• Dec 13, 2023

The 20 Best Developmental Toys for Your Baby and Toddler

Updated: Apr 17

problem solving skills baby toys

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The first few years of your child's life are full of rapid growth and exciting discoveries. During this important period their brain develops rapidly, laying the groundwork for future learning and cognitive abilities. As a parent or caregiver, offering kids the right toys is one important way to foster their development at each stage.

This article will explain the different ways that your child develops and discuss some of the best toys and learning games on the market that will encourage each type of development.

In this article:

Understanding your child's development

1. cognitive development, 2. motor development, 3. speech and language development, 4. social and emotional development, best developmental toys, what is an educational toy, cognitive development, motor development, speech and language development, social and emotional development, toddler toys, the takeaway.

This article is part of a series about the best developmental toys for kids.

Before we discuss specific toys, it's crucial to understand the four areas in which your child develops during the early years of their life: cognitive, motor, language, social, and emotional development.

Each domain plays a pivotal role in a child's growth and sets them up to reach their maximum potential.

Cognitive development refers to our brain's ability to understand, process, and learn about the world around us. As children grow and mature, they begin to understand and navigate the world in more complex ways, learning to solve problems, make decisions, understand abstract concepts, and think critically.

This process occurs from birth through a variety of experiences, such as interaction with caregivers and exploring toys and their environment.

Motor development involves the growth and changes in a child’s body, including physical abilities, coordination, and balance. Motor development is divided into two types:

Gross motor skills  refer to a baby's larger movements such as lifting their head, crawling, rolling over, sitting, and eventually walking.

Fine motor skills  involve the small muscles in the hands and fingers as well as those in the mouth, tongue, and jaw. It includes clapping, drawing, and even speech!

Fine motor development is dependent on the development of gross motor abilities. Your child must develop strength, coordination, and stability in their core and larger extremities before they can be capable of smaller, more intricate movements. 

Speech and language development is the process of building communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal (gestures and facial expressions).

It includes the following:

Acquiring vocabulary (both understanding and using words),

Learning how to put words together, AND

Comprehending others’ communication

Social and emotional development involves your baby's developing interactions and relationships with others, especially their relationship with you, which provides the foundation of social and emotional development.

problem solving skills baby toys

It also includes their growing awareness and understanding of themselves and their own emotions.

With these developmental categories in mind, let's explore the best educational toys for your baby or toddler. These toys will not only help your child achieve developmental milestones and gain new skills, they're also fun!

But what makes a toy "educational"? First and foremost, an educational toy should engage a child's mind in an interactive way and offer a degree of autonomy that allows children to experiment, explore, and learn at their own pace.

A truly educational toy will expand a child's knowledge and develop specific skills, which can be anything from critical thinking and problem-solving to creativity and spatial awareness.

In fact, the best developmental toys help your child grow in multiple categories, especially if you play together!

Even though a newborn can't manipulate a puzzle and an 8-month old can't play pretend with a doll, toys are still an important part of helping them learn and grow.

A toddler boy holds up interlocking blocks

Below, we discuss the best toys around that will promote your baby's development in each of the four development domains, although many have benefits across domains.

1. High-contrast toys

A newborn baby's eyesight is not yet fully developed in the early months. They initially have poor contrast sensitivity, meaning that they can more easily see high-contrast objects. As a result, baby toys with bright or high-contrast colors (such as black and white) and strong patterns tend to grab a baby's attention.

A baby lies on a black and white play mat

High-contrast toys also stimulate their visual senses, helping to develop their eyesight and enhance their focus.

Pathfinder Health recommends:

Black and white high contrast soft book

2. Books with textures

Books with textures encourage babies to explore, engage their tactile senses, and provide an opportunity to work on their visual and language skills as you read together. The different textures, whether they're fluffy fur or bumpy scales, enhance their sensory awareness.

Additionally, looking at books with their parents or caregivers helps to foster a baby or toddler's love of reading from the very beginning!

That's not my elephant...board book

3. Noisemakers

By shaking and manipulating a toy that rattles or jingles, babies are not only improving their hand-eye coordination, they're also learning about cause and effect and beginning to understand that their actions have an impact on the world around them.

A baby holds a rattle ball

Playing with different noise making toys also develops a baby's auditory discrimination—the ability to recognize and distinguish between different sounds—which will later help them to understand language. Toys that make multiple sounds are particularly beneficial for this.

Fifi the firefly carseat and stroller toy

4. Tummy time mat

Tummy time is critical for infant development—it helps babies build neck, upper body, and core strength that will be essential for crawling, standing, and walking.

A baby does tummy time on an alphabet mat

Placing them on a mat with entertaining images and other sensory items can help make tummy time enjoyable and encourage your little one to practice for a longer amount of time.

Tummy time mirror mat

5. Stacking toys

Stacking rings and stacking cups encourage fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination . As your baby starts to grasp and manipulate the rings or cups, they gain strength and dexterity in their hands .

A father and daughter play with a stacking toy

Additionally, a baby has to figure out how to fit the pieces together when stacking the rings. This develops their problem-solving skills and builds self-confidence.

Melissa and Doug geometric stacker

6. Baby-safe blocks

Blocks are a wonderful way to build your baby's fine motor skills and hand eye coordination—just watch as those little fingers learn how to grip, stack, and maneuver the pieces.

Blocks promote other learning as well. Babies love to knock down block towers, which is a great way to teach them cause and effect. Building simple block structures with your baby is also a good way to begin introducing pretend play.

A baby plays with a four-block tower

For babies, look for blocks made of softer materials, not wood. Also choose something that can withstand chewing—teething babies love to gnaw on block corners!

B. Toys stacking and building baby blocks

7. Push/pull toys

If your baby is standing but not yet taking independent steps, a push toy can provide support and encourage them to practice walking. Good push toys for an early walker might include a toy shopping cart, baby doll stroller, or wagon . Choose sturdy toys that have a wide base to prevent tipping.

Melissa and Doug chomp and clack alligator

For babies that can walk independently, pull toys offer an additional challenge. As a child walks and pulls a toy, various fine and gross motor skills work together—their hands grasp the string, their arms pull it along, and their torso and legs work to balance and take steps.

Hape walk-a-long puppy wooden pull toy

8. Interactive board books

Simple books with repetitive text, captivating pictures, and interactive features like flaps or textures are great for engaging babies and fostering their early language development.

Two parents look at a book with a baby

Read with your baby from a young age. Even though an infant won't understand what you're reading, you can sit and look at books and read stories together to encourage their love of books.

9. Musical toys

When infants listen to music and musical instruments, they soon begin to recognize tonalities, melodies, and pitches, forming a strong foundation for language learning.

A baby and toddler playing with a xylophone

Furthermore, making music can even help babies with the cognitive and motor development needed to speak.

This is because playing instruments like drums or rattles helps develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and overall proprioception—the ability to sense the position and movement of our own body parts even when we can't see them. All of these are important in building strong oral communication skills.

Fisher Price classic xylophone

10. Plush animals

Soft and cuddly plush baby toys offer comfort and security, aiding in the development of infants' emotional well-being and creating a sense of attachment.

Gund bunny stuffed animal

Safety tip: For babies, choose stuffed animals without plastic parts that could become detached and pose a choking hazard (including plastic "beans" in the stuffing). Also wait until your baby is one year before putting plush animals in their crib for sleep.

11. Baby-safe mirror

Mirrors made of shatter-proof plastic are great toys for babies because they help them develop a sense of self-awareness. Looking at themselves in a mirror helps infants learn about their body parts, expressions, and movements, while also entertaining them with their own reflections.

A baby looking at her reflection in a small mirror

Eventually, a baby will learn to recognize that face in the mirror as their own!

Baby floor mirror

Developmental toys and learning games become even more important as your baby grows into a toddler and continues to refine their cognitive, motor, speech and language, and social and emotional skills.

Numerous studies  have shown that play is the most powerful tool for learning and development in young children.

Play allows toddlers to explore and experiment with their surroundings, develop problem-solving skills, and practice social interactions, among many other skills.

Some of the best developmental toys for toddlers include the following, by developmental domain.

12. Puzzles

Engaging in puzzle play helps to promote and enhance various skills, such as problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness.

Moreover, puzzles are excellent learning tools, helping children learn shapes, colors, sizes, and pattern recognition.

A toddler sits at a table with three puzzles

Finally, puzzles encourage patience and persistence and provide a confidence boost when your child completes a puzzle.

Animal jigsaw puzzles

Blocks are one of the best all-around toys for toddlers.

Blocks offer endless opportunities for creativity and imaginative play and help children to develop important cognitive, physical, and social skills.

By stacking and sorting blocks, toddlers practice visual-spatial awareness and problem-solving skills. They also improve their fine motor control as they grasp and manipulate the blocks.

A toddler boy building a block structure

Plus, block play is often a group activity, fostering social interaction, communication, and cooperation.

Blocks can be as simple as a basic set of wooden blocks, but also include countless variations such as Lego DUPLOs and magnetic tiles.

Lego duplo classic brick box

14. Matching games

Games that involve matching pairs of images on cards or tiles can be a great way for toddlers to enhance their memory and concentration skills.

Additionally, these learning games can introduce them to the idea of categorization and help improve their ability to visually discriminate between similar images.

36 pair animal matching game

15. Art supplies

Basic arts and crafts offer a variety of ways to encourage and reward your child's motor development.

Art supplies such as crayons, paintbrushes, and playdough let them practice fine motor skills. This, in turn, strengthens the muscles in their hands and fingers, leading to better coordination and dexterity .

A toddler girl painting

Plus, using art supplies encourages creativity and self-expression, helping to boost their cognitive and emotional development.

Play-doh starter set

16. Ride-on toys

Ride-on toys are the perfect tool to help develop your toddler's gross motor skills. As your little one scoots around, they strengthen their legs, gain balance, and fine-tune their coordination .

A toddler sitting on a ride-on car

Moreover, ride-on toys offer an excellent opportunity for outdoor playtime, which helps boost their overall physical fitness.

Little Tikes push and ride racer

17. Picture books

Reading to your child regularly (ideally every day for at least a few minutes) is one of the most important ways to nurture their speech and language development, as well as other abilities. That's why we include books in several places on this list!

Among many other benefits, reading builds their vocabulary, listening and comprehension skills, and awareness of language structure , all skills that they will use at older ages in school.

A mother reading a book to her daughter

Choose books that are appropriate for your child's age and development—they may become bored and engage less with books that are too simple or too advanced for them.

For toddlers, board books filled with lively pictures and easy-to-understand text are a good choice. Preschoolers will begin to enjoy books with more complicated stories.

To learn more about the benefits of reading and for specific book recommendations to help with different skills, check out our article, "16 Benefits of Reading with Children."

18. Puppets

Puppets are wonderful tools that can help nurture communication skills and inspire imaginative play.

You can use puppets to make up stories and have engaging conversations with your child. Through these interactions, puppets can teach toddlers to express themselves creatively and positively .

A toddler boy plays with a turtle puppet

Puppets also allow children to explore and engage with different emotions and experiences, developing their emotional intelligence and empathy.

You can even use puppets to create "social stories"–short, simple stories that are meant to help your child understand what to expect and how to behave in certain social situations. This is a great way to begin teaching foundational social skills.

Melissa and Doug safari buddies hand puppets

19. Dolls and action figures

Dolls and action figures offer children the opportunity to engage in imaginative, creative play, as well as learn essential social and emotional skills.

Through playing with dolls, children learn how to express themselves, communicate, and empathize with others.

Adora soft baby doll

Dolls also help kids build confidence and independence as they take on the role of caregiver or parent.

20. Toy kitchen set

Play kitchens help children hone their fine motor skills as they pour, measure, and stir. They also offer children an opportunity to engage in cooperative play with friends or siblings, practicing sharing, teamwork, and communication.

Two boys playing with a play kitchen

A play kitchen does not need to be complicated! Kids love to play in outdoor "mud kitchens" made of some old kitchen tools and clean, empty food containers.

Play kitchen wooden toy set

Carefully selected toys play a vital role in nurturing essential skills and sparking your child's passion for learning. By choosing toys that promote your child's cognitive, motor, language, and social-emotional development, you can create an enriching environment that paves the way for their future success.

problem solving skills baby toys

This way playtime isn't just fun, it unlocks your child's potential during these crucial formative years. So, let's get playing!

American Academy of Pediatrics, The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children, Pediatrics (2018), available at   https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-2058

Bergen D. The Role of Pretend Play in Children’s Cognitive Development. Early Childhood Research & Practice. 2002;4(1).

Fisher EP. The impact of play on development: A meta-analysis. Play & Culture. 1992;5(2):159-181.

Bio of Kavita Naik Cherry

  • Developmental Activities
  • Editor's Pick

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Supporting Thinking Skills From 0-12 Months

It’s through interactions and experiences with loved and trusted adults that babies begin to make sense of the world. learn how you can support your baby’s thinking skills from 0-12 months..

Babies learn by using their senses. They explore and discover by touching and mouthing objects, hearing voices and music, and seeing the colorful, fascinating wonder all around them. But the most important part of your child’s early learning experiences is you. It is through interactions and experiences with loved and trusted adults that babies begin to make sense of the world.

In this first year, babies are learning very important concepts. They learn about cause and effect when they shake a rattle and hear a sound, or when they pull on their mother’s glasses and hear her voice (much sterner than usual) tell them not to pull! They learn about size and shape by stacking blocks, mouthing them, and trying to fit them into the correctly-shaped holes. They learn to solve problems when they discover how to turn the crank to get the jack-in-the-box to pop up. They learn about gravity when they drop a spoon from the high chair and look down to the floor to see where it lands. They learn object permanence—that things they can’t see still exist—when they play peek-a-boo or crawl into the next room to find you.

Encourage your baby to explore.

You will see your baby act on her natural curiosity about the people and objects around her as she:

  • Looks carefully at your face
  • Inspects her hands, fingers, feet and toes
  • Rolls to get closer to a person she wants to connect with or to an interesting object
  • Babbles and then waits for your response
  • Looks at and reaches for objects that interest her.
  • Responds to familiar words like baba, mama, dada, night-night, teddy bear, etc.

Your baby’s curiosity reflects a desire to figure out how the people and objects in his world work. You will see your child’s curiosity in action as he:

  • Touches his fingers and toes
  • Bangs and shakes objects to see what they can do
  • Pulls on long hair or earrings
  • Uses sounds, facial expressions and gestures to get your attention
  • Puts things in his mouth
  • Watches things move
  • Follows interesting sounds with his eyes

These actions help babies learn and build their confidence that they can “make things happen.” When children know they can have an impact on the people and objects around them, they feel confident and competent, which is a key part of developing positive self-esteem. In this way, thinking skills and social-emotional skills are tied together.

What you can do:

  • Offer interesting objects to explore—fabrics of various textures, a ball of sticky masking tape, a wooden spoon and a metal one to touch and compare.
  • Respond to her efforts to communicate. Use words to describe what she is experiencing: I see you looking at that ball on the shelf. Let me get that for you.
  • Delight in their discoveries. You found your hands! Look what they can do. You can use them to reach that red ball.
  • Provide the help your child needs to solve problems, such as showing your baby how to get the lid off the container so she can reach the blocks inside. But before you jump in, give her a chance to do it herself first.

Support your baby’s growing memory and ability to understand new ideas. You will see your baby’s memory develop as she:

  • Recognizes familiar people
  • Anticipates routines, for example, grabbing her “blanky” for naptime or crawling to the high chair when she sees you preparing food
  • Responds (turning/smiling) when she hears her name spoken
  • Shows pleasure when given a familiar object like a favorite book of her “lovey”

Your baby’s growing memory also helps her learn that objects and people still exist even when he can’t see them. This concept is called object permanence. You will see this new skill developing when your baby starts to look for hidden objects. This is because he remembers the object and knows it is still around…somewhere. He may also begin to protest when you leave him with a caregiver, even one he knows and loves. This is because he knows you are out there somewhere and naturally, he wants to make you come back!

During this first year your baby is also learning about the concept of cause and effect—that he can make things happen. When he shakes the rattle it makes a sound. When he bats at the mobile it moves. When he cries out for you, you come. Learning to make things happen is the foundation for solving problems. I want dad’s attention. What can I do? I will crawl to him and pull on his leg to let him know I want him to play. Young babies show you how they are now able to make things happen when they:

  • Cry when they need something
  • Drop food off a high chair tray, look down to the floor to see where it goes, and look for you to come pick it up
  • Enjoy repeating a new activity (like pressing a button to see a toy pop up)
  • Reach for a rattle to shake it and make a sound
  • Play disappearing and reappearing games. Play peek-a-boo. Make a simple game of hiding objects to find. This helps develop your child’s memory and teaches him about object permanence.
  • Encourage your child to explore objects and toys in different ways. Touching, banging, shaking, and rolling help children learn about how things work. Talk with your child about what he is doing. “You got the truck to move by pulling the string!”

Help your baby become a good problem-solver.

Babies learn to solve problems by examining and learning about new objects and people they encounter. Then they apply what they have learned to new situations. For example:

  • A 7-month-old has figured out who she knows and who she doesn’t. So she holds her arms out so you will pick her up, but buries her head in your chest when a new person tries to talk to her.
  • An 11-month-old waves bye-bye when her dad puts her in the crib for the night. This is after seeing her parents wave bye-bye to her many times when they leave for work.

Problem-solving is a critical thinking skill that helps babies be successful now, later in school, and the rest of their lives. In the beginning, the problems babies solve seem simple: How do I make the tambourine rattle? How do I make the jack pop up out of the box? But figuring out the answer to these dilemmas requires a lot of thought and trial-and-error. When they are successful, children feel confident and proud, which motivates them to explore and learn more from the people and world around them.

  • Provide support for reaching goals. Watch your baby carefully. See what she is trying to make happen and help her solve the problem. If she is trying to roll over to reach an interesting object, encourage her to go as far as she can and then bring it close enough that she can get it and explore it.
  • Model problem-solving. Take the top off the container and take the blocks out. Then put them back in and let her have a try. Young children learn a lot through imitation.

Explore differences in objects

One of the strategies babies use to figure out how the world works is by putting objects into categories. They notice similar features even among very different objects. A flower, a rattle, and grandpa’s nose are all very different, but they all can be grasped. Babies also notice differences among similar objects. If they are given a piece of furry fabric and a piece of rubber that are the same size, shape and color, babies will pat the fur and squeeze the rubber. This shows they have some idea about how these textures will feel and “should” be touched. (Berger, 166)

  • Take “touching” walks. On your walks together, hold your baby’s hands up to a bumpy tree trunk. Crinkle a leaf and let her listen. Give her a flower petal to touch, or run her hand over tickly grass. Stop and listen together to the cars going by. Talk about what you are seeing and doing.
  • Look at books that put objects into categories. While your baby won’t be able to understand how to sort objects yet, activities like these will help her build this skill over time.

Make everyday activities “teachable moments.”

Children learn so much during daily routines likes feeding, diapering and bath time. For example, during bath time, babies get to explore math and science concepts like empty/full, in/out, wet/dry. Filling and dumping cups help children learn about empty and full, and in and out. When your child makes the rubber duck splash in the tub, she learns about cause and effect. When the duck stays on top of the water but the washcloth sinks, she is learning about floating and sinking.

What You Can Do:

  • Make the most of daily routines. Let your baby help drop clothing into the washing machine. Hand her groceries she can put on the conveyer belt. Sing a song about body parts as you change her diaper. These routine activities are not-so-routine for your growing baby. They teach her how things work.
  • Give your child some everyday “toys”. See how a wooden spoon and a whisk make very different sounds when tapped on a pot lid. Pull a scarf through a cardboard paper towel tube to make the scarf appear and disappear. Let your child feel the difference between the brush used on her hair, and the spiny teeth of the comb. Activities like this give your child the chance to discover the properties and functions of objects, an important part of problem-solving.

What You Can Do

Offer interesting objects to explore.

Such as fabrics of various textures, a ball of sticky masking tape, a wooden spoon and a metal one, smooth balls and bumpy balls.

Respond to her efforts to communicate.

Use words to describe what she is experiencing: I see you looking at that ball on the shelf. Let me get that for you.

Delight in your child’s discoveries.

You found your hands! Look what they can do. You can use them to reach that red ball.

Provide the help your child needs to solve problems

Such as showing your baby how to get the lid off the container so she can reach the blocks inside. Give her a chance, though, to see if she can do it by herself first.

Play disappearing and reappearing games.

Play peek-a-boo. Make a simple game of hiding objects to find. This helps develop your child’s memory and teaches him about object permanence.

Encourage your child to explore objects and toys in different ways.

Touching, banging, shaking, and rolling help children learn about how things work. Talk with your child about what he is doing. You got the truck to move by pulling the string!

Provide support for reaching goals.

Watch your baby carefully. See what she is trying to make happen and help her solve the problem. If she is trying to roll over to reach an interesting object, encourage her to go as far as she can and then bring it close enough that she can get it and explore it.

Model problem-solving.

Take the top off the container and take the blocks out. Then put them back in and let her have a try. Young children learn a lot through imitation.

Take “touching” walks.

On your walks together, hold your baby’s hands up to a bumpy tree trunk. Crinkle a leaf and let her listen. Give her a flower petal to touch, or run her hand over tickly grass. Stop and listen together to the cars going by. Talk about what you are seeing and doing.

Make the most of daily routines.

Let your baby help drop clothing into the washing machine. Hand her groceries she can put on the conveyer belt. Sing a song about body parts as you change her diaper. These routine activities are not-so-routine for your growing baby, as she learns how things work and begins to imitate the activities of the people she loves.

Give your child some everyday “toys”.

See how a wooden spoon and a whisk make very different sounds when tapped on a pot lid. Pull a scarf through a cardboard paper towel tube to make the scarf appear and disappear. Let your child feel the difference between the brush used on her hair, and the spiny teeth of the comb. Activities like this give your child the chance to discover the properties and functions of objects, an important part of problem-solving

Parent-Child Activities that Promote Thinking Skills

Create an obstacle course..

Lay out boxes to crawl through, stools to step over, pillows to jump on top of, low tables to slither under. Describe what your child is doing as he goes through the course. This helps him understand these concepts.

Play red light/green light.

Cut two large circles, one from green paper and one from red. Write “stop” on the red and “go” on the green, and glue them (back to back) over a popsicle stick holder. This is your traffic light. Stand where your child has some room to move toward you, such as at the end of a hallway. When the red sign is showing, your child must stop but when she sees green, she can GO. Alternate between red and green. See if your child wants to take a turn being the traffic light.

Build big minds with “big blocks”.

Gather together empty boxes of all sorts—very big (like a packing box), medium-sized (shirt or empty cereal boxes), and very small (like a cardboard jewelry box). Let your child stack, fill, dump and explore these different boxes. Which can he fit inside? Which are the best for stacking? Can he put the big boxes in one pile and the small boxes in another?

Make a puzzle.

Make two copies of a photo of your child. Glue one of the photos to sturdy cardboard and cut it into three simple pieces. Put the puzzle together in front of your child. Show her the uncut photo. Put them side by side. Wait and watch to see what she will do. Eventually, she will touch or move the puzzle. With your guidance and help, is she able to put it back together?

Frequently Asked Questions

My 18-month-old is obsessed with our remote control. why does she always go back to it, even when i try to distract her with other toys.

Such is the way with toddlers: Their most frustrating behaviors are often both normal and developmentally appropriate. At this age, your child is working very hard to make sense of her world. One of the most important ways she does that is by watching and then imitating what you do. You are her first and most important teacher. She sees you say “thank you” to the grocery clerk so she learns to say “thank you” too. She watches you sweep the floors and she picks up a broom to help. Unfortunately, you can’t turn this desire to imitate on and off. So when your child sees you touching the remote control, she wants to touch it, too. After all, it must be a good thing if you’re doing it!

Why do children love electronics so much?

You’ll notice that many toys designed for children this age have features they can explore through touch, such as buttons and raised textures—just like most electronics. However, toddlers almost always prefer to play with the real life objects they see you using which is why they go for remotes, cell phones, etc. Toddlers are learning that to be successful, they need to find out how things work. And electronics make for very interesting props. After all, playing with buttons on the remote offers the exciting possibility that–poof!–the magical machine will come alive. Think of how empowering and exciting this is for your child. But it can also drive you crazy! So now is the time to make sure that all “off-limits” electronics are child-proofed or kept out of the way of little hands. However, be sure to offer your child other objects or toys with buttons and other gadgets that he can make work.

How can I get my toddler to stop going for off-limits objects?

Unfortunately, toddlers simply lack the self-control necessary to resist the wonderful temptation of electronic gadgets and other off-limits items (like shiny picture frames or pointy plugs that fit so nicely into those holes in the wall). While toddlers can understand and respond to words such as “no”, they don’t yet have the self-control to stop their behavior, or to understand the consequences if they don’t. Patience is important, since after telling your toddler 20 times not to play with the remote, chances are she’ll still go for it again. Most children don’t even begin to master controlling their impulses until about age 2 ½.

If the object your child is after isn’t likely to pose a danger to him (such as a remote control–although the batteries are a danger if she puts them into her mouth), the decision of how to set limits is yours. Some parents choose to keep all of these gadgets out of reach and don’t allow their children to touch them until they are older. Or, you could allow your child to use them under your close supervision, such as having your child turn the TV on when you’re planning to watch a show and turning it off when you’re through. This models for your child that there are times when using this equipment is okay and times when it’s not.

What’s most important is that you recognize your child’s needs (learning cause and effect, imitating you) and help her meet them in ways that are acceptable to you.

My father recently died, and I’ve been dealing with it okay, but I’m not sure what to do concerning my 20-month-old. When we go to my parents’ house, she asks for Pop-Pop and we tell her he’s not home. However, I can’t keep doing this. I don’t want her to forget her grand-dad, but how can you explain to a baby that someone has died?

This must be a difficult time as you cope with your own feelings and try to make sense of it all for your young child. Helping her understand what has happened to Pop-Pop is indeed a challenge, as 20-month-olds can’t comprehend the idea of death, or even that they will never see someone again. At the same time, children are very tuned in to the feelings of the important adults in their lives, so it is likely that your child, no matter how well you’re handling your Dad’s death, understands that something sad has happened. It is important that what she is sensing is acknowledged.

Since a 20-month-old can’t understand death, trying to explain it to her would probably cause her more confusion and anxiety. Instead focus on addressing her feelings. What’s most important for your daughter at this time is for you to say something like, “Pop-pop isn’t here. I miss him too.” At this time she won’t be able to understand more.

As your child gets closer to 3, she will likely start to ask questions about what happened to her grandfather. You can then explain that Pop-pop is not coming back; that he died, which means that his body stopped working. Tell her this happens when people are very old or sick and doctors and nurses can’t make their bodies work anymore. You can explain that Pop-pop couldn’t do things like eat or play outside anymore. This gives her a context she can relate to. If she asks whether Pop-pop will ever come back, you should tell her the truth–that he won’t. If your child asks whether you or she or others that she loves will die, you can explain that your bodies are healthy and strong so you are not going to die now.

How should I answer my child’s questions about where her Pop-pop is?

Answer your daughter’s questions based on what you think she can understand. Start with something along the lines of: “Pop-pop isn’t here. I miss him too.” As your child gets older and her questions get more mature, your responses will change accordingly until you feel you are ready to tell her: “Pop-pop died. That means that his body stopped working and the doctors and nurses couldn’t make him better.”

Keep your responses brief. A mistake many parents make is giving more information than their child can process. On the other hand, some parents are tempted not to talk about a deceased person for fear that it will upset the child or themselves. But, of course, avoiding the topic doesn’t make the memories or feelings go away. It just deprives your child of the opportunity to make sense of the experience.

How can I help her keep the memory of her grandfather alive?

When your daughter is old enough, share photos, tell stories, and draw pictures of Pop-Pop. You can also have her do something in your father’s memory. Send off a balloon that says, “I love you”. Or have her help you plant a rose bush, for instance, if her grandfather loved flowers. Reading books about loss can also be very helpful. Some good books include When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers (Puffin, 1998), When Dinosaurs Die by Laurie Krasny and Marc Brown (Little Brown & Co., 1998), and About Dying by Sara Bonnett Stein (Walker & Co., 1985).

Does my toddler have a “short attention span” because she won’t sit for a story for more than a minute?

It is perfectly normal for toddlers to not sit still very long–period. Most don’t like to stay in one place for long now that they can explore in so many new ways– by running, jumping and climbing. So, an adult’s idea of snuggling on the couch to hear a story may not be the same idea a toddler has for story-time. You may only be able to read or talk about a few pages in a book at a time.

Here are some ways to engage active children in reading:

  • Read a book at snack times when your child may be more likely to sit for longer.
  • Offer your child a small toy to hold in her hand—such as a squishy ball—to keep her body moving while you read.
  • Read in a dramatic fashion, exaggerating your voice and actions. This often keeps toddlers interested.
  • Get your child active and moving by encouraging her to join in on familiar phrases or words, act out an action in the story, or find objects on the page. These “activities” can help their attention stay focused.
  • Choose stories that have the same word or phrase repeated. The repetition helps toddlers look forward to hearing the familiar phrase again and also develops their memory and language skills. Encourage her to “help” you read when you get to this refrain.
  • Try books that invite action on the part of the child, such as pop-up books, touch-and-feel books, and books with flaps and hidden openings for them to explore.

Browse our full suite of resources on early childhood development.

Entertain Your Toddler

Last Updated on 12/17/2019 by Karen

Best Puzzles and Problem-Solving Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles!

We love puzzles and problem-solving toys. My three-year-old is a thinker. She has more fun working on a puzzle or problem-solving than most other toys. And now her younger sister is following a similar trajectory.

Puzzles and problem-solving toys are the last category on our foundational toys list, but by no means the least. Kids need puzzles and problem-solving toys in order to work on critical thinking skills, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and well, problem-solving!

Stacking type puzzle where balance is needed

In this guide, I’ll walk you through some traditional and non-traditional puzzles, and lots of options for toys that encourage problem-solving and critical thinking.

I had a really hard time deciding what to put in this list because there are so many good options out there. I hope this guide can help you narrow down all those options and find the perfect gift!

As always, you need to be the judge of whether a toy is appropriate for your young child’s abilities and interests. I find it’s best to pick a puzzle that challenges but does not frustrate your child. This makes for us and our kids much happier.

After browsing our top puzzle and problem-solving toys, be sure to read my tips for extending puzzle play.

Disclosure: We use sponsored, or affiliate, links, which means that we could earn a small commission that helps fund our blog (at no extra cost to you!). All opinions are our own and we only recommend products we love. Thank you for your support and happy shopping!

Our favorite board puzzles with removable pieces

Sea Life Puzzle   //   Safari Animals Puzzle   //   Farm Animals Puzzle   //   Dinosaur Puzzle   //   Things That Go Puzzle   //   Construction Vehicles Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Wooden Chunky Puzzle 

We have just started collecting puzzles ever since we first played with the massive collection at our local library. She loves these Melissa & Doug wooden chunky puzzles, and I do too! 

Not only are they solid wood, durable, and hardwearing, the chunky pieces are easy to grab and can be played with as stand-alone figurines. 

These Melissa & Doug puzzles are perfect for young toddlers because under the puzzle piece is a picture of the piece that goes there to help little ones put the right shape in more easily.

First puzzle with picture displayed below where each piece goes

We started with the sea life puzzle, but I’ve got a few more I want to get this year and put links below in the order I’m planning to get them in. (Yes, these toy guides are just a glorified shopping list so that when birthdays and Christmases roll around, I’ve got my next thing ready to buy.)

If you are looking for more on your own, make sure to check that they are not the peg kind as some types with the peg in the middle have thin pieces that can’t stand up like these chunky pieces can.

Sea Life and Safari Animals puzzles

 1.  Sea Life Puzzle    

2. Safari Animals puzzle

Farm and Dinosaur puzzles

3.   Farm Animals Puzzle

4.  Dinosaur Puzzle

Things that go and Construction vehicles puzzle

5.  Things That Go Puzzle

6.  Construction Vehicles Puzzle

I would recommend getting two animal sets. That way you can mix up the pieces and sort them as you talk about animal habitats for yet another way to play!

Our library has this puzzle rack for storing their puzzles. Fits up to 12 puzzles (both the chunky puzzle size and larger).

Farm balancing block puzzle toy

Wooden Wonders Balancing Block Play Set  by Imagination Generation

I wrote about this game in my complete toy buying guide . These are cute little animal pieces that you can stack on a hard surface, or on the wobbly farm block.

This one was challenging for Elena at 18 months, so she mostly played with them as individual pieces . She was disappointed that she couldn’t put them in the barn, though.

Kids will work on fine motor skills, critical thinking, and (the reason for this post!) problem-solving.

Pile of colorful wooden balancing animal problem-solving puzzle toys

Here’s a few other options:   “Blockbeard” pirate set (though more difficult to play with individual pieces, like what do you do with the pirate heads? hmm….) Noah’s ark (2 of each animal, of course!) Lewo animal set (which we own and love!)

problem solving skills baby toys

Tomy Hide and Squeak Eggs

Someone gifted us these ADORABLE little Hide and Squeak eggs and Elena loves playing with them. There is so much to learn and play with in this little half dozen egg set.

The eggs have different shapes on the bottom that fit into the matching shapes in the carton.

Each little chick inside is a different color and matches with the colored faces on the outer shell.

Plus, when you push down on the chick, it squeaks! Squeak, squeak! 

Toddler plays with TOMY colorful toy egg shape sorting and color sorting

It was a challenge at first for Elena to even open the carton. Then she discovered the different shapes on the bottom. And finally, she played by matching the colors. Sometimes Elenawill play with these as actual eggs for pretend cooking. 

Elena was two when we got these, but I could see a one-year-old or younger wanting to play with this set as well.

problem solving skills baby toys

Fisher-Price Stack and Roll Cups

This toy doesn’t look like much at first… just your standard nesting cups set right? WRONG!

These bad boys can be nested, stacked, or snapped together to make 5 different sized balls! The little smiley at the top has a bell inside and can be hidden inside one of the balls.

Get these for a baby and he will keep playing with them in new ways as a toddler.

I can already think of several different ways to play with these cups, especially in combination with other toys. Color sorting, pretend cooking and eating, matching games, rainbow drums, hide-and-seek games, um, yeah, I think these are a great foundational toy !

problem solving skills baby toys

Alex Discover Button Art

Fine motor skills will get a workout in this button art set. Toddlers will enjoy putting the buttons in the holes. As they become more interested, they can create the art by matching the colored buttons to the colors on the cards.

The pegs are more vibrantly colored than they appear here. They kind of remind of those food pouch lids that I like to save for color matching games and water play, so already there is another use for the pieces in this set!

It is under $10 right now, so although the cards are more flimsy than I would like, it still may be worth it even for just the buttons to be used as manipulatives in a variety of counting, patterning, and sorting activities.

Russian nesting dolls must be arranged by size for all pieces to fit making it a challenging problem to solve and rewarding puzzle for toddlers

Russian Nesting Dolls

Yes, there are tiny pieces once you get past the fifth or sixth doll, but Elena just loves our two sets so much and we’ve gotten several hours of play out of them , so I had to put the idea out here!

I know matryoshka (Russian nesting dolls) are not the first thing you think of when I say “puzzle” or “problem-solving toy,” but they really are.

The dolls need to be nested in the proper order for them all to fit together. The tops and bottoms need to be matched correctly, and you have to match up the designs so they look like one piece. There’s a lot of problem-solving going on!

Additionally, they can be played with as standalone dolls. Elena has also stacked these in numerous ways (like just tops in pyramid style, or just bottoms like nesting cups), so I believe these would make a lovely heirloom gift for a child.

This particular set from Amazon had good reviews and a lot of people mentioned how large they were (tallest doll is 8″ high), so I think this would be a good set for a child to play with.

I do like the bit of culture these matryoshka dolls bring. Russian nesting dolls were originally meant to be played with but have evolved into an art form. There are some very elaborate ones out there!

I also looked for a less delicate plastic set and found these little nesting penguins  and these fun little robots . Check them out if your child is not into dolls.

Shape sorters are classic problem solving toys

Top Bright Wooden Shape Sorter

How cute is this! It’s a cement truck shape sorter! Plus it comes with a little truck driver!

A shape sorter is for sure a good foundational toy , as you can obviously teach shapes, but you can also teach colors if you have brightly colored set, and do some stacking with the shape blocks.

This sorter has the added bonus of imaginative play and can be pulled around on the string. You can spin the barrel and tip it to dump out the blocks. All in all, a fun, educational toy!

**Note: The blocks are wooden, but the truck is a mix of plastic and wood.

problem solving skills baby toys

Melissa & Doug Keys & Cars Wooden Rescue Vehicle & Garage Toy

One of my nephews is obsessed with firefighters and police officers, so I’m considering getting him this for Christmas.

It’s a wooden fire truck, ambulance, and police car that can be sorted in the color matching garage. What makes this a unique problem-solving toy is the addition of keys to lock and unlock the garage doors!

The keys will keep little toddler hands busy and working on their hand-eye coordination and color matching. When they tire of that, there is always the rescue vehicles to play with.

Woo-ooh-woo-ooh-woo-ooh! (I’m 99% positive that’s how you spell the sound a siren makes.)

A similar toy is this M&D Wooden Doorbell Dollhouse .

problem solving skills baby toys

Eric Carle Matching Game  by The Wonder Forge

Does your child like The Very Hungry Caterpillar ? This is one of Elena’s favorite books. We have also just discovered matching and memory games, so this would be game I think she would love.

The cards/tiles are a sturdy chipboard and feature art by Eric Carle (author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? The Tiny Seed, and more!). There are 72 tiles, so you’ll want to play with only 4 or 5 pairs to start with.

If you’ve never played Memory, basically, you mix up the cards and turn them all over. Then you take turns choosing two cards at a time with the goal of finding a matching pair.

For a young one, you could have the whole set face up and challenge them to find matching pairs or play I Spy .

You could also play Go Fish with these, though the chipboard could be tough to hold in one hand.

Afterwards, you can read an Eric Carle book and do a matching puzzle.

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar book and jumbo puzzle
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? book and simple puzzle pairs

I think these in combination with the matching game would make a perfect gift basket for an Eric Carle lover.

problem solving skills baby toys

Grimm’s Water Wave Stacker

Grimm’s rainbow is a favorite among the Montessori/Waldorf people, but did you know there are other nesting sets in the “Elements of Nature” collection which are equally beautiful?

I decided to feature the water wave stacker because the shades of blue are so pretty and I like the ocean 🙂

These open-ended puzzle toys enhance a child’s creativity and imagination. The pieces can be laid on their side to make pretty patterns or stacked in different ways to create bridges or houses or fences for play with animal or doll figurines. It’s pretty amazing to watch a child play with these and get a glimpse into their creative brain.

I love how beautiful the Grimm’s sets are. They look like art pieces that I could display on a bookshelf in the living room. They are wooden and painted with child-safe non-toxic water-based paint and dyes.

Be sure to check out the fire flames nesting set  as well.

Grimm’s can be pricey, but Lewo makes a similar concept, but different style, colorful wooden puzzle set for less. Take a look if you’re interested.

Other Puzzles to Love

Here are a few  jigsaw puzzles that are adorable and perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

problem solving skills baby toys

The Petit Collage Beginner Puzzles are lovely, unconfined animal-shaped jigsaw puzzles. I love this forest babies set of four puzzles.

problem solving skills baby toys

Crocodile Creek Birthday Bear is a traditional rectangle jigsaw puzzle with 24 pieces and a whimsical illustration. Below are more floor puzzles from Crocodile Creek.

OK, here’s my favorite. I like these Mudpuppy Pouch Puzzles because they store neatly away in a zipper POUCH! Such a great idea for puzzle storage. You could easily toss one in your purse for play at the restaurant when you need to keep kids busy and quiet. Each pouch has 12 extra thick chunky pieces. 

One Last Tip for Extending Puzzle Playtime

Sensory bin!

Almost anything can be turned into a sensory bin, right? Fill a container with your favorite sensory bin filler (dry beans, rice, popcorn kernels, nothing wet of course) and hide the pieces of a puzzle in it . Let your child dig and scoop to find the pieces and then put it together.

problem solving skills baby toys

If you’ve got an older child who needs a challenge, why not mix up a few different smaller sets of puzzles and have them sort the sets!

Do you have any other tips for new ways to play with puzzles?

Building toys are also great for building critical thinking skills and hand-eye coordination. Check out our favorite classic building toys  and our favorite building toys for little ones.

I hope these toy guides and gift ideas help you find the perfect gift for any kid on your list!

For more on building a toybox of only toys your child will play with and love, read this complete toy buying guide .

The best puzzles and problem solving toys

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Discovery Play with Littles

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15 Powerful Problem Solving Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

I looked over to her table and she’s crying. Again. While everyone else is happily working away, she sat there, unable to move, just crying. 

Not asking for help.

Not trying to solve her problem.

Just crying.

I took a deep breath before heading over. We’ve already been at this for several months…isn’t it about time the problem-solving has kicked in yet?

One glance and I could tell what her problem was. She didn’t have her pencil.

Know how I knew?

It laid on the floor beside her. In plain sight.

As a kindergarten teacher, I don’t jump right in and solve problems for kids. It’s good for them to try to solve the problem themselves. This is something she struggled with. 

I reminded myself of the need for patience and empathy as I walked up to her. “What’s wrong, Amanda?” 

“I…can’t…find…my…pencil….” she sputtered out between sobs. 

“Ok, that’s a problem we can solve. What have you tried?” 

“I don’t know.” 

After a long time trying to first, calm her down, and second, come up with some strategies she could try, she finally found her pencil. At that point, everyone else had finished the project. 

Toddlers playing with wooden blocks

What is Problem Solving?

Problem-solving is the process of finding a solution to your problem . This can be quite tricky for some young children, especially those with little experience in finding more than one way to solve a problem.

Why is Problem Solving Important? 

Problem-solving skills are used throughout childhood into adulthood. As adults, we solve problems on a daily basis. Some problems we solve without thinking much- I wanted to make tacos for dinner but forgot to buy the ground beef. What are we going to have for dinner now?

Other problems are significantly more complicated. 

Problems for kiddos can be problems with friendships, the inability to find something that’s needed, or even what to do when things don’t go your way. 

Kids who lack problem-solving skills struggle to maintain friendships or even begin to attempt to solve their own problems. 

Children who lack problem-solving skills are at a higher risk for depression as well.

What Are Problem-Solving Skills?

Problem-solving skills are:

  • Breaking Down a Problem into Smaller Parts
  • Communication
  • Decision-making
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Perseverance

That’s a big list to teach toddlers and preschoolers. Where do you begin?

The Problem-Solving Steps

Sometimes kids are so overwhelmed with frustration that it affects their ability to solve problems.

Kids feel safe in routines, and routines help them learn and grow. After a few times of repeating this routine, you’ll find your kiddo starts to do this on their own. 

It’s important not to skip straight to solving the problem , because your kiddo needs to be in a calm state of mind to solve the problem, and also they need to know their feelings are valid. 

  • The first thing to do when your kiddo is struggling with problem-solving is to validate their emotions.

In doing this, they will feel more understood and learn that their emotions are okay. There are no bad feelings, and we must learn how to manage our emotions. 

This might sound something like “Oh, I can see you are really frustrated that the block won’t fit on there right. Let’s take some deep breaths to help us calm down before we think about what to do next.”

  • Next, work through your calm-down process . This may be taking some deep breaths together, hugging a stuffie, or giving your kiddo some quiet time to calm down their heart and mind.
  • Identify the problem . This sounds like something you may have already done (before the meltdown) but it’s important to be very clear on the problem you’re solving. Have the child tell you their problem out loud.
  • Move on to solution-finding . When your kiddo is ready, talk about what the problem is and three possible solutions. When possible, let your kiddo do all of the talking. This allows him to practice his problem-solving skills. It’s important to remind him that the first thing he tries may not work, and that’s ok. There’s always another way to solve the problem. If he’s prepared for this, solutions that don’t work won’t be such a frustrating experience. 
  • After you’ve done that, test your solutions one by one. See what works. If you haven’t found a solution yet, go back and think of different ways you might be able to solve your problem and try again.

problem solving skills baby toys

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>Activate their superpower of perseverance so that they can turn around a meltdown and keep trying

>Inspire them to use perseverance …even when it’s hard

>Teach them to recognize the warning signs of giving up , and how to turn it around by taking control of their choices.

Grab your powerful FREE video lesson to teach your kiddo one of the most powerful keys to perseverance.

Powerful Activities that Teach Problem-Solving Skills to Toddlers & Preschoolers

These activities below may look simple, but don’t let that deter you from trying them. A lot happens in little developing brains and these powerful activities help toddlers and preschoolers make connections and develop {many} essential skills-more than just problem-solving.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.  

Puzzles are fun and a great way to encourage cognitive development in children. They are great for spacial reasoning and strengthening problem-solving skills. They also develop memory skills, critical thinking, and the ability to plan and execute the plan. Toddlers will enjoy the simple puzzles, and preschoolers will do great with floor puzzles with larger puzzle pieces.

problem solving skills baby toys

Doing Simple Chores

Doing simple chores is a great way to teach children problem-solving skills, and it strengthens responsibility and perseverance as well. 

During the toddler years , you may start with just picking up their toys, or helping you put their dirty clothes in the hamper. 

Preschoolers can take their dirty dishes to the sink (or load them in the dishwasher), collect the trash, dust, wipe baseboards, and do their own personal care items like making their bed, taking care of their dirty clothes, and putting clean clothes away.

Stacking Rings

When watching a toddler play with stacking rings it doesn’t look like much is happening, but playing with these toys is full of ways to encourage development. It helps with visual and spacial perception and planning ahead, but it also with balance control, crossing the midline, creative play, and gross motor skills. Not to mention it’s a great opportunity to practice problem-solving. 

problem solving skills baby toys

Playing Hide-and-Seek

Hide and seek has many surprising benefits for kids. Playing hide and seek is like a treasure hunt that helps develop gross motor skills and encourages physical development, as well as problem-solving skills. It also helps young children develop visual tracking, working memory, and social-emotional skills.

Preschooler playing construction worker

Imaginative Play

Imaginative play (also called role-play) builds important skills. Through pretending to be in different situations, kids develop social skills, emotional skills, better communication, and problem-solving skills. Imaginative play is a great idea for young toddlers all the way to older children.

Free Play 

Many young children don’t have {enough} time for free play. Free play is important for healthy brain development , not only developing imagination, cooperation, physical skills, and independence but also providing a great opportunity to strengthen problem-solving skills. 

Playing with Wooden Blocks

Building blocks are a fun way for children to develop creative thinking, imagination, problem-solving, fine motor skills, and if working with others, cooperation, communication, and friendship.

problem solving skills baby toys

Playing Memory

Memory games improve attention, focus, visual recognition, and concentration. It helps children recognize details and of course, strengthens problem-solving skills. 

problem solving skills baby toys

Ask Questions

When I see my son struggling with something, my first instinct is to give him choices or at least lead him in the right direction. The better thing to do is to ask very open-ended questions that lead his process, not his thoughts.

Questions like “What’s one way to solve your problem?” are much more effective in teaching problem-solving skills than “Well, where did you last see your stuffy?” 

Read Books and Social Stories

Reading books is one of my favorite ways to teach any skill. It’s extremely effective at teaching, and it’s also an amazing bonding time with kids.

When we read stories, our brain reacts as if we’re living in the story. This is why reading books about skills such as problem-solving is so effective. 

Kids of all ages learn from the people they love . (Yes, even those older kids who you don’t think are paying attention.) Often as adults, we’re too busy going through our daily routine to think about talking about the way we solved the problem at work that day.

Talking about how you use skills such as problem-solving, perseverance, and integrity is a great way to set an example, and an expectation that this is how we do things, and it will provide encouragement for your kiddo to do the same.

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are a great group activity that can strengthen your child’s logical thinking and problem-solving skills.

When Your Kiddo is Ready, Add These Activities

Preschoolers would benefit from all of the fun activities on the list above and when they’re ready, feel free to add in the following activities.   

Mazes are great for problem-solving and perseverance, but your kiddo will need to have decent fine motor skills to do these activities. Mazes are one of our favorite activities. We love to take our activity book of mazes in the car with us for road trips. 

problem solving skills baby toys

Board Games  

Board games are a good way to strengthen problem-solving, teamwork, planning skills, patience, sportsmanship, and communication skills. They also strengthen family relationships by providing some intentional time of connection .

Any board game can also be turned into an academic game with just a deck of cards for whatever skill you’re working on. If you’re working on the alphabet, put one letter on each card. Before each player’s turn, they draw a letter card and say the letter’s name. (You may accidentally forget the name of a letter every now and then to see if your kiddo is really paying attention!) 

Allow Opportunities for Hands-On Investigations

Kids are tactile. They love to touch and explore things with their hands. This is a good activity for toddlers also, as long as they are out of the putting everything in their mouth stage. Hands-on exploration is great for language development, sensory exploration, and problem-solving.

Allowing kids to investigate with their hands allows them to see how the world works up close. It also gives them time and space to try to make things work…and problem-solve when it doesn’t go as they think it should.

The Most Difficult Way (and Most Important Way) To Strengthen Problem-Solving Skills

Watching our kids struggle is hard ! We don’t want to see them having a hard time…and most of the time we don’t want to deal with the impending meltdown. Standing back and giving our kids time and space to work through even simple problems is hard to do. It’s also the most important way to strengthen problem-solving skills. 

As parents, we’re like frogs in boiling water. When our kids are infants, they need us to recognize their needs and solve them immediately. As they get older, they can point to what they want, but we still have a lot of interpreting and problem-solving to do on our own. If we aren’t careful, we stay in this stage and don’t teach our kiddos the steps to problem-solving for themselves. 

The next most difficult thing? Allowing natural consequences to happen. (As long as your child is safe of course.) If your child saves their money for a long time to buy a new toy, but walks down the toy aisle and picks up something you know they’ll be disappointed with, let it happen. It will teach a valuable lesson that will last for years to come.

Another Essential Part of Problem-Solving

Perseverance is a big part of problem-solving. We are rarely able to solve problems the first time, and it’s essential that kids can find more than one solution to a problem. Studies have found that perseverance is actually the biggest predictor of success, even more than aptitude or raw talent. 

An entire module is dedicated to perseverance in our course for kids, Super Kid Adventures . Your kiddo will get 25 teacher-led lessons on character traits (perseverance, empathy, friendship, responsibility, and wellness) and activities that take their learning further. 

Super Kid Adventures

Want a free preview? Grab a FREE Perseverance video lesson that teaches your kiddo one of the most important secrets that help them use perseverance.

Want More? 

If you like this, you’ll love: 

The Ultimate List of Books that Teach Perseverance

7 Simple Ways to Encourage Independence in Young Children

How to Help Your Child Develop Self-Help Skills

Your Turn 

What are your favorite ways to teach problem-solving skills?

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About Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a mama of two boys, a former teacher, and the founder of Discovery Play with Littles. Her mission is to make raising kids with character simple and fun. Join us for our best learning through play ideas, character growth activities, and family connection ideas so you can watch your child thrive.

Reader Interactions

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As a SLP trying to guide parents as I work with their child. I would like to know what toys to recommend to my parents as I assist in guiding their child’s development in cognition and expressive language.

Free Perseverance Lesson

Perseverance is the biggest predictor of success, even more than raw talent or aptitude.

Grab a FREE lesson to teach your kiddo one of the keys to perseverance...which is how we talk to our brains.

They'll learn what to say when they encounter something difficult, and why it's so important.

PLAY is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood. -Mr. Rogers

Top 10 Toys that Encourage Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving

ZippyPaws - SmartyPaws - Puzzler Dog Toy - 3 in 1 Interactive Dog Toy Puzzle, Teaches Problem Solving Skills, Teal

  • 3 In 1 Interactive Puzzle- Features three levels of play to keep your dog entertained - slide, rotate, and flip!
  • Entertains Your Dog- Teach your dog problem solving skills as they work their way through each level of play
  • Treat Motivated Entertainment- Designed with six pockets to fit kibble or treats, your dog will love the challenge
  • Easy To Clean- Our puzzler is dishwasher safe so it’s easy to care for after play time
  • Unique Design - Beautifully-designed, high-quality pet products for the modern dog and dog owner.

Little Chubby One Busy Board Set - 8x10 Inches - Learning Activity Toy - Educational, Helps Develop Motor & Dress Skills - Color, Hand Eye Coordination - Learn to Button, Buckle, Zip, Snap, Lace & Tie

  • Sensory Busy Board Set: Little Chubby One’s Busy Board Set is full of six wonderful, hands-on sensory activities to keep little ones engaged while helping them to develop their fine motor skills.
  • Developmental Toys: When children buckle, tie, zip, snap, button and lace, these Sensory Busy Boards provide tactile and sensory stimulation while helping to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination at the same time.
  • Learning Tools: In addition to fine motor skills, these interactive toys teach lacing and tying skills to improve finger dexterity and strength. Each board is furnished in a vibrant color, promoting cognitive development and encouraging color recognition to boot.
  • Portable Design: Each Sensory Busy Board is lightweight and portable, perfectly sized for little hands to hold and carry so you can keep your child engaged at home, in the car, on a plane, while running errands and when you’re away.
  • Great Gift Idea: Recommended for ages 3 and up, the Busy Board Set makes a perfect gift on birthdays, holidays and special occasions. It also provides a sense of calm, making it a great choice for those with sensory processing disorder, ADHD or autism.

Toys for 3 Year Old Boys - Large Race Track - 3 Year Old Boy Birthday Gift Ideas - Car Toys for Boys 3-4-5-6-7 - Montessori/Thinking/Fine Motor Skills Toys

  • 【Interactive Buttons & Levers】Features 6 buttons and levers that guide cars through 8 exciting obstacles on the track. As kids figure out which buttons & levers keep the cars moving, they'll enhance their fine & gross motor skills. It encourages resourcefulness & critical thinking. With every play session, they accumulate experience & enhance their problem-solving skills. As they master the mechanics of the track, they will through the track more smoothly, leading to a sense of accomplishment.
  • 【Educational Fun】We've incorporated Montessori-style learning into this toy, making education an integral part of playtime. Each obstacle on the track corresponds to a specific button or lever, featuring the same color. This intentional design helps them explore, identify and remember colors while they play and they will develop problem-solving skills, grasp basic physics concepts, and learn the names of different vehicles—all in a playful and engaging way.
  • 【No Batteries Needed】Say goodbye to the hassle of replacing batteries. Our race track playset operates without the need for batteries, ensuring unlimited playtime and endless entertainment. In case of missing or broken parts, or any other concern, please do not hesitate to contact us on Amazon. We will promptly find a satisfying solution to your concern.
  • 【Spacious 14x12x9 Inches Design of Track】 Our playset boasts a generous size, measuring 14 inches in length, 12 inches in width, and 9 inches in height. Bigger is Better—our larger size guarantees a better game experience. With more space to play and explore, your child's imagination can run wild. Perfect Christmas gifts for kids stocking stuffers. With a jumbo-sized and high-quality box package about 12.8x12.8x6.3 inches.
  • 【Quality Craftsmanship】 Crafted from durable & high-quality ABS plastic, our playset is well-made & designed to withstand hours of play. It's built to last, ensuring long-term enjoyment for your child. We also put safety in mind as we understand the importance of safety when it comes to your child. That's why our toy has been lab tested for safety in accordance with all ASTM F963-17 & CPSIA regulatory standards. Our promise to you is a safe & engaging toy that your little one will love!

YHZAN Montessori Sensory Toys Early Learning Basic Life Skills Busy Board Learn to Dress Practice Boards - Zip, Snap, Button, Buckle, Lace & Tie Toys for 2 3 4 Year Old Toddlers

  • Develop the kids basic Skills,Do & un-do buttons, snaps, buckles, shoe lacing, zipper, tieing,great tools for young hands and learning minds to grasp and learn the concept of using everyday items
  • To teach self-reliance, self-control & coordination of movements,montessori sensory material,life skills development material
  • Tie,button,Snap,Lace,Zip,Buckle,life skills practice busy board, great for little hands,Good way to help them learn how to tie knots,Button,Zip,Basically like a mobile sensory board
  • For preschool teaching aids,home educational tools,montessori dressing frame,Travel Toy,Develop Life skills and patience
  • Famous Montessori Material-dressing frame,The toys are wonderful and great for play and learning,gift for little kids

Garden Adventure Toy Speech Therapy Toys Language Development Toys Wooden Montessori Toys Shape Sorting Toys Educational Toys Children 3 4 5 6 Toys Fine Motor Toys Preschool Toys

  • 【Premium Montessori Toys】This garden wooden toy includes 12 fruit blocks, 8 carrots, 1 magnetic bunny, 10 magnetic worms, and a five-sided cart with a variety of shapes. Toddler montessori toys age 3-5.
  • 【Safety Comes First】Your baby’s safety is everything! Every piece is made of quality light weight wood, smooth and rounded edges and non-toxic water-based paint finish. Children are well-protected while playing, satisfying parent’s wish for safety and quality.
  • 【Speech and Language Development Skills】 Parents can target speech and language skills while playing with this toy with their child. Parents can model fruit, vegetable, animal and bug names to target vocabulary. Parents can also target expanding on a child’s sentence structure by modeling longer sentences “I see a yellow banana”, “I got a yellow worm'', “ The bunny is eating the carrot.” Following directions can be targeted with this toy “put the banana in the cart”, “have the bunny pick out the blue worm”, “first put the apple in the cart, then pick out the pink worm.”
  • 【Speech Therapist Recommended】 This toy is used by real speech therapists and recommended by speech therapists to help speech and language development.
  • 【Fun Educational Learning】The cute wooden garden toy can work on language, speech, fruit recognition, shape matching, color recognition, and sorting. A variety of game methods can be used to entertain and teach your child. Educational toys for toddlers.

Buckle Toys - Boomer Square - Learning Activity Toddler Plane Travel Essential Toy - Develop Motor Skills and Problem Solving

  • EDUCATIONAL: This stuffed toy provides training and assistance for brain development, with activities that encourage kids to learn about colors, numbers, counting & more.
  • SENSORY TOY: Teach your little boy or girl (baby, toddler, preschool, pre-kindergarten) early life skills with a zipper pocket, embroidered numbers & shapes, & 6 colorful buckles. Size 6.5” x 6.5”
  • TRAVEL SIZE: If you're traveling by car, bus or airplane, this small quiet toy is easy to bring anywhere. It may easily be clipped to a stroller, high chair, or car seat to keep children busy.
  • DESIGN: For toddlers & those with special needs, this happy blue plush square made of pillow like material is the best quiet toy that aids in the development of fine motor & problem solving skills.
  • AUTHENTIC BUCKLE TOY: Discover the original high-quality educational toddler toys. We are a trusted US-based brand. Our genuine & unique items include Sensory Squares, Busy Boards, Stuffed Animals, Backpacks, & Activity Cubes.

linzy Toys 16' Dark Skin Educational Doll/Adorable Plush Doll Comes with a Removable Outfit Packed with Closures-Perfect for Testing a Little One's Problem Solving and Motor Skills

  • INTERACTIVE: Adorable plush Doll comes with clad, a removable outfit packed with closures-perfect for testing a little one's growing problem solving and motor skills.
  • TODDLER FRIENDLY TODDLER FRIENDLY: Educational Doll comes with buttons, zippers, self stick tabs, buckles and laces; All accessories are embroidered and safely sewn onto doll to ensure safety for children during play time.
  • LEARN INDEPENDENT SKILLS: Your little one will Learn to dress, tie their shoe and attach velcro. This Educational Doll works great with everyone who is looking to relearn motor skills due to age and for new development.
  • FUN TO PLAY & LEARN: Kids will love to play and develop skills with this Educational Doll. It is beautifully designed with bright colors, and patterns that all kids love!
  • ABSOLUTELY SAFE AND EASY TO CARE: Linzy Toys is focused on providing your family with products that will become some of your favorite memorabilia and last for a lifetime. All our plush dolls meet or exceed the ASTM F963 & CPSIA Safety Standards, that come with rigorous quality controls. To care for her, simply spot-clean the desired area, and leave flat to dry.

Skoolzy Learning & Education Fine Motor Skills Toy 120 Links Math Counters Manipulative for 3, 4-8 yeas Old Toddlers Occupational Therapy Games for Preschool Daycare Supplies

  • TODDLER LEARNING TOYS: The toddler linking toys are beginner STEM toys and are great for building fine motor skills and counting, patterning and sorting activities. These kids connecting toys build confidence as kids work on the mathematics skills needed with addition and subtraction. Use the included activity E-book for toddler activities, leaning colors and games for toddlers with these plastic connecting toys for toddlers
  • FINE MOTOR TOYS: Link together pieces while improving independent play, hand eye coordination, spatial skills and dexterity. Great occupational therapy toy for sensory development for autistic children. The fine motor skills toys for 5 year old can be used as Montessori materials, counting toys, toddler educational toys and connecting toys for kids and games for 3 year olds. Basic stem toys for boys and girls.
  • LINKING TOYS FOR TODDLERS: The kids motor skill toys includes a storage tote to easily transport your math links for mathematics game while on the go! These Montessori Materials are the best learning toys and toddler educational toys and connecting toys for kids. These can be used as counting toys, color sorting toys and games for 3 year olds. Basic stem toys for boys and girls. They also work as occupational therapy toys
  • PRESCHOOL LEARNING TOYS - MATH MANIPULATIVES: Use these preschool toys and get a head start on your math skills, color recognition and sequencing with the great manipulatives for toddlers, preschool and Kindergarten. These occupational therapy toys work great for seniors and stroke victims too. Use the toddler fine motor skills toys for 3 year old boys and girls to learn counting by 2's, 3's and 4's, color sorting and even use as daycare supplies
  • COMPLETE TRAVEL TOYS FOR TODDLERS: Contains 20 links of each color of the rainbow and downloadable sequence cards to increase the many ways to learn, sort and count with the Montessori toys for toddlers. The toddler connecting toys for 3 year old girl toys and toddler boy toys are perfect for travel and on the go using the toy storage tote. You can use the toddler travel toys on an airplane, to the park, to grandmas house or next door for a play date.

Supplim Busy Board Montessori Toy for Toddlers 1 2 3 4 5 Years Old - Educational Activity Sensory Board Preschool Learning Fine Motor Skills Toys, Toddler Travel Toy for Plane Car, Gift for Boys Girls

  • 【New Design Busy Board】– Upgraded Designed with more sections and more fun. Compared with other busy boards, we designed this new Montessori busy board with more toddler activities for kids to explore and have fun. Features over 18 learning activities that help kids build dexterity and develop learning skills for preschoolers, including zippers, gears, buttons, shoelaces, clocks, alphabet, animals, numbers, calendar learning games and more
  • 【25-IN-1 Montessori Toys】Sensory busy board helps kids natural learn naturally through play. Zippers, shoelaces, buttons, belt buckles, alphabet, clock learning and finger counting are all designed for basic skills learning. It's very nice for toddlers to learn how to tie and buckle, and all the other fun learning this book supplies. Well detailed educational package with different activities and exciting learning experiences.
  • 【Durable Educational Toy for Toddlers】Every toy is securely attached to the board for your child's safety; Our sensory toys for toddlers is made of soft felt fabric material, It is very durable and all pieces on the busy board are securely fixed. Keep your kids busy and safe, you can enjoy your time for hours!
  • 【Busy Board for Travel】Lightweight and compact design, the child can easily put it in the backpack and take it anywhere he/she wants. Toddler maybe gets bored on road trip or flight and hates being restricted by the car seat. Plane toys for toddlers 1-6 are very effective at take kid many time that keep them busy & keep queit.Besnel busyboard can be carried by hand or carried on one shoulder,easy to carry wherever you go.
  • 【Perfect Gift for Toddler】Sensory activity board for toddlers 1-6 is designed with unique patterns, preschool learning activities and entertaining gameplays that are appealing for kids to play. This toddler busyboard is perfect gift learning toy for their next birthday, Christmas, or special occasion to start hands-on and screen-free play and learning.

Montessori Toys for 3 4 5 Year Old, 6 in 1 Wooden Board Bead Game, Preschool Fine Motor Skills Toddler Toys for Kids Ages 3 4 5, Color Sorting Educational Toys, Magnetic Fishing Gift for Boys Girls

  • 6-IN-1 Montessori Toys - The multifunctional preschool Montessori toys for 3 + year old kids provide a nice interactive chance. 1, Two fishing rods will allow 2 kids to start a toddler fishing game battle. 2, Put the top of this wooden board off, 1-3 kids can play bead maze, using clip, spoon and chopsticks. 3, Another kid can play threading game, learning math. Wooden board bead game montessori is a diverse range of baby toys that provide endless fun for kids!
  • Educational Toys for Toddlers - This Montessori toys contains many interesting toddler activities such as fishing games, clip beads game, education threading game, number stacking toys. There are 10 cards showing 20 kinds of beads shape, satisfying many kids’ need for fun learning. The montessori set is great to develop babies' hand-to-eye coordination, problem-solving ability, and basic logic skills. This rainbow puzzle is suitable for early learning toys for toddlers
  • Preschool Learning Toy - Let kids learn while playing,kids will learn their first basic arithmetic when they're threading this number blocks. Use the colorful wooden rainbow rings of this preschool learning toys to teach boys girls to count and color matching. Sorting games with number stacking will improve logic and hand-eye coordination. Parent’s good choice of Montessori toys for 3 4 5 6 year old boys girls.
  • Safe & Premium Wooden Toys - Made of high quality natural wood with water-based paint, tested to meet U.S. standards, safe for children and reassuring for moms. The innovative design of the wooden toys features different kinds of sea creatures, such as cute little fish, crabs, and starfish. The bright colors will attract children to play for a long time. This wooden peg board is an educational learning toy for girls and boys ages 3-6.
  • Ideal Christmas Gifts for Kids - Our wooden sorting toys for toddlers are the perfect toddler gifts for kids ages 3 - 6. The fun Montessori toys are the perfect gift choice for your child's birthday, kindergarten activities, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and field trips. Let's get this lovely gift set and begin a fun learning. We provide a satisfactory after-sales service guarantee, if you have any questions, Please contact us.

What types of toys can be used to teach problem solving skills?

Q2: what are the benefits of using toys to teach problem solving skills, q3: how can parents and educators help children use toys to teach problem solving skills.

Toys that Teach Problem Solving Skills

Positive Parenting HQ

Positive Parenting HQ

Stacking toys for toddlers: enhancing motor skills and cognitive growth though play.

Stacking Toys For Toddlers

As an enthusiast around toddler play, I’ve seen firsthand the profound impact toys can have on a child’s development. Among various playthings, stacking toys hold a special place. They are more than just a simple construction toy; they are tools that aid in the holistic growth of toddlers. In this article, I’ll delve into the multifaceted benefits of stacking toys for toddlers and how they contribute significantly to the developmental milestones of young children.

Understanding Stacking Toys For Toddlers

Stacking toys, as the name suggests, are designed to be stacked, one over the other, in a specific order or sequence. They are a type of construction toy and come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, ranging from simple rings on a pole to more complex interlocking pieces. They are made from different materials like wood, plastic, or fabric, each offering a unique sensory experience .

Unlike conventional toys, stacking toys for toddlers challenge them to think, plan, and execute. They are not just about putting one piece over another; they require thought and strategy. This unique attribute makes them stand out and provides a range of developmental benefits.

How Stacking Toys Enhance Cognitive Skills

Building problem-solving skills.

When toddlers engage with stacking toys, they are presented with a problem to solve: how to balance and arrange the pieces. This fosters early problem-solving abilities, a skill that is crucial throughout life.

Developing Spatial Awareness

Stacking toys also enhance spatial awareness. Toddlers learn to understand and navigate space better as they figure out how pieces fit together. This understanding is fundamental in grasping more complex concepts in math and science later in life.

How Stacking Toys Promote Physical Development

Improving hand-eye coordination.

As toddlers pick up, position, and stack each piece, they hone their hand-eye coordination. This skill is essential for tasks requiring fine motor skills, such as writing and drawing.

Fine and Gross Motor Skill Enhancement

Stacking toys also promote both fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills are developed through the small, precise movements of picking up and placing the toys, while gross motor skills are engaged when children reach, stretch, and balance to build their construction.

Stacking Toys Can Boost Emotional and Social Growth

Encouraging patience and perseverance.

These types of toys teach toddlers the virtues of patience and perseverance. As they attempt to stack and balance , they learn that success may require multiple attempts, instilling a sense of determination and resilience.

Fostering Social Interaction and Sharing

When played in a group, stacking toys become a tool for social development. Toddlers learn to share pieces, take turns, and even engage in cooperative play , laying the foundation for healthy social interactions.

Stacking Toys Can Stimulate Creativity and Imagination

Encouraging creative play.

These toys open a world of imagination for toddlers. They’re not just stacking; they’re constructing towers, castles, or whatever their minds can conjure. This imaginative, open ended play is crucial for creative thinking and problem-solving later in life.

Imaginative Scenarios and Storytelling

As children stack, they often narrate stories or scenarios, enhancing their storytelling skills . This not only boosts their imagination but also aids in language development and emotional expression.

Educational Benefits Of Stacking Toys For Toddlers

Introducing basic math concepts.

These types of construction toys introduce basic concepts of STEM learning , such as size, shape, order, and quantity, in an intuitive and engaging way. This early exposure lays a strong foundation for future academic learning.

Learning About Colors and Shapes

These toys are often colorful and come in various shapes, helping toddlers to recognize and name different colors and shapes, an essential part of early cognitive development.

The Effect Of Stacking Toys On Sensory Development

Exploring textures and materials.

Different materials of stacking toys provide a sensory experience , which is vital for the cognitive development of toddlers. It helps them to differentiate textures and understand the physical world.

Color Recognition and Visual Perception

The vivid colors and varying shapes of stacking toys are visually stimulating and aid in developing color recognition and visual perception skills.

Our Top Picks For Stacking Toys For Toddlers

Delving deeper into the world of play and development, let’s explore ‘Our Top Picks for Stacking Toys for Toddlers’ to help you find the perfect options for your little one’s growth and enjoyment.

Grimm’s Montessori Stacking Rainbow

This best-selling Grimm's Stacking Rainbow

The best selling Montessori Toy is very versatile allowing kids to stack, sort and build. Made from lime wood and non-toxic water based colour stain, your children can let their imaginations run wild; they can use the peices in a whole host of creative ways.

Classic Montessori Wooden Stacking Toy

Wooden Stacking Toy

This toy helps children to develop the grasp and hand-eye coordination. It also introduces them to the concept of sequence and size, as they learn to sort and stack the rings from largest to smallest. 

Initially, they will spend their time figuring out how to remove the rings and as they grow they will begin to show more of an interest in stacking and placing the rings onto the dowel

Stacking Garden Friends

Stacking Garden Friends

This adorable stacking toy is made from solid wood and painted with cute garden motifs. Try getting your toddler to stack them all up on the tree without them falling down!

This game encourages logical thinking, inspires imaginative play, tests patience, develops problem solving skills and enhances fine motor skills.

Fat Brain Spin Again Corkscrew Stack-and-Sort Toy

Fat Brain Toys SpinAgain - Corkscrew Stack-and-Sort Toy for Babies & Toddlers

This is a stacking toy with a spin—literally! Drop the vibrant discs onto the threaded corkscrew pole and go ooooh as they spin fast and smooth to settle onto the reversible base. Choosing how to set the base is half the fun for your toddler.

Pick either the wobble base or turn it over for a solid seat. Each disc is dual-colored, and from largest to smallest, they form a dynamic rainbow utilizing fun shades like magenta, lime, and teal, and your more traditional shades of lemon, red, and sky blue

Cocoon Stacking Stones

The Sweet Cocoon Stacking Stones

These are not your average wooden block set.  This magnificent construction toy gives free rein to the imagination and develops concentration, building skills, and fine motor skills.

Includes 20 wooden stones, with different shapes and cutouts. They are the perfect size and the unique shapes provide a lot of tactile feedback.  

Stacking and Nesting Cubes

The Sweet Cocoon Stacking Stones

Your child will be drawn to the vibrant illustrations of the animals, objects, actions and numbers and these beautfiful stacking cubes. Stack them vertically, lay them horizontally or nest them inside one another!

Up to the Stars Stacking Game

The Sweet Cocoon Stacking Stones

Help this rocket cross mountains, clouds and parts of the sky in order to reach the stars with this clever stacking game.

Children learn about balancing objects, resilience, perseverance, problem solving and math (e.g. number recognition) as they stack these wooden blocks in order from 1 to 16. 

Integrating Stacking Toys into Daily Play

Creative play ideas.

To keep the play engaging, introduce challenges or set goals. For example, ask your toddler to stack the toys in a specific order or create a specific shape. This not only keeps the play interesting but also enhances learning.

Engaging with Your Toddler

Incorporating family fun time with your toddler not only strengthens your bond but also provides an opportunity for guided learning. You can introduce new concepts, correct mistakes, and encourage exploration during playtime.

The Role of Parents and Caregivers

Guided play sessions.

Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in guiding play sessions. They can set up scenarios or challenges, encourage exploration, and provide positive reinforcement, enhancing the learning experience.

Observing and Supporting Development

Observing how your toddler interacts with stacking toys can provide insights into their developmental stage and preferences. Use these observations to tailor future play sessions and support their growth.

Long-Term Benefits Of Stacking Toys For Toddlers

Academic readiness.

The skills developed through playing with stacking toys, such as problem-solving, spatial awareness, and mathematical concepts, lay the groundwork for academic readiness and success in school.

Lifelong Learning Skills

Beyond immediate benefits, stacking toys help instill a love for learning and a curiosity about the world, skills that are valuable throughout a child’s life.

Adressing Some Common Misconceptions

Some may view stacking toys as too simplistic or not technologically advanced. However, their simplicity is what makes them powerful learning tools, stimulating creativity and problem-solving in ways that high-tech toys may not.

The true value of stacking toys lies in their ability to develop a range of skills in a fun, engaging, and, most importantly, developmentally appropriate way for toddlers.

Final Words From Me

Stacking toys for toddlers are more than just playthings; they are essential tools in a toddler’s development. From enhancing cognitive skills to fostering creativity and emotional growth , these toys provide a foundation for lifelong learning and development. As parents and caregivers, encouraging the use of stacking toys can make a significant difference in a child’s early years.

What age is appropriate for stacking toys? Stacking toys are suitable for toddlers as young as 6 months old, with more complex versions appropriate for older toddlers.

Can stacking toys help with my toddler’s speech development? Yes, through storytelling and imaginative play, stacking toys for toddlers can aid in language development and vocabulary expansion.

How often should my toddler play with stacking toys? Incorporating construction toys into daily play can provide ongoing developmental benefits, but balance with other types of play is key.

Are plastic stacking toys safe for toddlers? Yes, as long as they are made from non-toxic materials and are age-appropriate in size to avoid choking hazards.

Can stacking toys prepare my child for school? Absolutely. They help develop foundational skills like problem-solving, spatial awareness, and basic math concepts , which are all crucial for school readiness.

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Stevie Harper

I have 2 beautiful children and a passion for all things positive parenting. It is my aim with this website to share the information I have gained on this subject and also to highlight some of the products and services that have made my life better as a parent.

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The 27 Best Baby Toys For Ages 0-12 Months

problem solving skills baby toys

What Toys Are Popular For Infants?

The best infant toys depend on many aspects, including your baby’s age, developmental milestones, and interests, but learning toys are among the best sellers.

Toys that light up and/or make a sound are also popular for infants. They’re also great for motivating your little one to crawl, walk, and eventually run or develop other skills. (1)

Setting A Strong Foundation: Educational Toys

Babies learn most through play.

Educational activity toys can make playtime a learning opportunity for your little one. These learning toys help them develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, cognition, social skills, language, and other foundational skills.

Aside from baby books (soft or board books), your little one can also learn their first words, counting, problem-solving skills, math, and other skills with educational kid toys.

Montessori-type toys, such as those offered by Lovevery and KiwiCo , are simple learning toys that let your child develop their creativity, imagination, independence, concentration, and problem-solving skills at every milestone stage. (2)

Age-Appropriate & Developmental Toys

The best baby toys match little ones’ emerging abilities and milestones or stages of development.

For example, a remote-controlled toy for your 6-year-old is too complicated for your 1-year-old.

A rattle or shaker might bring lots of fun to your 4-month-old but might seem boring for your 3-year-old kid .

Should I Buy Toys For My Newborn?

Yes. Although your newborn spends most of their time sleeping, they can already start learning and being stimulated even at this young age.

Since they’re usually on their back, play gyms with hanging toys are bestsellers for this age range. Toys that make sounds or something they can reach for or listen to can also make a good choice at this age. (1)

Black or white contrast cards are also thought to promote neural connections and brain development. (3)

Can Big Kids Use Baby Toys?

Yes. Plenty of baby toys might still be interesting for older kids, or they might repurpose old toys.

For example, toy blocks aren’t just for toddlers . As your child grows, they’re likely to build more complicated designs with them or use their imagination to transform them into other uses.

Our 27 Recommendations For The Best Baby Toys

These toys can be a good choice for your little ones, or they can also be great options for baby gifts (instead of just sending gift cards):

Toys For Ages 0-2 Months

1. lovevery the play gym.

  • Age Recommendation: 0+ months

This play gym features five developmental activity zones to promote exploration and growth. It comes with four sets of cards, four detachable activity toys, and a play guide with stage-based tips for parents.

The play space converts into a baby play mat and fort for toddlers.

2. Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick And Play Piano

This 4-in-1 play mat grows with your baby. It features a play gym and an activity center with a built-in piano (can convert into a take-along toy) that plays 65+ educational lessons, sounds, and songs.

Other toys in this musical toy:

  • Crinkle panda
  • Monkey cymbal clackers
  • BPA-free elephant teether
  • Lion rattle
  • Baby-safe self-discovery mirror

3. Sassy Black And White High Contrast Peek-A-Boo Soft Book

This sensory toy features bold black and white shapes to catch your baby’s attention. The peek-a-boo flaps strengthen their hand-eye coordination, while the crinkle-filled pages provide your baby with auditory stimulation.

It has a chain link so that you can hang this toy on your baby’s stroller .

This soft book is small enough to fit in your diaper bag .

4. Lamaze Freddie The Firefly

This soft toy also doubles as a teether and an on-the-go activity center. It features a baby-safe mirror hidden in the firefly’s wing and a clip to attach the toy to your baby’s car seat , stroller, crib , or diaper bag.

The firefly toy also has bright, colorful parts with different patterns, stripes, and colors.

5. Tikiri Aria Organic Doll

This handmade rag doll is made from safe, non-toxic, and 100% organic cotton. It also comes with a removable dress, nappy, and bandana.

This baby girl doll is among Tikiri Toys’ bestsellers.

Toys For Ages 3-4 Months

1. lovevery the charmer play kit.

  • Age Recommendation: 3-4 months

This Montessori toy set helps develop your baby’s speech, oral motor strength, and social awareness. It also features different things to make tummy time fun.

The set includes the following:

  • Wooden rattle
  • Rolling bell
  • Baby-safe mirror card and framed mirror
  • Crinkle bag
  • Silicone triple teether
  • Triangle teether
  • Organic teething cloth
  • Black-and-white, high-contrast card set
  • Hand-to-hand puzzle discs

2. Splashing Kids Tummy Time Mat & Activity Center

  • Age Recommendation: 3+ months

This colorful, inflatable water mat has an activity center with brightly colored prints and floating toys.

The inner splash pad can be filled with water for sensory stimulation. You can also add other bath toys inside the splash mat.

This baby toy is free from BPA (bisphenol-A, a toxic substance used in plastic manufacturing).

SAFETY WARNING: Never let your baby play unsupervised in this splash mat if there’s water inside. Babies can drown even in water that’s just 1 inch deep.

3. Infantino Prop-A-Pillar Tummy Time & Seated Support

This is a caterpillar-shaped baby lounger and seat positioner with detachable toys: a crinkle sound sun and a BPA-free teether.

It has different sections that you can reconfigure to create a play mat, lounger, or seat positioner.

4. Fisher-Price Tummy Time Grow-With-Me Llama

problem solving skills baby toys

This soft toy also doubles as a push tummy wedge for your baby while playing. It can become a plush toy for your baby when they’re older. The llama plushie is machine-washable but make sure to remove the other toys.

Each toy set comes with:

  • Llama plushie
  • Watermelon rattle
  • Carrot teether
  • Baby-safe mirror

The smaller toys can be packed inside the llama plushie’s wraparound.

5. Kids2 Baby Einstein Light-Up & Musical Take Along Toy

This take-along toy introduces your baby to music and features a selection of 10 songs, including classical tunes from Chopin and Mozart. It has volume control.

6. Melissa & Doug Flip Fish Baby Toy

  • Age Recommendation: 1+ months

This soft toy has different features to engage your little one’s interest:

  • Peek-a-boo scales with hidden pictures
  • Squeaker tail for grasping to help develop finger strength
  • Shatterproof baby-safe mirror
  • Crinkly scales for tactile exploration (related to the sense of touch)
  • Washable fish toy in a variety of textures and colors

7. Kids2 Bright Starts Oball Shaker Rattle Toy

This baby shaker toy features colorful beads that rattle with every shake. Your baby can also identify the noise-makers inside the transparent handle.

It fits inside your diaper bag for on-the-go fun options for your little one.

8. Gathre Play Mat MIDI+

This wipeable and water-resistant play mat is free from toxins, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), phthalates, and lead. It’s also compliant with CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) safety regulations.

This portable play mat has prints that your baby might find interesting. It also folds for compact transport or storage.

Aside from its use as a play mat, this product can also be used as a hangable tapestry or tablecloth.

Toys For Ages 5-6 Months

1. lovevery the senser play kit.

problem solving skills baby toys

  • Age Recommendation: 5-6 months

This Montessori play kit helps your baby develop language skills, strengthen their coordination and dexterity, and practice gross and fine motor skills.

The set also encourages fun during tummy time.

The kit comes with the following:

  • Organic cotton rainbow ball
  • Spinning rainbow drum
  • ‘Magic’ tissue box and tissues
  • Book (learning body parts)
  • Tummy time wobbler

2. Nuby USA IcyBite Gel Teether Keys

This multicolor teether doubles as a toy. It uses a gel that stays cold longer than in water-filled freezer-friendly teethers.

This colorful toy has multiple teething surfaces in a key design. It’s also BPA-free.

3. Kids2 Baby Einstein High Contrast Activity Mirror

This toy set is designed to catch your baby’s eye during tummy time with high-contrast patterns, baby-safe mirror, and flip-through flashcards.

A toy that supports cognitive development, it’s also designed to be carried around or hung on your baby’s stroller or play gym. The toys are wipeable for easy cleaning.

4. Sophie The Giraffe Teether Gift Set

problem solving skills baby toys

This baby gift set includes:

  • Sophie la Girafe teether toy
  • Mini Sophie la Girafe teether

5. Infantino Cuddly Teether Fox

  • Age Recommendation: 0+ months old

This toy also doubles as a three-textured, BPA-free teether with soft, cuddly fabrics and crinkle sounds that promote sensory exploration.

6. Mombella Mimi the Mushroom Soothing Teether Toy

  • Age Recommendation: 0-6 months

It’s a colorful toy that can also be used as a teether and pacifier . It’s made from 100% silicone and is available in different colors.

This mushroom has a suction base that you can stick on your baby’s high chair tray.

Toys For 7-12 Months

1. lovevery the inspector play kit.

  • Age Recommendation: 7-8 months

This Montessori play kit lets your baby learn by tapping into their natural curiosity about the things around them. The toys in this set can help practice nesting or stacking, learn about object permanence, and promote speech and memory development.

The set contains the following:

  • Ball dropbox
  • Wood and felt ball sets
  • Nesting stacking cups
  • Board book (basic sign language)
  • Texture cards for common words
  • Drinking cup
  • Treasure basket

2. Fat Brain Toys OombeeBall

This set of connected, wobbly balls has different colors and textures, including dots, lines, and swirls, to encourage sensory exploration and develop fine motor skills, tactile learning, spatial reasoning, and object permanence.

All the larger balls, except the smallest, can open, and they fit inside one another.

3. Baby Einstein Octoplush Musical Toy

  • Age Recommendation: 3-36 months

This plush musical octopus toy features a soft, huggable body for tactile stimulation. It also lets your baby learn the basic colors in English, French, and Spanish.

This wipeable plush toy plays classical melodies when its head is squeezed.

4. Radio Flyer All-Terrain 4-in-1 Stroll ‘N Trike

  • Age Recommendation: 9 months to 5 years

This ride-on toy grows with your little one and can be used with the following configurations:

  • Infant trike
  • Learn-to-ride-trike
  • Classic trike

For your baby’s safety, this trike has a 3-point harness, high back seat, removable canopy for UV protection, removable safety tray, and adjustable seat and parent push handle.

5. Melissa & Doug Giddy-Up & Play Activity Toy

problem solving skills baby toys

  • Age Recommendation: 9+ months

This cuddly ride-on toy features sound, full of textures, and skill-building activities.

It promotes dexterity, hand-eye coordination, fine motor strength, and grasp.

Aside from having rattling reins that your baby can shake, grasp, or pull, there’s also a shatterproof mirror to engage your baby’s interest in light or their face.

When used with batteries, squeezing the horse’s ears can activate neighing and galloping sounds.

6. Hape My First Musical Walker

problem solving skills baby toys

  • Age Recommendation: 10+ months

This music walker encourages your baby to walk but also features an activity center with musical instruments (xylophone and pound drum) and spinning blocks.

The walker has adjustable speed settings for different stages and plays fun music while your baby pushes it around.

It uses child-safe wood and natural materials with water-based paint and non-toxic finishes.

7. Manhattan Toy Brilliant Bear Magnetic Stack-up

problem solving skills baby toys

  • Age Recommendation: 0-12 months

This stacking toy introduces your baby to colors and sizes using the magnetized connecting discs and a bear face-shaped topper.

All the pieces have a non-toxic, water-based finish that meets or exceeds EN71 (European standard) and CPSIA safety regulations.

8. Merka Baby High Contrast Cards

These cards help your baby learn about some common objects and their names. It’s available in the following sets:

  • Fruits 

Each high-contrast card is in black and white. These cards are free from lead and phthalates for your baby’s safety.

Quick Guide: What Toys Do Babies Need In Their First Year?

It’s a good idea to pick appropriate toys for your baby’s age and developmental stage.

In their first year, babies typically prefer toys with faces (such as baby-safe mirrors), bright or high-contrast colors, and simple objects. (1)

Babies also love toys that make noises (e.g., rattles and shakers), squeeze toys, textured objects, and soft dolls. (1)

They also love biting on their toys, especially if they’re teething. So, toys with teethers can be a good idea.

Soft books (with fabric pages) are ideal for newborns and younger babies, while board books are great for your toddler. Your baby is more likely to tear the thin pages of regular books accidentally.

Below are some of your babies’ developmental milestones to help you pick their toys.

Milestones For Ages 0-2 Months: What Toys Should A Newborn Play With?

Your baby might show the following milestones: (4)

  • Looks at toys for a few seconds
  • Watches your move
  • Reacts to loud sounds
  • Tries to hold help up during tummy time
  • Opens their hands briefly

Suggested Toys

  • High-contrast books
  • Hanging toys
  • Activity gyms or other products with activity centers
  • Stuffed animals

Milestones & Toys For 3-4 Months

Your baby might be ready for these milestones at this age: (4)

  • Turns head toward the sound
  • Looks at their hand or feet with interest
  • Tries to grab a nearby toy or object
  • Holds a toy if you put it in their hand
  • Brings their hand to their mouth
  • Attempts or successfully pushes up on their forearms and elbows during tummy time
  • Baby loungers for tummy time
  • Sound-making toys (rattles and musical toys)
  • Different balls (textured balls, soft balls, etc.)

Milestones & Toys For 5-6 Months

Some milestones you might notice at this age: (5)

  • Begins to sit with some support
  • Moves toys or other objects from one hand to another
  • Begins to see in full color and over longer distances
  • Starts to crawl
  • Gets their first teeth
  • Understands object permanence and cause-and-effect concepts

Many babies begin to eat at this age, but ensure to check for signs of readiness and consult your pediatrician before introducing solids to a baby younger than six months of age.

  • Toys for reaching and grasping
  • Toys that make a sound (e.g., musical toys)
  • Toys for exploration
  • Baby-safe mirrors
  • Teething toys

What Toys Does A 6-Month-Old Baby Need?

Your baby might already exhibit these milestones at this age: (4)

  • Reaches for a toy they want
  • Likes to look (and “talk”) at themselves in the mirror
  • Pushes up during tummy time
  • Puts things in their mouth
  • Board books
  • Personalized books
  • Simple vehicles
  • High chair toys
  • Puzzle toys (e.g., links rings)

Milestones & Toys For 7-12 Months

Important milestones for this age: (6)

  • Starts to pull up to stand
  • Bangs toys on a solid surface (e.g., the table) to make a sound
  • Plays peek-a-boo
  • Begins to grasp toys or things using the pincer grasp (thumb and finger)
  • Starts talking or might say their first word before their first birthday
  • Activity cubes
  • Activity table
  • Animal toys
  • Stacking toys (cups & rings)
  • Activity walkers
  • Pull-along toys

How To Choose The Right Toys

Some safety reminders:

  • Baby toys should be free from any choking hazards and other injury risks (laceration, puncture, strangulation, etc.
  • Most babies love to put things, food or non-food items, in their mouths, and the toys come in contact with their skin. So, it’s best to choose products free from toxic chemicals such as BPA, PVC, phthalates, and heavy metals such as lead and cadmium.
  • For any product with batteries, always check the battery lock to ensure your baby doesn’t open it. When ingested, batteries can be deadly.

Special Features

Some toys have special features that make them ideal for different activities or a wider age range.

Montessori-type toys (e.g., Lovevery play kits) have seemingly simple learning toys that help your baby develop their imagination, creativity, concentration, independence, problem-solving, and other skills. (2)

Which Brand Is Best For Baby Toys?

Plenty of toy brands offer a wide range of baby toys and products. Here are our recommendations:

  • Melissa & Doug
  • Tikiri Toys
  • Fat Brain Toys

Other Learning Toys For Different Age Groups

  • Best educational toys
  • DIY Montessori toys
  • Educational toys
  • Educational baby toys
  • Educational toys for toddlers
  • Educational toys for 2-year-olds
  • Educational toys for 3-year-olds
  • Educational toys for 4-year-olds
  • Educational toys for 5-year-olds
  • Educational toys for 6-year-olds
  • Educational toys for 7- year-olds
  • Educational toys for 8-year-olds
  • Montessori baby toys
  • Montessori climbing toys
  • Montessori toys
  • Montessori toys for toddlers
  • Montessori toys for 1-year-olds
  • Montessori toys for 3-year-olds
  • Montessori toys for 4-year-olds
  • Montessori wooden toys
  • Outdoor toys for 1-year-olds
  • Toys for 1-year-olds
  • Toys for 2-year-olds
  • Toys for 6-year-old boys
  • Wooden educational toys

Toy Recalls To Monitor

  • Calico Critters recall (2023)
  • Kids Preferred recall (2023)
  • Target Toy recall (2022)
  • Haba recall (2022)
  • Kidoozie Play Tent recall (2022)
  • Monti Kids recall (2022)

(1) https://www.naeyc.org/resources/topics/play/toys

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6161506/

(3) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41292-019-00180-6

(4) https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html

(5) https://www.choc.org/primary-care/ages-stages/4-to-6-months/

(6) https://www.choc.org/primary-care/ages-stages/7-to-9-months/

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problem solving skills baby toys

This Homeschool House

17 Valuable Problem Solving Activities for Toddlers

Posted on February 24, 2023

problem solving skills baby toys

Problem solving activities for toddlers don’t need to be overly complicated.

I would sit there watching my toddler as he was playing with his toys during his playtime . He would be trying to fit a block into one of those circular toys with the shapes cut out.

He was trying to put a square into a circle cutout.  After a couple of attempts, he clearly couldn’t get it to work and he absolutely lost his cool.

There is yelling and screaming and the toy was eventually thrown some distance across the room. This was not a one-off event.

My second child didn’t seem to have such a lot of trouble with these kinds of situations but my third child is very much the same as her older brother.

Problem-solving skills come easier to some people than they do two others.

However problem-solving skills are an important asset to have no matter who you are or what stage of life you’re in.

Life can be complicated and challenging and we often come across situations that we’re not comfortable in and we’re not sure how to handle.

But is it really that important to start working on problem-solving skills when our kids are still just toddlers?

problem solving skills baby toys

Why are Problem-Solving Activities for Toddlers Important?

Layers. Let’s think about problem-solving skills in layers.

You may feel as though it’s not very important for your toddler to be working on problem-solving skills but that is the furthest thing from the truth.

The toddler years build-up to the childhood years build-up to teenage years and the teenage years built up to adulthood.

Each stage contains its own unique set of problem-solving that needs to happen and problem-solving skills are a crucial part of toddler cognitive development.

The problem-solving skills that a toddler must learn are not going to be the same as what a teenager is going to need to learn.

However, the skills that a toddler learns are going to directly impact the skills that a teenager is going to be able to learn and how easily they’re able to learn them.

What your toddler learns now is going to make their problem-solving so much easier when they are a teenager.

To put it frankly you want to allow your toddler to be learning problem-solving skills now in order to make their future that much easier. 

Important Skills that Problem-Solving Offers

dad helping son with problem solving activities for toddlers

Let’s just take a moment to really consider everything that your child will gain from having some problem-solving skills. Problem-solving is great but it isn’t the only thing that your child is going to gain.

They will gain the ability to be more creative, have more flexibility, patience, and lateral thinking. 

Your toddler will gain skills such as resilience, level-headedness, and persistence. These may be basic skills, to begin with, but over time they will grow and get stronger and hugely benefit them in the long run.

Your child’s ability to increase their critical thinking skills and work out their own problems is made much easier if they’re given the opportunity to practice these skills as young children.

A List of Problem-Solving Games and Activities for Toddlers

toddler stacking blocks

As parents, we can sometimes overthink how our children are going to learn specific skills. An important thing to remember is that a child’s work is play. Play is a child’s work. Children need very little to learn important skills.

However, you can definitely help set up certain scenarios where your toddler can practice the art of problem-solving.

Because children learn through play I am listing a lot of games and activities for toddlers that are meant for building up problem-solving skills. 

I have also included at least one general life activity that takes place in the home. Children do learn through play but there are also just daily activities that are going to help hone their problem-solving skills. Sometimes we just need them to be pointed out.

We often just need some new ways suggested to us when we’re at a dead end for what the best way and most fun way is to teach these kinds of cognitive skills.

problem solving skills baby toys

This seems like a really obvious answer but it is sometimes the simplest things that make the most difference.

There are there is an abundance of puzzles out there that are perfect for toddlers to home their problem-solving skills with.

My one piece of advice would be to make sure that it is age appropriate. If you pick one that is too advanced you’re only going to end up with a very frustrated toddler. 

#2 Asking Open-Ended Questions (Imaginary Games)

mom paying with toddler son

This is something that can be a really fun activity to do with your toddler and there are different ways to do it. You could set up a storytime where they are going to be telling the story themselves. To help them with this you simply ask them open-ended questions. In my experience kids absolutely love this.

You can also make this in an imaginary game. We all know how much our children love for us to play with them and to play imaginary games specifically.

Let them run the narrative by asking them questions. Young toddlers very often come up with the most hilarious storylines.

#3 Scavenger Hunts

toddler looking through grass

This is an activity that all of my children love even my kids who are well out of the toddler stage. For that reason, it can be a really great family activity to do together.

 Create your own scavenger hunts or find one on Pinterest or Google. Make it into a treasure hunt if you really want to up the excitement level. Your older children will love this too.

 Your toddler will have so much fun hunting for things around your house or your yard. It’s a great way of developing their problem-solving skills as they have to think about where certain things would be.

You could even have them create a scavenger hunt for their siblings are friends to do. This is one of those fun activities that can be rehashed many times over.

#4 Creative Play

toddler playing with pretend make up

Creative play isn’t necessarily a toddler activity that you have to set up because they naturally fall into it all on their own. However, it is important to acknowledge how wonderful creative play is for helping to develop problem-solving skills.

Have you ever had a child come to you and complain that their sibling or friend is not playing by the rules of the game that they themselves created?

This is a perfect example of how they are developing their problem-solving skills.

Children naturally create scenarios and situations that are promoted by their life experiences and the things that they see around them.

Creative play gives them the opportunity to role model the examples that they have been exposed to and to work out different scenarios. This is a vital skill for them to develop at a young age.

Most kids can come up with all sorts of games without any toys at all however if you do want to provide toys for the specific kind of play look under toys listed as role play or creative play.

Consider a toy kitchen dress-up clothes play money. All of these things can have open-ended uses for play and learning vital skills. 

When they practice this kind of creative free play with other children, they’re also practicing their language development and working on solving difficult situations. It’s a really good way to overhear what they really are learning.

#5 Creating Patterns

toddler making patterns

I homeschool my children and one of the things that they all really in have enjoyed doing is learning about patterns. However, this is not something that you have to wait to teach your child until they are school-aged.

Toddlers are more than capable of recognizing patterns around them.

You can get free printables or printables that are very affordable that are specifically made to use with toddlers.

You can get them to continue the pattern or create their own pattern using flashcards.

This is an excellent way of developing problem-solving skills using simple games and even small objects. Use chocolate chips and cheerios to create a pattern. It’ll be great for their fine motor skills and they’ll love the treat when you’re finished the game!

Toddler girl dusting

Now, this is obviously not a game or specific activity for toddlers however chores are a normal part of life. In our home, everyone does their bit to help the home run smoothly.

You can totally give your toddler some basic chores that they are responsible for. Simple things like taking a rag and dusting the baseboards. My toddlers have always loved to be helpful in this way. It’s a great way to teach them problem-solving skills. They will learn about the tools they need to use the job to complete the job and how to get the job done well.

As they get older their skills will also get better. 

#7 Stacking Blocks

problem solving skills baby toys

Stacking blocks are a pretty staple part of many toddlers’ toy chests. It’s an open-ended imaginative toy that your toddler can learn great problem-solving skills from.

The simple act of having to balance blocks on top of one another without them falling over is a skill in and of itself. These were a favorite toy in our home when I had really little kids.

Using building materials such as wooden blocks helps them to problem solve and learn important concepts such as balance, spatial reasoning, and many other great skills.

Little minds can be seen working through the thought process of all the possible solutions for what they want to build.

This was a toy that I often had set aside for independent play (a great tool to have during the early years!).

#8 Magnatiles

problem solving skills baby toys

Magatiles are another great toy option for open-ended imaginative play. Again your toddler will have to make sure that they understand how to get the tiles to fit together and create the shapes that they’re trying to achieve.

#9 Hide n Seek

toddler playing hide n seek

Playing hide n’ seek honestly holds some of the fondest memories I have of my kids. There is just something about hearing their little giggles as they are trying their best to hide from me that just melts my heart. Ultimately I end up in fits of vehicles myself.

In all seriousness, your toddler can learn some great problem-solving skills by playing this game with you their siblings or friends.

#10 Grouping Activities

problem solving skills baby toys

Another simple activity that teaches great problem-solving skills is having your toddler practice grouping specific items based on either their shape color or other identifying thing.

#11 Playing Playdough

problem solving skills baby toys

Play-Doh is one of the cheapest and most accessible open-ended play items that you can give to your child. You can either just leave them to play with it or you can give them playdough mats where they can create specific shapes with their player.

This is a great activity for developing hand dexterity and also problem-solving skills amongst other things. 

#12 Reading Together

mom reading to toddler

You might not consider reading together an activity that would develop problem-solving skills. However, as your child goes through the story with you and the character that you are reading about is struggling with specific issues your toddler is also going to be thinking about how those issues might be resolved.

A way to make this activity even better is to have a discussion with your toddler as you’re reading a story or after you’ve finished it. 

#13 Gardening

little boy gardening

Gardening is a really wonderful activity for your toddler to be involved in.

Not only are they going to learn about plants how they grow and what they can produce for us but they can also learn some valuable problem-solving skills as they help alongside you in the garden. 

#14 Shape Insert Toys

problem solving skills baby toys

Remember that toy that my son was really struggling with at the beginning of this article? Well despite his frustration it is actually a really fantastic toy for teaching toddlers problem-solving skills. 

#15 Games (Think, Fun, Roll)

problem solving skills baby toys

There are different games that you can play with your toddler that can also help with problem-solving skills. One that we really love in our home is Think, Fun, Roll .

But there are also board games such as Candyland that toddlers really love and will teach them great skills. 

#16 Playing Memory

problem solving skills baby toys

Some toddlers may find it a little frustrating playing the game memory . However, if you’re smart and modify it and make it a little easier then this can be a really really wonderful game for toddlers to build up their problem-solving skills.

They’ll learn the process of elimination. They also work on extending their concentration and obviously they’ll be working on their memory skills too.

#17 Daily Activities

little boy brushing teeth

Finally, I just want to address one of the most obvious things and that is daily activities. Your child will be doing things like getting dressed brushing their teeth picking up their clothes taking their plate to the kitchen and many other simple tasks like this every single day.

Do not fail to see the wonderful skillset that they will gain from doing these basic tasks.

Toddlers can learn great problem-solving skills simply by getting dressed in the morning.

We really don’t need to overcomplicate things.

Problem-solving is such a vital skill to have especially in adulthood but the things that we provide for our children now will make a big difference in the future.

It can take patience on our behalf and a lot of grace at times to give them the space to really practice their problem-solving skills.

It’s not fun having to listen to your toddler frustrated and whining as I try to learn something new and not step in to fix it for them.

However, you have to see how good is for them to learn these skills. There will be times when you will need to step in and help but a lot of the time it will be great for them to figure it out on their own.

I hope these toddler activity ideas give you a great jumping-off point for a way to teach a child really great problem-solving skills. 

problem solving skills baby toys

Hi! I’m Christine – a homeschooling mom of three. I see homeschooling simply as another facet of parenting. Just as you teach your child to tie their shoes, you can also teach them how to read and do arithmetic. As a second-generation homeschooler, I know the endless benefits that homeschooling offers. I went on to complete a Bachelor of Nursing and have now chosen to stay at home with my children (while also running an online business).

I have a heart for mothers that feel as though they are just existing from day to day and are longing for more. You can find out more about me and my family over on my ‘ About Me ‘ page.

As well as the abundance of posts you’ll find on my blog, you can also find me over at iHomeschool Network and Today Parenting .

25 Best Baby Toys to Nurture Their Development

Baby playtime encourages exploration and open-ended play, and these fun toys can help.

If you buy something from the links on this page, we may earn a commission. Why Trust Us?

“Play provides opportunities for learning spatial awareness, how to share, understand cause and effect, and so much more,” says Dr. Dimitri Christakis , KiwiCo’s partner pediatrician, epidemiologist, child development expert at the University of Washington, and director of the Center for Child Health Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “For very young children, play can also encourage parent-to-baby bonding that’s critical to building interaction, connection, communication, and showing of affection.”

Baby toys need to be safe, but they also should match a baby’s developmental stage. Infants starting around 3 months old can reach for, hold, and suck on toys like teethers, rattles, textured balls, soft dolls, and soft books. From around 7 to 12 months, older babies play in a more conventional way. They crawl, pull themselves up to stand, and even start to walk, so finding hidden objects, building blocks, and push-and-pull toys are interactive and age-appropriate.

You can’t go wrong with gifting baby toys for a baby shower or when you’re meeting a baby for the first time. You’ll find plenty of great options below.

How We Chose

There are literally thousands (but it feels like millions) of baby toys to choose from, so to choose the best ones, I considered the toys my kids played with and loved, as well as the ones I enjoyed and felt had a positive impact on their development. Since my kids are a few years out of babyhood, I also spoke to several friends with babies to get their opinions on toys that go over well with their little ones and the ones that don’t. (The ones that don’t were left off the list for obvious reasons.)

Christakis says, “The best toys are open-ended, meaning they offer children the opportunity to bring their creativity and imagination to the table each time they play with them.” Many of the toys on this list are open-ended to help babies practice essential skills.

How We Tested

Almost every one of the toys included on this list are toys that my two kids had or have played with, or they are toys that my friends currently have for their babies. Since it’s important to offer babies a wide variety of toys, including educational toys, sensory toys, and toys for fine motor skills like soft blocks and stacking toys, as well as gross motor skills like activity gyms or pull-along toys, I looked at a wide selection of toys and got the opinions of babies (the ones who had opinions) and their parents.

This list is chock-full of fantastic baby toys for all age ranges — from infancy through pre-toddlerhood. Don’t be surprised if you end up with a slew of them.

GUND Sustainably Soft Duckling Lovey

Sustainably Soft Duckling Lovey

Give your infant (or someone else’s infant) the gift of a lifelong lovey friend. This impressively soft duckling lovey from GUND features a 15-inch attached blanket with a matching duckling pattern. It serves as a huggable, soft toy to sleep and play with, as well as a security blanket that will last throughout their entire childhood and beyond if they want. Its adorable aesthetic also makes it a great nursery decor toy.

The duckling is made from 100% recycled materials, and it’s machine washable, which is an absolute must when it comes to loveys. My daughter still has her lovey, and although she doesn’t sleep with it every night, I often see her playing with it.

There are so many fantastic stuffed animals to choose from for baby loveys, but in my opinion, you can’t beat the long-lasting quality of GUND — a company that’s been making high-quality stuffed animals for 125 years.

For ages 0+

Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Activity Center

3-in-1 Activity Center

My friend started using this music-themed Fisher-Price activity center with her kiddo when he was 6 months old and raves about how it allowed her son to play independently while she got stuff done around the house. If she needed to leave the room, she’d bring the activity gym along with her and plop her son right back in. Now that he’s 10 months, he crawls himself over and plays with the attached toys whenever he feels like it, pulling himself up while holding onto the table.

The three-in-one play table grows with your child, which is really nice. It starts as a sit-in entertainer with a seat that spins 360 degrees to help babies develop gross motor skills, then becomes a toddler play table, and the removable toys can be played with independently of the table. It features all types of musical activities to explore, including a piano, microphone teether, maraca, bongos, tambourine with mirror, a rollerball guitar, and a crinkle songbook.

For ages 6+ months

GUND Singing Elephant Plush

Singing Elephant Plush

Whether you give this adorable animated elephant as a gift to your own baby or to someone else’s, it’s sure to pique their curiosity. The plush elephant is super soft and cute, but the real noteworthy part about it is its ability to sing and play peek-a-boo while flapping its ears to cover its eyes.

I received this cute little fella as a gift at my first baby shower, and although I thought it was just going to serve as cute nursery decor, it turned out that my daughter was in love with it and would sway back and forth as it sang. In fact, she learned how to play peek-a-book by playing with this toy.

The elephant features volume controls, which is always nice. If you prefer a different animal, you can also choose from a unicorn, cow, bunny, penguin, or puppy.

Melissa & Doug Ocean Tummy Time Triangle Baby Toy

Ocean Tummy Time Triangle Baby Toy

Some babies love tummy time while others, well, don’t. IYKYK. This tummy time triangle toy from Melissa & Doug will give your kiddo an exciting and fun sensory toy to play with as they work on strengthening their neck, shoulders, and arm muscles during tummy time.

Three multi-sensory fold-out cloth panels offer visual stimulation and can either lay flat on the ground or connect to stand up in a pyramid shape. It has textures to touch, pictures of animals to see, and a small mirror for your baby to spot themselves. It encourages the development of gross motor skills, visual and tactile stimulation, and interaction with caregivers.

This toy is small and soft enough to throw in a diaper bag to give your baby something to play with on the go. It makes a fantastic gift for expecting parents, newborns, or babies up to 6 months.

For ages 0 - 6 months

Infantino Super Soft Building Blocks

Super Soft Building Blocks

These building blocks are SO fun for babies, toddlers, kids, and grown-ups. Let’s just call out the elephant in the room first: there’s no denying that although they’re definitely not Legos, they sure do look similar. So, you’re probably setting your baby up for a lifetime of Lego building, which is a beautiful thing. Except since these are soft, you don’t have to worry about stepping on one and feeling like you’ve stepped onto the fiery furnace of hell.

The set comes with 12 BPA-free pieces that are super soft, making them perfect for the littlest of littles. Babies can stack them, play with them individually, or squish them. I love how they encourage open-ended play and introduce babies to small, medium, and large sizes. While the targeted age is 0 and up, obviously newborns won’t be able to build with these blocks, but they can grab them and even use them as teethers.

Munchkin Float and Play Bubbles

Float and Play Bubbles

To help make bathtime more fun and interesting, check out this four-pack of floating bubble toys. They are absolutely perfect for babies who are just beginning to play in the bath. Some shoppers note that the size is a little bigger than a golf ball, which can be a little too large for some baby’s hands to hold, but they’re still fun.

The clear plastic balls bounce around in the water, always popping right back up after they’ve been pushed down. They also rattle, which can hopefully hold your baby’s attention long enough for a quick hair wash and tushy scrub.

Even though the toys and charms in the center of the balls are fun and exciting to look at, there’s no way of opening the balls, which your baby might find frustrating. It does, however, mean there’s no way of water leaking through, so you don’t have to worry about mold growing inside these bath toys.

Tuffy Book 'Farm Babies' by Scarlett Wing

'Farm Babies' by Scarlett Wing

If your baby enjoys ripping the pages of books or throwing board books around like they’re on a major league baseball team (that’s all babies, right?), you’ll be pleased with this virtually indestructible book.

Written by Scarlett Wing, the book introduces little ones to farm animals and their cute babies. It has minimal words and is a great way to practice farm animal names. The story is cute, but it’s the book itself that’s impressive. Made from some sort of magical paperlike fabric, the pages cannot rip. The spine of the book is made of BPA-teething material, perfect for babies to gnaw on as much as they want.

The book is the right size to throw in a diaper bag for your kiddo to look at the pictures or chew on — or both. To make the book even more perfect, it has a hole at the top of the teething section so you can throw on a toy ring and attach it to a stroller or car seat. And best of all, it’s washable.

For ages 0 - 3

Chuya TV Remote Teether

TV Remote Teether

High on the list of things babies want to get ahold of and put directly in their mouths is the remote control, which is germy and gross, and also you probably need it. To trick your little one into thinking they’ve got the goods, leave this TV control inconspicuously on the couch so they can find it and feel like a hero. It genuinely looks like a TV control with realistic buttons, so good luck not mixing them up yourself.

Aside from being awesome, the teether comes in handy during the uncomfortable teething time. To help relieve discomfort, you can place this nontoxic, food-grade silicone, BPA-free teether in the freezer to feel cold on your baby’s gums. It can also withstand being boiled or steamed.

I didn’t know this teether existed when my kids were babies, but I’d be willing to have another kid just to get one. (No, no I wouldn’t.)

Lovevery The Charmer Play Kit

The Charmer Play Kit

Lovevery makes stage-based play kits for infants through age 5. The Montessori-style play products found in the Charmer Play Kit are designed for the developing brains of 3- to 4-month-olds. These encourage little ones to explore using their eyes, mouths, and hands with toys that have been fully vetted by childhood developmental experts.

In the kit, you’ll find a wooden rattle for tracking sounds, a silicone triple teether, and organic teething cloth for oral motor development. Plus, you'll get a rolling bell for coordinating hearing, seeing, and feeling together, a soft book for connecting seeing and feeling, a conversation starter book, a mirror card and framed mirror, a black and white card set, a rubber triangle teether, hand-to-hand discs to build motor skills and coordination, and a play guide for parents.

While you can buy certain play kits as a standalone purchase, Lovevery is a subscription service. So, when you sign up for this box, you’ll get a new one every 2 months. Of course, you can skip a box or cancel at any time.

For ages 3 - 4 months

Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Smart Learning Puppy Plush

Laugh and Learn Smart Learning Puppy Plush

A soft, cuddly teddy bear that interactively teaches little ones the names and locations of body parts and other first words while singing exciting songs (exciting for your baby, that is)? Yes, please.

The Fisher-Price smart learning puppy comes equipped with over 100 first words and over 75 songs, sounds, tunes, and phrases to help with language development. Just a guess here, but while you might not appreciate the sound effects coming from this adorable pup, your baby certainly will — or at least that’s how it went down in my house with this cute little guy.

The press-and-play plush toy responds to touch, so when your baby presses the puppy’s hands, foot, ear, and light-up heart, words, sounds, and songs will play. Three smart stages grow along with your baby, so as they get older, they can learn more advanced stuff like the alphabet, counting, and more.

For ages 6 months - 3 years

KiwiCo Panda Crate

Panda Crate

KiwiCo curates stage-based crates for newborns all the way through 12 and up. The panda crates, as recommended by Dr. Christakis, are designed specifically for babies and their parents or caregivers from the time they are born until they turn 1, and they are wonderful.

There are six baby crates to choose from, all of which include hands-on activities and toys that help a baby’s development in the particular stage they are in.

With each crate, not only will your baby have loads of new Montessori-style playthings to play and learn with, but you’ll also get a grownup guide that fills you in on how each toy and activity helps your baby develop and what skills they’ll be working on.

KiwiCo is a subscription service, so you’ll receive one box every two months. Choose from the essentials, plus, or deluxe subscriptions which range from $50 to $90 per crate.

Bright Starts Easy-Grasp Oball

Easy-Grasp Oball

It may look like a simple baby toy, but this easy-grasp ball is full of fun surprises for babies. The textured ball features tons of holes that are designed for little fingers, giving them the ability and confidence to grasp, shake, roll, and throw their first ball.

The ball features three rattles in one, which encourages the development of a baby’s fine motor skills and auditory stimulation. The sounds are interesting enough for baby to keep playing, but not obnoxious for the caregiver (you’re welcome).

It’s an ideal toy for babies who are reaching the developmental milestone of grabbing. Because the holes are so perfectly sized for little fingers, even younger babies can latch on, and the ball is soft and flexible enough so it won’t hurt them if they drop it on their head. And by if, I mean when. You know how babies do.

Moonkie Silicone Stacking Cups

Silicone Stacking Cups

This multi-purpose stacking toy features seven stackable cups for babies that are hugely helpful in development. When babies stack blocks on top of each other, they use their hands to manipulate objects, learning to balance, which aids in developing hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and problem-solving skills.

Made of 100% food-grade silicone, it’s safe and encouraged for babies to use the stacking toy as teethers. The cups feature numbers and patterns to stimulate a baby’s interest, and each cup has a hole in the bottom that makes them fun for water play. You can even throw them in a bag and take them to the pool or beach for more water or sand play.

And selfishly for parents or caregivers, the cups come in colors that aren’t offensive, which is rare with baby toys. Because they’re so versatile, the stacking cups make an excellent gift for expecting or new parents.

VTech Pop & Sing Animal Train Pull-Along Toy

Pop & Sing Animal Train Pull-Along Toy

If you’re willing to take one for the team and hear all the exciting sounds this pull-along animal train will surely make regularly in your house, your older baby will certainly be thrilled with your choice.

In addition to all the sound effects, phrases, and songs, the train has so many fun fidget features for babies to experiment with cause and effect, along with push, press, flip, and twist switches to make the animals pop up.

Your baby can work on their gross motor skills by pulling the train along to hear music as it moves, and as your baby starts walking, they can pull it along to hear more melodies. Even when the train isn’t being pulled, it’s still a captivating toy to sit and play with.

If you’re giving this pull-along train as a gift, consider including two AAA batteries to make things a little easier on the parents, which honestly, will make said parents appreciate your gift even more and you as a friend a whole lot more.

For ages 3 - 36 months

Baby Starters Plush Baby Doll

Plush Baby Doll

Babies are drawn to other babies, so it makes sense that they find comfort in playing with dolls. With this plush baby doll, you don’t have to worry about a hard doll head or body injuring your little one… or a sibling when it’s hammered across a room.

The 10-inch doll is soft and cozy for cuddle time or playtime. A big thing that sets this doll apart from similar dolls is the diversity of skin tones, hair colors, and outfits. You have a good chance of finding a doll that looks similar to your child, which is such a beautiful way of introducing dolls.

The sweet doll would be a great gift for a baby shower, newborn, or even just a “we come bearing gifts” kind of situation.

Iselyn 4-Pack Silicone Bath Toys

4-Pack Silicone Bath Toys

It can be annoyingly hard to find bath toys that don’t get moldy. But alas, here we are. These silicone water squirter bath toys are dishwasher safe, so while silicone isn’t as prone to mold as plastic, anything that allows water inside is at risk of growing mold. With these, however, you can easily give them a good rinse in the dishwasher and pop them back in the tub.

The toys are soft to the touch and easy for small hands to hold onto. They’re shaped like adorable animals in aesthetically pleasing colors.

When filled with water, the toys gently spray water with a squeeze. It’s a great way for babies to learn about cause and effect and practice their fine motor skills. Even if your little one can’t yet manage to spray water alone, you can do the spraying while they giggle up a storm.

If your baby has older siblings, they’ll love these toys too. Spraying water at people never gets old no matter your age.

Baby Einstein Kickin’ Tunes 4-in-1 Baby Activity Gym

Kickin’ Tunes 4-in-1 Baby Activity Gym

There’s a good chance that no one has ever regretted buying an activity gym or receiving one as a gift because it’s such a wonderful way for babies to explore and be entertained long enough for parents to actually get something done.

That rings true for this Baby Einstein activity gym as it entertains infants in four modes: back laying, sitting, tummy time, and take-along. The gym features loads of sounds and activities with over 25 minutes of music. It includes seven detachable toys, including a self-discovery mirror and a tummy time prop pillow for support. A detachable piano toy makes this activity gym even more fun as babies can play with it anywhere.

In the event of a spit-up or blowout fiasco, no need to worry because the mat is machine washable and the toys can be cleaned using water and mild soap.

JOYIN 6-Piece Animal Puppet Set

6-Piece Animal Puppet Set

My then 10-month-old was gifted these cute animal puppets from his grandma, and he was super into watching his older sister put on puppet shows for him. He also enjoyed carrying them around like loveys.

Depending on your baby’s age, they likely won’t be able to figure out how to put their hand in one of the puppets on their own, so this puppet set is really more of an interactive toy for a parent, sibling, or caregiver to play with a child. As your baby gets older, they’ll be able to put on their own puppet show or entertain themselves.

The set comes with a giraffe, monkey, lion, bear, elephant, and raccoon. The puppets are excellent for encouraging open-ended play and boosting self-confidence and social interactions — also ideal for using as tickle monsters.

For kids ages 6+ months

Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle & Sensory Teether Toy

Winkel Rattle & Sensory Teether Toy

A must-have for little ones, this rattle and sensory teether toy from Manhattan Toy was a genuine hit with my kiddos. It’s engaging, stimulating, and fun to chew on — or so it seemed from my end.

The toy features bright colors and a unique design with twists and turns that are fun for a baby to play with and easy for little fingers to grasp. The rattle adds even more entertainment, and the soft tubes work great as a teether making it a sensory-rich experience all around.

This was a toy that I packed in the diaper bag and brought along on trips. It legitimately provided hours of entertainment for my kids.

Itzy Ritzy Wearable Wrist Dinosaur Rattle

Wearable Wrist Dinosaur Rattle

Yes, this dinosaur wrist rattle from Itzy Ritzy is entertaining for babies, but the real beauty is that it stays put on their wrists so you don’t have to continuously pick it up off the ground. Hallelujah.

The rattle velcros together and easily fastens on a baby’s wrist. They can shake their wrist to hear the rattle sound, play with the attached sensory ribbons, or chew on it as babies do. It’s made of natural cotton, which is soft and comfortable for a baby to wear.

While the dinosaur is cute, the wrist rattle also comes in an adorable pastel cottage design, not that your infant is going to voice their opinion on one or the other.

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8 Toys and Games that Build Problem Solving in Early Childhood

This post contains affiliate links. my  disclosure policy  gives you more details..

What toys can you gift this season that build those critical problem solving skills in young children?

Toys for toddlers and preschoolers often light up, sing, and chirp. They’re designed that way to entertain children when parents want a moment away from playing, and they often throw in what look like basic pre-K skills (numbers, letters) to make you feel less bad about letting the sing-a-long number line babysit your kid. No shame. We’ve all been there.

But for those moments when you want a break from the bells and whistles, how can you (literally) cut through the noise and give your child toys that will challenge them to solve problems and have fun at the same time?

If you make it to the end of this list, you’ll see my #1 toy recommendation this year!

These are my favorite toys and games that teach problem solving. As a parent and an educator, these are also the toys that have multiple levels of challenge and engagement so your child can play with these for years and years as their cognitive skills grow.

Don’t forget to pin this (and any of these toys) to your Christmas Gift board!

1. haba wooden color pie arranging game.

problem solving skills baby toys

This game is beautifully crafted with a circular wooden frame and 27 colored pieces. It comes with full color cards that your child can copy in the frame to work on spatial matching.

Your two year old might arrange the pieces in the circular frame, your three year old will copy the color cards to practice matching, and your four and five year old can begin understanding how fractions work. Because of the way the pieces are sized and colored, you can talk about how two red pieces make a whole but also four yellow pieces make a whole.

My daughter has been playing with this for three years and is now fascinated with the idea that different sizes fit into the same space. Such a long-lasting toy in our house!

2. Suspend Family Game

problem solving skills baby toys

Players take turns hanging the notched rods on the stand, but every time a rod is added the balance shifts. Kids have to use their critical thinking skills to decide where to place the rod when it’s their turn.

This game is used at my daughter’s Montessori school as a “work” that students use to build spacial awareness and fine motor skills as well as problem solving. The big crash that happens when the child miscalculates the balance is an exciting interruption!

3. Peg + Cat Memory Game

problem solving skills baby toys

Lay out all the cards, take turns flipping them over to find a match, and watch your child develop their memory and visual discrimination skills!

This set comes with a great Peg + Cat poster of our favorite scene from Peg + Cat and The Chicken Problem.  What a bonus!

If books are your thing for gift-giving, come on over here to this post on 10 Feminist Children’s Books for the Next Generation. It features ten books with in-charge girls changing their world. Some of them are fighting for equality and some of them are just livin’ life, like Peg, solving problems and running things.

4. Marble Genius Marble Run

problem solving skills baby toys

After constructing the run, your child can then drop the marble into the top and see if the run works! Because the parts are see-through, your child can see the progress of their marble and immediately problem-solve to make the run more effective.

What I love about this is that it’s an open-ended toy, meaning your child can create something of their own imagination and play with it in many different ways. It’s not telling your child exactly how to “win” the game or play with the toy. However, it’s still goal-oriented, and kids will delight in the thrill of making a successful run and all the creative paths they can send their marble through.

5. Take Along Wooden Doorbell Dollhouse

problem solving skills baby toys

This is another toy we have been playing with for three years. At 2, she loved matching the color of the doll to the door and ringing the doorbells (and carrying it all over the house). Now, at 4 she’s fascinated with “tricking” me about which doll is in which door, and going through each key to open the doors over and over again.

The house has a handle on top and sturdily attached keys that, in three years, are still attached. We haven’t lost one key. The dolls are another story, but one week we gathered up all the small dolls in the house and sorted them by color into the house, so #problemsolved.

Don’t forget to pin this to your Christmas Gift board!

6. pattern blocks and boards.

problem solving skills baby toys

With five boards featuring pictures of 10 designs created from geometric shapes, your child matches the 120 wooden shapes to each picture. Utilizing problem solving skills, kids will match shapes to the mosaic or make open-ended designs of their own.

The whole thing is contained within a wooden box with two sides: one for the boards and one for the shapes. This makes it a perfect addition to any home, but it especially fits in with a Montessori environment where each “work” is self-contained and can be put back neatly in its box.

7. Magna-tiles

problem solving skills baby toys

These tiles snap together and can combine to make incredible structures, including flat stacks of color combos, animals, houses, villages, and bridges.

This is a great example of open-ended play because your child can direct the play, use their imagination to create structures, and develop spatial, tactile, and construction skills. My daughter likes to place items inside that can be seen through their translucent sides, and the challenge of creating these fragile structures grows with your child’s imagination.

These are perfect when your child is ready to go beyond blocks and wants to create structures that float in mid-air!

8. Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine

problem solving skills baby toys

In this set, you get 34 pieces that make the spinning machine as well as 9 other possible build ideas. Your child doesn’t need to know how to read for this to be a meaningful experience, but she will probably need your help the first time she creates the machine. Once she understands the concept, she can make the machine in a myriad of ways, teaching her about the concept of a belt drive.

We love this set, though it is complex. If you’re interested in a simpler machine, try the GoldieBlox Girl Inventor Zipline Action Figure Set which includes either Goldie or her best friend Ruby and instructions and materials to make a zipline. When we got this set, my daughter set this zipline up in the bedroom, off the back porch, and through the chicken coop. Watching her create new ziplines all over the house meant she understood the concept of the pulley, and was able to internalize this slightly advanced concept for a three year old. What fun!

I love the GoldieBlox series as a parent and an educator because it includes so much for kids to engage with. The story includes a real-world problem that is solved by a machine, and your child will internalize this machine’s function and concept by building it. Along the way, you get to know the characters of Goldie and her friends, which enriches the play and the fun.

Though not open-ended to start, this kit does what very few toys can do: it teaches your child how to make something that then expands what kinds of open-ended play is now possible for your child.

Check out this list of all the best GoldieBlox kits and get your kids started building and inventing today!

Interested in more gift guides? 

11 toys to build counting and sorting skills  , 22 gifts for the feminist mom smashing the patriarchy between carpool and bedtime, 10 busy books to keep your pre-reader occupied, 10 feminist books for the next generation, and for a fun surprise, download your free pdf gift guide for irreverent parents ..

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23 Best Development Toys For Babies In 2024, As Per Child Expert

From sensory building blocks to musical rattles, these toys make learning a lot of fun.

Tom Green is an experienced early years educator and deputy head at a Thailand-based international school. He has 16 years of teaching background in Bangkok and Seoul. He currently guides a team of early years educators, fostering a hands-o... more

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MomJunction believes in providing reliable, research-backed information to you. As per our strong editorial policy requirements, we base our health articles on references (citations) taken from authority sites, international journals, and research studies. However, if you find any incongruencies, feel free to write to us .

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The best development toys for babies are those that are designed to boost their creativity, stimulate their senses, and improve their motor skills. Games and play are a natural part of the growth and development of babies, and little children learn about the world around them through various activities.

As your little one continues to achieve their major milestones, such as crawling, walking, and talking, baby-friendly toys aid their development and provide both fun and learning.

Development toys can range from puzzles to blocks and electronic tablets, and the choices are aplenty. In this post, we have listed some tried-and-tested and parent-recommended toys for babies to play with. So, choose one based on your child’s personality and interest.

Best For Fine Motor Skills: Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball

Best for sensory development: sassy tummy time floor mirror, best for grab: bright starts oball class toy - pink/purple, best sturdy: infantino sensory balls blocks & buddies, best interactive: skip hop explore & more follow-bee crawl toy, best long-lasting: wolvolk toys musical activity cube, best lead-free: smartnoggin nogginstik developmental light-up rattle, best non-toxic: splashin’kids crawl along game, best with soft edges: iplay ilearn crawling follow turtle toy, best for logical thinking: play22 baby blocks shape sorter toy, benefits of development toys.

  • Helps boost IQ and makes learning fun

Developmental toys focus on coordination, motor skills development, memory retention, and numbers, which help in enhancing IQ. They combine enjoyment and learning into play, so your baby learns life skills in fun ways.

  • Helps develop sensory and motor skills

Regular play develops motor skills, but development toys hasten the process. Blocks and puzzles are especially designed to enhance motor skills, problem solving skills, and hand-eye coordination. Vibrant and colorful lights and sounds enhance visual, auditory, and tactile perception in small kids.

  • Advances problem solving skills

Development toys like puzzles challenge the mind of a child as they encourage them to think in order to solve a problem. Through trial and error, they can see where to fit pieces correctly. With practice, they become more efficient in it and develop strong problem solving skills.

  • Encourages creativity

Technology over more traditional forms of play has caused a decrease in children using their creativity and imagination while playing. Educational toys make children more imaginative and creative and encourage them to think outside the box.

  • Improves concentration

Children have a short attention span and they easily lose interest if made to do something they don’t like. Development toys can turn something like language or mathematics, which children may otherwise find boring, into an interesting activity. They develop new skills while playing and build their interest in learning.

  • Enhances emotional and social development

Something that’s usually ignored is how development toys enhance social and emotional development. They allow children to play together and encounter social cues like crying, laughter, or anger, and figure out how to manage such social situations. Waiting for your turn, sharing, compromise, conflict resolution, and leadership skills, are all important aspects of social development that they learn through these social-emotional toys.

23 Best Development Toys For Babies To Boost Their Brain In 2024

1. best for fine motor skills: sassy developmental bumpy ball.

What’s better than a toy that gives your baby pleasure and also helps in developing various skills? The bright colors, bold patterns, and easy-to-grasp bumps of this ball make it an ideal toy for 6+ month babies . The bold colors and patterns allow them to focus, strengthening their vision and enhancing visual tracking. The bead rattle creates neural connections and the chunky bumps develop skills like grasping, reaching, object manipulation, and transferring from one hand to the other. Your baby will also develop skills like balance, coordination, and sitting on its own . The different materials and textures of the toy develop your baby’s tactile sensitivity as well. This award-winning and safety-tested toy is sure to give your baby endless hours of joy. Here’s an honest review of the product.

  • Enhances all developmental skills
  • Develops gross and fine motor skills
  • Made of durable and safe polyester, plastic, and foam
  • Winner of Oppenheim Toy Platinum Award
  • Tested to meet ASTM, CPSC, EN71, and Health Canada safety standards
  • May be a bit noisy
  • Seams may start to fray with repeated use

Why We Think It's Worth Buying

The 29,156 reviews on Amazon indicate that this product has a loyal following.

2. Best For Sensory Development: Sassy Tummy Time Floor Mirror

Who doesn’t love looking at themselves! And this large mirror engages your baby and helps develop their vision, as do the red ladybug and rotating and clicking bee. The easel back of the mirror allows it to stand on flat surfaces , and so your baby can enjoy it while doing tummy time. The mirror encourages your baby to focus on a human face with the true reflection mirror, and the attached symmetrical butterfly and textured, crinkled leaves develop vision and encourage tactile exploration, while playing peek-a-boo. The 2-color spinning, tracking ball spikes their curiosity right from when they are born.

  • Non-toxic plastic
  • Soft frame construction
  • Bright and bold colors
  • Enhances both sensory and motor development
  • May fall easily
  • Spinning ball may be challenging to move

3. Best For Grab: Bright Starts Oball Class Toy – Pink/Purple

Your baby can literally have a ball with this easy-to-grab toy that has 32 finger holes so that it can be easily held by infant hands. Its patented, flexible design is soft and inviting for your baby. It is sure to keep them engaged and encourage them to squeeze and shake it, thus developing motor skills. Suitable for babies between the age of 0 to 36 months , it initially helps them with tummy time as they try to push themselves towards the ball, and later also helps them with finer motor skills like crawling. Here’s a video featuring a detailed review of the budget-friendly toy.

  • 4-inch diameter
  • Minimalist design
  • Made of soft plastic
  • May be smaller than expected
  • Color may vary from the ones advertised

Over 12,716 satisfied customers on Amazon have said good things about the product.

4. Best Sturdy: Infantino Sensory Balls Blocks & Buddies

This 20-piece set provides real variety for sensory exploration and to develop fine and gross motor skills . It also enhances an early introduction to colors, textures, recognition, counting, sorting, numbers, and descriptive language. This sensory toy set has silicone toys that keep your baby entertained for hours as they build towers, stack, and play with the textured balls and shapes. It’s a combination of 8 counting blocks , 8 textured balls, and 4 squeezy animals, which are all perfect for your baby. Your baby will never get bored with so much sensory stimulation! This video will help you understand the product better.

  • BPA-free material
  • Easy to wipe clean
  • Sturdy blocks and soft play animals
  • Suitable gift for any occasion
  • Material may be a bit hard for chewing
  • Characters or animals could be different

5. Best Interactive: Skip Hop Explore & More Follow-Bee Crawl Toy

If you’re looking for the ideal toy from a trusted brand to help your baby crawl, this might be just the one for you! Especially designed to grow with your baby through 3 stages, this motorized crawl toy encourages them to crawl by motivating them with colorful lights, peppy tunes, and sweet buzzing sounds. A sensor helps the toy to avoid obstacles. The interactive bee encourages crawling in 3 development stages. In the pre-crawling stage, the easy-to-hold bee rattle wobbles without falling over. For beginner crawlers, the cloud moves in a circular path, so your baby doesn’t have to go far. And for advanced crawlers, the cloud moves in a random pattern to encourage your baby to chase it. The removable, rubberized bee is especially designed for teething, while the spinning cloud offers visual stimulation. This toy prompts cognitive development, strengthens muscles by crawling, looking, listening, and reaching. It also builds sight and sound recognition with colorful lights, sounds, and music.

  • Ideal for 5+ month babies
  • Encourages discovery and exploration
  • Enhances motor skills
  • Encourages sensory development
  • Sensor may stop working over time
  • Sound may be a bit loud

The 10,159 positive customer reviews on Amazon attest to the product’s quality.

6. Best Long-Lasting: WolVolk Toys Musical Activity Cube

Talk about versatility— with 6 sides and 15 different activities, this baby toy offers hours of fun. Your baby can rotate the gears, press the musical notes or star button, or ring the bell to hear sweet tunes. There’s also a built-in microphone so little ones can practice their singing skills as well. Each object requires different skills for them to function like driving, talking, singing, using tools and more. There’s a steering wheel and motor with real sounds and driving skills, a detachable cell phone to make calls and learn numbers, sliding beads on 2 tracks to learn colors and numbers, a stretching game with a banana and apple that can be pulled out. The parent-recommended activity toy helps improve eye-hand coordination and enhances critical thinking, fine motor, and problem solving skills.

  • High-quality materials
  • Eye-catching colors
  • Long-lasting durability
  • Microphone switch may be flimsy
  • Sound effects may be a bit annoying for some

7. Best Lead-Free: SmartNoggin NogginStik Developmental Light-Up Rattle

This innovative rattle enhances visual tracking and visual stimulation as it lights up in soft colors, has a soft, pleasant sound, an easy to hold handle to enhance grasping, and fun textures for tactile stimulation. This toy strengthens your baby’s foundation for future learning and helps them achieve their early milestones through play. It guides parents through activities and interactions that will help promote healthy brain development and bonding from day one, helps understand cause and effect, enhances observation, and helps predict outcomes. This toy comes with an illustrated parent guide to baby’s milestones so that parents know what developmental skills to look for.

  • Free of harsh chemicals
  • High-quality construction
  • Encourages baby’s first STEM skills
  • Multiple award-winning toy
  • Light may be slightly flimsy

8. Best Non-Toxic: Splashin’kids Crawl Along Game

This developmental toy features a jumbo roller that rolls away with blinking lights and rattle noises that encourage your baby to crawl after it. The material of this toy has been thoroughly tested and will not leak air and is safe for your baby to use. It stimulates physical development and plays a large role in developing strong neck, head, and shoulder muscles as well as honing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. The jumbo roller is also a great ball maze for young toddlers as they learn to navigate the balls through holes in the different layers. The tried-and-trusted drop ball game stimulates puzzle solving skills and teaches cause and effect. The colorful and attractive animal graphics will grab your baby’s attention and encourage play time. All you need to do is blow it up with any air pump and let the fun begin.

  • Non-toxic and durable toy
  • Constructed from heavy duty PVC
  • Includes 2 rattle balls and 1 LED ball
  • Improves hand eye coordination
  • Supports muscle development
  • Great indoor toy to keep your child entertained
  • Rattle balls inside may be flimsy
  • LED light may not work

9. Best With Soft Edges: iPlay iLearn Crawling Follow Turtle Toy

This fun and entertaining developmental toy helps teach your baby four crucial skills through different modes of play—happy songs, cute patterns, counting numbers, and the alphabet. And to add to the fun, the turtle crawls with the happy songs, encouraging your baby to crawl. This early learning toy helps to develop mathematical skills and pronunciation. Fine motor skills are enhanced by pressing different buttons. This toy also features a volume control key to adjust the volume and is bilingual with English and Spanish functions. This multifunction math development toy requires 3 AA batteries which need to be bought separately.

  • Made of ABS plastic
  • Shatter-proof
  • Supports mathematical ability and language skills
  • Soft edges for safe handling
  • May not crawl on carpet
  • Material may be thinner than expected

10. Best For Logical Thinking: Play22 Baby Blocks Shape Sorter Toy

This smart toy for babies is an educational block sorter which is challenging and fun for little ones. It features 18 colorful blocks in 5 different shapes and makes a great gift item as well. The baby’s ability to identify and match shapes will develop logical thinking, counting skills, creative thinking, shape and color recognition, fine motor skills, sorting skills, and STEM learning. These easy-to-grip blocks are bound to entertain any child for hours on end while boosting their imagination and creativity and enhancing their cognitive development. These group play toys can also help your baby socialize by playing with their friends or siblings and learning how to cooperate. So, help your child have a blast as they learn with this creative and challenging toy.

  • BPA-free plastic
  • Made of baby-safe materials
  • Promotes hand-eye coordination
  • Fosters problem solving skills
  • Door of the block may be flimsy
  • Size may be smaller than expected

"This one has captivated my child with its assortment of textured shapes and vibrant colors. The easy-open lid is not my favorite, as he sometimes just enjoys dumping all the contents out of it, but it has still been a good buy."

11. Best Durable: Wishtime Baby Rattles And Teethers

Help your child through their teething process and amuse them with these safe rattles and fruit-shaped teethers that come in a feeder bottle. The teethers are easy for your baby to grasp because of their textured surface and feature polymorphous biting points to massage your baby’s gums and ease pain. This brightly colored, durable, and easy toy is nature-themed, and is ideal for babies above 6 months of age. Babies find its crinkly sound interesting and it enhances their hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and helps them recognize different colors, shapes, and designs. It comes in an easy to carry, portable storage box , and makes a great gift for different occasions.

  • 100% food-grade silicone teether
  • Non-toxic material
  • Environmentally-friendly
  • FDA-approved
  • Some parts may be a bit hard
  • May be challenging to clean and maintain

"I received this as a gift at my baby shower, and I can't wait for my babies to use it. The kid-powered aspect is a refreshing change from battery-operated toys, and I love the adorable packaging, which also acts as a perfect storage solution."

12. Best Eco-Friendly: Hoovy Infant Crawling Toy

This inflatable baby roller, designed for children between six and 12 months, has a colorful animal design with two rattles and a LED light ball inside. The attractive graphics and the push and ball movement of the toy help develop children’s muscles while improving their sensory and motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Made from durable materials, this sensory toy is ideal for both indoors and outdoors.

  • Lightweight and foldable
  • Easy to inflate and deflate
  • Does not leak when inflated
  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Made of safe, non-toxic PVC materials
  • Light may stop working over time
  • Does not include a pump

"This has been a great way to encourage my son to crawl. Its light-up balls and rattling sound make him want to follow it around. It has been an excellent addition to his toys as it is entertaining and helps him reach his developmental milestones."

13. Best For Smart Design: Infantino Peek & Seek Discovery Cube

The soft peek-and-seek discovery cube by Infantino helps activate many senses – visual, auditory, and touch. It comes with clacker rings and soft rattle balls to make sensory play more interesting for your baby. The fiddle flags, peek-and-seek crinkle flaps, and peek-a-boo mirror help enhance the child’s auditory and sight senses. The appropriately sized cube encourages the child to hold on without slipping away from their hands and keeps their interest up.

  • Colorful animal prints
  • Can be attached to strollers, baby carriers, and diaper bags while traveling
  • Helps improve fine motor skills and object permanence
  • Some may find it hard to clean
  • Some may find it slightly simple

"The colorful patterns, textures, and interactive elements of this discovery cube have my granddaughter completely obsessed. The toy pieces are just right for her tiny hands. It holds up well to a gentle hand wash and is relatively easy to clean."

14. Best Fine Motor Skills: Baby K Foot Finder Socks & Wrist Rattles – Butterfly Bugs Set A

The bright colors and attractive designs of these wrist and ankle rattles for infants help to stimulate their visual development and color cognition. With an adorable crinkling ladybug, butterfly, spider, and bee attached to each wearable rattle, these 4 baby toys are sure to keep your little one entertained for hours together. Besides aiding in brain development, they enhance fine motor skills as babies raise their arms and legs, kick and even crawl. The cute ladybug and butterfly will encourage your baby to grab and kick, stimulating hand, eye, and foot coordination. The wrist rattles wrap around their wrist safely and are securely fastened with velcro. They stimulate your little one’s sense of touch with their textured surfaces, which is so important for their development, and the soft jingling and crinkling sounds provide auditory stimulation.

  • Natural cotton fabric
  • Ergonomically designed
  • Ideal baby gift
  • Great gross motor skills toy
  • Fabric might cause sweating
  • Some parts might come off after the first wash

"These rattle socks keep my twins entertained with a gentle, not-too-loud rattle sound. Although they were a bit large initially on their smaller wrists, they've been a fun way to promote motor skills and are helpful for early development."

15. Best Eye-Coordination: iPlay iLearn Baby Rattle Set

These interactive rattles from the trusted brand iPlay iLearn have a strong suction base that easily attaches to a high chair, table, or any smooth surface for uninterrupted play, and wetting the suction cup will help it stick even better. The adorable animals and their attractive colors hold your baby’s attention and encourage them to look, listen, touch, and explore. It offers visual stimulation and enhances their fine motor skills as they press, twist, and spin the toy to strengthen dexterity of the fingers, hand-eye coordination, and counting skills. It also develops your baby’s hearing, perception, and promotes brain development. This toy is ideal for creative play and lifelong learning, and its superior design makes this one of the best development toys and gifts for babies and toddlers.

  • Contains rattle beads
  • Features spinning tail, nodding head, and rotating body
  • Suitable size for small hands
  • Promotes brain development
  • Improves hearing
  • Fine motor skill development toy
  • Great toy for tactile development
  • Suction cup at the base may lose power gradually
  • Small parts might come off

"I've found these suction baby rattles to be delightful for my baby. The vibrant colors and varying textures are wonderful for sensory engagement, and the rattle's sound is pleasant. They've been particularly handy during meal prep or when we're dining out."

16. Best BPA Free: Stone And Clark My Remote, My Program Baby Remote Control Toy

The power-packed remote control toy is a storehouse of beneficial functions that help with the child’s early learning and promotes overall development. There are 20 unique buttons featuring on and off, settings, musical activities, weather forecasts, and zero to nine number pad buttons to learn counting. The fun experience is further enhanced by colorful, flashing lights that keep up the glamor quotient for the kids. The musical buttons include up to 11 nursery rhymes to keep the child entertained. This infant toy is ASTM-certified, which means that the non-toxic electronic device has been tested for quality and safety.

  • Adjustable volume
  • Improves hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills
  • Compact design for toddlers
  • Sturdy product
  • Batteries not included
  • Some may find it slightly flimsy

"This toy phone is a clear favorite of my kindergartener. It captures her attention well. The volume is low, which is helpful for quiet playtimes, but it is a bit too low for when I'm looking for something to distract her."

17. Best For Multipurpose: Okiki Plush Stuffed Infant Toy – Donkey

This super soft plush toy helps your little one in various stages of development over the first few years of their life. It’s replete with various textures and colors that your baby can spend hours exploring. This sensory toy keeps your baby busy and comes with a mechanical music box— all you have to do is pull the ring at the bottom of the donkey and it plays a beautiful lullaby. Yoogie, the stuffed animal, comes with crinkle ears, squeaky legs, and clacker rings attached to its hands. It has a kid’s mirror on its belly to help your baby to focus, track images, and explore the human face. It also features a key teether and perfectly sized legs so your child can grasp them. This baby toy is carefully manufactured to help you keep your little one engaged for hours while stimulating sight, touch, and sound perception.

  • BPA-free teether
  • Safe to use
  • Easy to carry
  • Develops key motor skills
  • Improves tactile sensitivity
  • Enhances auditory awareness
  • Pull cord may be a bit stiff for a baby
  • Mirror may be scratched

18. Best Interactive: Play22 Shape Sorter Color Wooden Board

  • Made with natural wood
  • Non-toxic colors
  • Educational toy
  • Helps develop sorting skills
  • Sticks on the board may not be smooth enough
  • Paint may not be chip-resistant

"I love that it's more than just a toy and acts as a learning aid. While I thought the sticks could be a bit smoother for easier sliding, the overall design is child-safe. It seems to capture my kids' attention well, and that's a win in my book."

19. Best Cognitive Skills: Hausger Developmental Bumpy Ball

Beneficial for auditory, visual, motor, and cognitive skills, this brightly colored bumpy ball is an ideal development toy for babies. The soft, burr-free material does not irritate their skin and the ringing bell stimulates their hearing. As they grow, babies develop color cognition, and their imagination is stimulated. The uneven surface of the ball makes it easier for the baby to grasp and helps develop hand-eye coordination and motor skills. The bumps have different textures which gives your baby a variety of tactile experiences.

  • Safe material
  • Easy to hold
  • Makes a suitable gift
  • Great for developing color cognition and imagination
  • Seams may come apart with use

"This activity ball has quickly become a favorite with my daughter, engaging her with its vibrant colors, varied textures, and delightful rattle noise. I like that it holds her attention for a reasonable amount of time."

20. Best Easy Assembley: Taf Toys All Around Me Activity Hoop

This innovative toy is a round hoop that encircles your baby and offers several age-appropriate activities to encourage motor skills while playing. Exploring the delightful textures and sounds offer sensory stimulation and enhance sensory skills, motor skills, and cognitive development. It encourages your baby to lie in different positions and strengthen muscles for crawling and pivoting. It features a rainbow, baby-safe mirror and 4 felt cards with vibrant illustrations to enhance your baby’s vision between the age of 2 to 3 months. It also features a round, double-sided crinkle koala and a weighted textured leaf with plastic beans to promote gross motor skills and vision development between 3 to 5 months.

  • 24 sensory detachable developmental activities
  • Fosters emotional intelligence
  • Suitable for different developmental stages
  • Easy to assemble
  • Suitable outdoor toy
  • ASTM-certified
  • Supports development of gross motor skills
  • Hoops may be big for smaller spaces
  • Hard material of the hoop may not be child-safe

21. Best Long-Lasting: Learning Resources Spike The Fine Motor Hedgehog

The Spike The Fine Motor Hedgehog by Learning Resources is a 14-piece toy suitable for babies above 18 months. The pieces are shaped like quills which are colorful and chunky. It is designed for babies to place the quills into the holes in the hedgehog. This tried-and-trusted toy helps in shape identification, color recognition, and motor skills while enabling a baby with their problem-solving skills. The hedgehog is hollow, which allows for easy storage for the quills when not in use.

  • Promotes color recognition and counting skills
  • Travel-friendly
  • Helpful for the visually impaired
  • Easy-to-hold pieces
  • May require little strength to pull the quills out of the holes
  • Plastic may be thinner than expected

The product has earned its stripes, with over 42,504 reviews on Amazon.

22. Best Non-Slip Bottom: Lupantte Baby Play Mat – Green

This versatile play mat includes 9 removable toys for sensory and motor skill development and language discovery. The thick lion play mat is specially designed with a green tree and brown branch and comes with a ball pit and 4 colorful balls which keep your baby engrossed for hours. This language development toy fully meets your baby’s needs of visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation and enhances cognitive and physical coordination. It includes a baby-safe mirror for self-discovery, a toy bear that makes sound, lion’s ears, mushroom, and green leaves, among other toys. The washable gym play mat is made of high-quality baby-safe fabric for enhanced comfort. Your baby will get a lot of tummy time and can effectively balance on the mat so that they can sit or stand more stably.

  • Non-slip base
  • Convenient to store and carry
  • Convenient to assemble and disassemble
  • Food-grade silicone teether
  • Enhances fine and gross motor skills
  • Stimulates creativity and imagination
  • Supports emotional intelligence
  • May may be a bit thin
  • Structure may be a bit flimsy

"This play gym has its perks for my little one—it's great for tummy time and helps foster her motor skills. The ability to switch out hanging toys keeps it fresh and entertaining."

23. Best Latex Free: Mobi Wigloo Activity Toy

This entertaining toy inspires creativity, curiosity, and believes in the power of play. Suitable for hand-eye coordination and developmental brain function, children enjoy pulling the cords so that they vibrate and make various sounds. Toddlers can shake it like a rattle or try to catch the soft bubbles. The look-at-me activity gets newborns to develop visual focus and tracking as they find out that the object in the mirror is their reflection. This baby toy has multiple grips, stimulation points, multi-size poppers, and more. It enhances developmental skills, is fun, and playfully therapeutic. This gender-neutral learning toy is a perfect gift for various occasions.

  • 100% food-grade material
  • Travel-friendly design
  • Encourages sensory exploration
  • Latex-free material
  • Some children might find popping the dots a bit challenging

"With a plethora of textures and shapes, this versatile teether has captivated my son--he seems to love its poppable bubbles in particular. The silicone design is safe for him and makes it a breeze for me to clean, which I appreciate."

How To Choose The Best Development Toys For Babies?

Here are a few pointers on how to choose the rght developmental toys for your precious baby so that they derive the maximum benefit out of them.

  • Rate of development: Every child has a different rate of development as both nature and nurture play a role. In fact, girls and boys also develop differently, so you need to choose their toys accordingly. Your child should be exposed to a wide variety of toys rather than going for gender specific ones. The concept of baby dolls for girls and cars for boys is outdated, and they should be allowed to play with what interests them.
  • Challenging: Apart from being age-appropriate, toys need to pose a bit of a challenge so that your baby can learn new skills. It should not be so hard that the child gets frustrated and gives up, nor should it be so simple that your child gets bored.
  • Safety: Safety features are applicable to all children’s toys but you have to be more careful with kids below the age of 3 as they put everything into their mouth. All toys need to be non-toxic, with no small parts that they can put into their mouths, no rough or sharp edges, and should not be fragile or breakable.
  • Age of your baby: Till six months of age, toys like soft toys, rattles, hand puppets, and baby mirrors are great as they can hold, feel, shake, look at, and bang. After 6 months, you should look for toys that encourage tummy time, movement, and crawling, such as stacking toys, and musical toys. From 1 to 2 years, go for toys that encourage functional and pretend play. Toys of different shapes, colors, and sizes help children develop basic concepts like color and shape recognition, spatial perception, and fine and gross motor skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What types of toys are best for a baby’s development?

Toys that are best for a baby’s development have the following features:

  • Keep the baby happy and entertained
  • Facilitate tummy time which is necessary to prevent flat head syndrome
  • Improve their sensory responses
  • Introduce them to colors and shapes
  • Develop their hand grip
  • Enhance problem-solving skills

2. What toys will help develop children?

Some ideal toys for baby development include tummy time toys, rattles, chunky building blocks, stack-me-ups, no-shatter mirrors, musical toys, and teethers. Soft and non-toxic material-based toys that children can grab, shake, suck on, or those that can stimulate any of the baby’s senses or motor skills are worth considering (1) .

3. What can I do to stimulate my baby’s development?

The most entertaining way to stimulate your little one’s development is by getting your baby a range of toys mentioned above to promote your little one’s development in a fun manner. Some of these toys also help strengthen the parent-child bond, which is good for the child’s emotional well-being.

Why Trust MomJunction?

Priti is a product writer of toys and gifts. Her product analysis and review skills have enabled her to understand people’s requirements regarding baby toys. Utilizing her knowledge, she has curated this list of the best developmental toys for babies. These toys can help babies achieve significant growth milestones and are non-toxic and colorful to keep your little ones entertained. With the help of detailed specifications and a buying guide section, you can make an informed decision.

The Bottom Line

Every parent knows how quickly children get bored with a toy and demand to replace it with something else. This is because most toys are designed to entertain them for short durations without truly engaging the mind. The best toys for babies, such as the Bright Starts Oball Class Toy, Play22 Baby Blocks Shape Sorter , and others listed, aren’t just fun to play with but can also help spark creativity while helping little ones develop their motor, problem-solving, and cognitive skills. In addition, your little one is more likely to stay occupied with a toy like SmartNoggin NogginStik Light-Up Rattle for company. With several developmental toys available on the market, choosing the right one for your child can be overwhelming. So, factor in your child’s age, interests, and safety when choosing one, and you can rest assured that they learn during playtime.

Infographic: Benefits Of Development Toys

Your child’s early learning begins at home. Suitable toys and activities can help your baby reach their developmental milestones. So, check out the following infographic to understand how and why development toys are essential for a baby’s physiological, psychological, and cognitive well-being.

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

  • Good Toys For Young Children By Age And Stage https://www.naeyc.org/resources/topics/play/toys

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  • Fact-checker

Tom Green PGCEi

Priti bose ma (english), wedetso chirhah ma english, vibha navarathna mca, latest articles, 13 best stainless steel lunch boxes in india 2024.

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Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-Solving 101: Helping Kids Develop Critical Thinking Skills

Problem-solving is a fundamental skill that children need to develop in order to navigate through life's challenges. Whether it's figuring out a math problem, resolving conflicts with friends, or making decisions on their own, critical thinking skills are essential for success. As parents and educators, it is our responsibility to help kids hone these skills from a young age through educational toys and other tools.

Why Problem-Solving Skills Are Important

Problem-solving skills are crucial for a child's development for several reasons. First and foremost, they empower kids to think for themselves and make informed decisions. By teaching children how to analyze and evaluate information, we are setting them up for success in school and beyond. Critical thinking skills also help kids become better problem solvers, enabling them to overcome obstacles and find creative solutions to challenges. In today's fast-paced world, where change is constant, the ability to think critically is more important than ever.

Tips for Fostering Critical Thinking in Children

1. encourage curiosity.

Curiosity is the gateway to critical thinking. Encourage your child to ask questions, explore new ideas, and seek answers independently. You are laying the foundation for developing problem-solving skills by fostering a sense of wonder and curiosity.

2. Promote Creative Play

Play is a powerful tool for learning. Encourage your child to engage in open-ended play activities stimulating their imagination and creativity. Toys that promote hands-on exploration and experimentation, such as building blocks or puzzles, can help develop problem-solving skills in a fun and engaging way.

3. Teach Decision Making

Give your child opportunities to make decisions from an early age. Whether it's choosing what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, or which game to play, decision-making exercises help children learn how to weigh options, analyze consequences, and make informed choices.

4. Encourage Critical Thinking

Challenge your child to think critically about the world around them. Ask open-ended questions that require them to analyze information, draw connections, and come to logical conclusions. Engage in discussions that encourage reasoning and problem-solving.

5. Provide Real-Life Scenarios

Give your child opportunities to practice problem-solving in real-life situations. Whether it's helping them navigate a conflict with a friend, plan a family outing, or tackle a tough math problem, encourage them to approach challenges with a critical mindset.

6. Model Problem-Solving

As a parent or educator, you are your child's first role model. Demonstrate problem-solving skills in your own life, whether it's managing a household budget, planning a project at work, or resolving a conflict with a friend. By showcasing your own critical thinking abilities, you are setting a positive example for your child to follow.

7. Use Educational Toys

Educational toys and games are a great way to engage children in learning and development. Discovery Toys offers a wide range of high-quality toys that promote critical thinking skills in children of all ages. From interactive puzzles and games to STEM kits and building sets, there is something for every child to enjoy while building problem-solving skills.

Discover Quality Educational Toys from Discovery Toys

Discovery Toys is a trusted brand with over 40 years of expertise in developing educational toys for children. With a commitment to quality and innovation, Discovery Toys offers a wide range of products designed to engage children in learning and development. From newborns to school-aged children, there is something for every age and stage of development.

Explore the range of educational toys from Discovery Toys and help your child develop critical thinking skills today. Contact us and discover the perfect toy for your child and nurture their problem-solving abilities. With the right tools and guidance, you can help your child build a solid foundation for critical thinking that will serve them well throughout their lives.

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Easy Problem Solving Activities For Toddlers

Problem solving activities for toddlers are not only a great way to boost their critical thinking skills but also provide playtime fun for curious little minds.

These daily activities help toddlers develop important cognitive and motor skills while enhancing their creativity and imagination. By engaging in problem solving activities, toddlers learn to think logically, make decisions, and develop a growth mindset.

In this article, I have curated a list of easy problem solving activities for toddlers that help your kids learn through the power of play. These activities require minimal preparation and offer maximum fun for your child – all while promoting language skills and social skills.

This post may contain affiliate links. Full  privacy policy and disclosure here.

Easy Problem Solving Activities For Toddlers

Key Takeaways:

  • Problem solving activities promote critical thinking and cognitive development in toddlers.
  • Engaging in problem solving activities helps toddlers develop important motor skills.
  • These activities enhance creativity and imagination in toddlers.
  • Toddlers learn logical thinking and decision-making through problem solving activities.
  • Curated a list of 50 easy problem solving activities for toddlers to enjoy.

The No-Stress Prep Principle to Toddler Activities

When it comes to toddler activities, the key is to keep it simple and stress-free. The last thing parents need is complicated setups and multiple materials to juggle. That’s where the no-stress prep principle comes in. By providing activities that require minimal preparation and materials, parents can ensure low-effort, high-reward fun for their toddlers.

Table of Contents

These no-stress activities not only provide entertainment but also contribute to cognitive development, fine and gross motor skills, as well as creativity and imagination. Toddlers engage in problem-solving tasks such as sorting and matching, which promote cognitive development and critical thinking.

At the same time, these activities focus on refining fine and gross motor skills. Toddlers can practice pinching small objects or jumping and hopping, enhancing their physical coordination and strength.

Moreover, these low-stress activities foster creativity and imagination in toddlers. Through open-ended play, they have the opportunity to express themselves and explore their ideas. Whether it’s building a tower with blocks or creating a pretend play scenario with dolls, these activities encourage imaginative thinking.

By following the no-stress prep principle, parents can provide their toddlers with enriching and enjoyable activities that support their cognitive, physical, and creative development. Let’s take a look at some examples of these easy and rewarding toddler activities.

Benefits of the No-Stress Prep Principle

With these no-stress activities, parents can create a fun and enriching environment for their toddlers while minimizing the effort needed to set up and prepare. Finding the balance between simplicity and engaging experiences is key to ensuring that both parents and toddlers can enjoy quality time together.

Sticky Wall Art

Looking for a simple and mess-free activity to engage your toddler’s senses and enhance their fine motor skills and creativity? Look no further than sticky wall art! With just painter’s tape and a few pieces to stick and re-stick, your little one can enjoy endless fun while developing important skills.

Sticky wall art offers a sensory experience that captivates toddlers as they explore the sticky texture of the tape. This tactile exploration stimulates their senses and encourages curiosity. As they peel and stick the pieces onto the walls or floors, toddlers also develop their fine motor skills by practicing grip and hand-eye coordination.

But that’s not all—sticky wall art is a fantastic opportunity for your toddler to unleash their creativity and imagination. They can arrange the pieces in any way they like, creating their own unique artwork. This open-ended activity allows them to express themselves and develop a sense of pride and accomplishment in their creations.

Create a designated area in your home for sticky wall art, whether it’s a wall or a large piece of cardboard on the floor. Stick the painter’s tape in various shapes and patterns, leaving plenty of space for your toddler to stick the pieces. Provide your child with a variety of materials they can use, such as foam shapes, fabric scraps, or even cut-up pieces of construction paper.

Encourage your toddler to explore the stickiness of the tape, experiment with different arrangements, and peel and re-stick the pieces as many times as they like. This interactive and sensory-rich activity will keep them engaged and entertained for hours while fostering their cognitive and motor development.

In conclusion, sticky wall art is a fantastic activity for toddlers that offers a sensory experience, enhances fine motor skills, and sparks creativity. With just painter’s tape and a little imagination, you can provide your child with a fun and educational sensory play opportunity that will keep them coming back for more.

Colander Pipe Cleaners

If you’re looking for a simple and creative activity to keep your toddler entertained, colander pipe cleaners are the perfect solution. All you need is a colander and some pipe cleaners. Show your little one how to thread the pipe cleaners through the holes in the colander, creating a colorful and tactile masterpiece. This activity not only helps develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination but also encourages creativity and imaginative play.

By manipulating the pipe cleaners and exploring different ways to thread them through the colander, toddlers can experiment with shapes, patterns, and colors. It’s a hands-on sensory experience that stimulates their senses and engages their curious minds.

Watch as their concentration levels increase while they focus on the task at hand. The satisfaction of completing their unique creation will bring a sense of accomplishment and boost their confidence.

Colander pipe cleaners are an excellent activity for both solo play and interactive play with siblings or friends. You can even turn it into a friendly competition, challenging your little ones to create the most elaborate designs.

So grab a colander and some pipe cleaners and let your toddler’s creativity run wild!

Nature’s Paintbrush

Are you looking for a creative and sensory painting activity for your toddler? Look no further than Nature’s Paintbrush! This activity allows your little one to explore the wonders of nature while enhancing their sensory perception and unleashing their creativity.

To get started with Nature’s Paintbrush, all you need to do is step outside and collect some leaves or twigs. These natural materials will serve as your toddler’s paintbrushes, providing a unique and textured painting experience.

With Nature’s Paintbrush, your toddler can create beautiful artwork using the vibrant colors and shapes of leaves or the interesting patterns and textures of twigs. This activity not only engages their senses but also encourages their artistic expression and imagination. As they experiment with different strokes and techniques, they will discover new ways to use nature’s paintbrush to bring their ideas to life.

Nature’s Paintbrush is a wonderful way to connect your toddler with the natural world and foster a love for nature. It provides a hands-on experience that allows them to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors while developing their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

So, why wait? Let your toddler’s creativity bloom with Nature’s Paintbrush and watch as they create masterpieces inspired by the beauty of nature.

Mega Block Jumping

Mega block jumping is a fun and interactive gross motor activity that promotes active play and coordination in toddlers. This simple yet engaging activity allows little ones to burn off energy while developing their physical skills.

All you need for mega block jumping is a few large building blocks and a soft surface. Set up a line or a small platform using the blocks and encourage your toddler to jump from one block to another. This activity challenges their coordination and balance while providing them with a sense of accomplishment as they successfully land on each block.

Mega block jumping not only helps toddlers build their gross motor skills but also promotes the development of strength and agility. It gives them an opportunity to explore their physical abilities and improve their balance and spatial awareness.

Benefits of Mega Block Jumping:

  • Enhances coordination and balance
  • Promotes active play and physical development
  • Builds strength and agility

Mega block jumping is a fantastic way to incorporate active play into your toddler’s routine. It provides them with an enjoyable and stimulating experience while supporting their physical development. So grab some large building blocks and watch your little one have a blast while jumping to new heights!

Snowball Pick Up

Snowball pick up is a festive and engaging indoor activity for toddlers. All you need are some soft balls or crumpled pieces of paper to represent snowballs. Spread them out in a designated area and encourage your toddler to pick them up and put them in a container.

This activity is not only a great way to develop fine motor skills but also provides sensory play as toddlers feel the texture of the “snowballs.” It’s a fun and interactive way to bring a touch of winter magic into your home.

As your toddler engages in snowball pick up, they will develop their hand-eye coordination and grasp control, honing their fine motor skills. The sensory experience of touching and holding the “snowballs” stimulates their tactile senses, providing a multi-sensory play opportunity. It’s a wonderful indoor activity that keeps toddlers entertained while also promoting their physical and cognitive development.

The Big List Of Problem Solving Activities For Toddlers

  • Sorting Games: Provide objects or toys for young children to sort by color, shape, or size, encouraging critical thinking and classification skills – there all kinds of possible solutions for shape sorting games.
  • Sensory Bins: Create sensory bins filled with various materials like rice, beans, or water along with scoops and containers, prompting toddlers to explore and problem-solve through sensory play. You can use open ended questions to prompt the play scene, or encourage free play to help encourage independent play.
  • Obstacle Courses: Set up simple obstacle courses using pillows, cushions, and other household items, challenging toddlers to navigate and problem-solve to complete the course.
  • Water Play: Offer water play activities with cups, funnels, and toys, allowing toddlers to experiment with pouring, filling, and problem-solving through water exploration.
  • Nature Walks: Take toddlers on nature walks, encouraging them to observe and problem-solve as they encounter different elements like rocks, leaves, and insects.
  • Shape Matching: Provide shape sorting toys or puzzles for toddlers to match shapes to corresponding holes, promoting spatial awareness and problem-solving skills.
  • Cooking Together: Involve toddlers in simple cooking activities like mixing ingredients or assembling sandwiches, fostering problem-solving and following instructions.
  • Animal Matching: Introduce matching games with pictures or figurines of animals for toddlers to pair together, enhancing memory and problem-solving abilities.
  • DIY Crafts: Engage toddlers in age-appropriate DIY crafts using materials like paper, glue, and recycled items, encouraging creative problem-solving and self-expression.
  • Story Sequencing: Use picture cards or storybooks to prompt toddlers to sequence events in a story or solve a basic problem, enhancing comprehension and problem-solving through storytelling.
  • Pattern Recognition: Create patterns using blocks, beads, or stickers for toddlers to replicate, promoting critical thinking and pattern recognition skills.
  • Sensory Exploration: Offer sensory exploration activities with materials like playdough, slime, or kinetic sand, encouraging toddlers to encourage problem solving skills  through tactile experiences.
  • Block Stacking Challenges: Encourage toddlers to build tall towers or structures with blocks, fostering spatial reasoning and problem-solving as they balance and stack and come up with creative solutions with creative thinking. Building toys are a must have for every toddlers toy box!
  • Color Mixing: Provide paint or colored water for toddlers to experiment with mixing colors, promoting problem-solving and exploration of cause and effect.
  • Shadow Play: Use flashlights or natural light to create shadows, prompting toddlers to explore and problem-solve by manipulating objects to create different shadow shapes.
  • Music and Movement: Engage toddlers in music and movement activities like dancing or playing instruments, fostering problem-solving and creativity through rhythm and movement.
  • Outdoor Scavenger Hunts: Organize scavenger hunt in the backyard or park, challenging young toddlers to find and collect items based on visual cues or descriptions – focusing on developing cognitive skills.
  • DIY Sensory Boards: Create sensory boards with textures like sandpaper, fabric, or bubble wrap for toddlers to explore and problem-solve through tactile stimulation.
  • Building Bridges: Provide materials like blocks, cardboard, and tape for toddlers to construct bridges or ramps for toy cars or animals, encouraging problem-solving and engineering skills.
  • Imaginative Play Prompts: Offer props or costumes for toddlers to engage in imaginary play scenarios, prompting problem-solving and creativity through role-playing.
  • Number Games: Introduce simple number games or counting activities using toys or everyday objects, promoting numeracy skills and problem-solving through counting and sorting.
  • Shape Hunt: Go on a shape hunt around the house or outdoors, challenging toddlers to find and identify different shapes in their environment. This is a really simple activity that doesn’t require toys for young learners.
  • DIY Marble Runs: Create simple marble runs using cardboard tubes, ramps, and tape for toddlers to design and problem-solve as they experiment with gravity and momentum. This is so great for brain development and fine motor skills as well.
  • Building with Recyclables: Provide recyclable materials like cardboard boxes, tubes, and bottles for toddlers to build and problem-solve as they construct imaginative structures.
  • DIY Puzzles: Make homemade puzzles using pictures or drawings mounted on cardboard for toddlers to assemble, promoting problem-solving and visual-spatial skills.

How can problem solving activities benefit toddlers?

Problem solving activities for toddlers are a great way to boost their critical thinking skills while also having fun. These activities help toddlers develop important cognitive and motor skills, as well as enhance their creativity and imagination. By engaging in problem solving activities, toddlers can learn to think logically, make decisions, and develop a growth mindset.

What is the no-stress prep principle for toddler activities?

When it comes to toddler activities, the key is to keep it simple and stress-free. The no-stress prep principle focuses on providing activities that are easy to set up with minimal materials, while still offering maximum fun and learning opportunities for toddlers. These activities promote cognitive development by involving sorting, matching, and simple puzzles. They also help toddlers refine their fine and gross motor skills through activities like pinching and jumping. Additionally, these activities encourage creativity and imagination, allowing toddlers to express themselves through play.

How can I create sticky wall art with my toddler?

Sticky wall art is a simple and mess-free activity that toddlers will love. All you need is painter’s tape and some pieces for your toddler to stick and re-stick on the walls or floors. This activity provides a sensory experience as toddlers explore the stickiness of the tape and work on their fine motor skills by peeling and sticking the pieces. Additionally, it allows toddlers to use their creativity and imagination as they create their own art on the sticky wall.

What is the nature’s paintbrush activity for toddlers?

Nature’s paintbrush is a fun and sensory painting activity for toddlers. Simply step outside, collect some leaves or twigs, and use them as paintbrushes. This activity not only allows toddlers to explore different textures and sensations, but it also promotes creativity as they create unique artwork using natural materials. It’s a great way for toddlers to connect with nature while also engaging in a fun and creative activity.

How can I engage my toddler in mega block jumping?

Mega block jumping is a simple yet engaging activity that helps toddlers burn off energy and develop their gross motor skills. All you need are some large building blocks and a soft surface. Encourage your toddler to jump from one block to another, challenging their coordination and balance. This activity promotes active play and helps toddlers build strength and agility. It’s a great way to keep your little one entertained while also promoting physical development.

What is snowball pick up for toddlers?

Snowball pick up is a festive and engaging indoor activity for toddlers. All you need are some soft balls or crumpled pieces of paper to represent snowballs. Spread them out in a designated area and encourage your toddler to pick them up and put them in a container. This activity is not only a great way to develop fine motor skills but also provides sensory play as toddlers feel the texture of the “snowballs.” It’s a fun and interactive way to bring a touch of winter magic into your home.


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I'm a mom of 3 and has a passion for helping children reach their human potential. She enjoys helping parents raise confident and healthy kids by explaining how to handle situations using positive and peaceful parenting. I believe that creating strong bonds through small daily interactions is super powerful in changing behavior to the positive direction. It really only takes a few moments a day! Welcome to my blog, and I hope you find a lot of value here.

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The Benefits of Problem-Solving in Babies

Problem-solving is an amazing core skill for little explorers to know! In fact, children who learn problem-solving are often better equipped and excited to accept new challenges, handle frustrations and discover more things in new environments! But how can you support this development and why is it so important? The Mizzie team have collected our favourite tips and tricks for you to follow!

Mizzie Puzzle & Babies

Acknowledge their development!

Each baby is unique, but there are some similarities in the stages of development. Understanding where your baby is likely to be can really help you to focus on their needs when learning core skills! For example, if your baby is between 4 – 12 months, they most likely won’t be ready to problem-solve with their hands yet, but they can start identifying things that will help them later! Playing with different textures, identifying colours and imitating actions from memory are all things that will attribute to their problem-solving in the future.

From there, older babies and toddlers will be able to start using their hands to and play games that will challenge their mind and ignite their curiosity! Things like playing simple games, taking bottles or toys apart and imitating adult actions, such as putting the baby to bed or talking on the phone, are all signs that your little one is gaining more knowledge on problem-solving, woohoo!

Puzzle OverHead

Encourage their curiosity and help them explore!

Simple things, such as celebrating explorations, asking questions and letting your little one help themselves, are all ways to encourage the development of problem-solving! These things can be easily accomplished by giving positive, gentle feedback on new explorations or skills; letting your baby figure out themselves how to reach a toy just out of their reach, or saying things like, “oh no! Your ball is stuck, what do we do?”. This will get your little one's mind working and help them to grasp their independence to explore themselves!

 Another way we like to support this development at Mizzie is through playtime! There are plenty of fun things to do from home to help bub develop problem-solving, at Mizzie, we love using puzzles! Puzzles are the perfect wonky and weird shapes to make your little one stop, think and look a little harder to make it work. They are fun, engaging and perfect ways to make your little one have that 'AH-HUH' moment!

Mizzie Puzzle Play

 Playing with puzzles encourages children to look at pictures more carefully, going over them from top to bottom and from left to right. Through doing this, children may begin to notice visual similarities and differences. This also will improve their memory skills, ability to plan, test ideas and solve problems. The experience of completing a puzzle can also help your child to learn to accept challenges, overcome problems and deal with frustrations.

 To start puzzle play, we know that good things take time, so start easy and do it with them! Talking to your little one about the pieces and pointing out similarities or key features, are a great activity that you can use to help them understand the challenge while spending quality time together!

BONUS: Did you know that puzzle play also helps your little one learn about patience?? It's true! Your little one won't get it the first go, but that's okay! Learning a new skill can take time, so it's a great way to exercise their patience!

 At Mizzie, we love our very-own " Mizzie Hopping Around Australia Puzzle Box Set" which is the perfect 3 IN 1 puzzle set that ranges in difficulty between 4, 6 and 9 pieces so your little one can really improve their skill. Our puzzles also feature GORGEOUS pictures of Mizzie travelling 3 iconic Aussie landscapes, so your little one can learn more about Australia! Check it out HERE!

 Not quite ready to start puzzles? No worries! Mizzie’s Puzzles can be flipped over to find 3 distinct colours on the back of each piece! Use these colours to start developing those core colour-match skills!

Check out more info here:

Sprout Development

The Early Years Count

The Mizzie Team x

Grass Mizzie

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Lovely nursery rhymes that everyone will know 🤗

Great item for kids.

Our baby loves the mini mizzie. It’s easy for her to grab and hold on - much easier compared to bigger teether toys - and she enjoys chewing all parts of the ring. It’s also easy to take in the pram and car. Highly recommend!

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I Work at a Toy Store. I’m Terrified by What Parents Keep Buying.

I want to scream at them.

Care and Feeding is Slate’s parenting advice column.  Have a question for Care and Feeding?  Submit it here .

Dear Care and Feeding,

I work in an independent toy store, a job that I deeply love. We have toys for all ages, but recently I have been having a big dilemma regarding toys for toddlers. At the store, we have many fantastic products for kids under 3 years old, all of which comply with U.S. safety standards (and many that comply with stricter European/U.K. safety standards). Of course, the biggest factor is that these toys don’t have small parts that could pose a choking hazard. But parents, grandparents, and friends of kids under 3 are often drawn to toys for slightly older kids—toys that don’t meet the same safety requirements regarding small pieces.

I can’t shake the feeling that I’m complicit in creating an unsafe and potentially deadly situation by knowingly selling these toys to families with kids under 3. I understand that many 2-year-olds are past the stage of putting everything in their mouths, and that ultimately, it’s the parents’ call whether they think something is safe for their particular kiddo. But sometimes folks with kids as young as 1 will buy toys with obvious small parts that have clear warnings on the labels. I never recommend these toys to these families. Following my boss’ lead, I usually gently point out that the toy has small parts and isn’t recommended for kids that young, but they almost always buy them anyway. I don’t know if the parents don’t understand, don’t care, or if they genuinely think their kid can handle these toys without trying to chew on them. I don’t want to insult anyone or imply they are a bad parent for giving these toys to their kids, so I drop the subject after one gently worded suggestion. But I want to scream at them that their baby could die if they choke on a tiny bead or screw!

I’m young and I don’t have a huge amount of experience with kids this age. But 1 seems awfully young to be taking your chances. What is my obligation here? Do I need to be more vigilant about warning these families about choking hazards? If it’s an aunt, uncle, or friend purchasing the toys, I’m a little more relaxed since I assume the parents will take a look at the toys before giving them to the kids. But with parents and grandparents, I’m more worried. There’s also the issue of the store’s bottom line—sales numbers aren’t amazing right now and I don’t want to lose sales or chase away customers by telling people not to buy things (I don’t work on commission but our team is small and we all care about keeping this toy store open for as long as possible). But obviously, children’s safety is more important than making the sale. What should I do here?

—Choking Back a Warning

Dear Choking,

I appreciate where your heart is with this question, but this is something you’re going to have to let go of. Assuming that these choke-able toys are indeed going to the tots you see in the store (in some cases a sibling or cousin may be the actual intended recipient), the unfortunate truth is that people are going to make all kinds of parenting decisions that you, the vendor, cannot control. And if you were more forceful in these situations, where would it end? Should you refuse to sell a bike if they aren’t also buying a helmet? Should a waiter stop a parent from ordering a soda for their toddler? Should action figures and marble sets be prohibited for kids with younger siblings? I think you see where I’m going here.

You’ve done your due diligence advising the parents about the toys’ relative appropriateness and danger. Hopefully, the children you’ve encountered will be fine with these toys; and if they experience a near-miss, then the parents will be more likely to heed your advice next time. Ultimately, you have to trust (or at least hope) that the majority of parents will make decisions in their children’s best interests. As unsettling as it may be, this is one of those times when you have to let it go, because you can’t control other people’s actions. As the saying goes, not my circus, not my monkeys…

Want Advice on Parenting, Kids, or Family Life?

Submit your questions to Care and Feeding here . It’s anonymous! (Questions may be edited for publication.)

I’m genderfluid and pansexual, 17 years old, and currently dating a girl. My parents do not know, since the last time I suggested that I might be dating a girl, they flipped out, as I’m biologically female. How should I navigate this situation? When I bring up other friends I have that are LGBT, my parents are fine with it. But when I make the slightest hint that I’m not straight, both parents lecture me on how I am, despite the truth that I am pan and genderqueer. So how should I deal with this issue, respectfully, and without driving friends or family away?

—Please Help!

The first question I’ll ask you, as you consider what to say to your parents, is: Are you safe? For some parents, it’s one thing to know gay people exist in the world and be OK with it, but it’s another thing to have an LGBTQIA+ child. So, I’m going to write my response assuming that coming out to your parents would be a safe option to consider—just know that you don’t have to come out if you feel it puts you at risk. It doesn’t make you any less authentic.

The next question I would ask you to consider is, naturally, whether you want to come out. If you’re not sure, I’d suggest starting with a conversation about their past reactions. “Mom, I was thinking about that conversation months ago where I suggested I might want to date women, and you and Dad seemed pretty certain that I was straight. I’m just wondering: Why was that was your reaction? You’re fine with my gay friends.” That kind of conversation doesn’t obligate you to disclose anything (even if they ask you point-blank, you can deflect), but it can give you some clues as to what they’re thinking. With that additional context, you may feel more equipped to devise a plan for coming out, or you might decide to just ask them to lay off the judgment and assumptions for now.

If you feel the time is right to come out to your parents, spend some time talking to others who have done this before. You might also check out PFLAG or the LGBT National Hotline , where you can talk through your questions with trained professionals. I also found this WikiHow article surprisingly insightful in coming out as pan (it’s written by a licensed social worker). It mentions that you might need to be prepared to explain (and re-explain) what pan and fluid mean. Queer terminology has changed and expanded a lot since your parents grew up, and they may not be fully aware of all the gender identities and sexual orientations there are. Be patient and don’t assume from the start that ignorance equals bigotry.

Ultimately, how much you disclose to your parents right now is entirely your call. There is no right or wrong way to do it. You can also ebb and flow with how transparent you are with your parents, regardless of whether you come out. This is about doing whatever will help you lead your safest and most fulfilling life.

Catch Up on Care and Feeding

·  Missed earlier columns this week?  Read them here . ·  Discuss this column in the  Slate Parenting Facebook group !

My husband and I have several children. We didn’t plan any, but we also didn’t try to prevent it. It was very “let life determine it.” We’re extremely happy with our family and our current situation, and he agreed he’d get a vasectomy when we were done. I didn’t realize when he went to his yearly that he was serious about getting a vasectomy referral. I was told it would be a few weeks for the consultation followed by a minimum week for the procedure. But for my husband, it went from discussion to done in under two weeks!

The thing is, we never truly had a conversation about being completely done having kids. I’m partially OK with this and knowing I’ll be able to focus on my career and whatnot. However, I feel I didn’t truly get a “vote” and he just decided for both of us that this was it. Although I understand his reasoning, I’m extremely upset and he doesn’t seem to understand my side. We never truly agreed this was our last baby and I honestly feel robbed in a lot of ways! I’m looking for any advice you’re willing to give!

—Miscommunicated or Misunderstood

Dear M or M,

Is the disagreement about his unilateral decision on timing, or is it about being officially done with kids? Those are related grievances, of course, but if the answer is “both,” then it’s no wonder you all are having trouble untangling the situation, because it’s really complicated—you’re fighting a battle on two fronts. And since you’d already informally discussed the vasectomy as a future step you’d take, that is probably adding to the confusion.

In these situations, I tend to advocate for writing a letter to your spouse. It allows you to share complex ideas and be vulnerable without feeling put on the spot with your partner. It’s too easy in a disagreement over hurt feelings to become defensive or feel like you need to prove your point. A letter removes that pressure. Plus, you can write and revise it over a few days, which not only ensures that you’re being clear, but also helps you process your feelings. Once you feel like the letter accurately conveys your feelings, ask your husband to read it. He might then be able to more fruitfully talk to you about the situation—or he might write his own letter about it!

If letter writing doesn’t help you two work things through, seek the help of a professional marriage counselor. They can guide you in rebuilding your communication and trust, and also help you grieve the end of childbearing, which is a real thing for many women! In fact, regardless of how you and your husband repair things, you still might want to find a professional to talk about this transition in your life. There’s no harm in that if it will help you feel at peace and prepared for your next chapter.

I am struggling a bit with how I’m “supposed” to handle custody, in light of my past experiences. I am now divorcing my second husband and we are great with custody! Literally, all the working-together boxes are checked off. I know this because I’ve already had an extremely contentious divorce that resulted in me being a single mom to two kids for eight years. Their dad saw them when I brought them to him and he had zero decision-making power, due to his own horrible decisions. Now I’m navigating the split custody with my recent ex, and he is great.

The dilemma I’m facing is that there isn’t one. I’m used to fighting tooth and nail for kids and feel kind of lacking now. Am I still a good mom if I spend half the week (we are 50/50) with my boyfriend and half the week with my daughter? It’s truly weird to feel like I’m looking for a problem, but I can’t help feeling like I’m skating off into the sunset half the time, when I’m used to doing 95 percent of the parenting. Is this being lazy? For the record, my daughter is happy with the arrangement so far. My ex is now seeing a family friend who has kids of her own and I like her just fine. My partner has no kids and doesn’t ever expect to. We are all in our late 30s to 40s. Is it just being paranoid to expect an eventual fight and worry about laying the groundwork to “win”? What does that even look like?

—Getting Along or Giving Up?

Dear Getting Along,

Divorces can be amiable! I’m sure it feels weird after a highly contentious one, but it is a gift to have a positive, respectful relationship with your ex (and their new partner, too!). Please don’t go looking for trouble and shoring up your “case” for whenever things get contentious—that is a surefire way to cause drama, not prevent it.

Regarding your daughter, you are not slacking as a parent if you only spend half your time with her and if you enjoy your “off” weeks. Enjoy away! My guess is that your first divorce and custody arrangement cemented your self-identify as a dedicated, committed provider to your kids. It was born of necessity, but probably later became a source of pride for you. Now that you don’t have to play that role for your daughter, you are scrambling to identify what kind of mom you are—because your past archetype is no longer needed. I totally get that. I’m not divorced, but I’m a widow, and there are times when I feel an intense determination—almost defiance—to give my kids my all, in spite of life’s circumstances. You almost feel like you have to prove that you don’t need your partner, and that you can do it all and be it all for your kids, and you’ll all triumph in the end. (Cue fist pumps.) It’s a compelling narrative, but it can quickly turn into martyrdom if you aren’t careful. Being fully present for our kids doesn’t mean being with them 100 percent of the time, and successful motherhood is not determined by what you sacrifice of yourself or what battles you wage for them. Yes, these can be ways we act on love, but they are not the only ways.

You are not in a battle this time around, and you don’t need to fight for your child. What if you decided that instead of laying the groundwork to win some mythical future fight, you would commit yourself to cultivating this blended family of love and support? In essence, you’d be fighting (metaphorically) to keep the peace and give your daughter a lasting example of the many ways to be a family. My fellow Slate-ster, Jamilah Lemieux, talks a lot about this kind of approach as a cohost of Slate’s Care and Feeding podcast, and you can get the feel of her 50/50 parenting style here . If you ask me—and you did!—that’s how you’re “supposed” to handle custody in a situation like yours.

More Advice From Slate

I’m working part time from home while caring full time for an 8-month-old baby. (I can work flexible hours.) My husband is an essential worker with long and unpredictable hours, so I’m isolated at home with the baby 99 percent of the time. My days are unstructured and lonely and completely exhausting, and by the end of the day when I finally have a window to work, I’m wiped.

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    First Friends and Early Social Skills. Beginning at about 12 months, most young toddlers enjoy playing near peers. They may play games like "Ring Around the Rosie" or "chase" with another child, or join a peer in filling a bucket with mulch on the playground. These moments may not last long, but they give toddlers a sense of what it ...

  3. Supporting Thinking Skills From 0-12 Months

    Model problem-solving. Take the top off the container and take the blocks out. Then put them back in and let her have a try. Young children learn a lot through imitation. Take "touching" walks. On your walks together, hold your baby's hands up to a bumpy tree trunk. Crinkle a leaf and let her listen.

  4. Best Cognitive Development Toys For Baby

    Answer: Cognitive development toys help babies and toddlers develop their problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and creativity. They can also help develop their fine and gross motor skills, as well as their language and communication skills. ... The TEYTOY Baby Toy Zoo Series 26pcs Soft Alphabet Cards with Cloth Bag for Over 0 Years is a ...

  5. Best Puzzles and Problem-Solving Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers

    6. Construction Vehicles Puzzle. I would recommend getting two animal sets. That way you can mix up the pieces and sort them as you talk about animal habitats for yet another way to play! Our library has this puzzle rack for storing their puzzles. Fits up to 12 puzzles (both the chunky puzzle size and larger).

  6. Your 1-year-old problem solver

    Your 1-year-old problem solver. At 12 months, your baby's brain is developing rapidly. She can now solve simple problems. This is an important new skill. For example, when your baby holds a mechanical toy out to you and says, "Huh," her brain is working hard. She knows that the toy will work if someone turns the key.

  7. 15 Powerful Problem Solving Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

    Puzzles. Puzzles are fun and a great way to encourage cognitive development in children. They are great for spacial reasoning and strengthening problem-solving skills. They also develop memory skills, critical thinking, and the ability to plan and execute the plan. Toddlers will enjoy the simple puzzles, and preschoolers will do great with ...

  8. Educational Toys

    Putting a simple puzzle together with your baby is a great problem solving activity. Point and describe the picture and shapes out loud before taking pieces out, and talk about the process of completing a puzzle while you do it together. Verbally prompt your baby to "try another way" or "turn the piece". Problem Solving for 6-12 Months.

  9. 25 toys to support cognitive development in early childhood

    1. BUILDING BLOCKS. BUY ON AMAZON. Building blocks are classic toys that offer a plethora of benefits for cognitive development. They enhance spatial awareness, fine motor skills, and creativity. Children can explore concepts like balance, stability, and gravity as they build and stack.

  10. Top 10 Toys that Encourage Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving

    All of these toys provide an opportunity for children to practice problem solving skills. Q2: What are the benefits of using toys to teach problem solving skills? A2: Toys can be a great way to help children develop problem solving skills. Through play, children can practice critical thinking and problem solving skills in a fun and engaging way.

  11. The Ultimate List of Creative Problem Solving Activities for Toddlers

    Take a look at two examples of problem solving life skills activities: Life Problem: Your child sees her bottle sticking out of the diaper bag that is slightly out of reach. Solution: Your child pulls at the strap of the diaper bag to pull it closer to her. Life Problem: Your child sees his favorite toy on the other side of the laundry basket.

  12. Stacking Toys for Toddlers

    How Stacking Toys Enhance Cognitive Skills Building Problem-Solving Skills. When toddlers engage with stacking toys, they are presented with a problem to solve: how to balance and arrange the pieces. This fosters early problem-solving abilities, a skill that is crucial throughout life. Developing Spatial Awareness

  13. Amazon.com: Toddler Problem Solving Toys

    Kids Busy Board-Educational Toy for Fine Motor Skills and Problem-Solving -Toddler Airplane Travel Essentials with Buckles, Zippers, and More -Perfect for Toddlers and Preschoolers (Green) ... Colorful Cube Shape Sorter Montessori Baby Toys 6-12-18 Months, Sensory Learning Toys for Toddlers 1-3 Girls Boys Birthday Gifts. 4.6 out of 5 stars 161 ...

  14. The 27 Best Baby Toys For Ages 0-12 Months

    2. Fat Brain Toys OombeeBall. Age Recommendation: 0+ months. This set of connected, wobbly balls has different colors and textures, including dots, lines, and swirls, to encourage sensory exploration and develop fine motor skills, tactile learning, spatial reasoning, and object permanence.

  15. 17 Valuable Problem Solving Activities for Toddlers

    Using building materials such as wooden blocks helps them to problem solve and learn important concepts such as balance, spatial reasoning, and many other great skills. Little minds can be seen working through the thought process of all the possible solutions for what they want to build.

  16. 25 Best Baby Toys 2024

    This multi-purpose stacking toy features seven stackable cups for babies that are hugely helpful in development. When babies stack blocks on top of each other, they use their hands to manipulate objects, learning to balance, which aids in developing hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and problem-solving skills.

  17. 8 Toys and Games that Build Problem Solving in Early Childhood

    6. Pattern Blocks and Boards. We love this game so much! With five boards featuring pictures of 10 designs created from geometric shapes, your child matches the 120 wooden shapes to each picture. Utilizing problem solving skills, kids will match shapes to the mosaic or make open-ended designs of their own.

  18. 23 Best Development Toys For Babies In 2024, As Per Child Expert

    The best toys for babies, such as the Bright Starts Oball Class Toy, Play22 Baby Blocks Shape Sorter, and others listed, aren't just fun to play with but can also help spark creativity while helping little ones develop their motor, problem-solving, and cognitive skills.

  19. Buckle Toys

    Buckle Toys - Buster Square - Learning Activity Toy - Develop Fine Motor Skills and Problem Solving - Toddler Travel Essential - Educational Classroom Must Have 4.8 out of 5 stars 5,691 2 offers from $16.99

  20. Problem-Solving 101: Helping Kids Develop Critical Thinking Skills

    Tips for Fostering Critical Thinking in Children. 1. Encourage Curiosity. Curiosity is the gateway to critical thinking. Encourage your child to ask questions, explore new ideas, and seek answers independently. You are laying the foundation for developing problem-solving skills by fostering a sense of wonder and curiosity. 2.

  21. 25 Engaging Toddler Problem-Solving Activities

    Activities involve sorting, matching, and simple puzzles, promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Fine and gross motor skills. Activities like pinching and jumping help toddlers refine their physical coordination and strength. Creativity and imagination. Open-ended play allows toddlers to express themselves and explore their ...

  22. Amazon.com: Problem Solving Toys

    Montessori-Inspired Stacking, Shapes and Colors Sorting Toys for Toddlers, Twist and Pivot, Problem-Solving and Fine Motor Skills Development, Educational and Learning Toys for 1+ Year Old. 17. $2499. FREE delivery Mon, Apr 15 on $35 of items shipped by Amazon. Small Business.

  23. Problem Solving Toys

    Problem solving toys. This bright collection of toys for problem-solving includes games and jigsaw puzzles that help little ones learn to recognise shapes and patterns. Choose chunky wooden jigsaws for toddlers under different age groups. Learning games with interactive features are a great way to get kids engaged. Relevance. Relevance.

  24. The Benefits of Problem-Solving in Babies

    This also will improve their memory skills, ability to plan, test ideas and solve problems. The experience of completing a puzzle can also help your child to learn to accept challenges, overcome problems and deal with frustrations. To start puzzle play, we know that good things take time, so start easy and do it with them!

  25. I Work at a Toy Store. I'm Terrified by What Parents Keep Buying

    Advertisement. You've done your due diligence advising the parents about the toys' relative appropriateness and danger. Hopefully, the children you've encountered will be fine with these ...