Updated on November 6, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
The toddler stage is the best time to start introducing puzzles to your little one. We introduced puzzles to our daughter around the time she was 18 months. It’s a great activity for your little one to learn how to work independently. Puzzles will give your toddler the chance to build their fine motor skills, which require small movements that are provided by completing puzzles.
The Best Toddler Puzzles For All Ages
(Best value — $$)
Why it’s great: These wooden jigsaw puzzles are high quality. They are great for tiny hands to easily grip, and have smooth, safe edges. They have vibrant colors and cute animal shapes that encourage hand-eye coordination and imaginative play. The wooden puzzle itself is a small size, also making it ideal for tiny hands. The greatest part about this bundle set is that it comes with its own bundle box for storage.
Keep in mind: This bundle set comes with 6 puzzles. My recommendation would be to only take one puzzle out at a time, so there is less of a mess and your child can focus their attention.
Good for: Toddlers who love animals and for tiny hands.
(Most advanced — $)
Why it’s great: This puzzle set comes with 30 puzzle pairs. It’s perfect for a toddler that is a little more advanced for their age. My daughter is 21 months and we actually just ordered these for her and we’re waiting for them to be delivered! This is the perfect puzzle pairing set to prepare your toddler for school. They make it easier to become familiar with words and introduce early reading ability. They are thick, durable, and are easy to grip and use. Your toddler will improve their understanding and knowledge of animals with this puzzle set.
Keep in mind: Some parents have complained that this learning concept does not make sense on puzzle pieces. However, overall, this set has great reviews.
Good for: Boosting confidence and self-esteem.
(Best recycled puzzle — $$)
Why it’s great: This puzzle is made from 100% recycled plastic. It’s also phthalate and BPA free and is completely safe, even if your toddler puts it in their mouth. It can even be put in the dishwasher to clean it!. This is a small puzzle and only has 4 pieces, which makes it great for younger children that are just learning. It’s in the shape of a dumptruck and will help to improve your child’s fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Keep in mind: The color combinations vary, so you can’t pick which color you get, but they’re all bright and fun and make a dumptruck.
Good for: Younger toddlers just learning to do a puzzle.
(Most versatile — $$$)
Why it’s great: This is wooden blocks that fit together to create a picture. You get all the benefits of a puzzle by matching the pictures and shapes, but you can also use the pieces as a block set for building. The blocks are painted with a garden scene theme and your child will love looking at all the cute little animals. The blocks are also double sided, so there’s more than one scene for your child to put together, giving them double the fun.
Keep in mind: The pieces are not interlocking like a traditional puzzle, but that means they can be used in other ways too.
Good for: Toddlers that like to build puzzles or with blocks.
(Best geography puzzle — $$$)
Why it’s great: This one comes with a set of two different puzzles. One is a map of the Earth with all the different continents and oceans making up the pieces. The other is a map of the United States. Both of these encourage fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, as well as developing knowledge of our country and the world. Your child will love learning about all the different states and continents and where they belong. The pieces are all brightly colored and have cute pictures and designs that will attract your toddler’s attention.
Keep in mind: These both have quite a few pieces and they don’t come in a box, so there’s no easy way to store it when it’s not put together on the wood frame.
Good for: Parents that want to improve their child’s geography knowledge as well as their fine motor skills.
(Best anatomy puzzle — $$$)
Why it’s great: This comes with two different puzzles that will help teach your child about the human body. One of the puzzles has pieces for each different body part, so your toddler can start to learn and recognize those. The second puzzle has pieces that are different organs inside the body and will help teach your child anatomy. The pieces are all colorful and cartoony, so they won’t scare your child at all.
Keep in mind: You don’t build the human body with these pieces, they just each have their own slot, so your child will learn the parts, but not necessarily their placement in/on the body.
Good for: Children that are interested in the human body or might want to be a doctor when they grow up.
(Best floor puzzle — $)
Why it’s great: This is a 48 piece puzzle that is made to be put together on the floor. Fully assembled is measures 2’ x 3’. The dinosaur picture is sure to get your child’s attention, and the pieces are nice and big, making it easy for children of all ages to put together. The pieces are made of durable cardboard, so they won’t bend easily, and will be easy to set up on the floor. They can also be wiped down if they get dirty, without worry of damaging the pieces.
Keep in mind: This doesn’t have the names of the dinosaurs, so if you want to teach your child about the kinds of dinosaurs, you’ll have to make your own list.
Good for: Children that love dinosaurs and big puzzles.
(Best alphabet and numbers — $$)
Why it’s great: This bundle set comes with 4 different puzzles. These puzzles are great for toddlers because they include a variety of learning and have pegs on each piece for easy gripping. This set is made of 100% natural wood and non-toxic water-based paint. If you want a more simple set, try this one.
Keep in mind: This 4 puzzle bundle set does not come with storage, so again I recommend purchasing a separate storage bin so you don’t have puzzle pieces all over the place. That seems to be the only downside to this set.
Good for: Learning numbers and the alphabet.
(Most creative — $)
Why it’s great: This puzzle has twelve pieces and teaches your child about the different seasons and how to dress for different kinds of weather. It depicts 4 different children and your toddler will have to match their clothes and bodies to the season. The pieces are two sided and you can put it together to build different designs on the back. Your child can also use this back side to trace or sketch the pictures on them that represent the seasons.
Keep in mind: This puzzle may be a little more difficult for younger children because of the shape, but they will still have fun playing with the pieces.
Good for: Children who like puzzles and drawing or coloring.
(Best quality — $$$)
Why it’s great: This is a great floor puzzle with thick and sturdy cardboard pieces that will be hard for your child to bend or tear apart. The size of the pieces make it easy for little hands and fingers to grasp and connect. Your child will love learning about all the different types of construction equipment as they put this puzzle together. It also depicts cute little dogs driving the trucks, which your little one will love. If your child is not into construction, there are other designs available, so you’re sure to find one that they will love. It also comes in a box with a little hand, so it’s easy to take with you wherever you go.
Keep in mind: The writing on the box covers part of the picture, so your child may have to figure out where the pieces go all by themselves.
Good for: Children that are interested in construction.
(Best brain teaser — $)
Why it’s great: This puzzle can be put together in different ways. It comes with cards that depict 60 different challenges that will have your child using their problem solving skills and teaching them spatial reasoning. There are different levels of difficulty and so many possibilities that your child will be entertained and working for hours. The pieces are brightly colored and made of wood, so they’re not likely to bend or break, which means it’ll last for years to come.
Keep in mind: This will be difficult for younger children to put it together, but it does have 5 different levels of challenges.
Good for: More advanced children that want to challenge their brain.
(Best montessori toy — $$)
Why it’s great: This 6-pack puzzle set is made of high-quality, durable, environmentally-friendly wood. They are lead-free, BPA-free, and made of non-toxic water-based paint. They have smooth edges so your toddler will not be harmed or scratched. Your toddler will have the selection of a bear, butterfly, ladybug, owl, snail, and bee.
Keep in mind: This puzzle set has perfect reviews but does not come with a storage case, so we recommend looking up storage to help hold your puzzle pieces.
Good for: Montessori learning activity.
(Best princess puzzle — $$)
Why it’s great: This set includes 4 puzzles that make up the perfect toddler princess set. It includes a colored princess, unicorn, rainbow and a castle along with an actual wooden magic wand. These chunky pieces make it easier for toddlers to grip and are great for educational and skill building time. They will improve their concentration, recognition skills, and improve their ability to learn about shapes and colors.
Keep in mind: This puzzle set has a 5-star rating, so it should be a safe bet if your child would enjoy the princess theme.
Good for: Toddler girls
(Most appealing — $)
Why it’s great: This set is one of our absolute favorites! It was the first set we actually started our daughter off with. This puzzle set comes in a 3-puzzle bundle pack. It has appealing features and is very engaging with its wooden pegs for easy gripping. These puzzles promote hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and problem solving. It is also made from high quality, sanded wood.
Keep in mind: The only negative thing I have to say about these puzzles is that the pictures can tear off if repeatedly tested, but then again my toddler has a habit of always putting things in her mouth too. I would recommend buying a separate storage bin for this puzzle.
Good for: Toddlers ages 3-5 years old.
(Most imaginative — $$$)
Why it’s great: This is a wooden alphabet puzzle where each piece is shaped like an animal. The animals interlock and connect with each other to form the entire alphabet. This puzzle is unique because the pieces can either be put together flat on the table or standing up and stacked. The animals can also be played with on their own or you can try to use them as regular stacking blocks. It is also double sided, with capitals on one side and lowercase on the other. There are also different themes, such as city, farm, or ocean animals that you can buy if these particular animals don’t catch your child’s interest.
Keep in mind: The box doesn’t have a lid, so it needs to be stored laying down.
Good for: Children who want a more unique puzzle experience.
FAQ’s about Toddler Puzzles
1. Are puzzles good for toddlers?
Puzzles are a great way to pass the time and to promote independent learning. It is a healthy way to entertain your children and helps develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and shape recognition.
2. What kind of puzzle is right for my toddler?
The puzzles for your toddler should be easy to grip. Most puzzles have pegs that make each piece easy to pick up. Big pieces are also ideal for imaginative play. If your toddler is advanced you can always move them up a step.
3. What are the benefits of puzzles?
Toddlers receive many great benefits by completing puzzles. Children will usually start out with something simple that has knobs on it. The outlines will be simple and shaped to fit into the corresponding cutout. When your toddler is completing a puzzle on his/her own they are developing:
Physical skills – this is done by holding puzzle pieces and turning them into the slot until they fit.
Cognitive Skills – this skill is developed as they solve the puzzle.
Emotional Skills – as your toddler learns to complete a puzzle on their own, they learn patience and are rewarded when they complete it.
4. What material should the puzzle be made out of?
My advice would be to make sure that your puzzle is made out of non-toxic materials. Toddlers love to put pieces into their mouths. My daughter especially is one who sticks everything in her mouth and bites down on it. Still today, we have problems with toys being made with lead-based paint, which is of course very dangerous for children.
Organic wooden puzzles offer many environmentally-friendly benefits. Organically made toys are harvested by hand and then washed in hot water and a gentle soap so there are no residues that are acidic.
In conclusion, puzzles are so important in your toddler’s early learning stage. They help our kids with their cognitive skills, problem-solving, fine motor development, hand-eye coordination, and social skills. The accomplishment of your little one completing their first puzzle is an amazing feeling to them. I remember when my daughter first completed hers. She didn’t stop until she finished it. Once she completed it, she looked over at me and started clapping with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.
Learning to overcome the challenges that puzzles bring is such an important accomplishment in a toddler’s life. It gives them a sense of achievement and builds a sense of pride within them. It adds a huge boost to their self-confidence and to their self-esteem, which will prepare them for other challenges they will face in life.
Puzzles will always be a fun, educational toy that will challenge the young minds of our kids while teaching them and preparing them for important life skills they can apply when they reach school age. My advice when purchasing puzzles is that you can never have too many! In a world taken over by screens, puzzles will always be the go-to in our home.
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