Mother and Baby

The best educational toys for a 1 year old

Section: Toys & Education

You've finally reached the year mark with your little one. A year that will have been full of milestones, discoveries and fun for you and your baby. It is great to look back and see what developmental firsts they achieved during these important 12 months.

By this point, your one-year-old is eager to learn and develop even more through play. Your 12-month-old will now understand most of what you say and will be able to anticipate your actions and words with visual cues (if you pick up their shoes, they might sit down ready for you to put them on). They have greatly improved their physical skills meaning they can swiftly move from one toy to another (creating unlimited mess!) and they love to mimic others, enhancing their social and emotional skills.

With this in mind, the best toys for your one-year-old are ones that continue to enhance physical development, coordination and walking. For cognitive development try fun musical or animal-themed toys to encourage independent play and learning.

13 educational toys for a 1-year-old:

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1) Top Bright Educational Activity Cube, £24.99, Amazon

Offer your 1-year-old this colorful and stimulating multifunctional mini activity cube to encourage learning and exploration. They’ll have so much fun and won’t even realize they’re learning! This cube is crafted to aid the development of cognitive and fine motor skills, color and shape recognition and hand-eye coordination.  
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2) Fisher-Price Smart Stages Chair, £26.99, Smyths

The chair includes Smart Stages technology, an exciting new way to change learning content as your baby grows. It teaches first words, numbers, shapes, colours and more. There are a variety of developmentally appropriate songs, phrases and sounds within three levels of play - just slide the switch or enter baby's age for automatic level changes.
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3) Melissa & Doug Shape Sorter Bag, £19.99 Amazon

More than a shape sorter, this is an on-the-go activity centre! Using nine plastic shapes and the padded carrying case, children can lift crinkly flaps, identify the pictures, match the shapes, and drop the textured blocks through the sorter. They can then pull the plush dog around the edge to unzip the case and start it all again!

These 1-year-old-friendly games and learning activities are great for enjoying together or for independent play. The easy-to-grasp padded handle makes it easy to carry the set from place to place - even for crawlers, scooters, and emerging walkers.
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4) Jellycat Jungly Tails Soft Book, £13.50, John Lewis

The Jungly Tails book is full of differently textured animal tails so children can feel the difference as they learn about different animals. The book has no hard or sharp corners and no paper, so it's perfect for one-year-olds.
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5) East Sun Enlighten Xylophone, £15.99, Amazon

A real musical instrument that creates perfect tones made with chunky, rounded edges and notebars that are accessible to tiny fingers. It is an ideal first instrument to introduce children to the delights of making music. 
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6) Stacking Blocks, £3, Wilko

Stacking blocks are a super simple and really cheap option for your little one. Educational toys don't have to be complicated. These colourful and durable plastic stacking cups help your little builder with problem solving, counting and co-ordination. These 10 brightly coloured cups stack up from large to small and include holes in the bottom so they can be used in the bath! 
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7) Skip Hop Rolling Owl Push Toy, £15.95, Amazon

Designed for tots who are learning to walk, this push toy will keep your little one on the move. As the owl waddles playfully along, the beads in his belly tumble around making gentle sounds. Your toddler is sure to stay on their toes with this adorable owl friend. It encourages tots when they start to walk to keep going, with flapping wings and gentle sounds.
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8) Skip Hop Count & Play Bath Puzzle, £8, John Lewis

Tub time is playtime! The Skip Hop Zoo Count & Play Bath Puzzle is the ideal bath toy and learning activity for your water baby. The colourful puzzle and bath book feature fun artwork with a little mischievous monkey on one side, and friendly owl and busy bee on the other, plus number graphics to help children with their counting skills.
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9) The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Little Learning Library, £4.39, Amazon

From the creator of everyone's favourite kids book 'The Hungry Caterpillar' comes this cute little learning library. This wonderful board book collection makes a perfect first library by introducing first concepts to one-year-olds. Each book is filled with Eric Carle's much-loved collage art and large, simple text. These books are ideal for little hands to hold as the sturdy board pages are durable enough to withstand any rough and tumble.
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10) Peppa Pig Peppa's Sing and Learn Microphone, £15, John Lewis

This play microphone is the ideal toy for the budding singers and entertainers! The toy helps little ones discover new experiences and encourages role-play. When your little one doesn't want to sing, they can listen to the built-in musical tunes or sound effects and watch flashing lights!
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11) Tomy Hide and Squeak Eggs, £9.99, JoJo Maman Bebe

Let's play hide and squeak! See if your little one can match the egg shapes to the carton. The eggs have lots of silly faces that are sure to delight little ones, and the chicks will give a little squeak when you push the eggs down for added entertainment. This shape-sorting game is perfectly sized for little hands, improving manual dexterity and promoting colour and shape recognition.
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12) Wooden Alphabet and Abacus Learning Centre, £23.99, Amazon

A highly stimulating and creative learning centre. It helps to improve and cultivate your little one's hand-eye coordination, logical thinking, imagination and creativity, fine motor skills, colour and objects recognition and also learning, alphabet, numbers, counting and telling times. What more could you want?

What educational toy does your little one love? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!


Catriona originally joined the team as an Editorial Assistant to work on the 2019 M&B Awards. As a Digital Writer, she has written and updated hundreds of articles on the site from medical explainers to celebs news and shopping galleries.

Catch her running along the Thames or eating her way around London's restaurants.


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