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.
Here’s our pick of some of the best toys for 1-year-olds:
Age: 18 months+
What it is: A 16-piece buildable tractor set, that comes with a battery powered drill (2 AA batteries included), plus 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 says her son LOVED screwing and unscrewing the tractor using the drill.
Another 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: Argos
Ages: 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 pullalong toys are 1-year-old play magnets, then pushalong 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 – and 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. And, well, yes, the decorations on the blocks could well develop early letter and number recognition, if that floats your parental boat at this age…
Available at: Wooden Toy Shop
Ages: 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. Great for developing hand-eye co-ordination, and perfecting whooshing space-travel noises. We like the fact that the wood is high-quality and the (snazzy) paint job is non-toxic.
Available at: Amazon and John Lewis
Ages: 6 months+
What is it: A pretend smartphone with a ‘touchscreen’, flashing lights and lots of fun phrases and noises.
Why we love it: The ‘app’ buttons light up and play songs or say phrases when pressed and there’s a wiping/sliding feature (cool!) to change into music mode. Which is, blessedly, it’s not too loud to do parental heads in. And, frankly, any toy that allows your child to role-play what Mum or Dad do, without leaving little sticky pawprints all over your iPhone, gets our vote.
Available at: Argos, and VTech’s official store
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.
Available at: Argos
Ages: 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.)
Why we love it: If walking’s a newish thing for you, a pullalong toy is a thing of joy – and of course a train/In the Night Garden combo is always going to be a win-win.
The peek-a-boo carriage for the Pontipine isn’t very easy for small hands to open but, that aside, the rest of the train scores toddler points for its bright colours, spinning carriage, flashing lights, tunes and rattles.
Our tester, Lucas, was only 15 months when he tested the train for us (it’s really aimed at children aged 18 months up) but he absolutely loves the spinning shape sorter carriage and Upsy Daisy’s stacking blocks carriage.
‘His next favourite,’ says his mum, ‘is the pop-up Iggle Piggle, which he likes to walk about holding – and throwing at me!’
What it costs: Amazon and Smyths Toys
Age: 10 months+
What is it: A thrilling, spinning game to help babies understand shapes.
Why we love it: There are 5 brightly-coloured shapes to sort on this sturdy 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 at: Amazon
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. Our Toy Awards testers also rated it highly, which is why we made it our GOLD winner in the Best Ride-On Toy category at the 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards.
It’s great value for money, and it’s fun, too. And we really like how you can fold this trike right down flat – our testers found it easy to travel with Scuttlebug, and one mum managed it in her buggy’s basket. Perfect!
Available from: Argos and Smyths Toys
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 at: Argos and Amazon
Ages: 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. And yes, it does remind us a little bit of the toys we used to play with. Nothin’ wrong with a bit of old-fashioned!
Available at: Babipur and Natural Baby Shower
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. You’ll need 3 AA batteries to use it.
Why we love it: Music’s such an important part of any toddler’s development, and your 1-year-old can learn some real rhythm on these sweet drums.
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.
If the thought of any kind of drums makes you feel demented already, fear not, for these drums come with a volume switch, so you can keep the noise-making down to a minimum. Even when loud, parents say this drum and its sounds fit in nicely with the general clitter-clatter of home life, and aren’t irritating.
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
Ages: 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. This toy was a hit when it featured in one of our MadeForMums product tests, with Mumonstrike saying, ‘My 16-month-old spent the afternoon scooting around the house after the turtle, and was very, very intrigued with it moving on its own. I did wonder if it was a bit young for her at first, but say have to say it wasn’t. The turtle popping his shapes made us laugh the most! I would definitely recommend to a friend.”
Available at: Amazon
Ages: 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.
Why we love it: The Toot Toot range is a big hit with most toddlers and preschoolers and this fire engine is a good first purchase: there’s lots for little fingers to manipulate and press and a fair bit of noisy nee-nar fun to be had.
We particularly like 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 at: John Lewis
Ages: 1 to 3
What is it: A mini, plastic kitchen that can talk, sing songs and more.
Why we love it: This sweet, smiley set comes with lots of accessories (pans to hold and spatulas to flip), as well as plenty of opportunities for learning about numbers, the alphabet, time, shapes, opposites and of course, the kitchen!
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 at: Amazon and Early Learning Centre
Ages: 12 months+
What it is: A colourful, multi-shape bead maze, made of wood and designed to suit toddlers.
Why we love it: A bead maze doesn’t sound like the first thing you’d add to a 1-year-old’s toy box, but we think this smart wooden one from Melissa & Doug could be the exception to the rule.
Designed to help shape and colour recognition (you could also use it as an abacus of sorts), it’s also a nice sturdy toy for grabbing and pulling-at and jingling around (which, as we know, is essential for very young toddlers).
A possible stocking filler for your child, or perhaps a token Christmas gift for a toddler in the family.
Available at: Hooks of Bridgewater
Age: 9 months+
What is it: A skating monkey toy with lights, sounds, and a pair of groovy rollerblades.
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.
Casey’s an ideal companion if your little one’s starting to show signs of walking, or just needs that bit of extra encouragement or motivation to get on their feet.
Available at: Smyths Toys and Argos
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. 2 AA batteries are required – and 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
Ages: 1 to 6
What is it: A fab 3-wheel scooter than comes in pink, green or blue, and grows up with your little one (in 5 different stages).
Why we love it: Plum’s Globber Evo scooter is an investment piece, rather than a toy. Hopefully, it’ll last you 5 years of scooting and bike-riding fun.
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.
Available at: Plum, and Amazon