Best Learning Toys for Toddlers
Give Santa a helping hand this year with this ultimate list of learning toys for toddlers.
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Gross Motor Toys for Toddlers
You probably don’t need me to remind you that toddlers need to MOVE! Provide lots of safe opportunities to balance, climb, and run — it is so important for their gross motor and vestibular development.
We bought this wobble board for our 22-month-old daughter this year, and it is perfect for her need to climb and balance.
Looking to have the coolest backyard in the neighborhood? This sturdy jungle gym is a winner with kids of all ages from toddlers through the elementary school years.
I know balance bikes are all the rage, but I once read an article by a pediatric occupational therapist that urged parents to stick with the traditional tricycle.
Apparently, toddlers really need to practice moving their limbs in opposite directions (aka pedaling).
We loved this trike because it came with a detachable handlebar for parents to push and steer. This made it MUCH easier to use for park trips and neighborhood strolls.
Fine Motor Toys for Toddlers
Puzzles are such a great option for developing fine motor skills. As toddlers practice the same puzzles over and over, they gain confidence and develop pride.
Haba Peg Puzzle
This Haba peg puzzle is AMAZING. I love watching my toddler working to put the rings on the pegs. The simple colors are also great for color matching.
Another bonus is that the rings and pegs can be repurposed into all sorts of play, from stacking games to sorting.
My toddler loves her AMOSTING Color Matching Mosaic Pegboard. It’s great for color matching and fine motor skills.
Rubbabu 3D Puzzle
I love this Rubbabu 3D puzzle and so does my toddler. The pieces are chunky and have an interesting texture. They are safe for chewing and smooshing, and the simple colors make them great for both learning words and colors.
Spike the Hedgehog
Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog is a simple fine motor toy for toddlers. It is an excellent toy to practice both counting and colors, and the pegs store inside the hedgehog making clean-up relatively simple.
Even toddlers can start playing with logic toys. These toys still get played with weekly in our house — they are a ton of fun!
Search & Match Puzzle
This tactile search & match puzzle is super fun. My three-year-old likes it when I set up a “challenge” for her, and then she has to move the pegs around until the colors match.
The blocks also come out and can be used to stack and build. This is a toy your toddler can grow into.
Day & Night Puzzle
This Day & Night puzzle by SmartGames is perfect for the youngest learners. My 1-year-old likes to practice stacking on the pegs while my 3 -year-old is able to complete the puzzles in the book.
These rainbow pebbles come with a set of pattern cards for matching, but they can be used in so many other ways. Dinosaur surfboards? Check.
Toddlers learn so much through imitation. These imaginative gift ideas will help your toddler learn through play!
Baby dolls aren’t just for little girls. Either of these soft and cuddly Wee Baby Dolls are perfect for toddlers — they have cuddly soft bodies (but no small parts) and lots of accessories to support imaginative play.
We have the baby Stella doll and it is a much-loved favorite in our house.
Splish Splash Sink
This Splish Splash Sink will keep your toddler occupied for HOURS. As long as you don’t mind a bit of water on your floor, this gift is a winner!
This is the ULTIMATE train set for your toddler. We still play with our Brio World Deluxe Set all the time, and I love how we can focus on the airport parts one week and the farm parts another week.
I did so much research when we decided to get a train set and train table for our playroom. I agonized over brand choices, but you don’t have to — this is the one to buy. They do make smaller sets, so start with those if money is tight.
Yes, Brio is on the pricier side but the quality is obvious. It’s an investment piece for sure, but if you start out with this set for your first kid, be assured that it will get a ton of play as they grow.
Interactive Toys for Toddlers
You’ve probably noticed that we prefer open-ended toys that require our kids to use their imaginations. We stay away from toys that just do one or two things.
That said, the following toys have gotten hours of play in our home and are worth checking out!
This Fat Brain Toys Spinagain toy is wildly popular in our house. Younger toddlers work on fine motor skills to stack the gears on the rod (and then dump them out…over and over and over). Older toddlers can start to match the colors and sizes.
Watching the gears spin off the rod is oddly mesmerizing — even the adults in our house love to play with this one. Best of all? No speakers, no flashing lights!
We don’t buy a lot of light-up toys for our kids, but the Playskool Busy Gears board was a total winner. Kids work out how to connect and stack pieces to make them spin. My toddler can play with this for nearly 30 minutes, aka #parentingwin.
If you’re like me, you’re judicious with the blinky-flashy toys that talk. We were gifted this tablet by the grandparents, I was initially a little annoyed — a tablet for a toddler?
But this Leapfrog 2-in-1 Tablet is kind of awesome, and my kids love it. It plays a lot of different songs about the alphabet and numbers, and I’m pretty sure it’s why my two-year-old could count to 20.
We save this toy for long car trips and I feel good about the rough treatment it gets because it’s actually surprisingly affordable.
I struggled with which category I should put these toys — imaginative? Fine motor? Interactive?
The bottom line is that building toys are the ultimate toy when it comes to versatility. From pretend kingdoms to physic experiments, these building toys do it all.
We bought a set of magnetic tiles when our toddler was two, and ever since, this has been my kids’ #1 favorite toy.
We have built so many castles, forts, trains, farms, roller skates (not recommended!), and other creations using these tiles.
I recommend that you bite the bullet and get a big set with plenty of tiles. Down the road, you can add a few expansion sets, like this racing set or this expansion pack with extra cars and curved pieces.
If you already have a set of magnetic tiles, check out this set of magnetic people or this set of extra magnetic cars.
Every home needs a set of wooden blocks. I love how sturdy these are and that the colors are just natural wood — we enough bright colors and flashing gizmos in our house.
Giant Cardboard Blocks
These giant cardboard blocks are so good. They are easy for toddlers to manipulate and light enough that no one will get hurt if they topple over.
We keep these outside in the garage, and they are sturdy enough for obstacle courses and balance activities.
Art and Sensory Materials
One of the most exciting parts about having a toddler is that they can finally start participating in art projects in a meaningful way (beyond just smearing taste-safe fingerpaint around).
Our Kid’s Easel gets a lot of use and makes it easy for my toddler to experiment with her art supplies.
Don’t forget to get the accessory kit so your little Picasso can get started right away.
Don’t overlook a classic. Playdough is an excellent way to build hand strength as well as to encourage sensory play.
I often use the holidays as an excuse to buy materials that I’d buy anyways throughout the year, like playdough. If you add in a set of Melissa & Doug’s playdough tools, you’ll be set for the year.
(Do yourself a favor and buy the wooden Melissa & Doug’s playdough tools; they are just so much more pleasant to work with.)
I love having some sort of sensory material on hand, whether it’s Floof, Kinetic Sand, or Mad Mattr.
It’s perfect for impromptu sensory bins and creating little worlds for their dinosaurs, farm animals, or sea creatures.
I wasn’t sure where a learning tower fit into this list, so I gave it a category all it’s own. I’ve been lusting after this thing for years.
This will help your toddler reach the counter while helping in the kitchen. I love that it folds up when not in use.
What are your favorite learning toys for toddlers?
Does your toddler have a favorite learning toy? Share in the comments or on Instagram @Simple_Tender_Joyful!
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This Holiday Gift Guide has lots of cute printables to keep track of your gift ideas for everyone on your list, as well as extra sheets to keep track of miscellaneous expenses, like holiday goodies, holiday cards, and wrapping paper. Best of all, it’s free!