Are you looking for the best gifts for baby’s first birthday they’ll actually use? Good, because I got you covered. My son just celebrated his first birthday in October and received many gifts from family and friends. Some of these gifts he gravitates towards more than others, and some hold his attention much longer than others. He also still loves to play with a lot of the toys he already had before his birthday. In today’s post, I’m sharing the best toys for your one year old toddler that will hold their attention, encourage independent play, and help them develop age-appropriate skills through play.
Age-Appropriate Skills To Practice With Play
When I buy a new toy for my toddler, I want to make sure it’s a toy he’ll actually love. I don’t want to spend money on a toy only for him to toss it to the side after 10 seconds and never return to it. When it comes to raising children in our home, I choose to allow my child as much independence as possible in play and daily life activities. I like to provide tools for him to practice and develop age-appropriate skills. This can be done largely through play.
Some of the skills a young toddler (approximately ages 12 months-18 months) is working on:
- improved grasp and hand-eye coordination
- activities that require physical movement such as walking, pushing a wagon, climbing steps, running, and carrying objects
- language development: babies are soaking up new words left and right at this age
- independence in daily life activities such as drinking from an open cup, pouring from a jug or pitcher, hanging up a coat, wiping the table after a meal, etc
I love to set out toys for my toddler that I know will support his development in these different areas. And because these are skills he is naturally working on at this age, toys that support his development in these areas hold his attention the longest.
15 Gifts for Baby’s First Birthday They’ll Actually Use
Let’s take a look at some of the best toys are that will meet your one year old’s developing skills and hold their attention the longest. Every toy I share below is a toy Noah has and plays with often. I will share pictures of the toys he has and link the exact toy we own, as well as a few similar options for you to check out if you’re interested. The links are affiliated, meaning I will earn a very small commission if you choose to purchase through my link. If you’d like to learn more, please visit my disclosure.
Age-Appropriate Puzzles (large pieces with knobs)
Puzzles with large knobs are great for baby’s improved grasp and hand eye coordination. Because of the huge variety of types of puzzles, they provide all kinds of opportunities for language development as well. Noah loves this shapes puzzle by Melissa and Doug. He’s consistently played with it for months.
These are actually bath toys, but in my opinion that’s even better than normal stacking cups. Your toddler can use them both in the bath and for stacking play outside of the tub. They also have a little handle so babe can carry them around. They have little holes and slits in the bottom so your child can fill them with water in the tub or pool and let the cup drain the water out in fun ways. There are so many fun opportunities for play with this one toy!
Pound a Ball
If your toddler is anything like mine, they love to take objects and whack other things with said object. This is a great way to harness that desire and energy into a toy made for whacking. It also helps develop their hand eye coordination and gets some energy out!
Wooden Peg Pop-Up Toy
We purchased this wooden peg toy for our son when he was 6 months old, and it has continued to be one of his favorite toys at 12 months. As his abilities have progressed, this toy has “grown” with him. First, he would take the wooden peg men out and chew on them, throw them, or crawl around with them. A few months later he discovered how to pop the peg men out correctly. Now, he can pop the peg men out and replace them, mastering the toy completely. If there is one toy that has provided the most concentrated playtime for our son, it’s this one.
These soft blocks were purchased for our baby at 6 months old, and he still enjoys playing with them now. He loves to chew on them, throw them, and stack them. My best advice for toys that “grow” well with your baby is to have them in a toy rotation so your baby doesn’t grow bored of them. Have the toy out for a few weeks or until babe no longer shows interest, then replace it with a different toy. Once babe grows bored of that toy, reintroduce the original toy and watch babe’s renewed excitement. Sometimes I leave a toy out of rotation for a couple months and then the excitement is really enhanced when the toy reappears. Any toy that grows with your baby are great gifts for baby’s first birthday they’ll actually use.
I’ve yet to meet a baby who doesn’t love music. This band in a box set from Melissa and Doug is perfect for little ones to play the musical instruments independently. The toy comes with a list of ideas for play with the instruments on the bottom of the wooden tray. My toddler gravitates towards this toy every time we’re in his play room.
This tent has provided so much fun for Noah. He loves to play and read his books in it. I know this will be something he uses for many years to come.
Stacking Rings on Wooden Dowel
I purchased these stacking rings for Noah at 6 months and he has played with them ever since. First he would just take the rings off and play with them. He didn’t learn how to put the rings on the dowel until around 10 or 11 months. He still hasn’t been able to put all the rings on the dowel at once yet, usually just 2 or 3. It’s a toy he enjoys going back to often and attempting to put all the rings on. Eventually, he’ll be able to put them all on in the correct size order. Any toy that grows with your baby are great gifts for baby’s first birthday they’ll actually use. Babe won’t grow bored of it in 2 seconds and that’s what we all want, right?!
Sensory Balls of all Textures, Sizes, and Colors are Great Gifts for Baby’s First Birthday They’ll Actually Use
These balls are another toy we bought for our baby at 6 months old. They have continued to be a toy he loves to play with. You really can’t go wrong with different textured and sized sensory balls for babies/toddlers. They love them!
Every toddler needs a solid set of wooden blocks. They will use them for many years to come, I promise!
As your baby turns one, they will either be taking their first steps soon or already have begun walking. Toys that they can push around are awesome gifts for baby’s first birthday they’ll actually use as they learn to walk.
Because your little one will be walking sometime around their first birthday, pull toys are a great gift. Your baby will love to drag their little toy around behind them as they find their feet and enjoy toddling around.
(my 1 year old has all 3 of these and enjoys the dog and xylophone the most)
Touch and Feel Books, Picture Books with Captions, and Lift the Flap Books
I have enjoyed reading Noah books since birth, and he loves to explore them on his own as well! Often times when it gets really quiet and I glance over to see what Noah is doing, he is surrounded by a pile of books looking at them intently. It’s the sweetest thing ever. His favorites are touch and feel books, picture books, and lift the flap books.
We just got these refrigerator magnets from Melissa and Doug for Noah a few weeks ago and they are already a favorite of his. I love to talk about the animal names and sounds with him as he puts them on the fridge one by one. It’s a great play option for language development, independence (taking the magnets out of the box by himself and putting them on the fridge), and hand eye coordination.
Swings are Great Gifts for Baby’s First Birthday They’ll Actually Use
A swing just might be Noah’s absolute favorite toy/activity! He grins from ear to ear every single time he’s in his swing. He also LOVES the outdoors and is so happy playing outside. I’m a huge fan of any toy/play idea that provides opportunity for outdoor play, especially because I love being outside too. And a bonus tip! Get two swings for playdates. Noah and his little toddler friends looove swinging next to each other. It’s the cutest thing ever!
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Those are the top 15 gift ideas for baby’s first birthday they’ll actually use. If a friend was to ask for baby’s first birthday gift ideas, those are the toys I’d share! If you want more helpful and encouraging content, be sure to follow me on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. I share content all about living a thrifty lifestyle, homemaking, motherhood, my faith, and more. If you liked this post, would you please take 10 seconds or less to comment below and let me know, or share the post? I would be so grateful as it encourages me to create more content for you all and helps my blog reach more readers!
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