Mother and Baby

The best toddler toys to boost their development

toddler toy

It's no secret that babies are developing at record speed during 12-18 months and luckily there are some great toys that can help your little one learn through play as they grow from babyhood to toddlerhood and the terrific twos! These are some of the best toys for 18 month old toddlers and up.

Toddlers' brains are growing at a rapid rate, their motor skills are advancing, their balance is getting better, and their speech is fast becoming coherent and adorable, so ideally, you'd like them to play with toys that can aid their development.

There are many toys for 18 month olds that are fun and educational and will keep your child entertained for hours, and we've collected the best of them below.

Choosing a toy for 1 to 2-year-olds:

Children aged 12-24 months need stimulation and toys that are brightly coloured, delight them with noises, and will help keep them busy and learning.

From ride on toys to plush toys, look for toys for 18-months and up which encourage your tot to problem solve, and improve their motor skills and hand eye coordination.

You might think that you have chosen the best baby toy and find that your child only plays with it for a few minutes then discards it. Don't be disheartened; they have the attention span of a gnat at this age and tend to favour certain toys over others. 

A favourite toy could be played with daily and be a godsend on train journeys or road trips. A good trick is to operate the toys on a rotational basis – hiding some and giving them others to play with – and swapping them over weekly to keep their interest fresh.

What are the best baby toys for 12–24 months?

Scroll down to see our picks of the top toys on the market for kids aged 12-24 months, these educational toys will make great gifts for toddlers. 

This fun train is bright, simple and appealing. There are enough pieces to keep little ones busy but not too many to overwhelm them. It even manages to mix in some education too. Our testers loved that it helped tots count and match colours.  

Any downsides? The connections between carriages could be stronger; it sometimes comes apart when being pushed along the floor.

Although it's for ages 2 and up, this is a fun, snap-based game that can help your toddler use problem-solving skills to match cards with adult supervision. Help your tot find the matching pair of wellies, from zig zag tiger print to spots and hearts.

Our mums thought it was a good game to encourage tots to take turns and share, and their tots loved playing the game.

Any downsides? It might be best for slightly older kids.

This is an interactive toy that encourages your tot to follow it around. It has sensory details and encourages the development of fine motor skills and imagination. One of our testers described it as a “showstopper”.

Any downsides? The buttons are pretty stiff for little ones to use. 

This is a cute dragon made from super soft plush which will be a perfect playmate in a world of adventures and imagination.

The dragon has sound and light effects and it will guide children into the discovery of lots of educational content.

There are many nursery rhymes and funny phrases to keep your child entertained. This plush helps to stimulate development of manual dexterity, auditory skills and emotional maturation.

This is a fun and educational game which is aimed at helping little ones with their counting skills. Our testers found it helped their children learn colours, counting, and general number work, and that it kept them occupied for a decent amount of time. 

Any downsides? It's quite easy for the coins to get stuck down the back of the till. 

Dr Pooch helps your tot learn how to dress themselves, whilst giving them a cuddly companion to look after. Our mums loved the friendly pup who helps with the development of motor skills.

Any downsides? His large size means he’s not really a transportable pooch.

This is a fun, football game for your toddler that is safe enough to use indoors. Our mums loved how easy it was to put together and simple to clean, and many commented on how well their little ones played together

Any downsides? The netting can quite easily come loose if not affixed properly.

This sweet playset is based on Mr McGregor's garden. Our testers agreed it felt built-to-last and was easy to wipe clean.

Any downsides? The storage facility was criticised, with some mums opting to buy a separate tub to keep the pieces in.

This Baby Clementoni Interactive Ride On Unicorn offers a whole range of play possibilities. It can be used for rocking or riding or as an activity centre. The electronic mane makes it an incredible educational activity centre to light up the imagination!

The educational mane teaches children their ABCs, numbers, colours, animal names and noises and so much more, all with cheerful rhymes and songs.

The child can learn animal names, colours and many new words in Spanish and English. Children can play while developing their imagination and role play, having fun stroking and looking after the cute unicorn!

The unicorn senses movement, activating realistic sounds and melodies for happy times rocking and riding.

This includes a variety of different instrument sounds and fun animal noises as well as ‘follow me’ lights on keys and drum pads that encourage children to play rhythmically. The scratch pad is also good fun. It won the Mother&Baby awards 2015 best toddler toy bronze award and was shortlisted in 2014.

Any downsides? It can be a little too loud for mums who haven't had their coffee yet.

You probably know Igglepiggle pretty well and if your little one is a fan of In the Night Garden, they will love this toy. There are two different ways to play with Igglepiggle, a day version where he will blink, wiggle and sing songs and a night version to help your little one sleep, putting on a beautiful light show with soothing hues help youngsters to drift off to sleep. Suitable from 12 months.

The puppies talk, sing rhymes and songs, and teach little ones about numbers, letters, colours and even feelings. They can be personalised for your child too. It was shortlisted for best toddler toy in the 2015 Mother&Baby awards, and took the silver award in 2014.

Any downsides? You need access to a computer to set it up.

This push toy vacuum from Fisher Price has it all - music, lights, and phrases to encourage your baby to push and play. Flip the switch “on” for vacuum sounds and “off” for learning songs and phrases. Your child can role play as they "help" you tidy up, and be learning while they play.

The songs and phrases introduce counting, colours, shapes, opposites, and more. As your baby pushes the vacuum here, there and everywhere, they are developing important gross motor skills like balance and coordination. 

Any downsides? If your tot is on the taller side, this may be too short for them to comfortably push around (it's about 45cm/17 inches when upright).

While aimed at ages 2 and up, we think this is a lovely learning toy for both boys and girls for encouraging pretend play. The set includes 20 playing pieces for hours of open-ended play.

Your child can use the magic ice cream scooper to learn about colours and numbers as they fill it with it ice cream scoops and toppings. 6 hungry character activity cards are included for more learning fun, and mean it can be played independently as well as with friends and family.

Any downsides? 1 year olds may not fully appreciate all that it does, but as it's so interactive younger children can be helped out by siblings or parents, or indeed just have fun making ice cream! It's a good investment toy that they'll enjoy for years to come. 

 

Kids will love the tactile wooden blocks pieces in this sweet colour sorting toy. The house design is adorable, and your tot will be able to learn to match colours, and develop their problem solving and fine motor skills as they hit each piece in place with the hammer!  The block set is made from chunky natural wood, so it's sturdy enough to take on a toddler. 

Any downsides? You may grow weary of the sound of the hammer, but could teach your child to push them in instead, for a quieter play option! 

A work table with three tools – a hammer, a screwdriver and a wrench. With 6 accessories including bolts, nuts and screws, your toddler can learn to fit the pieces together and puzzle solve. it also becomes a practical tool box that little ones can carry, so great for on the go! 

Suitable for children from 10 months up, it promotes hand-eye coordination and manual skills.

 

Having worked across a variety of magazines, on topics from food to travel to horses, Stephanie now works as a Digital Writer for Mother&Baby online. 

She loves taking her lurcher puppy Moss for long walks in the country, and spending time with her niece and two nephews. In her spare time she writes fiction books and enjoys baking (her signature bake is lemon drizzle cake).

Other contributors

Maria Martin - Online Editor

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