Toddler Toys

Best Toys for Toddlers

Developmental Sign-Posts

Once your child is walking and talking, their development seems to escalate. You need to find the best toddler toys to complement their development.

Between the ages of 1 to 3 years old, there are many changes in so many different areas. Moms and Dads struggle to keep pace with the differences daily. But as they support their toddler through these milestones, a sense of wonderment does develop, as their son or daughter conquers each goal.

Mother and toddler interact with each other on a window seat. The best toys promote positive feelings.
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Large Muscle: No longer is the toddler fixed to 1 place but takes joy in speeding confidently from spot to spot.

Small Muscle: Their fine motor control is so well developed they can feed themselves and begin to start to draw.

Language: They begin this stage with 1-word utterances and expand into phrases and even sentences.

Social: Playtime begins to involve others. Their understanding expands beyond the here and now. They fully engage in imaginative play.

And for each of these areas of development, there are toys for toddlers to support the learning.


But this stage is not without its challenges. This is the time to transition from the comfort of a bottle to a sippy cup. Sometimes thumb sucking may become an issue as anxiety can increase with all of the expectations at this stage. No doubt you have heard of the trials and tribulations of the terrible twos, where “no” becomes a favorite past time.  Bedtime can be fraught with mayhem until routines are clearly set. And who can forget the need for toilet training? With the rapid language development, the stage is set for the introduction of stories. The toddler stage is a time of rapid progress., with some inevitable minor setbacks.

Certainly, you want to select toys that encourage this development to the fullest, while providing an environment that is both stimulating but also safe.

Toys for Large Muscle Growth

With all of the awareness of the importance of an active lifestyle, now is the time to set the life patterns for physical activity. Kicking a ball, riding on a trike, or pushing a child-sized baby carriage all lead to the development of large muscles. 

“For children 12-36 months old, current National Association for Sports and Physical Education (NASPE) guidelines recommend this much daily activity:

•    at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity (adult-led)

•    at least 60 minutes unstructured physical activity (free play)” 

according to Medline Plus.  

One of the unique features of this trike is that it is convertible. Start out with the support of the 2 back wheels and then change it up to challenge your toddler as they become more stable on their feet.

Some parents are interested in these toys that can accompany the child in different environments, and other parents like to supply a play area in their backyard. 

This play set can be set up in the backyard and when it gets cold you can bring it into your home for continued fun.

See 20 more large muscle toys.

Toys for Small Muscle Growth

In this stage, the development of fine motor control sets the stage for many different types of investigations. Small muscle development will be significant for success at school in learning to read and write easily. The toys that you will look for are ones that build strength and control as well as hand-eye coordination.  Putting shapes into the correct hole or placing pegs in the right spot is very appropriate for this age level. Some children enjoy sewing with a large plastic needle and thread or making things out of playdough.

It is hard to beat Montessori inspired toys. These pieces are toddler sized. Not only are they pegs but you can put the pieces in a string.

Toys for Intellectual Growth

You have been stimulating your baby for attention and interaction. When your baby develops into a toddler, brain growth accelerates. Intellectually toddlers are ready for matching activities, such as easy puzzles that have knobs to grasp. Imaginative play is a great advancement as your child moves from the here and now world into what could be. Any type of drama activity is a great way to extend this realm. Look for puppets, action figures, books, and songs to stimulate the imagination.

These animal friends will be a favourite toy for any toddler, especially if they like animals. But don’t worry there are plenty of different sets of puppets from which to select.

Toys for Explorations in Language and Mathematics 

The rapid expansion of new words and control over the expression of ideas leads your child into so many different experiences. Remember to use lower case letters as a primary source of investigation. While you will see many alphabets in upper case (or capitals), it is the lower case letters that make up the bulk of reading experiences. Toys such as magnetic letters, alphabet puzzles with a picture of an item hidden under the letter are very helpful in beginning recognition of letters. You can casually introduce color words as well, and you will find many toys that also reinforce this aspect.

This is a large set, so put away most of the letters. Start with your toddler’s name or a favourite activity to begin the learning. Use the guide to help you with activities.

At this stage, toddlers also begin to count objects and recognize shapes. Any toys that have the child match items to a number provide practice in a self-correcting manner.  A shape ball puzzle is a great way to have your toddler experience the 3 dimensionality of these different shapes. And with your help, your toddler can start naming the various aspects. ” A triangle has 3 points, but a square has 4 points.”  You will find many grouping of objects for your child to count, such as a bag of sticks, zoo animals, and cars. But for the mathematics concepts to develop, you will need to interact with your child to introduce number concepts unless these objects come with matching cards to encourage the number skills.

Start with only a couple of numbers and then add more as your toddler learns how to recognize the numbers and extends his or her counting skills. Remember to count the pictures to reinforce the quantity.

Toys for Socialization

Your son or daughter will move from an egocentric world into a place of friendships. First comes parallel play situations that morph into sharing. Many toys are very suitable for individual play, but some are key for socialization.

For example, a large community rug with roads and buildings displayed on it (or a similar scene) encourages co-operative play, organization of materials, and imaginative discourse among the children engaged in town and city activities. This particular activity also introduces the idea of representation through mapping.

This rug set up comes with 3D features so your child can modify the landscape on the map. It has toddler sized pieces and the complexity of the images is just right.

Enjoy this stage as the progress seems almost magical.

Related Articles

Toys for infant developmental levels:  Baby Toys   

Toys for 3 to 5 Years Old 

Best Busy Books for Toddlers: These books are engaging, ready-made, and affordable.   

Favorite Toys for Toddlers: Busy Boards. Toddlers who are fascinated by all things mechanical love busy boards.

How to Select a Phonics Program: 5 Criteria    Start prereading skills early.

5 Powerful Strategies for Using Storybooks to Combat Racism: Young Children      Very young children do notice racial differences.

The  Best Outdoor Toys for Toddlers to promote an active physical life. 

First Games – no reading : You can start game play at a young age. There are many benefits to this type of activity.   

3 Powerful Steps to Encourage Independent Child’s Play: We need to stop entertaining our children all of the time. But we also need to teach them independent play skills. How do kids learn how to play by themselves? Take a look at these ideas. 


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