The Best Toys for 1-Year-Old Boys – 2020 Gift Ideas
A baby’s first birthday is a huge milestone, and it’s also a huge opportunity. Gift givers and parents can provide toys and experiences that encourage not only baby’s cognitive development but also a love of creativity and interactive play.
The best gifts for 1 year old boy allow for multiple play scenarios, encourage creativity and exploration, and capture their interest for more than a few minutes. Busy little boys will love these open-ended toys, and parents will appreciate both the fun and educational aspects.
- Kidsthrill Stacking & Nesting Cups
- Green Toys Fire Truck
- Tplay Soccer Ball
- Melissa & Doug Construction Site Jumbo Knob Puzzle
- Manhattan Toy Baby Stella Boy Doll
- Tinkerton ABC 123 Blocks
- Hape Maple Wood Building Blocks
- Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Play Set
- Green Toys Shape Sorter
- Mega Bloks 80-Piece Big Building Bag
- iPlay, iLearn Baby Music Activity Cube
- VTech Learn and Spin Aquarium
- UTEX 3 in 1 Pop Up Play Tent
- UNGLINGA Busy Board
- Playskool Sesame Street Singing ABC’s Elmo
- TOWO Wooden Activity Center
- Animal House Plush Horse Stable Carrier with 4 Neighing Horses
- VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker
- Best Toys for 1 Year Old Boys FAQ
- What Do One Year Old Boys Like?
- What Types of Toys Are Developmentally Appropriate for One Year Old Boys?
- What Toys Are Safe for One-Year-Old Boys?
Kidsthrill Stacking & Nesting Cups
Our top pick is a hands-on toy that’s as versatile as it is simple.
- Bright colors engage babies
- Open-ended play- simple yet versatile
- Small holes in the bottom can be both a pro and con
Kidsthrill’s set of Stacking & Nesting Cups engage one-year-olds with bright colors and animal characters. Each cup in the 10-piece set has an embossed animal on the bottom, and the entire set stacks up to 25 inches tall.
Although these stackers are ideal for young toddlers, they’re a simple toy that can stand the test of time. Whether they’re building towers on the floor or pouring water in the bathtub, baby boys will love these stacking cups for years.
Green Toys Fire Truck
Indulge a little boy’s love of vehicles with Green Toys’ Fire Truck, and he’ll be driving all over the place.
- Made from recycled milk jugs
- No metal parts
- The ladder is the only operable function (doors don’t open/close)
Vehicles are open-ended toys that engage little imaginations, but driving toys also appeal to boys’ love of mechanical movement. The fire truck has an extending ladder for kids to play with, and the entire truck is plastic so no rusting or pointy pieces.
Beyond fire-themed vehicles, Green Toys also carries cars, boats, and more.
Tplay Soccer Ball
The Tplay Soccer Ball is a plush ball that almost doubles as a pillow, making ball play fun and risk-free.
- The squishy surface is easy for babies to grasp
- Won’t cause injury
- Not ideal for outdoor play because of the plush fabric
Children of all ages love balls, but for young toddlers, it’s important to find one that won’t hurt when it hits you in the face!
This 8-inch diameter ball is the ideal size for little athletes who need to play indoors or avoid knocking over mom or dad’s valuables! It’s also machine washable and as snuggly as a pillow.
Melissa & Doug Construction Site Jumbo Knob Puzzle
During a developmental period in which baby boys are trying to do everything on their own, this chunky puzzle fits the bill.
- Vehicle themes appeal to little boys
- Easy-to-grip puzzle knobs
- Limited play functions (not open-ended)
Melissa & Doug has toys for all ages, but this Construction Site Jumbo Knob Puzzle caters to the under-twos. Baby boys who love vehicles will enjoy the colorful graphics, and the large knobs make the puzzle pieces easy to manipulate.
Boys can place the pieces on their own, play pretend with the vehicles, or get a caregiver to join in the fun.
Manhattan Toy Baby Stella Boy Doll
While some parents assume baby dolls are only for girls, the Stella Boy Doll is a baby that boys can relate to.
- Soft body and embroidered features avoid buttons and other choking hazards
- Clothing is removable, and more accessories are available
- Machine washable
- Doll’s pacifier adheres with a magnet, though the magnets are inside the fabric
This first doll addresses boys’ developmental need to nurture and empathize, and its soft body and cuddly features make it an ideal companion throughout the day and night. His soft body and embroidered features are huggable and soft, and boys can enjoy pretend play as much as little girls.
Tinkerton ABC 123 Blocks
These alphabet and number blocks are a staple for any baby boy, and they’ll grow with him, too.
- Safe water-based paint
- Teething-friendly beech wood (commonly used in teethers)
- Canvas storage bag
- The smaller size may not match expectations
While many of today’s parents grew up adjusting to technology, many more of us grew up with old-fashioned but classic toys like Tinkerton’s ABC 123 Blocks. Their small size is handy for one-year-old boys to manage, and the play options are endless. Stacking towers, learning numbers or letters, or simply mouthing on these blocks can occupy hours of playtime.
Hape Maple Wood Building Blocks
For a durable block set that can grow with baby boys, Hape’s maple blocks are the perfect starting point.
- Open-ended play that grows with toddlers
- Child-safe paint and sustainably sourced wood
- Small size is manageable for little hands, but as kids grow, more blocks are needed to expand play
An ideal introductory building block set, Hape’s Maple Wood Building Blocks are small enough for little hands to manage but include vibrant colors and encourage interactive play. Little hands can grip the blocks easily, and Hape’s other block sets can add to the fun later.
Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Play Set
This play food encourages number sense and pretend play through the toddler years and beyond.
- Pretend food has self-stick tabs for cutting over and over
- Child-safe paint enhances “food” appearance
- Some items are not easily identifiable
Another offering from Melissa & Doug employs babies’ hand-eye coordination and small motor skills. Their Cutting Food Play Set is a toddler-safe way to get kids interested in how we prepare and serve food.
Whether they already have a play kitchen, or this is the first introduction to play food, one-year-old boys will love chopping and preparing food just like mom and dad. This is another set that can grow with kids.
Green Toys Shape Sorter
Shape sorters have been a mainstay in toddler gifting for decades, and Green Toys’ recycled plastic Shape Sorter keeps it trendy.
- Dishwasher safe
- Recycled plastic
- Multiple functions
- The wobbly shape can make it difficult for babies to match shapes
Little boys can work their motor skills while matching shapes to their appropriate spots.
When they’re finished sorting the shapes, tots can shake this toy like a rattle with the blocks inside, spin the toy and watch it wobble, or take the pieces apart and create their own play scenarios. It’s an impressively versatile toy for its simplicity, and one-year-olds can find ways to play through preschool and possibly beyond.
Mega Bloks 80-Piece Big Building Bag
This set of 80 big building blocks is perfect for helping little ones develop their imaginations, motor skills and more.
- 80 kid-safe building blocks
- Helps develop fine motor skills
- Great for imaginative play
- Blocks don’t always have a tight fit
Each block is a bold, bright primary color sure to appeal to one-year-old boys. Little ones can stack, build and play.
Storage is simple with the included storage bag. It’s durable, environmentally-friendly and has a kid-friendly design. Even when full, the bag requires minimal storage space. Kids can learn the basics of picking up their toys when playtime is over.
Each block is large enough to avoid any choking risk. They’re made from polypropylene plastic, which is BPA and PVC free. The blocks are safe for kids as young as one but often entertaining for kids up to five.
iPlay, iLearn Baby Music Activity Cube
Introduce your child to music with the iPlay, iLearn Baby Music Activity Cube.
- Safety tested
- Adjustable volume
- Automatic turn-off
- Non-stop fun
Each of the four sides has a different sound including guitar, trumpet, jazz drum, bass drum plus a microphone for sing-along fun. There is a volume control so that weary ears can rest while your little guy plays on. The battery saver automatic turn-off will also appeal to parents.
This music cube is also visually appealing with all sorts of bright colors. It is small enough to be portable for on-the-road entertainment. In addition, it has been crafted with environmentally friendly materials and safety tested.
The only drawback is that your child may have so much fun, he’ll never want to stop!
VTech Learn and Spin Aquarium
The VTech Learn and Spin Aquarium will fascinate your child with color, sounds, and movement.
- Introduces numbers, colors, and animal names
- Bright and eye-catching
- Auditorial stimulation
- Audio can be turned off
- Can get stuck in demo mode
- The water spout can get stuck
- Volume is not adjustable
When your little ocean lover presses down on the water spout, watch how the aquarium spins, plays music, and lights up. Choose a button and learn colors, numbers, animals, or just listen to some tunes sung by the crab, fish or starfish.
When it’s quiet time, the audio can be turned off separately from the movement and lights. However, there is no volume control. It is powered by two AA batteries. If the batteries are not replaced upon purchase, the toy may be stuck in the demo rather than the full-play mode. Also, if your child is too rough with the toy, the water spout can get stuck.
UTEX 3 in 1 Pop Up Play Tent
The UTEX 3 in 1 Pop Up Play Tent is colorful and fun while promoting exploratory movement and shape sorting activities. It can be used by both beginning walkers and those that are still crawling.
- Durable and brightly colored
- Meets US safety standards
- Easy setup
- Balls must be purchased separately
The 3 in 1 Pop Up Play Tent by UTEX and tunnels are made from high-grade 190T polyester taffeta. The set includes a play tent that measures 31.5 x 31.5 x 35.5 inches and a square canvas with the dimensions 27 x 27 x 28. It also has a 59 x 19-inch tunnel to connect the two tents.
The triangular tent can be set up like a ball pit, although the balls are not included in this set. It has a roll-up door and mesh windows. The square tent has holes to drop bean bags, stuffed animals, or balls into. All three can be stored in the zippered pouch that comes with the set.
The tents and tunnel are simple to set up and clean. They are fully compliant with ASTM-F963 and CA65 safety standards.
UNGLINGA Busy Board
Keep little hands busy with the UNGLINGA Busy Board. This flat and lightweight board is a great portable toy, suitable for car rides, shopping trips, and doctor’s appointments.
- Portable with storage compartment
- Lots of items to fiddle with
- Plastic storage compartment could be better made
The UNGLINGA Busy Board is designed with fine motor development, imaginative play, and sensory experiences. The board has a zipper storage compartment to keep all the individual pieces safe and dry, although it could be made from more durable plastic. The transparent window can also double as a touchscreen pocket for your iPad or cell phone movie viewing.
All of the items are velcro attached and can be used while on the board or individually. The flexible board is lightweight and made of soft velvet. It measures 10.83 x 14.5 inches and weighs less than half a pound. The busy board has a large yellow plastic zipper and a variety of other items to tie, buckle, button and fiddle with.
Playskool Sesame Street Singing ABC’s Elmo
Teach your little one the ABCs in Spanish and English with this Playskool Sesame Street Singing ABC’s Elmo.
- Spanish and English options
- Sings when you press his belly
- No volume control
- Not a good nap time toy
The Playskool Sesame Street Singing ABC’s Elmo will entertain your child and teach him the ABCs in Spanish and English. The language can be changed by pressing and holding his tummy. Since a belly press will activate the singing, this Elmos isn’t a good nap time toy.
Elmo needs two AA batteries, which are included. He is soft and huggable, measuring 13 inches. The clothes are sewn on, so no need to worry about them getting lost. Unfortunately, there isn’t a volume control to adjust the sound level.
TOWO Wooden Activity Center
The TOWO Wooden Activity Center will keep him occupied with five different task stations. All the pieces are connected to the activity center and will not get lost.
- Five activities
- Sturdy construction
- No lost pieces
- Markers not included
TOWO Wooden Activity Center is full of developmental fun. Twenty-six alphabet blocks flip to words and pictures on the front. Your little one can make the fish swim up and down while the opposite side has a clock face with moving hands. The backside has 80 abacus beads in eight bright colors.
When your little tyke gets a little older, the bottom has a whiteboard for drawing and writing practice. Markers must be purchased separately. Marker lids can pose a choking hazard.
The TOWO Wooden Activity Center is made from sustainable wood and painted with non-toxic paints. It has been tested and certified safe, meeting the EN71 and CPSA safety standards. It measures 24 x 23 x 29 cm.
Animal House Plush Horse Stable Carrier with 4 Neighing Horses
Your little rancher will love this Animal House Plush Horse Stable Carrier with four neighing horses. He can load them up in the stable and take them on a trip.
- Carrier stable
- Horses neigh
- Batteries not able to be replaced
- Not machine washable
The Animal House Plush Horse Stable Carrier comes with four different colored horses. When you squeeze them, they neigh. Unfortunately, after a time, the batteries will wear out, and there is no way to replace them without damaging the horses.
The carrier’s dimensions are 7.5 x 7.4 x 5.5 inches, and all four horses will fit inside for easy transport. The horses each measure 4 x 3.5 inches and are just right for little hands. All components meet child safety standards. Because of the battery inside, the horses are surface clean only.
VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker
The VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker adapts to changing needs as your child goes from a crawler to a walker.
- Removable play panel
- Transitions with your child
- Wheels don’t lock well
- No volume control
The VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker has a removable play panel to use on the floor. It then converts to a walking toy when your little guy is up and around. The wheels roll smoothly on hardwood or carpeting.
There are five piano keys for beginning musical expression. Two colorful rollers, three shape sorters, and three light-up buttons help develop motor skills. It has over 70 songs, music, sound effects, and phrases that add to the colors, animals, shapes, and numbers on the board.
All the lights and sounds require two AA batteries, which are included. It does not have volume control and can become annoying when used for an extended period.
The wheels do not lock well on this toy, so care should be taken when your child tries to pull himself up to a standing position using it as it may tip over. Adult supervision is recommended at all times.
Best Toys for 1 Year Old Boys FAQ
At the age of one, most babies are content to play with things that are not even toys! But gift givers who are thoughtful about providing engaging and developmentally appropriate toys for little boys need some guidance. Here are the answers to common questions about toys for young toddlers.
What Do One Year Old Boys Like?
While every baby is different, there appear to be differences between baby boys and girls in this stage. According to Anita Sethi Ph.D., a psychologist writing for Parenting, research shows fundamental differences in how baby boys play versus how baby girls play.
Boys like motion, which is apparent to parents of little ones, and that includes watching things happen. Researchers found that boys would rather watch mechanical motion than human motion, and this preference helps them track moving objects. For example, when they drop a toy that bounces or rolls away, they know where to go to retrieve it.
There is also some truth to the idea that boys tend to be more physically active while girls are less so. However, it’s not true that boys tend to walk sooner, Sethi found, although boys do kick, squirm, and wiggle more than girls.
Further, research shows that boys often have difficulty self-soothing, meaning they’re not all rough and tumble all the time. All children can be emotional, boy or girl, but boys struggle to manage their emotions. At the same time, boys are also less fearful than girls, with surveys indicating that baby boys are more likely to take on challenges and ignore loud noises.
What Types of Toys Are Developmentally Appropriate for One Year Old Boys?
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) explains that most one-year-olds are walking already, have said a couple of words, and are able to play next to other children, although they aren’t quite ready for cooperative play yet.
While what’s developmentally appropriate for all one-year-olds applies to both boys and girls, there are some toys which seem to appeal to boys more than girls and vice versa. We’ll consider that as well.
According to NAEYC, good toys for one-year-olds include:
- Simple board books
- Creative and art materials
- Pretend play toys (dolls, dress up accessories, puppets, stuffed toys, vehicles)
- Puzzles, pegboards
Although most gift givers’ (and parents’) natural inclination when shopping is to buy all things “boy,” you’ll notice that the category of “pretend play” toys does not have any gender connotations. Playing “house,” caring for baby dolls, and dressing up are all pursuits for toddlers, not necessarily boys or girl.
That said, it can be challenging for parents and those purchasing gifts to recognize the benefits of giving baby boys traditionally “girls’” toys. But as gender studies scholar Karlyn Crowley Ph.D. wrote for Psychology Today, boys can learn about nurturing, empathy, and caretaking through playing with dolls.
The same benefits apply to giving little boys toys like dress up clothes, stuffed animals, and pretend play items like kitchen sets or house cleaning “tools.” While most of those items may have marketing that points to baby girls as the intended audience, gift givers should focus more on the potential developmental benefits of a toy rather than its marketing scheme.
Key developmental milestones around this age are:
- Fine motor skills development: manipulating small items like puzzle pieces, pegs, and even large beads
- Large motor skills development: ride-on toys, running, kicking a ball
- Speech development: hearing and practicing new words
Playing with open-ended toys helps little boys meet these milestones without attempting strict academic learning. After all, there’s plenty of time for that in preschool and after.
What Toys Are Safe for One-Year-Old Boys?
Play is important, but it should also be safe. Toys to avoid for one-year-old children include small objects that can pose as choking hazards, items that are sharp, and toys that contain harmful chemicals or dyes that can get into little ones’ mouths as they explore.
However, WebMD also suggests other guidelines for choosing the right toys for the right age. Toys for one-year-old boys should be simple and require imagination. That’s why pretend play toys are critical at this age- they help engage babies’ creativity.
One-year-old boys also do not need tons of electronic toys. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age two have no screen time at all. That includes television, smartphones, tablets, and even purportedly kid-friendly devices like baby tablets and shows.
Overall, the goal is to provide toys that inspire creativity, keep babies moving, and don’t pose a safety hazard. That means no small parts that can break off or be eaten, no toys with labels cautioning against putting toys in mouths, and no electronic toys that encourage babies to sit still instead of play.
While finding the best toys for one year old boys in 2020 can be difficult because most toddlers can’t speak their interests yet, plenty of educational and engaging toys address boys’ unique developmental needs. But the best news is, baby boys don’t need toys with endless pieces and battery-operated functions. The best toys for baby boys are simple ones that challenge little ones to use their imaginations, explore the world, and look at things in new ways.