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Best Toys for a 1 Year Old

With Owen’s first birthday less than a month away (Sob. How has a year passed already?), I thought I’d share the best toys for a one year old– toys that he loves playing with right now in case you’re looking for toys for a little in your life. I’m also going to share toys that are on his birthday wish list that came highly recommended by friends of mine.

Owen plays with conventional toys about 50% of the time. What unconventional toys does he prefer the other half of the time? Empty paper towel rolls, pieces of paper (he loves to push them across the floor), empty Nalgene bottles, plastic drinking cups, and the dresser in our living room (he loves to hold on to the handles and walk back and forth). He also likes to spend time in front of our back door looking for Jack when he’s outside.

best toys for a one year old

bead roller coaster • play tunnel • gears toy • stacking cups • learning walker • stacking toy • smart phone • remote • activity balls

Bead Roller Coaster

Owen will sit and play with the bead roller coaster for 10-15 minutes at a time, which is huge for an 11 month old. The one pictured above is the one we have, which is made by IKEA. If you live close to an IKEA, get one! They’re only $10 in-store.

Play Tunnel

Owen loves to crawl back and forth in this brightly-colored play tunnel, which is great for gross motor skills. We’ll also catch him in the tunnel playing with toys. It’s like his own personal club. No big booty parents allowed.

Gears Toy

One of Owen’s all time favorite toys is his gears toy, which is great for hand eye coordination. He loves to push the button and watch the gears spin (great for learning cause and effect). He also loves to carry the gears around the house and bat them like a cat on the laminate floors in kitchen and entryway. Warning: it hurts like a sonuva when you step on one.

Stacking Cups and Stacking Toy

Owen loves to knock down things, which is why he loves his stacking cups and stacking toy.

Learning Walker

Last week Owen walked for the first time with his push toy learning walker. You can see a video of him walking and laughing with delight here. He’s enjoyed playing with this toy for months. I usually position it against our love seat or coffee table so he can play with the interactive part of the walker. And when I want him to practice walking, I pull it out where he has a clear path and he’ll get up and start walking behind it.

Smart Phone

Owen has loved this smart phone since he was a few months old. If he would start to fuss we would hand it to him and he would usually chew on it. Now he enjoys pushing the buttons and sliding the bottom button.


The same goes for his remote. These are also great for travel because of their size.

Activity Balls

I find these activity balls all over the house. Owen will usually carry one while he crawls. He also likes putting them in baskets and his larger stacking cups and then dumping them out.

Additional Toys

Here’s the toys Owen has on his birthday wish list. When I polled some of my friends, these were the top ones they mentioned.

Best for a 1 year old!

farm • trike • mega bloksmusical instruments • puzzles • bath toys • scoot 2 pedal • basketball set

What toys does/did your one year old love?

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  1. My daughter loved playing with the stacking cups and mega blocks. She had very little attention for toys with buttons.

    The trike is fun! We have one too.

  2. We have pretty much everything on his wish list, or a similar version, and both my kids love them. Classic toys like the barn, bikes, and sports are always good. Duplos and blocks are always good. My son, now almost 2, loved throwing them or sorting when younger. Now he’s building towers and tractors (one of his favorite words to say). You’ve got a great list…enjoy his first birthday!!

  3. Wooden blocks are awesome because they are so versatile. The old fashioned kids play phone with the turning dial is great as is the kids ‘record’ players.

    Skip the push bike and go for a strider- so much better in the long run!

  4. MegaBloks were mostly a “mom builds towers for boy to crash” toy. Duplos have had much more longevity and our almost 6yo will still build with them. We store them in the bottom drawer of his dresser.

    And I love those bath cups! I am extremely paranoid about ensuring his bath toys can’t trap water. He would have loves those when he was younger!

  5. My kids is a total weirdo. She doesn’t seem to enjoy all of the typical toys that children should like. Her toys are her books. (It’s fine, she gets it from me.) That’s not entirely true she loves reading her books while sitting in her coupe car so I guess she is kind of playing with that particular toy. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the awesomeness of Ikea toys. They are such a great deal! I have my eye on their little kitchen for Ellie’s second birthday.

    1. I agree that the Ikea toys are great. The Easter bunny brought a little $10 train set that gets played with almost everyday. It’s almost as nice as the much pricier Thomas sets. Plus, I like that it’s less commercialized.

      My Bright Blue House

  6. Love this list ! I bought my son the stacking cups and remote control and he love them ! Though the remote control is starting to slightly get on my nerves lol

  7. I love all these toys. I now have a 2 1/2 year old.

    As for your current toys: They are all great for 1 year olds and some have potential to last for a lot longer. She is still loving her stacking cups (her cups have holes in them and we use them at bathtime). We never had our own beadmaze but she still plays with them when we go out (the library and the dr.’s office have them). We also never had a tunnel but she loves the tunnels at gymnastics. So, if you are looking for long-term toys, these are great!

    As for the wishlist items, they are all so fun. Just as an FYI, we have those same MegaBlocks. They were wonderful around 1 and she still builds with them but Duplo blocks are better for a little older kid. They fit together a little more snugly. I read that farm animals are a great way to promote language development (all the animal sounds help build different sounds?) so good choice on the farm set. We bought that exact drum set at a garage sale and are in love with it. The person who sold it to us said that her daughter played with it until she was 5-6.

    The only suggestion I have is to think about getting a scooter with a lift up seat. My daughter loves to put stuff in there!

    My Bright Blue House

  8. Mary Ellen says:

    I bought my grandson the Radio Flyer trike for his first birthday. I loved it because the pedals flipped up flat against the wheels until such time as he was able to coordinate his feet to use the. The one we bought had a flip up seat so that he could store stuff under it. He loved it then and still plays with it some now. He is three years old now. I’m thinking of buying it for my granddaughter who turns one later this month.

  9. Great read, loved this roundup,thanks you for sharing such an informative post ,i’m always very confused what kind of gifts to buy for my nephew and I was looking for a useful toys which can encourage him in learning, these toys are really the perfect gifts for him. Hope he would love to play and learn with them.

  10. Wow, that’s a wonderful list. The best toys for 1 year olds are something that will keep them entertained for hours and also develop their essential skills at the same time.

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