A first birthday is a very special time in a child’s life. They’re learning many new things, exploring the world around them and delighting their parents daily with their bright and cheerful developing personalities. When choosing the perfect gift for that special one year old in your life, it’s important to focus on picks that offer developmentally appropriate and safe fun. Wondering about the best gifts for 1 year old boys? Check out our top picks.

The Winners

#1

Manhattan Toy Tree Activity Center

Best Overall

Cute and sturdy, the classic Manhattan Toy Adventure Activity Center combines durable wood construction with bright colors and simple, age-appropriate play options. The fun natural wood and tree design looks great in nurseries, playrooms and bedrooms.

There’s plenty of room to spread out, with four unique play quadrants featuring activities that help kids develop hand eye coordination, build small motor control and improve understanding of cause and effect. Because this activity center can accommodate up to four kids, it’s a great toy for learning about sharing and encouraging social development.

Developmental & Play Insights Manhattan Toy Tree Activity Center

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#2

Power Wheels Thomas & Friends

Upgrade Choice

Your favorite one year old will have a blast with this super safe ride on. It’s modeled after a classic childhood favorite, Thomas the Tank Engine, and they’ll love the chance to hitch a ride with one of the world’s most famous choo-choos. 18 feet of track allows parents to create a unique and safe circuit for their little ones. Once they are a little older, they can take the engine off track for more exploration!

 The Power Wheels Thomas & Friends travels 1 MPH on his tracks and 2 MPH off track. The engine has a weight limit of 40 lbs, and is powered by a 6 volt battery. It’s a perfect first ride on pick for small kids, because it’s safe indoors and simple to control.

Developmental & Play Insights Power Wheels Thomas & Friends

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#3

Fat Brain Toys Tobbles Neo

Best Budget Buy

Stacking toys are a great way to encourage pattern recognition and motor skill development, and these fun asymmetrical stackers are no exception. With the Fat Brain Toys Tobbles Neo, kids can build high towers and experiment with gravity by spinning, tilting and wobbling the rounded pieces. Durable and safety tested, the bright and colorful parts hold up to repeated play.

They’re great for helping kids refine small motor skills, and the unique shape and easy to grip texture engage toddler senses. They’ll learn cause and effect and build important logic and reasoning skills as they play with the uniquely squishy stacking tower.

Developmental & Play Insights Fat Brain Toys Tobbles Neo

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#4

Fisher-Price Servin' Up Fun Food Truck

There’s tons of fun to serve up with the Fisher-Price Servin’ Up Fun Food Truck, thanks to 20+ pieces and realistic food prep and service areas. Fisher-Price are experts in creating toys that engage the younger set in beneficial creative play, and kids will love ringing up orders with “magic” menu cards and triggering words, phrases and songs with the unique register. Pretending to prepare and serve different foods for friends and family will keep them excited to play again and again. It’s a Smart Stage toy, which means it’s great at 1 year and beyond, tailoring easily to their growing interests and abilities.

Developmental & Play Insights Fisher-Price Servin' Up Fun Food Truck

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#5

VTech Rhyme and Discover Book

Kittens, puppies and a sweet nature scene adorn the front of this toddler-friendly digital learning toy from VTech, industry experts in educational technology. Three bright character buttons on the side of the toy light up for sensory engagement. 

The VTech Rhyme and Discover Book recites seven beloved childhood rhymes and has four moving pieces, encouraging hand eye coordination and small motor skill development that are important for toddlers. A large, bright, easy to press music note button triggers tunes, and low and high volume settings make controlling the noise level easy – always a plus when dealing with electronic toys.

Developmental & Play Insights VTech Rhyme and Discover Book

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#6

Hape Pound & Tap Slide Out Xylophone

Xylophones are a classic childhood toy that helps build musical aptitude and stimulate creativity. The fun pick from the trusted experts at Hape adds another element of skill development by surrounding the Tap Slide Out Xylophone with a tapping bench. Toddlers can use the enclosed mallet, which is the perfect size for 12 month old hands, to tap the balls through the holes in the bench to create tinkling tunes as they cascade. They can also remove the bright instrument from the bench and play the old fashioned way.

Developmental & Play Insights Hape Pound & Tap Slide Out Xylophone

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#7

LEGO DUPLO My First Number Train

The LEGO DUPLO My First Number Train sets are awesome picks for toddlers. The blocks are just the right size, there’s no choking hazards, and best of all, they connect easily with each other to form a fun play system. This exciting counting train features blocks numbered 0-9 as well as two human figurines and one cat. It’s a great way for 12 month olds to learn pattern, number and color recognition while engaging the senses and improving coordination and motor control. As they get a little older, these blocks can also be a good way to teach active counting and double digit numbers. DUPLO and Lego sets are also perfect picks for learning about important social and cooperative play.

Developmental & Play Insights LEGO DUPLO My First Number Train

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#8

TOMY Toomies Hide & Squeak Eggs

A unique educational pick, the TOMY Toomies Hide & Squeak Eggs come in their very own “carton” for easy storage. The plastic storage case contains 6 hatchable eggs and offers two matching game options. Each egg’s base has a unique shape that corresponds with a slot in the carton, and each shell’s face corresponds with the face of its hatched egg. It’s the perfect size and skill level for toddlers, with engaging colors and pleasing shapes. Bonus: It’s also a great way to talk about identifying facial expressions and emotions.

Developmental & Play Insights TOMY Toomies Hide & Squeak Eggs

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#9

Hape Scoot Around Ride On Wood Bike

An ideal first trike, the sturdy and solid wood construction of this fun scoot along toy makes the Hape Scoot Around Ride On Wood Bike both safe and fun for little ones. Parents will love that the rubber coating of the trike’s wheels won’t damage indoor floors, so kids can ride to their heart’s content. It’s great for helping one year olds with gross motor skill development and building both strength and balance capabilities while also inspiring exploration. It’s also made with wood sourced from environmentally sustainable forests, so it’s a purchase you can feel good about.

Developmental & Play Insights Hape Scoot Around Ride On Wood Bike

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#10

Munchkin Float & Play Bubbles Bath Toy

Great water-safe toys always make bath time more fun, and the Munchkin Float and Play Bubbles Bath Toy is sure to provide a splashing good time. They’re adorable and durable, and they feature cute characters and shapes that engage toddler senses. Bright colors and pleasing textures complete these exciting sensory toys, which have a textured rubber ring that moves independently of the bubbles for easy gripping and manipulation. The bubble toys float in the water, making them easy for toddlers to grasp and safely access.

Developmental & Play Insights Munchkin Float & Play Bubbles Bath Toy

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#11

Sassy Wonder Wheel Activity Center

Multiple safe, spinning pieces stimulate the development of hand eye coordination with the Sassy Wonder Wheel Activity Center. It’s bright and fun, featuring engaging colors and motion with durable construction that can handle rough play from toddlers who are still mastering motor control. It encourages important motions like reaching, grabbing and tugging, and the safe suction cup base keeps it affixed to surfaces, so it’s a great highchair toy.

Developmental & Play Insights Sassy Wonder Wheel Activity Center

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#12

First Builders Big Building Bag

Mega Bloks are great for small hands, and the brightly colored bricks help children play creatively and socially while also using hand eye coordination and logic skills. This First Builders Big Building Set comes with a convenient storage bag to contain its 80 piece haul, so cleanup will be easy on both parents and kids. There are even special shape blocks included, letting kids top off and accent their unique building creations for an extra flourish of creativity.

Developmental & Play Insights First Builders Big Building Bag

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#13

Labebe Wooden Rocking Horse Toy

Rocking horses are an old school favorite, and it’s not hard to see why. They can help toddlers and children develop balance, coordination and strength, and the rocking motion can be a great way for kids to learn to self-soothe. This adorable pick from the ride-on experts, Labebe Wooden Rocking Horse Toy features a sweet white design with green stars as well as a low back to offer babies and younger children extra security when riding. A cushion can be added to offer extra comfort for kids, and it’s big enough to ride with their favorite stuffed animal or doll.

Developmental & Play Insights Labebe Wooden Rocking Horse Toy

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#14

Priddy First 100 Words

The Priddy First 100 Words is perfect bedtime or story hour book which features 100 recognizable photos and words which help kids identify and learn about common items and concepts. Bright colors, people, plants, animals, toys and other objects all appear in this simple to learn guide. It’s a sturdy board book that has a soft, padded cover for safety and comfort grip. Themes like vehicles, bath time and more touch on items your favorite 12 month old may already recognize.

Developmental & Play Insights Priddy First 100 Words

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#15

Melissa & Doug Chomp & Clack Push Toy

Melissa & Doug are pros at making toys that eschew digital features and prioritize natural childhood creativity and exploration. This Chomp & Clack Push Toy is cute, durable and safe which features alligators that clack and chomp as toddlers push, It’s just the right height for a one year old, featuring engaging additions like spinning butterfly and ladybug beads that toddlers can move and manipulate and brightly colored rotating fish on the wheels. It’s a good pick for building both fine and gross motor skills as well as offering sensory stimulation and encouraging creative play.

Developmental & Play Insights Melissa & Doug Chomp & Clack Push Toy

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How to Pick the Perfect Gift for a One-year-old Boy

Consider Their Developmental Stage

Whenever you are choosing a gift for a child of any age, it is essential to consider their developmental stage. Choosing a gift that is suited to a child’s developing senses and abilities will make sure that they are able to use the toy safely, enjoy it and reap the full value of its capacity for entertainment and education.

One-year-old children are developing quickly. They are beginning to understand the basics of what people say what they speak, and are learning to communicate through sounds and short words. They engage in mimic behavior and naturally seek out activities that help them develop hand-eye coordination and motor control. They are also beginning to engage in social play.

The best toys for 1-year-old boys generally engage the senses through sight, sound and touch while encouraging fine and gross motor skill development. Toys that encourage reaching, grabbing and broad motions are best. It’s crucial to avoid choking hazards, which are especially dangerous to newly mobile children.

Entertainment vs. Education

When choosing toys for one-year-olds, complex lessons are not the name of the game. Toys should have simple educational features geared toward what babies and toddlers need to learn, namely words, numbers, letters, colors, pattern recognition and other basics. From an entertainment standpoint, they shouldn’t be too complex or overstimulating, either. It’s ideal for toys for a 12-month-old to offer opportunities for imaginative play and unguided discovery. Learning, having fun and keeping busy are all important for one-year-olds, so an age-appropriate balance of entertaining and educational features is best.

Physical vs. Cognitive vs. Social

Because 12 months is such a crucial developmental age, physical, cognitive and social engagement are all necessary for healthy development. The key is to strike the right balance, choosing toys that focus on one or two of those areas rather than all three. Physical toys should encourage a wide range of movement, encouraging the development of gross motor skills. Cognitive toys should revolve around basic concepts like recognizing patterns and teaching simple cause and effect lessons, which develop early logic skills. Social toys should provide opportunities for play, sharing and communication without frustration in order to foster cooperation and peer bonds.

Digital vs. Manual

It goes without saying that most truly digital toys aren’t age-appropriate for one-year-olds. They don’t have the motor skills to use them, nor the ability to play with them safely. Battery operated electronic toys with simple interfaces can be beneficial, especially when words, phrases and educational songs are present. Age-appropriate manual toys include those that don’t have choking hazards and feature opportunities for motor skill development and safe sensory stimulation.

Quick Decision

Manhattan Toy Adventure Activity Center – Best Overall
Cute and sturdy, this activity center can accommodate up to four kids, it’s a great toy for learning about sharing and encouraging social development.

Power Wheels Thomas & Friends – Upgrade Choice
Your favorite one year old will have a blast with our upgrade choice awardee. It’s modeled after a classic childhood favorite and world’s most famous choo-choos. 

Fat Brain Toys Tobbles Neo – Best Budget Buy
With this toy, kids can build high towers and experiment with gravity by spinning, tilting and wobbling the rounded pieces.

Lamaze Firefly

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Gary B.

Gary B.

Gary is a father of two, self-identified RC fanboy, and part-time guitar plucker. When he's not racing his collection of remote-controlled vehicles or strumming away, we bend his arm and get him to write with precision and expertise on a range of mechanical and electrical toys.

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