Best Toys for 1 Year Olds + Giveaway

Even on the heels of Toy Fair, we always have toys on our minds. With a friend’s baby turning 1 soon, I was inspired to create a round up of the best toys for 1 year olds. I scoured to curate some of our tried and true favorite toys for 1 year olds.

From ride-ons to classic toys to techy toys, I gathered our favorites based on play value, durability, accessibility and whether my kids or kids we know loved them!

From ride-ons to classic toys to techy toys, I gathered our favorites based on play value, durability, accessibility and whether my kids or kids we know loved them!

1. Manhattan Toy Snuggle Bunny Baby Doll

ManhattanToySnuggleBunnyNKTTransitioning from baby to toddler, one year olds start to change their play patterns. According to, babies go from shaking and throwing toys to understanding functions of objects as a toddler. At one year old, kids start to play pretend, so toys that allow for nurturing and modeling behavior is always a hit. Manhattan Toy makes a myriad of interactive and beautiful toys such as the Snuggle Bunny Baby Doll ($17.) This soft and cuddly doll makes for a perfect first baby doll.

2. Plan Toys Sort and Count

PlanToysSortandCountStacking and nesting toys help toddlers develop hand-eye coordination, as well as cognitive development, according to an article on Simple, open ended stacking toys such as PlanToys’ Sort and Count allows kids to sort and stack the various pieces. This abacus-looking toy is made of Plan Toys’ planwood, organic rubberwood, e-zero glue, water-based dyes, recycled and recyclable materials, soy and water-based ink.

3. VTech Sit to Stand Learning Walker

VTechSittoStandWalkerMany toddlers are learning to walk and toddling around at a year old, so walkers make a fun gift. This VTech Sit to Stand Learning Walker offers a lot of play value with its many learning tools and interactive electronic features. VTech is so great at the electronic learning toys, but they’re also masters at creating toys that grow with kids. This walker can be used for kids in a more stationary pattern, as well as for those who are cruising and walking.

4. Melissa and Doug Large Shapes Knob Puzzle

MelissaandDougKnobPuzzleAccording to Learning4kids, puzzles help toddlers with important skills such as cognitive, fine motor, hand and eye coordination, problem solving, social and self esteem. Wooden puzzles from Melissa and Doug provide fun play patterns for toddlers to co-play and enjoy independence. I love the knob puzzles for toddlers, to give them extra help grasping these chunky pieces. Classic puzzles are timeless and perfect for curious problem solvers.

5. B Toys Fish Splish Boat

BtoysSplishFishBoatGood bath toys are the best for toddlers! I love the colors and creativity that B Toys inspires. This fun boat that can be used in the bath has a number of fun features that help toddlers explore bathtime and the environment around them. From the fishing pole, fish, captain and little rudder, this cool boat helpstoddlers with imaginative play while getting cleaned up.

6. Step 2 Whisper Ride II

Step2WhisperRideIIAs the winter starts to fade to warmer spring and summery days, ride-on toys will be all the craze. Step 2 are pros at the ride-on and outdoor toys, and the Whisper Ride II is one of my all time favorites. This push car is perfect for going on strolls in the neighborhood without the restraints of a stroller. Toddlers can pretend to steer while driving their ride, all the while mom or dad navigates with the handle. The Whisper Ride features a seatbelt, small storage compartment and cup holders.




There are so many awesome toys for 1 year olds on, and these are just a small sampling of their selection. Do you have a favorite toddler toy? What makes you and your kid love it so much?


Want to grab a few new toys of your own? We have a $50 gift certificate to up for grabs. Tell me what your favorite toddler toy is and why! Share your comment below.

For even more entries, check out the giveaway below to win a gift certificate. This giveaway will be open for a week, so be sure to enter!


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Full disclosure: this is a sponsored post in partnership with Nakturnal, with a gift certificate as a prize. As always, all opinions on NKT are mine. Thank you for supporting The Next Kid Thing.

2014 Holiday Gift Guide Sneak Peek

And because Christmas is just two months away, I’m reluctantly, but excitedly looking ahead to the holidays. Actually, I’ve been thinking about the holidays since the summer because of all of the holiday press previews.  I’m finally organizing my thoughts and ideas for this year’s holiday guide. As in years past, I will be categorizing my guide, starting age and possibly by theme.  So, as a fun preview, here’s a sneak peek of The Next Kid Thing Holiday Gift Guide, babies and toddler edition.

NKTBabygiftguide14The items feature above have been included in NKT at one point or another. Here’s a round up of just a few of the items I’ll be featuring in our gift guide:

  • Starting with the Stokke Steps, babies and tots can grow with this sleek seating system. 
  • The Jack Spade/Kate Spade for Gap collaboration has my heart all aflutter, so I couldn’t help but include the fun blue oxford and striking red ballet flats with a gift bow detail at the bottom right.  
  • Feeding gear and other practical baby items are among some of my personal favorite stocking stuffers and add-on gifts. As always, Tommee Tippee keeps it cool with these sweet section plates and Truly Spill Proof Straw Cups
  • Stride Rite’s Isaiah Motion will keep the kids on their toes for the holidays. 
  • Aden + Anais will forever be one of my go-to baby gifts because of its versatility and sustainability. liam the brave sweet dream gift set would double as a gift for mama and babe. 
  • When it comes to classic kid powered toys, Melissa and Doug can do no wrong. Throw some pancakes into the mix, Melissa and Doug’s delicious playset is certain to be a toddler must-have.   
  • Kitchen sets are a favorite when it comes to toddler big ticket gifts. Plan Toys’ newly redesigned kitchen set keeps its same small footprint and sustainable design, while showcasing its modern aesthetics. 
  • And, perhaps some of my favorite baby board books to date, Baby Lit turns classic literature into baby board books. With fantastic imagery and graphics, simple one-word story lines, these line of books are perfect baby (or rather, parent) gifts for classic lit aficionados or English Majors like yours truly.

Stay tuned for more holiday gift ideas to come! 




Play Kitchens Promote Imagination and Creativity for Girls and Boys

I was planning on writing about something completely different today, and then I saw this question posed on Twitter:

I was caught off guard since my boy, like I’m sure many of yours, enjoys play cooking.  As we finish our remodel and completion of rooms, we’ve been on the hunt for a kitchen that’s “just right.”  But the reason I was caught off guard was, since when did imagination and creativity become a gender thing, because isn’t that what role playing, such as kitchen play, promotes?

Maybe it’s because I choose to ignore such conversations, but I never realized that play kitchens were considered “girl toys.” Quite honestly, I wish it didn’t have to be that way.  Ample research has revealed that exposing kids to the kitchen benefits them in the long run.  Whether it’s a play kitchen or a real kitchen, let the kids explore, learn and be creative.

Ever go to a toy store where the demo play kitchen is set up?  It never fails, the play kitchen, just like a real kitchen at family gatherings, has some sort of magnetic energy that lures people and kids.

While we’re at it, let’s talk kitchens.  Here are just a few kitchens that are perfect for cooking up a good (pretend) feast:

The Educo Gourmet Kitchen is made of wood with completely non-toxic, child-friendly paints and finishes.  I love that this kitchen features bright, bold and modern, a contrast from that gender-specific color palette.

The Deluxe Kitchen Play Centre from Melissa and Doug is the kitchen in question that always lures my kid in, whenever we visit our local toy boutique.  It’s made mostly of wood, features a myriad of controls, buttons, shelves and accoutrements.  Basically, like the marketing material implies, this kitchen has everything including the kitchen sink.

Another kitchen that’s made of wood that I love is the kid’s play kitchen from IKEA.  Like their furniture, it boast straight lines, euro design and most importantly, the kids love its “realistic” features.  Best aspect, though, is that its in the $100 range, with plenty of options to add personal touches.

Speaking of personal touches, what about DIY play kitchens?  I can’t think of a more sustainable option that involves interaction from parent and kids than creating a play kitchen from repurposed furniture.  This one, made by a set of grandparents, is probably my idea of the holy grail of DIY play kitchens.

Do you guys have any thoughts on kitchens? Any faves? Opposed or in favor of boys/girls playing in the kitchen?

Happy National Puzzle Day!

In case you weren’t aware, today is National Puzzle Day.  (I wasn’t aware at all, but now I am.)  With that in mind, I’m reminded by how many really great puzzle sets that are out there.  Did any of you play with puzzles growing up?  I know we did.  I remember playing with whatever character du jour and putting it all together piece-by-piece, and feeling so accomplished when I finally laid the finally piece.

My mother-in-law, in fact, has done a great job of keeping many of my husband and his siblings’ old puzzles.  So, when the grandkids get together, all of whom range in age 17 to 2 years old, it’s fun to see them play with these puzzles together.

National Puzzle Day is said to encourage family togetherness, as well as encourage the skills that are involved in putting together puzzles:  reasoning, concentration and teamwork, among others.

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