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30 Best Toys for 1-Year-Olds, According to Parenting Experts (and Toddlers)

Musical instruments, stuffed animals, puzzles and more gifts 1-year-olds will love (with no little parts in sight).

best toys for 1 year olds
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It’s hard to find toys for 1-year-olds. Kids in this age group are no longer infants, but barely toddlers. They’re starting to grow out of baby toys, which have to do little to impress but crinkle, rattle and offer a soft part to chew.

"One-year-olds are at a period in their development when they are becoming increasingly powerful and competent — evidenced by the fact that they are starting to walk and talk," says Rebecca Parlakian, M.A., E.D., a parenting expert from Zero to Three, an organization that focuses on kid development during the early years. "They are also really interested in big questions like, 'How does this work?' 'What does it do?' And, 'What happens if I do this?'”

The best toys and gifts for 1-year-olds help them explore these questions and practice these new physical skills. "This includes simple items, like a ball to kick and chase, as well as things like push toys or toys that can be pulled on a string while walking," Parlakian says. "Toys can also pose fun challenges for 1-year-olds to figure out — think about a stacking ring, nesting cups, shape-sorters, a busy-box or simple wooden knob puzzles. And it’s never too early for set of cube blocks, plus a basket or bucket to drop them in and dump them out of. And toys that make noise — like a xylophone, drum, or toy piano — are also a hit at this age.

We tapped veteran parents and toy testing experts lead by Chief Technologist, Rachel Rothman, at the Good Housekeeping Institute to weigh in with their favorite toys for 12-month-olds. The toys were evaluated for safety, durability and easy of use, then sent to toddler testers to make sure they're fun. These picks hold up to the less-than-gentle treatment they get from their charges, won’t drive parents crazy and — most important of all — are new-toddler-approved. The Good Housekeeping Institute Little Lab repeated the process to find the best stocking stuffers for toddlers, toddler gifts and gifts for 2-year-olds. Also, don't forget to check out Good Housekeeping's gift guides for kids of all ages for more of the best kids' toys, including many hot toys of the year and Good Housekeeping 2021 Toy Award Winners.

These are the best toys and gifts for 1-year-olds in 2022:

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Radio Flyer
Busy Buggy
Radio Flyer
VTech
Go! Go! Go! Smart Wheels Launch & Chase Police Tower
VTech
Playskool
Chase n Go Ball Popper
Fat Brain Toys
pipSquigz
Fat Brain Toys
Mega Brands
Mega Bloks
Mega Brands
Fat Brain Toys
Dimpl Digits
Fat Brain Toys
Perfect Personalized Toy for 1-Year-Olds
LastPieceOfThePuzzle
Personalized Wood Name Puzzle
Etsy/LastPieceOfThePuzzle
Best Sports Toy for 1-Year-Olds
VTech
Smart Shots Sports Center
VTech
GUND
Tinkle Crinkle Jumbo Caterpillar Plush
GUND
Hape
Pound & Tap Bench With Slide-Out Xylophone
Hape
Manhattan Toy
Squeezmeez Whale
Manhattan Toy
Adorable Counting Toy for 1-Year-Olds
Learning Resources
Peekaboo Learning Farm
Learning Resources
LeapFrog
Sweet Treats Musical Tea Set
LeapFrog
Melissa & Doug
Jumbo Knob Wooden Puzzles
Melissa & Doug
Now 20% off
VTech
Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker
VTech
VTech
Musical Rhymes Book
VTech
GUND
My First Soft Drum and Guitar
GUND
Melissa & Doug
Chomp & Clack Alligator Push Toy
Melissa & Doug
LeapFrog
My Pal Violet Smarty Paws
LeapFrog
Manhattan Toy
Musical Lili Llama
Manhattan Toy
Creative Minds
Basket of Babies
Creative Minds
Melissa & Doug
Melissa & Doug Take-Along Shape Sorter
Melissa & Doug
Madame Alexander
Sweet Smiles Doll
Madame Alexander
Edushape
Edushape Small Sensory Balls
Edushape
GUND
Kai Teddy Bear
GUND
LeapFrog
Purrfect Counting Purse
LeapFrog
lovevery
The Thinker Play Kit
Lovevery
Green Toys
Shape Sorter
Green Toys
Fisher-Price
Little People Ted Lasso Collector Set
Fisher-Price
GUND
Sesame Street People in Your Neighborhood Collection
Gund
How we choose the best toys
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Before including our favorite picks in an article, the Good Housekeeping Institute does rigorous toy testing to ensure we're recommending only the best. Many of our choices come from our yearly Toy Awards, where we test each item based on the following criteria:

✔️Safety: Our engineers and analysts make sure that each toy reaches all safety standards. They also assess things like pinch points and make sure toys won’t shatter into small pieces to pose a potential choking hazard.

✔️Ease of Use: We look at each toy to evaluate how simple it is to assemble, how well it’s constructed and how durable it is during play.

✔️Kid Approval: Aside from testing each toy for skill-building attributes, like how well it develops social-emotional skills, all our final decisions come from more than 100 children, ages 1 to 15, who assess the fun factor!

Why trust Good Housekeeping?
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For decades, the Good Housekeeping Institute has provided expert reviews and advice on everything parents and children love, including STEM toys, educational toys, sensory toys and more.

Much of the toy testing for this article was overseen by Rachel Rothman, the Good Housekeeping Institute's chief technologist and director of engineering, with the help of Marisa LaScala, Good Housekeeping's senior parenting and relationships editor. For more than 15 years, Rachel has put her training in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics to work by researching, testing and writing about parenting products. Plus, as a mom to three kids under 5, she has plenty of first-hand experience.

Marisa has covered all aspects of the world of parenting, from the postpartum years through the empty nests, since 2015, and she's pitched in with Good Housekeeping's toy coverage since 2018. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter, who are both avid toy collectors.

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