18 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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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.

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. 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. Requires 2 AA batteries (included). It has 2 drill bits and 13 tractor pieces. When built, the green and yellow tractor is 20cm high.

Why we love it: Not only can your little one enjoy this toy as a straightforward, push-along tractor, it also help develops hand-eye co-ordination, as your child builds the tractor from scratch. We should add that one of our MadeForMums Toy Awards judges commented on how easy it was for her child to build the parts, noting they were a good size for toddler hands. No wonder this popular toy took home Gold in the Best Vehicle category!

Available from: Robert Dyas

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2. Tidlo Baby Walker with ABC Blocks, £44.99

Age: 12 months+

What is it: A wooden walker with sliding beads at the front and 24 lettered and numbered blocks inside.

Why we love it: If pull-along toys are 1-year-old play magnets, then push-along toys are, too – perhaps even nudging ahead in the play stakes for those who are still a little unsteady on their pins. And this colourful little walker is nice and sturdy to lean on and push – as well as having cute ‘whirly’ wheels and some lovely blocks that are just the right size for small hands to put in, pull out and stack.

Available from: The Toy Centre

3. Janod Magnetic Rocket, £14.93 – £16.95

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

4. 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. Thankfully, the VTech smartphone is not too loud to do parental heads in, either.

Available from: Amazon , and VTech’s official store

5. 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

6. Ninky Nonk Musical Activity Train, £34.99

Age: 12 months+

What is it: A 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 from the show which we really like. 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

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

Age: 10 months+

What is it: A thrilling, spinning game to help babies understand shapes. It measures a toddler friendly 17.8 x 17.8 x 17.8 cm.

Why we love it: There are 5 brightly-coloured shapes to sort on this solid Tomy toy, and (you guessed it) it’s tons of fun when they all go pop! A simple way to introduce your child to hand-eye co-ordination and shape recognition.

Available from: Amazon

8. ScuttleBug, £25

Age: 1 to 3

What it is: A foot to floor ride-on with 3 wheels and front-wheel steering that makes for an easy, safe and stable ride. The bright and funky design coupled with front wheel steering for easy manoeuvrability makes this a great set of first wheels for any toddler. Comes in Pink Butterfly, Red Ladybird or Yellow Bumblebee.

Why we love it: The bright and funky design and front wheel steering make this a great set of first wheels for any toddler. And we really like how you can fold this trike right down flat.

Available from: Argos and Smyths Toys

9. 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

10. Plan Pull Along Snail, £19.99

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

11. Hape Baby Einstein Magic Touch Drums, £19.99

Age: 3 months+

What it is: A colourful, animal-themed wooden drum kit with a speaker, and 2 switches: for volume and to switch between drum sounds and general music-making. It’s 4.45cm tall, 20cm wide and 38.1cm deep. Requires 3 AA batteries.

Why we love it: There are no pressy buttons, just 4 drums to bang on, and 2 modes in which to make music with them: a classic drum mode and a melody mode, which plays notes. This wooden kit wipes clean easily, and comes with an easy grip handle, so your child can carry it around with them.

Available from: John Lewis

12. Little Tikes Lil’ Ocean Explorers Crawl ‘n’ Pop Turtle, £30.92

Age: 6 months+

What is it: A turtle pal who’ll crawl along and play music when you press his head, then pop out all the shapes in his shell when he stops!

Why we love it: You can’t argue with a shape sorter than can also play tunes and make you giggle in surprise. Little ones will love sorting the shapes, scooting around after the turtle and the laugh when it all goes “pop”.

Available from: Amazon

13. VTech Toot Toot Drivers Big Fire Engine, £25

Age: 12 months to 5

What is it: A chunky red fire engine with extending ladder and an extra mini fire engine friend. The bigger engine has a  light-up screen that activates sound effects and sing-along songs. Requires 2 AA batteries.

Why we love it: The best bit about this fire engine is the sliding fire extinguisher and the fact that you can open up the big engine and pull down a ramp to fit another car (or the mini engine) inside.

Available from: Amazon

14. Chicco Talking Kitchen, £24.99

Age: 1 to 3

What is it: A mini, plastic kitchen that can talk, sing songs and more. Features five removable accessories. Requires 3 AA batteries (included).

Why we love it: This kitchen is on the small side – which is great if you don’t have much space. It’s also good if you’re child’s not yet mobile, as it’s floor standing. Comes with some nice accessories like a spatula and pan. There’s also the option for the kitchen to speak to your little one in French. Never too early to start ’em on a 2nd language, right?

Available from:  Amazon and Early Learning Centre

15. Melissa & Doug First Bead Maze, £12.99

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A colourful, multi-shape bead maze, made of wood and designed to suit toddlers.

Why we love it: This maze has been designed to help shape and colour recognition (you could also use it as an abacus of sorts). It’s  a nice sturdy toy for grabbing and pulling-at and jingling around (which, as we know, is essential for very young toddlers).

Available from: Hooks of Bridgewater

16. VTech Chase Me Casey, £39.99

Age: 9 months+

What it is: A skating monkey toy with lights, sounds, and a pair of groovy rollerblades. Requires 4 AA batteries (included).

Why we love it: The purpose of Casey – aside from being very cute, of course – is to get your child on their feet, moving around, and toddling about a bit quicker than usual. Casey skates around the floor, and can also tell when your child is near by, thanks to clever motion sensors. As Casey is quite fast and noisy, he can sometimes give little ones a bit of a fright when they first get close to him, but don’t worry – this will subside. And if you’re nervous about how he’ll run on thicker carpet don’t be – he works just fine.

Available from: Smyths Toys and Argos

17. Fisher-Price Little People Animal Rescue Playset, £39.99

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A 61cm-tall vet playset from Fisher-Price, that comes with 2 buildings, a fire truck, a helicopter, a Mia figure, a Firefighter Rob figure, plus a cat and dog figure. Requires 2 AA batteries (included).

Why we love it: This set is all about cause and effect: pressing something, and watching something exciting happen! And you guessed it, it’s all about caring for animals and learning responsibility – especially handy if you’ve got family pets. There are numerous Discovery Buttons in the set – which make lights appear, spark music and even gets the fire truck moving. Your child can also give their dog and cat figures a bath, and turn a level to spin the helicopter.

Available from: Amazon

18. Plum Globber Evo 5 In 1 Scooter, £89.99

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A fab 3-wheel scooter that comes in pink, green or blue, and grows up with your little one (in 5 different stages). It starts out as a ride-on (pictured), with a pull-along handle for mum and dad to use, and turns into a bike they can push along themselves, and eventually comes without a handlebar. Then, it transforms into a scooter, and you can adjust the T-bar as your child grows more confident.

Why we love it: This scooter  runs smoothly on many surfaces – even forest and woodland as long as you avoid big stones. It’s a solid build with cushioned handles and quiet wheels. Should last for many years from being a pull-along to a scooter – which we think is a brilliant money-saver.

Available from: Plum, and Amazon

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