The possibilities are seemingly limitless when you start considering what toys to put in your playroom for a toddler. Should they be learning colors and shapes? What will keep them happy and engaged? What toys will be more than a passing phase? There is a lot to consider, especially if you want to find things that will be well loved, grow with your child, and meet their developmental needs. To help you decide, we have put together information about the best developmental toys for toddlers.
Like babies, toddlers are still exploring their world. Now that they can walk and talk, their world is rapidly expanding. They start to be interested in things outside their home such as big trucks and animals at the zoo.
Toddler play is also starting to involve other people. They are growing more interested in playing alongside other people and interacting through play in simple ways.
The biggest hallmark of the toddler phase is the desire to do things independently. Instead of relying on others to meet all of their needs, toddlers begin to do things on their own. It is common to hear a lot of “No!” and “Me do it” during these years.
How do all of these things relate to toys?
What toddlers need for their development?
In their play environment, toddlers need:
- Engaging materials that stimulate curiosity and vocabulary, including shapes, numbers, letters, and colors.
- Open-ended toys that can be used in a social manner when desired.
- Materials to continue developing fine motor skills such as turning pages and holding drawing materials.
- Play materials placed on low open shelves so they can play independently.
- People who will respond to their needs and interact with them.
So what does this mean for your playroom?
If you have been following along with the Playroom 101 series you have a clean, attractive space and you are ready to add toys for your toddler. Now, what toys should you have available for them to play?
Toys for Building and Related Materials
Building is an excellent activity for developing hand-eye coordination, early math skills, and problem-solving skills. Blocks, Duplo’s, and Magna-Tiles are all excellent toys for this age. The best thing about any of these choices is that they will grow with your child. Young toddlers will bang them together and put them in and out of things, much like infants, but preschoolers will build castles with those very same materials. All along the way, your child will be developing important skills. Consider also including some trucks, Little People, pretend animals or trains in a basket nearby the building toys. As your child progresses through the toddler period, these will gradually get integrated into play together and offer more opportunities for imagination and language development. Here are some suggestions:
This classic wood block set includes 100 solid-wood blocks painted bright red, blue, yellow, and green. A versatile variety of shapes are included: rectangular prisms, cubes, cylinders, half circles, arches, and two different sizes of rectangular planks and triangles. A set of wooden blocks provides an opportunity for a child to pass the hours constructing towers, castles, towns, and more; Designed for children ages 2 and up, this set offers the opportunity for younger kids to practice their fine motor skills and experiment with the laws of physics while giving older kids an outlet for their creativity. Find here: United States | Canada | United Kingdom
Motivate young minds with this toddler-friendly assortment of LEGO DUPLO bricks and pieces. With endless hands-on creative possibilities, the developmental benefits are enormous. Fuel imaginations with 85 colorful bricks including fun pieces, such as a window, car, and 1-2-3 number bricks. With such a versatile toy, kids will never stop playing and learning. Find here: United States | Canada | United Kingdom
Each tile edge is magnetized so you can connect them to build anything you can imagine. If you can click it, you can create it! Not only are MAGNA-TILES fun, but they also help develop fine motor skills as kids stack, build, count, match and click together their creations. Find here: United States | Canada | United Kingdom
Creative Toys for Toddlers
Art materials are an important part of play starting in the toddler years. Crayons, markers, bingo dabbers, stickers and more offer opportunities to develop fine motor skills, learn about color, and develop creative expression.
My favorite art material for young toddlers is Dot Art Markers or Bingo Dabbers. They are washable, easy to use, and produce brilliant colors. If you aren’t comfortable with having them out and available at all times, put them on a shelf or in a cabinet nearby and make sure to pull out an art invitation at least a few times a week for your toddler. Find here: United States | Canada | United Kingdom
Pretend play toys for toddlers
One of my favorite milestones of the toddler age is the beginnings of pretend play. Most toddlers will start by imitating their parents. They will enjoy pretending to cook, talk on a cell phone, care for a baby, or do the other jobs they see parents and caregivers doing daily. At this age, pretend props and play will be simple. Some perfect pretend toys for this age include; bags or old purses, old hats, play food, old cell phones with batteries removed, and baby dolls.
We suggest to take a look more in depth depending on child’s age here:
And, also, you can check these ideas as well:
Toys for Fine Motor and Cognitive Play
Puzzles, large wooden lacing beads, peg boards and shape sorters are all important materials for toddlers. These are materials that will help develop hand-eye coordination, wrist rotation, and problem-solving skills. The toys in this category will be fascinating to your child while they are developing that particular skill and then will unfortunately completely lose their thrill. I usually looked for deals online or traded toys with friends in this category, especially puzzles, to save money. It should be noted however, that these toys can be re-purposed in creative ways when your child outgrows them for sensory play, art activities, more.
Puzzle Sets includes 6 pack wooden puzzles of different themes as well as a puzzle shelf to keep the wood puzzles within easy reach and maintain your playroom tidy by this metal puzzle rack. The kids puzzle set is not just a simple game, it is also an educational toy for toddlers aiming to help them study letters, numbers and shapes, as well as learn about animals, vehicles and dinosaurs. Find here: United States | Canada | United Kingdom
The Melissa and Doug Primary Lacing Beads set is composed of 30 brightly colored wooden beads in a variety of shapes, 2 colorful laces, and a wooden storage case. This set helps children develop strong fine motor, cognitive, and visual perception skills, while promoting hand-eye coordination. Find here: United States | Canada | United Kingdom
Both Fiction and Non-Fiction Books
Books are a must for all ages. For toddlers, you want a mixture of durable board books and picture books. Look for a combination of non-fiction books that will mostly focus on labeling objects and short, simple picture books. Here are few suggestions:
There is always time to read together with this collection of two-minute stories that your favorite two-year-old is sure to love. Includes classic stories, fairy tales, and new favorites such as Goldilocks, Four Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, Dinosaur Marching Band, Little Dragon Goes Fishing, and more! Find here: United States | Canada | United Kingdom
OTHER TOYS FOR YOUR TODDLERS
Hopefully, you found some ideas for your toddler on this page. If you want to focus more on a certain aspect of development, take a look at these collections of best toys depending on type:
- educational toys
- toys to promote gross motor skills
- pretend play toys
- toys to promote fine motor skills