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18 Best Baby Gifts for 1-Year-Olds

Home is a family's sanctuary. These toys and gifts for 1-year-olds are fun, educational and, of course, beautiful.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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In a perfect world, I’d have endless space (and patience) for bright, colorful, noisy toys. But in reality, I have to be selective about the many things that come into our family’s home. As a new mom, I choose toys that help build motor skills, enhance hand-eye coordination and support sensory development. I appreciate toys that are easy on the eyes, too!

Here are the gifts for 1-year-olds that both my daughter and I love (or would love to have).

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My Favorite People Board Book

Since most of our immediate family members live a flight away, this baby board book helps our little one remember their faces outside our regular FaceTime calls. It’s such a sweet part of her bedtime routine, naming off all the people who love her while winding down for the night.

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Ball Pit

This gift may make you the auntie or uncle of the year in the eyes of a young child—because, ball pits! Now that we’re all germ-conscious, a personal ball pit feels less gross than a community ball pit. The pit and balls are both neutral-toned, which blends well into any home. This is a big-ticket item that takes up quite a bit of floor space, so ask parents first before purchasing.

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Personalized Name Puzzle

Fitting various shaped pieces into their places requires fine motor skills, and puzzles are a popular old-school toy that help babies develop this skill. This beautiful custom puzzle is small enough to store and is beautifully designed, so parents won’t tuck it away in a toy box. It’s one of our favorite personalized baby gifts.

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Rainbow Playsilk

The possibilities for creativity are endless with playsilks. As a baby, our child loved the sensory experience of the silk brushing up against her skin. Your little one can also use it as a cape, a fort or whatever else their imagination comes up with. This one makes an excellent baby shower gift, too.

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Language Blocks

Known as the original STEM toy, building blocks are great learning toys that kids can use for many years. At the age of 1, babies start with stacking, and they eventually create larger towers when they begin to learn the basics of physics like cause and effect, gravity, force and velocity. Soon, they will line up the blocks—an exercise in precision and patience. As kids get older, they play more creatively with blocks, creating tunnels and other structures. These blocks by Uncle Goose come in 25 different languages, from German to Arabic and Japanese.

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Wood Magnetic Tiles

One of the most popular gifts for 1-year-olds are brightly colored magnetic tiles that help develop their sense of creativity and imagination. I like this set of 32 hand-crafted birch tiles better, though. The natural wood tiles can be used for years to come, and since they’re a bit more design-savvy, they make a great gift to pass on to another family.

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Bath Bombs

One of the best gifts for a minimalist family is something perishable—and it doesn’t have to be food. Bath time is often a treasured bedtime routine, and these bath bombs are a fun and novel alternative to more bath toys. Dabble and Dollop bath products were created by a mom and are formulated to the strict standards for quality and purity. They are also free of known allergens and are a great sensory experience because they smell amazing!

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Baby Ukulele

Playing with musical instruments is so valuable to the developing brains of young children. And, all parents know that if that musical instrument makes a sweet sound (as opposed to an annoying one), all the better! This gorgeous sandalwood ukulele will be loved for many years to come.

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Pikler Triangle

The Pikler is designed to help babies and toddlers develop gross motor skills, balance and strength, and promotes creative play. This Lily & River Pikler comes with a non-toxic finish, is made in the US, folds flat to store and is compatible with more attachments. Since this is a bigger item that takes up lots of floor space, be sure to give parents the chance to choose if this is something they want and have space for in their home.

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Busy Board

This busy board teaches all the motor skills a child will need to independently get themselves dressed for daycare or school in the morning. It includes zippers, different types of buckles, buttons and shoelaces. Like a fidget toy, it can help children with restlessness, anxiety and agitation by keeping them preoccupied. But unlike a fidget toy, it teaches skills that will help little ones develop independence. I love that it’s super lightweight and can occupy small hands while traveling.

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Bamboo Footie Pajamas

These Kyte baby pajamas are hands down one of the best baby gifts we’ve received. The two-way zipper is key for late-night or early-morning diaper changes, and the stretchy fabric makes it usable for a longer period of time than most pajamas. Plus, the super soft bamboo fabric is great for sensitive skin, including babies with eczema. The colors and designs are also great for the design-conscious family.

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Cook in a Book Collection

As a parent, I love getting gifts that my baby may not use right away. If you’re reading this, chances are that you, too, love to cook. I’m looking forward to spending many hours in the kitchen with my child teaching her the basics of cooking—an important life skill. This adorable Cook in a Book collection includes recipes with photos for four favorite kid foods: pancakes, tacos, pizza and cookies. It has the potential to be the gift that keeps on giving if you can get your child to cook for you one day!

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The 5 Love Languages of Children

This is another gift for grown-ups, but The 5 Love Languages of Children often appears on lists of must-read books for parents. It will help caregivers discover a child’s primary love language, then learn to speak it to build strong relationships.

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College Fund

As most parents know, sometimes a gift that doesn’t result in another object to corral at home can be the best gift. Loved ones can contribute to your baby’s college fund through an app like Backer and can even make automated contributions. Want more practical ideas? Consider gifting a baby food delivery service, too.

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Ancient Song Doula Services Donation

We often reflect on how fortunate we were to have access to excellent prenatal and postpartum care. So many families in this country don’t have that same access, leading to poorer outcomes for little ones just like ours. The first birthday is a huge milestone. Use it as an opportunity to support birthing resources so other families can enjoy the same milestone.

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Baby Sign Language Course

Another experience-not-stuff gift, a baby sign language class teaches the basics of baby signing. This is invaluable because, at age 1, most babies are not able to communicate in words quite yet. Baby sign language gives them the tools to communicate their needs confidently. Happy Baby Signs offers virtual as well as in-person classes, which are a great way to build community with other parents in your area.

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Museum or Zoo Membership

Another gift for 1-year-olds that doesn’t add to the pile of growing “baby stuff” at home, we love museum and zoo memberships. Whether you take the child out so parents can get some much-needed rest, or parents take kiddo themselves, the little one gets to experience something new. Also, have you ever met a kid who didn’t love the zoo?

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Massage Session for the Caregivers

Any parent will tell you that the first year of a baby’s life can be hard on our bodies. All the bending and leaning over, lifting a 20-pound weight all day—it’s a lot of physical labor that leads to constantly sore everything. This gift for a new mom or dad is guaranteed to be greatly appreciated!

Kristin Eriko Posner
Kristin Eriko Posner is the founder of Nourish Co., a lifestyle website that inspires multiethnic people and families to create nourishing new rituals drawn from time-honored wisdom. She does this through her writing, recipe development, and a limited-edition collection of modern heirlooms, all of which explore and celebrate her intersecting identities. Nourish Co. has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, The Forward, Real Simple, and The San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications.