Toys are essential for children. Regardless of their age, toys are designed to provide more than fun and entertainment.
Toys can be used to develop fine motor skills, encourage the awareness of color coordination, help kids to understand and recognize shapes, develop emotional bonds with peers, and so much more.
Aside from the physical and emotional benefits of educational toys, they are also vital for cognitive development.
The key cognitive skills include attention, perception, memory, logical thinking, and the speed of thinking.
These skills play an important role in the child’s learning ability, so why not start developing their cognitive skills from a young age?
Here are 28 educational toys to improve a 1 year old’s cognitive development!
OUR TOP PICK
Stacking soft blocks are a great way to develop a child’s logical thinking and attention skills.
Each block in this set of 16 pieces comes in a bright color with various indented patterns including fruits, animals, numbers, and shapes. These are designed to encourage a child to explore the shapes and feelings by touch.
Upon testing this product, we found that the soft silicone material of the blocks is non-toxic and BPA-free, meaning that they also double up as good chew toys for curious little ones.
- Memory skills - Encourages color and shape association
- Child-safe - Safe for chewing and teething
- Other skills - Improves balance and coordination
- Not water-safe - When submerged in water, it might linger in the blocks after
1 year olds spend a lot of time crawling on their tummies. This mirror toy encourages the strengthening of muscles during “tummy time” by its eye-catching bright visuals designed to improve visual development.
The toy folds in a multitude of ways, including into a cloth book and a mirror with dangling chew toys.
When we tested this product, we found that 1 year olds were fascinated by their reflection in the mirror, thus developing a perception of themselves.
- Encourages crawling - Improves strengthening of arm and leg muscles
- Versatile - Folds into a cloth book and mirror
- Bright colors - Improves visual development
- Mirror - Keep in mind that the mirror is plastic (not glass)
One of the best ways to develop cognitive skills like working and visual memory is with color matching games.
This Kidzlane toy features 12 eggs in a cartoon that contain colors and corresponding peg holes for kids to attach and remove.
Not only does this improve color recognition and logical thinking, but it also helps develop fine motor skills through hand and wrist movements.
When testing this product, we found that 1 year olds benefit most from the color recognition. Thanks to the sturdiness of the toy, it’s built to last several years.
- Color recognition - Eggs contain colors to encourage matching skills
- Long-lasting - Kids can grow and develop with this toy for a few years
- Fine motor skills - Develops hand and wrist movements
- Take practice - 1 year olds will take time detaching and attaching the eggs
Cognitive development doesn’t stop at visual memory. Auditory memory is essential for 1 year olds, because not only do kids learn through sounds, but it gives parents an idea of any potential hearing disabilities.
These baby rattle toys are ideal for encouraging children to associate sounds with shapes and feelings, thus improving their logical thinking.
Upon testing this product, we discovered that these rattle toys are also essential for assisting fine motor skills thanks to the various grips and textures.
- Auditory memory - Toys produce different sounds
- Eye-tracking - Colors and shapes improve visual skills
- Fine motor skills - Various textures and grips encourage strengthening of hands
- Not long-lasting - Longevity of rattle toys is shortened as kids age
Encouraging focused attention is a key factor in cognitive development.
The Fisher-Price activity gym works to keep babies distracted with the whimsical woodland creature toys hanging from the gym, all of which are linkable and feature their own activities.
Some play music, some make sounds, and others are just for exploring and playing.
When testing this product, we found that this was an ideal way to do chores around the house while your child plays and develops a bunch of skills.
- Improves focus - Keeps children focused and distracted
- Portable - Can be folded and transported easily
- Stimulate senses - Bright colors, sounds, music, and textures to develop fine motor skills and cognitive development
- Thin mat - Put padded blanket under the mat for comfort
Musical toys are great for developing sustained attention, auditory memory, and sensory memory.
This wooden piano toy comes with 6 different songs and sheets of music designed to encourage kids to associate colors with notes.
From this, kids then have the freedom to make whatever music they like!
When we tested this product, we found that it captures the attention of 1 year olds brilliantly, as the music sheets are fun to focus on.
- Good challenge - Encourages kids to maintain attention
- Sensory memory - Improves awareness of music and notes
- Encourages creativity - Allows children to play with music and rhythm
- Not very sturdy - Can flip over with too much pressure
While a 1 year old can’t read fluently yet, this is the prime time to get your child interested in learning the shapes of letters.
This Melissa & Doug activity book is cushioned and soft, featuring adorable peekaboo animals, colorful art, and fun lift-the-flap activities.
This book is designed to increase focus, retain working memory, and improve visual recognition.
Upon testing this product, we discovered that the cushioned design is also machine washable and safe for teething.
- Starts reading journey - Gets children interested in letters and stories
- Activity-based - Filled with activities to increase focus
- Fine motor skills - Flaps and squeaky toy to improve hand strength
- Drying time - Cannot be put in dryer so takes a while to dry
The best age for a child to start playing with a shape sorter is 12 months, as it encourages them to recognize shapes, colors, and textures.
Not only is this great for fine motor skills, but it’s ideal for cognitive development such as logical thinking, focused attention, and visual perception.
As the child grows alongside the toy, it also helps to improve sequential memory.
When testing this toy, we found that children enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment when they matched the right shapes.
- Encourages recognition - Helps kids become familiar with shapes and colors
- Sequential memory - Practice and focus encourages children to recall what shapes go where
- Accomplishment - Users feel pride when they succeed
- Lid doesn’t close - Lack of closing mechanism means the box can’t be turned over
Suitable for babies between 6-36 months old, the Melissa & Doug Bug Jug encourages kids to explore nature by filling their see-through jug with an array of bug toys.
This toy is designed to improve creativity, awareness of different bugs, and kindness to animals. Plus, each toy has its own texture and sound to improve audio awareness.
When testing this product, we found that this is a highly entertaining toy for kids and works as a great distraction while traveling.
- Encourages creativity - Kids have freedom to name bug toys and play with them separately from the jug
- Sensory play - Toys are multi-textured and have their own noises
- Fine motor skills - Encourages children to put bugs in and out of jug
- Small opening - Kids will need to use some force to push the bug through opening
Wooden jigsaw puzzles for toddlers are a brilliant way to start your 1-year-old’s fine motor skills, memory, perception, and color and shape recognition.
This product comes with 6 puzzles featuring various patterns and colors, which can also be balanced upright out of its jigsaw block to promote balance and hand-eye coordination.
When we tested this product, we discovered that it can take a while for some 1 year olds to learn how the jigsaw puzzle works, but it’s a good introduction to puzzles and logical thinking.
- Fine motor skills - Improves hand-eye coordination and balance
- Range of cognitive skills - Improves logical thinking, visual recognition, memory, and perception
- Nice challenge - Provides a focus-based challenge with satisfying results
- Takes practice - Some 1 year olds might struggle with the puzzles at first
Wooden bead mazes are a great way to encourage 1 year olds and toddlers to develop their fine motor skills by gripping, pushing, and moving beads across rollercoaster-like wires.
This Melissa & Doug bead maze is ideal for 1 year olds, as it only features 3 wires to prevent overcomplicating the game. Plus, the maze develops cognitive skills like color and shape recognition.
When we tested this product, we found that it was particularly useful for encouraging sustained attention and logical thinking.
- Good age suitability - Not too over complicated for 1 year olds
- Maintains focus - Keeps children focused and occupied
- Encourages recognition - Improves color and shape recognition
- Not portable - Might be difficult to travel with
This pelican toy involves opening the squeaky bill and dropping four little plush animal toys into its mouth.
Once “swallowed”, the animals drop directly into the pelican’s belly, where kids can reach in and start the process again. This repetitive activity is ideal for developing recognition and sequential memory.
When we tested this product, we discovered that once a child has mastered the art of dropping animals into the mouth, they will get creative and use other objects, too.
- Repetitive activity - Improves sequential memory
- Encourages creativity - Kids can use other toys and objects too
- Multisensory - Each toy has its own texture and sound
- Doesn’t sit upright - Might need an extra hand pushing the toys through bill
The key to cognitive development is allowing your child to learn skills through play.
These foam building blocks allow children to do just that. With 12 soft blocks in various bright colors, kids have the freedom to build whatever they like with the big blocks - whether it’s pairing them with the same color or building a structure as tall as they can.
Upon testing this product, we noticed that toddlers specifically enjoyed pairing colors together with the blocks and other objects around them.
- Color recognition - Large foam blocks come in bright and recognizable colors
- Allows exploration - Encourages hand-eye coordination
- Safe - Foam structure to prevent injuries
- Not for balance - Topple over easily when stacked too high
Piano mats are a great way to encourage your little one to explore the consequences of their movements.
Children simply have to crawl around on the mat to make music, or they can play it like a giant piano by touching the appropriate colored keys.
Not only is this suitable for developing fine motor skills and coordination, but it also helps towards developing sequential memory.
When we tested this product, we discovered that it has a variety of settings to keep your child focused for a long time.
- Versatile - Keeps kids focused thanks to range of settings
- Encourages movement - Kids crawl across mat, strengthening their arms and legs
- Encourages creativity - Highly entertaining and amusing for everyone
- Batteries - Doesn’t come with batteries, and will need to be replaced in the future
Stacking rings are an excellent way to strengthen hand and wrist muscles, improve hand-eye coordination, and encourage children to recognize shapes and sizes.
Each ring in this stack of circles comes with its own vibrant color, pattern, texture, and weight - all of which are suitable for teething.
Upon testing this product, we found that children felt a sense of accomplishment after completing the age-appropriate challenge.
- Fine motor skills - Strengthens hand and wrist muscles
- Good challenge - Provides kids with sense of accomplishment
- Recognition skills - Improves color, shape, weight, pattern, and sound recognition
- Not ring toss - Not to be confused with a ring toss, as the holes aren’t large enough
By the time a kid reaches a year old, they should be able to stand and pull themselves up into a standing position.
To help them with their balance, this musical workbench provides a toy that can be placed on a small structure to encourage your little one to stand.
This toy comes with a wide range of activities to keep your child focused, including toy tools, a block game, sound effects, and more.
When testing this product, we noticed that kids were very focused and attentive to the toy thanks to the range of activities.
- Versatile - Lots of activities for lots of fun
- Time-consuming - Encourages focus and attention
- Creative - Kids can “fix” objects around the house with the toy tools
- Lost parts - Make sure to put everything where it belongs, otherwise you risk losing toys
This light-up game is ideal for developing cognitive skills. It’s not just a simple light-up-and-hit-the-button game - instead, it comes with a variety of activities to improve color and number recognition as well as memory and concentration.
When children feel accomplished by getting something right, they strive to do it again, and again, and again.
When we tested this product, we found that it encouraged children to focus on nothing but the game.
- Improves memory - Patterns get longer as the game progresses
- Focus-based - Encourages kids to keep attention to the colors and lights
- Physical game - Improves hand-eye coordination
- Some games too advanced - Some number-based activities are too advanced for 1 year olds
Leap Frog is one of the leading children’s toy brands, and for good reason.
Not only is this musical table great for improving audio perception, visual memory, and fine motor skills, but it also comes with the option to play on the floor or standing up.
Plus, it comes with a range of activities, such as alphabet and number games that can be used as the child ages.
When we tested this product, we found that the option to stand up helps to strengthen the leg muscles and improve balance.
- Various activities - Lots of noises, sounds, and music to explore
- Reputable brand - Made by a popular and trustworthy child’s toy brand
- Strengthening - Improves leg muscles and balance when standing
- Lightweight - So lightweight that it can slip on the floor unless put on a carpet
This pop-up game features four adorable animals that can be popped in and out of their colorful homes by the dress of a button. Each button is pressed, pulled, or flipped differently to allow for versatility.
This game is ideal for encouraging logical thinking and memorization skills in 1 year olds.
Upon testing this product, we discovered that children were also subsequently learning about cause and effect from making the animals appear and disappear.
- Encourages logical thinking - Teaches children about cause and effect
- Versatile - Each button has its own activity, providing a fun challenge
- Portable - Good distraction while traveling
- Stay with child - Keep an eye on child to prevent trapped fingers
For a 1-year-old to understand cause and effect, they need a repetitive toy.
This Playskool giraffe spinning toy consists of a child pressing the head of the giraffe to make the colorful balls pop and swirl inside.
This is to encourage children to understand that their actions can make other things happen. Plus, the silly popping balls are highly entertaining for them!
When we tested this product, we found that this toy also encouraged kids to stand up or use their muscles in tummy time to reach the head of the giraffe.
- Enjoyable game - Very entertaining and giggle-worthy
- Cause and effect - Encourages kids to understand their actions have consequences
- Promotes standing or stretching - Strengthens muscles
- No music - Toy doesn’t produce music or lights
In a world of technology and endless devices, your 1-year-old is bound to get curious. If you’re not comfortable giving them your phone to play with, satisfy their curiosity with a baby toy phone!
This baby toy phone is a digital learning toy that plays certain sounds and songs when buttons are pressed, which is good for pattern association and distraction.
When we tested this product, we found that it was the ideal way to distract your child and help them join in when parents are on the phone.
- Great distraction - Keeps children busy while you do tasks and work
- Pattern association - Encourages memorizing what patterns make what noises
- Good for curious kids - Safely introduces them into a world of devices
- Quiet - Volume is fairly low
Stacking games that involve bright colors and distinctive shapes are ideal for 1 year olds.
This stacking toy is designed to challenge children in a fun and satisfying way by encouraging them to stack multiple shapes into their corresponding pegs.
This is ideal for improving memory, perception, logical thinking, and hand-eye coordination.
When testing this product, we discovered that children also played with the shaped blocks separately, adding to the versatility of the product.
- Montessori method - Designed to teach kids through play
- Nice challenge - Sense of accomplishment when a shape is put in the right pegs
- Improves recognition - Bright colors and clear shapes improve recognition
- Loose pegs - After constant use, the pegs might come loose
This crawling inchworm toy is designed to teach children about cause and effect.
They have to press the middle ball of the inchworm for it to move, which is highly entertaining for little ones who crawl after it.
This toy also features music and lights to stimulate the sight and sound senses.
Upon testing this product, we found that the toy can move on virtually any surface (including carpets and hardwood floors), making it suitable to bring anywhere.
- Cause and effect - Encourages children to understand what their actions mean with this toy
- Lots of fun - Encourages kids to crawl and play with the toy
- Stimulate senses - Music and lights improve visual and auditory senses
- Volume - lack of volume button means no control over noise levels
It’s never too early to get your child interested in reading! 12 books come in this bundle of soft and padded books, with each one being based on a different topic.
While a couple of the books might be too advanced for a 1-year-old (such as the vehicle book), others are far more appropriate (colors and shapes), and your child can grow up with them.
When we tested this product, we found that the range of topics and books allowed for endless fun.
- Kid-friendly - Soft and padded material is safe for teething and don’t dangerous
- Multiple topics - Range of books allows for kids to advance to other topics
- Visual stimulation - Bright colors and simple designs allows for visual recognition
- Incomplete sets- Some reviewers have said the bundle arrived incomplete
Every kid loves animal toys. This puppy toy is not only cute, but it works to build gross motor skills and cognitive development through cause and effect actions.
Children can push and pull buttons and cords to make the puppy produce music and sounds. Visually, this toy is bright and vivid thanks to its distinctive coloration and light-up nose.
Upon testing this product, we discovered that the sound is crisp and at a good volume, which is ideal for auditory stimulation.
- Cause and effect - Encourages kids to remember what else function does
- Versatile - Lots of things to push and pull
- Colorful - Light and color stimulates visual development
- Short cord - Cord is quite short to pull the dog around
Music is one of the best ways for a child to develop cognitive skills. It’s a matter of cause and effect - if you hit this thing, it makes this corresponding sound.
This music bench is multifunctional with a pull-out xylophone and bouncing balls that can be played together or separately.
When we tested this product, we found that the multifunction nature of the toy encourages kids to play for longer periods.
- Multifunctional - Kids can play music, fetch balls, or push balls through the holes
- Skill-building - Improves hand-eye coordination, cause and effect, and dexterity
- Audio recognition - Music helps children understand sounds and notes
- Loud - There’s no volume button, so be prepared for a lot of banging
To soothe your 1-year-old’s insatiable curiosity, give them building blocks.
This product comes with 80 brightly colored building blocks (enough to lose one or two) that come in various shapes.
They connect together like Lego, thus encouraging children to be aware of shapes, sizes, and what they can create.
When testing this product, we discovered that children spent a long time building and destroying these blocks.
- Inspires creativity - Encourages children to be creative from a young age
- Endless possibilities - No rules to follow makes for years of play
- Visual recognition - Sight is stimulated by colorful blocks and distinctive shapes
- Lost blocks - Children will inevitably misplace blocks
Kids love to copy their parents, even when cleaning! Soothe their curiosity with this learning vacuum, which encourages your child to complete the vacuuming action of pushing and pulling while providing songs and phrases for your child to copy.
The settings are easily controlled by large and colorful buttons for your child to explore.
When we tested this product, we found that 1-year-olds were well-versed in the vacuuming action after having seen their parents do the same in real life.
- Multifunctional - Both physical and mental benefits
- Easy to control - Big buttons and switches are simple for your child to explore and adjust
- Audio and visual recognition - Bright colors and music to stimulate sight and hearing senses
- Small - Kids will outgrow the vacuum as they get older