Before I had a child, I was clueless about appropriate gifts for kids of different ages. And even now that I am a mom, I still am clueless about every age that surpasses my 19 month old. So, this post is for all those clueless moms (and not moms) who never know what to buy.  At some point I’ll post best gifts for newborns, but since most parents do registries for that, the first birthday and beyond is where it gets tricky.

Disclaimer: I have not been paid for these endorsements. These are simply products I love.

Best Gifts for a One Year Old:

  1. My Pal Violet (or Scout for boys). I stumbled upon this amazing creation when looking at the terrible reviews for a similar Fisher Price toy. Violet is one of those great toys that I give as a newborn gift, but continues to be fun for one year olds and beyond. My almost 3 year old niece still loves hers. It is a customizable stuffed animal.   Connect it to your computer, and you can put in your child’s name, favorite color, song, etc etc etc. Violet will sing songs about the child’s favorites, as well as constantly refer to the child by name. Other toys like this either don’t work right, or have hard electronic parts and sounds. Violet is completely soft. I could go on and on about this toy, including the low price. (Note: get the one with the hearts on the tummy. Apparently for some strange reason there is a more expensive version without the hearts that has terrible reviews.)
  2. VTech Sit to Stand Learning Walker. My daughter wasn’t yet walking by her first birthday, and this was the gift that got her going! And it has stood the boredom challenge…she still plays with the detachable toy that comes with it. That toy has a phone and shape pieces that she loves, as well as a cow that moos, and a bunch of other fun things. But the best part, of course, was the way she took off running (literally) with it the moment it was out of the box.   If you are looking for a gift for a child who is already walking, maybe skip this one.
  3. My Own Leaptop (Violet or Scout laptop). Very cute gift that is both educational and fun. One setting says the letter of the alphabet as the child pushes it, as well as some info about an animal whose name begins with that letter. Other settings play songs or musical instrument sounds when the keys are pushed. It is slightly customizable…if you enter your child’s name, when they push the first letter of their name, it will spell the name for them. One minor problem I have is with the email setting. The child can respond to a fake email. As they type letters, their writing appears on the screen. It would be nice to have a space bar for this since there is no way to make words without one! Finally, there is a game setting that is a bit too difficult for my daughter now, so hopefully something she can grow into. (Update 6/30/16: My now 2.5 year old STILL loves this.  And yes, she now loves the game setting as well.)
  4. Bendy ball. I think this link is for the hand-me-down my daughter loves. Other balls claim to be flexible, but they aren’t really, and the way my daughter throws, I really needed a completely flexible ball! This one is completely flexible, and so doesn’t hurt at all when thrown at your face! Again, I’m not completely sure if this is the exact item I have. May be worth looking for this item in a store to make sure it is really flexible. The finger holes also make it easy for the child to grasp. This is a more inexpensive item, so may be combined with something else.
  5. Books. Before becoming a mom, I would have thought this a boring gift, but we get so tired of reading the same books over and over and over again. New ones for the mix are definitely appreciated. There are many types of books for kids…with sounds, lift the flaps, etc. I’ll do another post one day about my favorite books, but one of my favorites is Dog by Matthew Van Fleet. One year old is a bit young for this and I would recommend it being used with adult supervision to avoid pieces being pulled off.
  6. Puzzles. Like above, there are so many types. They have sounds, and can be great instructional tools. For this age, look for ones that have pegs in the middle of the pieces for little hands to pick up, or are labelled as chunky, which means the pieces are raised. A popular brand is Melissa and Doug.
  7. 2-in-1 flip open sofa. I love all baby-sized versions of real things, and this couch is still a favorite with my daughter.
  8. Roll and Surprise Animal Train. This is a cute toy that my daughter is still growing into. She has yet to pull it by the string, but likes pushing it along the floor. She loves when it asks her to find the cat (or bird, or dog) and she knows exactly where each one is hiding.
  9. Shapes Quiz. This is a more advanced version of the basic shape sorter. It is for 18 months plus and is double sided. There are three shapes on the top and three on the bottom. My daughter is great at getting the shapes in, but still needs help flipping it over. The item is wood with a magnetic lid, another bonus since it’s a bit more difficult for her to pull the top off herself. Note: reviews are not great, but I’ve had no problem with this product. There are other types of advanced shape sorters, so if anything, this can give you an idea.
  10. Toys for imaginary play. My daughter doesn’t have one of these yet, and I wish she did. It was around 15 months that she really got into doll houses, play kitchens, etc. It’s on the list for her 2nd birthday for sure. For the summer, they even have play barbecues. Very cute.

That completes my top ten, but some other age-appropriate ideas:

  • Legos and other types of items like this that can be connected to make things.
  • Toys that get the kids moving (in other words, to use up all that excess energy they get once they start walking!) Slides, tunnels, and climbing pieces are examples. My daughter loves the wedge (slide) and stair pieces of this.  (But not the best gift for someone with limited space.)
  • Keepsakes. After one year, it gets more difficult to hold on to those special moments. For example, a book made to keep your child’s first doodles.  By the way, I also like this brand of first crayons.

I hope this list helps you find the perfect gift for the little ones in your life!