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At 1 year old, your child will start to develop a range of new skills and you will want to help provide them the opportunity to develop these skills.

It is important to point out that not everyone grows at the same rate, so some children may begin showing these skills earlier or later than others. But if you are concerned about their development, be sure to discuss your child’s progress with a doctor.

Milestones

Some milestones you may notice around the 12-month mark are:

  • Them sitting up, being able to stand or even walk a few steps without support.
  • They’ll start using a pincer style grasp, banging their toys together or maybe they have a talent for scribbling (hopefully on paper!).
  • They might start being a little cheeky and enjoy copying the words you say more often.
  • Check out this more detailed list of milestones to look out for.

Whatever they’re up to, you’ll want to recognize that this is them starting to develop a bunch of new skills. Children develop these skills best while they are having fun and the best way to do that is through various forms of play. This is because young children can develop language, physical, social, emotional, and cognitive skills all while playing! So, it’s important to find activities that’ll encourage their growth in these skills.

The best time to play with your baby is while they’re well-rested and relaxed. At 12 months, your baby should be getting around 3 hours of sleep during the day, across one or two naps. So if they start becoming tired or upset, it’s best to take a break and return to play later!

Two cute babies playing with soft cloth books

How to choose the best educational toy for your 1- year-old

Now, you probably want to know what the best educational toys for 1-year-olds are or maybe you’ve spent a bit of time looking and are a bit overwhelmed with all of the many choices out there.

Well, hopefully we can help you narrow down your search. We’ve gathered some great educational toy ideas that we think will be fun and entertaining for your little one while reinforcing all of these essential skills.

First up, you should know what to consider when looking for any sort of toy for your toddler. This can be broken into 2 easy-to-remember questions:

Is it safe? You should check to see if any soft fabric toys are labelled as flame-resistant or retardant. Toys that are stuffed should be washable. Paint on any toys should be lead-free. If you are buying art materials, be sure you purchase those that are labelled as non-toxic.

If a toy needs batteries, these should have secure enclosures that are secured with a screw so that your child is unable to pry them open.

Also, perhaps most important of all, look out for ‘choking hazards’.  Avoid any toys that look to be made up of or include small parts that your baby could try to swallow.

Will it last? This is a more general consideration to make as we know babies like to bash and throw toys around a lot, we don’t want these breaking during play and potentially causing them harm. So, when shopping online from sites like Amazon, be sure to check the comments to see what other parents have to say about the item you are looking at.

Alternatively, if you are shopping in person, you should be able to use your own judgement in the store, pick it up, and take a second to assess its build quality. If it feels a bit too flimsy or easily snappable, it’s probably best to leave it behind.

Now on to the fun stuff, the toys! First up, we’re going to show you some Interactive Books.

Interactive books for 1-year-olds

Story time is a fun way to introduce your child to learning word/image associations and speech while you read to them. But even when you aren’t reading it to them, just letting them handle and flip through the books’ pages themselves will also help to develop some early cognitive skills.

Interactive books are one of the best ways to introduce your children to the verbal and visual aspects essential to their development – this is why it’s important to get them familiar with books early before they head off to kindergarten.

Books for kids come in so many forms that it can be difficult to choose from the more traditional pop-up picture books to more modern digital books. There are so many options to choose from when it comes to interactive books for kids that it can be difficult to choose the best.

Here we have highlighted the best choices that’ll turn your little one into a bookworm in no time!

Old MacDonald’s Farm Poke-a-Dot

Books like this will bring a ton of fun to story time, with interactive buttons to ‘pop’ this book will help teach counting, animals, their sounds and of course singing ‘Old MacDonald’ in a fun and traditionally interactive way.

Stuff4Tots Poke-a-Dot Book Rating

So, if you’re cautious about your little one spending too much time in front of a tablet at an early age, this book is a great choice as it comes at an affordable price and it’s designed to engage your kids with imaginative and hands-on play to teach them a range of language and numeracy skills.

The only downside is this book’s durability, as numerous reviews have indicated that it can fall apart if your little one is too rough with it, so keep this in mind if you are planning to purchase.

Other traditionally interactive books to keep a look out for would be touch-and-feel style books like:

Beiens Soft Baby Cloth Books

Stuff4Tots Soft Cloth Baby Book Rating
Stuff4Tots Funny Farm Animals Book Rating

Books like these are a fun and interactive way to encourage your child’s sensory curiosity while also developing their vocabulary through fun rhyming that is often present in these types of books.

A more digital but still screen-free option for your little one would be the LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book.

Stuff4Tots 100 Words Book Rating

This fun book will teach your kid 100 age-appropriate words across 12 categories that include pets, animals, food, mealtime, colors, activities, opposites, outside, vehicles, clothes, my body, and fruits.

It has three different play modes available, one to hear the words aloud, sound effects related to each word or fun facts. It also has 2 language options – English and Spanish – so you’ll be able to introduce them to a new language in a flick of a switch. It even has a music star button that will add music to their leaning experience.

LeapFrog is known to produce award-winning educational toys for kids, so they truly are the best. With many age-appropriate options available, LeapFrog can support your child’s reading habits for years.

Puzzles

Puzzles are a great way for your child to practice a range of developmental skills from shape and sound perception, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and color recognition.

A set of sensory baby blocks are a great way to get your baby’s development underway.

A set of blocks like these MIXI Baby Toy Blocks will encourage your toddler to stack the tower, learn numbers, shapes, and animals. They’re also safe and durable, being made of soft BPA-free, food-grade silicone. These blocks are chewable as well as squeezable; they also squeak when squeezed.

Stuff4Tots Sensory Blocks Rating

Maybe you already have a set of blocks, another good starter puzzle for your one-year-old could look like one of these Classic Wooden Puzzles. 

The goal with these shape-matching puzzles is to develop your child’s cognitive skills like color and shape recognition and even hand-eye coordination.

Stuff4Tots Wooden Puzzle Rating

Another more unique option that fits this category would be the Melissa & Doug Bug Jug.

This features 4 soft ‘bug buddies’ that rattle, jingle, squeak, and crinkle. They each have unique textures and fit into a see-through container with a mesh lid to keep them in. Toys like these will have your baby super curious as they touch, feel, and rattle them around. This promotes fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and sensory development.

Stuff4Tots Bug Jug Rating

Walking toys

As the name suggests, walking toys will help to develop your child’s early walking skills. There are many different walking toys available. Push toys are a great option to help support your little one while they start to toddle along and learn to walk independently. These are also great all-in-one toys as they often have smaller toys built in to engage their cognitive and language skills.

Stuff4Tots VTech Walker Rating

This VTech Learning Walker, for example, comes with a removable activity panel with light-up buttons that develop motor skills, piano keys that play music, and it has over 70 sing-along songs to have fun with.

This removable panel will encourage their musical creativity, hand-eye coordination and fine-motor skills, which are all a bonus to the walker’s main function of encouraging your baby’s gross motor skills.

Baby Einstein Push Toy

This push toy from Baby Einstein comes in the shape of a fun buggy. This walker features a wagon compartment that’ll let your little adventurer take their favourite toys along for the ride! It also comes with multiple mini activities like twistable gears that match shapes and drops blocks, it also has a spinnable bead chaser. This is another great option that will encourage all of their motor skills.

Stuff4Tots Baby Einstein Walker Rating

An alternative to the Push toy is a Ride-on toy. These are scooters or trikes that your child can sit or stand in to ride around on. 

Ride-on toys come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. But the most recognizable of ride-on toys would be the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe.

Stuff4Tots Crazy Coupe Rating

This stylized car ride-on is super durable and features a removable floor piece along with a push handle on the back. So, you can push your little one around if they’re not feeling like a solo adventure.

There’s also storage space in the back so they can keep toys, water, or snacks close by. In the driver’s seat, there is a spinnable steering wheel (though this doesn’t control the car’s wheels!), clickable horn, ignition switch, and a gas cap that opens and closes. These extra features will satisfy the most curious of toddlers while they develop those core motor functions.

Construction toys

These can come in a range of shapes and styles such as the classic wooden alphabet blocks to shape building blocks or colored stacker towers. You can’t really go wrong here as all of these toys will help develop cognitive based skills from hand-eye coordination to shape and color matching.

Though, as we’ve already touched a little on building blocks earlier in the article when talking about puzzles, we thought we’d focus on construction toys with a bit more character.

These SmartMax Magnetic Dinosaurs let you build your own crazy animal creations from dinosaurs to farm and zoo animals. Your young ones will enjoy clicking their own animals together! These promote curiosity, creativity and are a fun, safe introduction to magnetics.

Stuff4Tots Magnetic Dinosaurs Rating

Another fun option is the Mega Bloks ABC Musical Train.

This colourful easy-to-build musical train includes 50 pieces made up of alphabet building blocks, rolling wheel bases, and special train shapes. Pressing the musical button will give you train sounds and music to sing the alphabet to.

Stuff4Tots Musical Train Rating

This train toy will spark your little one’s curiosity and the big chunky alphabet blocks will make it easy for them to grab and connect together. This toy will help your toddler develop motor and language skills as they play.

Musical Toys

Musical toys are a great way to encourage early creativity and confidence while developing these early skills such as hand-eye coordination, color recognition, balance, movement, and pattern and sequence recognition. If your kid likes to jump around already you could try an interactive piano mat.

Stuff4Tots interactive piano Rating

This piano mat will let you choose from 8 instrument sounds and it has 4 modes to play with.

Instrument mode will let your infant play different musical notes when they touch a piano key, melody mode will make each key play a different melody; play back and record functions lets them record and play their own musical creations. Who knows, maybe you’ll have a mini-Mozart in no time!

If your baby is more of a percussionist and likes to bash toys together, they might enjoy this Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone.

This xylophone comes in a wooden frame with plastic balls and a wooden hammer.

The balls sit in cut-outs above the xylophone and your little one can bash them through with the wooden hammer and listen as the balls run down across the xylophone keys. Alternatively, the xylophone also pulls out so that they can create music as they please.

Stuff4Tots Hape xylophone Rating

Another fun option is this Electronic Guitar toy by Baby Einstein.

This toy features a sturdy combination of wooden and plastic pieces so it’ll be sure to hold up if your baby unleashes too much of their inner rockstar.

The toy can switch between different guitar sounds and the whammy bar activates some fun sound effects. But the most impressive part about this toy is that it actually responds to your baby’s strumming to encourage them to create their very own jams. 

Stuff4Tots Baby Einstein Guitar Rating

The Best Educational Toys for 1-Year-Olds – Summary

We all want to entertain AND educate our little ones – ideally covering both bases at the same time.  There are heaps of educational toys on the market and the choice is overwhelming. 

Hopefully we’ve helped narrow down your search with this article. We’ve covered interactive books, puzzles, musical toys, walkers, and construction toys. 

We’ve also looked at some of the top brands like Leapfrog and Baby Einstein.

Good luck in your search! And if you come across a great toy that we’ve not mentioned, please let us know in the comments box below.

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Mother playing with her baby in a Graco playard

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