Toys That Boost Your Toddler’s Development

by Mindy Berry Walker

Toys That Boost Your Toddler’s Development

How basic toys like blocks and puzzles can help your toddler’s development

Chances are, those rattles and soft plush toys you received when your little one was born are looking, well, a little babyish to your toddler. Make playtime more fun (and stimulating!) with these expert-approved picks for the only toys she really needs.

Large blocks

So obvious that they are often overlooked, blocks help tots learn to use both hands to complete a task and strengthen fingers as he tries to stack them, says Heidi Tringali, a pediatric occupational therapist in Charlotte, North Carolina. at 13 months, your toddler will likely be able to put one block on top of another.

Large-piece puzzles

Puzzles foster more knowledge about matching shapes as well as the concepts of in and out. Start with simple shapes, such as circles or squares, that have no top or bottom. Then move on to those with cutout pieces (like a car shape) that fit only one way.

Push toys

“Toddlers can move faster with push toys because of the support, which is fun for them,” says Tringali. “and since many of these toys play music or have other features, your child learns to concentrate on walking even when distracted by exciting things.”

Try this two-in-one toy: Smart Gear’s Giraffe Walker ‘N Shape Sorter ($70;

Shape sorters

Old-fashioned, yes, but these toys teach toddlers to match a shape with its corresponding hole, helping them develop spatial recognition and demonstrate cause and effect when the shape is dropped into the bucket.