When you're a parent, finding good toys and games can be challenging because you want the perfect balance of learning, development and fun, right? Puzzles are a brilliant option because they develop skills like problem-solving.
If you're looking for a long-lasting and environmentally friendly toy, puzzles are a great choice. That said, how do you find the right puzzle for your child's age range? Here at Mother&Baby, we've done all the hard work for you and found the best wooden puzzles for babies.
How puzzles help baby’s development
Not sure how puzzles help baby's development? We spoke to Nima Patel, a mindfulness expert, certified conscious parenting coach and the founder of Mindful Champs, a business committed to enhancing children's wellbeing.
Nima said, "Puzzles help children in countless ways and support a child’s physical and mental development. Of course, they are beneficial with regards to a child’s fine motor skills; by using smaller muscles in their body like their fingers to match puzzle pieces together, their physical development is aided. As a result, children who explore puzzles at an earlier age will find it easier to write, draw and play instruments."
Nima goes on to add, "Beyond this, the benefits of puzzles are vast. For example, matching puzzle pieces helps kids to develop their hand/eye coordination, problem solving skills (as they work independently to find the ‘missing piece’), colour matching ability and their memory as they retain images, understanding what pieces match and have already been placed in the puzzle. They certainly enrich a baby’s mental development."
"Puzzles also help children develop an attention to detail, whilst playing with puzzles alongside others helps to develop their ability to work within a team and fosters collaborative play," Nima continues. "Overall, puzzles support a child’s physical, mental and social development. Plus, they’re fun! Children will be engaged with puzzles because they’re enjoyable."
"You can also find tailored puzzles which focus on supporting specific areas of a child’s development. For example, at Mindful Champs our ‘A-Z I Love Me’ puzzle uses affirmations to develop a child’s self-confidence, self-love and communication skills. I couldn’t recommend them as an activity for children enough."
Best wooden puzzles for babies 2021
Whether you're looking for the best puzzles for toddlers that are both fun and stimulating or the best wooden puzzles for babies, we're on hand to help.
Best wooden puzzles for shape recognition
This beautiful wooden puzzle set comes with six adorable animal designs that will help tots to recognise shapes, colours and animals. The pieces are chunky, so are easy to hold and manoeuvre into place. Suitable for age 12 months and up.
Review: "I bought these for my two youngest children. We love wooden toys so I knew they’d like these. They're simple enough for the littlest but not so simple that they lose interest. Lovely designs on the puzzles. Would recommend."
Read our guide to the best puzzles for toddlers that are both fun and stimulating.
Best wooden puzzles for developing hand-eye coordination
This 3D puzzle is exactly what your baby's nursery is missing. While entertaining, this wooden shape shorter will also encourage problem solving and develop hand-eye coordination. How amazing!
Review: "Bought for my autistic son he likes it keeps him entertained trying to put the shapes through the right holes. Well worth it."
Best wooden puzzle for imaginative play
Does your bubba already have a collection of Melissa & Doug toys? Add this safari-themed puzzle to their collection. Not only is it easy for their little fingers to grasp, but it's also good for the planet as it's crafted out of wood.
Review: "Our 20-month-old has a love of animals, jigsaws she just getting into. The size of the pieces are great for her tiny hands, but what's really helped is she learnt that you match the pieces with the pictures, unlike other much more expensive jigsaws. This is a game-changer and helped her order more."
Best wooden puzzle for learning numbers
Your child's favourite bedtime story doesn't have to be the Very Hungry Caterpillar to enjoy this jigsaw, but it helps! If your mini caterpillar is curious about the world, then they'll love working out how to remove shapes and fit them back into their slots.
Review: "This is an instantly recognizable character and instantly likeable. It is well-made for small hands and easy to pull out the pieces by the little knobs, so that it can be enjoyed by very young children/babies with more limited motor skills. It is an extremely good teaching device that can be used on so many levels, from numbers/counting skills to colours, shapes, fruit recognition and literacy skills, because of course, it complements the story. So overall, very well-designed for young children that are learning new concepts."
Best wooden puzzle for developing motor skills
Whether these hand-cut wooden animals are used for creating a puzzle or alongside creative play as individual characters, your tot will love them. We'd recommend children 18 months and older playing with this toy.
Review: "Beautifully designed with endless play choices. These can be used as a puzzle or buy themselves, lovely detail on the figures too."
Best wooden puzzle for sensory play
Made from wood and felt, this is a sensory toy unlike any other. This lift out puzzle is fantastic for kids over 12 months, and we like that you can choose duck and friends or turtle and friends characters.
Review: "Gorgeous gift for my niece. Nice to get her something a bit different."
Best wooden puzzle for learning the alphabet
Get your little one practising their ABCs with this pack of six wooden puzzles. As well as being educational, these numbers, shapes and letters are fun to play with on a rainy afternoon. Not to mention the fact that they will stimulate children's senses through touch and bright visuals.
Review: "Bought for our great-grandson's second birthday, they look really nice, and I'm sure he will love them. They were a very good price and arrived very quickly highly recommend. Can't advise how durable or sturdy they are as not given to him yet, but they look great."
Best wooden puzzle for colour recognition
If your mini-me is as curious about the garden as you are, then they'll adore their very own tree. Thankfully this tree requires very little maintenance, but it will teach infants about fruit and develop their motor skills.
Review: "Lovely puzzle, perfect for little hands. Beautifully made, bright, colourful and well-received."
Best wooden puzzle for learning about animals
You can't head to the farm every weekend to see sheep, cows and chickens, but you can bring the day out to you thanks to this wooden Shinnington Farm Animals Peg Puzzle. The best bit? You and your tot can practice your best animal noises - can we get a baa in here?
Review: "This traditional wooden puzzle is perfect for children of 18 months plus. As well as encouraging hand-eye coordination, concentration and manual dexterity, the puzzle gives the opportunity to talk about one of children's favourite places - the farm. There's a brightly painted background, with a farm track, a duck pond (complete with ducks), trees, bushes and fences, so you can talk about life on the farm. There are eight puzzle pieces - cow, horse, cat, sheep, pig, duck, chicken and dog. These are well shaped with lots of detail, and they stand in place on the board with plenty of room for little fingers to get hold of the edges of the pieces. The animals have cheerful smiley faces - perhaps your little one can make up conversations for them?"
Best wooden puzzles for building confidence
Are you looking for a puzzle for older children? ‘A-Z I Love Me’ Affirmation Puzzle is fantastic for kids three and over. Not only will this teach them the alphabet, but it also requires your youngster to match up to empowering affirmations. The best thing about it? It's fully recyclable.
Best wooden puzzle for problem-solving development
Wow! This Done by Deer jigsaw is adorable. Featuring your child's favourite animals, they'll have hours of fun pulling out the pieces and putting them back into place.