The transition from infant to toddler always feels so significant. One day your child is a (cute) baby lump on the floor, and the next day she’s walking around like a miniature person and destroying everything. Toddlers are simultaneously incredibly stressful and unceasingly fun, and both aspects can be traced to their insatiable curiosity and capacity for learning.
For this reason, the kinds of toys you surround your child with can make a big difference in what she learns and how she learns it. While she may be absolutely content playing with a cardboard box–And hey, a cardboard box makes a great toy!–she will also greatly benefit from playing with toys that can foster her creativity, get her active, prepare her for school, and ignite her imagination.
Below you’ll find some of the top toy options for your growing no-longer-baby to give her the well-rounded “education” she needs.
Our Favorite Toys and Gifts for 1-Year-Old Girls
Creative Toy: Crayola Bathtub Crayons with Crayola Color Bath Drops
Active/Outdoor Toy: Radio Flyer Classic Walker WAGON
STEM/Learning Toy: LeapFrog My Pal Violet
Imaginative Play Toy: Little Tikes Garden Table
Creative Toys for 1-Year-Old-Girls
Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone
This musical toy puts a fun twist on the classic children’s xylophone. At the top is a bench with three colored balls resting on three holes. Underneath is the xylophone, which is on an incline. A wooden mallet allows your child to hit the balls to make them fall through and slide down the xylophone, causing it to play different notes.
If your child would prefer to play the xylophone herself, she can slide it out from under the bench and use the mallet to perform a beautiful solo. The wooden balls can even be hit together to create percussion sounds.
Fat Brain Toys Kids Spinagain Toy
This unique stacking toy comes with six two-toned, graduated discs in flower and starburst shapes as well as a pole to stack them on. But unlike other similar toys, the pole is a corkscrew, causing the discs to spin down and around in a way that will delight your toddler over and over again!
As your child places the discs on the pole, she will be improving her hand-eye coordination and motor skills while also learning about cause and effect, size differentiation, colors, and counting (with your help). When she’s done, she’ll enjoy removing the pole and watching all of discs fall and clatter to the ground.
Each of the discs is easy for little hands to grasp, and they can be placed on the pole by size, shape, or color to create a rainbow. Your child will also enjoy making her own unique, beautiful creations. The base can be flipped to be flat or convex, allowing your child to choose a sturdy or wobbly stacking experience.
PlayMonster Mirari Pop! Pop! Piano
This sweet little piano takes music to a whole new level by providing a fun accompanying visual experience your child is guaranteed to love. She can simply press the keys to not only hear sounds but also see colorful stars shoot out of the organ-like pipes above each key and bounce around inside the plastic dome.
Your child can choose between two sound modes–musical notes and silly sounds, including horns, giggles, swooping, and boings. She’ll love hearing and seeing her songs come to life as she taps the keys. It will be a wonderful sensory experience and a fun lesson in cause and effect!
With dimensions of 9″x11″x5.75″, this toy is the perfect size for a 1-year-old. And if you’re ever bored, you can try your hand at getting each of the colorful stars back into its original tube (It’s harder than it sounds!).
LilBeanzLand Whale Island Bathtub Toy
Your child will love designing her own little island with this floating toy that works well for the bath or pool. The base of the toy sucks water in and sprays it out of a whale-shaped fountain at the center. A switch in the center changes the water fountain’s direction, allowing water to shoot from the whale’s mouth or out of his spout on the top.
This toy also includes two balls and three cute figures that can be placed on top of the whale to create different kinds of fountains. Water shoots out of one figure’s arms, one’s head, and one’s head and mouth. If one of the little cups and balls is placed in the center, the ball will float on the water. Your child will think it’s magic!
When they’re not being used as fountains in the center of the “island,” the balls and figures can be placed in various configurations at three of the four corners, allowing your child to exercise her creativity. A mesh bag is also included for easy, mold-free storage.
MegaToyBrand Magna Doodle Magnetic Drawing Board
This magnetic drawing board is a solid version of a classic kid’s toy. It’s great for taking to the doctor, on an airplane, in the car, or anywhere you need your child to be still and quiet. The board’s screen is underlaid with four colors in eight color zones–blue and yellow alternating on top and red and green alternating on bottom–so your child’s doodles will be multicolored and beautiful.
A slider button along the bottom is easy to maneuver left and right and erases everything on the screen. The stylus pen is attached to the board by a sturdy cord, and there’s a slot to keep the pen in when it’s not being used.
This board is made from high-quality plastic that won’t break, even when it’s stepped on. The drawing screen measures 2.5″x 7″, so it’s just the right size for a young toddler. There’s even a handle at the top so your child can easily take it from place to place.
Crayola Bathtub Crayons with Crayola Color Bath Drops
Transform bath time into art time with this set of crayons and water coloring tablets from Crayola. Your child will have a blast making the bathtub her own personal–and very large–canvas as she splashes around in fun-colored water. Just make sure you have a non-porous tub!
This set comes with 60 fizzing tablets in primary colors–red, yellow, and blue. The crayons are retractable and come in blue, green, orange, pink, red, yellow, dark blue, dark green, and purple.
Both products are completely toxin free and won’t irritate your little one’s sensitive skin. When bath time is over, simply wipe the colors away to clean up! Or, you know, don’t. I won’t judge. (But they might be harder to wipe off if you wait too long!)
Active/Outdoor Toys for 1-Year-Old Girls
Radio Flyer Classic Walker WAGON
Whether your 1-year-old is walking already or still has a way to go, she’s definitely going to need lots of practice before she masters it. For that reason, a push toy is a great toy for this age. It helps improve a child’s balance, coordination, and confidence on her feet.
This push toy has a resist-push feature that makes it slightly harder to push, which actually makes it easier for little kids to use, as it prevents the toy from sliding away from them and causing a face plant. And as a bonus, it functions as a wagon in which your child can cart around her favorite stuffed animals and toys.
With the fun, classic look of a Radio Flyer red wagon, this smaller version makes an attractive addition to your child’s bedroom or play space. The wooden sides of the wagon are removable, and a bumper at the front will keep your furniture from being scratched or damaged.
Step2 Play and Store Sandbox
Ah, kids and sand. It’s a magical combination–not for the messiness, but for the hours of entertainment kids find from essentially sitting in dirt. But if you don’t live near the beach or if you want to avoid the potentially sketchy sand pit at your local park, a sandbox is a great toddler toy.
This no-assembly-required version from Step2 holds 200 pounds of sand (which is not included) and comes with a waterproof lid to keep out rain and snow as well as animals and other unwanted critters. At 28″ x 42″, it can fit more than one child. It even has molded corner seats to accommodate up to four children at once.
You could fill this sandbox with water instead of sand to create a miniature wading pool. So if sand isn’t your thing, try thinking outside the box (Hah! A pun!).
Little Tikes Rocking Horse
A rocking horse is such a cute, classic kid’s toy and is perfect for helping your little one get her energy out in a safe, controlled way. This version from Little Tikes looks like a horse but is made from sturdy plastic that is easy to clean. It’s well suited for indoor or outdoor use.
The big, wide seat is low enough for small children to climb on easily, and the whole thing is designed to keep kids from falling over–no matter how hard or fast they rock. Easy-to-grip handles at the front provide extra stability, as do the foot rests on the sides.
With a weight limit of 30 pounds, your child can get plenty of use out of this toy as she grows. And unlike many other toys for toddlers, this one is completely intuitive to use. So there’s no learning curve!
Radio Flyer 4-in-1 Stroll ‘N Trike
While your 1-year-old probably isn’t quite ready for her own tricycle, she will be before you know it. So why not get her this stroller/trike combination that will adapt as she grows? There are four stages to this tricycle: infant trike, steering trike, learn-to-ride trike, and classic trike.
In the infant stage, there is a three-point harness as well as a safety tray with a cup holder. As your child grows (around 18 months or so), you can remove the harness and tray to use it as a steering trike, with an adult providing the momentum. At 2 or 3 years old, your child will be ready to try riding on her own, entering the learn-to-ride stage, which allows her to pedal and you to still guide and help her with the adult push handles. Finally, you can remove the handles to complete the transition to a real tricycle, which your child can use until around 5 years old (or 49 pounds).
Because it is meant to last your child for years, this trike has an adjustable seat to adapt to your growing child. The adult push handles are also adjustable. The trike comes with a removable canopy for hot days as well as a hidden storage compartment in the back.
ECR4Kids Softzone Foam Big Building Blocks
Toddlers love destruction, so a toy that allows them to knock things over and make a mess without hurting themselves or breaking anything is great in my book. Enter giant foam blocks!
Sized just for toddlers, these seven building blocks come in three different sizes: one large 12″ x 12″ x 6″ rectangle, two medium 6″ x 6″ x 12″ rectangles, and four small 6″ squares. The outsides of the squares are covered in soft leather, so they’re easy to clean and won’t fall apart like plain foam blocks do.
As much fun as your child will have building these blocks up, she’ll have even more fun knocking them down! In the process, she’ll be working on important motor skills.
Bouncy Inflatable Hopping Horse
This toy is similar to a rocking horse, but it bounces instead of rocking. And what toddler doesn’t love to bounce around? “Bouncy,” as the animal is called, has long ears for your child to grasp as she bounces up and down on his back, providing greater stability. And at just over one foot tall, it’s the perfect size for a young toddler who is working on her balance and coordination.
There are two parts to this toy: the inflatable animal and a soft, removable outside that comes in either a horse or cow design. And it’s washable! The animal comes deflated but includes a two-way hand pump for your convenience.
As your child grows in stature and coordination, she’ll be able to use Bouncy to hop all around the house, just as if she were riding a real horse (or cow, I suppose)! As a bonus, Bouncy can double as a cute, cuddly friend when he’s not being used as a hopping toy.
STEM/Learning Toys for 1-Year-Old Girls
Upload FilesLeapFrog My Pal Violet
This cute, little dog is more than just a stuffed animal; it’s an interactive toy that connects to your smart phone, tablet, or computer to offer your child a uniquely personalized playing and learning experience. Before you even remove it from the box, you can connect it to your device and teach it your child’s name as well as her favorite animal, food, and color for use in more than 15 personalized activities.
In addition to teaching your child to spell her name, this stuffed animal teaches colors, counting, emotions, and first words. Your child needs only to push one of the three paws that have buttons for different audio features. The fourth paw is an on/off switch. The audio features include more than 40 learning songs, and with your device connected you can select specific songs from a pre-populated list. You can continue to change the selections as your child grows and changes.
When it’s time for your little one to go to sleep, you can activate the lullaby timer, which will play calming lullabies for 5, 10, or 15 minutes before shutting off. Add volume control and make it washable, and you’ve got a near-perfect toy!
Little Tikes Activity Garden Baby Playset
This play center is a young toddler’s dream. With a shape-sorter mailbox, a working telescope, a piano, window shutters that open and close, a ball drop flower pot, a miniature slide, a crawl-through archway, and more, there’s no shortage of entertainment and learning possibilities.
The play set can be used two ways–as an enclosed, cozy, little house or as an open, two-sided structure with room to run around. The switch between the two is easy and requires no tools. There’s also an adjustable, detachable play panel with a button that play songs when pressed, a spinner with a mirror, a bead tumbler, spinning gears, and clicking bugs. It is easily removed and can be played while sitting on the floor or on the go.
Your little one will love playing house in this adorable play set. And there’s something to be said for a toy that has no small parts to get thrown all over the house, doesn’t involve electronics, and allows your baby to truly explore.
Fisher-Price Baby’s First Block
I’m always surprised at how much young toddlers love shape sorters. It seems like boring work to me, but they love the repetition of it. And better yet, they learn from it! From shape recognition and hand-eye coordination to fine motor skills and problem-solving, children learn from this simple, no-frills toy.
This particular shape sorter comes with 10 colorful blocks in five shapes: triangle, circle, square, plus, and star. The blocks are small and easy for little hands to hold and manipulate. As your child’s dexterity increases, she’ll experience more success on her own, building her confidence each time she does it right. Plus she’ll love dumping the blocks out over and over again.
The whole set is essentially a bucket with the cut-out shape holes in the top, on the removable lid. All of the blocks fit inside for storage purposes, and there’s a handle for easy travel.
VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube
This cube-shaped toy has six sides of fun, five of which are interactive and one that shows the letters of the alphabet. On the top side are four light-up buttons in different shapes. They teach animal names and sounds as well as shapes. The second side has musical instruments that can be played by pushing, squeezing, and sliding the buttons. On the third side are sliding, spinning cubes with the letters A, B, C, and D on them, along with corresponding pictures of objects that begin with those letters.
The fourth side has a butterfly gear that your child can flick with a finger to make it travel up and down the track. And finally, the fifth side has a pole down the middle with rectangular and circular spinners attached to it. In all, there are 14 manipulative features to help your little one work on her fine motor skills.
The cube has a motion sensor that results in fun sound effects when it’s moved, and it’s sturdy enough to handle your toddler throwing it to hear those sounds. It also has what every parent of a toddler wants–adjustable volume and an auto-off feature.
Toomies Hide & Squeak Eggs Toy
My daughter received these eggs when she was about 18 months old, and she still loves playing with them as a 4-year-old! This set comes with six eggs, each of which has a different shape on the bottom as well as a different color on the inside. Your child will have fun learning about colors and shapes as she works to match each egg with its same-colored top and place each one back in the carton in the correctly shaped base spot.
Each egg has its own cute facial expression, from sleeping to yelling to smiling and more. And if your child presses down on their heads, they cheep! These eggs are perfectly sized for little hands to play with and will improve their dexterity over time.
When my daughter plays with these, she often pretends they are toy food eggs in her restaurant game or just a carton of regular eggs when she plays grocery store. So with some imagination, the possibilities for this toy are great.
LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table Activity Center
This cute little activity table combines traditional learning subjects with music for non-stop action and fun. It has more than 70 songs and responses to teach letters, numbers, colors, shapes, and more. It also has entertaining musical instruments to experiment with, such as a piano, xylophone, and drum.
The table has two modes: Music and Learning Fun. In the center of the table is a plastic book, which allows all of the audio features to change to different sounds when the pages are turned. Among the songs it can play are “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider,” “The ABC Song,” and “Old MacDonald.”
Depending on your needs, the legs of the table can be removed so your little one can play with the activity center on the floor. It can also be used in Spanish mode as well as English.
Playskool Play Favorites Busy Poppin’ Pals
At our old library back in Massachusetts, this is the toy all the toddlers would fight over after story time. I guess there’s something really exciting about the fun, colorful animals playing peek-a-boo with the flip of a switch.
This toy has five different “buttons” to get the animals to pop out. Your child can slide, twist, push, and flip switches forward to backward or left to right, helping to build her fine motor skills and strengthen her hands and fingers as she plays. Your child will also learn about cause and effect as she sees the direct results of her manipulating the different buttons.
This compact toy comes with a carry handle for easy travel and is sturdy enough to withstand the love of a toddler without being too hard for her to use on her own.
Imaginative Play Toys for 1-Year-Old Girls
Fisher-Price Little People Lil’ Movers School Bus
This cute little school bus from Fisher-Price is another example of the wonderful Little People toy series. Your child will love to play pretend with the little bus driver, boy, and girl figures that come with the bus. And the best part is that they wobble in their seats when the bus moves!
By pushing down on the bus driver in his seat, your child can hear him speak several phrases, initiate flashing lights, or hear the “Stop and Go song.” She can also hear different sound effects, such as a beeping horn and giggling children.
Measuring 12″ long x 6″ wide, this toddler-sized bus includes a moving stop sign on the side, a working door, and a wheelchair for one of the passengers.
LeapFrog Musical Rainbow Tea Set
One-year-olds are only just starting to understand imaginative play, and one of the first ways they learn to pretend is by mimicking everyday activities like eating and drinking. That’s what makes this tea and cake set so perfect for this age. The set includes a teapot, two teacups, and six different-colored cake pieces with a plate.
The coolest thing about this toy is that you can see the “tea” inside the pot’s heart-shaped window, and it looks like it sloshes around inside when it’s moved! It also lights up in six different colors to change the “flavor,” and the pot makes fun bubbling sounds.
The inside of the teapot lid has a mirror, and your child can play peek-a-boo or listen to fun sound effects. The set also plays seven tea time songs that teach manners, greetings, colors, counting, matching, and more. As your child has pretend tea parties, she’ll also learn the important social skills of sharing and taking turns.
Melissa & Doug Farm Friends Hand Puppets
These four soft hand puppets of a sheep, cow, pig, and horse are designed to fit both adult’s and children’s hands for hours of playtime fun. While it doesn’t require a lot of dexterity to use these, your child’s dexterity will actually be increased by using them.
Made from washable material, these puppets have soft, plush heads that are perfect for snuggling as well as imaginative play. Your child will learn to communicate and express herself better as she has pretend conversations, tells stories, and acts out different scenes with these cute farm animals. (Plus it’s super adorable to hear a toddler say, “Moo!” and “Baa!”)
VTech Drop & Go Dump Truck
Your child will have a blast filling this little dump truck with colorful “rocks” and lifting the hinged bucket to dump them out all over the floor. Bonus points if it’s hardwood or tile and she can get that fun clattering sound!
The truck will count the rocks for your child as she places them in, helping to teach her about numbers. Once the rocks are inside, your child can push the truck or pull it by its string to see the rocks bounce around inside the bucket. Buttons on the side of the truck play music and teach about colors and tools.
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Phone
Every child wants a cell phone of her very own. She knows Mom and Dad have one, so it must be awesome! While older children will only be satisfied with the real thing, young toddlers can be fooled a bit. This is where pretend phones come into play.
This “smart phone” has 12 “app” buttons that allow your child to hear more than 20 songs and phrases as well as watch flashing lights. Each app button has an image alongside a number, making it easier for your child to associate each button’s sounds with its number and picture. To access even more sounds, simply slide the button on the bottom.
With this phone, your child will learn about numbers, counting, weather, shapes, greetings, and more. But best of all, she’ll be able to make pretend phone calls and send pretend messages, fostering her imagination as well as her communication skills.
But even with all of the fun features for your child on this phone, I can’t guarantee she’ll stop wanting yours. Sorry.
Little Tikes Garden Table
Your little one will become a real gardener with this cute little table from Little Tikes. The set includes four flower pots, two plastic soil discs, two plastic flowers, one shallow tray, one sifter tray, a rake, a shovel, and a watering can (which actually works).
In addition to using this table for pretend play, with your child putting together the flower pots and imagining she is watering them, you can also use it for real gardening fun. On top of the table’s two sturdy legs is a deep basin from which you can remove the tabletop lid and add real dirt, sand, water (there is a drain plug included), or other materials to create a sensory bin.
The lid covers half of the basin, providing a good work surface for your child no matter how she chooses to use this table. And depending on what she chooses, she can enjoy playing either inside or outside.
Gifts Ideas for Other Ages
- Gifts and Toys for 1-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts and Toys for 2-Year-Old Boys
- Gifts and Toys for 2-Year-Old Girls