Your 1 year old is making huge strides in her or his physical and mental development, typically going from rolling or crawling to walking and running.


They're also becoming more curious and expressive – able to find things that are hidden or, as their fine-finger control improves, put things inside containers and take them out again. They're also starting to recognised patterns and shapes, and maybe even some colours or numbers.

Which type of toys are best for a 1 year old?

Toys that pop up or have things to empty and fill, or pile up and push over, are great choices. Look for ones with clear, bright colours or shapes or pictures that your child can start learning to sort and match.

Colourful, moving toys that you can push or pull along or clamber on top and scoot around on are also perfect for 1 year olds. They'll need to be sturdy as they'll get lots of enthusiastic handling.

As your child moves further into toddlerhood, they'll start to find enjoyment in pretend play, particularly when it's focused around household tasks that grown-ups do, such as pretending to use a phone or rocking a doll to sleep.

And if you're trying to be a bit more environmentally friendly, wooden toys are particularly good as they tend to be more sustainably made and will take lots of bashing – so a double win there. For toy recommendations for older children, check out our best toys for children aged 2, 3 all the way through to 10 years old.

How to choose and use toys safely

It's particularly important with babies to consider safety when choosing toys. Here's what to look out for.
  • Look for the CE mark, which shows the manufacturer has ensured the toy meets regulatory requirements
  • Look for the voluntary British Toy and Hobby Association's Lion Mark (a red lion inside a yellow triangle)
  • Buy from retailers that you know and trust
  • Ensure the toy is appropriate for your child's age. Small pieces (including things such as plastic eyes on teddy bears that appear 'fastened on', rather than really securely integrated into the toy) are choking hazards for children under 3.
  • Beware of any items that detach or have sharp edges
  • Check toys regularly for things like loose threads, broken pieces or escaped filling.

Best toys for 1 year olds at a glance

  • Great multi-skills playset: Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Grocery Cart, £74.99
  • Great for fine-finger skills: Poppy the Count & Stack Flower Pot, £15
  • Great toy for interactive sensory play: Clementoni Soft Clemmy Touch, Discover and Play Sensory Table, £39.99
  • Great multi-surface ride-on toy: Tricycle MINIBI by Kinderkraft, £49
  • Great for social skills: Baby Annabell Little Sweet Princess Doll, £41.99
  • Great for gross motor skills: Wheelybug Ride-on Ladybird, £69.95
  • Great for musical fun: Hippo-Pop Toy Keyboard by Land of B, £39.99
  • Great luxury walker: Little Bird Told Me Dexter Dog Push Along, £109.95
  • Great for matching and sorting skills: My 1st Years Wooden Animals Ark, £50
  • Great for cuddles: CoComelon Bedtime Cody Musical Plush Doll, £28
  • Great for early number recognition: Linkimals Cool Beats Penguin, £39.99
  • Great for open-ended play: Dena My First Neon Rainbow, £22.50
  • Great for independent play: Janod Wooden Turtle Pull-Along Toy, £16.50
  • Great budget stacker: Fisher-Price Baby's First Blocks, £11.80
  • Great budget pretend-play toy: Hey Duggee Flip and Learn Phone, £11.99

Here's our pick of the best toys for 1 year olds, as tested by children and rated by their parents…

1. Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Grocery Cart, £74.99

– Great multi-skills playset

Melissa and Doug Wooden Grow with Me Grocery Cart with child tester Zoe

Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 18 months+ | Size: L38cm x W27cm x H40cm | Batteries: None
Awards: Editor's Choice, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

This wooden shopping trolley makes for a nice sturdy walker and has fruit-and-veg-themed shape sorters at the front and sides, as well as a built-in picture spinner. It comes with 12 wooden fruit and veg shapes, 2 puzzle boards to fit them on, and a play coffee cup with lid that can nestle in a cup holder inside the trolley.

It's a robust, well-thought-through toy, made with high-quality components and good attention to detail. And we love that there are so many different ways to play with it – from pushing it around and taking Panda for a ride, like our child tester Zoe, 22 months (pictured above), to matching and sorting shapes and learning all about different healthy foods.

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"She's so excited with this," says Amy, mum of our child tester Zoe, 22 months (pictured above). "She immediately wanted to show it to Panda – which is high praise indeed! There are lots of different features to explore. The wooden food items can be posted through shape-sorting holes and colour sorted, but there's also opportunities for some great imaginative play. Zoe loves creating 'smoothies' with them in the toy cup, for example."

The toy cup was a huge hit with our other child tester Noah, 19 months. "He likes to sit with it and imitate me drinking my coffee!" his mum Simona said.

Available at: Amazon and Very

2. Poppy the Count & Stack Flower Pot, £15

– Great for fine finger skills

Poppy the Count and Stack Flower Pot with child tester Teddy

Age suitability: 18 months+ | Best for age: 18 months+ | Size: L13cm x W13cm x H22cm | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

This good-value flower pot is small but stuffed full of play potential. The 6 little numbered flowers each come in 2 pieces – petals and leaf – that can be fitted together, pulled apart and swapped round before popping them into the holes in the 'earth' in the pot. And the pot has a little handle that just the right size for small-toddler hands that like to trundle things about.

"From the moment he saw the handle he was hooked," said Daisy, mum of our child tester Teddy, 22 months (pictured above). "He loves to collect things and carry them around. He immediately began to explore the flowers and put them back in the flower pot. After a few goes, he became more confident and quicker. He gets thoroughly engaged with this toy for at least 20 minutes at a time – which is rare!"

Both Daisy and Amy, mum of our other, slightly older child tester Sarah, 23 months, were really impressed by how effortlessly this toy encourages fine-finger control and early imaginative play – Sarah loved offering her mum flowers to pick – as well as number and colour recognition. "And Sarah is especially thrilled by the flower with the bee on," said Amy. "She keeps saying, 'I love Mr Bee!'"

Available at: Amazon and Learning Resources

3. Clementoni Soft Clemmy Touch, Discover and Play Sensory Table, £34.99

– Great for interactive sensory play

Clementoni Soft Clemmy Touch, Discover and Play Sensory Table with child tester Chloe

Age suitability: 10 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ |Size: L40cm x W40cm x H40cm | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

Almost all the little activity features on this toddler table are made of soft and squidgy silicone, lending a whole new sensory (and extra-safe) dimension to posting shapes through holes, winding cogs, bashing things with a hammer and catapulting blocks in the air. We especially like the soft flip-over blue flap with the bit you can pop in and out, like bubble wrap (pictured above, in the corner with the blue leg).

The table legs are removable and, once the fun is over, all the soft blocks these can neatly stored inside the little blue house (the red roof comes off).

"Chloe really loves this," says Wing, mum of our child tester Chloe, 22 months. "She plays with it first thing in the morning every day. And she keeps coming back for it throughout the day. She loves the soft touch of the blocks. She is still learning to stack up blocks and this toy's really helping her learn. It is strudy, very well-made, with lovely smooth lines. The design is very original – I've not seen anything like this before."

Comes with 10 soft blocks, a booklet of activities and a soft hammer.

Available at: Amazon

4. Tricycle MINIBI by Kinderkraft, £49

– Great multi-surface ride-on toy

Tricycle MINIBI by Kinderkraft with child tester Iris

Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ | Weight: 2kg | Maximum child weight: 15kg | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

This sleekly designed balance trike is a great first ride-on toy. It has wide, non-marking, anti-slip EVA foam wheels, a handlebar limiter (so your child can't yank the handlebars so suddenly or so far that the trike topples over) and it's incredibly lightweight. Best of all – and unusually for a young-toddler ride-on – the comfy eco-leather seat is height-adjustable (24cm to 27cm), so it'll last your child through several growth spurts.

"It's the perfect height and scale for my daughter – it's clearly been cleverly designed," said Anna, mum of our child tester Iris, 15 months (pictured above). "Iris was quickly propelling herself around both the house and the garden. She loves having her own vehicle and moving at a slightly faster speed! It's lightweight enough for her to carry up steps into the garden and she loves putting her teddies on it for a ride."

Our slightly younger child tester Harry, 12 months, also hopped straight into the saddle, though he didn't immediately 'get' how to scoot himself around on it. "He loves getting on it and being pushed around," said his mum Kate. "He's now starting to understand how to use it himself and the design of it, with the handle bars only turning slightly, has really helped him to learn. It also seems good quality and stands up to a 1 year old who's not always gentle! It is quite pricey but I can tell it will last: my 3-year-old also gave it a go and it supported him well."

Requires some self-assembly (10 to 15 minutes, including seat adjustment). Comes in yellow (as pictured), green and pink.

Available at: Kinderkraft and Pramworld

5. Baby Annabell Little Sweet Princess Doll, £41.99

– Great for social skills

Baby Annabell Little Sweet Princess with child tester Imogen

Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ | Size: H36cm | Batteries: 3 x AAA (not included)
Awards: Joint Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

New to the long-bestselling Baby Annabell range is this toddler doll with long, thick hair and a soft fabric body under a pink gown. She closes her eyes and makes sleeping noises when you lie her down and, if you give her a kiss, her cheeks will blush and she'll make kissing sounds back at you.

She's a really good size and weight for a 1-year-old to cuddle – although we reckon the accessories (shoes, tiara and hairbrush) won't really come into their own until your child's a bit older and has developed a little more dexterity.

"We really love this dolly," said Kirstie, mum of our child tester Immy, 12 months (pictured above). "She is adorable and makes the loveliest noises. Immy is besotted with the way she makes 'kissy' noises when she kisses her and she loves touching her cheeks after they have gone red. I'm so impressed with the quality of this doll. She is amazing– well worth the money!"

Available at: Argos, Zapf Creation, The Entertainer and Amazon

6. Wheelybug Ride-On Ladybird (Small), £69.95

– Great indoor ride-on toy

WheelyBug with child tester Amelie

Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ | Weight: 1.8kg | Maximum child weight: 25kg | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

This ride-on toy is all about whizzing about in all directions: with its 360°-swivel castors, this little ladybird can go forwards, backwards, sideways and round in circles. It has big, easy-to-grip handle and a padded, wipe-clean (leathered) seat that's low to the ground, making it nice and easy to clambering onto.

Our child testers were all very taken with the wobbly, spring-loaded eyes/antennae at the front. "It's so cute and incredibly well made," said Laura, mum to child tester Amelia, 23 months. "Amelia likes playing with the antenna springs, for the satisfying noise they make when you move them about and let go. It's great that the wheels move in all directions as she can move about easily. She's had loved this when she was a few months younger – and I know she'll still love it for a good while yet!"

You can take it outside but it does need properly level ground (and the seat's not waterproof), so this is really more of an indoor toy and, given its manoeuvrability, you don't need masses of indoor space for your child to be able to enjoy it inside.

Also comes as a Bee, Cow, Tiger and Mouse or, if you buy a plush cover for £18.50, you can change your animal into a Lion, Dog, Unicorn, Hedgehog or Panda. There are Large versions of all models for age 3+.

Available at: Hippychick and Amazon

7. Hippo-Pop Toy Keyboard by Land of B, £39.99

– Great for musical fun

Hippo-Pop keyboard by Land of B. with child tester Emilia

Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ | Size: L33cm x W21xm x H24cm | Batteries: 4 x AA (included)

Press any of the white keys on this toddler-sized, open-mouthed-hippo-framed keyboard and the transparent tube in front of it lights up and the little bird inside pops up.

You can play it like a piano or a marimba or switch to voice, do-re-mi or bird tweet. You can also have fun with the 26 sound effects or play along/listen to the 15 songs and 6 nursery rhymes. There's also a tempo change button and (phew!) a volume button. It’s very sturdy, too, and can withstand repeated bashings from enthusiastic mini music makers.

"Emilia became very animated when she first played the keys and each note lit up with a different colour as well as different tune," said Lucy, mum of our child tester Emilia, 14 months (pictured above). "Now she keeps going back to play with it for bursts of time. I think the variety of music, coupled with the different lights on each note, is very entertaining. It's a novel toy and keeps her interested – far more than other music toys."

As for our other child tester, Eagan, 12 months – he's having to fight off his older brother for keyboard time. "Both boys are obsessed with this keyboard," his mum Bethany said. "They love the sounds, the colours, the floating balls, the melodies. It's pricey but high quality and is definitely the toy of preference in our house!"

Available at: Amazon

8. Little Bird Told Me Dexter Dog Push Along, £109.95

– Great luxury walker

Little Bird Told Me Dexter Dog Push Along with child tester

Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ | Size: L48cm x W26cm x H51cm | Batteries: None

For toddlers who are just about up on their feet or are ever so nearly getting there, this furry-dog-shaped walker is a beautifully designed, beautifully stable pushalong toy to encourage more steps – if you've the budget for such a luxury buy.

Firmly attached to a solid wooden frame and wooden wheels with rubber tyres. Dexter the cuddly lab has crinkly ears, a button nose, a collar and a squeaker in his tail. He's sturdy enough to be ridden (up to a weight of 20kg) – although with a seat height of 30cm, your child will need a leg up.

When our child tester Theo, 12 months (pictured above), first saw Dexter, he crawled straight up to him and gave him a cuddle and kiss. His mum Liey said Dexter is helping him gain balance and strength in his legs, adding, "Theo loves pushing him around the room, squeaking his tail and crinkling his ears."

Available at: Little Bird Told Me and Samuel Johnston

9. My 1st Years Wooden Animal Ark, £45

– Great for matching and sorting skills

My 1st Years Wooden Animal Ark with child tester Jake

Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ | Size: L 29cm x W15cmx H30cm | Batteries: None

This wooden ark comes in muted, pastel colours with 4 portholes, an opening door that turns into a ramp, a sliding lid, 2 skylights in the roof and a rainbow carrying handle. Included, to be sent on their way up the ramp and on board, are pairs of zebras, elephants, parrots, tortoises, crocodiles, lions, giraffes and monkeys.

You can also personalise it, with your child's name painted on the roof – as has been done for our child tester Jake (pictured above left). It's beautifully made and we love how the rainbow carry handle has elastic hinges, so there's no chance a wobbly legged toddler could hurt themselves on it if they stumble or fall.

Some of our child testers' parents noticed – and liked – the absence of any religious features on this ark (no Noah, no dove) and that the animal pairs were carefully gender-neutral. Abbey, mum of child tester Lilah, 12 months, said, "Lilah squealed with excitement when she first saw this. She makes all the noises for the animals and walks them around her play table, up the drawbridge into the boat. She loves taking the lid off for the animals to get in that way, too!"

Available at: My 1st Years

10. CoComelon Bedtime Cody Musical Plush Doll, £28

– Great for cuddles

CoComelon Bedtime Cody Musical Plush Doll with child tester

Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 15 months+ | Size: H32cm | Batteries: 3 x AAA (included)

This cuddly plush doll, instantly recognisable to any small Cocomelon fan as JJ's dinosaur-loving friend Cody, is a nice big size for hugging and carrying about – although we do wish his head was as super-soft as his body.

If you press his tummy, you can hear 8 sound effects, among them Cody's laugh and Cody's roar and clips from some of the TV show's songs, including (of course) Cody’s Special Dinosaur Day song.

"My son loves CoCoMelon," says Yvonne, mum of our child tester Kian, 22 months (pictured above), "and is so delighted to have a Cody doll – and an Afro-Caribbean doll that looks like him. He's obsessed with pushing his tummy to hear the dinosaur songs!"

Available at: Argos and Amazon

11. Linkimals Cool Beats Penguin, £44.99

– Great for early number recognition

Linkimals Cool Beats Penguin with child tester

Age suitability: 9 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ | Size: L14cm x W27cm x H25cm | Batteries: 4 x AA (included)

There's a lot of fun to be had with an interactive penguin who lights up and bobs and flaps his flippers along to the music that plays when you press the green button on his foot.

The red button on his other foot plays phrases about numbers, shapes, the alphabet and opposites. And, if you have another Linkimals animal (like the Musical Moose and Play Together Panda), you can 'link' them up so they sing and 'chat' together.

He's nice and sturdy, with cute soft arms, but the rest of him's not very cuddly and he is fairly hefty (a toy for keeping on the ground, rather than carrying around). However, his flapping and bobbing is lovely: all our child testers reacted delightedly to his dance moves. The lights and sounds are fun without being too grating to parental ears – and we think it introduces counting and numbers – in particular – in a genuinely engaging way.

"I actually didn't think this toy would be such a hit," said Jayne, mum of our child tester Rory, 20 months (pictured above), "but it's such fun! It has loads of songs, both silly and educational – and my 3-year-old is really enjoying it too."

Available at: Amazon, John Lewis and The Entertainer

12. Dena My First Neon Rainbow, £22.50

– Great for open-ended play

Dena My First Rainbow

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 12 months+ | Size: W10.5cm x H6cm | Batteries: None

This zingy-coloured, BPA-free silicone stacking-and-nestling rainbow has 6 super-durable coloured arcs that bend and twist and flex. All the pieces are safe to chew and can be cleaned in a dishwasher.

It looks beautiful and is dinky enough to be scooped up and taken anywhere, from the sandpit to the bath. The pieces are easy for small hands to hold and for teething mouths to chew on.

Our child testers' parents were amazed by how bendy the shapes are – and how well they withstand being chucked about the place. It's a fantastic open-ended toy, providing plenty of imaginative play potential.

Also comes in pastel colours.

Available at: Amazon and Kiddies Kingdom

13. Janod Wooden Turtle Pull-Along Toy, £16.50

– Great for independent play

janod pull along wooden turtle

Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 18 months+ | Size: L‎16cm x W6cm x H12cm | Batteries: None

This neutrally coloured wooden turtle has wheels for feet, so it can be pulled along beside or behind a toddling child.

Made from eco-friendly wood, it's simple yet beautifully designed. We particularly love that the turtle's shell can be removed, offering more play opportunities and enhancing fine motor skills and that its body sways from side to side as your toddler pulls it along.

Parent tester Rebecca tested this with their daughter Pippa (pictured above) age 23 months shared, "The turtle is really easy to pull along, with smooth running wheels, even with its jaunty walking style! It's survived a few throws across the room, so is sturdily made. It looks absolutely beautiful, it's got a lovely pastel colour palette and a very cute expression, I can definitely see it being a nice ornament long after Pippa grows out of pulling it around."

Available at: Amazon

14. Fisher-Price Baby's First Blocks, £12.49

– Great budget shape sorter

fisher price first blocks

Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ | Size: L14cm x W21cm x H14cm | Batteries: None

This great-value bright bucket comes full of 10 multi-coloured shapes that you empty out and then try to post back in through the correct shaped hole in the lid.

It's been a bestseller for years because it's simple, colourful, sturdy, light and really great value for money.

The shapes are a good size for 1-year-old hands to grasp, hold and manipulate and, as our child testers amply demonstrated, can withstand all sorts of banging together and chucking in and out of the bucket. The bucket itself makes a great portable toy box if you're off to visit relatives.

Available at: Amazon

15. Hey Duggee Flip and Learn Phone, £11.99

– Great budget pretend-play toy

Hey Duggee Flip and Learn Phone

Age suitability: 18 months+ | Best for age: 18 months+ | Size: L5cm x W15cm x H20cm | Batteries: 2 x AAA (not included)

This flip-up toy phone has irresistible Hey Duggee branding, a back-lit screen and buttons that make sounds, including a 'camera' button for pretend selfies. The voice prompts encourage your child to press certain buttons and learn to recognise letters, numbers and colours.

Our child testers immediately started pressing all the buttons and the older ones then – often with serious 'important call' faces – began 'phoning' their parents, Duggee and the Squirrels.

Their parents were impressed by the friendly and encouraging voice prompts and that there's loads to press and look at and listen to. We really like the pretend camera feature – with its 'smile for the camera!' instructions and nice 'taking a pic' click. Good price, too.

Available at: Amazon, John Lewis and Argos

Pics: Product websites/MadeForMums testers


About the author

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she's also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

We've got more top tested and rated toys here...


Helen Brown
Helen BrownHead of Content Delivery

Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies and a mum of 3. Before joining MadeForMums, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.