Silver Lining: best toys for one year olds (that they'll play with for years to come)

April 24, 2017

best toys for one year olds (that they'll play with for years to come)


Now that the twins are nine months and mobile, I'm suddenly realizing they're in the older baby category and fast approaching their first birthday. I've started thinking about a gift or two each twin might like to celebrate the fact that we kept them alive for a year (let's be honest, parents are the real MVPs of first birthdays, am I right?).

For birthdays, we follow the minimalist present system:

Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read

I think I already failed in the "something to wear" category. Last fall, I saw some darling 4th of July outfits on major clearance and bought them for the twins to wear around their birthday this summer. But of course I didn't take into account that one twin is still in her 6-month clothes and the other is growing into his 18-month clothes. So probably neither of their outfits will fit.

I'm determined to do better in the present category. For the past few weeks, I've been paying extra attention to the type of toys the twins like to play with, and the toys we got for my oldest when she was one that she still likes to play with two years later. I've been watching cool toys at friends' houses and the library too, and I've read a few present reviews and gift guides.

Here's a list of best toys for one-year-olds that they'll still play with when they're two and three. This list ranges from $20-$50, making it great for your child's "big toy" gift of the year.

Bead Maze
When we go to the library, there's always a kid playing with this toy. When we come home, one of my kids is always playing with this toy. When we have friends over, they always play with this toy. Plus it's fun, educational, and helps develop fine motor skills.

Drum + Instrument Kit
This one is a major hit whenever we have friends over. The main feature is a drum complete with a shoulder strap, but inside are rattles, shakers, and cymbals. All kid-friendly, all shaped like different letters of the alphabet, and all designed to make sure you go a little bit insane from the noise by nap time.

Magna-Tiles
I've read review after review after review about the cheaper off-brands of Magna Tiles, and no other brand comes close these cool magnetic tiles. We don't have these yet (it's on the birthday list for all three of my children, hint hint grandparents), but a friend has them at their house. We had two 8-month-olds, a 1 year old, a 2 year old, and a 5 year old all playing with them together (fight free!) for a long time.

Pop-Up Tunnel
We got this one for Christmas last year, and whenever we bring it out the kids go crazy over it. It folds up to store really easily, and it's big enough to be fun without being so large that it doesn't fit inside a living room on a rainy day.

Sit or Stand Learning Walker
All three of my children still play with this toy every single day. And when I say play with, what I mean is fight over. (ha) Clearly we're still learning how to share, but between the detachable play panel, the two wheel settings when learning how to walk, and the way it can zoom around the house at top speed, this toy has been used every day for two years and is still going strong.

Ride-In Car
I have never ever met a child who doesn't love these things. One year olds are too young for a tricycle, but they're just the perfect age to scoot around Flintstone-style in one of these all day long. My older child still fits in and loves these as well. It's on a major sale right now too!

Little People Farm
We love the Little People brand, and this fun farmhouse is a great place to start. Tons of imaginary play ideas, and it's not too advanced or gender-specific. Comes with a farmer and six different animals! We used to have one at our local library, and it was literally always being played with.

Honorable mention: popper vacuum
All kids love these. It's the most coveted toy at my child's church nursery. Lots of toys on this list make noise, but for some reason I just can't stand the noise of these popper toys at my house. But if you have more patience than I do, this one is so great at soon as your little one starts walking.


P.S. If you're stuck in the "something to read" category, here's a list of favorite rhyming board books.

What would you add?
What are the toys your one-year-old plays with every day?

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