Thursday, December 8th, 2011
“What should I get a 1-year-old?” is a surprisingly frequent question around here, especially around the holidays. Here’s what I tell people:
1-YEAR-OLDS LOVE BLINKING, MUSIC-PLAYING PLASTIC TOYS. Their parents may hate them, but 1-year-olds love love love them. Why not make a kid happy? And though I’m always one to champion the little guys, toys from big companies are often great hits. Fisher-Price (with their Laugh & Learn line), VTech, Leapfrog, and Playskool all test their toys on real kids and pretty much nail what young toddlers want. Just pay attention to the age grading on the packaging. If it says “12 months and up,” don’t buy it for a 9-month-old and expect him to do much with it. If it says “3 years and up,” take that to heart; it usually means there are small parts that a child under 3 could choke on.
TODDLERS ALSO LOVE TO IMITATE THEIR PARENTS. I just adore this about 1-year-olds, and 2-year-olds too. Before babes can walk around on their own, they are more or less stuck watching grown-ups, so when they begin to play, they imitate what they’ve seen, to often hilarious results. My daughter Grace had a toy cell phone, but instead of talking on it, she mostly pretended to be listening, and then would give an occasional big, fake laugh. Anything from pretend cell phones and keys (Parents makes these with Manhattan Toy, see them here) to kitchens (Step2 and Little Tikes make the classics) and toy cars have that I’m-just-like-Mom-and-Dad appeal. Both my kids were obsessed with the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe. We got a lot of mileage, ahem, out of that one!
1-YEAR-OLDS WILL PLAY WITH PRETTY TOYS TOO. And these will make their parents much happier. Simple wooden cars are nice, or stacking blocks. Or a pretty wooden rocking horse. A rocking toy is such a classic, and there are so many fun versions. Our executive editor’s mom got her grandson, Julian, this adroable one. Is it a dino or a dragon? Doesn’t matter—the birthday boy loved it!
This year I’m liking Woody the Rocking Horse because he’s a modern-looking but totally classic toy. He’s also only $80, which makes him as affordable as many of the big plastic toys. And he’s got a nice story; Prince Lionheart, the company that makes him, started off in 1973 making rocking horses, you can see their story here. Note: Woody is age-graded 18 months and up, so make sure you’re buying it for a kid heading toward his second birthday!
And good news! One of you lucky ducks will win a Prince Lionheart Woody the Rocking Horse of your very own. Just leave a comment below; you can post once a day through Wednesday. I’d appreciate it if you posted what your own 1-year-old loves to play with! Click here for the full rules. Goody luck!