Top Toys for Toddlers – Developmental and learning toys for preschool

With any given Toys R Us store the size of a city block, it can be hard to know which toddler and baby toys to get your little one. Jenn Berman, author of Superbaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years, recommends sticking to playthings that align with your child’s developmental stage.

To help you sort it all out, here are Dr. Berman’s recommendations of appropriate toys for kids aged 1-3.


top toys for toddlers: twelve to eighteen months


  • Stronger fine motor skills
  • Learning cause and effect
  • Very active and mobile
  • Has better hand coordination and is able to hold a crayon, paintbrush, or writing utensil well enough to scribble
  • Stranger anxiety often peaks around fifteen months

  • Blocks
  • Puppets
  • Sorting toys
  • Push toys
  • Pull toys
  • Hammering toys
  • Large wooden peg puzzles
  • Bug box for observing insects
  • Wagon
  • Music toys
  • Sandbox
  • Finger paints
  • Nontoxic crayons and paper
  • Toy tool bench
  • Toy kitchen
  • Toy animal and people figurines (nonchokable)
  • Dolls with removable dresses and accessories
  • Ball pit (small ones are available for home use)
  • Padded rocking horse for toddlers
top toys for toddlers: eighteen to twenty-four months
  • Able to recognize herself in the mirror and in photos
  • Asserts her will (get ready for power struggles!)
  • Able to imitate grown-up behavior
  • Has more refined fine motor skills
  • Asserts independence (expect to hear lots of “I can do it myself!”)
top toys for toddlers: two to three years and up
  • Develops symbolic play, or using objects in a way that is different from the intended purpose of the object
  • Is very verbal
  • Faces many conflicts due to her new-found abilities and is frustrated when she needs help
  • Improved memory skills
  • Knows many colors and letters and can count to ten
  • Can get dressed and brush her own teeth by age three
  • Can walk run, jump, and balance on one leg
  • Imaginary play gets much more complex
  • Has lots of tantrums
  • Is “ritualistic,” i.e., likes things to be put in the same place in the same way
  • Tricycle
  • Dress-up clothes
  • Matching games
  • Doll house and dolls
  • Toy gardening set
  • Ant farm
  • Arts and crafts supplies
  • Train sets
  • Kids basketball hoop and ball
  • Kid-size brooms, dust pans, and vacuum cleaners
  • More advanced puzzles
  • Basic board games like Candyland and Concentration (age three and up)
  • Easels
  • Bean bags
  • Lacing beads (large size)
  • Small, child-friendly tent for a clubhouse
  • Kaleidoscopes
  • Child-friendly magnifying glasses
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Stickers
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Stamps and nontoxic ink
  • Eye Spy Bags®
  • Magna Tiles®

Dr. Berman is not suggesting that you buy all the toys mentioned, even if you can afford to. Her intention is to give you a preview of what your child might enjoy, depending on where she is developmentally. And as also stated in her book, you should always check the safety of any toy you buy and never leave your child alone with a toy that she could choke on or hurt herself with. Even a simple stuffed animal can have plastic eyes or a nose that could become a choking hazard.

From SuperBaby ©2010 by Dr. Jenn Berman. Used with permission from Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Article Posted 6 years Ago

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