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13 Fun and Educational Puzzles for Toddlers

This old-school toy is making a comeback.
ByMartina Garvey
Associate Editor
Published
September 14, 2021
Toddler playing with wooden peg puzzle
Image: Courtesy Shutterstock
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High-tech gadgets and interactive toys are great and all—but when it comes to educational play, puzzles are seriously hard to beat. Why? A humble wooden puzzle helps develop children’s fine-motor skills, while encouraging them to problem solve and think creatively.

The best puzzles for toddlers are age-appropriate, educational and, most importantly, fun! Look for colorful picks that introduce your child to early learning STEM concepts like numbers, letters and shapes. These retro toys also make a fantastic rainy-day activity for the whole family, but don’t be tempted to intervene too much—kids will get a greater sense of accomplishment from solving a puzzle solo. Remember, babies and toddlers have a natural tendency to put things in their mouths, so opt for puzzles with large pieces to reduce the risk of choking.

Ready to start your search? Here, you’ll find the best brain-boosting puzzle toys for toddlers, from simple foam shapes to animal-themed activities and more.

Image: Courtesy SkipHop

SkipHop Zoo Park Pals Puzzle

Puzzles for toddlers should have chunky pieces that are easy for little hands to manage. Case in point: The Zoo Park Pals puzzle for babies 12 months and up. It has eight grabbable pieces that stand upright to encourage imaginative play. The colorful park scene features an array of animals that’ll excite and delight your tot. Plus, drawings etched on the board help kids in need of some extra clues.

Buy it: $10, SkipHop.com

Image: Courtesy Lovevery

Lovevery Friends Shapes Puzzle

Here at The Bump, we’re big fans of Lovevery—a play company that creates thoughtful toys for every stage of baby’s development. Designed for littles 16 months and up, this wooden peg puzzle appeals to a child’s love of repetition. Pictures of real people hidden behind each piece will help your kiddo recognize faces, while matching the correct shape to each slot on the board. Plus, you can download a free play guide to get the most fun from this puzzle.

Buy it: $18, Target.com

Image: Courtesy Bloom Owl

Bloom Owl Wooden Name Puzzle for Toddler

Personalized puzzles for toddlers make great gifts. We like this bestselling pick from Etsy. It’s handmade using birch wood and eco-friendly inks, and has raised letters that spell your baby’s unique moniker or nickname. Choose from a range of color options and select two additional shapes to add to the puzzle.

Buy it: Starting from $50, Etsy.com

Image: Courtesy B. toys

B. toys Wooden Alphabet Puzzle

It’s never too early to practice your ABC’s! This top-rated wooden puzzle for toddlers has colorful, easy-to-grab letters that fit into grooves illustrated with friendly characters. Call out each letter as they play to help them grow familiar with the alphabet. Your little scholar can use this puzzle from 18 months on.

Buy it: $10, Target.com

Image: Courtesy Begin Again Toys

Begin Again Toys Number Snail Puzzle

Toddlers that are ready for a challenge will revel in this fun number game. Jumble it up and watch as your kiddo slots each numbered piece into position to create a colorful snail shape. It may take them a little while to master this puzzle, but they’ll have tons of fun along the way. As they play, encourage them to say the numbers out loud to introduce counting skills.

Buy it: $16, Maisonette.com

Image: Courtesy Melissa & Doug

Melissa & Doug The Wheels on the Bus Sound Puzzle

This musical puzzle for toddlers is inspired by the classic kids’ tune, “Wheels on the Bus”. Sing along as your tot lifts each piece to trigger the music and reveal the pictures underneath. If you need a refresher—flip over the board and read the lyrics on the reverse side. Each wooden piece has a plastic peg that’s easy for 2-year-olds to grasp as they play.

Buy it: $15, MelissaandDoug.com

Image: Courtesy HABA

HABA Magical Pyramids 36-Piece Wooden Puzzle

A puzzle with endless options, little ones can arrange the triangular pieces into prearranged patterns or create their own designs. This wooden puzzle for toddlers encourages hand-eye coordination and is a great way to introduce shapes and colors. Plus, it’s suitable for kids ages 2 to 6, so it’ll grow with them.

Buy it: $30, Nordstrom.com

Image: Courtesy Tender Leaf Toys

Tender Leaf Toys How Many Acorns Puzzle

Made from sustainable rubber wood, this cute puzzle offers a fun way to build math skills. Help the squirrel count his acorns by matching the correct piece to each segment of the board. The corresponding colors and dots will help kids crack the code. Ages 18 months and up.

Buy it: $22, Maisonette.com

Image: Courtesy The Learning Journey

The Learning Journey: My First Match It

Explore the animal kingdom with the help of this cool puzzle set for toddlers and little kids. Match each creature’s face and tail to solve the mini brain-teaser. The puzzle is self-correcting, meaning there’s only one possible match for each card so your tot won’t get frustrated if they can’t figure it out straight away.

Buy it: $10, Amazon.com

Image: Courtesy Crate & Kids

Crate & Kids Color Wheel Baby Puzzle

Searching for educational puzzles for toddlers? Look no further than this pick from Crate and Kids. It comes with seven bright pieces that kids can interlock to create the primary color wheel, which also shows how secondary shades are made.

Buy it: $35, CrateandKids.com

Image: Courtesy Fat Brain Toys

Fat Brain Toys Go Go Gears! Puzzle

Get their gears turning with this mechanical puzzle toy. Slot one of the double-sided picture cards into the wooden frame. It’s then up to your mini engineer to fit the right-sized gears into the slots of the puzzle board so they connect over the picture. Spin one of the wheels and watch your child’s excitement mount as they all turn together.

Buy it: $20, FatBrainToys.com

Image: Courtesy Wee Gallery

Wee Gallery Woodland Wooden Tray Puzzle

Next up is a whimsical wooden puzzle for toddlers by Wee Gallery. The beautiful set includes six characters inspired by woodland fauna and flora. A detailed illustration on the back of the board adds another dimension to playtime as you can teach your little explorer to recognize the animals in the picture.

Buy it: $29, Maisonette.com

Image: Courtesy Land of B.

Land of B. Foam Floor Puzzle Whimsy Land 12pc

Older toddlers will love this large foam floor puzzle. Designed to look like a city, your kiddo can use the foam mat as a launch pad for endless adventures. The mix-and-match tiles are easy to click into place, meaning your child can build, demolish and rebuild as many times as they please. What’s more, they can grab some toy cars and figures, follow the track they created and enjoy all sorts of imaginative fun.

Buy it: $20, Target.com

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