When choosing the best toys for one year olds, whether they’re for my own children or gifts for others, I am always considering LONGEVITY. I hate buying toys that have a short shelf-life. It is such a waste of money!

the best toys for one year olds

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So learn from my mistakes and toy faux pas with my three children and their many MANY toys.

Here is the short list of our absolute favorite toys for one year olds that have

  • stood the test of time
  • been enjoyed in the baby AND toddler stages
  • NOT driven me completely crazy with songs and sounds
  • been easy to clean
  • proven to be durable

Baby Einstein Musical Octopus

Our son’s all time favorite toy for 3 years running is this Baby Einstein Musical Toy (now renamed Baby Einstein Octopus Orchestra Musical Toy). Has an off, low, and high volume option and 2 modes for playing. My favorite is the orchestra mode where your baby can turn different instruments on and off during the song. This helps baby recognize the sounds of different instruments and make unique combinations of sounds. Perfect for the musically-minded baby!

Oombee Cube

Love this little cube! We purchased 3 of these from for our son and a couple of friends’ babies. This is great for that manual dexterity and fine motor development. Also great for teaching shapes and colors, and you can throw the whole thing in the dishwasher (top rack)!

I love that each shape is tethered to the cube with a short string. Shapes do tend to get a bit tangled during play, and younger children will need help untangling them. However, for older toddlers, the tangling provides a good problem-solving challenge.

Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog

We love Spike! This toy is excellent for fine motor skills (go figure!) but also a couple of other things including hand-eye coordination and color/pattern/number recognition. This toy has SUPER longevity. Our 2 and 4 year old sons still love to arrange the spikes in rows of patterns and put a particular color spike in a particular number hole. Now that the older one can can pop the “shell” part of Spike off, he loves to push the spikes out from the inside (ingenuity!). And the baby just loves to hold and taste the spikes (perfect size for tiny hands). Again, this can all go in the top rack dishwasher for easy sanitizing.

Fisher Price Piggy Bank

We have a thing for Fisher Price toys in our house, and this piggy bank is one of our most favorite. MY favorite thing about this toy is that my baby can play with it and have a great time with NO SOUNDS. It’s just as fun to put the coins in and take them out 1000 times without sounds as it is with. Great for when mommy needs a little quiet! This toy also hits the mark on fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and color/number recognition.

Fair warning: these coins fit REMARKABLY well in those tiny slits of the heat register covers. Ask me how I know.

Washable Stacking Cups

I mean just check out the Amazon reviews on these stackable cups. You can’t argue with that! I have purchased at least 6 sets of these for my own kids and for gifts. EVERY baby shower gift I give comes accompanied by these stacking cups. All 3 of my kids have enjoyed them, and my oldest still loves to play with them in the bath tub. (Read more about bath tub toy safety here). These are great for the bath because they have holes in the bottom and are super easy to clean.

Even if these are not destined to become bath toys, they will still be hours of fun on dry land. Flip them over to stack up a tower, or nest them down as shown in the Amazon photos. Each cup also has a number on the bottom and holes of different shapes. That makes these great for color/number/shape/size recognition along with the fine motor skills needed for stacking and nesting.

Mom on!

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When considering toys to buy for my kids, I am constantly considering safety and longevity. Toys for the bath tub are no different. There is an underwhelming regard of bath toy safety from toy manufacturers and retailers which puts an extra burden on parents to inform themselves about what is safe and what is not.

While you read, keep in mind that manufacturing companies and retailers do not do a parent’s job, and they certainly don’t have a parent’s discerning skepticism and desire to protect fueling their business models. Their job is not to keep tiny humans safe. Their job is to make money. Just because certain toys are still sold does not mean they are safe for children (just look at how many companies still produce and sell crib bumpers which the American Academy of Pediatrics and The American SIDS Institute issued strong warnings against in 2016). As with all products, particularly those for children, be sure to always do your homework!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Alright now that my cynicism and distrust has been aired, another factor that’s not always considered when purchasing toys is longevity. Will this toy grow with my kids, or will they tire of it after a few months? Is the quality such that it will last? Parents often fall into the trap of buying something their child wants NOW. But sometimes, even though that toy is enjoyed in the moment, the draw quickly fades and the toy ends up in the bottom of the toy box or donation bin.

Over the past few years I have focused on only purchasing toys with longevity, and I have found a lot of success and undoubtedly saved a good amount of money.

Read on for more info on bath toy safety and reviews of several bath toys so you can decide what’s worth your money and what’s not.

Bath toy safety

Safety concerns

  • Choking
  • Harmful ingredients
  • Mold

Bath toys NOT to buy

Toys that squirt

Do you remember back in 2016 when parents across the US and Canada were discovering mold in Tommee Tippee sippy cups? The issue was that there were parts of the valve that could never be completely dried and constant moisture causes mold to develop and grow.

Two years ago, I cut open one of our soft rubber water-squirting bath toys similar to those pictured below, and guess what I found: mold. The mold wasn’t there because the toys were never cleaned but because the insides could never dry. The tiny hole in the bottom that squirts water also prevents airflow, traps water, and doesn’t allow the toy to dry. Water and moisture are constantly sitting in there breeding mold and the worst part is you can’t see it!

Toys with tubes/small crevices/hard-to-clean areas (and batteries??)

The issue with the tubes, small crevices, and hard-to-clean areas follows the exact same principals mentioned above for toys that squirt water. But who thought it was a solid idea to make bath toys battery powered?? Is that really necessary? My kids are in the bathtub for all of 15 minutes, and I am certain they can survive 15 minutes without an electronic toy.

Bath products with harmful ingredients

There are definitely people who have accused me of being uppity and paranoid for the way that I choose what products are acceptable for my children. That’s all fine, and I understand all parents have different views. So I won’t get on my soapbox (tub joke!) except to say that I urge you to read about the ingredients in the following bath products and make sure they’re up to your standards before using them with your children.

  • bath paint/crayons
  • bath bombs
  • bubble bath, shampoo, body wash, soap (generally speaking, the cheap brands and novelty bottles are the worst offenders)
  • color-changing tablets.

Now that you know what to be on the lookout for, let’s move on to the good guys!

Bath toys that are good in my book

Stacking cups

I have gifted these with every baby shower gift I’ve attended over the last three years and recommended them to all of my parent friends. This set of plastic stacking cups is a great Montessori toy for endless scooping and dumping both in and out of the tub.

They are made of one solid piece with no crevices for mold to grow in. My only suggestion is don’t nest them together after bath time. Instead, I throw them separately into our little toy net so they can dry. If you nest them down together while they’re wet, mold will start to grow. Remember: the name of the game is letting toys dry out completely.

I throw them in the dishwasher every couple weeks to keep them clean. I also have a couple sets we take camping because cleaning them is so easy. My kids have played with these consistently from infancy through toddlerhood. They stack, they nest, they clean well, and they’re cheap. What’s not to like? Check them out on Amazon. 

Boon Jellies suction cup toys

From the makers of the ever-popular Boon Grass, this set of bath jellies is a kid and parent win win. These colorful jellies are fun, safe, and easy to clean.

My kids love sticking them to the shower walls, underwater on the bottom of the tub (swimming jellies!), and to each other to create little jelly towers. My toddler likes counting and sorting these by color, as well as creating shapes and patterns by sticking them on the shower wall in different groups, and my infant can easily hold, splash, clank, and gnaw them. AND they come in a set of 9 so there are enough to go around when I’ve got both kids in the tub. Plus the bright, jewel-tone colors look really neat when wet, and they’re just plain cute.

Another super fun Montessori toy for the tub (and maybe the pool once summer hits!). Check them out on Amazon.

And that’s it! We have had other bath toys that have not stood the test of time. These boats were easy to clean but really hard for little hands to connect plus they sank easily). My kids are super happy with these two sets of bath toys and are always coming up with new, imaginative ways to play with them.

Above all, just make sure your kids’ bath toys are not harboring mold. If you aren’t sure, cut the toy apart and check the inside. Or just toss them and invest in something new that you know if safe and will stand the test of time!

Mom on!

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