Busy. Non-stop. Active. Energetic. Constantly moving. Always getting into things they’re not suppose to. I’m guessing that’s what comes to mind when asked to describe your industrious toddler.
So I’ve put together a guide of my top toddler toys that will keep littles busy in play, that help promote creativity and critical thinking, and that foster social and emotional intelligence.
PS: It may also lessen their desire to scale the walls at home or climb all your book shelves.
1. Glitter water blocks 2. See through canister | Brush | Measuring cups & spoons
3. Magna-tiles 4. Jumbo animals 5. Car 6. Life-size baby doll
7. Picture book 8. Cardboard blocks 9. Rings
10. Wooden rocking boat & stair climber
1. Glitter water blocks: Fun to stack and a rainbow of shimmery colours to look at and mix together, these blocks are great for gross motor movement, increasing language and developing spatial awareness. Use these blocks with a light table and there's now a whole new science component added to the play.
2. See through canister | Brush | Measuring cups & spoons: Kitchen utensils were incredibly fun for babies and the fun continues on to toddlerhood (and beyond). Tots loooove to copy what you are doing so providing kitchen utensils for them to role play tasks they see you do will help them practice self-help skills. Brushes in particular add a fun sensory component that many "traditional" toys just don't have.
3. Magna-tiles: Cause and effect is how young children learn many new skills and magnets make it incredibly easy to see exactly what happens. Combine these with other familiar items like a metal bowl or cookie sheet and watch how creative they get with combining the magna-tiles and other magnetic items together.
4. Jumbo animals: Young children are very curious about animals and offering realistic looking play animals helps them make connections to the real thing. Combine them with blocks and other items to create a more complex play scenario (ie. "The animals are sleeping on their bed. Goodnight doggie. Goodnight kitty."
5. Car: Just like balls, cars are another ALL-TIME favourite for young children. Attach links to the cars for tots to pull and drag, or combine them with some ramps/slanted surfaces and watch the cars roll down really fast and crash.
6. Life-size baby doll: This is one of the best investments you'll make as this is by far the best toy in fostering social and emotional intelligence. For tots who are more rough and hands-on, the doll can be used to help littles practice being gentle. You'll also notice tots loving on the doll with hugs and kisses, and/or nurturing the doll by trying to feed or nurse the doll. Got a sibling on the way? This doll can help ease tots into the transition.
PS: Choose a doll that's at least 20" so it feels real. It makes a huuuuuuge difference in how kiddos interact with it.
7. Picture book: Early literacy skills is all about engaging with books - flipping the pages, looking at the pictures, hearing the words, and real pictures with people faces are what young children are naturally drawn to. Choose books that showcase a range of feelings so tots can start building their emotional vocabulary.
8. Cardboard blocks: Destruction is a fun game at this developmental stage, and these bigger sized blocks will require tots to use their entire body to maneuver and build with. Older toddlers will begin building more elaborate structures and they'll often have an interesting story to go along with it.
9. Rings: Coordinating their body is a skill tots are working on mastering, and these rings offer an opportunity for young children to fine-tune their coordination. Toddlers will enjoy putting these rings on different parts of their body, which will be a great time to talk about size and body parts. Rolling these on the ground to see what they'll do, or combining them with cones to create a ring toss game are other fun ideas that will keep tots engaged for a long time.
10. Wooden rocking boat & stair climber: This 2-in-1 is great bang for your buck. The stairs offer tots lots of opportunity to practice spatial awareness, coordination and evaluating risk, while the rocking boat offers ample opportunity for problem solving and social interactions with other kiddos.
Simple. Open-ended. Multi-functional.
These toys are a ton of fun at the toddler developmental stage, AND will continue to be fun play objects as your little becomes a preschooler and eventually a kindergartener.
Still in need of more ideas?
Here's a BONUS GUIDE outlining the BIG 4 category of toys that will keep busy toddlers engaged so you can have a toy collection that your child actually wants to play with.