Educational Toys Every Toddler Needs

Parenthood is all about giving our little ones the best opportunities from an early age. We painstakingly pick the safest gear, the healthiest snacks, and the best books so our babies can get off to a great start. Even playtime is an opportunity to set up our little ones for success because when kids play, they learn! Research shows that play can influence cognitive, physical, and social growth.

shape sorter
Melissa and Doug’s Kids Take-Along Shape Sorter via

Toddlers are pretty easily entertained: you can open a drawer and let your little one bang pots and pans. But if you’d prefer to preserve your cookware and choose toys that don’t double as items you use, scroll through this list of toys that encourage creativity and fun!

Classic Favorites

Nesting Blocks
Nesting blocks via

Nesting Blocks

Nesting blocks are one of those toys your kids will enjoy for years: as babies, they’ll simply pick up the blocks (and maybe throw them). But as older toddlers, they’ll use them to create, build, and experiment! The stacking concept promotes problem-solving and balance, and the numbers on the blocks teach kids order and value. When finished playing, they nest easily for quick clean-up.

Magna-Tiles via


These beautifully colored magnetic tiles are every kid’s favorite. Magna-Tiles are a certified STEAM toy that promotes the development of fine motor skills, coordination, cognitive development, and creativity. Your child will be consumed by all the fun ways they can play with magnetic tiles, and as a parent, I’ll confess: I like playing with them, too!

Pretend Play

Cash Register
Cash Register via

Cash Register

If your little one is your shopping buddy, they’ll love pretending to work the register! Pair the cash register with healthy play food groceries to create a whole grocery store experience for your little one.

Play Kitchen
Play Kitchen via

Play Kitchen

Your little chef will love cooking up fun in this play kitchen! And bonus: its streamlined design and neutral colors make it aesthetically pleasing. Playing “house” and pretending to cook encourages skills like focus, rule-following, and real-world scenarios.

Toy Sink via

Toy Sink

Another great toy that goes along with the pretend kitchen is a toy sink with actual running water! Who knows? You might end up with a real-life sous chef in a few years!

Toys for your Active Tot

Balance Bike via
Balance Bike via

Balance Bike

No pedals mean that your toddler develops balance, steering, and coordination–and thanks to the balance bike, they might be able to skip training wheels altogether: many kids go straight from a balance bike to a 2-wheeler!

wood climber
Wooden Climber via

Indoor Wood Climber

Talk about the perfect gift for your active toddler. This indoor wood climber is a great way to work on motor skills and coordination – and get out those wiggles! Not ready to turn your living room into a jungle gym? The entire thing folds up and can be tucked away easily.

Montessori Inspired Toys

Wooden Lacing Beads via

Wooden Lacing Beads

We are huge fans of all things Melissa and Doug, and these colorful wooden lacing beads are one of our favorite items to give as gifts. These wooden lacing beads are a fun way to stimulate color recognition, fine motor skills, sorting skills, and patterns.

Puzzles via


Fun fact: puzzles improve mental speed AND improve short-term memory. So, get your little one into puzzles! We love this set of wooden puzzles for Toddlers that build on the alphabet, shapes, transportation, clocks, animals, and other skills.

Counting Bears
Counting Bears via

Counting Bears

There’s a reason why you find these in every preschool classroom–kids love playing with these Counting Bears, and the educational opportunities are endless! This set comes with sorting cups, tweezers, and activity cards, sure to inspire hours of sorting, counting, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, critical thinking skills, and so much more. There are so many ways to play with counting bears, and they are great tools to prep your little one for preschool.

Educational Electronics

LeapFrog Learning Tablet
LeapFrog Learning Tablet via

LeapFrog Learning Tablet

The LeapFrog Learning Tablet is the perfect way to introduce your little ones to safe technology. It has 20 educational apps and creativity tools designed by LeapFrog learning experts that build reading, math, and science skills. If you aren’t quite ready to jump into the world of tablets, Leapfrog has great alternatives: the Leapfrog Mr. Scribble Write and Read tablet improves your little one’s letter recognition, phonics, and reading skills, and the Leapfrog Word Book is perfect for toddlers’ expanding vocabularies!

V-Tech Preschool Laptop
V-Tech Preschool Laptop via

V-Tech Preschool Laptop

Your child will love pretending to do “work” on his or her laptop like mommy or daddy. We love this V-Tech laptop because it comes loaded with 30 educational games to keep your toddler engaged. As they grow, they’ll enjoy activities like identifying letters and sounds, shapes and numbers, categorizing food into fruits and vegetables, an introduction to Spanish, and so much more. This is a great toy to keep in the car for road trips or quiet drives.

Soak in every moment of playing with your toddler

stacking toy
Wooden Montessori Sorting & Stacking Toys via

Regardless of what toys you buy your child, they learn the most from you. The best gift you could give them is uninterrupted time playing and making memories. Even on days when your to-do list feels miles long, you’ll never regret carving out time for play–and the toys on this list are a great place to start!

Registries Aren’t Just for Babies…

Consider starting a gift registry for your toddler! This running “wish list” is a helpful way to remember all those little things your child asks for at the store, and telling them, “Let’s add it to your wish list!” is a wonderful way to keep whining at bay! When holidays and birthdays roll around, you’re all set with a list to share with family and friends!

Be sure to check out our Give It Blog for more tips on creating your toddler’s birthday and holiday registry, and remind your friends and family to check out to see all of your registry selections in one place!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. The ideas are ours, but we may be compensated if you make a purchase by clicking on one of the links. Thanks for your support!

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