As children turn one, they will enter a whole new phase and become a toddler. So make sure to help them with their growth and development, practice their new skills, and reach key milestones with this list of the best toys for 1-year-olds.
Choosing toys for 1-year-olds can be challenging, especially with so many options available on the market. Since they are no longer infants, they require more than just something that they can hold on to, chew, or make a sound out of. At this age, they are entering toddlerhood – which is a crucial time for their growth and development.
When kids turn one, they will be growing and learning at such a fast pace. It is during this time that children reach some key milestones, like taking their first step, walking, and talking. They will also be more curious, getting interested in bigger questions.
With that in mind, the best toys for 1-year-olds are those that can help them practice their new skills, foster their imagination, stimulate their senses, and aid in their physical development. Where do you find such toys? We’ve got you covered.
Our toy design experts have spent many hours researching toy retailers in Australia, including Viga, Big Jigs, Goki, Perilou, and Fat Brain Toys. We also looked at several online marketplaces such as Catch.com.au, Etsy, and Amazon to put together a list of the best toys for developing a one-year-old’s motor skills, imagination and creativity, colour and shape recognition, problem-solving, and more.
All toys included in this list are suitable for children from 10-18 months but can be played with until they are older. They are carefully chosen based on their usefulness in a child’s growth and development and in reaching their key milestones – while, of course, making sure they provide tons of fun for your little one.
The Best Toys for 1-Year-Olds
- Best for Colour and Shape Recognition: Colourful Transparent Blocks
- Best for Imagination and Creativity: Wooden Blocks
- Best for Active Playing: Foam Tiles
- Best for Hand-Eye Coordination: Stacking Tower
- Best for Problem-Solving: Inny Bin
- Best for Fine Motor Skills: Hammer Game
1. Best for Colour and Shape Recognition: Colourful Transparent Blocks
The Colourful Transparent Blocks by Viga is perfect for teaching your little one shapes and colours. The blocks come in 6 different shapes and 4 colours, all in varying sizes. Since each block features a transparent acrylic plastic in the middle, you can also hold pieces of blocks together and teach your child about colour combinations. For instance, holding together the yellow and blue blocks can create a green colour.
Aside from that, this toy can be used for stacking and building endless structures, too. From towers to castles, houses, towns, and more, your child will have a great time exploring their imagination. But since we’re talking about 1-year-olds, you should first expect something simpler – like a stack of 2-3 blocks.
That said, this toy is suitable for children 18 months and up. Your child can start by stacking some pieces of blocks, or they can try to sort them out by putting pieces with the same shapes or colours together. Then as their building skills advance (or if you are buying for someone older), you can add it with other building blocks to create more intricate designs.
We highly recommend this toy to parents who want to give their child a beautiful and stimulating toy that will not only help educate but also develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Even better, this toy creates a beautiful and dazzling effect when the sun shines directly on them. Not only is this pretty to look at, but your child is also able to learn about light and reflection. Nice, right? So make sure to get it now!
2. Best for Imagination and Creativity: Wooden Blocks
Why we love it:
- Boosts imagination and creativity
- Durable and well-made
- Uses water-based paint
- Blocks come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colours
What skills it helps develop:
- Fine motor skills
- Hand-eye coordination
- Cause and effect
- Imagination and creativity
- Shape recognition
- Cognitive skills
Wooden Blocks are considered among the best toys every child should have and it’s no wonder why as it is a great way for sparking a child’s imagination and creativity. This particular set by EverEarth, for instance, includes 50 pieces of smooth, quality building blocks that your child can use to stack and build towers, houses, castles, and anything they can imagine – in the future.
Since 1-year-olds still don’t have the ability to make amazing architectural structures yet, what they can do with this toy is to stack, knock down, carry, and move the blocks around. While this may sound simple for adults, it teaches kids plenty of things.
For one, wooden blocks can boost your child’s dexterity and develop both their fine and gross motor skills. It also helps develop their cognitive skills since they’ll be challenged to build basic structures by combining a variety of blocks. Plus, it helps them recognize shapes and colours, which can help in their cognitive development as well.
This set of wooden blocks by EverEarth is suitable for children from 18 months and up. If you are buying for older kids, consider adding it with other building toys like marble runs or more wooden blocks to create more complex variations.
We highly recommend this toy for parents who want to introduce their child to the basics of math and science. Hey, it’s never too early to start with STEM learning, especially when they’re having fun, right? By playing with wooden blocks, you can help them quickly learn about cause and effect, spatial awareness, gravity as well as fractions, symmetry, and balance.
The best part? The company will plant one tree for every product they sell. So what are you waiting for? Buy it now!
3. Best for Active Playing: Foam Tiles
As your child enters toddlerhood, they will be more active in playing. Thus, it is a good idea to buy them foam tiles. This will create a safe and clean place for your child to play. It will also provide your child with the cushioning they need when practising standing up or taking their first steps.
This foam tiles set by BalanceFrom come with 36 tiles and 9 colours. You can choose from either shapes or the alphabet, which is great for shape and letter recognition. Also, since all the tiles are designed to interlock with each other and made to be like removable puzzles, your child can put them together or take them apart as much as they want. This will not only practice their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination but will also develop their problem-solving skills and spatial vocabulary.
We recommend this toy for all ages. It is multipurpose and very versatile that it can be used while they are still babies up until they become toddlers. For younger children, it can be used as a mat to create a safe space. As they grow older, they can use it as a giant puzzle or create giant boxes and stack them together.
The best part? This Foam Tiles set is easy to clean. All you need is a damp cloth and mild soap, and you are good to go. So go check it out now!
4. Best for Hand-Eye Coordination: Stacking Tower
Looking for a simpler yet challenging toy? If so, then consider this Stacking Tower by Goki. By figuring out how to grasp, stack, and fit each piece onto the base, your little one can practice their dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
This toy comes with 6 stackable wooden rings and a rounded wooden base. Each piece is tactile, has a different size, and great for little hands. By stacking these rings, your child can learn about spatial thinking as they understand what piece goes on and under.
With a bit of help from you, a stacking tower can also be used to teach about colours and numbers. You can count and say the colours of the rings out loud as they are getting stacked.
While this toy has a manufacturer’s recommended age of 2 and up, it’s also suitable for 1-year-olds. It doesn’t have small parts and uses water-based glazed finish, so it’s safe to play with. While they may not successfully put the rings in their proper order at this age, they are still able to practice critical thinking, work on their fine motor skills, and just have fun putting and removing the rings from the base.
What we love about this toy is that it’s solid and very durable. And with its quality, it’s surprisingly affordable too. So make sure to check it out!
5. Best for Problem-Solving: Inny Bin
The Inny Bin is unlike many traditional shape sorters, which can be frustrating for little ones when they can’t get the shape through the right hole. By literally bending the rules of the game with the use of elastic bands, this toy allows 1-year-olds to explore and learn the concept of cause and effect as well as problem-solving.
Including a hard-edged cube with soft elastic bands and 6 shape blocks, the Inny Bin encourages kids to figure out what they need to do for each shape to slip through. Instead of matching the right hole with its corresponding shape, your child will have to manipulate the bands or the objects themselves to get them inside.
While this may seem easier, it’s not. Getting the shapes inside is one thing and they also have to figure out how to get each piece out. The cube also has 2 sides with cross-over elastics, so getting the shapes inside will be harder. This extra level of difficulty is great as it will continue to challenge your child, making its lifespan longer.
This is a toy that you can get as soon as your child can sit up or when they reach 10 months. However, it’s still plenty of fun and challenging for those older than that. You can also use it with other items and toys with different shapes to make it even more challenging for bigger kids.
All in all, the Inny Bin is a great toy for building fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It’s also perfect for helping kids understand colours, textures, shapes, and elasticity. So consider getting it for your child now!
6. Best for Fine Motor Skills: Hammer Game
This Mr Mushrooms Hammer Game by Le Toy Van Petilou is a classic hammer-pounding toy that’s perfect for helping your child’s fine motor skills, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination. It comes with a circle base, 5 mushrooms with funny faces, and a cute bunny hammer to hit them with.
Aside from helping in your child’s physical development, this toy can also teach them about cause and effect as they see what happens with the mushrooms when they hit them with the bunny hammer. It also introduces them to the idea that they can use tools to accomplish tasks.
We recommend this toy for toddlers 18 months and up. For older children, you can make the game more challenging by adding a timer or by simply counting, which is also great if you want to teach about numbers. You can see how fast they can hit all 5 mushrooms in one go. Or you can join in the fun and see who’s the fastest to hit all Mr Mushroom heads.
We highly recommend the Hammer Game Mr Mushrooms if you are looking for toys that can help with your child’s developing fine motor skills while making sure they are having fun. After all, what toddler wouldn’t love smashing and bashing things, right?
The best part is that this toy is made of wood, making it sturdy and able to handle any child’s rough play. So make sure to check it out!
How We Researched the Best Toys for Your 1-Year-Old
We relied on our vast toy design experience and reliable studies on child development, such as this one from the Department of Health Western Australia, to provide you with only the very best toys you can find in the country.
From leading online marketplaces to local toy retailers, we looked everywhere to see what toys are available in the market. From there, we were able to identify over 80 different toys from 20 different retailers. We then classified them according to the skills they help develop.
To cut down our list, we began identifying the best toys in their category. We compared all the products and looked at their functionality, design and aesthetics, value for money, quality, safety, and educational value. Of course, making sure they are fun and entertaining for 1-year-olds.
After much deliberation and research, we were then able to narrow it down to the final 6 you see in this list. With this in mind, we guarantee that all the toys we have included here are truly the best for your 1-year-old.
What to Look for When Buying Toys for Your 1-Year-Old
One of the first things you should look for when buying a toy for a toddler is safety. Any toy with small parts is a no-no as it can be a choking risk. It should also be sturdy and that there are no small parts like buttons, eyes, noses, etc. that can break off or be pulled loose.
Aside from that, you should check the materials and finishings and make sure they are safe and non-toxic. There should be no sharp edges or ends as well. As for the size, toys for toddlers should be large enough. According to Product Safety Australia, for toys for children up to and including 36 months of age, the toy itself and any parts of it that can come off must not be smaller than a 35mm film canister.
As your child enters toddlerhood, it’s tempting to start buying all the toys that can teach your little one new things. However, you should keep in mind that many of them may not be suitable for your child.
When you give your child a toy beyond its age recommendation, they may not show interest and not play with it at all, which means you’ll be wasting money. They may also feel overwhelmed or frustrated since it’s too advanced for their particular stage of development.
So to prevent this, always check for the manufacturer’s age recommendation. But aside from that, you should also consider your child’s developmental stage, temperament, habits, and behaviour when buying. This will ensure you’ll end up with a toy that your child understands, enjoy, and engage with.
Now, all that is easier said than done. So to give you a more detailed guide on how to select suitable toys for your young toddler, here’s an article entitled “Which Toy for Which Child” by the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
According to this article, you’ll find that the most ideal toys for 1-year-olds based on their abilities and interests are push and pull toys, blocks, shape sorters, nesting cups, simple stacking toys, hammering toys, and more.
When choosing toys for 1-year-olds, you have to make sure they are unbreakable and able to withstand the use and abuse of such young children. This will not only ensure your child’s safety, but it will also give you more value for your money.
So how do you know if a toy is durable? Well, it should be made of materials that can last a long time like wood or cloth. It should also be able to survive the impact from throwing, hitting, or getting stepped on. Make sure to check the construction as well and see if there are any sharp edges or points, glue showing, and bad paint jobs. This will give you an idea if a toy’s long-term quality is lasting.
Design and Aesthetics
In terms of design and aesthetics, toys for 1-year-olds should be lightweight so they can easily lift and carry them around. They should also be bright and colourful to stimulate their vision and capture their attention. While they don’t necessarily have to be highly detailed, they should at least look realistic. Most of all, toys for this specific age group should be simple and easy to use.
Toys offer plenty of benefits for developing young minds and bodies. They can help fine-tune a child’s motor skills, problem-solving skills, senses, and more. So when choosing a toy for your 1-year-old, consider its educational value and what it can do for your child.
At this age, the best toys that offer the most educational value are those that introduce your child to different colours, shapes, textures, and sizes. Toys that encourage exploration, imagination, and creativity are good choices, too. And while some toys may look too simple for adults, they can also be great tools in introducing children to the basic concepts of mathematics and science – i.e. stacking blocks!
Benefits of 1-Year-Olds Playing with Toys
One of the best things about letting children play with toys is that you can encourage them to think. With the help of toys, they can figure things out on their own and understand how things work. They can also use trial and error to start solving problems. For example, when they can’t fit an object through the Inny Bin, they might try moving the elastic bands or flipping the object around.
According to an article on Better Kid Care, ones are all about doing and then seeing what happens. They are very interested in actions and reactions, and cause and effect, especially when they’re the ones providing the action.
Nurturing such ability is important as it will greatly help their scientific thinking. To do this, you can provide your child toys that they can act on and that can respond when they perform a simple action. This can include wooden blocks and hammer games.
A study conducted on children aged 10-16 months and their parents found that aside from reading books, playing with traditional toys such as blocks, shape sorters, and puzzles is better than electronic toys in promoting a rich communicative interaction between parent and child. This results in better language ability and a better early language environment, which in turn can affect your child’s reading and academic success in the future.
So while it’s tempting to buy the most advanced electric toys that are complete with all the bells and whistles, traditional non-electronic toys are still better in promoting language development in very young children.
You can aid in the physical development of your child by allowing them to play with toys, according to an article on Child Care Resources. By picking up coloured cubes and dropping them in containers or stacking them together, kids are able to practice their fine motor skills. When they play with a set of stacking rings or towers, they are also improving their visual skills.
Aside from that, toys are great for enhancing your child’s hand-eye coordination. The Hammer Game Mr Mushrooms, for example, is perfect for developing such skill. Not only does it teaches your child to grasp and hold the hammer properly, but it also encourages them to use their hands and eyes simultaneously to hit the mushrooms.
According to the Integrated Child, Youth, and Family Services, hand-eye coordination is necessary for a variety of daily, routine activities, such as pouring a drink and unlocking a door. It’s also important in playing, sports, handwriting, and reading. So if you want to make it easier for your child in the future, consider helping develop such skills as early as now.
Imagination and Creativity
Every child, Nido Early School says, is capable of expressing creativity – not the quality of the outcome or product, but the process. By encouraging and supporting the development of such a skill, you can also help develop important life skills, including relationship building and self-confidence. Furthermore, allowing children to express their creativity is said to be important for their physical development, mental growth, personal growth, problem-solving skills, and uniqueness.
As a parent, you can encourage imagination and creativity through play and toys, which are described in a study to be the “most powerful tools” of such ability. This study further suggests that “quality toys, when used appropriately, provide children with a wealth of opportunities for creativity.”
Shape and Colour Recognition
According to Youthland Academy, teaching your toddler about shapes and colours is an important step in their early development because it helps them to define and organize much of the world they see around them. Recognizing shapes and colours is also said to be a foundational skill that helps set children up for school life.
That said, toys are great learning tools since they already come in different shapes and colours. Aside from seeing, your child can hold and study what every shape and colour looks like up close. Plus, there’s no better way to teach young minds than through having fun, right?
By developing your child’s shape and colour recognition, you are also allowing them to learn how to sort and classify – which, according to experts, are math skills that every child will need to master for future math learning.
According to a report entitled “STEM Starts Early”, “children can and should engage in STEM learning, even in the earliest years of life.” It further states that “brain and skills-building experiences early in life are critical for child development, and high-quality early STEM experiences can support a child’s growth across areas as diverse as executive function and literacy development.”
That said, there are many toys that promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills and learning, even for 1-year–olds. By stacking blocks, for example, kids can collect data, figure out strategies, and solve problems. They are also able to learn what they need to do and adjust accordingly when things do not go as expected.
This is backed by the Iowa Regents Center for Early Development Education, which states that playing with blocks allows infants and toddlers to engage in mathematics as they begin to match, group, classify, organize, and start noticing similarities and differences. As they grow and develop, they will then figure out how to balance and start constructing more elaborate and complex structures – which then lays the very foundations of STEM skills.
And that’s it. Remember, when children play with toys, they can explore and experiment freely. Most of all, they can learn many concepts and important developmental skills – all while having fun!