The best toys for 1 year olds in 2022 - tried and tested

Our pick of the best toys for 1 year olds to stimulate, educate and delight

Best toys for 1 year olds
(Image credit: Future)

The best toys for 1 year olds aren’t just fun for little fingers to explore and engaging to play with - they’re also highly supportive of this important stage in your baby’s development.  

Choosing the best gifts and top Christmas toys (opens in new tab) for one-year-olds isn’t just about picking items that will capture your baby’s attention or look beautiful in your home. Babies go through key developmental milestones (opens in new tab) around their first birthday, including taking to their feet and becoming more mobile. Most one-year-olds are keen to explore the world around them, whether they are bottom shuffling, crawling or walking, so this stage of play is all about supporting them to do so safely. With this in mind, toys like ride-on vehicles are ideal to ensure that playtime is as practical as it is fun.

Play is vital for developing lots of important skills, so toys that help support this process are an especially good investment. For example, one-year-olds are perfecting the ability to pick up small objects between their thumb and index finger - a skill known as the ‘pincer grip’ which will eventually help them to use a pencil at school. The best toys for one-year-olds, therefore, include items that help stimulate and encourage the development of this very important skill.

Many children will be mobile by their first birthday. Whether they are bottom shuffling, crawling or walking, kids will be keen to explore more of the world around them at this stage. That means they'll gravitate towards toys that will help support them as they try to stand up or even move around, such as the best baby walkers.

All of that said, educational toys for children aren’t necessarily the best toys for one-year-olds. 'The important thing is to provide children with a range of playthings and allow them to play freely with different toys,’ says child psychologist Dr. Amanda Gummer. ‘This helps with things like decision-making skills, self-awareness, emotional wellbeing, and creativity.’

How we chose and tested these toys

We went on the hunt for the best toys for one-year-olds and tested them out with a team of toddlers to make sure they are products that little ones will love. You can read more about how we test and review products (opens in new tab) but here's what we took into consideration when shortlising the best toys for 1 year olds:

  • So that you can easily find the best playtime buys to suit your 12-month-old, we have included sensory toys, toys to encourage physical development, and options that encourage role-play too. 
  • We also picked products with a range of different aesthetics, from wooden toys that will look fantastic on the nursery shelf, to colourful toys with light and musical features that your child won't tire of - and which won't drive you mad!

Best toys for 1 year olds

Bugsy Rocking Horse | Mamas & Papas (opens in new tab)

Bugsy Rocking Horse | Mamas & Papas (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR:
Movement and balance
Age suitability:
12 months +
Batteries required:
No
RRP: £75

A rocking horse is a traditional classic that makes the perfect 1st birthday present that can be enjoyed for years to come. With its super soft fur, neutral colour palette, and adorable face, this cute rocking horse toy brings a modern twist to the age-old nursery staple. Our mini tester loved rocking on it. And its hidden surprises (a hidden bell in one ear and a rattle in the other) provided hours of entertainment. 


Hape DJ Mix & Spin Studio | Amazon (opens in new tab)

Hape DJ Mix & Spin Studio | Amazon (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR:
Sounds and listening
Age suitability:
12 months +
Batteries required: Yes
RRP: £49.99

Bring on some mega-cute dancing moments with this DJ Mix & Spin Studio from Hape. The portable DJ studio can be used in a variety of ways to bring a smile to your little one’s face. They can either play the keyboard solo with one of four instrument sounds or 18 sound effects, or you can turn on one of the five background tunes, using the tempo slider to change the speed and add DJ sound effects. Our little one absolutely loved the music provided within this compact studio, while we loved how portable it is, making it ideal for bringing on holidays. 


Play Kit Subscription | Lovevery (opens in new tab)

Play Kit Subscription | Lovevery (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR: Developmental play
Age suitability:
0+
Batteries required: No 
RRP: Kit prices vary

If you want to take the guesswork out of what your child will enjoy playing with, a Lovevery Play Kit subscription is the answer. There are 14 play kits sent out to you when your child reaches different ages, with each kit supporting children’s learning during crucial developmental windows. The toys look beautiful and are built to last, made with sustainable wood, organic cotton and non-toxic paint. Each kit also comes with a play guide, which lets parents know why each toy has been included in the subscription. 

While it may not be cheap, it was plain to see how much our little tester instantly loved her Babbler Play Kit, aimed for months 13, 14 and 15: She spent a good hour playing with the carrot coin bank, with the other included toys also fascinating her and keeping her occupied and happy over the days of testing. 


Infantino Mini Me Pretend Gift Set | Amazon (opens in new tab)

Infantino Mini Me Pretend Gift Set | Amazon (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR:
Roleplay
Age suitability:
12m+
Batteries required: 
Yes
RRP: £19.99

It’s an age-old question: why are one-year-olds so obsessed with their parents’ keys and phones? If you’re trying to distract your little one with literally anything else, this Mini Me Pretend Gift Set from Infantino is a little pretend flip phone and keys that make realistic noises and play songs too and are guaranteed to be a whole lot more fun than your actual phone and keys. Our tester adored playing with both of these gadgets, and they’re small enough to chuck into your handbag for hours of entertainment on days out. 


Fleur Push-Along Toy Pram| JoJo Maman Bebe (opens in new tab)

Fleur Push-Along Toy Pram| JoJo Maman Bebe (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR: Early imaginative play
Age suitability: 12 months +
Batteries required: No
RRP: £64.95

Our little tester fell head over heels in love with this adorable Fleur Push-Along Toy Pram from Jojo Maman Bebe. Whether your little one is already walking or not, the sturdy wooden composition of this pretty pram will encourage standing and walking, while the pretty design will stand out in nurseries and playrooms. Our tester loved pushing her collection of dolls and cuddly toys in this pram, while using the included pillow and blanket to tuck them in safe and tight. A beautiful, well-made toy that will last for years. 


Galt Toys Shape Shorter Train | Amazon (opens in new tab)

Galt Toys Shape Shorter Train | Amazon (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR:
Shape-sorting and colour-matching
Age suitability:
12 months +
Batteries required: Yes
RRP: £22.99

Your child will be learning all sorts of new things as they hit the big one-year milestone, and you might be surprised by how impressively they’re able to match colours and shapes. Our little one was fascinated by this Shape Sorter Train from Galt Toys, and loved sorting the wooden blocks by colour and shape, as well as using the magnets to drag the train along the floor. Plus, the quality wooden toy looks great on the nursery shelf. 


Wooden Rainbow Stacker | Baby Mori (opens in new tab)

Wooden Rainbow Stacker | Baby Mori (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR:
Stacking and sorting
Age suitability: 12 months +
Batteries required: No
RRP: £24

If you’re loath to have brightly coloured plastic all over your home, but want to invest in high-quality and aesthetically beautiful toys, you can’t do better than this stunning Wooden Rainbow Stacker from Baby Mori. In beautiful pastel shades, the toy is made of six pieces that look great when stacked on the shelf, but most importantly, are also fun and educational for children to play with. Our little tester enjoyed stacking them and organising them by size and colour, and it comes beautifully presented in recyclable packaging too, making it an ideal gift. 


CocoMelon Bedtime JJ Doll | Amazon (opens in new tab)

CocoMelon Bedtime JJ Doll | Amazon (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR:
Language development
Age suitability:
18 months +
Batteries required: Yes
RRP: £23.99

If you’re a parent to a one-year-old, chances are that the CocoMelon soundtrack is permanently etched into your brain - and that of your toddler’s too. This JJ plush toy, inspired by the hit series, says seven sounds and phrases when you press his tummy, and also plays the “Yes Yes Bedtime” song to hopefully make the bedtime process a little bit smoother. Our little one loved singing along, carrying the doll around and pushing his tummy on repeat.


Little Dutch Kitchen | Kidly (opens in new tab)

Little Dutch Kitchen | Kidly (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR:
Role play and pretending
Age suitability:
3+
Batteries required: No
RRP: £113

A nursery staple, a toy kitchen is a really special gift to invest in for your little one - and this gorgeous pastel green wooden kitchen from Little Dutch is an aesthetic beauty rather than an eyesore. The kitchen comes with everything your little chef will need for his or her kitchen, including pots, pans, utensils and even salt, pepper, a clock and an oven glove. Our mini cook loved pretending to cook on the stove and turning the control knobs, which make a satisfying click. We also liked that you can store extra toys within its shelves, perfect for hassle-free cleaning up after playing. A classic, beautifully-made toy that encourages imagination and creativity, and that your child will enjoy playing with for years to come. 


Halilit Baby’s First Birthday Band | JoJo Maman Bebe (opens in new tab)

Halilit Baby’s First Birthday Band | JoJo Maman Bebe (opens in new tab)

Good for:
Motor skills and creativity
Age suitability:
12 months +
Batteries required: No
RRP: £23.50

Life with toddlers is never quiet, so embrace the chaos with the Halilit Baby's First Birthday Band Gift Set. The set includes five delightfully noisy shakers, such as a rattle roller, ocean drum and a baby maraca, which make a variety of sounds to thrill your toddler, and which aim to teach motor skills, coordination and creativity. Our little one loved shaking each rattle to make different sounds and enjoyed using them as teethers too. 


Wheelybug Ride On Bee | John Lewis (opens in new tab)

Wheelybug Ride On Bee | John Lewis (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR:
Balance and co-ordination
Age suitability:
1-3 years
Batteries required: No
RRP: £69.95

Life is never the same once your baby becomes a toddler - so help them on their journey of mobility by buying them a developmental toy such as this Wheelybug ride-on bee. Coming with multi-directional wheels, the toy enables your child to push it around, and when they get more confident with the way it moves, to ride it around in all sorts of directions: forward, backwards, side to side or round and round. We loved the quality of the plywood base and the padded body, while our little tester really liked pushing the bee, poking its antennae and expanding her range of movements by riding it. 


LeapFrog Choppin’ Fun Learning Pot | Asda (opens in new tab)

LeapFrog Choppin’ Fun Learning Pot | Asda (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR:
Learning colours 
Age suitability:
12 - 36 months
Batteries required: Yes
RRP: £27

If your toddler is fascinated by what you get up to in the kitchen, gift them their very own mini cooking set in the form of this LeapFrog Choppin' Fun Learning Pot. The set comes with four plastic vegetables, with a toy knife to cut them in half, while four buttons on the pot reveal their names, colours and recipes. There are loads of realistic cooking sounds, bright colours and catchy songs along with each button, and our little tester was kept thoroughly entertained by this toy.  


Hape My First Balance Bike | Kidly (opens in new tab)

Hape My First Balance Bike | Kidly (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR:
Gross motor skills and core stability
Age suitability:
12 months +
Batteries required: No
RRP: £55

Every child remembers when they first learned to ride a bike, so encourage your child to get comfortable with the concept earlier than most with the My First Balance Bike from Hape. This beautifully designed mint green balance bike is ideal for toddlers just getting to grips with being able to move around, with lightweight construction, flexible wheels and adjustable seat. The bike encourages muscle coordination and development while promoting balance, and our child was happy to instantly jump on board and give riding it a go. It’s super easy to put together and indoor-friendly, too, making it an ideal gift.


Baby Walker with Bright Wooden Blocks JoJo Maman Bebe (opens in new tab)

Baby Walker with Bright Wooden Blocks JoJo Maman Bebe (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR:
Balance, co-ordination and spatial awareness
Age suitability:
12 months +
Batteries required: No
RRP: £55

It can be stressful as parents watching our toddlers take their tentative first steps, and inevitable first tumbles too. That’s why toys such as this baby walker with bright wooden blocks from JoJo Maman Bebe are such a great idea, as they encourage physical development, offer support for those precarious first steps and are fun to play with too. Our little one enjoyed practising her rapidly developing walking skills while pushing this around, and during quieter times, loved building towers out of the included colourful wooden blocks too. 


VTech 3-in-1 Sports Centre | Amazon (opens in new tab)

VTech 3-in-1 Sports Centre | Amazon (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR:
Physical development and coordination
Age suitability:
12 months +
Batteries required:
3x AA RR
RRP: £49.99

It’s never too early to encourage a love of sports, and this interactive, colourful toy is a good place to start. It was an instant hit with our toddler tester, who adored the three challenges it presents: shooting a basket, scoring a goal or hitting the target. There are so many features to discover within one toy, including four fun songs, 18 melodies and three colourful buttons that teach kids shapes, colours and objects. A brilliant, multi-faceted toy that does everything from teaching numbers and shapes to encouraging fine motor skills. 


Tidlo Wooden Activity Walker |Amazon  (opens in new tab)

Tidlo Wooden Activity Walker |Amazon  (opens in new tab)

GOOD FOR:
Balance and coordination
Age Suitability:
12 months +
Batteries required: None
RRP: £51.99

A durable walker such as the Tidlo Wooden Activity Walker features plenty of activities to keep toddlers entertained. It is ideal for helping 1 year olds take their first steps. With a spinning cage rattle, mini abacus, spinning mirror and matching blocks there’s plenty to stimulate young minds. 'I like the fact that this is made from wood and makes a change from some of the bright plastic designs you can buy,' says Gemma, mum to Oliver and Sienna. 'I've decided to keep hold of it as it makes a lovely keepsake.'


SMARTMAX SMX230 Construction Toy | Amazon (opens in new tab)

SMARTMAX SMX230 Construction Toy | Amazon (opens in new tab)

BEST FOR:
Fine motor skills
Age Suitability:
18 months +
Batteries required: Yes
RRP: £21.99

My First Totem has picked up multiple awards for innovation and is a great toy for stimulating young minds. The set features 8 colourful magnetic building blocks, with different sounds, styles and textures. Little ones can combine the sensory blocks to build the coolest totem; or follow one of the 24 fun challenges.

Once they get a little older, you can upgrade onto the Smartmax Megaball Run. (opens in new tab) It comes with 71 pieces that include tubes and X-shaped bars with 4 magnetic ends. This makes it a little more challenging.


Mega Bloks DCH55 Big Building Bag | Amazon (opens in new tab)

Mega Bloks DCH55 Big Building Bag | Amazon (opens in new tab)

BEST FOR:
Hand-eye coordination
Age Suitability: 12 months +
Batteries required: None
RRP: £15.99

This set contains 80 multi-coloured building blocks with shapes that are perfect for little hands. It's designed to encourage hands-on play for early childhood development. And, they can be combined with other Mega Bloks sets too and kids can build towers as tall as they like. 

The colourful finishes makes the set that much more enticing as kids can build and knock down their constructions to their hearts content. 'We've had so many hours of play out of Mega Bloks set,' says Emily, mum to Bethany and William. 'Much like Duplo in that fact that the blocks are great for little hands of under-5s, it gave my kids endless opportunity to get creative in their play.'


Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Puppy | Amazon (opens in new tab)

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Puppy | Amazon (opens in new tab)

BEST FOR: Language and listening
Age Suitability: 6 months +
Batteries required: Yes
RRP: £15.99

All little kids love huggable presents. And this Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Puppy provides the opportunity to do just that. On board there are 75+ songs, sounds, tunes and phrases the bear can play. The bear's hand, foot, ear and heart all light up to respond to the baby's touch, all designed to encourage a 1-year-old to say their first words.

'You can’t really beat Fisher Price baby toys,' says GoodtoKnow consumer editor and mum Heidi Scrimgeour says. 'They are fun and educational and great value for money. What’s more, babies love them!'


ELC Sensory Stacking Rings, Boots (opens in new tab)

ELC Sensory Stacking Rings, Boots (opens in new tab)

BEST FOR:
Hand-eye coordination
Age suitability:
6-12 months
Batteries required: None
RRP: £15

This classic toy has lots of textures to explore and is great for problem-solving. It's also ideal for stimulating the senses and developing hand-to-eye coordination. The fun, colourful giraffe will delight your little one during playtime. 'While this is such a simple toy, it is no doubt get played with time and time again,' says Emily, mum to Bethany and William. 'I've seen many versions of this stackable toy online. This design is one of my favourites as I love the giraffe-themed pattern.'



Personalised Doll, My 1st Years (opens in new tab)

Personalised Doll, My 1st Years (opens in new tab)

BEST FOR:
Roleplay
Age Suitability:
From birth
Batteries required: None
RRP: £26

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