How to Pick the Best Brain Development Toys for 1-Year-Olds

So, you’re picking a toy for a 1-year-old, but there are too many options out there? We completely understand you. This first year of your child's life is such a crucial time in their development, and we, adults, can influence it by our choices regarding their playtime. Making a smart choice is not that hard. You only need sufficient information about good brain development toys for 1-year-old, which you’ll find here.

Your 1-year-old is no longer a baby and is rapidly becoming a fully-fledged toddler. This means they have more energy, spend more time awake, and are becoming interested in exploring stuff they could only look at while lying in their cribs.

Little boy inside his white crib.

All these new possibilities open up opportunities for more advanced playtime. However, before we get into what types of toys are the best choice for your child’s development, we need to pinpoint some expected developmental milestones for 1-year-olds.

What Should a 1-Year-Old Be Able to Do?

Let’s look at different aspects of children’s development and what are some things a 1-year-old should be able to do at that stage of cognitive development. However, if your little one is not there yet, there is nothing to worry about. Every child has their own pace when it comes to development, and your kid will reach these milestones sooner rather than later.


Little girl walking towards her mom.

  • Makes a few steps on their own without holding your hand (in a few months, they’ll be walking by themselves)
  • Sits up on their own
  • Moves around your home while holding onto furniture
  • Squats and stands up
  • Climbs stairs on all fours
  • Throws a ball
  • Makes some cute dance moves

Fine Motor Skills

  • Starts to eat using their fingers 
  • Starts to hold a spoon
  • Drinks from a cup

Baby drinking from a glass cup.

  • Puts objects in containers and takes them out
  • Bangs objects to create “music”
  • Plays with simple puzzles and stacking toys


  • Looks for stuff (toys) you hide
  • Waves “bye-bye” to you
  • Points to things you name, such as body parts or characters in their favorite book
  • Recognizes themselves in mirrors

Mom and her baby looking themselves in the mirror.

  • Copies other people’s movements and gestures
  • Builds stuff using building blocks
  • Understands object permanence
  • Explores drawers and shelves


  • Understands gestures such as waving
  • Says “mama” and “dada”
  • Responds to what you say
  • Tries to repeat words they hear
  • Stops when you say “no”

Social Skills

  • Cries when you leave
  • Isn’t really fond of strangers
  • Helps a little when getting dressed
  • Hands you a book when they want you to read them a story

Little boy scrolling trough a book.

  • Understands that saying the same thing over again will get your attention
  • Plays pat-a-cake or similar games with you
  • Can engage in parallel play at around 18 months.

Now that we know what to expect from our 1-year-old children, we can narrow our search down to toys they’ll find engaging and challenging but not too difficult or frustrating. The best examples of such toys are Montessori toys for 1 year olds. They are designed to help children’s growth, learn practical life skills and boost their independence.

You will also need to be certain that the toys your child plays with are safe, so you should always choose non-toxic baby toys.

Knowing all this, let’s dive into how these toys can help different aspects of your child’s cognitive and physical play and brain development:

Toys for Problem-Solving Skills

This first set of toys is designed to get those thinking juices flowing. These toys will set up a challenge, and your 1-year-old will try to solve it. These are self-correcting developmental toys, meaning your child won’t need adult help while playing with them. They’ll know immediately if they’ve done the task correctly or not.

Montessori Geometric Eggs.

This toy consists of 12 toy eggs that can be split in half. Your child must try to match each half with a corresponding one. It will teach your kid shapes, colors, and how different pieces fit with each other. Additionally, they will work on their fine motor skills. Finally, all the eggs have to be put in their carton. The more your child plays with it, the more proficient they’ll become at matching them.

Montessori Wooden Blocks.

This stacking/sorting toy encourages fine motor skills and invites your child to place each shaped piece onto a fitting column. They’ll learn about squares, triangles, and other geometric shapes while also learning different colors. Each shape fits only into one position, and the goal is to pile them all. This is one of the Montessori staples, and it’s been around for ages.

Montessori Happy Puzzles (6 Pack).

Now we get into puzzling. This puzzle is one of the best educational toys designed to introduce your child to this fun and beneficial pastime. Each puzzle consists of only a few shapes, so it’s easy for your 1-year-old to solve them. The pieces are big enough for their little clumsy hands to hold onto them. There are six different puzzles inside the packaging, providing a fun time for weeks or even months to come. 

Montessori Double-Sided Puzzles (5 Pack).

Some people think puzzles make the best toys to promote both motor skills and critical thinking while also encouraging sensory play. This one is a bit more complex than the last one as it has more pieces, and they are shaped like sticks. Not only that, but each puzzle stick has two sides making it even harder to solve. However, there’s no need to worry if it’s too hard. Give your child some time with it, and you’ll see them solving these puzzles with ease.

Toys for Learning

Even though these toys could fall into different categories regarding the skills they help develop, they have one thing in common - they also teach about the world your 1-year-old is living in. So, getting any of these toys will help your little one work on their skills AND learn about real-life stuff at the same time.

Montessori Vegetable Set.

The vegetable set is there to teach your little one about fruits and veggies. They’ll try to fit them in their designated holes and simultaneously boost their problem-solving skills. However, you can take this opportunity to teach your child about healthy food habits and how plants grow and finally end up at our table.

Montessori Penguin's Clock.

This wooden toy teaches colors and shapes and introduces kids to numbers or clocks. They won’t be telling time any time soon, but they’ll familiarize themselves with shapes that’ll eventually mean so much in their everyday lives. As they get older, they’ll get even more out of this toy.

Montessori Object Permanence Box.

Now, this is a toy that teaches kids that objects exist even when out of sight. Some 1-year-olds already have a grasp on this one, and some don’t. If your little, one year old is still struggling a bit when you hide their favorite toy behind your back, this is an excellent tool to teach them it’s not magic that made the toy disappear and reappear.

Montessori Dino Busy Board.

This toy offers so many learning opportunities - from fiddling with buckles and buttons to rotating gears, zipping and unzipping, tying shoe laces, and so much more. Your 1-year-old will first explore all these concepts and develop their fine motor skills, but later as they get older, they will actually practice stuff they’ll do every morning before preschool.

Toys for Social and Language Skills

Toys in this category allow for increased interaction between you and your child. Your kid can enjoy them alone, but they’ll benefit more if you’re involved as well. These are all about communicating and bonding. 

Montessori Baby Cloth Book.

This is both a soft book, filled with colorful pictures and stories and a puppet, all in one. Perfect for hours of imaginative play. Enjoy it during your cuddle time, and tell your kid all sorts of stories you can come up with. There’s a farm, jungle adventure, and sea world variant, so you can pick the one you like most. Or even better, let your child choose. Here at Montessori, we believe in children’s choices. 

Montessori Newborn Contrast Book.

This might be your baby’s first book. In their infant days, it serves the purpose of helping the youngest ones strengthen their sight. As they get older, around one year of age, you can use it to tell stories or let your little ones babble their own ones. It’s soft and full of engaging pictures. And you can use those pictures to ask your child to point at the stuff and learn about them.

Montessori Christmas Tree.

The Montessori Christmas tree is for the holiday season. Or summer, we won’t judge. Whenever you want to enjoy it, you’ll do it together, which is the most important part of it. Decorate it together and enjoy the festivities while also boosting creativity and imagination.

BEWARE: This toy has some small parts, and you should be present at all times. As your child gets older, they’ll be able to play with it without your supervision.

And there you go - you have a nice selection of toys for your 1-year-old’s brain development. Yours is only to choose which one you think they might like the most. Whichever you choose, be sure that you’ve made an informed choice, and even if your little one doesn’t show immediate interest in them, they might enjoy them in a month or two. If you need further suggestions, make sure you get in touch at, and we’ll sort you out.

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