Toddlers need entertainment. Boy, do they need entertainment! What kind of toys do they enjoy and can benefit from? I can’t speak for all kids, but Allison has 6 different types of toys she loves and rotates through every day. Here are my top 6 toys for toddlers and what Allison loves about them. You’ll notice that very few are electronic or make noise. I’m not opposed to those kinds at all; in fact, she has a tablet that she loves to play games on, and can also be easily glued to the TV. These 6 toys below seem to be her favorite though, and maybe some of these ideas will help you in choosing what your child may enjoy!
I could really just stop right here because Allison LOVES her Little People. I used to have them when I was a kid, but they’re nothing like they are now. They come in all forms; kids, moms, dads, babies, animals, and even Disney characters. Allison won’t go anywhere without Prince Charming and Snow White. There are tons of different playsets out there; the very first one we bought her was this dollhouse for Christmas, right after she turned 1. Some of the Little People playsets make noise or play music, but for the most part these toys encourage imaginative play which is what little ones need at this stage. She’ll send her Disney princesses on a ride in her Christmas train, or stuff everyone inside Noah’s Ark for an adventure. I have to admit, I may be a little more excited than Allie is when I see new Little People on the shelves… I may be turning into a collector (hoarder).
Do books count as toys? I definitely think so! Reading is so important for little ones; I’m pretty sure that reading to Allison every day is the reason she now knows her ABCs, and can even point out letters in the books. I’ve since gotten rid of a lot of the 4-5 page board books, because she’s a big girl and actually sits through a 25-30 page book (or 2… or 3….). She’s in love with these Winnie the Pooh books; she has every book in the set and she’ll walk over to her bookshelf, grab a huge stack of them, and walk them over to me saying, “Read ALLLLLL these books, Mommy!”
Do normal toddlers even like puzzles? I really don’t know, but Allison’s recently become obsessed. She got this wooden puzzle set for Christmas, and once I pulled it out for her, she was hooked. It took her awhile to figure out what a puzzle was and how to put it together, but now it takes her like 5 minutes to do a puzzle by herself. Every morning when she wakes up, before breakfast, before the potty, she asks to do a puzzle. And it makes her happy, so why not? We’ve since bought her a 6-pack of 24-piece puzzles, which were on clearance at Aldi for like $1.99, and it was some of the best money we ever spent!
Kitchen and play food
I don’t know about your toddler, but mine loves to watch me cook. She pulls up her stepstool and tries to help put dinner together, or help mix things for my baking adventures. I was super excited when she got a play kitchen for Christmas, because now she can cook herself! Right now her favorite thing to make is donuts; it used to be brownies. She’ll grab her little box of brownie mix, “pour” it into a bowl, “crack” an egg, add random things like a box of peas and carrots, and put it in her oven for 5 seconds and declare it done. She even has a little shopping cart to put all her food in and go shopping. It’s fun to set up the living room like a little grocery store and have her pick out things to buy, and show her the healthy stuff (her food set came with french fries and potato chips, haha).
I absolutely love coloring and was so excited when Allison got old enough to color. She’ll sit at her little table in the living room, dump all her crayons on the table…. and then ask me to color for her. Sometimes. And then I’ll color something and she’ll cry out, “Not like thaaaat!” But in all seriousness, she’s getting pretty good at coloring. Before, she would just scribble in a random pattern, but now she’s actually coloring specific parts of the picture, like Minnie’s dress or face. Is the grass red? In Allie’s world, it is! Coloring’s a great way to help encourage her creativity.
For those too little yet for LEGOs, Duplos will work just as well! They’re a size between LEGOs and MegaBlocks, just perfect for a 2 year-old who doesn’t put things in her mouth anymore. She can build towers, castles, houses… and the Duplos come in playsets like a picnic or ice cream cones. Just like her mother, Allison loves the ice cream ones best, and she’s great at sharing.
Obviously there are so many more options to chose from, but these are Allison’s (and my) top 6 toddler toys, and are toys that she’ll likely keep with her for a very long time and continue improving her skills. What would you add to this list for your kids?
This post contains affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.