The Best Toys for 1-Year-Olds

Looking for the perfect toy for a 1-year-old? Well, look no further! We surveyed Pampers Parents to find the very best toys for 2021, whether it’s a birthday or holiday present for your 1-year-old child or grandchild, or a gift for another lucky boy or girl. Browse through our list of educational and fun toys to find just the right one.

Tips for Choosing a Toy for Your 1-Year-Old

To help you decide on a great toy for a 1-year-old, Pampers Parents recommend choosing something with the following characteristics:

  • Stimulating and educational. Although all forms of play can help your toddler learn, consider a toy that can actively help your toddler master certain skills or areas of development, such as fine motor skills (see the VTech Magic Star Learning Table) or problem-solving (see the Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Stack & Roll Cups).

  • Durable. Children will bang and throw their toys, so it’s a good idea to choose one that can survive toddler wear and tear.

  • Engaging and versatile. Look for toys that have multiple activities or functions that can hold your child’s attention.

  • Safe. Make sure any toys you select do not have small parts that can turn into a choking hazard, or have parts that can easily break off to create sharp edges, for example. We’ve covered safety considerations in more detail after our list of the best toys.

  • Easy to clean. Since 1-year-olds often put toys in their mouths, choose toys that are easy to keep clean.

  • Age-appropriate. You wouldn’t want to give your child a toy that is too complex, for example, as this can frustrate him. All the toys on this list work well for 1-year-olds, but you know your child best in terms of what he finds most engaging at this time.

Top-Voted Toys for 1-Year-Olds

Discover the best toy for your toddler with our list of the top toys for 1-year-olds as selected by Pampers Parents:

1. VTech Magic Star Learning Table

Why pick this one? Pampers Parents put this activity table from VTech at the top of the list for a 1-year-old, and it’s easy to see why. This toy is highly interactive and very versatile. It features six fun activities in both English and Spanish to help your baby boy or girl explore and learn.

The table also features

  • a steering wheel to drive a bear around the table

  • a learning book with pages that when flipped plays nursery rhymes

  • light-up buttons that play music and help introduce colors

  • a pretend phone that has numbers to call animal friends

  • turnable gears to challenge your little one’s fine motor skills.

The manufacturer claims that the activity table promotes reading, motor skill development, and role play, all of which are important for a child’s healthy development.

Many Pampers Parents liked that the table encourages their little ones to stand. However, the legs can also be removed so that the activity center can be set directly on the floor. Some parents found that the legs slid around too easily. Since the toy is powered by batteries, you’ll want to make sure you have back-up batteries on hand.

Highlights: The learning table is available in yellow or pink. The legs are removable in case you want your little one to play with it on the floor.

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

2. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Stack & Roll Cups

Why pick this one? One of the most classic kids’ toys around, these stackable cups from Fisher-Price serve double-duty as they can also be snapped together to make five colorful balls. There are 10 cups altogether, each one identified with a different color and number.

This toy can help introduce colors, numbers, shapes, and sizes to your little one. The manufacturer claims that playing with this toy can help build thinking and problem-solving skills, teach cause and effect, and help develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Highlights: The jingling smiley ball can be placed on top of the stack or nested inside one of the snapped together balls, making a nice sound when the ball is rolled around or shaken.

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

3. Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone

Why pick this one? Looking to nurture some musicality in your toddler? This xylophone may be just what you’re looking for as it can be played in a variety of ways. (Be prepared for lots of banging to accompany your little one’s newfound musical prowess.)

Your little one can pull out the keyboard and play with the included mallet, or pound on the balls to make music as they hit the xylophone below. Some Pampers Parents claimed that the balls often got stuck in the holes, and this might frustrate your little one — but you could also see it as a lesson in perseverance!

The manufacturer claims that the xylophone can help develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, improve dexterity and hand manipulation, and strengthen arm muscles. Other potential benefits include helping to develop an understanding of problem-solving, logic, matching, spatial relationships, cause and effect, and critical thinking.

Highlights: The wooden xylophone is available in yellow or red. It’s made with rounded and polished edges to protect your little one’s fingers, and it’s finished with water-based non-toxic paints.

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

4. VTech Musical Rhymes Book

Why pick this one? This isn’t just any baby book — it's a musical rhymes book with easy-to-turn pages, cheerful pictures, and fun play pieces that can be twisted or slid.

The book plays classic nursery rhymes that can help introduce words as well as music and sounds. Five colorful piano buttons play the music of different instruments, including drums, violin, and trumpet. Pushing the star button triggers flashing lights that follow the beat.

Pampers Parents appreciated that the toy is in book form so that it encourages a love for books and an interest in reading from an early age. But some found that the pages can pinch little fingers, so it’s worth helping your little one turn the pages to avoid any tears.

Highlights: The Musical Rhymes book comes in red or pink.

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

5. Little Tikes First Slide

Why pick this one? What little kid wouldn’t want a slide in the house? This Little Tikes First Slide, designed for children aged 18 months to 4 years, can work in relatively small indoor or outdoor play areas. There are no tools needed for assembly as the slide simply locks together.

The slide can be used both inside and outside. Just be sure to place the slide on a soft play surface, such as a carpet or on the grass. Make sure that only one child (weighing up to 60 pounds) uses it at a time, and remember to always supervise.

Going on a slide can be a fun part of childhood, and the manufacturer claims that the slide can help teach balance and coordination.

Highlights: The 3-foot slide can be unlocked and folded when it is not in use, making it ideal for storing in tight spaces or taking on the go.

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

6. Melissa & Doug Take-Along Shape Sorter

Why pick this one? A shape sorter is a classic developmental toy for toddlers. This one is a good choice because it’s made for travel and has two sides for play, meaning your little one may stay engaged for a little longer.

One side is the shape sorter for nine textured plastic blocks in nine different colors and various shapes. The other side has crinkly flaps that can be flipped over to reveal different shapes and items to help your little one make shape associations.

According to the manufacturer, the Take-Along Shape Sorter nurtures children's physical, cognitive, and social skills, as well as helping develop sensory, fine motor, and communication skills.

This portable toy may be ideal to take with you for an afternoon visit to Grandma’s house, or to entertain your toddler during a doctor’s visit, for example.

Highlights: The padded carrying case can be unzipped to remove the blocks. Simply tug on the plush dog attached to the zipper, and all the blocks fall out — your little one can start sorting again when she’s ready. The padded handle makes the case easy for your toddler to carry from room to room.

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

7. Where Is Baby's Belly Button? A Lift-the-Flap Book

Why pick this one? Author Karen Katz's cute book about babies playing peek-a-boo and finding part of the body is a fun and interactive book for you and your toddler to enjoy together. As you read to your little one, he can turn the pages and lift the flaps to reveal different body parts — and before long, he'll be reading along with you.

Highlights: This sturdy board book can withstand almost anything your toddler can do to it.

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

8. VTech Smart Shots Sports Center

Why pick this one? Root for your little athlete with the Smart Shots Sports Center from VTech. This fun and interactive game includes both basketball and soccer elements so that your little one can shoot hoops and/or score a goal.

The sports center tallies your child’s scores up to 10 on the LED screen, just as if it were a real scoreboard. More than 50 encouraging sounds, melodies, phrases, and animations also help your little one get into the spirit of the game. There are gears to turn, buttons to push, leavers to pull, and flaps to lift, as well as colorful shapes to explore.

The sports center may help in building your baby girl's or boy’s fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as well as introducing the concept of cause and effect.

Let your little one’s curiosity and athleticism bloom with this sports center toy. Pampers Parents loved the fact that this toy encourages physical activity in addition to developmental learning. The fact that the toy isn’t height adjustable may cause it to be short-lived, especially if your little one has a growth spurt.

Highlights: The sports center includes both a basketball and soccer ball. The sports center is available in red or yellow.

Pampers Parents pros and cons:

Safety Considerations When Buying a Toy for Your 1-Year-Old

Safety is always important when choosing a toy. Check out these do’s and don’ts to ensure you pick a great—and safe—toy for your 1-year-old.

Toy-Buying Do's

  • Check the toy is designed for 1-year-olds—most toys have a recommended minimum and maximum age somewhere on the packaging

  • If the toy is battery-operated, see if the battery compartment has a screw to keep it securely closed so that your toddler won't be able to access the battery

  • Ensure there are no parts on the toy that may become a choking hazard. Here’s a helpful tip: If any part fits inside a toilet paper roll, it could be a choking hazard (the object should be larger than 1-1/4 inches wide and 2-1/4 inches long). Double check that there are no parts that could break off and lead to choking or create a sharp edge that could injure your child.

  • Be wary of vintage, handmade, and hand-me-down toys as they may not be safe for your 1-year-old. Loose, broken, or delicate parts on a handmade or hand-me-down toy can become a choking hazard. In addition, vintage toys manufactured before 1978 may contain lead in the paint.

  • Use your best judgment in determining if the toy can withstand your toddler's chewing, banging, and dropping

  • Ensure the toy hasn’t been recalled.

Toy-Buying Don’ts

  • Avoid toys that need to be plugged into an electrical outlet

  • For this age and stage of development, skip toys that are motorized and can be ridden

  • Keep clear of toys that have strings longer than seven inches as these can pose a strangulation risk; those that have small magnets, as these can be swallowed or choked on; or any toys with springs, gears, or hinges that might trap small fingers, hair, or clothing.

The Bottom Line

Buying a toy for your 1-year-old can and should be an enjoyable experience. The toys on this list were chosen by Pampers Parents because their little ones had a lot of fun with them, and we hope your toddler loves them too!

Recall Notice

Before buying a product, always check that it’s approved and hasn’t been recalled on sites like the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

*Prices are correct at the time of writing.

How We Got These Results

We surveyed thousands of parents in the Pampers Community and asked them to choose the products they love the most, and to share their views on specific products and product categories. Based on the survey responses, we have taken the top product picks and added our own research to create this article. The aim is to help you choose the right product for you and your family. We might receive commissions on purchases made from the links in this article, but the products featured are the Pampers Community’s top choices.