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Best Toys for Kids: Toddlers 1-2

Chantal Standafer

charlotte-and-asher-toddler.JPG

We try to be very selective in our toy choices and not to have too many at home, especially since space is limited when living in the city. Fortunately, Gaby loves copying everything we do and has just as much fun playing with (safe) things around the house as with her toys--at one point anything she was holding became a phone! But here’s a list of toys for 1-2 year old toddlers (and beyond) that we’ve bought or been gifted (or played with at friends’ houses) that we love:

  • Wooden Puzzles: At this age, the large wooden shapes are easy for small hands to grab, plus they can’t be torn apart like cardboard puzzles. They’re good tools for learning colors and objects, as well as developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

  • Blocks: We have so many favorite kinds of blocks, including traditional wooden blocks, nesting blocks, and bristle blocks. All are great for building. The nesting ones also help teach order while the bristle blocks encourage problem solving because they have to go together in certain orientations.

  • Shape Sorting Blocks: Perfect for teaching shapes and colors, as well as working on hand-eye coordination.  

  • Bubbles: These seem magical to little ones, and sticking the wand into the bottle is great for working on hand-eye coordination. They’re also great because it gets us outside even more for playtime.

  • Crayons+Easel: Helps children get started toward coloring and writing, even if nothing they make is recognizable for quite a while. Also, it’s a great way to teach colors, shapes, etc., and it helps develop fine motor skills. We have a table-top easel whose compact size is very convenient to tuck away when not in use. We found that using jumbo crayons helps prevent the tiny broken pieces of the regular sized crayons. If you prefer, you can go with colored pencils, markers, or paint, but the latter two can be a bit messier.

  • Books: We love reading books! They help with language acquisition, plus we can talk about the pictures. Gaby has had many favorites over the course of the year, including Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (alphabet), Ten Little Ladybugs (counting), Brown Bear (colors and animals) and Little Blue Truck (animals and sounds). At this age, we still use both board books and paperbacks, with the latter used more under adult supervision in order to prevent them being ripped apart.

  • Bath Toys: Bath time is great for so many reasons--contained area for the toddler to play, gets the child clean, plus time to learn about water. There are so many options for bath toys. We love cups or ones with holes to teach the little ones about water flow, as well as animal squirters and foam ones that stick to the wall.

  • Magnetic Letters: These are great for teaching the different letters of the alphabet, plus you can also use these to teach colors. Also, because only one side is magnetic, they force children to work on their problem solving skills. They’re also great for occupying the little one while mom or dad is busy in the kitchen! Some versions repeat the names of the letters, the sounds they make and sing songs. You can’t go wrong either way, the kids love this activity!

  • Play Instruments: A great way to introduce more music into their lives. It’s even possible to teach a few songs since some of them have songs programmed into them or come with instructions for playing simple songs. Most children love music and a play instrument is a great toy to get their creative juices flowing.

Which is your favorite? What other toys does your young toddler love?