Great Birthday Toys for a 1 Year Old Baby
You baby’s first birthday. How exciting! As you think about what you’ll give your little one, bear in mind which toys are just right for this stage of development. The right toy at the right time sparks a child’s imagination, rewards her with a sense of accomplishment and pushes her – or him – forward to new milestones.
Read on for our picks, based on what one-year-olds are up to developmentally.
One of the most fascinating things about babies this age is watching their imaginations develop. Whether they’re pretend vacuuming or playing with dolls, stuffed animals or toy vehicles, they’re flexing those newfound mental muscles to learn about the world around them. Plus your LO will also be learning how to make decisions and gaining confidence along the way.
This toy house, which comes with some furniture and a toy child, will appeal to boys and girls – plus parents and grandparents are impressed with its sturdy construction and the fact that it closes up and has a handle for easy portability. And Tolo makes a variety of accessories, to help populate the house (more furniture, a baby, a scooter, a dog).
Babies love imitating anything that adults do. They also love pushing buttons, which means that cell phones are pretty irresistible. And there are certainly benefits to babies playing with phones – mimicking phone etiquette being chief among them, you don’t necessarily want yours accidentally calling Mogadishu or being dropped in the toilet. Hence the toy phone (or a decommissioned real phone, but be sure to remove the battery as well as dismantling all the service before you hand it over).
There are lots of toy phones out there, but this one has an appealing, easy-to-use interface for the youngest ones and can also help them learn numbers, shapes, animals and songs.
Sorting and stacking – they’re some of babies’ favorite activities, and stacking toys help them parlay that desire into problem-solving as they work to get the proper shapes on a spindle in the proper order, or next boxes or cups (or measuring cups). And along the way, these classic toys will help them learn to differentiate shapes and colors.
Go to a playground populated with toddlers, and you’ll see a lot of push toys. Babies are fascinated by the cause-and-effect that push toys provide – push them and they go. In the meantime, they’re getting a lot of exercise and developing their muscles, coordination, depth perception and interpersonal skills (turns out the other babies want to “share” the good toys.)
Once they’re walking, kids will be thrilled they can make this toy do things (love that popping noise). Parents love the nostalgia. The popper also provides great opportunities for imaginary play (It’s a vacuum player! It’s a lawn mower! It’s a weed whacker!)
“Building” is a fabulous learning experience for your baby, and a toy like blocks will provide years of enjoyment as your LO’s skills progress. Stacking and toppling (The power! The noise! The mess! The reaction!) teach cause-and-effect as well as control, key concepts for toddlers.
These eminently graspable, brightly colored blocks will encourage pattern-making – another task that they’re starting to learn with every round of piling up and knocking down.
Around age 1, babies are starting to “get” puzzles. They like looking at the shapes and the colors and, eventually, they get a thrill from the accomplishment of putting the right pieces in the right holes. In the meantime, they’re developing their hand-eye coordination, logical thinking and spatial intelligence. The very earliest puzzles have pegs so that even the youngest toddlers can pick up the pieces and, after they get the hang of it, put each one in the appropriate spot in the puzzle.
This one has 8 shapes, each with an easy-to-grasp wooden knob. Little learners can not only figure out how the puzzle works, but also, as you communicate the names of the colors and shapes, those will start sinking in, too.
Babies love music, and whether or not listening to Mozart makes them better at math, listening to and making music definitely does help with their cognitive, verbal, and motor-skill development. Percussion instruments like drums and xylophones are a great present for this pounding-loving age.
There are lots of xylophones out there, but parents (especially musician parents) appreciate that this one has great tone – and not a lot of distracting bells and whistles that keep the baby away from just playing it.
As babies are getting closer to walking, they’re primed for “graduating” to more sophisticated ride-on toys. In the meantime, pushing the ride-ons around gives them confidence in being mobile. Once they’re ready to climb on and off, they’ll be strengthening their leg muscles – and achieving the sense of independence they so desperately crave.
Bright, cute and well-wearing, the Prince Lionheart Wheelie Bug is a fun push toy for pre-walkers, and it satisfies older riders with spins and speed. Two sizes are available.
Books are a classic, time-honored gift, and babies and parents love them. While it’s great to read all sorts of books to little ones, board books have the fabulous benefit that those little hands can turn the pages – and the won’t rip. Whether you’re reading to the baby (that same book, over and over and over again) or she’s “reading” to herself, she’s developing language skills even though she can’t talk yet.
There’s a good reason this book is such a classic – it’s a wonderful book with language and pictures that will both appeal to and stretch the minds of babies. This gift version comes with a stuffed bunny who can be put to bed after saying goodnight to the bears, chairs and people everywhere.
Babies learn by trial and error and by repeating actions. A shape sorter is a classic grow-with-your-child toy that allows those increasingly coordinated hands to pick up (and eventually identify) the colored shapes and stick them through the proper holds.
This classic shape sorter has been around for your years. Parents like the fact that it’s simple and straightforward (no noises or lights); when they hit the right age, kids love putting those shapes in over and over. Or stacking them up. Or making patterns with them.