The 8 Best Toys for 12-Month-Olds of 2021

Bring joy and learning to play time

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: LeapFrog My Pal Scout at Amazon

"Features 40 musical selections, with the ability to be customized."

Best Budget: Oball Rattle and Roll Cars at Amazon

"This indestructible toy can stimulate a child's imagination."

Best Developmental: Tree Top Adventure Activity Center at Amazon

"Teaches cause and effect."

Best Educational: Melissa and Doug Shape Sorter at Amazon

"Grasping and turning the shapes helps sharpen motor skills."

Best Musical: Hape Mighty Mini Band at Amazon

"Comes with a xylophone, cymbals, drums, and a clacker."

Best Wooden: Uncle Goose Wooden Blocks at Amazon

"Watch your toddler find lots of ways to play."

Best Ride-On: Radio Flyer Busy Buggy at Target

"Built with the same quality and craftsmanship as Radio Flyer bikes."

Best for Walking: V-Tech Sit to Stand Walker at Amazon

"Helps little ones transition from cruising to walking."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: LeapFrog My Pal Scout

LeapFrog My Pal Scout
Courtesy of Amazon

This sweet lovable learning toy tops our list for one simple reason: kids go crazy for it. LeapFrog’s My Pal Scout comes with more than 40 musical selections (including lullabies!) that teach your little one colors, animal sounds, and even emotions. What’s more, you can connect Scout to your phone, tablet, or computer to customize your selections, and even program your child’s name to make this an extra-personal companion. He's suitable for kids ages 6-36 months.

Best Budget: Oball Rattle and Roll Cars

Parents and kids alike are obsessed with Oballs, and it’s easy to see why: Aside from being virtually indestructible (so when they hit the toilet water they can go straight to the dishwasher), they’re easy for little hands to grasp.

Your little one can play with her Oball car on the driveway, in the sand, or even in the pool. She’ll be stimulated to use her imagination with this toy that won’t get old no matter how many times you break it out.

Best Developmental: Tree Top Adventure Activity Center

At this age, it’s best to let your 1-year-old explore the world on his own terms. It doesn’t take much to keep him occupied, as he learns things like cause and effect simply through experiencing it. The Tree Top Adventure Activity Center by Manhattan Toy has tons of different things to explore, and it’s perfectly crafted for little hands.

Move the snail slowly along the ground, and watch as the shapes spiral down the track after releasing them. Then, open the door and see the bear hiding. Once he discovers it, you can ask, What sound does a bear make? It’s endless fun for toddlers as they explore. Just be sure to carve out some time to sit and play alongside him!

Best Educational: Melissa and Doug Shape Sorter

Since most 12-month-olds are trying to nail those cruising skills, it’s all about gross motor skills at this age. That’s why now is a great time to start sharpening those fine motor skills too, and a shape sorter is an excellent way to do this while having tons of fun. Grasping the shapes and turning them so they fit just so are great ways to hone those skills that’ll be important for preschool and kindergarten readiness.

Your one-year-old will learn critical thinking and problem solving too, as she figures out exactly how to put the shapes into the holes. Its soft fabric is great for the littlest crowd, and we love the fact that all the pieces zip up into the pouch for easy cleanup. Plus, your little one can bring it along with her for some easy restaurant entertainment or for a trip to Grandma’s house.

Best Musical: Hape Mighty Mini Band

Chances are, you’ve been singing to or playing music for your little one since birth. So what better time to introduce musical instruments than at the one-year mark? Kids this age absolutely love to make music, and they love to take the reigns as that “all by myself” stage begins to emerge.

The award-winning Hape Mighty Mini Band toy has instruments like a xylophone, cymbals, drums, and a clacker in bright, colorful designs your little one will love. This toy is suitable for either sitting or standing, so it’s great regardless of whether or not your 12-month-old is walking yet.

Best Wooden: Uncle Goose Wooden Blocks

Uncle Goose’s wooden blocks are great for pretend play. Watch as your toddler finds hundreds of different ways to use the blocks: first they'll be a tower, then the blocks might make the perfect pen for her plastic animals, then a rocketship or even a racecar. Or maybe she’ll sort them into piles by color. Finally, of course, there’s the great fun of knocking them down! When playtime is over, encourage your toddler to help you clean up (totally doable with these blocks) and display them in her nursery.

Best Ride-On: Radio Flyer Busy Buggy

Radio Flyer Busy Buggy

 Courtesy of Target

The Busy Buggy by iconic toymaker Radio Flyer comes in their classic red and is built with the same high-quality craftsmanship as their bikes and wagons. A stabilizer on the bottom provides balance and ensures the toy doesn’t zoom off without your little one. The Busy Buggy allows your kiddo to ride or push, depending on their mood, and comes with lots of extras too. It has fun gears to spin, an alphabet slider, and even a horn.

Best for Walking: V-Tech Sit to Stand Walker

A push toy is a great way for your little one to transition from cruising to walking (just be sure to keep them away from the stairs). The V-Tech Sit to Stand Learning Walker is fun and super sturdy. When you assemble it, you’ll find that the legs lock tightly into place, providing firm support for those first wobbly steps. The wheel speed is adjustable too; make it move slowly for beginning walkers and then as your baby is ready, you can let her zoom around the house at top speed. 

Regardless of whether or not your 12-month-old is sitting or standing, there’s plenty for her to do with this fun activity toy. It comes with a toy cell phone so she can make calls just like her mama, and it’s full of lights and sounds guaranteed to keep her busy so you can get a few things done while she plays.

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