skills and Communication: What’s especially important for young toddlers is the development of their communication and social skills. Products that speak to your child or implement music into play time exercise your child’s awareness of others. This prepares them for group settings like school, team sports, and clubs while also giving them the tools to effectively communicate with these larger groups.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How important are toys and playtime to my child’s development?
A: Extremely! Play time is one of the fastest ways to develop your child’s social, emotional, lingual, and psychomotor skills. This is because the concept of play is very rewarding and easy for young minds to grasp. So it’s extremely important to implement toys that engage your child while also aiding in their overall development. Toys that produce music or sounds engage numerous parts of your child’s brain, therefore making these toys optimal for overall development.
Q: What kind of toy’s should I focus on for a 1 year old?
A: As previously stated, items that incorporate music or sound are excellent for the developing mind. By age 1, children begin forming complete, intelligible words. They respond to simple instructions very well and can communicate with gestures. Since there’s a lot going on in the lingual and motor function department, play things that sing or require hands-on activity, such as stacking or button pressing, are optimal for 1 year olds.
Q: Will certain toys affect my son differently than my daughter?
A: Girls tend to be more empathetic and caring than boys are at 1 year old, but this isn’t always the case. If you notice your son is a bit more aggressive than your daughter or his peers, then toys that allow him to exercise this pent-up energy are great for his social development. But this increased aggression might scare other children, so a balance needs to be made. Try searching for toys or activities that allow your son to be extremely active in a team or collaborative setting. This will allow him to exercise his motor skills and drain some energy, but it will also teach him the importance of sharing and fairness among his peers.
Q: What types of toys positively affect my son’s emotional growth?
A: As previously discussed, the promotion of collaboration or teamwork is optimal for developing a boy’s emotional growth at the age of one. Play sports such as soccer, kickball, or even a simple game of catch teaches your son how to properly interact with other children.
Q: Should I be concerned with educational items for a 1 year old?
A: Yes, it’s very important that you begin developing your children for pre-k and kindergarten as soon as possible. Things that teach your children colors, numbers, animals, and the like make other school activities such as spelling that much easier. It’s never too early to get your child ahead for schooling. With that in mind, look for things or companies that specifically create educational toys for younger children. Again, you want to focus on items that produce sounds and engage your child’s linguistic abilities.
Q: What safety features should I look for in battery-operated toys?
A: The number one concern with battery-operated things is security. You want to make sure that your child cannot open up the battery case, no matter how much damage they put it through. Never get your 1 year old something with a poppable back, as these pieces are generally very small and give your children access to live batteries.
Q: Will my son’s language skills develop differently than my daughter?
A: Generally, language skills are directly affected by peer-to-peer interactions and child-to-parent interactions. This means that, in theory, your son’s language skills should progress at the same rate as female peers. However, if your son shows more aggression than those his age, this might hold back his social skills. This, in turn, will negatively affect his language skills and his ability to communicate with other children properly.
Q: What is considered a slow growth for a 12 month old boy? Is this different than girls of the same age?
A: By 12 months, your boy should be forming a few complete words, walking on their own, grasping and reaching for objects with relative success, and playing with others. Should a child fall behind in one of these areas, other skills could be negatively affected. Girls and boys should be at the same level by 12 months, but outside factors could influence the outcome.
Q: Why is creativity important for children to learn at such a young age?
A: Creativity is the beginning of complex problem-solving in a developing child’s mind. When you prompt your child to think creatively or abstractly about a topic, you’re engaging a rather inactive area of their brain. Continuous activities that challenge your child helps them later in life with difficult concepts such as math and science. Creativity also gives your child a sense of independence and self at an early age, leading to dependable and self-aware individuals.
Q: Should I be concerned with my 12 month old’s social skills?
A: While concern isn’t the best descriptor, you should consider your 1 year old’s social skills. Even if they aren’t around other children, your child’s social and communication skills are constantly evolving. Part of socializing and communicating is with their parents, siblings, and babysitters. With proper care and nurturing you can hone in on your child’s emotional development for future interactions with others and yourself. Items that promote sharing, talking and cooperative play time allow your child to better communicate their wants and desires with you in a healthy, effective manner. So, yes, at every age you should consider the progress of your child’s social skills and how to better those skills. Be sure to exercise positive communication and socializing with your child daily while also incorporating items that are specially designed for such tasks.
- Emotional Development, Kids Matter
- The Stages of Intellectual Development in Children and Teenages, Child Development Institue
- Choosing Safe Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers, Kids Health
- Social Intelligence for Toddlers, Aha! Parenting
- Lead Poisoning in Children, Kids Health
- Toy Safety, Consumer Product Safety Commission
- Cognitive Stages for Child Development, LearningRx
- Month by Month Guide To a Baby’s Emotional Development, Parents.com