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Best Building Blocks: Mega Bloks 80-Piece Big Building Bag at Amazon
"Blocks help them build their imagination and inspire creativity."
Best for Shapes and Colors: Fisher-Price Baby's First Blocks at Amazon
"Teach your toddler about shapes and help them problem-solve with shape sorting."
Best Interactive: VTech Touch and Learn Activity Desk Deluxe at Amazon
"Get them ready for preschool with a desk and chair that can be used in endless way."
Best Puzzle: Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Peg Puzzles at Amazon
"Puzzles can teach kids a whole range of things like fine motor skills, spatial awareness, shapes, and much more."
Best Electronic: VTech Little Apps Tablet at Amazon
"There are 12 learning activities about letters, counting, matching, math, music, and more."
Best Wooden: Melissa & Doug Wood Building Blocks at Amazon
"Wooden blocks are a classic toy that will stand the test of time."
Best for Learning to Write: LeapFrog Scribble and Write at Amazon
"Guide children through their letters and numbers, giving them feedback as they write on the screen."
Best for Preschoolers: Teach My Toddler Learning Kit at Amazon
"Includes flashcards, puzzles, posters, and board books to keep things fun and interesting for young children."
"Teach children a variety of different skills relating to science, technology, engineering, and math."
Best Pretend Play: Melissa & Doug Pizza Counter Set at bloomingdales.com
"Help establish their pretend play skills with a customizable pizza set."
Best Building Blocks: Mega Bloks 80-Piece Big Building Bag
A toddler’s imagination is the only limit when it comes to these colorful building blocks. The Mega Bloks 80-Piece Big Building Bag is a great gift for kids at all stages of development, as there are unlimited ways to stack, build, and play.
The Big Building Bag comes filled with 80 multi-colored blocks of various shapes and sizes that are easy to stack and take apart. The pronged Mega Bloks are the perfect size for little hands, and they’re fully compatible with any other Mega Bloks First Builders products.
While simple, Mega Bloks help toddlers develop a variety of skills, from basic motor skills to critical thinking. As children grow, they’ll be able to take on new challenges and build more intricate creations with their blocks, meaning this toy will keep kids entertained years to come.
Best for Shapes and Colors: Fisher-Price Baby's First Blocks
You probably played with baby blocks when you were a toddler, and this classic toy is every bit as fun and helpful to young kids today. The Fisher-Price Baby's First Blocks are a great first toy for children 6 months and older, as blocks hone fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Baby’s First Blocks are about as straightforward as toys come. There are 10 colorful blocks in five different shapes, and the box has a sorting lid where little ones can drop the pieces through, improving their problem-solving skills. The blocks can be stacked on their own to create teetering towers, and the container's easy-carry handle lets toddlers bring the toy wherever they go. Overall, Baby’s First Blocks are simple, enjoyable, and a childhood staple!
Best Interactive: VTech Touch and Learn Activity Desk Deluxe
If you’re searching for an activity desk that’s jam-packed with educational content, look no further. The VTech Touch and Learn Activity Desk Deluxe has an impressive array of content for toddlers 2 and up, and it all comes at a reasonable price.
This cute, colorful product includes a child-sized stool where little ones can sit and color. The interactive activity desk has five learning pages to teach numbers, counting, letters, fruits, and colors. Toddlers can touch different spots on each page to learn about the pictures, and if you want more skills, additional expansion packs are available.
But that’s not all! Lift the top of the desk to reveal a chalkboard where kids can draw, or press buttons on the built-in music player to hear more than 20 melodies. With so many engaging options, this learning desk will be a household staple for years to come.
Best Puzzle: Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Peg Puzzles
Once your kid enters the toddler years it is a smart time to start thinking about adding a puzzle to their toy repertoire. Puzzles can teach kids a whole range of things like fine motor skills, spatial awareness, shapes, and much more.
This favorite from Melissa & Doug provides three different puzzles that help teach them about the alphabet, counting, colors, and more.
Best Electronic: VTech Little Apps Tablet
Kids who love playing with technology will absolutely adore having a tablet all their own, which is why the VTech Little Apps Tablet makes such a great gift. This fun-filled device, designed for kids 2 to 5 years old, lets them feel independent as they explore its numerous features.
The Little Apps Tablet boasts a color-changing screen, alphabet buttons, and a piano keyboard, all of which teach different skills. There are 12 learning activities about letters, counting, matching, math, music, and more, all of which will keep toddlers entertained with cute animations and sound effects.
The Little Apps Tablet was designed with parents in mind, too. It comes with “parent-friendly” features like volume control and automatic shut-off, so it’s a great gift for the whole family.
Best Wooden: Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Solid-Wood Building Blocks With Wooden Storage Tray
There’s nothing more satisfying than the sound of a tower of wooden blocks tumbling over, which is why kids will love creating with Melissa & Doug Solid-Wood Building Blocks. They can build towers, buildings, and much more with these wood blocks, all while learning basic math concepts and having a whole lot of fun.
The kit comes with 60 natural wood pieces, all smoothed down to prevent splinters, and a wooden storage crate is included. There are more than just squares and rectangles, too! Children will be able to make (and knock down) complex buildings with the kit’s circular pillars, arches, half-circles, and several types of triangles.
The Solid-Wood Building Blocks are perfect for kids ages 3 to 5, but we suspect older kids would like them, as well! Regardless of who is playing with them, the blocks are a fun way to teach young children organizational skills, sequential skills, and spatial relations while encouraging them to use their imagination.
Best for Learning to Write: LeapFrog Scribble and Write
Today’s toys make it easier than ever for kids to master writing. The LeapFrog Scribble and Write guides children through their letters and numbers, giving them feedback as they write on the screen.
Scribble and Write includes an attached stylus designed for little hands, and the screen lights up to help kids trace both uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers. Kids will start out on Level 1, where scribbling is encouraged as they get used to holding the pencil, and then they’ll slowly progress to Level 2, where the goal is letter accuracy.
Overall, it’s a simple and fun way for toddlers to practice their handwriting while boosting hand-eye coordination, and users swear their children learned to write significantly faster (and with fewer tantrums) thanks to this fun toy, all of which makes it a must-have in our book! This is suited for children ages 3 to 7.
Best for Preschoolers: Teach My Toddler Learning Kit
If you’re gift hunting for a toddler who’s entering preschool soon, the Teach My Toddler Learning Kit will give them a leg up. This comprehensive kit comes with a variety of learning aids to help parents teach their children about numbers, letters, shapes, and colors.
What’s in it? The Teach My Toddler Kit includes flashcards, puzzles, posters, and board books to keep things fun and interesting for young children. In addition to picking up core preschool skills, kids will improve their spatial reasoning and hand-eye coordination while playing with the kit. It’s also a great way to get kids away from the TV and incorporate some screen-free time into their routine!
Best STEM: Hape Dynamo Kid's Wooden Domino Set
STEM toys are all the rage because they teach children a variety of different skills relating to science, technology, engineering, and math. This domino set is more suited for children ages three and up but will help teach them cause and effect as they line up the dominoes and watch them tumble down.
What we love most about this set is that it can be used for many years to come, we're sure you might even get in on the fun.
Best Pretend Play: Melissa & Doug Top and Bake Wooden Pizza Counter Play Food Set
Believe it our not a milestone for toddlers is learning how to pretend play which generally happens around 18 to 24 months. This fun pizza-making set is intended for those over 3-years-old and will have them cooking up their own pizza pie in seconds! The importance of pretend play is to act out things that adults do, so maybe this will inspire your little one to be a budding chef.
We bought one of our readers’ favorite toddler learning toys that our reviewers tested for six hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using this toy, from skill development to durability. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
Skill development With so much to learn, where does a toddler begin? Some learning toys tackle one area only — like fine motor skills or shape recognition. Other toys will develop a broader skill set as tiny tots learn to use problem-solving skills or improve memory recall. Choose learning toys that will help your child to be well-rounded and develop a variety of necessary life skills.
Stability and durability As any parent will tell you, toddlers have a tendency to throw or drop things. So it makes sense to look for toys that will be able to withstand the habits of your little one as they develop coordination and organization. Many learning toys are made of thick, durable plastics or solid wood to withstand the bumps and bruises that are surely headed their way.
Technology Are you looking for a tech-free toy or a toddler-safe tablet that will get your child learning to push buttons and play interactive games? Some toddler learning toys take a traditional approach, with classic objects like blocks and music used as a springboard for learning. On the other hand, if you want your child to enjoy technology with an educational twist, there are plenty of toddler-age options available that will entertain your little one with screen time that is fun and productive.