Toddler Toys: The 20 Best Toddler Toys For Education and Growth

Toddler toys teach young children how to experience the world.

Do we ever really stop learning from toys?

If you want to support your toddler’s growth, education, and development, toys are a great place to start.

I’ve created a list of some of the most popular and recommended toys for toddler parents, perfect for hitting those educational milestones.

Blocks

Blocks are a classic educational toy that encourages children to think creatively and develop problem-solving skills.

They can also help fine-tune motor skills, as well as enhance hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness.

Plus, they’re fun! Look for blocks with lots of shapes, colors, and designs to keep your little one engaged.

1. Melissa Doug: Wooden Building Blocks

A lot of parents swear by Melissa & Doug because they offer a wide, exciting variety of toys for young children that are made out of wood — rather than plastic. They’re durable, safe, simple, and fun.

When you look for blocks, look for something that can take a tumble. You want large blocks that your child isn’t going to eat and won’t get damaged when they (inevitably) scatter across the floor.

2. Mega Blocks: Build n Tumble Table

Introduce your child to the concept of Lego bricks early and safely with Mega Bloks. This “Build n Tumble” table will build physical dexterity while also giving a child the opportunity for imaginative play, as there are little figures that can be positioned along their playset.

Puzzles

Puzzles can be a great toddler toy. They help develop problem-solving skills, introduce concepts like matching and sorting, and also build cognitive skills such as memory and concentration.

Look for puzzles with large pieces that are easy for small hands to manipulate. A puzzle for a toddler isn’t complicated. Often it’s just a shape sorter.

Themed puzzles featuring animals are often a hit. A toddler is probably too young to have a huge affinity for pop culture, but a Disney or Pixar-themed puzzle could become a favorite toy for the right child.

3. Toy Life: Animal Puzzles for Toddlers

Your toddler will have lots of fun assembling these animals… whether they assemble them correctly or not. These brightly-colored puzzles are perfect for small hands.

Assemble these with your toddler while talking about each animal. You’ll have your child naming different types of animal in no time at all.

4. Toy Life: Food Puzzles for Toddlers

Go a little more creative and three-dimensional. This puzzle playset uses common objects to teach your child about shapes and colors.

Try to walk your child through creating a simple meal. You’ll start the cooking bug early.

Dolls

Dolls and action figures can spark your child’s imagination and encourage pretend play, which is important for social development. There’s a reason why they’re such a classic toy.

They also help children learn to empathize with others by playing out various real-life scenarios.

Choose age-appropriate dolls that will be safe for your child to play with, such as soft cloth dolls that they can cuddle and dress. Not every action hero is appropriate for little hands; err on the side of a stuffed animal if you aren’t sure.

5. Cabbage Patch Kids: Cabbage Patch Doll

For generations, these dolls have been inspiring imagination and empathy. There are tons of different Cabbage Patch dolls to choose from in a wide array of outfits and styles.

Cabbage Patch dolls are particularly great for toddlers because they’re made out of soft materials without any choking hazards.

6. CoComelon: Doctor

Toys are a great way to relate to the world. In this case, a CoComelon fan can learn to be less afraid of the doctor by gaining familiarity with things like bandaids.

And, of course, this is one of those that will be particularly popular for those who watch the show.

Musical toys

Music is a great way to introduce early language and literacy skills. Look for toys that make music when played with, like xylophones or drums.

Or you can find interactive toys that respond to input from the child, like push-button instruments that play a variety of familiar songs.

Your child isn’t going to start guitar riffs at this age. But they will start to manipulate the world around them and become attuned to different sounds.

7. Piano Mats

There are tons of different piano mats to choose from. All of them ring out a loud, clear sound when your child walks across them — encouraging them to learn the different notes and start to create their own little tunes.

There are also little “dance pads” for particularly dextrous toddlers. These pads really build up your child’s walking skills.

8. Musical Caterpillar

A musical caterpillar xylophone offers toddlers an engaging, colorful experience, encouraging creativity, hand-eye coordination, and auditory development. This versatile toy fosters exploration, cognitive growth, and early musical appreciation in a fun, interactive manner.

Books

Books will help your child develop early language and literacy skills, as well as introduce them to age-appropriate stories.

You might be surprised to find out that there are books for toddlers! They’re full of bright shapes, colors, and textures.

While your child certainly cannot read, they can learn to explore a “book,” which they’ll be doing a lot of in the future.

9. Animal Sound Book

This animal sound book starts acclimating your toddler early to different sounds, letters, and words. As they press on animals, the sounds are played.

Your child will start to connect the words, sounds, and letters as they play with the book. There are a lot of variations of this type of book so your toddler doesn’t get bored.

10. Montessori Quiet Book

This quiet book is filled with colors and textures that will delight a child and get them used to the format. These soft books can also give you a break, as your child will concentrate on them while you can work on other things like chores.

Balls

Let’s take an old classic.

Balls are great for enhancing physical development, as well as teaching children about the concepts of rolling, bouncing, and throwing.

Look for balls that produce sounds when bounced or rolled to keep your little one engaged and entertained.

But always remember that if something’s in your toddler’s hand, it’s probably going to be in their mouth next. Keep things clean!

11. Shake Dancing Play Toy

This toy can be endlessly entertaining, teaching a child to explore different sounds, colors, and shapes. More in line for a younger toddler but entertaining even to adults.

When looking for toys for a young toddler, always remember that you need to find something that they can chew on, too. Because they will.

Play sets

A play set is generally an entire suite of toys targeted to a specific age. And often, it’s the best gift or all-around educational toy because it contains a lot of things. A play set may include a few plush toys, a musical toy, and many interactive devices.

If you want to get educational toys all in a single set, consider a play set. It will help your toddler build hand-eye coordination and imaginative play.

12. Fisher Price Play Set: Food Truck

Launch their culinary dreams. Or just give them something exciting to play with. This Fisher Price play set is a great example: it includes a variety of tactile and imaginative toys that your child won’t want to walk away from.

There are other, similar sets for other things, like cars that your child can “work” on, and full kitchens your child can run.

Miscellaneous Toddler Toys

13. Fisher Price Shape Sorter

Shape sorters are excellent tools for developing problem-solving, shape recognition, and hand-eye coordination. By manipulating the pieces and matching them to the appropriate openings, toddlers learn to identify shapes and enhance their spatial reasoning, contributing to their overall cognitive development.

14. Stacking Building Blocks

Stacking building blocks improve hand-eye coordination, size differentiation, and fine motor skills. Toddlers learn to recognize patterns and relationships between objects, understand the concept of size, and develop the dexterity needed for more complex tasks.

15. Toy Kitchen Sets

Toy kitchen sets foster imaginative play, social skills, and language development. Pretend cooking and serving meals allow toddlers to explore real-life situations, practice sharing and cooperation, and expand their vocabulary, all while having fun.

16. Play dough/modeling clay

Playing with dough or modeling clay boosts creativity, fine motor skills, and tactile exploration. Manipulating the materials helps toddlers develop hand strength and dexterity, while the open-ended nature of the activity encourages imaginative play and experimentation with shapes and textures.

17. Wooden Walking Pull Dog Toy

Pull-along or push toys support the development of gross motor skills, balance, and walking proficiency. They provide toddlers with a sense of independence and encourage exploration, while also helping to build leg strength and coordination.

18. Wooden Activity Cube

Activity cubes engage multiple senses, enhance problem-solving, and promote hand-eye coordination. With various activities on each side, these toys encourage curiosity, stimulate cognitive development, and refine fine motor skills as toddlers interact with the different features.

19. Magnetic Drawing Board

Magnetic drawing boards develop creativity, hand-eye coordination, and pre-writing skills. By experimenting with lines and shapes, toddlers practice fine motor control, build visual-spatial skills, and gain confidence in their artistic abilities.

20. Finger Puppets

Finger puppets foster imagination, storytelling, and social skills. Through creative play, toddlers develop language and narrative abilities, learn to express emotions, and build empathy as they act out scenarios and engage with their playmates.

Real-world experiences for toddlers

For a toddler, there’s not much difference between a toy and a rock. And maybe there shouldn’t be!

Along with finding toys for your toddler, take the time to go outside and explore nature. Visit libraries or take a walk in the park. These activities will be just as beneficial for your child’s development as a toy.

For a child, just handing them leaves of different shapes and colors is extremely engaging. Explain to your child different types of plants — your toddler doesn’t have to understand yet. Run your child’s hand through a stream of water and explain the water current.

A toddler doesn’t understand. But they can still engage and interact. Children learn by doing. And they learn more than you think.

So, when you’re out and about with your child, you’re setting critical development stages that will carry them forward for the rest of their academic lives!

What aren’t great toys for toddlers?

Avoid toys with small pieces that can be choking hazards, as well as any toys with sharp edges or corners. Also, avoid anything that’s too loud or emits a flashing light. Finally, stay away from anything that requires a great deal of adult assistance to play. While you want to play with your child, you also want to foster their independence.

The elephant in the room: What about apps?

While there are some educational apps that may aid your child’s development, nothing beats the benefits of real-world play. Toys that encourage physical interaction and social interaction are essential for proper growth and development in toddlers.

A lot of people really believe that “toddler age” is too young to introduce screen time. Screen time can be addictive, and we still aren’t sure exactly how it affects young minds.

While you may be tempted to put your child “on the screen” from time to time (and who doesn’t), make sure they’re always supervised and that you carefully curate what they do and watch.

No parent is a bad parent for giving their kid some screen time, but the jury is still out on whether toddlers can really process this information effectively.

Conclusion: It’s time to start with educational play

These are just a few examples of the best toddler toys that you can find to help support your child’s growth, education, and development.

Toddlers can grow quite a lot with the simplest things, from a cardboard box to a really great rock that they’ve found. The determining factor isn’t the toys you buy — it’s how you help them play with them.

Whether coloring a color book (very sloppily) or playing with action figures, you show your toddler how to interact with their world. In that sense, a lot of things can make excellent toddler toys.

FAQs

What is an appropriate toy for a 1-year-old?

Toys for one-year-olds should be simple and easy to manipulate. Look for toys with bright colors and pictorial representations of everyday items, like blocks or puzzles. Soft toys that are easy to cuddle, as well as musical instruments that respond to touch, can also be great choices.

What toys should by 2-year-old be playing with?

At two years old, your child should be able to engage in more advanced pretend play. Look for dolls and action figures that will help spark their imagination, as well as puzzles with larger pieces that are easy for small hands to manipulate. Balls and books can also be great choices at this age.

What toys do toddlers actually need?

Encourage physical interaction, social interaction, exploration, and general imaginative play! Toys with bright colors, sounds, textures, and interactive features are great — just check to label to make sure they’re age-appropriate and safe.

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