Top 12 Best Educational Toys for 12 Month Old Kids [2020]

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At one year old, babies are just becoming toddlers. They’re getting more independent, more curious and interacting in new and exciting ways. So, it makes sense to get them the best learning toys you can find.

Our top pick for the best educational toys for 12-month-old kids is the Baby Einstein Magic Touch Piano. It has the perfect mix of being educational and fun. It encourages toddlers to explore, make music, and will continue to be engaging for years to come. It’s also a toy that most adults would find hard to resist.

Our Top Picks
Best Overall
Baby Einstein Magic Touch Piano Wooden Musical Toy Toddler Toy, Ages 6 months and up
Best for Emotional Intelligence
BEST LEARNING My Spin & Learn Steering Wheel - Interactive Educational Toys for 6 to 36 Months Old Infants, Babies, Toddlers - Learn Colors, Shapes, Feelings & Music Game - Ideal Baby Toy Gifts
Budget Option
Sassy Stacks of Circles Stacking Ring STEM Learning Toy, 9 Piece Set, Age 6+ Months
Name
Baby Einstein Magic Touch Piano
My Spin & Learn Steering Wheel
Sassy Stacks of Circles
Features
It has attractive colorful piano keys that play when you touch them. It comes with 'sheet music,' so as your child grows, they can learn to play the songs.
A spinning, educational toy that lights up and sings to teach your child colors, shapes, and emotions.
This ring stacking toy has loads of rings in different shapes, sizes, and textures. It offers a sensory experience while encouraging motor skill development.
Best Overall
Our Top Picks
Baby Einstein Magic Touch Piano Wooden Musical Toy Toddler Toy, Ages 6 months and up
Name
Baby Einstein Magic Touch Piano
Features
It has attractive colorful piano keys that play when you touch them. It comes with 'sheet music,' so as your child grows, they can learn to play the songs.
Best for Emotional Intelligence
Our Top Picks
BEST LEARNING My Spin & Learn Steering Wheel - Interactive Educational Toys for 6 to 36 Months Old Infants, Babies, Toddlers - Learn Colors, Shapes, Feelings & Music Game - Ideal Baby Toy Gifts
Name
My Spin & Learn Steering Wheel
Features
A spinning, educational toy that lights up and sings to teach your child colors, shapes, and emotions.
Budget Option
Our Top Picks
Sassy Stacks of Circles Stacking Ring STEM Learning Toy, 9 Piece Set, Age 6+ Months
Name
Sassy Stacks of Circles
Features
This ring stacking toy has loads of rings in different shapes, sizes, and textures. It offers a sensory experience while encouraging motor skill development.

Related post: Best Blocks for Toddlers

Best Educational Toys For 12 Month Old

Best Overall – Baby Einstein Magic Touch Piano

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Best Overall
Baby Einstein Magic Touch Piano
It has attractive colorful piano keys that play when you touch them and comes with 'sheet music' so as your child grows, they can learn to play the songs.

The Baby Einstein Magic Touch Piano is a beautiful little piano. The keyboard is on a smooth piece of wood that has colorful keys painted on. The lack of moving parts has two main benefits. Firstly, it’s a lot harder to break. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about crumbs and dirt getting stuck between the keys.

Toddlers and infants can get a lot of joy from touching/hitting the keys and hearing the sounds it makes. As they develop, they will start being more selective and picking out different notes. 

This is such a great toy because it has the potential to remain a favorite for a long time. Once your child is older, they will be able to play the songs by following the ‘sheet music.’

The ‘sheet music’ is printed on tough cards that sit on the piano, just like sheet music on a real piano. The notes are on scores and are color-coded to match the keys. There are a total of 6 songs for your kids to learn. It’s a wonderful introduction to playing a musical instrument.

Best for Developing Emotional Intelligence – Best Learning My Spin & Learn Steering Wheel

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Best for Emotional Intelligence
My Spin & Learn Steering Wheel
A spinning educational toy that lights up and sings to teach your child colors, shapes, and emotions.

The Best Learning My Spin & Learn Steering Wheel is an excellent toy for anyone who is consciously trying to raise emotionally intelligent children. Learning to label their emotions is a crucial skill, and this toy actively helps with that. It has joy, anger, surprise, sadness, and fear.

This toy spins well on most surfaces and will play a song depending on where it stops. Your child can also press buttons to interact with the toy’s questions. There are beads and rings on the handles, so it gives them something to fiddle with while they listen.

From a parents point of view, there is one big plus point to this toy. The songs play all the way through once started, even if another button is pressed. You don’t have to listen to the same 5 seconds over and over again. There is also enough variety to keep you sane and your 1 year old happy with three modes to choose from.

Younger children will get a lot of enjoyment out of spinning the steering wheel and fiddling with the rings on the side. As they grow, they will find the games and songs more fun, so this is a great toy that will stay by your kid’s side as they grow from a baby to a preschooler.

Best Budget Option – Sassy Stacks of Circles

Best Budget Option
Sassy Stacks of Circles
This ring stacking toy has loads of rings in different shapes, sizes, and textures. It offers a sensory experience while encouraging motor skill development.

The Sassy Stacks of Circles is an example of a simple toy done well. Stacking toys are great for helping your one year old develop their motor skills and hand-eye coordination. This one is no exception.

The nine rings are different sizes and thicknesses. This gives your child more opportunities to practice picking up and putting down different objects. The chunky rings will be easier to handle when they’re younger, and with practice, they’ll move on to the smaller ones. 

The other benefit of playing with rings is that it encourages your child to practice passing objects from hand to hand. Because they can fit one hand on each side of the ring, it is natural to practice this skill with these toys.

The mixture of different rings will keep your child engaged as they explore the sounds they make and the way they feel. All the rings are safe to go in your one year old’s mouth, as any toy for a 1 year old should be! The bumps on some of the rings mean they are also useful as teething rings.

Best for Pretend Play – LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket

Best for Pretend Play
LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket
This picnic themed toy includes pretend food, cutlery, and an interactive shape sorter on the basket.

The LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket is a toy that will remain in circulation for a long time. It’s suitable for children ages 6 months to 4 years. 

The picnic basket has a shape sorter on the top that recognizes what you’ve put in. It calls out the shape and color of the object when it goes in. Pressing on the butterfly on the picnic basket causes the music to play or the basket to ask for a snack.

Inside the basket, there are enough food items and cutlery for two people. It has everything you need for a pretend picnic, which is an excellent opportunity to practice sharing skills. Something that every child needs help to learn.

Pretend play is something that your child will do more of as they grow. It’s a great way to learn all sorts of skills, so toys that encourage this kind of play are lovely. This is something that your child will enjoy on a lot of different levels as they grow.

Best for Language Skills – LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Word Book

Best for Language Skills
LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Word Book
This fantastic, interactive book helps your child to learn 100 words in both English and Spanish.

The LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Word Book is split into 12 different categories, with themes like ‘animals’ and ‘outside.’ Pressing on the pictures makes the book speak the name of the image.

This book is sturdy and will stand up to your toddler’s attention. They can practice not only their language skills but also their motor control. Turning the pages and pressing the picture they want will help them to develop these skills.

The combination of bright colors, music, and talking means that this is a toy that will hold the attention of most one year olds for a long time. You’re more likely to get bored of it before they do!

Best for Fine Motor Skills – Spike The Fine Motor Hedgehog

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Best for Fine Motor Skills
Spike The Fine Motor Hedgehog
A cute hedgehog toy to help your little ones develop their hand eye coordination.

Spike, The Fine Motor Hedgehog, is a cute and colorful toy. Your toddler will be entertained by pulling the spikes out of his back. When not in use, the spikes fit neatly inside his back.

The spines are nice and thick, just the right size to fit in your one year old’s hands. When they’re older, you can use it to practice their counting skills; numbers are printed by each of the quills.

This toy is labeled as being for kids over the age of 18 months. However, there’s no reason that a one year old wouldn’t enjoy playing with this. They may need a bit of time to develop the hand eye coordination required to get the quills back in, but they will undoubtedly enjoy pulling them out as they learn.

Best for Motor Skills – LeapFrog Spin and Sing Zoo

Best for Motor Skills
LeapFrog Spin and Sing Zoo
This fun educational toy will introduce your child to the alphabet, animal sounds, and music.

The LeapFrog Spin and Sing Zoo is a nifty little toy. It comes with three modes, alphabet, animals, and music. This fun educational toy is good for kids ages 6 months and up. It’s also great for older kids who need to practice their ABCs.

When the ball spins, the toy lights up, and the beads in it rattle. This keeps kids engaged and interested in spinning it over and over again.

When the ball stops on a letter, it plays a short message depending on the mode. In alphabet mode, it gives the letter and its sound. In animal mode, it’s the name of the animal and the sound it makes. Both of these modes are great for helping with language development. Practising animal sounds is a great way to help kids learn to speak more clearly.

In music mode, it plays fun, short snippets of music and encourages your child to get up and move.

Best for Learning Letters – Soft Alphabet Cards with Cloth Bag

Best for Learning Letters
Soft Alphabet Cards
These soft cards feature all the letters of the alphabet along with bright and colorful pictures to keep your one year old engaged.

These Soft Alphabet Cards are bright and engaging. They’re safe for your baby to play with and will continue to be a great way to help your kids learn as they grow. 

The picture cards are bright and colorful. They offer a fun way to engage your child by talking about what you can see, but without the worry about pages getting damaged like with a book. 

The cards come with their own storage bag. Your child can practice their motor skills by pulling the cards out of the bag.

The covers can be taken off the cards to wash them after they get drooled on.

As your baby grows into a preschooler, you can still get a lot of use out of these cards. They are perfect to use as flashcards to practice letters and animals.

Best STEM Toy – Playkidz Pound a Ball Toy

Best STEM Toy
Playkidz Pound a Ball Toy
This is one of the best toys for teaching cause and effect. The balls can be pushed or hit until they roll through the pipes.

The Playkidz Pound a Ball Toy is a great way to introduce your kids to the idea of cause and effect. The balls can either be hit with the mallet or just pushed until they fall. Your baby can then watch as they roll through the ramps and eventually emerge at the bottom.

The balls come in four different colors, and so do the holes. This gives your little ones the chance to practice color matching as they play. They will also practice both their fine and gross motor skills as they pick up the balls, put them in the holes, and hit them down.

Best for Number Recognition – Mushroom Garden

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Best for Number Recognition
Mushroom Garden
This multi-award winning, educational toy for 1 year old kids is fun and exciting to play with.

Mushroom Garden has four different modes – colors, numbers, games, and music. The eight mushrooms in the garden are different colors and have different numbers of spots. When pressed, they light up.

What’s good about the number mode on this toy is that it’s not teaching kids to recognize numerals. It’s teaching them to identify how many spots they can see. This means it is teaching them to recognize amounts, not just the symbols. This is great for developing numeracy as they grow.

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The color and game modes are also great. It rewards your child if they get the answer right with music and lights.

The whole mushroom garden spins and is great fun to play with. In music mode, it’s like having a dance party with both music and lights.

Best Wooden Toy – Wood City Sorting and Stacking Toy

Best Wooden Toy
Wood City Sorting and Stacking Toy
These wooden toys for 1 year olds encourage them to recognize shapes and practice their fine motor skills.

The Wood City Sorting and Stacking Toy is a great wooden toy. Many toys for 1 year olds are plastic, so having something in different material can be an interesting tactile experience. 

The stacking of this toy is a little more complicated than on other stacking toys. Kids have to fit up to four pins through the holes in a single shape to get it on properly. This makes it an interesting variation on other stacking toys. 1 year old kids will take some time to learn how to get the shapes on. The challenge is perfect for encouraging them to practice their fine motor skills.

The wooden shapes are brightly colored, so kids can practice matching the colors as well. As they get older, your kids can have fun making patterns and pictures with the shapes, making this a tremendous, open-ended educational toy.

Best Sensory Toy – Dimpl Baby Toys

Best Sensory Toy
Dimpl Baby Toys
This is a great sensory toy to help one year olds develop their motor skills.

The Dimpl Baby Toys is a really simple toy. The best toys often are. The colorful dimples can be pushed through from one side to the other. It’s safe for kids ages 6 months and up. 

This is a toy that you can take anywhere as it’s quiet and small enough to pop in your bag. It’s fun for both babies and kids. It’s perfect for kids that like to have something to fiddle with. 

Pushing the dimples will help your child to develop their motor skills. It is also a lovely example of cause and effect that can be mesmerizing to little ones. 

What to Consider When Buying Educational Toys For 12 Month Old

Kid holding wooden toy

Durability

1 year old toys need to be durable. They will get thrown, dropped from a height, stood on, spilled on, you name it, these toys will need to survive it. So when you’re picking out toys for 1 year olds, you need to have an eye on durability.

The best toys are simple. That way, there’s less to get broken. They should have minimal small pieces and parts that move independently. 

Lifetime

While kids are young, they change so fast. So the perfect toys for 1 year olds can quickly become uninteresting. The ideal toy is one that can appeal to your child for a long time. This means looking for toys where your 1 year old might not use all the functions. But, as they grow older, they will. 

For example, the Baby Einstein Magic Touch Piano that we recommended. It comes with ‘sheet music.’ Your 1 year old is not going to use that. They are going to love making the piano make different noises. The sheet music is something that they will come back to as they get older. It’s something that will extend the lifetime of this toy.

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Safety

There is one thing I can guarantee will happen to every toy you give your toddler. It will go in their mouth. So, you need to make sure that any toy you give them has no sharp edges and is made from safe materials. They should be BPA free. 

Toddler playing with educational toys

This also means paying some attention to the age advisories on the boxes. There is always some wiggle room, the ages aren’t legally binding, but they offer some useful guidance. Toys labeled for 5-6 years old are not going to be suitable for your 1 year old. They might want them, but you can’t be sure they’re safe.

Volume

If the toy you choose plays music or makes noise, you might want to check if there are volume settings. Listening to toddler toys non stop at full blast is guaranteed to drive anyone insane. If there is a volume setting, it can go a little way to preserving your precious sanity.

That said, most kids can figure out the volume toggle as they get older, so don’t pin your hopes on this being a permanent solution.

Fun

There is no point in buying an education toy if it isn’t fun. No one will learn anything if the toy sits at the bottom of the toy box. So try to find toys that will be fun to play with. They should be bright, colorful, and have lots of things to fiddle with.

Siblings

Siblings playing with colorful learning toys

If your one year old has older siblings, you have to do a mental calculation about how much the older child will want the toy. Sharing is part of having siblings, but you don’t want to cause world war three because you bought a digger themed toy for your 1 year old, and your 4 year old is digger obsessed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I be teaching my 12 month old?

At 1 year old, your baby is growing and learning fast. They probably don’t seem much like a baby anymore, either. So you can begin to feel the pressure that you should be teaching your child new skills every day.

1 year olds learn by watching the people around them and interacting with them. So, you can help your child develop by playing with them and talking to them. In fact, the more you talk to them, the better. Kids exposed to more varied vocabulary at young ages go on to do better at English by the time they are school age.

So, you don’t need to worry about teaching your child anything. Instead, you should focus on talking to them about what you can see around you and encouraging them to explore for themselves.

What’s the best toy for a 12 month old?

This is a tough question to answer. All 1 year olds are different. They’re already showing you what their personality is like. So the best toys for your 1 year old might not be the best toys for all one year olds. 

Some things to look out for are toys that are fun, colorful, and educational. Open-ended play toys are great. 1 year olds will always find an unexpected way to play with their toys, so the more open-ended, the better.

Wooden educational toy

How many toys should a 12 month old have?

Not too many and not too few! I know, not a helpful answer.

Ideally, your 1 year old should have access to a few different types of toys. This will give them lots of varied opportunities to learn and play. For example, they might have a soft toy, a stacking toy, a music toy, and a teething toy.

You need to remember that to a 1 year old, everything is a toy. So you need enough options to keep them entertained, but you don’t have to go overboard. If you have too many toys, then some will inevitably never get played with.

Sandy Fargus

Last update on 2020-10-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API