Best Puzzles for Young Kids

Best Puzzles for Toddlers

September 8, 2017

Best Puzzles for Toddlers

Best Puzzles for Toddlers
Cheerful and perfect for little fingers, it’s no wonder these first puzzles are kids’ absolute favorites.Best Puzzles for 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 gain big benefits from playing with puzzles. These brain-building activities help develop cognitive and fine-motor skills, 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.

There are different types of puzzles for different ages. One-year-olds have a blast with large, simple wooden puzzles where shapes easily fit into each cutout. As they grow, move onto more advanced setups with pieces of varying sizes and configurations. Toddlers and preschoolers especially love puzzles with locks, latches, flaps that open and close and sounds.

Your tot may put more pieces in his 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 your urge to help too much. Part of the fun is letting little ones figure out things for themselves. 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 favorites:

Great Starter Puzzle

Your toddler is probably a pro at mooing, baaing and quacking. Now she can take her animal expertise up a notch with this fun jumbo-knob puzzle. The board is shaped like a farm, and includes eight extra thick pieces with large wooden knobs to help with maneuvering. Each puzzle has a matching picture underneath its correct slot, so kids can learn to identify which animal (or farmer) goes where. A heads up to parents: We’re not sure what’s worse, stepping on a Lego or one of these knobs. Make sure you clean up the puzzle pieces after you’re done playing.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 12 months+
Dimensions 1.3 x 12 x 1.3 inches

Eco-friendly puzzle

Green Start Chunky Wooden Puzzles are made with wood from sustainable forests and eco-friendly inks. This cheerful beginner puzzle collection improves grasping and inspires creativity. From flowers to fishies, dinosaurs to trucks, kids will love mixing and matching colorful pieces. Some puzzles feature shapes that are all the exact same size, making it simple for the little puzzle-doers to get the hang of placing them. Then you can move onto puzzles designed with various shapes and sizes for a new challenge. Thanks to the cute reusable carrying cases, these puzzles make great gifts and are easy to take along on trips.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 18 months-5 years
Dimensions 11 x 1 x 12.2 inches

For the Nester

Noticing a theme here? Puzzles + farms = tons of toddler fun. A great intro to animals and puzzles, Haba’s “nesting” style puzzle gives kiddos the task of fitting discs of various sizes into the wooden board. This 6x6 wooden puzzle is a parent fave, since it won’t take up a ton of room on your shelf or even in your diaper bag when you’re out and about. Good things certainly do come in small packages.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 12 months+
Dimensions 5.9 x 1.1 x 5.9 inches

For Little Creators

Ten designs, 30 shapes, one sturdy storage box. Beginner Wooden Pattern Blocks from Melissa & Doug give tots endless possibilities to piece together pictures within templates or create their own designs. Five boards (with recessed cut-out designs on each side) are ready to fill with colorful shapes. Kiddos can work on their concentration, sorting skills, color and shape recognition, even a little math. Pieces are easy to grab and position into the templates. When playtime is done, everything packs up nice and neat inside the wooden box.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 2+
Dimensions 11 x 11 x 3 inches

The Classic

A.B.C. 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. Made with safe materials and lead-free paint, parents rave about the high quality, without the high price tag.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 3+
Dimensions 11.2 x 10.8 x 0.7 inches

The Peg Puzzle Pick

Trucks, shapes, animals, numbers, sea creatures…oh my. Melissa & Doug’s huge collection of “peg” puzzles provide no shortage of learning and fun. Similar to the jumbo knob puzzles, these have a peg for assistance in grabbing pieces as well as correlating images to match the piece with its placement. (FYI: Melissa & Doug sells a puzzle rack that fits 12 of their regular and peg puzzles for easy storage. Peg puzzles are smaller and lighter than their chunky puzzles.) Many peg puzzles even make sounds to signal that a piece fits perfectly. This delights kids, and totally mortifies you when you’re on a conference call at home, and the pig mysteriously snorts from the toy shelf. While the age range suggests two and up, we know plenty of one-year-olds who can’t get enough of these!

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 2+
Dimensions 0.8 x 8.9 x 11.7 inches

For the On-the-Go Kid

How about a puzzle…and then some? This small wooden box delivers big fun. Flip the lid open to reveal a whiteboard or a chalkboard. Kids can scribble on the whiteboard with included markers or use it as a canvas to create their own puzzles with over 100 magnetic pieces of animals, insects, trees and people. (Magnets can also make their way onto your fridge as another space to arrange and create.) Everything is self contained and the perfect size to set up on a pre-schoolers lap during travel. From magnetic puzzle or drawing easel, this toy will keep tots engaged and busy at home or on-the-go.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 3+
Dimensions 9.4 x 1.6 x 12.4 inches
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