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Best Puzzles for Babies and Toddlers
Updated on
January 4, 2024

Best Puzzles for Babies and Toddlers

By Babylist Team
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Best Puzzles for Babies and Toddlers.
Photo by @liveabouts
It’s no wonder these first puzzles are kids’ absolute favorites.Best Puzzles for Babies and Toddlers

Every parent thinks their child is a genius (even though they eat old Cheerios off the floor). Give your little one a puzzle, watch their mind work some magic and you’ll be certain a Nobel Prize is next.

Kids of all ages can gain benefits from playing with puzzles. These brain-building activities help develop cognitive and fine motor skills like hand-eye coordination, foster cooperative play and spur problem-solving prowess. Not only are puzzles a perfect way to spend some quality time together, but kids feel proud of themselves for completing one. Better yet, they’re an interactive way to teach colors, letters, numbers, shapes, animals and beyond.

How to Choose Baby and Toddler Puzzles

There are different types of puzzles for different ages, and even within those age recommendations, it’s important to pay attention to your individual child’s ability when selecting puzzles. In general, you’ll want to start simple and work up to more complex puzzles with more pieces. One-year-olds have a blast with large, simple wooden puzzles where shapes easily fit into each cutout. Look for chunky puzzles with knobs and one to four pieces. Once they’ve mastered these simple puzzles, move on to more advanced setups with pieces of varying sizes and configurations as they grow.

Your little one may put more pieces in their mouth than in their designated places at first, but a little practice goes a long way in boosting hand-eye coordination. Be patient and resist the urge to help too much. If they’re getting frustrated, modeling is a great way to help them without doing it for them. In the baby and toddler years, it’s all about tactile and sensory experiences as well as understanding size differentiation and object recognition.

Here are some of our favorite puzzles for babies and toddlers:

Baby's First Puzzle

Many babies can start grasping objects at around three or four months old, and while you certainly don’t want to hand them a complex jigsaw puzzle right away, a simple, single-shape puzzle like this one is a great way to kick off those problem-solving skills. The thick, round knob on this puzzle is the perfect size for a tiny grip, and once kiddo figures out how to lift the piece away, there’s a fun surprise waiting underneath—their own reflection! Once they’ve figured out this puzzle, we also love this three-piece option too.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 3 mos+
Dimensions 6.5” x 6.5” (circle is 4” diameter)

Best Jumbo Knob Puzzle

Once your little one is ready to move on from a one-piece puzzle, this five-piece puzzle is a natural level up for their puzzle skills. We love that this puzzle makes the shapes correspond to common sights like a door and a tree to help your toddler learn more basic shapes. Each piece has a matching picture underneath its correct slot, so kids can quickly learn to identify which shape goes where.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 1 yr+
Dimensions 12” x 12” x 1.5”

Introduction to Jigsaws

“Whose tail is that?” We can’t count how many times you’ll ask your toddler that question as they hunt for each piece’s match. Since this puzzle is self-correcting, each piece only has one match. And when they don’t match, it’s obvious—the pieces simply don’t connect. It’s a great introduction to jigsaw puzzles, and it’s sure to get your little one’s mind working hard. And once your toddler is ready to learn numbers and letters, there are similar self-correcting jigsaw puzzles to teach counting and spelling.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 2 yrs+
Dimensions 5” x 5”

Best Alphabet Puzzle

ABC, it’s easy as…doing this adorable wooden puzzle. Kids can put all of their alphabet singing to good use by arranging the colorful, sturdy letters both inside and outside the board. It’s a great way for them to recognize letters, practice sounds, even spell out words. And the back of the puzzle board doubles as a chalkboard so your little one can put their newfound letter knowledge to the test and practice their writing when they’re ready.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 2 yrs+
Dimensions 9.36” x 10.53”

Best Two-in-One Puzzle

If your toddler has mastered the puzzle basics, take things up a notch with this two-in-one set from Hape. The large four-piece puzzle acts as the base, and the real challenge is the four groups of shapes that fit uniquely on the pegs (it may take a little twisting and turning to figure out). It offers plenty of fine motor skills practice, and the two-stage nature of this puzzle means the challenges grow with your toddler.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 18 mos+
Dimensions 5.6” x 7.8” x 9.5”

Best Personalized Puzzle

Speaking of letters and spelling, what better way for your toddler to practice spelling their name than with their own personalized puzzle? And with a rainbow of colors used for the letters, it’ll look great propped up on a shelf once kiddo outgrows it. Keep in mind: the manufacturer can only accommodate up to nine letters on the board, so kids with longer names may need a nickname puzzle.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 3 yrs+
Dimensions 4.5” x 0.5” (length depends on name)

Best Activity Puzzle

Puzzles and stacking toys are both staples in a toddler’s toy collection, so why not combine the two? Kiddo can practice their balancing by stacking the gears up to make a tower, or hone their puzzle-solving skills by fitting the pieces together inside each other so the whole thing lays flat. Each gear piece has the color in English on one side and in Spanish, French and German on the other, so this toy not only doubles as a stacker and puzzle, it triples as a language learning tool!

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 2 yrs+
Dimensions 7.5” x 7.5” x 1”

Best Puzzle Storage

Not sure where you’re going to store all of your toddler’s awesome new puzzles? Thankfully, Melissa & Doug (in their infinite puzzle manufacturer wisdom) have created a sturdy rack that most puzzles (even most non-Melissa & Doug ones) can easily slide in and out of. This rack fits six larger puzzles on the bottom and six smaller puzzles on top, but there’s also a rack just for larger puzzles. One thing to note: if you’ve got any of the large knob puzzles, they’ll take up two slots in this rack.

Additional Specs
Dimensions 16.5” x 13.2” x 8.2”

More Puzzles We Love

First Jigsaw Puzzle

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Photo Shapes Puzzle

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