For many of us, we have fond memories of doing puzzles—snapping the pieces into place, the gratification of completing something, the vibrancy of the pieces. We appreciate puzzles as screen-free toys (like these fishing toys!) that promote independence, family togetherness and developmental skills.
Whether you want an independent table and chairs activity or something that the whole family can get in on, here are some of the best toddler puzzles to add to your cart.
Shela Sinelien, the co-founder and director of Boston Outdoor Preschool Network says, "Puzzles are a great tool to teach toddlers the developmental milestones of fine motor skills development. Puzzles help with visual perception, memorization, and the ability to make connections between the puzzle pieces and items in real life."
They also help toddlers plan logically to find the next spot if one doesn't fit. She says to choose puzzles that help build this skill they'll need throughout their lives.
For younger toddlers ages one to three, Sinelien recommends starting with simple puzzles that have three to four pieces. "I recommend the chunky puzzles with photos of the objects for beginners. They'll recognize the object and find the match—these are ideal for children ages 15 months to almost three years."
For older toddlers in the two to four years old range, she says to feel out how your child is growing developmentally. "Children who might be able to finish 10 pieces of puzzles can do jigsaw puzzles, name puzzles, puzzle cubes, chunky puzzles and more."
If your child is a fan of JJ and friends, they'll love this Cocomelon puzzle, designed for children ages three and up. The set includes four puzzles, each with 18 pieces, including eight character-sized pieces that drop in to make the tableau pop. This set measures about 10 inches by 6.5 inches and can be stored in the included wooden box.
Develop problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination at an early age.
This large format floor puzzle depicts safari animals like a lion, snake and elephant over 24 extra-thick pieces which can help small hands get a good grip. When complete, it measures two feet by three feet and can be stored conveniently in its box when not in use.
Sturdy pieces make it easy to assemble on a toddler mattress, table or floor.
Choose Montessori-style puzzles for learning-engaged toddlers. These are perfect for kids starting to experiment with puzzles—and already loving their toddler floor beds. The chunky wooden pieces help young toddlers 12 months and older get the right grip. There's an airplane, car, boat, train, truck and rocket included in the transportation set. All are made in visually pleasing and bright colors.
At only 6-inches by 6-inches, each puzzle is compact enough to throw in a diaper bag, too, to keep your child entertained while learning shapes, colors and sorting.
For those who want a peg-style puzzle, this Montessori single puzzle board is a good option. It features 12 geometric shapes in six colors, with pegs large enough for young toddlers to grip. Made from wood and nontoxic paint, it's sturdy and built to last through multiple children and could even become an heirloom item.
The pegs make it easy for little hands to grasp and place these wooden jigsaw puzzle pieces. They also help with shape recognition and color sorting.
With only nine pieces each, these puzzles are good for beginner to intermediate toddler puzzle players. Made from wood and showcasing six different animals, this set of six will keep ages 2 to 5 busy. These compact, 5-inch by 5-inch puzzles are great for restaurants and traveling, too.
This 8-piece puzzle set features puzzles ranging from 12 pieces to 36 pieces for a ton of variety. The tableaus range from animals to space scenes, and each puzzle has a keyed backing to help not get the pieces confused (for example, the ABC puzzle says "ABC" on the back of its pieces).
Made from sturdy, easy-to-handle wood, this set comes with a storage rack for neat and organized storage. We love that it encourages problem-solving skills.
Twenty-six giant pieces make this 10-foot-long floor puzzle a fun adventure. It's two-sided so that your child can get more value out of the puzzle, and it has themes of counting and the alphabet, for more engagement opportunities and learning. One side has the ABCs of the animal world through Eric Carle's eyes. The other has counting via The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Grabbing options based on their favorite toddler books makes it easy to find the best toddler puzzles.
Younger toddlers will love solving this four-piece cube puzzle. Configure it in six different fruits like a strawberry, orange and grapes. The pieces are magnetic so that they stick together, cutting potential frustration. Each piece is easy to grasp.
The bright colors help with color recognition and brain development, too.
If your toddler is older—or has gotten really good at puzzles—they'll love this advanced wooden puzzle with 48 pieces. There are 15 animal facts on the reverse side of the puzzle to keep your child engaged. It measures 11-inches by 11-inches, perfect for an independent table activity.
These pieces are smaller than other sets on our list though, so be careful with younger toddlers who may find this set to be a choking hazard.
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