Top 10 toys for toddler development

May 10, 2015


With Dexter’s 2nd birthday speedily approaching I’ve had to start thinking about his current toy situation.
Family and friends are already asking if there is anything, in particular, he would like for his birthday and in all honesty, the amount of toys he already has is overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not spoilt, most of the toys he has are well thought out and are good for his development but being our first child, a lot of it has been bought for him or given to us, most of which he doesn’t even play with.  So, I’ve been thinking about what he really needs, what he has and what I think is just taking up space in the toy chest. By doing so I have compiled a list of what I think are the top 10 toys for toddler development. Not just for playing with but to help them learn and grow.


We all know that there are many benefits to reading with your child from the bonding time that it gives you, to the development of speech and communication skills. Books widen your child’s vocabulary by exposing them to words that they wouldn’t normally hear in day to day conversation. Simple rhymes, textures and flaps to lift make them exciting. Books are also a way of preparing your child for upcoming events or changes for example potty training or starting school. They can teach your child so much about the world around them which is why they are top of my list.blocks-503109_1280

Construction toys

These are perfect for allowing children to develop their imagination. They are unlimited in what they can build with them and how they can be used. Aside from building strength in little muscles and improving hand-eye coordination, they lay the foundations for skills in maths and physics with counting, sorting and experimenting with balance, weight and gravity. Simple blocks are fantastic but I would also include things like sandcastles, play dough, train tracks and other things that need building or connecting. Even cardboard boxes and tubes from your recycling pile have great benefits.

Puzzles and shape sorters.

Puzzles come in a wide range of designs from simple large pieced peg puzzles to the more tricky alphabet and number pieces, also giant floor puzzles all covered in different themes such transport, animals, colours, shapes etc. There is a clear goal in that all of the pieces need to go in their respective places and in achieving this goal or solving this problem, your child can build both confidence and self-esteem. Shapes and colours feature heavily in many puzzles and just by speaking the name of each piece as your child places it correctly will begin to teach them recognition. Working with others to complete the puzzle will certainly bring on social skills and communication.

Art supplies.

Possibly one of my favourite categories. From the early stages of mark making with a piece of paper and a crayon, children are already forming basic shapes and control that goes into learning to write. Moving on to exploring other open-ended media they learn to interpret what they see or think or feel. Cutting and glueing, painting and drawing, building, sculpting etc are all opportunities that allow them to explore and create with limitless possibilities.

Re-enactment toys

Children learn best by copying and imitating, often from just days old when you pull faces at them. As toddlers they become aware of a lot more so you may start to find they do things like ssshh their teddies as if they were crying or pretend to eat or drink out of something like a stacking cup. Toys that aid this sort of personality development are things like toy kitchens, vacuums, dress up clothes, toy DIY kits such as drills and screwdrivers etc. Playhouses are fantastic if you have room. They love to copy and learn so much by doing so.


Balls are great for physical development. Throwing, catching, kicking are all skills that use major muscles and will build on strength and dexterity. Just simply trying to throw them into a bucket or laundry basket will become a good game that your child will become better at each time by building on balance, movement and reaction speed. Having a collection of different sizes, textures colours etc will make great conversation points too.

Musical instruments

Repetition of songs encourages the use of words and memorisation. Silly songs make them laugh. Let them reproduce rhythms by clapping or tapping and shaking objects like bells, shakers, tambourines, rain sticks, drums, cymbals, or xylophones. Try playing follow the leader and marching around doing different things with the instruments or using them in story time to create different sounds for characters and scenes to enhance their imagination.


Beads are very versatile not only can they be used in the obvious way of threading them and teaching hand-eye coordination, they can be used to encourage colour recognition, grouping of colours, finding the odd one out, pattern development, early math skills such as counting, adding and subtracting and also visual memory aids by making a pattern and changing it slightly.bobby-car-349695_1280

Ride on toys

These are perfect for physical development. They improve mobility and balance, get your children outside and encourage exercise whilst also teaching cooperation when sharing and taking turns. They are fantastic for building muscle strength and offer a wide range of pretend play opportunities. They are not just limited to trikes and sit on cars but also include rocking horses, pedal toys, scooters, sledges and wagons too.


Pretend play is vital to the development of imaginative skills. By experimenting with role play, toddlers make sense of things they observe. Imaginative play can include toys such as shop cash registers, dressing up clothes, doctors kits, small character sets and so on, but you don’t have to spend a fortune on toys to encourage them. Cardboard boxes can be fashioned into almost anything from a dolls bed to a rocket. It’s important to play along with them if they invite you to, for example, if they bring you a pretend plate of food, pretend with them and cut it up before you eat it or ask them for some sauce.

What are your child’s favourite toys? Did they make the list or have I missed something? What else have you found has really helped your toddler development in a certain area? I’d love to hear from you so please feel free to leave me a message.

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  • Reply Random Musings May 12, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Good tips, I have an idea what to get my friend’s baby for her birthday now! #MyFavouritePost

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby May 12, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      Excellent, glad I helped! Hahaha

  • Reply beth May 12, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    These are great tips. I love jigsaws, books and wooden toys to help learn my children. They have a bedtime story every night x

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby May 12, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      Yeah, those are my favourite kinds of toys too and its amazing how much impact a bedtime story can have!

  • Reply Marta May 15, 2015 at 11:17 am

    These ideas are great.

    I believe that this toys are really good to help our toddlers development, so when my daughter was just a little girl she had puzzles, riding horse, balls, music instruments. Sadly she preferred the wood spoons, the pots, stereo buttons, my make-up, etc.

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby May 15, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      Ah but thats the beauty of it, wooden spoons banging on pots still count as musical instruments. You don’t have to spend a fortune to encourage them 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by

  • Reply Mudpie Fridays May 15, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    This is great, I completely concur with your top 10 and it is ours as well. My little boy is just about to turn three and we are having the same conversations! His favourite toy at the moment is a real tool box I brought from the pound shop and filled with some toy tools. He carries it around fixing things, this morning he was fixing the car roof as we dropped Daddy at work!! xx #TheList

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby May 16, 2015 at 12:01 am

      Oh thats awesome! Dexter is the same with his. I’ve had to hide the toy hammer though as that one kinda hurts! Hahaha. He also has a toy Dyson thats exactly the same as ours so we often vacuum together. I’m so happy you agree with my list. It took a lot of thought. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Reply Alice May 16, 2015 at 7:32 am

    A fabulous list Leslie – construction toys definitely an absolute must and like you say not just bricks but cardboard boxes, the lot and of course a train 🙂 #TheList

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby May 16, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      I Still don’t know what to get him for his birthday.. Even with this list. I’m thinking perhaps some really good blocks and perhaps a toy kitchen that he can have in our kitchen so we can cook together.

  • Reply Zena's Suitcase May 17, 2015 at 12:04 am

    What a great list. Children get so much stimulation through play. Shape sorters are the favourite in our house. Thanks for linking up with #myfavouritepost

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby May 17, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      Oooh yeah I found one of those old style spherical ones that come apart in the middle for Dexter, like I used to have back in the 80’s. Still had all the pieces!

  • Reply Hannah Budding Smiles May 17, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Great tips, I’m a big believer in learning through play xx

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby May 17, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      Me too, it’s the best way.

  • Reply You Baby Me Mummy May 17, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    Great round up, crayons, balls and anything she can ride are big in our house. Thanks so much for linking up to #TheList x

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby May 17, 2015 at 11:41 pm

      Thos are big hits here too. Thanks for stopping by x

  • Reply amiecaitlin: bumpbabyme May 20, 2015 at 10:02 am

    This is super helpful, thank you! We’re new to the toddler world, so good to look ahead & see what’s coming

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby May 20, 2015 at 10:05 am

      Glad it was of use. Toddlerhood is great fun, Enjoy it 🙂

  • Reply Amy and Lucy Robinson May 21, 2015 at 10:30 am

    I wish my son just had imaginative play, then I could have my front room back! Not enough rooms for a playroom to chuck all the toys in. Great list, mine also loves his train set, which I suppose covers, imaginative and construction – Amy

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby May 21, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      Yeah the classic train set is a favourite here too. I can only dream of a place big enough to have a play room to house his countless toys in. One day maybe…

  • Reply ERFmama May 21, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    This is brilliant! 😀
    My smalls love messy play, building bricks, drawing and also ride ons the most! 😀 They also recently tried their efforts at making necklaces, which was quite fun. 😀

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby May 21, 2015 at 10:51 pm

      Ohh necklaces. Fun! We tried treading beads on pipe cleaners in this post, it made it so much easier for his little fingers and he often asks for them now.

  • Reply Michelle Murray May 27, 2015 at 7:17 am

    My toddler loves balls and cars at the moment, Everything else doesn’t get a look in, he is just fascinated by pushing things across the floor. He also loves my iPad. Now I know some parents don’t like exposing children so young to iPads etc but little J loves it and we play educational games together as well as singing nursery rhymes. I’m a big fan of using technology to help development. #ToddlersAndTeens

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby May 28, 2015 at 11:35 pm

      Yeah, I guess it depends on how they’re used. Sounds like you have the balance. Its when the technology becomes a babysitter that we have a problem. But when we think about it, this generation will be teaching us so much about technology!

  • Reply Sue May 28, 2015 at 4:31 am

    My grandson loves books which I am very happy about. Great lust thank you

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby May 28, 2015 at 11:36 pm

      Thank you, books are so important! Thanks for stopping by

  • Reply Olufunmike Alabi September 2, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    This is a great list. I’m sharing right away

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby September 2, 2015 at 11:16 pm

      Awesome! Thanks for the share! Hope it helps in some way

  • Reply Mummy Lala September 2, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    This is a great list and I think you’ve covered everything.

    My little boy is 14 months old and has most of these things, he’s a little young for some of then but we do but try. His favourite things are books at the moment. I’m a book worm and love the fact he loves books.

    The only thing we needs to stock up on are craft/art supplies as we need to start doing more things like this. We’re actually going to make our own Christmas Cards this year and planning on doing thumb-print robins and reindeers. I imagine we’ll do these fairly soon so that’s when I can stock up on art/craft items.

    Laura x

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby September 2, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      Ohh we made reindeer christmas cards for Dexters first christmas with googley eyes and everything!
      And books are totally awesome for kiddies. Thanks for stopping by. x

  • Reply Tori Gabriel September 2, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    It’s the Toddler’s birthday soon and I’ve faced the same dilemma. We’ve got her a doll and pram as she plays with them at the childminders.

    Her all time favourite toy is her ball. She loves it. Grandad has plans for her to play for Man U.

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby September 3, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      Oh bless! Dexter has a buggy and doll too, he loves it

  • Reply tots2travel September 2, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    They seem to have so many toys that choosing the right ones is difficult. thanks for the tips.

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby September 3, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Oh I know! and there are so many out on the market that you’ve got to wonder who invented it?!

  • Reply Cardiff Mummy Says - Cathryn September 2, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Lovely list! I think you can never have too many books or Lego. Mine started with the Duplo aged two. Also, a scuttle bug and Mini Micro Scooter were great second birthday presents. Hope Dexter has a lovely birthday!

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby September 3, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      Oooh yes our neighbour gave us a scuttle bug, Dexter loves it!

  • Reply Mrs Tubbs October 21, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Lovely ideas! The Tubblet learnt so much through play at that age.

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby October 22, 2015 at 12:26 am

      Its the best way to learn! Thanks for visiting x

  • Reply Sarah Howe (@RunJumpScrap) October 24, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Great list – really comprehensive!! My girly is obsessed with imaginative toys, like her cooking and her babies. She likes books but needs to be encouraged a little to get going.I think I need to pop back and have a look at this list if Xmas – really need some ideas. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst and see you soon

    • Reply Leslie Rickerby October 24, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      Oh, I refer back to this list for so many birthdays and things! It’s a handy one to have!

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