*Updated March 2022*
Simple toys for toddlers are all around us!
Some are regular household items you might not even think of using as a toy, however your toddler may see something in it that you didn’t.
When it comes to toys for young children, my advice is the simpler the toy the better.
Try to limit the amount of toys that claim they will make your child smarter or state they will teach many skills including letters, numbers, colors, shapes, etc.
Unfortunately, these claims are exaggerated.
What these toys do is teach a child how to press buttons and wait for the toy to do the talking.
Let’s start with some household items that can also be used as toys and then move on to 2 toys you can purchase!
“Toys” For Toddlers That Naturally Inspire Learning!
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Cardboard is one of the best “toys” for toddlers. It’s cheap, versatile and packed with learning opportunities.
The things children can create with cardboard are endless, especially as they get older.
For a toddler, simply putting items into a box and taking them out again is fun!
You can turn a basic cardboard box into a surprise box by covering it with construction paper and cutting a hole into the paper so your child can reach their hand inside.
Hide objects such as a small ball, keys, a brush, hat, toy phone, etc in the box.
Watch your child as they reach in and pull out various objects!
This is a great time to practice vocabulary words such as labeling each object and talking about taking things OUT of the box and putting them back IN.
Or if the cardboard box is large enough, turn it into a car or boat and push your child around!
Most children are drawn to water.
At 18 months old my daughter always wanted to help wash the dishes.
Rather than letting her wash our dirty dishes, I got her set up at the sink with some plastic dishes including cups, plates and cutlery.
If you aren’t comfortable with your child being at the sink, fill a bin with some water and put it on the floor, on a table or outside.
Of course there will be a bit of a mess, but remember, it is just water and can be wiped up.
If you are like me, you will want to avoid as many messes as possible, but put your child’s learning first, take a deep breath and remind yourself that most messes can easily be cleaned up!
Playing with water is a wonderful learning experience filled with many opportunities to facilitate speech and language skills as well as skills such as fine and gross motor development.
A salad spinner can be used to make some pretty cool abstract pictures.
If you aren’t sure how to go about doing this click here.
Or, use it to “wash” clothes.
Have your toddler gather up small articles of clothing such as socks, hats, underwear, mittens, etc.
Or if you have doll clothing use that instead.
Label each piece of clothing as you put it in.
For example, “In goes the shirt”, “next let’s add the socks”, etc.
Pretend to add some laundry soap.
Let your child put the lid on and start spinning to get the clothes clean.
You can also talk about the speed of the spinner.
Is it going fast or slow? How do you get it to stop? Language opportunities are everywhere!
My children liked to put in the play food from their pretend kitchen and spin it to turn it into a salad!
Our salad spinner ended up permanently moving to the playroom.
4. Toy Farm Playsets
Children are naturally drawn to animals and animal sounds or names often make up their first words.
A farm playset is also a great way to expose your child to new vocabulary.
For all of the language benefits of a toy farm, be sure to read Best Learning Toys For 2 Year Old’s To Encourage Language Development.
If you scroll to the bottom of the article, there is an entire section dedicated to farm playsets!
There are many wooden and plastic farms available. It really doesn’t matter which set you go with.
The simpler the better though.
Try to avoid ones that require batteries, or if you have one of these, take the batteries out.
Every child should have a set of blocks and there are many different kinds to choose from.
You can also choose between wooden and plastic blocks. It’s up to you!
Did you know there are over 10 different kinds of wooden blocks?
I don’t mean brands, I mean different designs, from magnetic to unique shapes and everything in between. Who knew?
Click here to look at some of the opportunities for language development that arise through block play.
Blocks are great because they are generational, meaning that they can be passed from one child to the next and they are also good for a variety of ages.
The blocks a two year old is playing with can also be played with by a 7 year old.
Which Of These Toddler “Toys” Do You Already Have?
These household items and basic toys are probably found in most homes but are often taken for granted.
However, they are filled with learning opportunities.
So if these toys have been hidden in a closet (or recycle bin), bring them back out!
Here are some other examples of toys that are simple yet full of potential to boost your child’s speech-language skills and cognitive development:
- Stuffed Animals
- Ride On Vehicles
- Marble Run/Ball Drop – You can also get creative and make your own out of cardboard boxes and toilet paper or paper towel rolls!
Do you have any other suggestions for simple toys toddlers would love and be able to learn from?
Please share your ideas in the comments below!
If you are concerned with your toddler’s language development, be sure to read my article “17 Tips To Help A Toddler With A Speech Delay“.