Very often parents, who are planning to purchase toys for 1-year-old kids, come to a complicated choice between fancy looking boutique toys and literal wooden blocks. And definitely you, as a parent, want to get stuff that will surprise and stimulate your child’s growing mind. The development of babies’ brains takes place rapidly, about a million neural connections per second. Sarah MacLaughlin, a child development expert, an author, and a senior writer at Zero to Three says, that parents should create a mix of sensory features and mobility features to let different parts of kid’s brain be developed. To pick the best and the most appropriate gifts for babies’ first birthdays, we have consulted with Sarah MacLaughlin and Dr. Sarah Roseberry Lytle, the outreach and education director at the Institute for Learning and Brain Science.
Considering the advice and recommendations of our experts, we have prepared a list of presents which are can’t-fail, and for sure will make you the coolest uncle or aunt. In case you are looking for gifts for older children – we have guides for all ages, including 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds, 10-year-olds, and 11-year-olds.
According to Dr. Lytle, puzzles are always the perfect choice. They stimulate the development of children’s cognitive abilities to master both physical manipulations with the pieces and understanding of how objects fit into something else. That is the concept of fitting and containment, as well as the perception of what goes where.
For little toddlers, simple peg puzzles are as interesting and exciting, as classical shape sorters. Especially if these puzzles involve experimenting and more than one option for interaction. This gear toy suggests several options for kids, including spinning the gears to get the caterpillar moving, dissembling by removal of the gears, and assembling the toy back.
Lytle states that various stackable toy sets, like this grippy tower, encourage the perception of the containment, fitting different objects together, and manipulations as well. In other words, all the important aspects in a child’s development. These weighted components that look like a cracked egg can be applied for stacking, toppling, spinning, and balancing.
Little kids can learn and explore the surrounding world using a whole bunch of different toys. However, they can successfully do it simply though ordinary household tools like pots and pans. Facilitating these experiments and exploration – that is one of the most important tasks for parents or babysitters. You should really strive to be there playing with your children, following their lead, letting them to find out what is happening, expressing the amazement like “oh, my goodness, have you seen that? Can you believe what just happened? What if we try it one more time, will it happen again?” Therefore, there is no wonder that this toy has one lots of prizes and awards. It is beloved by kids and their parents everywhere. It is not just a musical instrument – it promotes children to experiment with cause and effect relationships.
Little kids love emptying some containers and filling them back again just as they enjoy stacking, dropping or hitting different objects. While taking a bath, kids can play and experiment with this set of tubes for suction to the side of the tub. Each piece of this set has different moving parts, which are activated by the water flow. As MacLaughlin emphasizes, the idea of having some moving parts keeps pace with the curiosity of “in and out”, “up and down”. Little 1-year-old kids get very attracted by any moving parts, and that is the reason parents will always find their kids going after everything in their house, that is not a toy.
Due to their ability to calm down or to amuse the bored child, the attractive sensory toys can be used as perfect accessories for strollers. Parents can fully appreciate their benefits when they, for example, are stuck in the line or in the subway. Many parents experience the temptation to calm down their kids when they are making lots of noise by giving them something like a mobile phone. However, the experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics do not recommend electronic devices for children under 2 years of age. MacLaughlin recommends this squishy toy crafted with beads, which will capture children’s attention, as well as stimulate the development of their motor skills. It is like a rattle, but more sophisticated. It rattles when your kid shakes it, but at the same time, it adds the sensory aspect to the play due to the beads, that move around the bars. But don’t forget to attach it to the stroller, like any other stroller toy, so your gravity-curios baby won’t chuck it into the street.
At the end of their first year of life, children are learning about different patterns in the surrounding world. Some of these patterns extend to routines. As Lytle says, some of the predictable routines, like the ones about the nighttime, let the kids feel themselves safe and secure, as well as helps them to understand the world around them and learn what to expect next. In fact, the feeling of security can also come from stuffed animal toys. At this age, kids are very capable of building up the relationships and connections with nonhumans, even with the characters of their favorite cartoons, for example. Any familiar toy animal or doll can add a feeling of security and predictability in a situation or environment, which may be unfamiliar or foreign for kids. Of course, toys cannot respond or communicate with the child, but they can definitely make them feel more secure, says Dr. Lytle. Even if children do not realize what is happening around them at the moment, they will feel much safer and confident hugging their favorite toy. We recommend this Sshlumpie elephant for your 1-year-old kid. It is not just a cuddy companion, but also a perfect toy to be taken on the go.
If your little toddler has already got a stuffed bear, a dog, and an elephant it might be a great idea to add this pink octopus made of plush to this imaginary animal family. Its furry legs can be stretched and bounce back, which makes it the perfect and funny handholding friend.
Check out this vintage style camper play set. It is made of environmentally friendly wood and comes with four people made in a form of pegs and their pet dog. Seems like they all are ready to go travelling. At the age of 12 months, little kids are just starting to figure out how they can interact with the world around them and influence it. Therefore, they like to put stuff in the containers and taking them out. As Dr. Lytle says, it is very nice that the toy comes as a bus because at their age, little kids are more likely to already have an experience being in a car or bus, rather than in the airplane or boat, and this is much more relatable to them.
Most kids at the age of 1 are trying to pull themselves up on furniture. Moreover, they might even take their first couple of steps. According to Lytle, when kids are up and try to walk they are very attracted by toys that can support them, and, at the same time, be a part of their game. Why not try out this classic toy, which can be easily operated by early walkers, while they wander around their most valuable belongings.
Take a look at this classic board book, which was published in 1982. Each page has a lift the flap options and shows animal pictures that kids can easily perceive and recognize. According to Dr. Lytle, it is the obvious and well-known fact that 1-year-old children start succeeding in interacting with adults; therefore, books that encourage and stimulate such interaction are definitely a good choice. If you are looking for books – try to get the one, which involves different sounds you can make and your kid can repeat after you, or the one with windows you can open and talk through – anything which produces the same effect is a perfect choice.
At this age, most 1-year-olds have already become quite mobile and extremely curious. Therefore, anything that is repetitive, as well as rhythmic, is very likely to capture children’s attention. This book, which tells a story about the elephant who is stacking blocks, reminds them of the familiar activity they have been doing. Moreover, as MacLaughlin says, it also lays the foundation for math, science, and music skills.
According to Dr. Lytle, experts have done several kinds of research about kids using blocks and their interaction with parents in this process. And, it eventually turns out that game with building blocks are the very efficient beginning for promoting early STEM skills. Think about the words you are using while playing with building blocks; bigger, smaller, taller, shorter, etc. If you play with your child and decide to build the bridge from blocks, you will start using words to describe the balance or the concept of stability. You start talking about different engineering rules and concepts, even if you do not use the words “stability and balance”. Our experts recommend this set of pastel-colored building blocks, made of wood. They come with built-in magnets; therefore, they are more stable and will not fall down as easily as ordinary building blocks. Moreover, this set of blocks was manufactured in Honduras, and was aimed to created living-wage jobs for the residents of Tegucigalpa.
Our next suggestion is this colorful set of blocks, also made of wood. It can often be found in Montessori and Waldorf classrooms, along with more simple rectangular versions. You can use the arcs from this set for stacking, balancing, and combining with the other arcs to build imaginary scenes with different bridges and buildings. Or, you can simply experiment with gravity and textures. As we already know, stacking is fun for kids, and even if they do not have enough coordination skills to stack their toys properly, they will enjoy watching you stacking and will gladly knock the construction down afterwards.
Baby Einstein’s Magic Touch Piano is our recommendation for kids who like making music and producing noises. Do your kids like exploring things and finding out whether they can make louder or softer sounds? Do they like to discover what will happen if they hit harder? That’s a really exciting learning process. Tap these colored keys to play classic sounds or create your own tunes. Another fun way for kids and parents to interact in the game.
Since 1-year-old kids might be already starting to walk, they are quite interested in toys that can walk with them. Therefore, a good idea is to provide them with toys that will encourage your children to keep walking. Observing your kids walking with their toys is cuter than watch children pulling their wobbly best friend behind them. This Dog Pull Toy, made by Janod’s Rocky, has a cute funny tail, that wags as your kid fools around with his toy pet.
Another recommendation of our experts is this activity center. It comes with beads made of wood and tracks for them with hidden animals. It will definitely keep your child busy for hours. As Dr. Lytle says, the variety of options any particular toy can offer to you kid is what parents should look for. A variety not only in terms of what to do, but also in the options on how to do it as well. At this age parent want their kids to learn by figuring out new ways of using their toys, and not necessarily guide them with a certain set of rules and patterns. This toy has many different options, so your kid can just roll the beads or explore the whole toy. There is always a new feature to discover and something new to do.