Toy Recommendations For Toddlers : Ages 1-3

Childhood is synonymous with toys. Toys are a part and package of our children’s lives and the variety of toys available these days, can make it difficult for parents to know which ones to pick. While an excessive amount of toys can only add to clutter and rob our children of unstructured, free and imaginative play, picking the right ones can help our children learn and grow. As much as new toys are introduced in the market as quickly as fashion fads, sometimes, it is the classic old toys our children need and will enjoy the most. We want to go beyond the “one day and done” kind of toys to those that are open-ended and give the child something to do beyond pressing a single key. Let’s look at toy recommendations, age-wise, 1-4.

For 1-year-olds

This is an interesting phase when babies are no longer infants but also quite young to enjoy complicated toys. They’re slowly weaning off rattles and crib mobiles and are ready to manipulate and explore objects but at the same time, they’re too young for anything with small parts. This age also coincides with babies learning to walk and talk, so developmentally there’s a lot of growth and skills they’re learning and strengthening. Toys that help them practise these new skills like push and pull toys, stacking and nesting cups that require thinking and exploring make the best toys for this age. Of course, safety and durability are equally important. Some of the best toys for this age

Stacking and nesting cups 

These are inexpensive, can be used in different ways and can give your baby plenty of practice in thinking and problem-solving. Apart from learning to stack and balance the cups, your child can also use these for pretend play like drinking from a cup and get creative with them as they grow. Your child will love stacking, building and knocking them down over and over again.  Parents love them just as much because they are easy to store and don’t take up much space. Just stack them up and go.

Push and Pull toys

As babies are mostly discovering the joy of walking around, they delight in pulling along their toy companions. A toy dog on a leash or a wagon they can push? These are also great for gross motor development and help your child gain confidence in their walking skills. And the joy on their face knowing that their movement and actions can affect objects around them!  Again, these toys grow with your child.  

Wooden Xylophone

Babies at this stage love to see connections between their actions and what happens after. While there are plenty of musical toys, most work on batteries at the touch of a button and don’t leave much for the child to do. Some are even very delicate to handle your child’s curiosity. A wooden xylophone works great and babies can stay busy striking the keys and hearing different sounds. Also, they aren’t as loud or annoying as the electric musical toys. 

Shape sorter

It is delightful to watch babies try a shape sorter. Some might persist until they manage to use the right shape, some get frustrated and often you’ll see them lift the lid and just put all the shapes in. But a shape sorter can give your baby a lot of practice in spatial awareness, problem-solving and also persistence. Even if they don’t take to it at first, watch them play with it for a couple of years to come.



2-year-olds are little explorers, curious about the world and slowly beginning to see and learn how others around them think and behave. You’ll notice how much your child is learning from observing the world around them. They can also gear up for pre-school by building on fine and gross motor skills, thinking and problem solving and categories. 

Pegboard puzzles

These are great at this stage. They’re made with wood and last forever. Like books, they come in different themes, from learning A-Z to categorising fruits, vegetables and farm animals, puzzles offer a lot to children. Apart from giving them practice in fine motor skills, these are easy to grasp with little fingers and help develop eye-hand coordination. 

Pretend toys

Children begin to engage in a lot of pretend play at this age. It uses imagination, creativity, imitation and observation skills and is reflective of your child’s development. Most children will begin with playing “house” or using a kitchen set but will be equally thrilled with a doctor kit or a toy phone they can use for their “work calls”.

Building Blocks

The regular big sturdy blocks work great. They are too young for Lego but old school building blocks are great for this age group. The bright colours are inviting and their size makes it easy for children to hold and manipulate them. What I love most about these is you can also use them to teach your child to sort colours and make a game of putting them away ( you get the red blocks, I’ll pick the green) and they are inexpensive and sturdy. 

Ride on car

Children will love using these to get around. They are great for practising coordination and gross motor skills and it’ll be a while before your child outgrows these. They also aid pretend play as toddlers, love to ride to “work” on them like daddy and mommy or take their little toys for a drive. 


Children at this stage are more verbal and interactive as most begin playschool at this age. Their vocabulary develops rapidly and they are keen to initiate and carry on conversations. As they continue with more complex pretend play, they also show interest in toys that challenge them and allow them to explore and create.  

Jigsaw puzzles 

Toddlers are now ready for jigsaw puzzles and can move from pegboard puzzles to piecing pictures together. Starting with 4 piece puzzles, they can slowly move on to 15-20 pieces. These are great for spatial awareness, problem-solving and thinking. If you’d like to go in for more sturdy ones, ditch the cardboard ones and pick wooden jigsaw puzzles. 

Writing or doodle board

Children at this age are keen to explore with scribbling, colouring and learning and imitate writing. Getting them a doodle board or a magic slate can not only give them all the practice they need but also keep your walls safe from all their scribble adventures. And they’ll continue to use the board in many different ways as they grow. Pick up a board that you can use magnetic letters and numbers on and they’ll continue using it as they learn to read and write. An investment worth the bucks. 

Playdough and magic sand

Playdough is magical with kids. It comes in bright colours, can be moulded into different shapes and the possibilities for creativity are endless, Magic sand has also recently become popular and works just as well as play dough. Both are great for sensory play, spark creativity and imagination and provide plenty of fine motor exercise. 

A bicycle or a balance bike

Nothing gets kids outdoors like having their own vehicle. And getting kids outdoors has plenty of benefits in itself. This can give your child the opportunity to expend some energy, be outdoors and practice coordination and balance. Need we say more? 

This list has been put together from experience and of course has been kid-approved most of all. As much as there are endless toys to choose from, when you pick the right ones, your kids will need just a few to keep them engaged. Do your kids have a favourite toy? Let us know in your comments below. 

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