The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

10 best gifts for one-year-olds, from ball pits to balance bikes and pyjamas

We’ve found presents for every budget that both little ones and parents will love

Rebecca Moore
Wednesday 11 May 2022 12:23
<p>Our 12-month-old tester helped us select our favourites</p>

Our 12-month-old tester helped us select our favourites

A first birthday is a huge milestone – for children and parents alike – so it’s important to mark those first 12-months with a memorable gift. However, it often seems in a baby’s first year they’ve accumulated more than they could ever need, so what do you buy for the baby who appears to have everything?

From personalised gifts and developmental toys to iconic keepsakes and practical presents, there’s a world of choice out there to mark such a milestone age. And as they enter their second year of life, your one-year-old is developing every day.

One-year-olds are fascinated by toys but for parent points, we avoided anything too noisy or flashy and instead sought after toys that help young learners to develop skills while providing plenty of fun along the way.

We also wanted to showcase presents that would see them beyond their first birthday party, offering longevity and capturing their attention.

Covering all budgets from showstopping big-ticket presents, to smaller, carefully selected gifts, we found a selection of presents to suit different costs.

Read more:

How we tested

To help you find the best gift for the one-year-old in your life we – with the help of our energetic 12-month-old – tried a range of different products that will guarantee a cheesy grin for their birthday snap, assessing each item on the fun it provides, its individual quality, price and practicality.

The best gifts for one-year-olds 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Plan Toys pull along snail: £25, Kidly.co.uk
  • Best twin gift – Larisa & Pumpkin mint ball pit: £109.95, Scandiborn.co.uk
  • Best practical gift – Cuddleroar bamboo soft hooded towel: £34.99, Cuddledry.com
  • Best for longevity – Micro Scooters mini micro 3 in 1 deluxe push along: £109.95, Micro-scooters.co.uk
  • Best personalised gift – Jellycat personalised saffron bashful bunny soft toy: £33.95, Thats-mine.co.uk
  • Best educational toy – Smartmax my first dinosaurs: £19.99, Smarttoysandgames.com
  • Best for confident walkers – Hape first bike ride balance bike: £49.99, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk
  • Best keepsake gift – OYOY mini Moira tableware set crocodile Gustav, offwhite: £34.99, Oyoylivingdesign.co.uk
  • Best for indoor play – Lilliputiens my first farm: £49.99, Johnlewis.com
  • Best everyday essential – Baby Mori giraffe short sleeve pyjamas: £21.38, Babymori.com
  • Best iconic fit – Liewood Selma classic phone golden caramel multi mix: £33.40, Liewood.com
  • Best energy burner – Janod wooden ride-on panda: £70.50, Johnlewis.com
  • Best plastic-free gift – Petilou abc wooden blocks: £29.95, Letoyvan.co.uk

Plan Toys pull along snail

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

We praise Plan Toys on its passion for sustainability, which feels more pertinent than ever with the baby world being a plastic heavy industry. Little ones love a pull-along buddy and this one is rather special as it’s made from natural rubberwood trees that no longer produce latex. This sustainable snail doesn’t fall short in the fun department either, watch it bob up and down as the wheels roll along the floor as it’s being pulled by the string.

Not only is it a pleasure to play with, but this toy helps develop fine motor, gross motor, and coordination skills. The pull along snail also helps to build on balance and coordination as little ones practise their walking with their new friend. Brightly coloured with its comical googly eyes, this simple snail provides hours of humble fun, and thanks to its durability we’re sure it’ll be around for years to come, too.

Larisa & Pumpkin mint ball pit

Best: Twin gift

Rating: 9/10

Gone are the days when the only way baby can get their hands – and mouth – on a ball pit is a trip to a soft play centre. Modern ball pits have been filling our Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards for some time, and while pre-baby days the thought of a ball pit in the family home would fill anyone with fear, they’re actually incredibly easy on the eye.

This handmade version from Turkish children and baby brand Larisa & Pumpkin is crafted from super-soft jersey which can easily be removed and popped in the washing machine. Choose from one of six colours – our favourite is the gender-neutral mint colourway, which comes with 200 mint, silver and white balls. The balls are crafted from a child-safe plastic which is non-toxic and odour free.

We love this gift idea as it not only develops baby’s gross and fine motor skills, it provides hours of enjoyment either as independent play or with others, in fact, it makes the perfect present for twins turning one. And thanks to its quality and fun factor, we’re sure it’ll see you through to the “threenage” years.

Cuddleroar bamboo soft hooded towel

Best: Practical gift

Rating: 9/10

Achieving a practical present without feeling unenthused by the gifting is no easy feat. Let us introduce you to Cuddleroar, the adorable hooded towel from British brand Cuddledry. Perfect for post-bath snuggles, or a day at the beach, the Cuddleroar is made from a blend of bamboo and cotton towelling, which has been sustainably grown and certified by Oekotex. On a practical level it washes incredibly well and maintains its softness, plus it’s the perfect size which means there’s more than enough material to dry them off, but not too much length that they’ll trip over when they’re on the move. We love the playful design, plus there’s an option to personalise.

Micro Scooters mini micro 3 in 1 deluxe push along

Best: For longevity

Rating: 9/10

While gifting a scooter to a one-year-old may sound like the old adage “run before one can walk”, this 3-in-1 Deluxe Push Along scooter is less “extreme sports” and more of a “developmental sidekick”. It’s designed to last and we’d expect nothing less from the company which invented the original folding two-wheeler scooter.

Starting its life as a push along scooter, the scooter matures as your child does. Beginning at 12-months, the push along is an opportunity for young riders to learn to steer as the parents take the lead using the ultra-manoeuvrable handle. Once your child is confident and stable enough, simply remove the parent handle and you have yourself a ride-on. Around the age of two years little ones can become a fully-fledged scooter on the toy they’ve grown up with.

The adjustable handlebar and extra grippy footplate sets this scooter apart from its competitors, and we love the longevity that comes with it – with a use for each child’s size, development and personality from 12-months through to five years. Intuitive at every stage, it also comes in four colourways – purple, red, navy and aqua.

Jellycat personalised saffron bashful bunny soft toy

Best: Personalised gift

Rating: 8/10

Just when you thought a Jellycat toy couldn’t become any more loveable, you can team your snuggly plush toy up with British personalisation company, That’s Mine, for a truly unique gift. The bashful bunny is hugely huggable and one of the brand’s most popular characters, and we can’t deny we were smitten. Donning an adorable little white jumper it can be embroidered in a choice of grey, pink, blue or beige thread colour with the recipient’s name. Your fluffy friend will come with its own personalised gift bag too.

Smartmax my first dinosaurs

Best: Educational toy

Rating: 8/10

You can always rely on Smart Games – a brand that has been creating educational toys for more than 25 years – to come up with a fun, problem-solving activity whatever age. Suitable from 12-months to five-years-old, the My First Dinosaurs set is genius. It comes with 14 vibrant pieces, and each dinosaur is connected using magnetic posts. All pieces are durable and easy for small hands to grip, but the magic is all in the magnetics.

Babies will have fun pulling them apart and “sticking” them together again, either matching the colours or mixing them up and creating their own breed of beast. Not only are they great for developing baby’s fine motor skills, but they’re excellent for shape, size and colour recognition too.

Hape first bike ride balance bike

Best: For confident walkers

Rating: 8/10

As the name suggests, a balance bike is a first bike that teaches the art of, well, balance. Renowned toymaker Hape has newly launched this bike to kickstart your toddler’s cycling journey and we think it makes a wonderful first birthday present. While its recommended use is for 18 months plus, you may find your little one is ready.

A doddle to put together, the first noteworthy comment is just how stylish this toy is. The lightweight design – weighing in at just 1.6kg – makes it easy for baby to manoeuvre (and parents to carry!) while the steering control prevents any falls due to oversteering. We also found the handlebar was easy to grasp and simple for little hands to turn. The seat is adjustable and has soft, comfy padding too. The standout feature for us however, is the scratch-proof wheels which are made from soft foam to prevent marking floors.

Brilliantly sturdy for such a lightweight bike, it’s available in three colours; Vespa blue, Vespa green and Vespa pink and for £50 it’s purse-friendly too.

OYOY mini Moira tableware set crocodile Gustav, offwhite

Best: Keepsake gift

Rating: 8/10

For something a little different, we love interiors-led brand OYOY’s tableware offering. This sweet set consists of a cup with two handles, a plate and a bowl, all made of porcelain. Whether you choose to display as a keepsake or use as an everyday essential, the adorable Moira animal illustrations are totally lovable.

Lilliputiens my first farm

Best: For indoor play

Rating: 8/10

Belgian brand Lilliputiens has been accompanying children’s development with creative toys for 25 years. Now landing in the UK, its best-selling my first farm soft playset is perfect for young farm fanatics. The roll out barn houses six classic farmyard animals; Ignace the donkey, Simon the pig, Rosalie the cow, Yvon the sheep, Paulette the chicken and Gaspard the duck. Every good farm needs a good farmer, and that’s where farmer Fons and his trusty tractor come into play.

Unlike most farmyard toys on the market, we love that this is a soft baby-friendly version which can even be bunged in the washing machine. The animals are the perfect size for small hands, while the practical design means it can be played with on the go, and is easy to store away when nap time commences.

Baby Mori giraffe short sleeve pyjamas

Best: Everyday essential

Rating: 8/10

When pyjamas are as wonderful as these, they tick all boxes of a well thought out baby gift. Practical? Tick. Comfortable? Tick. Cute? Oh, absolutely. We urge parents to discover the softness of Mori – it has to be touched to be believed, and that’s thanks to its organic blend which is made up of 70 per cent viscose from bamboo and 30 per cent organic cotton. We love the sweet giraffe print on the chest, complemented by the mustard and white striped ribbed shorts which have a little stretch and an elasticated waistband for optimum comfort. And if they give the gift of a comfortable night’s sleep, then you’re onto a winner.

Liewood Selma classic phone golden caramel multi mix

Best: Iconic gift

Rating: 8/10

Toys don’t come much more stylish than those by Nordic brand Liewood, and this classic phone has so much to love from all the nostalgic feels to the simple playable nature. Made from beechwood it’s wonderfully tactile, there’s a rotary dial while the phone attachment is separate so baby can work on her telephone manner. Great for imagination and role play, we love the timeless design, while the quality will see this traditional toy passed down for generations to come.

Janod wooden ride-on panda

Best: Energy burner

Rating: 8/10

A ride-on toy provides young ones who are mastering their balance the ultimate mobility companion. And this adorable panda from French toy brand Janod is quite the powerhouse,with no corner too tight thanks to the genius 360-degree wheels. Parents will also appreciate the silicone corners, which protect furniture and walls from obligatory new-driver bumps. Designed for those aged 12-months and up, the ergonomic handles are comfortable and make for a good grip for small hands. A highlight for us is the secret compartment located at the rear, meaning their toys can come along for the ride too.

Petilou ABC wooden blocks

Best: Plastic-free gift

Rating: 8/10

Le Toy Van is a brand known for its gorgeous wooden role play toys, while Petilou (the brand’s younger sister), is an educational collection specifically designed for babies and toddlers. Playing with building blocks is a rite of passage during childhood, and they don’t come much prettier than these Petilou ABC wooden blocks.

Each face has been screen printed by hand, featuring numbers, letters, shapes and phonic illustrations. While a one-year-old might not know the difference between a square and a triangle, we believe these make a great gift to encourage number and letter recognition.

By simply grasping the tactile chunky wooden pieces – of which there are 30 – baby will develop cognitive skills, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination. Made from durable FSC-approved wood, the edges are super smooth and they’ve been decorated with water-based, chip-resistant paint. Plus, parents will be pleased that the set comes complete with a handy wooden storage tray.

The verdict: Gifts for one-year-olds

Sustainable, simple and brilliantly silly, our winner has to be Plan Toy’s pull-along snail. For us it ticks all the boxes of a great first-birthday gift, developing skills while capturing the attention of a spirited one-year-old and providing plenty of entertainment.

If you’re looking to spend a little more or club together with others, Micro Scooter’s mini micro 3 in 1 deluxe push along will see them through to school so it’s a worthwhile investment.

Voucher codes

For the latest offers on kids’ clothing and other essentials, try the links below:

From bedroom teepees to garden houses these kids’ play tents will make the perfect den for your little one

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in