As an occupational therapist mom, I’m always on the look out for toys that are geared toward learning and fine motor skills. Although pretty much all toddler toys (and even household objects) are going to provide numerous avenues of learning because children are little sponges at this age, absorbing all the information that their senses are taking in. I’ve seen my daughter learn so many new skills because she has the opportunity to see, hear, feel, and explore all of these different toys.
Here is a list of my favorite toys that are more than just toys. They will be optimal for your child to start building the foundations of fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, and cognitive learning. Because every child may be at a different developmental point, these toys would be most ideal for babies and toddlers anywhere from about 10 months to 24 months.
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Fine Motor Skills & Hand Eye Coordination
These are the foundational skills that allow you to move your hands and fingers to manipulate objects and your eyes to work together with your hands to complete a task. You need these skills to later on be able to write, throw, color, and so many other tasks.
- Finger Crayons These are perfect for little hands and promote a good grasp when holding the crayons. Coloring is a great skill for 1 year olds to start practicing. It teaches them cause and effect- that they make a mark on the paper and it stays there.
- Puffy Stickers Stickers are great to promote a pincer grasp (using thumb and index finger) to pick things up. The puffy ones are easier for the little ones to pick up.
- Mega Block Legos Pushing in and pulling apart legos are great to strengthen fingers, hand, and arm muscles. These are large enough for a small toddler to manipulate without worrying about them being a choking hazard like traditional legos.
- Large Snap Beads Great for strengthening hand and arm muscles. They also need precise eye hand coordination to push the knob into the hole.
- Stack and Sort Board This toy promotes a lot of skills. Sorting by colors. hand eye coordination to fit them on the peg, and fine motor skills for manipulation of the pieces.
- Knob Puzzles Puzzles are great for developing so many skills. They’ll be developing hand-eye coordination with flipping and turning the pieces to fit them in their slots, fine motor skills by using their little hands to grasp and manipulate the little pegs or whole wooden pieces, and problem solving to let their brains figure out the best ways to fit the piece in the space or where it’s matching counterpart is. At the same time, your child can also be learning the concepts of the actual pictures on the puzzle, whether it be colors, shapes, animals, or foods
- Peg Boards These boards are great for developing finger strengthening and eye hand coordination when pushing and pulling them out of the small holes in the board.
- Light Up Stacker Your toddler will love the music that play when they are able to put the rings on the stacker.
- Stacking ABC blocks These blocks promote creativity and eye hand coordination while stacking and making towers. They will also use their first 3 fingers to hold the blocks which is a good grasping skill.
- Piggy Bank Develops eye hand coordination for inserting the large coins into the slot. The coins are large enough for little hands to grasp.
- Shape Sorter Fitting the shapes and pieces into their matching holes requires problem solving, eye hand coordination, and hand manipulation skills.
This is the prime time age where your baby’s brain is in overdrive learning how to walk, talk, understand, get dressed, feed themselves, and literally all the knowledge base they will build to grow up. That is a crazy amount of new skills they will be learning! Provide them with the tools and activities to enrich all of those experiences and learn as much as they can with toys that teach animals, shapes, sounds, letters, words, numbers, etc.
Lift-the-flap books Any and all books are great for learning and cognitive development, but 1 year olds love lift-the-flap books and seeing what’s behind the picture.
Magnets Similar to stickers, these magnets will keep your child occupied and promote a good pincer grasp. They’re also great to learn language just by pointing out and naming animals, foods, shapes, etc.
Touch & Teach Word Book We love this for learning first words. It has a ton of pictures that you click on to learn words and sounds and will keep my daughter busy for a long time!
BathTub Letters Your toddler will enjoy bath time even more with these letters that stick to the sides of the tub. They will enjoy pulling them off and sticking them on time and time again.
At this age, child start to repeat and imitate EVERYTHING they see and hear. They’ll want to do whatever they see you doing including cleaning, up, feeding another baby, cooking, talking on the phone, shopping, etc. Give them these play accessories just like the real ones so they can practice being like mom!
Cleaning Broom & Mop Set 1 year olds are starting to declare their independence and want to imitate everything mom and dad do. Your little one will love to copy cleaning tasks using these brooms and mops, and may even help you out too!
Baby Alive Little girls love to be like little moms, even this young. My daughter shows so much affection for her Baby Alive doll, carrying him around and kissing and hugging him all the time. This doll even really pees and comes with diapers and food!
Musical Instruments Let them make music with a variety of all these instruments. They’ll have a blast seeing all of the different sounds that come from the different pieces.
Kitchen with Pots and Pans Playing mom is always fun! My daughter loves being in the kitchen and watching me cook. Having her own kitchen is even better so she can do it herself.
Tea Pot Set More of a girly gift, but little girls love having tea parties and pouring tea for everyone.
Cutting Fruit These are a great fine motor activity, as well as imaginative play.
Shopping Cart with Food They will love going pretend shopping around the house with their little shopping cart.
Toy dog Most kids love animals, especially because they see so many in books, tv shows, puzzles, etc. Since we don’t have a pet in our house, this toy dog was perfect for my little one.