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15 Gifts for Baby’s First Birthday They’ll Actually Use


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

one year old 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

baby's first birthday gift ideas they'll actually love

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 he 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)wooden puzzle with knobs for baby's first birthday

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. My little loves this shapes puzzle by Melissa and Doug. He’s consistently played with it for months.



Stacking Cupsstacking cups gift for first birthday  

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 Ballwhack a ball baby gifts for first birthday

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 Toyfire truck pop up toy baby's first birthday gifts

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.


Soft Blockssoft blocks baby toy

Gifts for Baby's First Birthday They'll Actually Use 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. 


Musical InstrumentsGifts 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.


Tenttent Gifts for Baby's First Birthday They'll Actually Use

tent best gift ideas for baby's first birthday This tent has provided so much fun for my little. 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 Dowelstacking rings on wooden dowel toy Gifts for Baby's First Birthday They'll Actually Use

stacking rings on wooden dowel toy for baby's first birthday stacking rings on wooden dowel toy for baby's first birthday I purchased these stacking rings for little man 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 different sized and textured balls best gifts for baby's first birthday

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!


Wooden Blocks

Gifts for Baby's First Birthday They'll Actually Use Every toddler needs a solid set of wooden blocks. They will use them for many years to come, I promise!


Push Toys

Gifts for Baby's First Birthday They'll Actually Use

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.



Pull Toyspull toys baby's first birthday gift ideas

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

picture books bests gifts for first birthday I have enjoyed reading little man 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 he 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.


Refrigerator MagnetsGifts for Baby's First Birthday They'll Actually Use

We just got these refrigerator magnets from Melissa and Doug for little man 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 Useswing baby's first birthday gift ideas

A swing just might be little man’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. He and his little toddler friends looove swinging next to each other. It’s the cutest thing ever!

Want More Helpful Content?

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 FacebookI 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!

cool gift ideas under 30 dollars

Gifts for Baby's First Birthday They'll Actually Use  

Saving Money Resources I Use Often:

In-Store Shopping:

Fetch Rewards: Scan any receipt (groceries, gas, restaurants, and more) to earn points towards cash back in the form of gift cards. I always cash out for Amazon. I use Fetch rewards in addition to Ibotta because Ibotta usually gives me more money back but takes longer to use. With Fetch, all I have to do is take a picture of the receipt and i instantly get points. EARN 2,000 POINTS FREE WHEN YOU SIGN UP USING MY CODE – 6VQ1A

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Online Shopping:

HONEY: I use honey to get cash back when I’m online shopping and to inform me of price changes on online items. I downloaded the honey browser extension to my computer so when I’m online shopping, I will automatically receive cash back for qualifying items. No research or logging into the Honey website is required. It saves me tons of money with zero effort. Honey also tells me if an item is a good deal or not. It will show me the item’s price over the past several months so I can see if it’s a good time to buy or if the item’s price is jacked up. GET 500 Points FREE ($5 value) WHEN YOU SIGN UP FOR HONEY USING MY LINK –

RAKUTEN: I also use Rakuten in addition to Honey because they also offer cash back for many stores. I use both because Honey shows me price changes while Rakuten does not, but Rakuten offers cash back on 3,000+ stores so if Honey isn’t offering cash back on a store, there’s a good chance Rakuten is. Rakuten also offers a free browser extension so you can automatically earn cash back without having to do anything. Just make sure the browser extension is downloaded to your favorite online browser and start earning cash back when you shop online. EARN $30 FREE WHEN YOU SPEND YOUR FIRST $30 AT AN ONLINE STORE THAT RAKUTEN IS OFFERING CASHBACK FOR – USE MY LINK TO SIGN UP AND EARN $ – Secondhand


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