What are the best toys for toddlers? Toddlers are little explorers who learn by doing. Play gives your child a great opportunity to develop and practice new skills at her own pace by following their interests. The toys and playthings your child has available can shape their development in important ways.
While it may seem like choosing toys for toddlers should be easy, as you walk into a toy store today, the only thing that’s easy is feeling overwhelmed. There is a huge amount of toys that have been developed for the toddler market.
How do you choose which are right for your child?
How can you tell which are high quality and which will last?
Which toy will engage your child’s interest for more than a few days or weeks?
Below are some ideas for choosing toys that will grow with your child, challenge them, and nurture their overall development ( thinking, physical, language and social-emotional skills).
Tips For Choosing The Best Toys for Toddlers
Choose toys that can be used in a variety of ways.
Toddlers love to take apart, put back together, pull out, put in, add on, and build up. Choose toys that are “open-ended” in the sense that your child can play many different games with them. For example, wooden blocks or chunky plastic interlocking blocks can be used to make a road, a zoo, a bridge, or a spaceship. Toys like this spark your child’s imagination and help him develop problem-solving and logical thinking skills.
Best toys for toddlers examples:
Building Blocks, interlocking blocks, nesting blocks or cups, and toys for sand and water play
Plus Look for toys that will grow with your child.
Everyone has had the experience of buying a toy that our child plays with for two days and never touches again. You can guard against that by looking for toys that can be fun at different developmental stages. For example, small plastic animals are fun for a young toddler who may make a shoebox house for them. However an older toddler can use them to act out a story they make up.
Some Examples of these are:
Plastic toy animals and action figures, toddler-friendly dollhouses, trains and other vehicles, stuffed animals and dolls.
Choose toys that encourage exploration and problem-solving.
Play gives children the chance to practice new skills over and over again. Toys that give kids a chance to figure something out on their own. Or with a little coaching to build their logical thinking skills and help them become persistent problem-solvers. They also help children develop spatial relations skills. This understanding how things fit together, along with hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills is a great thing to build on.
Best toys for toddlers for Problem-solving :
Puzzles, shape-sorters, blocks, nesting blocks or cups, art materials like clay, paint, crayons or play-dough
Look for toys that spark your child’s imagination.
During your child’s toddler years, their creativity is really taking off as they are now able to take on the role of someone else. They can be a king and imagine that something like a block is actually a piece of cake. Look for toys that your child can use as they develop and act out stories. Pretend play builds language and literacy skills. As well as problem-solving skills, and the ability to put events in a logical order.
Best toys for toddlers play Examples:
Dress-up clothing, blocks, toy food and plastic plates, action figures, stuffed animals and dolls, trains and trucks, toddler-friendly dollhouses, toy tools, and “real-life” accessories such as a wrapping paper tube “fire hose” for your little fire fighter. The all-purpose large cardboard box is always a big hit for toddlers and is free. (Call an appliance store about picking up one of their refrigerator boxes). Boxes become houses, pirate ships, barns, tunnels—anything your child’s imagination can come up with!
Also let your child have the chance to play with “real” stuff. Or toys that look like the real thing.
Your toddler is getting good at figuring out how objects in her world work,like television remotes or light switches. She is also interested in playing with your “real” stuff, like your cell phone. This is because she is eager to be big and like you. Toys like this help children problem-solve, learn how things fit together, and develop fine motor skills are great. A great example would be a kitchen set or tool kit.
Plastic dishes and food, toy keys, toy phone, dress-up clothes, musical instruments, child-size brooms, mops, brushes and dustpans
Also look at getting ready to read toys.
Books, magnetic alphabet letters, and art supplies like markers, crayons, and finger paints help your child develop early writing and reading skills. “Real-life” props like take-out menus, catalogs, or magazines are fun for your child to look at and play with. These also build familiarity with letters, text, and print.
Find toys that encourage your child to be active.
Toddlers are doing all kinds of physical tricks as they are stronger and more confident with their bodies. Your job is to be an appreciative audience for your little one’s newest playground achievement! Look for toys that help your child practice current physical skills and develop new ones.
Examples of active toys:
Balls of different shapes and sizes, tricycles or three-wheeled scooters (with appropriate protective gear), plastic bowling sets, child-size basketball hoop, pull-toys, wagons to fill and pull, gardening tools to dig and rake with, tunnels to crawl through.
Look for toys that nurture cross-generational play.
While adults and children can play almost anything together, there are some toys that are designed for adult participation. As your child approaches age 3 and beyond, early board games. Those that involve using one’s memory or simple board games that do not require reading. These are fun for all ages to play. Consider starting a “family game night” when all of you play together.
Board games encourage counting, matching, and memory skills, as well as listening skills and self-control. This is because children learn to follow the rules. They also nurture language and relationship-building skills. Another important benefit is teaching children to be good winners and good loosers as well.
Questions on Choosing Best Toys for Toddlers That Many Parents Ask
What are the benefits of sounds, lights, and music?
Many toys for toddlers have buttons, levers, lights, music, etc. Often these toys are marketed as developmental because the toy has so many different functions. Unfortunately, this often has the opposite effect for the child. The more a toy does, the less your child has to do. If your child can sit and watch the toy perform, then it is likely more entertaining than educational. By this i mean if by pressing just a button the toy runs through a sequences of lights with music. Then all the child learns is to press a button.
In addition, these toys can be confusing to a child who is learning cause-and-effect. If a toy randomly starts playing music, or it is unclear which button made the lights start flashing, then your child is not learning which of his actions produced the lights and music. In short, the most useful toys are those that require the most action on the part of a young child.
The more children have to use their minds and bodies to make something work, the more they learn.
Can toys actually make my baby smarter?
Most products that make claims about making your child smarter have not been proven to increase children’s intelligence. In fact, safe household items like plastic bowls for filling and dumping, pillows for climbing and piling up to make a cave, old clothing for dressing up are often the best learning tools. Remember, the more your child has to use their mind and body to problem solve and develop their own ideas, the more they learn.