Finding practical gifts for 1-year-olds can be hard. Grandparents, parents, and others want to give children fun gifts that they enjoy, but many plastic toys wind up being extra clutter and don’t get played with often.
I’ve created this list of the top 18 items that are useful, such as non-toy gifts or minimalist toys, and get played with in my house over and over.
18 BEST Practical 1-Year-Old Gifts
Non-Toy Gift Ideas for a 1-Year-Old
First, let’s start off with non-toy gift ideas for your 1-year-old. There are plenty of things a new toddler needs that aren’t toys.
Most babies begin walking sometime around their first birthday. They usually need at least one good pair of walking shoes, and they often outgrow shoes quickly. Not to mention, different shoes are called for in different weather (boots in the winter and sandals in the summer.) If you are looking for a fun idea, you could buy them their first pair of rain boots.
I got my son a small camping-style chair for Easter soon after he turned 1. He still loves to sit in the chair and now my 1 year old daughter is also obsessed with it. It’s on my list to get her one of her own now.
3. Fun Water Bottle or Straw Cup Set
Toddlers need a good water bottle to bring with them on day trips, to daycare or preschool, or even when they go to Grandma’s House.
When my son turned 18 months I got him this learning tower that we just LOVE. Now both he (3.5 yrs) and my 1.5 yr old daughter stand in it together. (It’s a bit squished for 2 toddlers, but it works!) It’s hands down been the best thing I’ve purchased for a 1-year-old EVER! So much that I wrote this post all about the best toddler towers on the market now.
Even if you are low on storage space, this foldable wagon is great for toddlers. It folds down, has 2 seats, and both my kids just love it! I highly recommend this for daily walks, trips to the zoo, or even toting your 1-year-old around in your own yard.
Soon your 1 year old will be potty training and need their very own step stool. This wooden one is great if you potty train young as it does get them a little higher. However, we also have a plastic one similar to this and the portability can’t be beat.
7. Hiking Pack Child Carrier or Toddler Carrier
We have this Osprey Poco Child Carrier that my 3.5 yr old still rides in on hikes occasionally. It’s perfect for walking trails with a good amount of storage yet comfortable for the whole day. However, if you aren’t into hiking but your little one is starting to outgrow their baby carrier, try purchasing a soft structured toddler carrier so you can still easily tote them around at the farmers market or even the zoo.
Kids just keep needing new pajamas, and there is no reason you shouldn’t gift them or any other needed clothes (winter coat, etc) for Christmas or Birthdays! Here is my FAVORITE Pajama brand that I love to buy for my toddlers.
9. Memberships or Subscription Boxes
If you live in an area where you can get memberships to zoos, children’s museums, or even local play spaces, then you will have practical gift ideas for kids always at your disposal. Give the 1-year-old in your life the gift of experience instead of another toy.
There aren’t many subscription boxes for 1-year-olds. However, KiwiCo does have an activity subscription box for 1-year-olds, the Panda Crate. My son has received these boxes before and they are definitely full of fun activities tailored specifically to that age.
Books aren’t toys, but they provide plenty of entertainment. Holidays are a great time to buy your 1-year-old new books.
Best Books for 1 Year Old:
- Little Blue Truck
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
- The Going to Bed Book
- Goodnight Moon
- Peek a Baby
- Any First Word Books – My kids love these first word books and spend so much time pointing to the pictures and saying the words.
Minimalist 1 Year Old Toy Gift Ideas
Ok, now to the minimalist and practical, but still toy gift ideas. After all, 1-year-olds do need some toys. If you are looking for practical toys, aim to get the ones that will provide the most entertainment. Here are the toys that have endured nearly endless use at our house and have been favorites for both of our 1-year-olds.
This is a practical gift idea for your one-year-old. We have a basic set of wooden building blocks and they are definitely a go-to item for my kids. These would be an especially good idea for a 1-year-old around 18 mo+. My son continued to play with them up until 3+ years old.
12. Play Kitchen Set
A play kitchen set is no doubt a toy that will get plenty of use throughout the years from both boys and girls. Having great accessories including food sets will make it more enjoyable. We have the IKEA kitchen set (but here are some other toddler play Kitchen sets I love.)
Our Favorite Kitchen Accessories:
13. Magnetic Tiles (Magnatiles, Picasso tiles, etc)
Magnatiles are the best, most practical toy I think one-year olds can get. They will be played with for so many years by all of your kids and hold up so well your grandkids will probably even have the opportunity to enjoy them. We actually have the Picasso tiles which are more budget-friendly and work great. Here are a few of my favorite magnetic tile sets:
- 100 Piece Picasso Tile Set – This is a great basic starter set and what my son started with. We now have 2 of these sets.
- Magnatile Car Set – These cars are a favorite of my sons.
- Playmags 100 Piece Set – We don’t have this set yet, but it gets great reviews. I’ll be purchasing it soon as my son wants window and door blocks so he can build better houses and castles.
These are practical gifts for a toddler starting around 18 months. However, giving them at their first birthday is a great idea as they will grow into them quickly and be able to play with them for years. The possibilities with these blocks are endless! They will entertain your child all day long and can be used by more than one child in the same room at once (which is really nice when you have several littles to keep busy).
I think a combination of basic open-ended Duplo sets and fun sets makes for hours of free play with Duplos.
We have and highly recommend the following sets for 1-year-olds:
- Duplo House Set – Okay, we have the 1980s version from when I was a kid, but this newer version looks really rice! Both of my kids have become obsessed with the “Duplo House” at around 18 months. It definitely makes a great first Duplo set.
- Duplo Block Set – We have a couple of sets of just the blocks, windows, etc and they are great for encouraging toddlers to come up with their own creative ideas.
- Duplo Pony Set & Duplo Barn Set
- Budget-Friendly Gift Sets We Love – Minnie’s Birthday Party, Mickey Birthday Train, Toy Story Train
15. Water Table
Water tables are practical and fun in the summer. At age 1 this has easily been among both of my kid’s favorite activities. We got ours on special at Aldi, but this water table is the same brand and actually a little nicer!
16. Play Tent/Cave
This is a practical toy as well as a practical space saver in any small house or apartment. It literally takes up zero floor space when stored, but provides tons of entertainment when out.
17. Tricycle or Balance Bike
Get your toddler their first balance bike or tricycle. Either option provides the child with lots of entertainment as well as physical activity. My favorite options are:
This stroller that converts to a tricycle is a favorite of my daughter’s.
This scooter bike that converts to a trike was one of my son’s cutest 1-year-old gifts.
This was my daughter’s first birthday gift. She wasn’t walking yet and it’s super sturdy/doesn’t turn so great for kids just learning to walk. Baby strollers and shopping carts can make great push toys as well.
What Does a 1-year-old NEED?
Honestly, 1-year-olds don’t need much other than the basics and lots of love. However, they are learning a ton of new skills like walking, talking, and using utensils. Practical gifts that support them through these stages yet can last them years are definitely the way I prefer to go with my kids.
Other 1 Year Old Gift Ideas
I hope this practical list of 18 best practical gift ideas for 1-year-olds has helped you in your search for the perfect present. However, if you didn’t see what you were looking for here, don’t worry! I have a few more posts that would include ideas that you could gift for your 1-year-old:
Best Baby Led Weaning High Chairs –> All of these chairs also convert to toddler chairs!
Which practical toy or activity did you find most interesting or what is your favorite 1-year-old gift to give? Let me know by leaving a comment below. I’m always looking for gift ideas that will provide years of value whether entertainment or fulfilling another useful purpose.