The 9 Best Educational Toys for Toddlers of 2022

Combine fun and learning

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There are hundreds of educational toys and books to choose from for toddlers, but not all of them are worth your money. Before you buy, consider your child’s age and learning ability. Look for toys, like the ones on this list, that combine fun and learning and can stand up to toddler use. 

The best toys store easily, don’t require a ton of parent involvement, and can be used over and over again. Cater to your child's needs by keeping in mind their age, developmental stage, and preferences.

If you’re looking for a toy that will add educational value to your child’s playtime, here’s our roundup of the best educational toys for toddlers. 

Best Overall: Mega Bloks First Builders Bag

Mega Bloks First Builders Bag

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Budget-friendly

  • Practices problem-solving and fine motor skills

  • 80 blocks included

Cons
  • No base included

  • Only blocks in storage bag

For toddlers, you can’t go wrong with a set of blocks. The possibilities for play are endless. Blocks provide an opportunity for you and your little one to practice problem-solving and fine motor skills as well as provide a great base for non-stop pretend. 

The key to a good set of blocks for any parent is durability, ease of use, a safe and fun size, and the ability to be disinfected. The Mega Bloks are a parent favorite because they come with 80 colorful building blocks, including special shapes for under $20. They are bright and colorful and a good size for toddlers of any age.

They click into each other nicely without too much pressure (good for little hands) and store easily in the zip bag they come in. 

Best Matching: Kidzlane Egg Toy for Kids and Toddlers

Kidzlane Egg Toy for Kids and Toddlers

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Durable case included

  • Teaches color matching

  • Easy to grab for little hands

Cons
  • Some eggs don't stay together

  • May be hard to open for some toddlers

Whether it be with colors, shapes, or even animals, matching is a great skill to work on with toddlers. This affordable egg toy is designed to help your toddler learn to count, sort, and match. The set includes 12 plastic eggs, each of which has a different color and a number of small pegs that match up with another half with the same layout. 

Kids love to click and pull apart these eggs, and they are easy to grab for little hands. They come in a durable plastic egg carton which also acts as a carrying and storage case. You can even use these eggs with pretend play for a fun learning experience in the play kitchen.

Best for Sensory Learning: deMoca Quiet Book for Toddlers

deMoca Quiet Book for Toddlers

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Nine engaging activities

  • Machine-washable

Cons
  • Costly

Keeping a toddler busy and entertained is a full-time job. The deMoca Quiet Book makes things a lot easier with nine engaging activities built into a brightly colored fabric, machine washable book. 

The activities include matching velcro-colored shapes, learning to tie shoes and button buttons, and a clock to tell time. The book is perfect for sensory development and encourages dexterity and spatial awareness. This travel-friendly activity book will keep your toddler busy and there aren’t any pieces or parts to lose.

Best Flashcards: learnworx Flashcards for Toddlers

learnworx Flashcards for Toddlers

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • 101 flash cards included

  • Large print

Cons
  • No shapes, colors, or numbers

Flashcards are a little bit of an old-school learning method but are much loved by parents, teachers, and toddlers because they’re easy, fun, and great for on the go. We love this flashcard set from Learnworx. The set comes with 101 large-print, extra-thick cards that feature cute and bright pictures of objects and scenes like animals, foods, and household items.

On the back of the cards, there are prompt questions that encourage counting, spelling, and more, like “How many lions do you see?” The cards wipe clean and store easily in a toddler-friendly box. 

Best STEM: ToyVelt Dinosaur Take Apart Stem Toys for Boys & Girls

ToyVelt Dinosaur Take Apart Stem Toys for Boys & Girls

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Helps with hand-eye coordination

  • Colorful

Cons
  • Not recommended for children under 3 years old

Even though the concept of STEM might seem a little advanced for your toddler, encouraging exploration and play that involves invention and problem-solving are all part of it. This colorful set includes six dinosaurs, six screwdrivers, and six wrenches.

The idea is for your toddler to take apart and reassemble the dinosaurs using kid-friendly tools. Although this toy may not be right for a 1-year-old, a 3-year-old child will love the process of taking apart and fixing the dinosaurs. They will be working on their hand-eye coordination, creative problem solving, and patience, all while having fun.

Best for Fine Motor Skills: Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog

Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Quills fit into hedgehog for easy storage

  • Works on fine motor skills

Cons
  • Quills are not sold separately

  • Does not make sounds/noises

Want to know how to work on your toddler’s fine motor skills? Find a toy that keeps their attention! Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog gets rave reviews because kids love it just as much as parents and grandparents. The brightly colored peg-shaped pieces can be placed in and out of the friendly hedgehog and are easy for kids to grasp. 

With this cute toy you can also work on color recognition, sorting, and counting skills then simply store it away as one piece. Good for a young toddler and your budget, and your toddler will love this fun little hedgehog.

Best for Memory: Banana Panda Suuuper Size Memory Game

Banana Panda Suuuper Size Memory Game

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Practice matching, focus, and sorting

  • Easy to learn

Cons
  • Only animals or vehicles offered

Best for ages 2 and up, this giant Banana Panda memory game is a good way to practice matching, focus, and sorting. The game itself is easy to learn and fun to play. You can also use the cards as flashcards to introduce new words. 

The Banana Panda game has adorable colorful animal illustrations and the pieces are made of thick cardboard and are large enough for a toddler to see and grab. These easily store and are portable for travel or play on the go.

Best for Reading: Learning Friends 100 Words Book

Learning Friends Word Book

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Introduces toddlers to 100 vocabulary words

  • English or Spanish offered

Cons
  • Batteries required

  • Some pages may be sensitive

You can count on Leapfrog to make an interactive educational toy that both you and your toddler will love. With the Learning Friends Interactive book, your toddler will be introduced to 100 vocabulary words and be able to touch the words and pictures on each page. The book also has fun facts, music, and sounds and can be turned to Spanish for language learning

The word categories in the Learning Friends Book include pets, animals, food, mealtime, colors, activities, opposites, outside, and more. Take this book with you in the car or while you grocery shop and your toddler will be happily entertained.

Best for Art: Betheaces Water Drawing Mat

Betheaces Water Drawing Mat

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Six drawing templates

  • No toxic ingredients

Cons
  • Pens may leak

As any parent will tell you, any toddler art activity that doesn’t involve mess is a sure winner. With the Aqua Doodle Magic Drawing Mat, there is no mess, no toxic ingredients, and no ink. The magical pen transforms water into mess-free color and disappears after a few minutes so the fun doesn't have to end,

The AquaDoodle also includes six drawing templates, three pens, and four shape stencils. The mat itself has a bright and colorful border and is large enough to be shared and played with outdoors (but it also folds up and is easy to take with you).

Final Verdict

For an educational toy that is sure to please and last throughout toddlerhood, Mega Bloks (view on Amazon) are an ideal choice. Some toddlers like a little challenge to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills. The ToyVelt Dinosaur STEM toy (view on Amazon) is a great option for that.

What to Look for in Educational Toys for Toddlers

Interests

The good news with toddlers is that they are naturally curious, so they can find interest in just about any toy. Also, little ones this age just love to play in general, and since there are so many opportunities to learn through play, that leaves a huge selection of educational toys to choose from. Whitney Casares, MD, MPH, pediatrician, author of The Working Mom Blueprint, and founder of Modern Mommy Doc, says “toys that facilitate problem solving, like shape sorters” are really good options for toddlers because of their natural interest in exploring the world around them. 

Similarly, she says, “Interactive toys that allow toddlers to understand context are great for development.” She suggests looking for toys that “teach natural associations” such as “a horse in a barn” or “a fish with ocean friends.” Chances are high that a toddler will love an age-appropriate toy like this no matter what it is, but by the time they’re 2 and on their way to 3 years old, toddlers will start to show more specific interests, so if you know your tot favors farm animals over ocean creatures, then you’ll get more engagement if you lean into those interests. 

Milestones

Development is still a major consideration when shopping for toys for toddlers because they’re still working on mastering many skills. “Play helps with every facet of development,” says Dr. Casares, “[including] gross motor, fine motor, cognitive, and social-emotional” skills. In order to find the best toys for toddlers, it helps to keep some common milestones in mind when you’re shopping.

  • Cognitive development: The Kidzlane Egg Toy for Kids and Toddlers (view on Amazon) is an educational toy for 1- and 2-year-olds that encourages problem-solving. 
  • Fine motor skills: Spike the Hedgehog (view on Amazon) is designed to help toddlers strengthen their fine motor skills, like grasping.
  • Language development: Naming objects is a milestone for toddlers between 1 and 2 years old, and learnworx Flashcards for Toddlers (view on Amazon) are great for helping little ones learn and identify new objects and expand their vocabulary.

Entertainment Value

While toddlers have a wide range of interests, their attention spans are typically pretty short, so looking for toys that are entertaining and engaging is essential. Since “it’s important to provide a wide range of activities” for toddlers, according to Dr. Casares, a toy that can be played with in multiple ways is more likely to keep a toddler’s attention.

Additionally, she suggests looking for toys that offer some kind of sensory or imaginative play, because they’re not only entertaining for toddlers but also really great for supporting their development.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are educational toys important to a toddler's development?

    Yes! During the toddler years, children grow and change rapidly in the areas of cognitive, physical, and social development, and educational toys can help them learn and grow. Toys that encourage building, matching, and moving pieces around help kiddos improve their hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and problem-solving skills, while those that encourage creative or imaginative play will help them learn and identify new objects and build their language and social/emotional skills.

  • What skills are toddlers learning at this age?

    Children start to learn and refine many skills between 1 and 3 years old. These include cognitive skills like reasoning and thinking things through and social skills like asking for help, building independence, and playing appropriately with others. Language skills also take a big step forward during this phase, as kids go from using just a handful of words to connecting words with images, speaking in complete sentences and communicating more complex thoughts.

  • How many toys should a toddler have?

    While it's smart to have a variety of toys that will encourage the development of different skills (such as blocks for motor skills and books for language skills), too many toys can actually lead to overwhelm—and research showsthat children who have fewer toys played with each longer and played more creatively.

    To keep your playroom from getting overloaded, store or give away toys that your child has outgrown, put toys on display (and encourage little ones to put them away at the end of playtime), and make books and educational toys the most accessible.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Deanna McCormack is a freelance writer and creative consultant based in Scottsdale, Arizona. She enjoys working with start-ups and regularly covers product launches in the lifestyle, beauty, and motherhood space. A self-proclaimed expert at baby registries and gift ideas, Deanna has two kids and is the co-founder of Loonie Kid, a Canadian clothing company for kids and toddlers.

Additional reporting by Ashley Ziegler

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2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Important milestones: Your child by 2 years.

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