Parenting Questions

Developmentally Appropriate Toys

Safe, Fun, and Developmentally Appropriate Toys
Toddlers Learn Best Through Play

Below are some ideas for choosing developmentally appropriate toys that will challenge your child and nurture her overall cognitive, physical, language and social/emotional development. Remember, anything can be a toy and there are lots of opportunities for play and discovery all around us.

  • Choose toys that can be used in a variety of ways. Toddlers love to take apart, put back together, pull out, put in, add on, and build up. Toys should be “open-ended” in the sense that your child can play many different games with them (for example, wooden blocks can be used to make a castle, a tower, or a crib for the baby). Open-ended toys benefit your child’s imagination and help them develop problem-solving and logical thinking skills.
    • Blocks
    • Nesting blocks
    • Toys for sand and water play
  • Find toys that will grow with your child. Look for toys that will have different uses and be fun in different ways at various developmental stages.
    • Plastic animals
    • Action figures
    • Toddler-friendly  dollhouse
    • Trains and dump trucks (and other vehicles)
    • Stuffed animals and dolls
    • Blocks
  • Select toys that encourage exploration and problem-solving. Toys that give your child a chance to figure something out on his or her own—or with a little scaffolding from you—build logical thinking skills and will help your child become a better problem-solver.
    • Puzzles
    • Shape-sorters
    • Blocks
    • Nesting blocks or containers
    • Art materials like clay, paint, crayons or play-dough
  • Look for toys that spark your child’s imagination. Your child’s creativity is blooming. Pretend play builds language and literacy skills, problem-solving skills and the ability to sequence (put events in a logical order).
    • Dress-up clothes
    • Blocks
    • Toy food and plastic plates
    • Stuffed animals and dolls
    • Trains and trucks
    • Toddler-friendly  dollhouse
    • Toy tools, and “real-life” accessories (for example, a doctor’s kit)
  • Provide toys for nurturing literacy. Look for things to help your child develop early writing and reading skills.
    • Books
    • Sand paper letters
    • Art supplies like markers, crayons and finger-paints 
  • Select toys that encourage your child to be active. Look for toys that help your child practice gross motor development.
    • Balls of different shapes and sizes
    • Silk scarves
    • Tricycles or age-appropriate scooters (with safety gear)
    • Pull-toys (e.g., toys that your child can pull on a string)
    • Wagon
    • Gardening tools to dig and rake with (in sand or dirt at the park)

 

And always remember…The more a toy does (in terms of lights, music, sounds, batteries), the less your child has to do. The more children have to use their minds and bodies to make something work, the more they learn.

Content created in partnership with
Seedlings Group