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The best toys for one-year-old toddlers: our head buyer talks about her daughter’s favorites!

I spend my days surrounded by toys… literally! At work I’m constantly reviewing samples and looking at toy and baby gear catalogs, and at home, I’m tripping over toys all over our small city apartment. Reese has been spoiled with toys and gifts that have been pouring in since before she was even born.

As Reese has grown into a little lady, she has become more and more interested in actually playing with toys. We’re past the rattle and clutching toy stage, and I’m SO excited about that! But then comes decision time… what do I actually buy for this kid? Her birthday and Christmas are very close together, so I had to have more than a couple things. Here are some of Reese’s favorite toys right now, at the end of her first year.

INTERNATIONAL-PLAYTHINGS-super-spiral-tower-G02089-fInternational Playthings Super Spiral Play Tower ($39.99)
Out of all of the toys at Magic Beans, this adorable activity center is the one that I picked out for my husband and I to give Reese as her “big” gift. Even though the age recommendation is 18 months and up, I think it is appropriate for a younger child that is standing or walking. Reese loves little objects, and the 2 balls, the penguin, and the frog are a total hit. I love the vibrant colors, and it is really sturdy.

With some practice and help from Mom & Dad, she is really getting good at putting the frog down the chute and saying “Go?” as if she doesn’t know where he is. Then she presses the button and he pops out, and she claps for herself. It couldn’t be cuter!

Jellycat Touch and Feel Board Booksjellycat-if-i-were-a-bunny-book-BB444BNUS ($12.99)
Books are a staple in our home! We actually use an ice bucket we got as a wedding gift to store them, and it is quickly filling up. Reese got her first Jellycat book, “If I Were a Bunny,” a few months ago, and it is among our favorites. The stories are simple and fun, and the artwork is actually interesting for a board book. We got her the Elephant book and she loves it even more than the bunny! Bonus: Jellycat makes matching stuffed animals to go with the books!

Uncle Goose Wooden Blockslindenwood-abc-blocks-a-28-3 ($39.99)
Blocks are a timeless toy that every home should have. We got these ones in the Norwegian version because my husband is half Norwegian. The Uncle Goose blocks are great quality and built to last, and also really promote open-ended play. We keep them in a wicker bin in our home.

At first, Reese would just want me to build her a tower that she could knock over about 20 times in a row. Next was her taking them all out and putting them in a pile. I was really delighted when one day I actually saw her putting them back into the bin. She learned to clean up… sort of. Now she is building small towers of her own, and of course, still knocking them over.

Folkmanis Golden Retriever Puppetfolkmanis-golden-retriever-puppy-puppet-2862-f ($24.99)
Reese’s nanny got her this Golden Retriever puppy for Christmas, and she has been obsessed with it since then. Dog (pronounced “da” at this point) was one of her first words. The kid freaks out (in a good way) whenever we see a dog. I remember liking stuffed animals when I was a kid, but it is magical how much Reese loves them. They are enchanting and exciting to her. She likes to hug them and wave hi and bye to them. They are like her little friends!

Along with all of her “real” toys, Reese loves to play with random items around the house – remember, for a baby, nearly anything that’s safe to play with can be a toy! I used to tell her “no no no,” but now I’m trying to embrace her curiosity more. Here are some of my favorite improvisations:

  • Keurig K-cups = great substitute for egg shakers or rattles
  • An old makeup bag with some odds and ends in it = teaches her how to put things in and out, like a sorting activity.
  • An empty box (all Moms have a diaper box laying around) = a walker
  • Aden + Anais blankets and swaddles and an ottoman = we don’t have room for a tent or tunnel, but we frequently make our own and Reese loves to crawl through!

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