At around age 1, as our babies become toddlers, they become so aware and fascinated with the world around them. And because this is the year they go from crawlers to walkers to run-and-climb-on-everything-ers, there are so many more potential “toys” within their reach. But since you probably don’t want your child gnawing on extension cords or banging on your pots and pans all day, you might want to invest in a few good toys to keep your 1-year-old entertained.
Rather than randomly buying whatever is labeled “1y-2y,” you might also want to know which of the many, many playthings out there are going to 1) hold your kid’s fleeting (but growing!) attention span, and 2) help them along in the many, many physical and mental milestones they’re headed for this year. To get a better sense of this, we spoke to Dr. Navya Mysore, a family physician at One Medical in New York City.
The bottom line is, you’re going to have to get ready for your home to turn into a colorful, musical, topsy-turvy playroom.
“When kids are 1, they’re seeing everything,” Mysore told SheKnows. “Everything’s all bright colors. Things that have vibrant colors are easier for them to sort of distinguish, and also easier for them to lean forward and grab.”
Read on for more of Mysore’s advice, which we’ve aligned with the toys we love for 1-year-olds.
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Green Toys My First Stacker
In addition to being colorful, these stacking toys help 1-year-olds practice a bunch of new skills at once. “They get the concept of sizes and that one can go in the other, and that helps them with their fine and gross motor skills and coordination,” Mysore said.
Melissa & Doug Safari Jumbo Knob Puzzle
While younger toddlers might start out just putting these puzzle pieces in their mouth, they eventually start figuring out how to sort them by shape and recognize the names of each animal. Mysore likes how these puzzles combine motor skills with matching skills, too.
Munchkin Bath Falls
“Before the age of one, you can have one or two bath toys, and that’s really all you need,” Mysore said. “But once they get to that 1-2 age, I think you really need to up your bath-toy game so that it buys a little bit more time in the bath.”
Boon Pipes Bath Toy Set
Mysore added that toddlers get particularly dirty once they start moving around in the summer, so we’re adding another bath toy option. We love things like this that don’t have too many nooks and crannies where mildew can grow.
‘Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?’
This classic book by Karen Katz is a favorite of Mysore’s. ” I like those interactive books to read repeatedly to them,” she said. “They start to understand, ‘Oh, I have these parts too!'”
‘The World of Eric Carle: Around the Farm’
Talking and reading to kids is the best way to develop their language skills, Mysore said. It also can’t hurt to give them some electronic help like this book, which plays 30 different animal sounds.
Bajo Eco Auto Transporter Set
Though 1-year-olds don’t play with each other, Mysore encourages parents to arrange play dates with other kids for parallel play. “They can understand that they are playing with someone but playing alone, and it still gives them a sense of social connection,” she explained. Having a set of toys that are similar to each other also helps them to play side-by-side without fighting.
VTech Sort and Discover Activity Cube
Though 1-year-olds are becoming critical thinkers with very active brains, they also don’t focus on things for longer than a minute or two. This cube lets them switch between multiple activities all in one place.
Tender Leaf Toys Baby Block Walker
“If they haven’t started walking yet, then they’re pulling themselves up and wanting to start to walk,” Mysore said. “Any toy that they can push forward is great.”
We love that once your kid pushes this toy where they want it, they can sit down and play with blocks too.
Hape Walk-A-Long Snail
Mysore likes the way “tug” toys motivate kids to move more. This is another great two-in-one option, which encourages those sorting skills too.
Baby Einstein Curiosity Table
“Activity tables are a great way, again, to get them standing, moving and exercising their brains,” Mysore said.
If you don’t have room in your house for something like this, consider putting toys on a coffee table to encourage your toddler to stand as they play.
Kolcraft Tiny Steps 2-1 Activity Walker
Though the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that baby walkers can be dangerous if you have them near stairs, Mysore said they’re fine to use in single-floor or first-floor dwellings. Just don’t leave your baby in them for too long. This walker conveniently turns into a push-toy when your toddler is ready, and it folds away quite flat for storage, too.
Hape Babydoll Stroller
“When they’re getting closer to 2 years old, kids really want to mirror what their parents do,” Mysore explained of why so many toddlers love toy strollers. “Especially if there is another baby in the house, they might be more inclined to be like, ‘Oh, I want to do what mommy’s doing or daddy’s doing.’ ”
GiBot Toddlers Crayons Palm-Grip Crayons
While no one expects a 1-year-old to write or create works of art quite yet, you can help them develop the fine motor skills that will help them do so eventually. These nontoxic crayons also double as stacking toys.
Melissa & Doug Turtle Ball Pit
We’re not going to pretend there’s an educational reason behind this recommendation. We just think it’s cute as hell. Plus you get all the fun of a ball pit without the risk of other kids’ germs.
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