Mommy SOS: Great Gifts for a One Year Old

I got this email over the weekend from Amy:

Message: Hello!  I’ve been stalking your blog for awhile now and I
love checking in on your adorable little family.  My daughter,
Cassidy, will be turning one in December and both family and friends
are beginning to ask for gift ideas.  Since she’s changing all of the
time, I’m not sure what to tell them.  What are Jasper’s favorite toys
at this age?  Books?  I love your music suggestions and already added
a bunch of those to her registry, but would love any other
suggestions you have.  Thank you SOOOOO much!

Fortunately for Amy, I already asked this question right before Jasper’s first birthday and got amazing advice from you all as usual:

Looking back over the comments with the benefit of hindsight I find myself nodding in agreement to practically everything mentioned there!

But I thought I would pull out a few of the things Jasper is particularly enjoying right now:

little people builders

Fisher Price Little People – he likes pulling apart and stacking the pieces together. And he LOVES the windmill included with this Farm set.

Plan Toys Wooden Drum

Plan Toys Wooden Drum – My friend Amy apologized when she gave him this toy for his birthday. But actually, the acoustics of this little drum are such that it makes a relatively quiet and very pleasant sound!  I have my eye on the accompanying xylophone for christmas.


Parents Toy Cell Phone (available at Target)

How many times have I said if a company could just make baby toys that looked like the real thing they’d make a fortune? These parents toys come the closest that I’ve ever seen. They are still made of plastic (not metal) but the plastic LOOKS like metal and the little display lights up just like a real cell phone.  The other fun feature is that there is a way you can record your own little message that will play back when a certain key is pushed.


Weeble Wobbles!  I got this weeble wobble tree house for Jasper at our local consignment sale. I had no idea until I checked just now that weeble wobbles are now out of production and are semi-collectible items? But I just want to throw it out there that Jasper is pretty obsessed with this toy, even though the sounds it makes are sort of intense – imagine the music from super mario brothers at a fairly high volume.  I added it to the list in case you come across one at a yard sale or consignment shop, I’m sure there are plenty still out there to be had.

And finally… BOOKS!!!

But not just any books, he’s obsessed with books that just have words and no story.  I remember seeing books like this at daycare when Jasper was little and thinking how lame they were… why make a book with just a picture and a word?  How BORING!  But now of course, I realize their brilliance.  Toddlers just learning how to speak just want to point at objects and have you tell them what they are. No actual STORY line is necessary or desired, just these my first word type books:

first words

He loves taking my hand in his and directing my finger to the different objects so that I say the ones he’s “pointing” at. And some I can just point to and he will say himself (banana, ball, dog etc).

I can’t end this post without acknowledging the fact that Jasper is much less interested in toys these days than just running around the house wreaking havoc and destruction in his wake.   His absolute favorite toys are things like the trash can (ewww) the accordion pantry door that can easily pinch his fingers (ouch), the toilet seats (gross!) and pretty much anything else that we don’t want him to get into into. Easy on the wallet, yes, but hard on the nerves!!!

What products have you discovered since my last post that your 12-ish month old is particularly enjoying?

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Jaimie says:

Sounds like many kids this age are into similar things! My son just loves running around with various household items (he particularly loves my fluffy blush brush).

As Kimberly mentioned, he likes books with lift-the-flaps and textures. Wooden puzzles with knobs. He loves knocking over towers of nesting cups and blocks. He also likes one of those little workbench-type toys, where you hammer in wooden pegs with a little mallet.

He likes taking things in and out now. I bought him a tiny stuffed squirrel and we take turns hiding it inside a cup.

Kimberly says:

BALLS! He seriously loves them, loves to throw them, and play “fetch” with himself. And catch with anyone who will play.
Also, his bongo set and drumsticks (real ones, Daddy insisted on buying them for his birthday… they are a HIT!)
Wood puzzles, and Duplo blocks. Books, especially the touch&feel variety, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar that he can put his fingers in the little holes. And he loves to nest and stack bowls, cups, etc. that he helps himself to in my kitchen cabinet. :)

SarahD says:

I too own that wooden drum for my boys and love it. Unfortunately the thrill in it died about 6 months later, but we sometimes bring it out for “jam” sessions along with the air guitars!
That Parents brand also has a really cute animal vet hospital toy that has little doors for each animal with a color coordinating key. Something that my kids love at that age…keys/latches etc.

Sheri says:

Oh gosh, lead. There’s something else to worry about. Thanks for checking.

ariana says:

Good question – I’ll ask Jeff (who happens to be a toy maker!)
My other huge concern is lead in things that are NOT toys that we let babies put their mouths on (like real keys.)

Thanks for the suggestions Ariana. My little guy will be turning 1 right around Christmas this year, so I’ll make sure to suggest these for Christmas AND Birthday gifts :)

Brillian suggestion on the parent’s toys, by the way. M’s favorite is my cell phone by far, and now that I’ve upgraded to a blackberry I’m not really cool with him munching on my phone, lol.

Sheri says:

Great ideas, Ariana! Thanks for the post.

I’m wondering if anyone out there thinks about PVC in toys. I’ve read a bit about how it’s pretty toxic, but it’s hard to figure out which toys have it. Some toy brands (iPlay, Viking) advertise that they specifically avoid it, but most don’t. I’m not sure if I should worry about it, or just let it go. I’ve been trying to get rid of things I know are made of vinyl (our blow-up baby pool, a beach ball, etc.). But I have a few garage sale toys that A LOVES, like an old Fisher Price parking garage, and I just don’t know about.

kari says:

liam is really into these nesting boxes (doug and melissa)

he stacks and nests and puts things in them etc.

but yes, like most of you – he loves the NON-toy… toys. his favorite right now – my flip flops (i need to be better at picking them up)… especially after that special recently aired on the dangers of flip flops and all the nasties that they pick up!

Shane says:

You can delete this after you read it — just easier than emailing right now.

I saw the balls at Costco too… but didn’t buy that day. Then they were gone! so i got the 2 pack at BRU at the same price as the Costco 5 pack :-(

And yes, I did just restack the blocks last night. it bugs me when they are all over the floor :-) but i did let them stay spread out all day — so i’m making progress :-)

chantal says:

Months ago I made Annora a bunch of shakers/rattles. I cleaned out the plastic jars that her fruit purees came in and put some dry rice in there, then stuck the caps back on. These are one of her favorite things to play with. They are exactly the right size for her hands, they make noise (but not enough to make me nuts), she can’t get the lids of which is great, and she can see the rice inside moving around which keeps her interested. The jars are also small enough to shove under the furniture, which is her new favorite thing to do, but they are big enough to be easily retrieved.

I know it’s not a “gift” so to speak, but these things are one of the best toys she’s got right now. I remember my husband thinking I was kinda weird when I made these and now we’re both thankful that I did.

Michelle says:

it is funny that you mention that windmill….Jack loves it too! He pulls it apart and walks around with it on his little finger!


Samm Ivri says:

Too funny – the toilet seat, trashcan and accordion (laundry) door are favorites of Mia’s too. Along with our dirty shoes and any electrical appliance plugged into the wall.

As far as real toys go, Mia got a couple birthday gifts she adores.
This train:
This keyboard:

ariana says:

You’re welcome Amy!

Shane, Jasper has those balls too, we got like a 5 pack from costco of all places..

Just one word of caution about those M&D stackers (jasper has them too), the empty dowels that stick up are a total hazard! Jasper fell with ALL of his weight on one and it missed his eye by a quarter of an inch poor guy :( I guess the smart thing to do would be to just put it away when not in use or always restack them (which you are probably already doing knowing you! ;)

Amy says:

Thank you so much for writing this and the link to the other post!

I’ve got the same drum waiting in the wings for Wes!

Shane says:

Some toys that G is really into now (13 mths):
1. Balls – i got some of the rubber balls w/ little nibbins on the side: Sensory Balls. he can pick them up easily, just a little finger action on them helps get them from under the table, behind the stool, etc. And they bounce!

2. Blocks are still exciting – Melissa & Doug stacking set that for now he just likes to spread around the room. But we hope to add some other challenges w/ color, counts, shapes later.

3. Walking toys – the little walker car that we got from Craigslist or Mother’s Group email list is still in heavy rotation on the play floor – he now goes back and forth with it over and over and over. Walking, pushing, dragging.

Mrs Brown says:

I am SO there with my little girl and the garbage can. She likes taking everything out and shaking them at me. I finally just gave in a set up a “garbage can” in the kitchen with cardboard boxes and pieces of tupperware in it. It will be the waste basket in her room, but for now it is clean and full of stuff she can take out and play with.

I tries filling it with toys, but she was on to that too quickly. Toy boxes aren’t as much fun as a garbage can she isn’t supposed to be into. She loves opening and closing the lid.