I remember not so long ago when I got my son his first toddler puzzle and how his chubby fingers tried to squeeze the shapes into the wrong holes until frustration got the better of him and he gave up for a while.
It was amazing seeing him go from shakily pounding those shapes into the holes to skillfully matching them in a blink of an eye. It took him a few weeks to reach that level but I could see the progress that he was making every day.
I have to confess that I love puzzles and for a young brain they are absolute gold for development. They help with fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, concentration, memory, they help kids learn specific topics like shapes, colours, animals etc., social skills and self-esteem.
So, no wonder I am always on the look-out for different types of puzzles for toddlers especially because my son enjoys playing with them.
To this end, I’ve put together a list of fantastic wooden puzzles for toddlers that we either already have in our collection or they are on our wish-list (yes, we love the feel of wooden toys).
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The Best Toddler Puzzles to gift your child this Christmas
1. Farm Animals Sound Puzzle – 8 Pieces from Melissa and Doug
Melissa and Doug is hands-down our go-to company for high-quality wooden toys. Their toys are sturdy, visually beautiful and most of all their inspire creative thinking and open play, 2 things that are incredibly important in today’s overscheduled and overstimulated world.
Our first on the list is this beautiful, vibrant M&D Farm Animals Sound Puzzle – 8 Pieces with 8 popular animals. It contains a horse, a rooster, a duck, a cow, a dog, a cat, a pig and a sheep.
This hand-crafted multisensory puzzle will develop matching and listening skills, fine motor skills and encourage toddlers to engage in imaginative play.
The sound each animal makes when placed correctly in its place is clear and realistic. There is a full colour, matching picture under each piece to make matching easier for younger kids. Each puzzle piece has a small peg that makes handling it easy.
We’ve had this wooden puzzle for a year now and my toddler is still interested in it and makes up his own stories with the animals. But what I’m truly impressed with is that after 1 year of use, the puzzle is still as good as new (it has been stepped on, thrown and there have been some eating attempts).
There are a few more sound puzzles with a similar design to choose from: Vehicles Sound Puzzle – 8 Pieces, Musical Instruments Sound Puzzle – 8 Pieces, or Zoo Animals Sound Puzzle – 8 Pieces to name just a few. There are sound puzzles for all tastes and interests.
Just one important tip: if you want the sound to work, make sure you play in a place where there’s light as the sensors are light sensitive.
2. Wooden Toddler Puzzles and Rack Set (6 Pack) Bundle with Storage Holder Rack and Learning Clock from Asher and Olivia
An incredible set with an incredible price containing 6 educational puzzles, 1 puzzle rack organizer, and 1 time- teaching clock with a dry-erase marker.
The pack contains:
- Alphabet puzzle- with colourful letters that need to be placed correctly.
- Number puzzle- contains colourful numbers and math signs
- Shapes puzzle- each shape also has the written word underneath which is always a plus
- Animals in the savanna- lion, zebra, hippo, monkey, giraffe, crocodile, elephant
- Vehicle Sound puzzle- each vehicle has the name tag as well as making the specific sound
- Fruit puzzle- pear, apple, lemon, banana, cherry, orange, strawberry, grapes, pineapple, watermelon.
- Time teaching clock- an analog clock to teach children telling the time.
The pack also comes with a rack that will help keep the puzzles in one place.
This pack of wooden puzzles for toddlers is the perfect gift without breaking the bank.
*This one is on our Christmas shopping list, hehe*
3. Magnetic Wooden Fishing Game from Rolimate
This is one of my son’s favourite puzzles, and even though we bought it more than one year ago he still plays with it often.
The game contains 2 fishing rods with a little magnet at the tip of the rope and 14 different marine animals, each also containing a small magnet.
The colours are vibrant and beautiful and it’s important to know that only water-based paint has been used for this puzzle which is non-toxic for children.
There are a few things that I love about this puzzle. My son learnt all the marine animal names on it; it is a social game (the 2 fishing rods allow friendly competitions); besides using it as a fishing game, my son also uses the pieces for imaginative play; his sweet giggles when we are racing to “fish” the same puzzle piece.
4. Pets Cube Puzzle from Melissa and Doug
A great choice if you are looking for wooden puzzles for toddlers who love using their problem-solving skills. It has 16 sturdy cube-shaped puzzle pieces that make up 6 images. We’ve got the one with pets but there are other choices as well like Farm animals or vehicles.
The images once built are super-cute and feature a dog, a cat, a fish, a turtle, a bunny and a bird.
I love the fact that each cube has a border design that gives visual clues as to where each piece goes. Having said this, I would say that for my 3-year-old the puzzle is a tad too difficult to do on his own but he thoroughly enjoys doing it together. Not to mention that he uses the cubes (which are of decent size) for constructions.
5. Bear Family Dress-Up Puzzle from Melissa and Doug
Most kids are familiar with Goldilocks and The 3 Bears. Well, Mama, Papa and Baby Bear are available in this super-cute dress-up puzzle that encourages multiple skills like hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, colour and pattern recognition, creativity, social skills and more.
The pack includes 45 mix-and-match pieces containing clothing, accessories and different facial expression for the bears. They come in a wooden box with compartments for easy storage.
On a budget? Check out these amazing Melissa & Doug Toys Under $10.
When it comes to great wooden puzzles for toddlers I couldn’t help myself but list a Montessori material.
These toys may seem simple at first glance but according to the Montessori Method, the abundance of colours, bright lights or sounds that a toy may have will only overwhelm the child distracting him fro noticing the essential characteristics of the toy.
7. Farm Animals Jigsaw Puzzles in a Box – Pets and Farm Life from Melissa and Doug
Of course, the list wouldn’t be complete without a good-ol’ jigsaw puzzle. I’ve chosen this set for a few reasons. It’s from Melissa and Doug so, as I’ve mentioned before I love their toys and I know that whatever I buy from them will be of top quality without breaking the bank. This set contains 2 jigsaw puzzles, each of 12 wooden pieces. The pictures are beautiful and attractive (“a backyard gathering of frolicking Pets and lots of Barnyard Buddies greeting a new day on the farm”). The pieces are big and sturdy enough to be handled by a toddler.
8. Numbers & Alphabet Sound Puzzle Bundle from Melissa and Doug
My son is a naturally auditive person so he learns best through sounds. This is why the Number & Alphabet Sound Puzzle is on our list of toys to get.
The Alphabet board has vibrant, attractive letters that are easy to handle. I love the fact that under each letter there are images of words that start with that particular letter.
The same goes for the Numbers board. The puzzle pieces are beautifully crafted and easy to manoeuvre by little fingers. Under each puzzle piece, there is a corresponding number of objects.
They can also be bought separately.
Shape sorting cubes are one of the must-have classic wooden toys and one of the first toddler puzzles that I got for my son. He was about 18 months when he got it and it was almost funny watching him try to squeeze the shapes into holes that didn’t match. And that puzzled (hah!) look on his face was so cute. Of course, with a little bit of help he figured it out eventually and it wasn’t long before he became an expert at fitting the shapes (and naming them) through the holes.
The cube contains 12 wooden shapes, vibrantly coloured with non-toxic paint. The wooden cube is very well finished so no worries that there might be splinters.
10. Shapes Sorter Wooden Puzzle from Lewo
Since we are on the topic of shapes, this beautiful shapes sorter had to make the list. It contains 16 detachable shapes that have to be matched on the 10 posts.
It is a great puzzle for toddlers to learn about colours, geometric shapes, to make full use of their logic and fine motor skills.
So, there you have it. Our list of the best wooden puzzles for toddlers that we either have or we are planning on buying in the future (Christmas is coming, yaaay!).
As you may have noticed the list is full of toys from Melissa and Doug for good reason. I can’t recommend them enough. Not only have they been around for 30 years but their passion for what they do shines through every toy that they create. It is a family business led by husband and wife, Melissa and Doug, parents to 6 kids. Take a look at what they have to offer and you will be impressed.
What puzzles does your child love? Let me know in the comment section below.
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