16 of the best toys for 1 year olds

Our pick of the top toys for boys and girls aged 12 months and up

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best toys for 1 year olds

Your 1-year-old is making huge strides in her or his physical development right now – typically going from rolling or crawling to walking and running between now and her or his 2nd birthday. Which means that, this year, toys your child can push and pull come into their own.

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Your child’s also beginning to recognise patterns and shapes, pick up (and drop!) objects, and understand that when something’s hidden, it’s still there. So, toys that pop up or have things to empty and fill, or pile up and push over, are always going to go down well.

Colourful, noisy (don’t worry, not too noisy!) and moving toys are great for 1-year-olds – they also need to be sturdy as they’ll get lots of handling.

And if you’re trying to be a bit more environmentally friendly, wooden toys are particularly good as they’re better for the environment and will take lots of bashing, so a double win there.

Here’s our pick of the best toys for 1-year-olds:

1. Linkimals Smooth Moves Sloth, £35

Age: 9 months+

What it is: A 28cm-high clapping, nodding sloth who grooves along to the music that plays when you press the green button on his foot. The orange button on his other foot plays phrases about numbers, colours and opposites. If you have another Linkimals animal (there’s a an equally cute Musical Moose), you can ‘link’ them up so they sing and ‘chat’ together. Requires 4 AA batteries (demo ones included).

Why we love it: He’s nice and sturdy, with cute soft arms. And his clapping and head-wobbling is lovely: all our testers reacted delightedly to it. The lights and sounds are fun without being too grating to parental ears – and introduce counting and numbers in a genuinely engaging way.

Available from: Amazon, Hamleys and Tesco

2. Zebra Balance Bike£43.99

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A lightweight 40cm x 22cm x 51cm 3-wheeled balance bike with a seat height of 28cm and anti-skid safety wheels. Also available as a Giraffe.

Why we love it: It’s specially designed for 1 to 2 year olds, so is sturdy, stable and just the right size for a toddler learning to balance and scoot along on their own. The mum of 1 of our toddler testers was very impressed:  “My little boy’s face lights up with this toy,” she said. “It’s amazing to see a 14-month-old using a balance bike: I honestly wouldn’t have thought to buy one for him at this age – but he uses it daily.” Won Silver in the Best toddler ride-ons category in our 2019 MadeForMums Toy Awards.

Available from: Beehive Toys

3. Fisher-Price Bounce and Spin Unicorn, £69.99

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A ride-on unicorn (53cm x 72cm x 72cm) that bounces, spins right round, and plays music and sounds. Has easy-drip handles, a light-up rattle roller, ABC sounds, number buttons and multicoloured lights. Requires 3 AA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: It’s bright and colourful, and spins and bounces at just the right rate for a 1 year old: fast enough to be exciting but so fast it’s scary (and it stops when you’re getting on and off). Good range of music and sounds (so it’s not too repetitive). It doesn’t fold down, though, so do make sure you have enough space for it. Nice and easy to assemble. After rave reviews from our toddler testers, this won Gold in the Best Toddler Toy category of our 2019 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Available from: Smyths Toys and Argos

4. Clementoni My First Interactive Racing Track, £29.99

Age: 10 months+

What it is: A 90cm x 60cm racing track with a talking car that changes lanes, counts the laps and recognises the pitstop and the finish line. At the interactive pitstop, the petrol pump moves automatically. Requires 2 AAA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: It’s huge fun – and pitched just right at its 1-year-old market, with bright colours, vroom-vroom sound effects and super-simple car activation (you push the driver’s head down). The pitstop is particularly well done. Won Silver in the Best Toddler Toy category of our 2019 MadeForMums Toy Awards.

Available from: Smyths Toys, Very and Amazon

5. John Deere Build a Johnny Tractor, £24.99

Age: 18 months+

What it is: A 16-piece buildable tractor set, that comes with a battery-powered drill (with 2 different drill ‘bits’). When built, the green and yellow tractor is 20cm high. Requires 2 AA batteries (included).

Why we love it: Our toddler testers buzzed with the thrill of building – and dismantling – a tractor with their very own pretend power drill (which makes a great ‘drilling’ noise, too). All the parts (including the screws) are nice and chunky, and it’s a great little tractor to play with once assembled, too. Deservedly won Gold in our MadeForMums Toy Awards in 2018.

Available from: Smyths Toys and Amazon

6. Janod Magnetic Rocket, £19.99

Age: 18 months+

What is it: A rocket puzzle your child can build using 6 easy-to-fit-together magnetic pieces.

Why we love it: It’s essentially a simple stacking toy but the magnetic pieces lock together beautifully to turn into a rocket you can play with. We like the fact that the wood is high-quality and the (snazzy) paint job is non-toxic.

Available from: Amazon and John Lewis

7. VTech Baby Baby’s 1st Smartphone, £16.99

Age: 6 months+

What is it: A pretend smartphone with a ‘touchscreen’, flashing lights and lots of fun phrases and noises. Requires 2 AA batteries.

Why we love it: The ‘app’ buttons light up and play songs or says phrases when pressed and there’s a wiping/sliding feature (cool!) to change into music mode. And it’s not too loud to do parental heads in, either.

Available from: Amazon and VTech

8. My 1st JCB Stacking Stanley Mega Truck, £20

Age: 12 months+

What is it: A friendly-looking 43cm tipper truck with 6 large wheels and 4 shape-sorting blocks to stack up or fit into the correct spaces on the tipper bucket.

Why we love it: This bright, simple, sturdy, well-made toy was a huge hit with the 1-year-olds who helped us judge the MadeForMums Toy Awards 2016 – so much so, in fact, that it won Gold in the Top Toddler Toy category. Great loading, unloading, stacking – and demolishing fun, all in one.

Available from: Argos

9. Ninky Nonk Musical Activity Train, £34.99

Age: 12 months+

What is it: A 60cm pullalong train just like the Ninky Nonk one in the CBeebies show In The Night Garden. It plays 5 tunes and each of the 5 carriages has a different feature to play with. (You’ll need a screwdriver to fit the battery in.) Requires 3 AAA batteries (included).

Why we love it: It looks exactly like the Ninky Nonk and there’s plenty of different, interesting elements to play with (we like the stacking blocks carriage best). The sounds are great (though you can’t turn the volume down) and it’s very sturdy and smooth to pull.

Available from:Amazon and Smyths Toys

10. Tomy Toomies Sort ‘N’ Pop UFO, £17.99

Age: 10 months+

What is it: A 17cm spinning shape sorter with an alien spaceship on top. When you press down on the spaceship, the 5 coloured shapes around the edges pop out. No batteries required.

Why we love it: Lovely chunky shapes to practise fitting into the colour-matching sorting holes – and all the spinning and popping mesmerised our toddler testers. We’ve got a bit of a soft spot for that alien, too…

Available from: Amazon

11. ScuttleBug, £25

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A 39cm-high, lightweight, foldable foot-to-floor 3-wheeler, front-steering ride-on with non-scratch wheels (so suitable for indoor and outdoor use). Choose from Butterfly (pink), Ladybird (red, pictured) or Bumblebee (yellow).

Why we love it: We really like the bright and funky design and the parents of our toddler testers were very impressed by how easily and quickly it folds and unfolds. A really nice, smooth, stable first ride-on. Won Gold in our 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards.

Available from: Argos and Smyths Toys

12. Fisher-Price Baby’s First Blocks, £11

Ages: 6 months+

What is it: A bestselling bucket full of 10 multi-coloured shapes you empty out and then try to post back in through the correct shaped holes in the lid.

Why we love it: It’s the ideal first shape-sorter set: simple, colourful, sturdy, and light. The shapes are a good size for 1-year-old hands to grasp, hold and manipulate and 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 from: Argos and Amazon

plan toys pull along snail

13. Plan Toys Pull Along Snail, £19.95

Age: 12 months+

What is it: A cute wooden snail with wheels for a shell that your child can pull along beside or behind them.

Why we love it: It’s beautifully designed – and its body wiggles up and down (a bit like a caterpillar, if that’s not too zoologically confusing!) when you pull it along. It also makes a lovely click-clacking noise as it moves along, meaning that the faster your pull it, the clickier it gets. It’s made of eco-friendly recycled rubber wood, so you can score a good few Green Parent brownie points.

Available from: Natural Baby Shower and Amazon

14. Hape Baby Einstein Magic Touch Drums, £19.99

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A colourful, animal-themed 20cm x 38cm wooden drum kit with a speaker (and volume control). Choose from Drum mode and Melody mode. Comes with an easy grip handle. Requires 3 AA batteries.

Why we love it: It’s sturdy, easy to hold, wipes clean and the sound quality is very good. A really nicely designed first percussion toy.

Available from: John Lewis, Argos and Amazon

15. VTech Chase Me Casey, £39.99

Age: 9 months+

What it is: A 34cm-high skating, dancing monkey who senses when your child is near and encourages them to dance or chase him round the floor. Has 6 light-up buttons that, when pressed, play music and phrases about letters, numbers and body parts. Requires 4 AA batteries (included).

Why we love it: He’s great for encouraging active play: our toddler testers loved crawling, scooting and chasing after him (he rollerblades impressively well on carpet). Good range of songs and sounds, too. Worth noting that, when the sensors detect your child, Casey does jump into action quite suddenly – which can take children by surprise at first.

Available from: Smyths Toys, Amazon and Argos

16. Fisher-Price Little People Caring for Animals Farm Activity Playset, £38.99

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A 15cm x 61cm x 41cm playset featuring a barn, a hayloft, a light, a grain silo, a chiming bell and a ‘discovery’ button that opens the stall doors, and plays animal sounds, songs and phrases Comes with a farmer figure, and a chicken, pig, horse, cow and calf. Requires 2 AA batteries (included).

Why we love it: It’s colourful, with easy-to-grab (and easy to wipe-clean) figures and lots to stuff to press and turn and open and make happen (our toddler testers really liked hatching the eggs and ringing the bell). A good, well thought-out playset that encourages independent, imaginative play.

Available from: Amazon

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