Gifts Play and Learn

What to give a one year old…and why

The First Birthday is probably the hardest when it comes to gifts, what do you get a one year old?  One year olds are at a stage where, developmentally, they are getting ready to GO GO GO.  When choosing gifts focus on those that increase the development of motor skills, vocabulary, and language.  We have tried to make it easier for you by grouping toys into categories that will be most appealing to a one year old.

Pushing, Pulling and Rocking

One of the first, most visible, developmental milestones reached by a one year old is walking.  To promote stability and coordination invest in a sturdy walker/push cart. Once your baby walks without holding onto anything they might show interest in climbing on and even using a ride-on or scooter.  When investing in a ride-on or scoot for such a young child make sure it is sturdy and small enough for them to get on and off.  Starting to use their feet to propel themselves forward is great as it builds muscle tone, coordination, and body awareness.


Although rituals differ from one family to the next, most children have the three B ritual before going to bed.  Bath, Book, Bed.  Having this ritual gives children a sense of safety and comfort as they are able to predict what comes next. Filling and spilling toys are great for bath time fun while board books are perfect for a night time read.  When choosing books take into account your child’s short attention span, focussing on simple text and bold vibrant images.  Reading to your child, especially the same books is important for the development of vocabulary, language and their ability to make predictions.

Stacking, Sorting and Spilling

One year olds love knocking down stacked towers.  To get them to build these towers might take more effort.  Once they get that they can build and knock them down all on their own they will sit and keep themselves busy, while promoting fine motor development and improving core strength.  Shape sorters are great and have longevity.  Not only can a one year be entertained by it but older children will also find it stimulating and, developmentally, it is great to improve problem solving and patience. Making a mess is probably the most enjoyable toddler activity.  Filling containers with sand, rice, pasta, water and spooning it from one container to the next brings hours of fun. Toys that allow for filling and spilling are a must have!


Most young children will gravitate towards the toys that helps them make a noise.  Musical instruments are fun gifts and transcend age.  Exposing your child to music and musical instruments stimulates important areas of the brain, such as language developmentgross-motor development and important social skills.

You might also want to check out What to give a two year old.

Image credit: Babyccino Kids

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