Best Gifts for 1-Year-Olds - Baby Chick

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Best Gifts for 1-Year-Olds

gift guidesUpdated June 28, 2022

Picture this: You’re thumbing through the mail and find an invitation to a 1-year-old’s birthday! It’s little Johnny’s first birthday and you are invited! You check the calendar and everything looks great to be able to attend . . . now, what do you buy for a 1-year-old birthday gift?

We’ve all been there with a birthday invite and then completely blank on unique gift ideas, whether it has been a minute since you’ve had a 1-year-old, you don’t have any children of your own, or you just need some fresh ideas: I am here to help!

Best Gift Ideas For a 1-Year-Old

When shopping for a 1-year-old, it might be helpful to know what types of milestones a 1-year-old should be hitting and then decide on a toy that will be helpful to their development but also fun! We have broken down our favorite gift ideas into categories that help reach different milestones or promote ways your 1-year-old learns about their environment.


Best Developmentally Appropriate Gifts

Push and Go Car Toys

Mine to Love Jenna

Chatter Phone

Baby's First Birthday Gift

Baby Bear Board Book

Rainbow Fish Board Book

Baby Animals Board Book

Touch and Teach Elephant

Never Touch a Monster Book

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Book


By one year of age, a child will start to enjoy the experience of having a parent or other adult play with their toys with them. They may begin to bring you things to play with, such as cars, baby dolls, or the beloved play phone (“ring-ring”—everyone answers the phone no matter what!). Storybooks with bright pictures, interesting characters, or the “touch and feel” books are a great idea to keep the child interested all the way through. One-year-olds enjoy peek-a-boo and patty cake, and there are plenty of toy options that sing or play games with them.


Best Toys For Cognitive Development and Motor Skills

Busy Activity Box

Laugh & Learn Wagon

Fine Motor Headgehog

Take Along Tunes

Push Along Play Cart

Cozy Coupe



Magnetic Blocks

Corn Popper

Basketball Hoop

Foam Letters and Numbers

Magnetic Doodle Board

Wooden Pound and Play

Fat Brain Dimpl

Fat Brain Toys Klickity


Cognitive development is starting to take off at this age, as well. Cognitive development is the thought process of remembering, problem-solving, and decision-making. They want to explore more on their own and learn every little thing about what they are playing with, such as what happens when you throw, bang, or shake the object. Handheld toys that are easy to grasp are perfect for practicing these skills!

Around this time, too, they are probably on the move or very close! Toy walkers or ride-on toys are awesome for helping their motor skills develop.


Best Gifts for Facilitating Pretend Play

Shopping Cart

Baby Stella Doll

Nursing Pets

Unicorn Pet Carrier

Medical Kit

Camping Toy

Play Kitchen

Cutting Fruit Set

Farm Animals with Barn

Laugh 'n' Learn Puppy Remote

Smart Phone

Brilliant Baby Laptop

Learning Tablet

Musical Instruments


Playing pretend is also fun for young toddlers. Toys that facilitate pretend play include dolls, pets with pet carriers, doctor kit, camping sets, kitchens, shopping carts, play food, and playhouses. All of the things that mimic what they see mom or dad doing every day are things they want to play with, like playing with remotes, phones, laptops, and tablets. Lots of these toys have lessons with songs and music to teach kids colors, numbers, shapes, and letters.


Practical or Useful Gifts


Character Plates and Bowls

Sippy Cups

Table and Chairs

Toddler Chair

Toy Storage

Play Doh Create 'n' Store

4-n-1 Puzzles


To go further with these ideas, pick something up to keep your chosen gift organized. When my boys get Play-Doh, I love it when it comes in a bin, so I can throw it all into it when they are done. That way, it’s all away and on the shelf, and when they want it again, I can just grab one bin. They received a set of puzzles one year, and it came with a stand so that after they were done, we could slide each puzzle into the slot and put it up on the shelf, and everything was together. Bath toys with a net to go in after bath time help keep the clutter from becoming overwhelming in our small bathroom.


Gifts That Encourage Outdoor Play

Garden View Playhouse

Crawl Through Tunnels

Teepee Tent




Water and Sand Table


Outdoor play is essential for young children’s growth, health, and development. Encouraging kiddos to get outside and get their wiggles out is also vital for mom and dad’s sanity! Here are several unique gifts that will promote more outdoor adventures!

More Unique Gift Ideas

The Gift of Experience

If parents are opting for no gifts or more of an “experience” based gift, passes to the zoo, a local water park or splash pad, Legoland, or local indoor play park would be fun and something the whole family could enjoy later. Ask the parents about any upcoming vacations or classes and help with the fee or equipment needed. For example, if they will be taking a swim class, you could get them a new swimsuit or cute towel and a wet bag to throw their wet clothes in after class. It is helpful to the parents and fun to know you played a part in an activity they love.

Something to make Mom and Dad’s Life Easier

A fun gift option for the parents is offering a couple of nights a year of volunteering for child care. You could wrap up cute coupons or just a calendar marked with “date nights” written in, anytime free child care is an option with people we love, and trust makes for a much more enjoyable date night, and the trade-off of hanging out with a sweet little one isn’t so bad either.

Whether you opt for a traditional toy or a not-so-traditional “experience” gift, or just the gift of your time, I hope some of these ideas sparked something new for you and left you feeling excited to attend this birthday party with confidence in the choice you picked!

This article contains affiliate links. These opinions are our own. However, if you buy something, we may earn a small commission, which helps us keep our content free to our readers. Check out our Chick Picks Shop here to see more of our recommended products. It’s our carefully curated shop of products we love and recommend! ❤️


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