The 32 Best Gifts for One-Year-Old Kids (That Aren’t Hideous)

Maybe you’ve got a one-year-old. (Congrats! You made it through the hardest 12 months of your life!) Maybe you know a one-year-old. Maybe you just got invited to your co-worker’s kid’s first birthday and have no clue what to bring.

Any way you slice it, coming up with gift ideas for a person who is just maybe walking, just maybe talking is no easy task. You want to get something that’s stimulating and age-appropriate, while also not hideous (harder than you’d think!), plus, you know, fun. That’s why we went straight to the source—real moms—for these 32 best gifts for one-year-olds (aside from that first bite of cake, of course).

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gifts for 1 year olds walk along puppy

1. Walk-along Puppy Wooden Pull Toy

This little guy is great for developing fine motor skills, since it promotes dexterity, hand-eye coordination and general picking up and putting down. (And hopefully placing in the toy bin when playtime is over!) We also like that, unlike other pull toys, this one is made from wood, not plastic, and non-toxic finishes. Need further proof? It was the winner of the Parents Magazine Best Toys Award.

Hape ($22)

gifts for 1 year olds wooden activity cube

2. Wooden Activity Cube

Doors that open and shut! Beads that zip up, down and over! Farm animals that you can flip around…and around…and around. This five-sided activity cube has so much for kids 12 months-plus to do and discover. It’s also great for toddlers who are just learning to stand up, since they can brace themselves on the top while they explore. Plus, it’s refreshing to find an activity cube that doesn’t play annoying music you’ll have to hear over and over.

Battat ($60)

first 100 words book gifts for 1 year olds

3. ‘first One Hundred Words’

Cat. Banana. Chair. Sippy Cup. The words (and corresponding pictures) in this essential board book are designed to feel relatable to early talkers, and expand vocabularies in a fun, natural way. It’s also just a great way to start reading with your child, from a very early age—a crucial activity for both bonding and speech development.

Priddy Books ($5)

gifts for 1 year olds shape sorter

4. Shape Sorter

An oldie but a goodie. An iconic shape sorter is great for cognitive development (the triangle goes where now?), color and shape identification (“can you show me the green square?”) and general unstructured play—a must according to pediatricians. This Melissa & Doug version is simple, affordable and small enough to fit in your toy chest. Parents also like that all the pieces store inside the sorter itself.

Melissa & Doug ($12)

gifts for 1 year olds nesting and stacking blocks

5. Nesting And Stacking Blocks

Speaking of toys that clean up nice and easy, a lightweight set of cardboard stacking blocks is both a kid and parent favorite. Great for fine motor development, these blocks encourage tiny hands to grasp, stack and—boom!—knock over. And, as this mom can attest, they hold up remarkably well over time. We love the darling Eric Carle design, but any set will do.

World of Eric Carle ($15)

gifts for 1 year olds water table

6. Water Table

For birthdays that roll around in summer months, this is a perennial fan favorite. Kids can drop balls down the spiral, watching them spin into the water—or turn the Ferris wheel to scoop up and drop off the balls. It’s also a great way for children to cool off, without getting soaking wet. There is, of course, no way to get around the ugly plastic angle, but this is by far the cutest one we’ve spotted.

Little Tikes ($31)

tap the magic tree book gifts for 1 year olds

7. ‘tap The Magic Tree’

Tap the tree, shake the tree, blow a whooshing breeze: This interactive board book gets kids—even non-verbal ones—in on the story-telling. And the charming narrative, about the changing seasons, just might teach them something. Essentially, it’s Pat the Bunny for the modern era.

Greenwillow Books ($7)

gifts for 1 year olds dump truck

8. Dump Truck

Ever watch a 15-month-old “vroom” a truck back and forth nine zillion times? As it turns out, it’s educational, since it encourages imaginative play and fine motor skills. This dump, made with environmentally friendly materials, is classic enough to go anywhere—even the backyard.

Green Toys ($23)

gifts for 1 year olds magnetic tiles

9. Magnetic Tiles

Yes, they’re pricey. But trust when we say a 32-piece Magna-Tile set is worth the investment. The box says ages three and up, but we’ve watched kids as young as nine months explore and build with these magnetic blocks that form boxes, houses, castles, tractors…we could go on. The best part is that they’ll stay in the toy rotation for years, and help develop math, tactile and spatial skills well into elementary school.

Magna-Tiles ($50)

gifts for 1 year olds pop up activity toy

10. Pop Up Activity Toy

Generally, we’re not huge fans of clunky, plastic things. But Playskool Busy Poppin’ Pals has enthralled enough one-year-olds to change our tune. The colorful buttons vary in difficulty (the easiest requires a push, the hardest a key turn), and each reveals a fun animal when used correctly. This writer’s son spent a solid two months getting that tricky lion to emerge.

Playskool ($21)

gifts for 1 year olds doll stroller

11. Doll Stroller

You know how little kids like to imitate grown-up tasks? And also how they’re learning to walk? Enter: The doll stroller, which makes one-year-olds feel like they’re a mommy or daddy, and gives them extra support when shuffling across the room. We have never met a toddler who didn’t love to push their baby or stuffed animal in this thing. Give it indiscriminately to girls and boys alike.

Adora ($17)

gifts for 1 year olds baby doll

12. Baby Doll

Yet another great unisex toy, Wee Baby Stella is soft, huggable and great for helping kids practice their empathy skills. She even comes with a removable diaper and dress (hello, bath time) and a magnetic pacifier, should she require a little extra soothing.

Manhattan Toy ($18)

dear zoo book gifts for 1 year olds

13. ‘dear Zoo’

This lift-the-flap board book encourages participation and teaches animal names in the process. We also support the pro-puppy message at the end.

Little Simon ($5)

gifts for 1 year olds spinagin toy

14. Spinagain Toy

It’s a simple concept: A corkscrew pole and six brightly colored disks that spin down it. And yet, one-year-olds love it and can stay occupied for eons, working on their hand-eye coordination, motor dexterity and cause-and-effect learning. Plus, even though it’s made of plastic, it still feels chic enough to leave out in the living room.

Fat Brain Toys ($30)

gifts for 1 year olds corn popper

15. Corn Popper

There are all sorts of adorable wooden push toys on the market (all designed to aid with walking and hand-eye coordination). But there’s something so lovely and old-fashioned about the Fischer-Price Corn Popper, which also has bright colors and exciting popping sounds to stimulate auditory and visual senses. Plus, it’s never too early to start teaching them about popcorn…

Fischer-Price ($13)

gifts for 1 year olds roll up piano

16. Roll-up Piano

Wanna encourage music making? Don’t have a ton of space? This genius piano rolls right up into a snug, little package, but works just like a regular keyboard. Little guys will love mashing on the keys. (Don’t worry, Mom, you can turn the volume down.) And bigger kids might even learn to bust out a tune or two.

MukkiM ($39)

gifts for 1 year olds pipsquigz

17. Pipsquigz

These adorable, little silicon doo-dads suction to just about any surface, and then can be played with, pulled apart, used as a rattle, chewed, you name it! We love that they encourage tactile and motor skills, and are weirdly satisfying for adults to play with as well. Plus, they won ASTRIA’s best toys award for 2014.

Fat Brain Toys ($20)

gifts for 1 year olds wood animal puzzle

18. Wood Animal Puzzle

The chunky knobs are easy for little hands to grasp, and the shapes iconic enough to recognize and try to put back into place. If you’re getting this for your own child, use it as an opportunity to practice animal names and noises. (Admit it: You make a mean “neigh.”)

Melissa & Doug ($17)

gifts for 1 year olds sound puzzle

19. Sound Puzzle

Ready for something a little more challenging? The pieces of this musical instrument sound puzzle are smaller, but it’s oh-so-rewarding when you get the trumpet in the correct spot, and it plays a nifty little trumpet tune. (And as far as noisy toys go, this one is decidedly in the non-annoying camp.)

Melissa & Doug ($20)

gifts for 1 year olds lego duplo creative play

20. Lego Duplo Creative Play

Kid ready for her first box of LEGOS? This Duplo set features extra big pieces (easy to manipulate and not a choking hazard) and comes together to form a nice, little animal house. It may prove tricky for children who are newly one, but we promise they’ll grow into it. We also love that you can put all the LEGOs away in the carrying case when you’re done playing with them.

LEGO ($24)

gifts for 1 year olds little people big helpers home

21. Little People Big Helpers Home

This playhouse is perfect for tiny hands and kids who want to practice “helping” around the house, since the Little People here can go to bed, sit at the breakfast table and even flush the toilet. A word of warning: This interactive home does play music and make noises, so if you’re not into that kind of thing, you’ll want to discreetly remove the batteries.

Fischer-Price ($32)

gifts for 1 year olds bath pipe set

22. Bath Pipe Toy Set

Rub-a-dub-dub…let’s keep you entertained in the tub. This set of five pipes suctions to the wall and allows your kiddo to make individual or linked chains through which they can pour water…which drains right back into the tub. And, because they have little holes in them, these pipes never get gross and moldy.

Boon ($14)

gifts for 1 year olds hooded towel

23. Hooded Towel

Wanna run with that bathtub theme? Get them a hooded towel and washcloth set they can call their own (and that fits them perfectly). We love that this Teddy Bear towel is extra absorbent and big enough for even larger one-year-olds.

Organic Bamboo ($13)

each peach plum pear book gifts for 1 year olds

24. ‘each Peach Pear Plum’

We’re suckers for strong meter and clever rhymes, and this board book (which you may remember from your own childhood) is the gold standard. The classic “I spy” romp through beloved fairy tales introduces kids to characters like Bo Peep and Tom Thumb, all with darling illustrations and clever poetry. In other words, it’s a story you won’t mind reading again and again…and again…

Picture Puffin Books ($7)

gifts for 1 year olds pounding toy bench

25. Pounding Bench Toy

What one-year-old doesn’t like to hammer things? Help them out with some condoned smashing and get them this classic peg and mallet set. Yet again, it’s great for developing hand-eye coordination and identifying colors, and simply provides an outlet for safe, unstructured play.

Melissa & Doug ($14)

gifts for 1 year olds curious george jack in the box

26. Curious George Jack In The Box

Talk about teaching cause and effect! Children will love turning the handle, hearing “Pop Goes the Weasel” and squealing with delight when the monkey emerges. Grown-ups will love the timeless design and sturdy metal construction.

Schylling ($20)

gifts for 1 year olds personalized name puzzle

27. Personalized Name Puzzle

We know, we know, they can’t read yet. But they’ll appreciate knowing this bright, wooden puzzle spells their name…and it just might help them learn their letters as they get older. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even discover how to make an anagram!

Fat Brain Toys ($27)

gifts for 1 year olds teepee tent

28. Teepee Tent

Admittedly, this is equal parts for parents and kids, but how cute would this indoor-outdoor tent look in your playroom? And how much would your on-the-go child love having a special place to call his own? It’s also portable and foldable, should you need to put it away…but why would you?

Little Dove Kids ($55)

brown bear brown bear what do you see book gifts for 1 year olds

29. ‘brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?’

She probably already has The Very Hungry Caterpillar. (If not, buy it for her stat!) But this lesser known Eric Carle book is equally beautiful and great for teaching early talkers words and colors.

Henry Holt ($7)

gifts for 1 year olds wooden bike

30. Wooden Bike

Got a little mover on your hands? This first bike is great even for kids as young as 12 months, though it will become more fun as they grow older. The sleek winner of the 2013 Oppenheim Toy Award, it’s designed to help with mobility and motor skills and will even develop muscle strength as toddlers scoot themselves across the floor. Speaking of those floors, rubberized wheels protect from unsightly scuffs.

Hape ($67)

gifts for 1 year olds wooden drum

31. Wooden Drum

It doesn’t get much simpler than this: A classic drum with built-in storage for the drumstick. Provided you can handle the sound of your one-year-old banging a wooden drum for 45 minutes straight, this guy is great for teaching hand-eye-coordination and rhythm. Baby Ringo, anyone?

Brio ($20)

gifts for 1 year olds elmo doll

32. Elmo Doll

What can we say? Kids come out of the womb obsessed with this furry, red, falsetto-singing Muppet. Go with an Elmo doll and you won’t go wrong. Bonus: It’s machine-washable.

Sesame Street ($15)

jillian quint
Jillian Quint

Editor-in-Chief, Avid Reader, Wallpaper Enthusiast

Jillian Quint is the Editor-in-Chief of PureWow, where she oversees the editorial staff and all the fabulous content you read every day. Jillian began her career as a book editor...
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