Must-have Toys for 1 to 2-year-old Toddlers

Everyone and their grandma will have a say in the toys that you MUST HAVE to keep your toddler happy. I wanted to provide my personal list of 1-year-old must-have toys as a guide to the toys that have been played with day in and day out and she kept coming back for more. Obviously we have more than these toys but these were definitely her favorites. I feel like they would easily be winners in any toddlers toy box!

Our most loved and most played with 1-year-old must-have toys, use a lot of gross motor and practical life skills!

I split my list of 1 year old must have toys into three categories; Gross Motor Toys, Sensory Toys, and just Toys

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Gross Motor 1-year-old must-have toys

Gross Motor Toys are great for burning energy and encouraging gross motor development. Helping to strengthen muscles and promote better balance and coordination! What’s not to love about all of that?! Not to mention that if your little was an early walker these are great next steps for them!

  • Pikler Triangle

The Pikler triangle is so simple in design and provides such a good outlet for busy toddler bodies. Essentially just a wooden ladder folded in half it’s great for cruising on before walking as well as climbing up and down. As they gain more confidence and skill they will learn to climb up and over and then down the other side, as well as jumping off from different heights! It can also be used as a tunnel or tent if you crawl under!

With out a doubt the Pikler triangle is my number one 1-year-old must-have toys. I could go on forever the ways that she plays with this simple wooden climbing structure.
  • Wobble board

The wobble board is another super simple design with lots for open-ended play opportunities! A simple curved piece of wood to balance on and wobble back and forth. Building balance, core strength, and coordination! If you flip it over you can also use it as a small slide or bridge for toys to go over and under. Her current favorite use is the slide feature she will lay across it on her belly and push of with her toes and slide forward a few inches. This has lots of years of play left in it and I love that. We found ours used but I had every intention of getting one, we just got lucky!

the wobble board or balance board is nothing more than a curve piece of wood. Yet it offers all kind of gross motor challenge in many different ways and its been so fun watching her learn new ways to play with it.

Sensory 1-year-old must-have toys

Sensory toys are always a hit for the 1 to 2-year-old toddlers, everything is still so new and interesting for them. They are just starting to really make connections about cause and effect so it’s very mentally stimulating for them!

  • Swing

Our swing has been a favorite for nearly her whole life. We can’t go outside without having to swing for a bit. I honestly think she would swing and never stop if we let her. Swings are so good for sensory experience and to be honest they probably give a great thrill for their little bodies. It’s no wonder that most kids adore the swing.

We first got our swing when she was about 9 months old I think. She was mostly indifferent for many months, Then something changed around 14 months or so. Now we can't go outside with out a swing session.
  • Mirror

We hung a mirror down low on her level around 18 months I think, and I wish we had done it sooner! You hear all the time about low mirrors for babies, and we just didn’t have the place to do a mounted one. She often races into her room to look at herself and loves to see what she is wearing after getting dressed for the day. I don’t know the science behind it all but I am sure that the ability to see themselves and study what they are doing and how it looks is great for their little brains!

You hear a lot about mirrors for babies, we had a small mirror for her then and she was never very interested. That has certianitly changed, she is always checking herself out now and I am sure it will be much loved as she gets into dress up play

1-year-old must-have toys

This is the more random section and covers a variety of toy types. Every toddler is different and has different interests; you’ll notice that cars and basic stacking toys are not on my list. She had little to no interest in these kinds of toys at this age.  Other toddlers may. My List of 1-year-old must-have toys are worth looking into for any toddler and then you can curate from there for specific interests!

  • Latch Puzzle

We have loved this Melissa & Doug latch puzzle for many months now. Its great fine motor practice and keeps her interest for quite a long time. Especially in the car. As she has aged with it she is becoming aware of the colors and counting that it also offers!

Role Play is just beginning for the 1-year-old crowd

  • BabyDoll

No matter the gender I feel that all children benefit from having a baby doll of some kind. They don’t need to be fancy, just something that they can role play will. After all, they are seeing you take care of them day in and day out. This will get even more play with some kind of stroller or cart. Something to push them around in! It’s also especially good if you are practicing before a new baby arrives. 😉

You can catch more sweet moments like this on my Instagram
  • Tea/coffee set

If your toddler watches you do one thing nearly everyday I would put some money on them seeing you drink some coffee/tea. At least if you are as perpetually exhausted as we are…lol. We picked up this Learning Resources set of coffee mugs and pot so that she could have her “own” coffee in the morning with us. Of all her play food and kitchen toys, this is the stuff I see her play with the most. We can even ask her to make us a cup of coffee and she will bring us a cup and pour from the pot for us.


If you take this set into the bath its great pouring practice and that is a skill all toddlers LOVE to practice!

You can’t beat open-ended toys

  • Dance scarves/play silks

We didn’t add these until around 18 months and I wish we had them earlier. She cannot hear music come on without running to her basket and pulling out some silks to dance with. We also use them like dress-up clothes and she goes running off to check herself out in the mirror. Dance scarves are definitely cheaper and will do essentially the same thing as play silks, but I do have to say that we have some of both and we all prefer the silks. They are larger and they just flow nicer.

Play silks are relativly new to my perception, but they are definitely 1-year-old must-have toys. She gets these out all the time and they are so open ended I am sure they will be favorite for years!
  • Mangatiles

If your child has one type of building toy I would say 1. That’s crazy there are so many great ones how can you pick just one! 2. Go Magnatiles. The magnets help structures to hold together a little more than standard wooden blocks. Your child will not outgrow this the way they will with mega blocks or Lego Duplo ( don’t get me wrong we have both of these and love them for their own uses). Around 18 months she started to stack and match them on her own, but she still enjoyed them before then as well. So would definitely recommend them

Magnatiles are a great open ended building item. The Magnets make it a little easier for unsteady hands to build, but they still make a great clatter when you knock it all down.

Of course, we can’t forget the books!

  • Interactive books

We have had interactive books from the day she was born, but they really took off around her 1st birthday and an entire year later they are still her favorites. She particularly likes the ones with First Stories series that has slides and wheels but lift the flap and texture books still draw her attention regularly. (If you want to know some of our particular favorites check out this post!) There are also noisy books that we love, though I limit those to the car for my own sanity!

Interactive board books are definitely 1-year-old must-have toys. She is always going to her books shelf and pulling books to read. Either on her own or for us to read to her.

Top 10 1-year-old must-have toys

There are too many types of toys on the market to even know where to start most the time. Looking back on what we played with for the first year of toddlerdom I found some standouts that make up our 1-year-old must-have toys.

Don’t forget specific interests!

Every kid is different so take what I have said and think about your kid. If stack everything they come across have a stacker toy. If they never really cared for dancing then maybe don’t bother with dance scarves. These are just our favorites. Toys that get played with all the time and were 100% worth every penny we spent on them.

These are our top 10 1-year-old must-have toys for that young toddler or "taby" lifestyle

What were your top 1 year old must have toys?

If your little is already past this stage I would love to know what their favorites were! I bet we have at least a little cross over! Let me know down in the comments! If you want to see some of our toys in action make sure and check out my posts on toy rotations and follow me on Pinterest for more ideas for toys that we love!

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