Best Toddler Toys By Category
So many parents ask, "What are the best toddler toys?"
Our answer is this: One particular toy can't be the "best" for every toddler.
We know that every toddler is unique, has their own personality, their own character traits and likes different types of toys.
So to help make things easier for you, we've divided our toys into categories.
Here are Toy Review Expert's best toddler toys, by category.
- Explorative & Other Toys
- Best Dinosaur Toys For Toddlers
- Best LeapFrog Toys For Toddlers
- Best Spiderman Toys For Toddlers
- Best Musical Toys For Toddlers
- Best Tea Sets For Toddlers
- Best Walking Toys For Toddlers
- Best Mickey Mouse Toys For Toddlers
- Best Bouncy Toys For Toddlers
- Best Activity Cubes For Toddlers
- Best Educational Toys For Toddlers
- Best Melissa And Doug Toys For Toddlers
- Best Play Kitchens For Toddlers
- Best VTech Toys For Toddlers
- Best Ride On Toys For Toddlers
- Best Travel Toys For Toddlers
- Best Paw Patrol Toys For Toddlers
- Best Farm Toys For Toddlers
- Building Sets
A Guide For Parents On Toddler Toys
Written By: Psychologist Natasha Tanic
Your toddler now begins to master his crawling and walking. He enjoys pushing the wheelbarrow around the playground, running, and throwing and catching balls, engaging in pretend-play, and sensory activities.
Your child loves exploring her surroundings as long as you stay close by. He may become more attached to you in unfamiliar situations or when he doesn’t feel comfortable.
While your toddler may still be afraid of strangers, he will start showing affection for familiar people.
Your little one learns through play and exploration and shows more and more independence.
He enjoys spending time with other children. However, he is still not playing with his peers but beside them.
This is typical behavior for toddlers, so you shouldn’t be concerned about it.
At around 18 months, your child may start throwing temper tantrums. Or he may start showing defiant behavior and do exactly opposite of what you tell her to.
Again, nothing to worry about as a “no” phase is a normal part of your child’s development.
Your toddler now begins to develop self-awareness and to realize that he is separate and independent from you and other people.
In other words, your child is becoming his own little person, with his own thoughts and opinions.
Cognitive and Language Development in Toddler Years
Cognitive development involves the progress of thought processes such as critical thinking, decision making, problem-solving, and memory.
Your toddler can now point to his body parts, name items in a picture book, scribble on his own, and engage in pretend-play.
He can build towers of four or more blocks and follow two-steps verbal commands.
Your toddler’s vocabulary contains more and more words each day. By the age of two, your child will have at least 50 words and develop sentences with a combination of two to four words.
He will repeat when you name pictures in the books. He will also point to the things he wants or to photos of familiar people.
Toys that Promote Cognitive and Language Development in Toddlers
Toddlers learn through exploration and discovery. Toys encourage toddlers to practice their problem-solving skills, make connections, develop speech and language, and to understand how things in the world around them work.
Blocks, Puzzles and Shape Sorters
Colorful and textured blocks and shape sorters encourage hand-eye coordination, counting, sorting, and problem-solving skills. Also, puzzles and shape sorters help toddlers to understand relations between objects and grasp cause and effect.
Books and reading help kids master the sound system and grammar of their native language.
A successful development of language, speech, and literacy is essential for your child’s later success in academic, personal, and professional life as language and speech are foundations of future learning.
Books are the best way to promote language, literacy, and speech development in young kids because they increase a child’s exposure to language and help them learn speech and language.
Moreover, books spark interest and love for language and reading. Reading also helps your child understand cause and effect and build a foundation for the abstract thinking processes.
In addition to books, toys like blocks, pretend-play sets, sensory items, dollhouses, and dress-up props boost language understanding and stimulate your toddlers’ speech.
Fine and Gross Motor Development in Toddler Years
Your toddler increasingly uses his thumb and forefinger in a pincer grasp manner to pick up small objects such as stickers, pom-poms, or buttons.
His hand-eye coordination is getting better. He can now hold his spoon and feed himself without spilling too much food.
Your toddler can now jump from the first step, walk up the stairs, kick the ball, climb, run and pull toys around.
Toys that Promote Motor Development in Toddlers
There is a great selection of toys that promote movement and muscle strength and improve toddler’s motor skills development.
Climbing toys are a great way to encourage movement, balance, and strength of your child’s muscles. These toys also promote imaginative and creative play and keep kids active and engaged.
Balance Bikes & Scooters
A good balance bike or scooter is a must-have for your toddler, as these toys promote gross motor skills development, boost his confidence, improve balance, and master hand-eye coordination.
Stalk and Nest Toys
These toys promote fine motor development, hand-eye coordination, balance and trunk control, and visual and spatial perception.
Choose wooden puzzles with the large knobs that make it easy for small hands to move puzzle pieces around, and stimulate hand-eye coordination and fine and gross motor skills.
Art and Sensory Toys
Art and sensory activities that require your toddler to hold and manipulate a variety of objects, materials, textures, and shapes promote fine motor and hand-eye coordination.
Holding and manipulating items such as pencils, squeeze bottles, crayons, Play-Dough, pom poms, beads, straws, and other small objects ensure that your child masters a variety of skills from getting dressed to writing their own name.
These skills boost brain functions and support overall development.
Social and Emotional Development in Toddlers
Social and emotional development involves a child’s emotional expression and management. Play helps kids communicate and control their feelings, develop empathy, learn how to resolve conflicts, and establish and keep up positive relationships.
Your toddler now seeks you or other caregivers for comfort and affection, but he doesn’t linger around you and continues to play as soon as he calms down.
He can also self-soothe and it normally doesn’t take him long to regain self-control.
Around the age of two, your child shows more independence, gets upset when you leave, and loves playing next to other kids her age.
Toys that Promote Social and Emotional Development in Toddlers
Toddlers love puppets, pretend-play sets, blocks, and puzzles. All of these toys encourage understanding, cooperation, and empathy, thus promoting social and emotional skills.
Choose safe and age-appropriate toys that can be used in many ways: toys for water and sand play and other sensory props, nesting blocks and cups, plastic animals, cars, dolls, etc.
Dolls and Dollhouses
Playing with dolls helps kids learn about their feelings and express them through play and imagination. Dolls teach your child empathy and compassion and help develop responsibility and cooperation.
Books boost kids’ communication and social skills. Social situations and characters described in stories help children understand the emotional expression, empathy, and prepare for social interactions.
Also, books help spark your child’s imagination and creativity, help them understand social rules and expectations, and understand their own feelings about the world.
There are many toys that promote and nurture your child’s development in the early years. In addition to providing age-appropriate toys, make sure to play with your child whenever you can.
Take him to the park, to the local food market, and to your library, engage in pretend-play together, and read books.
Play and warm, positive relationship with a caring adult are pillars of a young child’s learning and healthy development.