Top Toys: Ten Toys for a One Year Old

Welcome to my first Top Toys post! In these posts I will be sharing my favourite toys, by age, and writing about my reasons for choosing these toys.

Since T was born, I’ve always tried to think fairly carefully about which toys she would get the most out of. As a teacher, and a firm advocate of play-based learning, I can’t help but think about what each toy is offering (or not offering!) her. I tend to think about how new toys are different from ones she already owns in terms of their play value, and how open-ended the toys are too. She’s far more likely to stay interested in a toy which can be used in many different ways, and she’ll get more out of it too.

Some of these toys will be things we already own, and some which may be on our wish list! Every now and then I spot a toy which I think would be awesome in a few years time, and I even have a dedicated amazon list for things I want to remember! As well as doing posts by age, I’m going to include some posts on individual toys which will hopefully give you a more detailed idea of why these are so great for their development and some ways to play with them!

So here goes – my Top Ten Toys for a one year old!


1. A toy farmFor a child of this age, farm animals are everywhere! They feature in stories, games, puzzles, TV shows and a trip to the farm must be one of the top choices for a family day out. So a toy farm was one of the first things on our list come T’s 1st birthday. Farms are great as they offer the child an opportunity to make sense through play of what they know about farms and farm animals. It helps them to learn the names of the animals and offers an opportunity to develop their language and communication skills.



2. A tea setChildren love imitating what they see the adults around them do, and a tea set offers them a great opportunity to do this! Especially good for us Brits, who, as everyone knows, really do love their tea. Typically, tea sets have been known as a toy for girls, but I’ve seen enough boys who love playing with tea sets to know that this is complete and utter nonsense! Unfortunately this is reflected in the design and colour of many tea sets, but we loved this one which was more unisex than many of the ones we found. Play with a tea set offers children the opportunity to develop their creative and imaginative play and again, is great for language and communication.


3. Play doughA classic! You can always buy this but it’s also fun to make your own. You can find many great recipes online and knock together a batch in less than ten minutes. The advantage of this is that you can adapt the smell, colour and texture with ease! Glitter, lavender, spices have all been known to go into my play dough in the past. Playing with dough is great for children’s fine motor skills as it develops their hand muscles. Providing tools such as cutters or rolling pins helps this. It also develops their creativity and imagination, especially if you offer different props, for example, candles and cupcake cases, or googly eyes and pipe cleaners!

IMG_63654. Puzzles. Simple puzzles are great for this age group. I found the best kind were simple wooden puzzles and two-piece jigsaws. Activities such as this develop their early understanding of shape, as well as their fine motor skills.

Gingerbread man painting. I wimped out and used our dot markers! Thankfully Thea didn't mind and enjoyed drawing their facial features and buttons! She was also keen to draw long lines down their arms and legs. We don't do an awful lot of 'colouring-in' like this - usually I just let her go for it with blank paper - so it was interesting to see how she responded!

5. Dot markersThese are great as they are so chunky and easy for little hands to hold. They are also low-mess, so great for clear up! These develop fine motor skills, and mark-making activities are the pre-cursor to early writing.

IMG_63446. Blocks. Constructing towers and other creations with their blocks again develops fine motor skills. Children also develop their understanding of how things work and begin to get a sense of how to make objects balance. Blocks are baby physics! We have two sets: large cubes which came with a wooden walker – great for little ones and early tower building – and a set of smaller blocks of different shapes and sizes. These are great for learning about shape and making more creative and imaginative structures in play.

IMG_63487. A toy kitchen. If you’re limited by space/funds (or just don’t want a kitchen clogging up your living area!) a set of pans and utensils will also do the job! Again, much like the tea set – an opportunity to imitate adults in their play and develop their imaginative and creative abilities. Later on, you can work all kinds of learning into this sort of play – social, reading and writing, maths, and beyond!

IMG_63698. Books! Ok, so not a toy, per say, but still! I cannot underestimate the importance of reading stories with children.  We love reading stories in this house and in order to save our sanity, we take regular trips to the library! Some of our favourites for this age are The Tales from Acorn Wood series by Julia Donaldson, our First Words book, and the classic: We’re Going On A Bear Hunt.

IMG_63569. Musical instrumentsChildren love music, and singing songs together while playing instruments is a great way to develop their language as they are exposed to new vocabulary in context. Playing instruments exposes children to rhythm, beat and patterns which is helpful in developing problem solving skills. It provides a great bonding experience, and experiences like these are fantastic for social development. It also gives them a chance to be creative, and to experiment with the different sounds they can make. While a set of instruments like the above are lovely, some rice in a bottle, or some pans from the kitchen are equally good for them to play with!

IMG_637110. Toy carsWhen playing with toy cars, children are able to experience forces in action. They can experiment with pushing and pulling, how the cars move across different surfaces (e.g. carpet/table/sofa), and what happens when they slide the car down a ramp – or the stairs! It also develops their hand muscles which all works towards improving fine motor skills later on. Engaging in play with your child will of course develop language as they learn words such as wheel, window, siren, windscreen. As a general rule, I tend to stay away from electronic toys, as I think they can sometimes limit the play, but the songs and sirens on these particular toys are quite fun!

I hope that if you are looking for a gift for a one year old, you have found this list helpful! Thanks for reading.


Disclaimer: There are some affiliate links in this post but all views are my own!

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42 Replies to “Top Toys: Ten Toys for a One Year Old”

  1. All these presents are fab! Our little girl is one in two months, and I’ve heard that toy kitchens and tea sets are brilliant developmental presents, so I will be asking friends and family for these, plus books too – she now loves a book. This is a brilliant idea for a series, and im sure will help lots of peopke out for gift ideas. Claire x

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Really glad you found it helpful! Thanks for commenting. Hope your little girl has a fab birthday!

  2. Such a great idea for a series – wish you’d been around when mine were small (any ideas for a 17 year old? Apart from a car because that’s not happening!). I can agree with all of these though – mine used to love the tea sets, play dough and books x #triballove

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Haha, I think 17 might be slightly beyond my area of expertise! Thanks so much for commenting! x

  3. Great ideas here. Lots of my friends’ children are coming up to 1 so you’ve given me lots of ideas. I always prefer to buy toys that seem to have some longevity and educational value to them, rather than more plastic tat! #thelist

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Great, I’m really glad that you found it useful! All of these toys are still being used by my daughter who is 2.5 now, and many of them are things I used with 4 and 5 year olds when I taught Reception! And I am confident that some of them will be being used beyond that age. I often had 6 and 7 year olds popping along to my classroom to borrow toys when they had some free play time!

  4. Brilliant picks, as the mum of a 1 year old also I think you got them down perfectly! My little one loves playing ‘picnics’ at the moment! #friYAY

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Yes, mine too! My cousin made her a patchwork quilt when she was born which now she is older makes a fantastic picnic mat! Glad you approve of the list 🙂

  5. Great list. The wooden toys are brilliant for little hands. We have a lot of the toot toot drivers. She loves playing with them. #Thelist

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Thanks for your comment! Yes, the toot toot vehicles are fun.

  6. This is a brilliant idea for a series, and so very useful for present ideas. You’ve listed some lovely ideas here and also some really nice examples of those ideas. Looking forward to reading more. #triballove

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Thanks very much! I hope people find it useful 🙂 Nice to be using my professional brain a bit while blogging!

  7. Great ideas! Thank you so much for sharing.
    My little boy is going to be one next month, and i’m really struggling to come up with gift ideas!
    So this is a great help!
    Sarah xxx

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      I am so glad this is useful! Yes, all of these are things we have at home and over eighteen months later are being played with on a regular basis. I hope your little boy has a wonderful first birthday!

  8. I love that you are starting this series! My boy has loved most of these and still plays with them at 2. Especially the animal themed toys and cars. Today I caught him pretending to “fix” his cars. Looking forward to future posts! #TribalLove

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Thanks for the encouragement Sarah! Yes my daughter is still playing with all these things too, and I’ve used a lot of them with older children too. Hope you enjoy the next post! 🙂

  9. Ahh, we had all of these! I loved any of the Melissa and Doug range too 🙂 #tribe

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Yes we have got a few Melissa and Doug things too, they make lovely things for the most part…although they have slightly got into my bad books due to their boy/girl stamper sets! Thanks for commenting!

  10. Aghast we have all of these except playdough! I adore playdough and can’t wait til she gets to the age where she can enjoy it, but you try telling my one year old not to eat it or lick her fingers!! Hahaha!

    Lu xx


    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      You see the photo of the playdough with the spices? She tipped all the cinnamon into her mouth! That must’ve been when she was 14 months or so. It was horrible, cinnamon has such a strong taste! She cried a lot…but she didn’t do it again! I suppose with homemade playdough at least you know whats going in their mouths (a ton of salt!)…or I recently saw someone suggesting playing with bread dough! Thanks for commenting!

  11. Aw, my little one would love some of these. Especially the books, her favourite thing in the world to do is read. I’ll have to invest in some building blocks for her too! x


    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      We are really lucky as our nearest library is five minutes walk away – and we can borrow twenty books at a time so we usually switch them every week or two! Keeps it fresh and we’ve found some awesome titles! I’ve also recent;y discovered that on children’s accounts it’s free to order books from other local libraries, so I’ve just been looking up books I want to read with her and requesting them!

  12. I love all these options! We have all for J except the first two. I clicked on your farm link as, like you say, farms are everywhere and we have lots of farm animals but it was rather pricey! I will keep my eye out for a cheaper one. I also found that J has really grown fond of cuddly toys and baby dolls at this age. I am looking forwars to your next list 🙂

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Asda sold a really lovely wooden farm, which we’ve also got. I’m not sure how much as it was a gift. But some shoe boxes turned on their side would also work!

  13. This is pretty much the list I would compile- love the dotty markers, mine still use them at 5,7 & 10!! I have to say though, the one thing they loved at 1 and still love now is a large cardboard box!! The simple things!! xx #fortheloveofBLOG

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Yes a box is definitely a great option! They can be anything any they?! Fab for imaginative play. Thanks for commenting

  14. What a great selection. Baby still loves her tea set. Thanks for linking up to #TheList x

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Thanks! I will be writing more #TopToys posts so you will see me again 🙂

  15. we got the little one a smart trike when he turned one. I get a lot of toys at car boot sales too, saves quite a bit and you can pick up some fab stuff #DreamTeam

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Yes, a smart trike is a popular one isn’t it?! Yes, we often buy second hand toys, particularly for bigger things. There’s a great Facebook seconds page for our area! Thanks for reading 🙂

  16. These toys are fab! My girl has just turned one and loves the Happyland figurine sets. We also bought her a little house and bus and she drops the figurines in and then takes them out again – it makes my heart melt! Funnily enough I mentioned a tea set to my other half to get for her, so I think that’ll be next on our list 🙂 #puddinglove

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Great, we love our tea set! The happy land figurines are sweet, we don’t have any but she enjoys playing with them when she gets a chance!

  17. Such lovely series. Being a teacher myself before I became a SAHM I too believe that children learn best through play and therefore have always chosen toys that will provide my children with a variety of learning experiences. Both my boy and girl love having tea parties and I love seeing how much a simple tea set allows them to explore social skills. I love all your suggestions and I think we have a version of all of these.
    #triballove #fortheloveofBLOG

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      I didn’t know you were a teacher too Pat! I am glad you agree 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  18. Lovely post – somethings for me to remember there for the future. I love that tea set though, I think my 4 year old boy would enjoy that! And playdough well thats always a winner at Pudding HQ. Thanks for linking with #PuddingLove

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      You can’t go wrong with playdough can you? Thanks for having me 🙂

  19. Great post and great list! I especially love that it has a developmental focus on it rather than just a pure play/toy focus. Our little one is two years old and we also have a lot of these toys on your list, most of which she still plays with. I cant wait to see what other lists you write 🙂 Emily #DreamTeam

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Thank you! My daughter is also two and she still plays with most of these too. I will be doing a post for two year olds this week and then three year olds before very long!

  20. Great ideas here lovely! You are certainly very organised! I have a baby who is five months so I will be looking out for some of these things. Thanks for sharing with us at #fortheloveofBLOG X

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Thank you! I’m not really that organised but trying to be! 🙂

  21. Lovely ideas all round but my absolute favourite has to be the tin tea set – adorable!!! Thanks for linking up, hopefully see you again this week! 🙂 #friyaylinky

  22. That’s a great list of toys, I think we had something from each category for Little Button. I love the tea set you included… I wish I had known about it before. As she’s older, Little Button now has a lovely China tea set (ekk! it was a present). Thanks for linking up to the #DreamTeam X

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