Mother and Baby

Toddler puzzles that are both fun and stimulating

Section: Play
toddler doing puzzle

From fun family time to long term health benefits and day-to-day mindful moments, there are so many positives to the humble jigsaw. 

We all want our children to be as well-equipped as possible for the future, which means spending as much quality time as you can with them while they're young. While reading and writing are key skills they need to learn, experts have long argued that play is just as important in their development.

What are the benefits of puzzles?

Puzzles for toddlers are a great example of an activity that will not only challenge your toddler and promote brain development, but will also help them to relax, by focusing their attention on one thing, improve their hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, shape recognition and short-term memory.

It also teaches them patience, problem-solving and the joy of achievement once it's completed - all brilliant skills for school and later life.

Puzzles can also be a social event; you can take turns to do a piece each, get the whole family involved or create a story together about what you see in the puzzle.

With wooden toddler puzzles, floor puzzles, number puzzles, animal puzzles and so much more to choose from, there's a whole world of development at their fingertips - plus, a little quiet time for you, if you need it.

The best puzzles for toddlers

Here are some of the best toddler puzzles available to buy right now:

Best puzzle for 18-month-olds

If your kids love animals, these safari puzzles are perfect to peak their imaginations and get them excited. The puzzles feature images of Hippo (a jolly hippo), Trunk (a cute little elephant), Zeb (a funky zebra) and Roar a smiley lion), shown within brightly coloured safari backgrounds.

The four high quality cardboard jigsaw puzzles are in 2, 3, 4 and 5 pieces, so your child can advance as they grow. Suitable for ages 18 months and up.

One reviewer said: "I started off separating each puzzle and giving my grandson one at a time, otherwise he’d be faced with 14 random pieces and the challenge of making 4 animals out of them. He’s a smart kid, but we found that a step too far for a barely-2 year-old!"

Best puzzle for learning the alphabet

Suitable for children aged 3-6 years old, this puzzle set comes with 28 double-sided pattern cards and 52 wooden letter blocks that encourage children to spell and say words. 

Kids can combine suitable patterns to put suitable wooden blocks, so toddlers can easily process words with 3 and 4 letter spellings. The bright colours and pictures will help inspire a preschool child's interest in learning.

Best Gruffalo puzzle

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's wonderful book The Gruffalo is much-loved by children everywhere. Bring the story to life with this large floor puzzle, with 16 large, sturdy pieces (just right for the age group), the bright, vibrant and fun illustration shows The Gruffalo, Mouse, Fox, Snake and Owl in the deep dark wood. This cardboard floor puzzle is suitable for ages 2 years and up. 

One reviewer said: "The pieces are nice and chunky for little hands to pick up. The wrong piece doesn’t really slot in the wrong place, making it easier for my toddler to identify the correct puzzle pieces to slot in. I find buying jigsaws featuring characters she knows has helped her learn how a jigsaw puzzle works, how to connect pieces to make a picture. I’ll be buying more ravensburger jigsaws."

Best wodden jigsaw puzzle

Aimed at children aged 3-8, this sweet seaside town image puzzle is made of wood and includes a sturdy tray and storage bag for ease. Your children also have the option of using the numbers on the back, if it's easier for them. It's the perfect game to train your kid's logical thinking.

The same company also do other designs, including jungle animals, fire rescue, space exploration, diggers and under the sea.

One reviewer said: "Bought this for my nephew who enjoys jigsaw puzzles, and he loves it! A fun image with many things to spot when it was all put together!"

Best peg & block puzzle

Good toddler toys establish early shape, colour, and size recognition: it can stimulate children's imagination and promote their physical and intellectual development. 

This stacking block puzzle helps toddlers to learn shapes, colour, counting and hand-eye coordination. Children can hold these blocks to stack, sort, arrange, track, and puzzle to increase creativity. Suitable for ages 12 months and up. 

Best puzzle for two-year-olds

This box has six different puzzles to choose from, with six character pieces to match up, too. There is a lifeboat, an ambulance, a recovery truck, a fire engine, a police helicopter and a mountain rescue jeep. The two and three piece puzzles are suitable for ages two and up. 

Younger children can be given the puzzle pieces for just one vehicle at a time, but as they get more confident, they will enjoy sorting out which pieces belong to which puzzle.

This has nearly 2,000 ratings on Amazon, scoring an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars. 

Reviewer Audrey Haylins said: "This is a brilliant little set of puzzles. Great for vocabulary building and observation as well as fine motor skills’ development"

Best travel-themed puzzle

Four bright and colourful puzzles specially designed for children. The puzzles feature images of a green steam train, a red double decker bus, an orange tractor and a little yellow car, shown within brightly coloured background scenes.

This puzzle set allows your little one to work up to the more difficult puzzle pieces, first mastering two pieces and moving up to five pieces. Suitable for ages 18 months and up.

With nearly 1,000 ratings on Amazon, this scores an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars. 

One reviewer said: "My two year old loves jigsaws and these were a good step up from the two piece puzzles he's done before. The quality is really good. I like how the easier two piece puzzles are trickier to put together as there are two separate interlocking bits to join (which stops him getting bored)."

Best transport-themed puzzle

These two piece puzzles are a brilliant starter activities, ideal for teaching your toddler about transport. They're suitable for toddlers aged 18 months and up.

Children will love the bright, bold illustrations featuring a yellow car, a steam train engine, a little red boat, a shiny aeroplane, a double-decker bus and a green helicopter.

Once the puzzles are complete, you can talk about the different pictures with your child. You can ask them to point at a particular colour, and ask which ones do not have wheels. You can also talk about which types of transport you and your child have travelled on in the past.

This has received nearly 2,000 ratings on Amazon, scoring an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars. 

Best wooden puzzle for one-year-olds

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.

One reviewer said: "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."

Best puzzle for babies

This simple four piece puzzle is made from high-quality biodegradable wood and is a perfect starter puzzle to gauge your child's interest. Matching the correct wooden puzzle pieces to the image on the puzzle board, helps develop sensory perception and hand-eye coordination skills in young children.

The Colour Puzzle has four easily recognisable items - a house, a ball, a car and a tree. Behind each lift-out piece the wood is coloured the same as the main colour of the item eg. behind the red car the wood is coloured red. This encourages your child to compare the piece with the board and see that they are the same colour, it also gives opportunities to learn the names of the colours.

Suitable for 12 months and up. 

Best puzzle for three-year-olds

This 26-piece chunky floor puzzle helps teach letter recognition and the alphabet and also comes with a giant alphabet poster.

Great for teaching the letters of the alphabet and promoting educational learning in a fun and engaging way! Children will love the bold illustrations which show lots of different animals and objects and can be used to encourage discussion once the jigsaw is complete. Suitable for ages 3-6.

This puzzle has nearly 1,000 ratings on Amazon, scoring an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars. 

One reviewer said: "Bought for my great niece, aged 3 to keep her occupied during a family gathering. Large, sturdy pieces and very colourful too. The included poster was very helpful as a guide as to where to place them in the puzzle."

Best puzzle for learning numbers 

This set of number puzzles contains ten colourful three-piece puzzles which aid with early counting skills and number recognition. Only the correct pieces will fit together which helps children understand what to do. Suitable for ages three and up. 

One review said: "The jigsaw pieces are lovely bright colours, and made from sturdy cardboard which will withstand little hands. Each piece fits together nice and smoothly. The box has good suggestions on the reverse about how to play with your child and make the most of the jigsaw in an educational way. Really pleased, good value for money."

 
  • Author: Jade Moscrop Jade Moscrop
  • Job Title: Commercial Content Writer

Jade is a Commercial Content Writer for Mother&Baby. Jade has previously worked for GLAMOUR UK, LADbible and Pretty52. In her spare time, you’ll usually find her taking selfies with her dog (much to his dismay), indulging in a spot of wine and cheese, or what her fella has dubbed ‘mosh-dancing’ at a gig. 

Other contributors

Sophie Knight - Contributing Editor

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