PLEASE NOTE: A far more updated and complete gift guide for toddlers can be found at on my website. My other toys for toddlers list is updated annually.
The following post is from 2016:
Looking for toys for toddlers? Check out these 15 ideas!
I love giving the perfect gift – hunting down the just right present for my loved ones. Buying for toddlers is no different: I want to give them things they will love, treasure, and will inspire loads of play.
When I’m looking for toys for toddlers, I’m thinking one thing: longevity.
My favorite toys for toddlers are open ended toys that have hundreds of possible play options and years of life to them. I’m trying to get the most out of each toy we have in our house so I don’t have room for things like a light up electric toy saxophone that plays four loud songs and will be outgrown tomorrow. A bag of wooden blocks? Now we’re talking longevity, play potential, and options for days…
Check out these 15 Best Toys for Toddlers to grow with.
My check list for toys:
- Noise free
- Battery free
- Educational in some way
- Imagination inspiring
- “Growable” (how many years can they play with this toy?)
In random order, my Busy Toddler Gift Guide: Open ended toys with lots of life to them, tons of bang for your buck, and meant to grow with your toddler.
Melissa and Doug Wooden Blocks – Like I was saying, blocks have longevity. Blocks are open ended. Blocks inspire a million different ways to create, build and imagine. Babies love them. Toddlers love them. I had a bin of them in my first grade classroom and they were a “played with every day” toy. And remember blocks go way beyond “play”. This is geometry they are building with and those connections will click (eventually…).
Classic Hardwood Learning Toys – Lakeshore graciously sent me a set of these puzzles to enjoy. All thoughts are my own. These puzzle toys are AWESOME. Sorting (check), fractions (check check), counting and number skills (check check check). They’re for ages 2+ and there’s a long future ahead for these in our house. These puzzles are from Lakeshore and come in a set or are sold separately.
Janod Barnyard Magnets – Full disclosure, I am a sucker for magnets. I love the versatility. Use them on the fridge, use them on a cookie sheet, use them to sort, use them to play with, trace them, oh my stars, I am getting myself all magnet worked up. I especially love this set because the pieces make a really nice farm/barnyard set up when it’s put together and who doesn’t need a magnet hay bail or tractor?
Hape Tool Box – I can’t imagine toddler life around here without any of the THREE tool boxes we have (insert cry laughing emoji here because that about sums up my life with three tool boxes). I give these out as birthday gifts all the time (to toddler boys AND toddler girls!) and always hear great reviews.
Lego Duplo – Wanna talk longevity? The Lego Duplo set that my toddlers adore is the same set my former kindergartners played with every day. I know they are a great buy because I’ve seen six and seven year old still building with them so I’m happy to invest in them with the toddler crowd. Plus, Lego Bath anyone?
Melissa and Doug Shape Sorting Clock – This little clock has a lot going for it: It’s a shape sorter first and foremost. The little blocks are fabulous for stacking, sorting, and putting back together. PLUS, it’s exposure to something our toddlers will use down the road so I see a future in it. I know they aren’t totally the same, but you could definitely do my Shape Match activity with this clock (wink wink).
Plan Toys Assorted Fruits and Vegetables – Imaginary play anyone? Sorting tops and bottoms? Making salads? Practicing life skills? Oh goodness so much learning in just a few blocks of wood! With or without a play kitchen, these kinds of toys are great for creative play.
Leap Frog Fridge Magnets – I’m going to break my noise rule with this one, but it’s for a good cause. We have LOVED having this toy even though it’s a noisy one. It comes with magnetic letters (see the letter B in the picture?). When you set them in the school bus and press down, it identifies the name AND the letter sound with a little song/poem. Parenting truth: I sing this little jingle all the time in my head but it’s really helped my kids learn their letters so I’ll give it a pass. Plus, we use the magnet letters from this toy all.the.time, like in ABC Sort and ABC Match.
Pattern Blocks – Pattern block are an elementary classroom staple. First, they promote shape recognition and geometry skills. But also, they are so fun to play with and you can make amazing designs out of them. The number of extensions you can come up with using pattern blocks will blow you away.
Mr. Potato Head – An oldie but a goody and really, need I say more? Who doesn’t love this plastic spud? I just watched a five year old sit next to a toddler playing Potato Heads and it warmed my heart (and reminded me that this guy will be living in our toy box for a long time).
Bristle Blocks – File these guys into the same category as wooden blocks and Lego Duplo. Kids just love them. Toddlers. 7 year olds. My 12 year old neighbor. I always feel like Bristle Blocks get forgotten on lists like this so I had to include them.
Melissa and Doug Alphabet Art Puzzle – Let me be honest and say that this puzzle is just really cool to look at but I promise that’s not the only reason I included it on this list. It’s also a bit of a toddler challenge. I used this puzzle in the ABC Sort if you want to see it in action.
Learning Resources Helping Hands Fine Motor Skills Set – Can talk about how amazing these little tools are for little hands? The science, the math, the exploring that can be done with these. Oh, they are just perfect for toddlers and toddler play! If you have a toddler that loves activities, this set of tool is absolutely perfect for them.