I love puzzles for toddlers! Little ones develop cognitive thinking skills, which are critical to a toddler’s developing brain. They also learn shape recognition, problem solving, building, and fine motor skills.
My 3 year old has always been a fan of puzzles, but I’ve gotta be honest. She wasn’t that good at them…until now. I’ve spent so much time doing puzzles with her, trying to show her how to figure out the corners and edge pieces and which piece fits where. This summer, something finally clicked. I love seeing the wheels spinning in her head as she works on her puzzles, thinking about all I’ve showed her and fitting the pieces together just right. She’s so proud of herself when she completes a puzzle!
It’s great to have a collection of puzzles for toddlers to do on their own as well as some that they still need your help with. Let them complete those they can do alone, and help them with the ones that are still difficult. Before you know it, they’ll be doing those alone and moving on to the next level.
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What a fun way to teach little ones to recognize and spell their name! This one of a kind puzzle contains quality wood letters in vibrant colors. This is a fantastic idea if you’re looking for an original gift.
This unique stacking toy consists of six arches that fit together into a rainbow. This puzzle also inspires creativity, as the arches can be used as tunnels, hills, or anything a toddler can imagine.
Melissa and Doug Puzzles
Melissa and Doug has an impressive collection of wooden puzzles for toddlers. They are high quality to withstand even the toughest kids. The littlest ones can easily grab the chunky shapes or wooden knob pieces while bigger toddlers can begin to put together wooden jigsaw puzzle pieces that fit together easily and don’t bend or tear. These puzzles for toddlers are made to enhance the development of little ones, teaching them everything from vehicle names to shapes and colors to farm animals. We have had several of these throughout the past 20+ years, most recently of course, with the little girls.
Puzzles for 1 Year Olds
These puzzles are perfect for very beginning learners, with some having as few as three pieces. The big wooden knobs are easy to hold, and friendly pictures with bright colors will grab their attention. There are too many to show, but here are some of the most popular:
The Melissa and Doug wooden chunky puzzles have always been a favorite at our house! These are listed for age two, but certainly appropriate for age one as well. Little ones enjoy talking about the pictures as they place them in the puzzle. They also free play with the pieces, standing them up or stacking them in a tower. Again, there are too many to show, but here are some of their most popular:
Puzzles for 2 Year Olds
The wooden peg puzzles are a perfect next step from the wooden knob puzzles. Just as with the knob puzzles and chunky puzzles, the picture is found on each piece as well as on the board under the piece. The pegs are easy for little ones to grasp, making them a favorite for toddlers everywhere. Here is a sampling (click the link above for more):
The manufacturer recommends these for age three, but they surely could be enjoyed by two year olds as well. These puzzles were a favorite with my boys. Each magnetic piece can be picked up with the magnetic tool that comes with the puzzle, such as a fishing rod or butterfly net. Great way for toddlers to develop fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination!
This is a wonderful introduction to the concept of finding shapes in everyday life. Toddlers can choose between ten different scenes, each with a picture of a common object. They complete the picture by adding colorful shapes in the appropriate place. Little ones can also play with the shapes to create their own objects.
Puzzles for 3 Year Olds
Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles— 12 piece or 24 piece (There are also 48 piece, which are amazing if your toddler is very advanced or you’re also looking for something for an older child. I accidentally bought a 48-piece and my girls enjoy it but are nowhere near ready to do it on their own!)
My three year old got two of these 24-piece puzzles for her birthday, and she loves them. After doing them with me for a few months, she has learned to do them on her own, and it’s her favorite thing to show off to aunts, uncles, and grandparents when they come to visit! The sturdy wooden pieces fit perfectly into the tray, making it easier for little ones to see the parameters of the puzzle. It really helped my little one learn how to find the corner and edge pieces and fit them into the puzzle.
Here is a sampling of each. Click on the blue link to see more.
Melissa and Doug floor puzzles are so much fun for the older toddlers. They are by far the highest quality of any brand I’ve found. The pieces always fit together just right and don’t bend or tear easily, even when they are walked on (accidentally or on purpose!). These are another favorite of my little puzzle lover. They include the basic themes of the other Melissa and Doug puzzles, of course, such as busy barn (this one is barn-shaped, which is lots of fun), dinosaur, and safari. But their set of floor puzzles also includes some others that allow for extra learning, such as USA map, world map, and alphabet train (this one is ten feet long!).
These 36-piece are appropriate puzzles for toddlers who are ready for something a little more advanced. We have the Djeco Ballerina puzzle, and it’s one of my girls’ favorites. They are beginning to put it together themselves now, with minimal help from me. The quality of these puzzles in unmatched, their thick pieces nearly indestructible. Each box is shaped like the item that’s the focus of the puzzle. The puzzles themselves are rectangle shaped, pictured on the back of the box for reference. Here are a few designs. Click on the link above to see more.
Hape Wooden Puzzles
Hape brand has another collection of high quality wooden puzzles for toddlers. Their child safe materials and solid wood construction make them popular with parents. Their bright, friendly colors and easy to hold pieces make them loved by toddlers.
Puzzles for 1 Year Olds
This fun puzzle is appropriate for little ones as young as one. The farm themed pieces are each standing on a different shaped piece, making it a great way to teach shapes and farm sounds at the same time. When a piece is placed in the puzzle, it makes the sound of that item. There are no reviews yet on this item, but I wanted to include it because I love the concept!
Hape Wooden Peg Puzzle
I love this twist on the usual peg puzzles. Little ones have to turn the shapes to fit them past the pegs on the posts. Great way to develop that critical thinking, even in little ones as young as one!
Puzzles for 2 Year Olds
These puzzles are advertised for age three, but they could be enjoyed by one year olds or two year olds as well, under supervision because the pieces are small enough to go into the mouth. What a fun way to teach little ones letters and numbers! The bright, colorful pieces of these puzzles are chunky, so they are easy for little ones to grab and to stand up on their own. They provide plenty of opportunities for learning while at play.
These stacking block puzzles provide a unique challenge for little ones. With nine pieces that make six different puzzles, kids need to use logic and reasoning to figure out which side of each piece belongs with which picture. Toddlers will need some help with this one starting out, but they could also enjoy free play using the pieces as building blocks. Farm Animals, Zoo Animals, and Pepe & Friends
Give Us Your Thoughts!
What are your favorite puzzles for toddlers? Do you have any experience with those listed here? My readers and I would love to hear your thoughts. It helps me make revisions or add new products in future updates.
This is one article in a whole series of gift guides for toddlers. Check out the others below.
Start here with the ultimate guide: How to Choose the Best Gifts for Toddlers