If you’re looking for quality educational toys in the UK for your 1 year old, you have come to the right place. It is interesting when I first noted that there are many leaps happening at this age, so it is best to look for age-appropriate toys.
Here we will guide you into finding the right toys for your little one.
My son has mastered speeding around on all fours and started pulling himself up everywhere. He started to communicate more, not only from understanding us but also said a few words, much to our delight. He showed more interest in many types of activity at this age. It got me motivated to find more sensible toys to aid him in his development.
- Top 5 best toys for 1 year old
- What are educational toys?
- Best educational toys for 1 year old
- Wooden toys for 1 year old
- Best ride-on toys for 1 year old
- Toys for 1 year old girl
- Toys for 1 year old boy
- Best toys for outdoors
- Musical toys for 1 year old
- Montessori toys for 1 year old in UK
- Toys from 18 months old
- Choosing toys for 1 year old development
Top 5 best toys for 1 year old
At a glance, here is our very top 5 best toys for 1 year old children:
- Pikler Triangle with a slide
- Puky Wutsch
- Wooden Hammer Ball Toy
- Schleich animals
- Paddling pool and sandpit
What are educational toys?
The best toys for your 1 year old are educational toys. Here are a few important points that I consider:
- The toys should have good quality. They are simple and beautiful. Wooden toys are my favourite because of its inherent quality but there are some good plastic toys too, such as Duplo.
- Materials with strong eye-catching patterns and loud sounds distract the child from the essential. Hence, you won’t find toys like Tut Baby Flitzer in my recommendations. Natural and simple toys are preferred.
- A useful toy makes sense and allows a child to do something with it. It fosters creativity and also enables the child to think and act. It challenges the child to use both hands or even the whole body.
- The toys also allow a repeat of the work or they have endless open-ended ways to play. Children like to repeat activities when they find it exciting. They also find many ways to do one thing, experimenting with their concept of the world.
- The toy offers an appropriate challenge to the child according to its current ability or interest.
Best educational toys for 1 year old
Educational toys such as Montessori inspired toys aid in our toddler learning and development. The best way to introduce the right learning toys to children is at their own development pace.
At around eight months of my son’s life, I got intrigued by Montessori. Her advice on observing and following the child aligns with me. I use this advice when it comes to finding a toy and on how to introduce it to my son.
If he does not show any interest or get frustrated, I keep the toy away for a week or two and then try again. He surprises me sometimes when he started playing with it in a whole different way.
It also took me some time to curate the available educational toys in the UK. Read on to get the details of these toys, or download our Ultimate List of Toys for 1-3 Years Old, so that you can check back on it anytime.
My son loves his Schleich animals. They are true to size and form, and down to every detail. They are also easily found in the UK, yay!
The Schleich animals are one of the first toys that I have introduced to him as he turns 1 year old. At first, he loves to bring them around with him and tries saying the name of the animals. After a while, he started role play with the Schleich animals along with his Haba farm.
Ball tracker / marble run
This timeless marble run toy was a gift from my son’s grandparents for his first birthday. This toy is appropriate for a 1 year old and makes a perfect gift.
At one year old, my son only places one of the balls onto the track at a time and enjoy watching it roll down. Later he loves to let all of the items roll down one after another, challenging himself to make a big traffic jam.
This toy requires the whole body coordination, from picking up the ball to putting it on the right track. It also helps in concentration as they follow the rolling toy all the way down.
Vehicles, cars, trains
Some say that toy vehicles are toys for boys 1 year, but actually the girls enjoy them just as much.
At this age, they get excited about the big vehicles when they are out and about. A miniature version for them at home will delight them to no end. My son brings his little digger around the house all the time. But please be aware of small parts, and he is always playing under supervision.
They can also role-play with these vehicles. We can also use them as a chance to increase their vocabulary as well!
Siku is a German brand that can be bought in UK and all over EU.
Push car / walker wagon
At the beginning stage of learning to walk, a push car is the most prized item. The child may use it at first to pull himself up, later he/she learns to take a few steps with it.
My son started using it even before he is 1 year old, but he only really have fun with it later. He cruised along with couches and walls and used it to connect places.
Later, when they are older, the child uses it to transfer things around the house and even use to push a doll around.
A Pikler triangle is a play material created by Dr Emmi Pikler. It is one pedagogic specific material that has gone mainstream because of its usefulness.
A Pikler triangle gives the children a safe place to climb. It teaches them the combination skills needed to climb safely. With this, they are less likely to get hurt when climbing higher things later.
My son took a while to climb all the way up and over, and I never try to push him. After we add on the slide for him, it has seen increased in usage and fun.
The child can learn to coordinate their whole body with this Pikler triangle. If you also get a slide to go with it, you will see hours of fun. My son even uses it as a car ramp.
One thing that I notice my son got attracted immediately when he saw it was the play kitchen. Finding an appropriate sized play kitchen for our young toddler is no easy feat, but I did find some good ones in the UK.
There are many things one can do and learn there, such as pouring and transferring. Opening and closing doors or containers. Later on, my son used it to pretend play by cooking and offering food to me.
There is a lot of fun at the play kitchen be it by playing alone or with others.
Lego Duplo is one of the very few plastic toys that I will recommend. This genius spin from the famous Lego not only safe for young toddlers but also just as educational.
My son started by playing with the Lego Duplo farm by opening and closing the doors, hiding and finding the chickens in the farmhouse that I have built for him. I also present some loose blocks for him in a basket for him to get used to the idea of building with it.
Wooden toys for 1 year old
As I mentioned, I love wooden toys for their inherent quality. If we want the best for our child, we should try to buy toys made of wood for our child for these reasons:
- A well crafted strong wooden toy offers a tactile sensation, and children appreciate that. Wood allows the child to come close in contact with nature.
- It is environmentally friendly when sustainably sourced. Wood is an organic and renewable substance. Wooden toys are also eco-friendly as they decompose way faster than their plastic counterparts.
- Wooden toys are durable and can endure rough treatment. My son plays with wooden toys from his daddy’s time, and they are still as good as ever.
- Usually, wooden toys do not come with advanced technology (such as blinking lights and electronic sounds) that distracts the child instead of fostering creativity.
Getting well and sustainably made wooden toys in the UK is possible, lucky for us and following is the list of my son’s favourites.
Wooden stacking toy
At 1 year, the children are starting to practice their hand-eye coordination. It is pedagogically worthwhile to have toys that allow them to do that. The stacking toy is one of them that has been around for ages.
It took a while before my son successfully stacked one of the pieces back onto its base, but the pure satisfaction you see when he did it was magic.
There are many kinds of stacking toys, and I recommend getting a well made wooden one. With it, the child can learn to discern sizes and colour sorting later on. For young toddlers, look for one with a rocking base to aid them.
Wooden nesting / stacking Boxes
The nesting or stacking boxes are one of the most pedagogically worthwhile toys for its various uses and functions. I recommend wooden ones because they are sturdy and feel natural to touch and carry.
At first, my son only takes the boxes out one by one, discovering how sizes work. Later he started to stack a few of them, though not in any order. Around 18 months he began to stack them up by sizes.
For the older 1 year olds, they can also use them as little houses for toys dolls, garage for their cars, and much more. The boxes can also be doubled for color sorting activities.
This toy not only urges them to learn about sizes but also challenges their movements. Picking up the boxes and placing it delicately on top of one another is a skill not to be underestimated.
Wooden building blocks
Wooden building blocks are one of those toys that will see your child through the years. It is what the pedagogics call an open-ended toy. It allows the child to play creatively and freely in any way they want it.
At around 1 year, my son first only picks it up and chew on it. He also enjoys knocking down the towers that I built. Later closer to 18 months, he learned to stack them and made some small constructions. Much later towards 2, children will start to be creative with the blocks.
Since your child may still taste them at this point, it is essential to get non-toxic blocks. These HABA building blocks are perfect to start with.
Wooden hammer ball toy
At first the 1-year-old can use the toy by pushing the balls through the hole. This action has been one of the favourites of my nephew. Later on, he learned to insert the balls into the opening.
With this toy, a child can practice their hand-eye coordination while hammering. It also helps toddlers to release some of their energy.
This is one toy that will see constant usage from 1 to 2 years old and beyond!
Wooden pulling toy and push toy
Once sure-footed, children love to find things to challenge themselves when walking.
My son delights in his pulling toys, especially after he found out how it really works. The push toy offers the same delight but with a whole different challenge. Even after mastering it, I still see him pushes his toy duck around a few times a day just for fun.
Best ride-on toys for 1 year old
This classic toy is well-loved for a reason. This toy is not only fun for the child, but it also encourages them to learn their body movement.
Find one that allows the child to climb in and out themselves. This ability will help to build their confidence and independence. Also, I did not want to keep having to be there to take my son in and out!
It is also safer during rocking if a child knows how to get on and off safely by themselves.
For an indoor toy that promotes movement and balancing, the Wheely Bug is perfect for our little one. We first discovered this cute little ride-on toy at a friend’s place. My son got hooked on it immediately.
With it, children can learn to sit and roll around, first backwards and then forward. They also learn how to navigate around the house.
The child may only really use it properly from 18 months onwards, then there will be lots of fun.
If you are looking for an outdoor toy that is appropriate for a 1 year old that promotes movement and allows the child to play it independently, this Puky Wutsch is one of them.
For our young toddler who is just learning to navigate and balance, this four-wheeled ride-on toy is perfect for them.
Initially, it will take some time for them to learn how to use it. My son only started having fun with it from 18 months onwards. It is so much fun to see him manipulates the vehicle while navigating around!
Toys for 1 year old girl
In my opinion, gender does not play a role here for a child this young. They are equal in every way and should be treated as such. So no special treatment or specific colours for either of them.
Scientifically though, girls are quicker in the development of role-playing. For the older 1 year old girls, towards 2, some girls may start getting fixated with dolls.
Real baby doll
Though I must say my son also plays with his baby doll since early, but it’s more for imitating. He puts the baby to sleep and also brushes its teeth.
For 1 year old girls, a baby doll would be perfect for allowing them to do all those and more. They can bath the baby and carry it around in a pram or a baby carrier.
Toys for 1 year old boy
As for my son, it just feels like as he grows into an older toddler, he shows more interest in everything that moves.
Wooden toy train and railways tracks
In this case, the most popular option for a 1 year old boy is the wooden train and railways tracks. The boys love to move the train along with the tracks, which at first you may have to build for them.
For this age, a starter set will be enough to start with.
Best toys for outdoors
Inflated pool and water play toys
The best outdoor play for kids at 1 year is water play. They anything to do with water. In summer an inflated pool for the garden or balcony is perfect.
They dip in the water during hot days. My son uses it to fill up his various water play toys independently, such as a watering can or bucket.
After water play, the next favourite of kids is sand play. Though you may find many sandpits across playgrounds to play in, it is also good to have one at home if your space allows.
The sandpit is one of the favourite places for my son at the playground. My son can scoop and dump to his hearts’ content. For older kids, they can build structures and sculptures with sand along with water.
These type of sandpits are perfect for the garden.
As for the balcony or small garden, a sandpit shell will be more suitable.
All the kids I know love their home swing. They find the movement relaxing. Learning to swing is a vital movement development.
The best swing you can find is the Twipsolino. It is well-rated for its safety, which should be the most important criteria.
It also grows along with your kid, fitting a baby from 6 months old to an older 5 years old kid.
Musical toys for 1 year old
At this age, a child also starts to make their own music. They will hum tunes and start dancing too. Appropriate toys with music from 1 year are good to have to foster this interest.
This beautiful wooden drum makes lovely sounds. The drumstick with rubber stop is a genius as it gives the hitting a gentle spring. The different sections of the drum also make a nice variation in tones.
It is also not too loud, which is important for younger babies. But I must say adults will enjoy hitting the drum as well!
My 20 months old son currently carries it here and there around the house to sit down and make music. There is not a day that passed that he did not hit on it.
Haba Music Set
This variety of musical instruments set in the appropriate size for a 1 year old is perfect. They can explore how various instruments make a different sound and make up their version of music.
Montessori toys for 1 year old in UK
Montessori toys focus on being practical and useful for learning and refining a specific skill. Though some Montessori materials are best left in the pre-school, there are some that are suitable for home.
Nowadays, many toys are inspired by Montessori or align with the concept that you can let your child play at home. Looking for Montessori toys or material in the UK may be tricky, so here are some of our recommendations for you.
Single Shape Puzzles
For small children, it is best to start with single shape puzzles. You can introduce to them one shape at a time, starting with the big circle.
After my son can do the individual forms easily, I tape them together in a row to increase the challenge. It brings his new skill to a new level, and he enjoys looking for the right puzzle to fit in.
It is not a toy, but it is handy for toddlers to practice dropping in coins and also to learn how to open a box with a key.
I removed the plastic divider inside and my son loves to repeatedly drop coins into the box because of the beautiful satisfactory sounds it makes. He still struggles with the keys but it is a nice challenge that he has not give up yet!
Again these animals deserve a good mention as they are well-loved by kids this age and beyond. They are sturdy and really down to details.
These are also useful for introducing vocabulary. I draw inspiration from the Montessori method of 3 part lessons to teach my son the names of the animals.
- First period – name the word / concept. For e.g. this is a horse, that is a car!
- Second period – asked to recognize the vocabulary. For example, where is the horse? Bring me the cow, please.
- Third period – ask the child to name the object. We carry out this period only when we are sure the child knows it. Admittedly, sometimes I ask him to name something without thinking, but luckily it did not deter my son from trying!
We also use picture books or cards for matching when we are going through the second period. My son loves to bring the right animal and match it to the printed version.
A horizontal stacker is the next level toy after the traditional stacker. It is less well known outside of Montessori.
It is useful to help a child in crossing the midline – meaning moving across their body from left to right. Yes, they have to learn that too!
Read more at our Best Montessori Toys in the UK.
Toys from 18 months old
At 18 months you will see that the 1 year old showing a whole new perspective in things, started to babble or talk, and experiment with their toys in new ways.
They are now more sure on their footing and will explore more in their gross motor movements. They can also work better with their hands now and start to be able to do more fine motor movements.
These are the following useful toys you can add on to their collection to aid them in their learning development further.
At this age of 1 year, a few pieces of puzzles with large knobs or big wooden pieces are suitable. My son still frustrates sometimes with it, but he returns to it again and again.
Puzzles with big wooden blocks are also useful, those are the ones my son finally start to put back together first. Melissa and Doug have good ones as the picture is also shown below the puzzle piece to aid younger kids.
Later on, you can build up to 9 pieces with smaller pegs as their fine motor skills improve. Puzzles are excellent to help brain development too!
Threading is a good toy for refining their fine motor skills. It challenges them to think as well as it is a multi-step activity.
For young toddlers, it is good to start with a string with a piece of wood/plastic at the end to make it easier.
Choosing toys for 1 year old development
There are a few key development milestones for a 1 year old to reach by their second birthday. We should consider them when choosing the right toys for them.
12 to 18 Months old development
- learning to walk
- starting to stack a few blocks
- more control over their hand and arm movements
- start picking up small objects
- follow simple instructions and point to things you name
18 to 24 months old development
- walking up and down the stairs
- start hopping around
- explores objects in many different ways (shaking, banging, throwing, dropping)
- find hidden objects easily
- sort shapes and colours
- complete familiar rhymes and songs
- name items in books
- builds a tower of four blocks or more
- put a few pieces of puzzles together
- make-believe and role play
- putting objects into containers and taking them out