Choosing educational toddler toys that help your little one reach those skill milestones is a great way to promote learning through play. Toddlers learn best when they’re having fun, after all! Check out our tips for picking the best toddler toys to help teach those important skills.
The toddler years are a flurry of activity, with children reaching and passing new milestones at a rate that can be difficult for parents to keep up with. One minute, your baby can barely walk without clinging to the furniture for dear life, and the next, she’s running as fast as her little legs can take her! One important thing to keep in mind is that toddlers develop at their own rate, and there really isn’t a standard checklist to go by. While newborns and infants typically hit certain milestones around the same general timeframe, toddlers can be all over the place. Just like educational toys for babies focused on early skills, educational toddler toys should be centered around the major skills that toddlers typically achieve: talking, socializing, walking, and increased level of sensory perception.
Toddler Toys by Skills
- Gross Motor Skills- Although your baby may have started walking before his 1st birthday, the toddler years are when he’ll really start to shine in this department. He’ll not only be walking with more confidence, he’ll be running, jumping and climbing as well. Toys that require your child to stand behind and push are great for developing stronger walking skills. Remember that old-fashioned bubble popper mower we all had as children? Well, it’s still around, along with countless other push-style toys.
- Fine Motor Skills. During the toddler years, your child will be learning how to use her hands to manipulate smaller objects. Drawing and self-feeding are major milestones. Fortunately, encouraging drawing requires little more than a few sheets of blank paper and a chunky crayon (they’re easier to hold than the standard small crayon). Other educational toddler toys for this milestone include those that allow your child to pull objects out of a box and put them back, and building blocks. Just make sure the blocks are age-appropriate and large enough that they can’t be swallowed.
- Sensory Skills. Your toddler is learning more about the world around her, including how different things feel, taste, sound, and smell. Step up the texture toys that she played with during her infant years and give her a real feast for her senses. Musical educational toddler toys are great for this age group, as are toys that encourage children to learn about the different sounds of the world. This is also a great time to introduce new finger foods with different textures. Just keep in mind that you may have to offer the same food several times before your toddler will even think about trying it, especially if you have a picky eater.
- Language Skills. Sometime during the second or third year of life, your toddler will start to really expand his vocabulary. This milestone is really one that can’t be pinned down to a specific age, as all children talk in their own time. While simply talking to your child is one of the best ways to help grow their language skills, educational toddler toys that encourage talking are also great. Books are really fantastic for expanding speech as well. Reading to your child should be a part of every bedtime ritual.
- Social Skills. While your two-year-old isn’t exactly going to be organizing fund-raisers and hobnobbing with the jet set, social skills are a major part of the toddler years. Learning how to take turns and share is difficult, but this is the time to teach those skills. Use turn-based games designed for toddlers to help her learn how to take turns, and ask her to share her toys with you if she doesn’t have a sibling to share with. Educational toddler toys that encourage role-playing and imagination are perfect for this age group and milestone. Stuffed animals make great tea-party companions, and toy sets that come with people are great for acting out different situations.
Educational toddler toys can be as simple as a made-up game or as complex as a computerized learning system. Like all toys, as long as your child is engaged and having fun, the learning will come naturally. For a great list of toddler toys, check our educational toddler toys article.