In today’s article, we will explore some of the best STEM toys for 1-year-olds.
Introducing your little one to STEM-related toys, activities, and books at an early age is great for their development. Though it may not turn your child into Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, it can help broaden their horizon and potentially cultivate a passion for these subjects
It’s never too early to get your child excited about STEM. We tested and reviewed multiple STEM toys for kids and rounded up the 10 best STEM toys for 1-year-old babies.
- Wooden Blocks for 1-Year-Olds
- Gift Ideas for 1-Year-Old Girls
- Gift Ideas for 1-Year-Old Boys
- Water Tables for 1-Year-Olds
Best STEM Toys for 1-Year-Olds
1. Best STEM Sorting Toy for 1-Year-Olds
Best Multi-Purpose STEM toy that enhances your toddler’s logical thinking skills
STEM Value – There are only limited options of STEM puzzles for 1-year-olds as most puzzles contain small parts. This STEM Stacking and Sorting board is made for kids one-year or older and has a lot going for it. It teaches colors, numbers, and geometric shapes. These lay a good foundation for your little one to learn math in the future. On top of that, the stacking and sorting activities enhance your kiddo’s logical thinking skills and organization skills.
Entertaining – Though this toy doesn’t have flashy lights or upbeat sound effects, the different shapes and colors are appealing to one-year-olds. Many parents say that it keeps their toddlers interested and engaged. Some 1-year-olds are able to put the blocks on the pegs occasionally.
Parent-friendliness – Thanks to the stacking pegs, organizing all the color blocks is not difficult. On top of that, the board only measures 12 by 3 inches, so that it doesn’t take too much space. The challenge is when you need to bring the toy somewhere else. Since it doesn’t come with a case or box, you need to use a plastic bag or the packaging box to hold all the pieces together.
Overall – The Wooden Stacking and Sorting Board by Revanak is a great starter STEM toy that is suitable for 12-month-olds. It’s a great tool to get them started with recognizing patterns, counting numbers, and matching shapes.
2. Best Montessori Board for 1-Year-Olds
A Montessori busy board loaded with activities to stimulate your kiddo’s senses and teach everyday objects
STEM Value – Bells, switches, latches…this is not your typical baby toy. This unique engineering-themed busy board is a great tool for your baby to learn about engineering. This board offers 14 different activities. Your baby can learn how to tie a shoelace, how to open a lock with a key, how to secure a door latch and more.
Entertaining – With 14 different parts, this activity board is capable of keeping your little one engaged for hours and hours. The greatest thing is that all these activities are widely different so that your kiddo won’t get bored too soon. They also provide great tools to strengthen your baby’s fine motor skills as she tries to maneuver the gears.
Parent-friendliness – The board is made with smooth edges and eco-friendly material that is safe for your kiddo. The size is also great for parents to carry or move around. The downside, however, is that the board is filled with gears. So if your little one falls and lands on the board, it will be very painful. In addition, this toy weighs 4 pounds.
Overall – The Wooden Montessori Board by BrainUp Toys is a fancy STEM toy that is great to keep one-year-old busy. On top of introducing mechanical parts, it strengthens your little one’s fine motor skills. It’s well-made and has a nice presence when given as a gift. But it also comes at a high price.
3. Best Engineering STEM Toy for 1-Year-Olds
A fun STEM toy to introduce engineering concepts to toddlers while keeping them behaved during bathtime
STEM Value – For 1-year-olds, their main way of playing with this toy is to pour water and observe how water moves. This toy might be more fun for older toddlers around 2 to 3 years old as they will be able to assemble the components together. However, this toy can show many different ways of how water moves and teaches simple engineering concepts such as gravity and floating. Once your baby gets older, you will be surprised how eager they are to try assembling these parts by themselves.
Entertaining – It’s fascinating for little kids to see the different forms of water movements, especially to see the floating ball raises up when they add water to the toy. Additionally, all three ends of the toy can be rotated 360 degrees. Therefore, it encourages creativity and trial and error. Many parents are pleased how much their kids love to play with it during bath time.
Parent-friendliness – The toy itself is small, only measures 11 by 13 inches, and weighs 13 ounces. However, this toy consists of 11 parts. So besides assembling, disassembling it, you also need to have a good way to store all the parts so they don’t get lost. Additionally, for all water toys, mold is always a big problem. However, unlike squirting toys, this one has lots of big openings, so mold is generally not a big issue.
Overall – This engineering-based Bath Time Toy is made with pipes, valves, a sprinkler, and a paddlewheel. By pouring water in and observing how it flows, your child gets to learn about water flow and movement. All in all, this toy makes one of the best STEM toys for 1-year-old babies to learn about physics.
4. Best Open-Ended STEM Toy for 1-Year-Olds
One of the few open-ended STEM toys that are actually entertaining and inviting to 1-year-old
STEM Value – As much as parents want to introduce open-ended toys to 1-year-olds, the challenge is that these little toddlers are more attracted to sounds and flashy lights. This is mainly because of their limited motor skills and cognitive skills. The Goobi Magnetic Sticks, however, have caught 1-year-old’s attention. With your demonstration, your little one can observe the different geometric shapes. This also helps her understand spacial relations.
Entertaining – The bright colors, rounded shapes, great-size of the sticks are all scoring points for 1-year-olds. In the beginning, they may not understand what to do with them. But once you do a little demo for them, their imagination and creativity will run wild. As a matter of fact, they will be even more attracted to this toy as they grow older. Plus, this toy is entertaining to parents and is a great tool to bond with your kiddo.
Parent-friendliness – This toy has many options: 40 pcs, 70pcs, 110pcs, and 300 pcs. And they all come with a storage box, which makes it easy to organize all the parts together and bring to other places. Additionally, the magnets are very strong so that picking up the parts is much easier. The ratings and feedback from parents are exceptional for this toy. That’s how it got a 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Overall – The Goobi Magnetic Construction Sticks help your little engineer understand the concept of shapes and assembling an item. It is definitely one of the best STEM toys for 1-year-old toddlers to exercise their creativity.
5. Best STEM Learning Table for 1-Year-Olds
An exceptional activity table that can be used in multiple ways and perfect for sharing
STEM Value – Babies are born with a curious mind. They have millions of questions about this world. Why not let them explore by using their hands? This activity is packed with gears and gadgets for your baby to discover and investigate. Your little one can learn how to turn on and off a light, how to adjust a slider, how to spin the gears and so much more! There is also an erasable whiteboard for your baby to express her creativity.
Entertaining – This learning table is not only a learning toy but is also big enough to share with siblings or friends. Through interacting with other kids, your kiddo practices his communication skills and teamwork skills. It also keeps them more engaged as babies are born social animals.
Parent-friendliness – This learning table measures 24 inches tall and the base takes 18 inches by 28 inches. Therefore, it is by no means a small toy. However, it only weighs 5 pounds so that you can easily move it from place to place. Additionally, all the parts are securely attached to the table so it eliminates parents’ biggest headache about toys – scattered toys all over the house.
Overall – The Curiosity Learning Table by Baby Einstein is a versatile STEM toy suitable for young toddlers. Thanks to its flexible design, it will grow with your little one for many years to come.
6. Best STEM Activity Center for 1-Year-Olds
The best activity center for one-year-olds to explore and discover new things
STEM Value – It’s easy to see that this toy is loaded with STEM activities. It features gliders, spinning dials, bead runs, gears that can help enhance your baby’s cognitive skills and motor skills. Most of all, the palette is full of bright colors to grab your kiddo’s attention instantly and invites her to explore. It’s a great toy to sparkle curiosity.
Entertaining – This activity center is perfect for babies who can stand or walk on their own. It is made with non-toxic wood and decorated with bright and fun colors. The only downside is that when your kiddo uses it to pull themselves up, the activity center may tip over and lead to a fall injury.
Parent-friendliness – This activity center measures 23 inches tall and 18 inches wide. It doesn’t take a whole lot of space but they do come bigger as most parents expected. All the parts are easy to put together and require a screwdriver.
Overall – The Tree Top Adventure Activity Center is widely used in many daycare centers as it offers a lot of things for kids to do. The most important thing is that it invites your little one to explore and encourages her to stay curious about this world.
7. Best STEM Bead Maze for 1-Year-Olds
A colorful STEM toy focused on teaching kids math and counting
STEM Value – This toy features different bead tracks and sliding bead rails to boost your little one’s sense of counting. This toy is designed to help develop your baby’s math skills. On top of that, when your kiddo is ready, you can use it to teach him how to read a clock.
Entertaining – Comparing to many other STEM toys, this one is geared towards teaching math and numbers. For twelve-month-olds, it may not seem as fun and entertaining. However, their interest will grow as they get older. The age range for this toy is one to ten years.
Parent-friendliness – What many parents love the most about this bead maze is the easiness to organize and store. The bead tracks can be detached and stored inside the case. That way, the entire toy only measures 12″ by 10″ by 11″.
Overall – The Bead Maze by Top Right is a great STEM toy for kids to learn math and read the time. That’s why many parents and teachers use it to facilitate teaching.
8. Best STEM Toy for 1-Year-Olds to Learn Hand Tools
A fun and cuddly toy to introduce your kiddo hand tools and sparkle imagination
STEM Value – These plush hand tools are a great way to introduce your little one to the different types of hand tools. Not only will your baby practice how to use them, but they also encourage imagination through pretend play. Growing up, everyone is encouraged to use their hands and take a do-it-yourself approach. This toy lays a good foundation and makes your little one more open-minded about making their own stuff.
Entertaining – These toys not only have a realistic look, but they also make realistic sound effects. The color is delightful and vibrant and the material is soft on your kiddo’s skin. That’s why one-year-old kids love to hold them in addition to banging them on other toys.
Parent-friendliness – Parents usually don’t worry about potential injuries when it comes to plush toys. Another good thing about this toy is that all tools can fit inside the bag so that either you or your little tot can carry it easily. Some parents do complain that the sound doesn’t always work properly.
Overall – The Plush Hand Tool Set is a wonderful STEM toy for one-year-old boys and girls to get comfortable with the do-it-yourself concept. They are cuddly and adorable. Therefore, they make a great learning tool as well as a gift for special occasions.
9. Best Smart Home STEM Toy for 1-Year-Olds
A brilliantly-designed mini smart home packed with technologies and toys for curious toddlers
STEM Value – Smart homes are not only for adults. Your little one can have a smart home too! This interactive smart home center has “high-tech” amenities: smart home hubs, thermostat, learning center, solar panel, a tick-tock clock…you name it! It introduces your little homeowner to all the elements of a house.
Entertaining – This toy is easy for your little one to get started because most parts resemble a real house. Therefore, your kiddo feels more comfortable playing with it. Not only that your baby can play with the activities on the house, but they can also use it as an activity gym by crawling through the gate or standing by the window. It definitely has enough different activities to keep your toddler and her friends busy for a long time.
Parent-friendliness – This toy is 22″ tall and measures 44″ long and 39″ wide. So make sure that you have enough space in the house before you make the purchase. One feedback some parents brought up to us is that the mailbox latch tends to break easily. It will be dangerous if your baby gets a hold of it.
Overall – The Smart Learning Home is more than just a STEM toy for your baby’s brain development. It is also an activity gym and a pretend play toy. We don’t recommend though if space comes at a premium for you.
10. Best Portable STEM Toy for 1-Year-Olds
A portable STEM toy to bring learning activities to a road trip
STEM Value – If you are looking for something to keep your little tot engaged on a road trip, try this 6-in-1 Activity Cube. This cube has 6 different activities from a Colorful Spinner, Time Telling Clock, Lacing Beads, Maze, bright Sorter, Gear Wheels. Parents can help introduce kids to keeping time and solving problems when playing with the maze.
Entertaining – The appearance of this toy may not be as appealing as many other bright-colored toys but it’s every bit a fun. The six sides offer enough items to attract your kids’ attention. Though parents should watch out for choking hazards as some parents say the small parts come off easily.
Parent-friendliness – The greatest benefit for parents is that it is super portable. No matter you are going out to a restaurant or going to a friend’s house, your little one will be busy playing with it while you get to relax and take a break.
Overall – The 6-in-1 Activity Cube doesn’t require a stable environment or hard-surfaced support. Therefore, it provides ample flexibility in terms of where and how to play with it. Bring it with you for a road trip with your kiddo as it is one of the best STEM toys for 1-year-old babies for road trips.
Guide to Selecting the Best STEM Toys for 1-Year-Olds
Many parents don’t realize the amazing benefits of introducing STEM toys to their kids. For those who do, they worry that it’s still too early to introduce STEM learning toys to their one-year-old babies.
Well, there is some truth to it as the Toy Association thinks that the best age to introduce a STEM toy is five and half years. But do you know that kids start learning and observing the world from infancy and their curiosity can be cultivated through playing with toys? That’s why introducing age-appropriate STEM toys to one-year-old will give them a headstart and make STEM toys more acceptable to them as they grow older.
To select the best STEM toys for your one-year-old kiddo, these are the four things to keep in mind.
1. The best STEM toy for one-year-olds must be age-appropriate
Age-appropriate toys do not only match a kid’s intellectual level and physical abilities but also minimize the risk of toy-related accidents. To choose the best STEM toy for one-year-old, you need to understand 1-year-olds’ developmental milestones. At this age, your baby starts to explore things in different ways beyond touching and holding them. She can shake toys, bang toys, and throw toys away. Therefore, stay away from toys that have sharp edges, loose parts, or break easily.
In addition, your little bundle of joy is starting to recognize items by their names and can take things into and out of a container. That’s why they start being interested in stacking and sorting toys.
One-year-olds are also learning to pull up to stand or walk along furniture. Therefore, always test if a toy can tip over because your little one likes to pull herself up using her toys. Some toys have uneven surfaces and this may cause pain and injury should your little tot falls and lands on them.
2. The best STEM toys must be related to STEM disciplines and fun
It’s a no-brainer that a STEM toy must be related to any of the Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics subject. The most popular STEM toys for toddlers and school-aged kids are building toys, science labs, robotic toys, puzzles, and smart devices. However, the challenge for choosing a STEM toy for a one-year-old is that kids at this age are not capable of understanding this subject or safely playing with such toys. Therefore, the best STEM toys for small toddlers are water pipes, sorting-board, activity centers, and so on. Their main purpose is to sparkle imagination and introduce simple and easy engineering concepts.
3. The best STEM toys must encourage open-ended play and cultivate curiosity
What are open-ended toys? An open-ended toy can be played in many different ways and requires kids’ imagination and to think out of the box. For example, puzzles and magnetic sticks are open-ended toys whereas a crawling ball is not. A great STEM toy should allow kids ample room to figure things out and use their creativity.
4. It’s more beneficial for parents to participate and play STEM toys together with one-year-olds
One-year-olds are not quite ready yet to play with STEM toys on their own. For one, they are not intellectually developed enough to figure things out. On top of that, they are generally more attracted to sounds and lights, therefore, they won’t automatically develop an interest in STEM toys.
Parents’ guidance and participation can shape how receptive your kiddo is to STEM toys. Through playing together, your baby observes how you do things and can copy accordingly. Don’t forget that copying other people’s behaviors is one-year-old’s strong suit.
Playing with your kiddo together also helps establish a stronger emotional bond and help boost your child’s confidence.
FAQ’s About STEM Toys
What Are STEM Toys and STEAM Toys?
STEM is just an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Occasionally, you may come across the term “STEAM”, in which the “A” means Arts. STEM toys are nothing but toys that help promote a child’s interest in STEM disciplines and help them develop STEM related skills. Additionally, a STEM toy trains your child’s logical thinking and reasoning skills.
What Are the Benefits of STEM Toys?
The main benefits-of-stem-toys are to provide your child exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics disciplines. In addition, they promote your kiddo’s critical thinking skills and help develop specific skill sets in STEM subjects. But that is not all. They also nourish confidence in your child and help them learn to accept failure.
What Is the Best Age to Introduce STEM Toys?
According to a recent study by the Toy Association, toy experts agree that five and half is the most ideal age to get children started on their future career plans. That is also a great time to start letting your child play with STEM toys. If so, then why many parents start introducing STEM toys to their 1-year-old toddlers? Even though small kids are not capable of playing with STEM toys independently, an early introduction helps develop their acceptance of difficult disciplines and cultivate their curiosity.
Therefore, STEM toys are still beneficial for 1-year-olds when parents provide adequate guidance.
Where Can I Buy STEM Toys?
If you are interested in exploring STEM toys at stores that specialize in selling learning and developmental toys, some of the most well-known stores are Fat Brain Toys, The STEM Store, KiwiCo, etc. Though many toys they sell are also available on Amazon. Some companies like Kiwico specialize in toy subscriptions so that you become a paying member and receive toys periodically rather than selecting a toy on your own.
There are lots of benefits of introducing learning toys and developmental toys to make playtime more productive. STEM toys are not only for entertainment but also help you raise a smart kid. Here at Little Discoverer, our toy experts will continuously monitor the toy market and update our recommendations for the best STEM toys for one-year-olds.
Cecilia Yeung is a successful entrepreneur and product researcher. She has a background in psychology and children’s education. As a working mother of two, she loves to write about children’s education and development.