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5 Toddler Travel Problems, Solved

You've heard the horror stories. but traveling with your 1-year-old can actually be fun -- if you're prepared. check out expert answers to five common travel problems and discover how to keep your toddler comfortable and entertained on the go., q. what if my child has a tantrum on the plane.

A. Stay calm yourself! If your toddler throws a fit, the worst thing you can do is freak out. "When you start panicking, your child picks up on your tension and can get even more upset," says Shelly Rivoli, author of Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Trips with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschool-Age Children . Do what you do at home to soothe a tantrum: Walk around, hum her favorite lullaby, or distract her with a toy. And while it's only polite to try to keep your child from disrupting the flight, don't worry too much about what other people think. Apologize, but remember you'll most likely never see your fellow passengers again.

You should bring your child's car seat. This means you'll probably have to buy an extra ticket, but holding your toddler for the entire flight can be a drag -- and it's also unsafe. Plus, the car seat is familiar to her, and she's already used to traveling -- and napping -- in it. And don't forget to pack a carry-on bag filled with snacks and toys . Bottles, sippy cups, and pacifiers, in particular, are essential travel tools because sucking on them during takeoff and landing is a smart way to relieve ear pressure in a young kid.

Finally, decide at the gate whether you want to pre-board. "Getting on early gives you extra time to get settled, but it also means your child has to sit for that much longer," says Rivoli. A better idea is to have your spouse get on the plane and install the car seat, while you let your toddler run around until the final call.

Q. What should we look for in a hotel?

A. Before you book, call the hotel directly and ask plenty of questions to make sure the place is family-friendly. Can you rent a crib and stroller? How often is the gear inspected? Do they offer room-service with a kids' menu? "If they don't answer your questions fully, stay away," suggests Marlene Coleman, MD, author of Safe and Sound: Healthy Travel with Children . Some hotels will even babyproof for you if you ask in advance. But you should still do a sweep of the room for potential dangers like unlocked mini bars and unsecured windows or balconies. "In general, nicer hotels have higher safety standards, so when you have a toddler don't skimp on a cheap place," says Dr. Coleman.

Q. How can we make a long drive less painful?

A. Start your trip late at night so your child will sleep most of the way. If you don't feel comfortable driving through the night, stick to early-morning travel and limit time in the car to two-hour stints, with 15- to 30-minute stops to let her stretch and get some fresh air. "You may have a longer day of driving this way, but it's better than a shorter one with a cranky kid," says Rivoli.

If you don't have older kids, you or your spouse should sit in the back with your toddler. It's much easier to engage her with a book or pick up dropped toys when you're at her side. If you're still worried about how she'll behave, consider taking a one- or two-hour road trip ahead of time. The practice run will prepare her for extended periods in the car, and it will give you the chance to figure out what works and what doesn't.

Q. How can I help my toddler deal with jet lag?

A. "Kids this age adjust to a new time zone surprisingly well, if you help them transition gradually," says Dr. Coleman. For example, if you need to change his feeding schedule to sync up with lunch and dinner in the new area, try slowly pushing mealtime back 15 minutes the first day, 30 minutes the second day, and so on until you've reached your desired time.

Another big issue is sleep. If there's just a few hours' difference, try to arrive after dark, which will help you get your child to bed and offset the gap for him. For a bigger time change, take the last flight of the night. This way, he can sleep on the plane and won't be as disoriented when you land. Stick to his normal routine as much as possible, which he'll find reassuring in an unfamiliar place. If you usually bathe him and read to him before bed, do the same while on vacation. And pack things that will make him feel more at home, like his favorite blanket or cuddle toy.

Q. What if he gets sick on the road?

Lost luggage and delayed flights are bad enough. But few travel disasters are more worrisome than having a sick kid when you're away from home. Play it smart by calling your health insurance company before you go to learn about the policy for out-of-town care. Get names of hospitals and doctors in the area you're visiting that are covered under your plan. Be sure to pack your insurance card and your pediatrician's phone number. If your child has a medical condition, carry the info sheet detailing her treatment regimen, including the names and dosages of her medications. Finally, when you get to your destination, ask the hotel concierge to recommend a local pediatrician who's on your insurers' referral list. Keep the number with you at all times in case you need it.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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Problem Solving : Learning & Development Toys

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Crankity Brainteaser

Smartgames safari park jr., djeco leon the dragon giant puzzle.

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Kids First Andy The Code & Play Robot

Brain train, john deere preschool build-a-johnny tractor, my first easy grasp puzzle set of four: animals, ivan's hinge, eggventure plane, animal block puzzle, shape factory, screwball scramble, no stress chess, little thinker's block logic puzzles, kids first level 1 - automobile engineer, smartmax power vehicles - max, forest friends magnetic maze, egg stacker bus, flexi puzzle.

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Magnetic Ball Run

Gears gears gears beginner's building set, the original spirograph deluxe set, ankylosaur & young raptors, my comic book 2.0, wriggleworms fine motor activity set.

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Boon Jellies Suction Cup Bath Toy

Snap circuits beginner, take along magnetic jigsaw puzzles - on the farm, number maze magnetic game, simple tape measure, bunny peek-a-boo, yeti in my spaghetti, sleeping queens, john deere preschool build a buddy johnny tractor with screwdriver, john deere kids 36 pc floor puzzle, gears gears gears lights & action building set, nogginrings, hats off sticker book, beginner pattern blocks, gears gears gears super set, animal card games, latches barn, smarty pants - kindergarten card set, rainbow fairy rainbow shaped puzzle - 80 pc, magna-tiles clear colors 100 pc set, what time is it glow-in-the-dark clock puzzle, magna-tiles clear colors 48 piece dx set, my first easy grasp puzzle set of four - sweet treats, wood stacking robots, big city builders, leo & co 4 layer puzzle, dado squares, fractiles-7, go go gears, perplexus epic.

problem solving toys baby

Entertain Your Toddler

Last Updated on 12/17/2019 by Karen

Best Puzzles and Problem-Solving Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles!

We love puzzles and problem-solving toys. My three-year-old is a thinker. She has more fun working on a puzzle or problem-solving than most other toys. And now her younger sister is following a similar trajectory.

Puzzles and problem-solving toys are the last category on our foundational toys list, but by no means the least. Kids need puzzles and problem-solving toys in order to work on critical thinking skills, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and well, problem-solving!

Stacking type puzzle where balance is needed

In this guide, I’ll walk you through some traditional and non-traditional puzzles, and lots of options for toys that encourage problem-solving and critical thinking.

I had a really hard time deciding what to put in this list because there are so many good options out there. I hope this guide can help you narrow down all those options and find the perfect gift!

As always, you need to be the judge of whether a toy is appropriate for your young child’s abilities and interests. I find it’s best to pick a puzzle that challenges but does not frustrate your child. This makes for us and our kids much happier.

After browsing our top puzzle and problem-solving toys, be sure to read my tips for extending puzzle play.

Disclosure: We use sponsored, or affiliate, links, which means that we could earn a small commission that helps fund our blog (at no extra cost to you!). All opinions are our own and we only recommend products we love. Thank you for your support and happy shopping!

Our favorite board puzzles with removable pieces

Sea Life Puzzle   //   Safari Animals Puzzle   //   Farm Animals Puzzle   //   Dinosaur Puzzle   //   Things That Go Puzzle   //   Construction Vehicles Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Wooden Chunky Puzzle 

We have just started collecting puzzles ever since we first played with the massive collection at our local library. She loves these Melissa & Doug wooden chunky puzzles, and I do too! 

Not only are they solid wood, durable, and hardwearing, the chunky pieces are easy to grab and can be played with as stand-alone figurines. 

These Melissa & Doug puzzles are perfect for young toddlers because under the puzzle piece is a picture of the piece that goes there to help little ones put the right shape in more easily.

First puzzle with picture displayed below where each piece goes

We started with the sea life puzzle, but I’ve got a few more I want to get this year and put links below in the order I’m planning to get them in. (Yes, these toy guides are just a glorified shopping list so that when birthdays and Christmases roll around, I’ve got my next thing ready to buy.)

If you are looking for more on your own, make sure to check that they are not the peg kind as some types with the peg in the middle have thin pieces that can’t stand up like these chunky pieces can.

Sea Life and Safari Animals puzzles

 1.  Sea Life Puzzle    

2. Safari Animals puzzle

Farm and Dinosaur puzzles

3.   Farm Animals Puzzle

4.  Dinosaur Puzzle

Things that go and Construction vehicles puzzle

5.  Things That Go Puzzle

6.  Construction Vehicles Puzzle

I would recommend getting two animal sets. That way you can mix up the pieces and sort them as you talk about animal habitats for yet another way to play!

Our library has this puzzle rack for storing their puzzles. Fits up to 12 puzzles (both the chunky puzzle size and larger).

Farm balancing block puzzle toy

Wooden Wonders Balancing Block Play Set  by Imagination Generation

I wrote about this game in my complete toy buying guide . These are cute little animal pieces that you can stack on a hard surface, or on the wobbly farm block.

This one was challenging for Elena at 18 months, so she mostly played with them as individual pieces . She was disappointed that she couldn’t put them in the barn, though.

Kids will work on fine motor skills, critical thinking, and (the reason for this post!) problem-solving.

Pile of colorful wooden balancing animal problem-solving puzzle toys

Here’s a few other options:   “Blockbeard” pirate set (though more difficult to play with individual pieces, like what do you do with the pirate heads? hmm….) Noah’s ark (2 of each animal, of course!) Lewo animal set (which we own and love!)

problem solving toys baby

Tomy Hide and Squeak Eggs

Someone gifted us these ADORABLE little Hide and Squeak eggs and Elena loves playing with them. There is so much to learn and play with in this little half dozen egg set.

The eggs have different shapes on the bottom that fit into the matching shapes in the carton.

Each little chick inside is a different color and matches with the colored faces on the outer shell.

Plus, when you push down on the chick, it squeaks! Squeak, squeak! 

Toddler plays with TOMY colorful toy egg shape sorting and color sorting

It was a challenge at first for Elena to even open the carton. Then she discovered the different shapes on the bottom. And finally, she played by matching the colors. Sometimes Elenawill play with these as actual eggs for pretend cooking. 

Elena was two when we got these, but I could see a one-year-old or younger wanting to play with this set as well.

problem solving toys baby

Fisher-Price Stack and Roll Cups

This toy doesn’t look like much at first… just your standard nesting cups set right? WRONG!

These bad boys can be nested, stacked, or snapped together to make 5 different sized balls! The little smiley at the top has a bell inside and can be hidden inside one of the balls.

Get these for a baby and he will keep playing with them in new ways as a toddler.

I can already think of several different ways to play with these cups, especially in combination with other toys. Color sorting, pretend cooking and eating, matching games, rainbow drums, hide-and-seek games, um, yeah, I think these are a great foundational toy !

problem solving toys baby

Alex Discover Button Art

Fine motor skills will get a workout in this button art set. Toddlers will enjoy putting the buttons in the holes. As they become more interested, they can create the art by matching the colored buttons to the colors on the cards.

The pegs are more vibrantly colored than they appear here. They kind of remind of those food pouch lids that I like to save for color matching games and water play, so already there is another use for the pieces in this set!

It is under $10 right now, so although the cards are more flimsy than I would like, it still may be worth it even for just the buttons to be used as manipulatives in a variety of counting, patterning, and sorting activities.

Russian nesting dolls must be arranged by size for all pieces to fit making it a challenging problem to solve and rewarding puzzle for toddlers

Russian Nesting Dolls

Yes, there are tiny pieces once you get past the fifth or sixth doll, but Elena just loves our two sets so much and we’ve gotten several hours of play out of them , so I had to put the idea out here!

I know matryoshka (Russian nesting dolls) are not the first thing you think of when I say “puzzle” or “problem-solving toy,” but they really are.

The dolls need to be nested in the proper order for them all to fit together. The tops and bottoms need to be matched correctly, and you have to match up the designs so they look like one piece. There’s a lot of problem-solving going on!

Additionally, they can be played with as standalone dolls. Elena has also stacked these in numerous ways (like just tops in pyramid style, or just bottoms like nesting cups), so I believe these would make a lovely heirloom gift for a child.

This particular set from Amazon had good reviews and a lot of people mentioned how large they were (tallest doll is 8″ high), so I think this would be a good set for a child to play with.

I do like the bit of culture these matryoshka dolls bring. Russian nesting dolls were originally meant to be played with but have evolved into an art form. There are some very elaborate ones out there!

I also looked for a less delicate plastic set and found these little nesting penguins  and these fun little robots . Check them out if your child is not into dolls.

Shape sorters are classic problem solving toys

Top Bright Wooden Shape Sorter

How cute is this! It’s a cement truck shape sorter! Plus it comes with a little truck driver!

A shape sorter is for sure a good foundational toy , as you can obviously teach shapes, but you can also teach colors if you have brightly colored set, and do some stacking with the shape blocks.

This sorter has the added bonus of imaginative play and can be pulled around on the string. You can spin the barrel and tip it to dump out the blocks. All in all, a fun, educational toy!

**Note: The blocks are wooden, but the truck is a mix of plastic and wood.

problem solving toys baby

Melissa & Doug Keys & Cars Wooden Rescue Vehicle & Garage Toy

One of my nephews is obsessed with firefighters and police officers, so I’m considering getting him this for Christmas.

It’s a wooden fire truck, ambulance, and police car that can be sorted in the color matching garage. What makes this a unique problem-solving toy is the addition of keys to lock and unlock the garage doors!

The keys will keep little toddler hands busy and working on their hand-eye coordination and color matching. When they tire of that, there is always the rescue vehicles to play with.

Woo-ooh-woo-ooh-woo-ooh! (I’m 99% positive that’s how you spell the sound a siren makes.)

A similar toy is this M&D Wooden Doorbell Dollhouse .

problem solving toys baby

Eric Carle Matching Game  by The Wonder Forge

Does your child like The Very Hungry Caterpillar ? This is one of Elena’s favorite books. We have also just discovered matching and memory games, so this would be game I think she would love.

The cards/tiles are a sturdy chipboard and feature art by Eric Carle (author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? The Tiny Seed, and more!). There are 72 tiles, so you’ll want to play with only 4 or 5 pairs to start with.

If you’ve never played Memory, basically, you mix up the cards and turn them all over. Then you take turns choosing two cards at a time with the goal of finding a matching pair.

For a young one, you could have the whole set face up and challenge them to find matching pairs or play I Spy .

You could also play Go Fish with these, though the chipboard could be tough to hold in one hand.

Afterwards, you can read an Eric Carle book and do a matching puzzle.

I think these in combination with the matching game would make a perfect gift basket for an Eric Carle lover.

problem solving toys baby

Grimm’s Water Wave Stacker

Grimm’s rainbow is a favorite among the Montessori/Waldorf people, but did you know there are other nesting sets in the “Elements of Nature” collection which are equally beautiful?

I decided to feature the water wave stacker because the shades of blue are so pretty and I like the ocean 🙂

These open-ended puzzle toys enhance a child’s creativity and imagination. The pieces can be laid on their side to make pretty patterns or stacked in different ways to create bridges or houses or fences for play with animal or doll figurines. It’s pretty amazing to watch a child play with these and get a glimpse into their creative brain.

I love how beautiful the Grimm’s sets are. They look like art pieces that I could display on a bookshelf in the living room. They are wooden and painted with child-safe non-toxic water-based paint and dyes.

Be sure to check out the fire flames nesting set  as well.

Grimm’s can be pricey, but Lewo makes a similar concept, but different style, colorful wooden puzzle set for less. Take a look if you’re interested.

Other Puzzles to Love

Here are a few  jigsaw puzzles that are adorable and perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

problem solving toys baby

The Petit Collage Beginner Puzzles are lovely, unconfined animal-shaped jigsaw puzzles. I love this forest babies set of four puzzles.

problem solving toys baby

Crocodile Creek Birthday Bear is a traditional rectangle jigsaw puzzle with 24 pieces and a whimsical illustration. Below are more floor puzzles from Crocodile Creek.

OK, here’s my favorite. I like these Mudpuppy Pouch Puzzles because they store neatly away in a zipper POUCH! Such a great idea for puzzle storage. You could easily toss one in your purse for play at the restaurant when you need to keep kids busy and quiet. Each pouch has 12 extra thick chunky pieces. 

One Last Tip for Extending Puzzle Playtime

Sensory bin!

Almost anything can be turned into a sensory bin, right? Fill a container with your favorite sensory bin filler (dry beans, rice, popcorn kernels, nothing wet of course) and hide the pieces of a puzzle in it . Let your child dig and scoop to find the pieces and then put it together.

problem solving toys baby

If you’ve got an older child who needs a challenge, why not mix up a few different smaller sets of puzzles and have them sort the sets!

Do you have any other tips for new ways to play with puzzles?

Building toys are also great for building critical thinking skills and hand-eye coordination. Check out our favorite classic building toys  and our favorite building toys for little ones.

I hope these toy guides and gift ideas help you find the perfect gift for any kid on your list!

For more on building a toybox of only toys your child will play with and love, read this complete toy buying guide .

The best puzzles and problem solving toys

Stay Connected

The Bossy House

8 Toys and Games that Build Problem Solving in Early Childhood

This post contains affiliate links. my  disclosure policy  gives you more details..

What toys can you gift this season that build those critical problem solving skills in young children?

Toys for toddlers and preschoolers often light up, sing, and chirp. They’re designed that way to entertain children when parents want a moment away from playing, and they often throw in what look like basic pre-K skills (numbers, letters) to make you feel less bad about letting the sing-a-long number line babysit your kid. No shame. We’ve all been there.

But for those moments when you want a break from the bells and whistles, how can you (literally) cut through the noise and give your child toys that will challenge them to solve problems and have fun at the same time?

If you make it to the end of this list, you’ll see my #1 toy recommendation this year!

These are my favorite toys and games that teach problem solving. As a parent and an educator, these are also the toys that have multiple levels of challenge and engagement so your child can play with these for years and years as their cognitive skills grow.

Don’t forget to pin this (and any of these toys) to your Christmas Gift board!

1. haba wooden color pie arranging game.

problem solving toys baby

This game is beautifully crafted with a circular wooden frame and 27 colored pieces. It comes with full color cards that your child can copy in the frame to work on spatial matching.

Your two year old might arrange the pieces in the circular frame, your three year old will copy the color cards to practice matching, and your four and five year old can begin understanding how fractions work. Because of the way the pieces are sized and colored, you can talk about how two red pieces make a whole but also four yellow pieces make a whole.

My daughter has been playing with this for three years and is now fascinated with the idea that different sizes fit into the same space. Such a long-lasting toy in our house!

2. Suspend Family Game

problem solving toys baby

Players take turns hanging the notched rods on the stand, but every time a rod is added the balance shifts. Kids have to use their critical thinking skills to decide where to place the rod when it’s their turn.

This game is used at my daughter’s Montessori school as a “work” that students use to build spacial awareness and fine motor skills as well as problem solving. The big crash that happens when the child miscalculates the balance is an exciting interruption!

3. Peg + Cat Memory Game

problem solving toys baby

Lay out all the cards, take turns flipping them over to find a match, and watch your child develop their memory and visual discrimination skills!

This set comes with a great Peg + Cat poster of our favorite scene from Peg + Cat and The Chicken Problem.  What a bonus!

If books are your thing for gift-giving, come on over here to this post on 10 Feminist Children’s Books for the Next Generation. It features ten books with in-charge girls changing their world. Some of them are fighting for equality and some of them are just livin’ life, like Peg, solving problems and running things.

4. Marble Genius Marble Run

problem solving toys baby

After constructing the run, your child can then drop the marble into the top and see if the run works! Because the parts are see-through, your child can see the progress of their marble and immediately problem-solve to make the run more effective.

What I love about this is that it’s an open-ended toy, meaning your child can create something of their own imagination and play with it in many different ways. It’s not telling your child exactly how to “win” the game or play with the toy. However, it’s still goal-oriented, and kids will delight in the thrill of making a successful run and all the creative paths they can send their marble through.

5. Take Along Wooden Doorbell Dollhouse

problem solving toys baby

This is another toy we have been playing with for three years. At 2, she loved matching the color of the doll to the door and ringing the doorbells (and carrying it all over the house). Now, at 4 she’s fascinated with “tricking” me about which doll is in which door, and going through each key to open the doors over and over again.

The house has a handle on top and sturdily attached keys that, in three years, are still attached. We haven’t lost one key. The dolls are another story, but one week we gathered up all the small dolls in the house and sorted them by color into the house, so #problemsolved.

Don’t forget to pin this to your Christmas Gift board!

6. pattern blocks and boards.

problem solving toys baby

With five boards featuring pictures of 10 designs created from geometric shapes, your child matches the 120 wooden shapes to each picture. Utilizing problem solving skills, kids will match shapes to the mosaic or make open-ended designs of their own.

The whole thing is contained within a wooden box with two sides: one for the boards and one for the shapes. This makes it a perfect addition to any home, but it especially fits in with a Montessori environment where each “work” is self-contained and can be put back neatly in its box.

7. Magna-tiles

problem solving toys baby

These tiles snap together and can combine to make incredible structures, including flat stacks of color combos, animals, houses, villages, and bridges.

This is a great example of open-ended play because your child can direct the play, use their imagination to create structures, and develop spatial, tactile, and construction skills. My daughter likes to place items inside that can be seen through their translucent sides, and the challenge of creating these fragile structures grows with your child’s imagination.

These are perfect when your child is ready to go beyond blocks and wants to create structures that float in mid-air!

8. Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine

problem solving toys baby

In this set, you get 34 pieces that make the spinning machine as well as 9 other possible build ideas. Your child doesn’t need to know how to read for this to be a meaningful experience, but she will probably need your help the first time she creates the machine. Once she understands the concept, she can make the machine in a myriad of ways, teaching her about the concept of a belt drive.

We love this set, though it is complex. If you’re interested in a simpler machine, try the GoldieBlox Girl Inventor Zipline Action Figure Set which includes either Goldie or her best friend Ruby and instructions and materials to make a zipline. When we got this set, my daughter set this zipline up in the bedroom, off the back porch, and through the chicken coop. Watching her create new ziplines all over the house meant she understood the concept of the pulley, and was able to internalize this slightly advanced concept for a three year old. What fun!

I love the GoldieBlox series as a parent and an educator because it includes so much for kids to engage with. The story includes a real-world problem that is solved by a machine, and your child will internalize this machine’s function and concept by building it. Along the way, you get to know the characters of Goldie and her friends, which enriches the play and the fun.

Though not open-ended to start, this kit does what very few toys can do: it teaches your child how to make something that then expands what kinds of open-ended play is now possible for your child.

Check out this list of all the best GoldieBlox kits and get your kids started building and inventing today!

Interested in more gift guides? 

11 toys to build counting and sorting skills  , 22 gifts for the feminist mom smashing the patriarchy between carpool and bedtime, 10 busy books to keep your pre-reader occupied, 10 feminist books for the next generation, and for a fun surprise, download your free pdf gift guide for irreverent parents ..

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Motor Skills

The Best Montessori And Child Development Toys For Babies, Toddlers And Kids

When looking for toys that foster a child’s development, there are three things to remember—education, engagement and entertainment. “Educational toys benefit kids’ motor, sensory and problem-solving abilities,” says Charlene DeLoach, contributing editor at Toy Insider. “Toys that are engaging enable them to practice social skills as they play.”

Also, try to skip battery-powered toys. “When thinking about the types of toys that will enhance a child’s development, ask yourself if the toy is battery-powered or baby-powered,” says Stacy Keane, head of learning at Monti Kids , a Montessori toy subscription service. “When a child engages with a battery-powered toy, they will press a button as they wait to be entertained. Baby-powered toys offer opportunities for growth, problem solving, challenge, achieving goals.” She says this creates an attitude of: “I did this. I made an impact and a change with my own hard work.”

Here both experts share top toys that align with Montessori-inspired education , or simply encourage imaginative play. Some even instill the quality of resilience during a time when children need it most.

These gender-neutral toys suit a wide range of price points and ages.

Big Feelings Pineapple

With parents looking for ways to foster social-emotional learning after a year of limited social engagement, the Big Feelings Pineapple teaches kids about how to identify emotions in themselves and in others. Says DeLoach: “Parents will love that all the pieces store inside the pineapple, too.”

Creativity for Kids Sensory Bins

Sensory bins are a staple in toddler development as they let kids engage their senses through tactile play, according to Toy Insider. Now parents can enjoy this ready-made sensory bin kit that also keeps messes within!

Smart Felt Toys My Little House

Smart Felt Toys line was founded by a speech pathologist.

These soft, stickable felt pieces and felt house promote receptive and expressive language as kids tell stories about their own pretend home. It is a great way to teach “who, what and where” questions, too.

Coding Charms

Kids can gain exposure to advanced coding subjects while being creative with these Coding Charms . While they make 15 adorable key chain charms, they learn about algorithms, sequencing, variables, binary coding and much more.

“What I love about this Smarty Pad product is that it is a screen-free tablet that features bilingual motion sensor games that encourage sensory play, small motor skill development and critical thinking skills,” says DeLoach.

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

Special edition

Celebrating its tenth birthday, this special-edition version of the classic game enhances color recognition, matching skills, strategic thinking, turn-taking, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, says DeLoach.

Junior Mud Outdoor Kitchen Playset

“I love this wooden play kitchen because it encourages outdoor active play and creativity,” says DeLoach. “Kids can mix mud and twigs to make the perfect pretend treat. This kitchen comes with everything they need to make classic mud pies and pretend dirt desserts.”

Froggy’s Lair Biosphere

This unique at-home real frog biosphere is a great opportunity for kids and the whole family to learn about responsibility and compassion for wildlife.

My First Engineering Ferris Wheel

Teaches hand-eye coordination.

DeLoach’s final pick lets kids use a play electric screwdriver to build a Ferris wheel and power a playground while working on creativity, architecture and engineering skills. “They can watch their creation come to life and play with the included characters once built. Then they can take it apart and build it again for long-lasting play.”

5-in-1 Epic Developmental Learning Gym

Tummy time is essential for a baby’s physical development. And a good, or epic, play mat can also serve baby’s mental development. This Infantino 5-in-1 Learning Gym has several activity stations for babies as they grow from tummy time to sitting, crawling and on-the-go. It features musical lights, piano, multisensory toys and more for open-ended play.

These classic toys let your little one expresses their creativity through building with LEGO DUPLOS , they’ll also be working on their hand strength and fine motor skills with all that open-ended play. They will also be working on a growth mindset and executive functioning as they learn the steps it takes to build their creation.

Super Soft 1st Building Blocks

These soft and textured blocks will keep your child engaged from baby to toddler years.

We all love Lego blocks. But when it comes to younger babies and toddlers, you want a safer alternative. These soft and colorful blocks keep babies entertained for hours on end. The vibrant and easy-to-grip 25-piece set is the perfect introduction to sensory toys and will bring babies into a new world of imagination. The blocks are easy to grip and stack and won’t hurt anyone if they’re thrown around or accidentally stepped on.

If you want to raise a future museum-goer or gallery enthusiast, consider baby essentials from the Etta Loves x Keith Haring collection. The muslins, play mats and other items from this collaboration are inspired by the legendary artist’s iconic prints, and brings a dose of pop art to your nursery. Best of all, each item is designed to stimulate babies’ eyes and brains.

For babies and toddlers, every daily activity contributes to physical and mental development, including feeding time. From the creators of the bokee comes the next in their product lineup, the bowl. Stylized and suctionable to minimize spills, the bowl is raised on one side for easier scooping and toddler motor-skill development.

Brainiac Foods

When it comes to food-on-the-go, traditional snack options have usually been high in sugar or high in sodium. Luckily parents are wisening up and focusing on the ingredient list more than ever. There are also new companies like Brainiac Foods creating pediatrician-approved snacks that are gluten free, non-GMO, kosher, and have no added sugars or artificial flavors. It’s betting on a proprietary blend of nutrients like Omega‑3s and choline to supercharge kids' developing brains. Skip the junk food.

Bella Tunno Stacking Cups

These lightweight cups nest, making it easy to toss them into the diaper bag.

This set of 7 stacking silicone cups is the company’s first official Montessori toy, designed to encourage building, counting, and sorting. Happy Stacks are intentionally designed square instead of round, made of food-grade silicone, and dishwasher friendly. They're lightweight, so they're perfect for tossing in the diaper bag for families on-the-go. They’re great for bath time and snack time: they don't have drainage holes so they double as cups for snacks on the go. From teething flashcards to its beautiful beginner spinners , the purpose-driven baby brand has launched an array of easy-to-pack and multi-functional items for babies, that could double as toys, teethers and more.

Baby’s Brew

If you really want to make mealtime a clean and engaging time, Baby’s Brew recently launched its 2-in-1 Snack Bowl + Cup. This BPA-free, silicone, spill-proof, collapsible, reusable, portable 2-in-1 Bowl + Cup works with both food or drink. Handles make it easy for little hands to carry around and foster motor skills. The suction cup bottom helps prevent spills to encourage more independent feeding. The silicone flaps make it so little hands can have easy access to their favorite snacks and is portable.

Ullabelle Grooming Kit

Minimalist design for the modern parent.

Just as daily feedings can be a time for learning and development, so, too, can bath and grooming time. In addition to its charming feeding sets , Ullabelle creates the loveliest grooming kits for little ones. The brush is made from natural beech and the bristles from soft goat hair which naturally detangles while preventing cradle cap. They’ll enjoy combing and brushing their own hair by their toddler years, and these items will look lovely on baby’s vanity.

Eco-friendly Bubbsi bottles bring joy to bath time.

Companies like Esembly (cloth diapers) and Bubbsi (bath essentials) focus on helping eco-conscious parents reduce their carbon footprint. Bubbsi combines bathing, hygiene, sustainability and play into one adorable little bottle. The natural baby skincare line boasts a clean coconut formula that is EU-approved and pediatrician-tested. The company just launched its new creamy coconut conditioner , a scent that both parents and children will enjoy.

Once you have feeding, bathing, and grooming down pat, you want to make sure you have the right medicine and wellness products for your child. There has been a rise in homeopathic and clean medicine companies serving all ages, including pediatrician-approved Genexa . “We founded this company when our kids were born because we believe they deserved clean medicine when, and if, they need it,” says David Johnson, cofounder. From kids’ allergies to pain relievers, Genexa formulas use active ingredients that your kid needs (like acetaminophen), while leaving out artificial ones (like food coloring and high fructose corn syrup). You’ll never be so mindful about building a natural yet effective medicine cabinet until your little one comes down with something.

Busy Baby Mat

This is a handy place mat to keep your baby’s toys in place wherever they may be—their first flight, a restaurant or in their high chair at home. This Busy Baby Mat is a food-grade silicone place mat that sticks to any smooth, clean surface and allows parents to attach baby’s toys to the mat thanks to innovative tethers. In addition to keeping their toys germ-free, you’ll appreciate not having to pick things up from the floor every five seconds.

Montessori Mobiles

A newborn’s visual development begins at birth. “The Montessori mobiles are a research-backed series created to support this development at just the right moments,” says Keane of Monti Kids. Since newborns are first drawn to high-contrast images, the black-and-white Munari Mobile comes first in the series of Montessori mobiles. Next is The Octahedron, which features primary colors just as a baby is able to perceive them, followed by The Goobi, which helps a baby discriminate between shades of the same color, and finally, The Dancers, which allows a baby to refine these newly acquired skills by putting them together to work on new visual tracking challenges. Monti Kids Level 1 takes the guesswork out of the process for parents by sending an activity gym with the Montessori mobiles, grasping toys, and helpful reminders about how and when to introduce them to your baby.

You don’t have to be a Manhattan mom to enjoy the benefits of Union Square Play. The play space and community hub just launched Parenting+ , an online platform where new and expecting parents can connect, gain support and expertise, and most importantly, restore confidence through an open and inclusive forum of like-minded parents. Best of all, there is a Playroom where families can access a library of live activities and classes. Expect concerts featuring Ramblin’ Dans’ Free Wheelin’ Band and Puppetsburg.

Books from Birth!

"Ducks on the Road" by Anita Lobel

Reading with your little one should start at the very beginning. Instilling an appreciation for books comes from these first experiences of feeling cozy together, hearing your voice and appreciating the colors and images of the illustrations. As your little one grows they will seek out these opportunities of connection and love—all of which will grow into a relationship with books that is joyful and enticing. As your little one grows, they will use this joy not only to learn to read, but also to eventually read to learn.

One celebrated release from Simon & Schuster is Ducks on the Road by Anita Lobel, a Caldecott Honor recipient artist. The touching and classic children’s book is a vividly illustrated story of a family of ducks out for a walk and the surprises they meet along the way.

“In My Life,” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Another anticipated release this year is In My Life by musical legends John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It starts by following a young girl on a path, but the journey weaves in three generations of one family. This special book is beautifully illustrated by Genevieve Santos; the drawings perfectly match the lyrical words of Lennon and McCartney’s beloved song “In My Life.”

eeBoo Flash Cards

In a world with iPads and tablets, you’ll be surprised how much children enjoy learning with flash cards. eeBoo makes the absolute best, with topics ranging from basic Alphabet & Phonics to mathematics and languages like French and Spanish. The company also creates conversation cards that focus on topics like Good Citizenship and Respect the Earth, with sets of cards for both parents. This is perfect for screen-free, quality time as a family. Mia Galison founded the company 25 years ago, and her husband, Saxton Freymann, is the illustrator of many of the eeBoo flash card sets.

Musical Instruments

Music appreciation can start at birth, says Keane. First through listening, then through participating. “Providing opportunities to do so when your little one is small is a great start. Furthermore, toddlers often go through a phase where they love to make noise in any way possible; this can include banging their toys together.” You can meet this developmental need by redirecting your child to a basket of child-size musical instruments like Ehome’s .

The Montessori materials in Level 4 encourages your baby to experiment with cause and effect to boost their memory and problem-solving skills.

A Tracker is a quintessential Montessori material, and also a crowd pleaser that can entertain a child well into the toddler years. Monti Kids Level 4 Tracker should be introduced to a child when they are standing independently. The tracker encourages a little one to work on their balance and core strength as they pick up a ball, put it in the top of the tracker, watch it make its way to the bottom, crouch down to pick it up and repeat the process. Tracking the ball from left to right also indirectly prepares little ones for future success when it comes time to learn to read.

Walking Wagon

The Radio Flyer Walking Wagon is the ideal companion for a little one who is just learning to cruise and take their first steps. Says Keane, “We love this particular wagon because it not only provides a sturdy source of balance for a little one pulling up on it, but it can also be weighed down with books or water bottles to move at an even slower pace as a child takes those wobbly first steps and gains confidence on their feet.”

Pikler Triangle

You’ll often find a Pikler Triangle in Montessori toddler play spaces. That’s because it provides the perfect outlet for gross motor work as a child works on their balance and coordination. Your baby will test their own limits within a safe space. Practicing risky play is important to their social emotional development. We love Lily and River’s Little Climber because it’s collapsible for easy storage.

Appealing to your toddler’s innate sense of order, Magnatiles are perfectly proportioned to create endless creations. As a toddler builds various structures they will be testing out hypotheses and trial and error as they learn lessons in cause and effect along the way. This early intro to STEM will help prepare them for math and science later in life. Magnatiles also provide endless opportunities for open-ended play—with no defined beginning or end—encouraging creativity, engagement and independence.

You can combine your child’s love for Magnatiles and reading with the newly launched CreateOn’s “The Monster at the End of This Story” building and board book set. The 12-piece set features Sesame Street’s Grover who encourages your toddler to read, build and enjoy colors with this interactive bundle.


Funboy just launched Funbaby, a line of fun floaties for kids.

There is an endless array of inflatable slides and activity-filled slip and slide pools that can transform your backyard into a full-blown waterpark. But sometimes all a young child needs is a classic kiddie pool to splash around in. For less than $50, Funboy Kiddie Pools are a personal pick for utilizing safe, non-toxic, soft touch vinyl that is free from harmful chemicals. With stylish original prints like Tropical Palm and Ibiza Boheme, you might want to cool off in it, too.

If you make it to a larger body of water this summer, the company just launched Funbaby , a line of interactive floats for kids. From a private jet float to a pink convertible, the floating devices have steering wheels and a horn to encourage motor skills. There’s also a removable cover for shade.

Mess-Free “Sand”

You can’t make it to the beach everyday this summer. Kinetic Sand is the perfect, mess-free alternative to a sandbox. Keane recommends this sensory activity because it allows a child to mold the sand as they work on hand strength, which will set them up for future success when it comes time to learn how to hold a pencil and write.

Totoro Nesting Dolls

These high-quality nesting dolls were inspired by earlier Japanese nesting dolls, which were known to bring good luck.

There’s something so classic about nesting dolls and the way it can preoccupy a child for long stretches of time. These egg-shaped Totoro Nesting Dolls can be filled with small items like snacks, small toys, or even surprise gifts. Each doll in this set is based on the adorable characters from the world-famous Studio Ghibli movie, My Neighbor Totoro.

From peek-a-boo to fort-building, Sarah’s Silks are fun and interactive all-natural silks that grow with your little one from babyhood to toddlerhood as they begin to experiment with imaginative play. They are lightweight for little hands and easy to work with, encouraging independence and joy in their play.

At the end of the day, nature offers the best tools and environment for learning and development. Minimize screen time as much as you can. Instead, encourage a love for nature in your little one by going on plenty of walks and discussing what you observe.

Let’s Go Binoculars can be a fun addition to hikes for a toddler as they search for signs of wildlife on your adventures, and come with a strap so your little one can proudly keep track of their gear. As you walk together, your little one can practice all the wonderful vocabulary they learn along the way, too.

Lovevery Park Blanket

Speaking of the great outdoors, with the warm months ahead, now is a wonderful time to relax and truly be present with your child. A picnic at the beach and park may be all you need to enjoy the warm weeks ahead. Make packing a breeze with Lovevery’s new Park Blanket , which is easy to carry, fold and clean. It has a water-resistant bottom layer so you can lounge and enjoy play time and snack time wherever you go this summer. Leave the iPad and tech devices at home!

Back To School with Thomas & Friends

The summer flies by and before you know it you’re prepping your little one for their first day of daycare or Pre-k. Thomas & Friends has partnered with Lee Scott, educational advisory board member for the Goddard schools and child development expert, to provide helpful tips for parents and caregivers to navigate a smooth transition back to school for their little ones. These tips range from building self-management through routine and nurturing self-awareness through engaged conversation. With these in mind, Thomas & Friends has launched a special-edition back to school kit, which features five trains to be a companion to toddlers during their first week of school while teaching them bravery and other attributes.

Bento box lunches for your kids.

A nutritious meal provides the fuel they need to get through the school day. The innovators at Omie believe in the countless benefits to bento box lunches as its compartments help with portion control and different food groups. Its OmieBox 2 also allows for easy meal prepping because the compartments will prevent snacks from getting soggy, along with better insulation that accommodates both hot and cold foods. Last but not least, its next-gen lunchboxes are quite stylish and come in fun colors, like Pink Berry and Meadow.

Tanya Klich

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The Best Toys to Promote Problem Solving Skills for Kids

Posted by on August 10, 2022

Some necessary steps to problem-solving are:

Effective problem-solving techniques help avoid conflict in general, strengthen empathy skills and learn about positive attributes in others. Using these problem-solving techniques can be so crucial for their social and educational success.

Importance of Problem-Solving Skills in Children

Problem-solving skills in children are so important because it teaches a child about grit and creativity and allows them to manage obstacles and solve disagreements. This helps them face difficult school and individual problems as they grow which are beneficial in improving academic performance, boosting self-confidence and being ready to take on their desired profession. The earlier children get started on problem-solving skills, the readier they are to deal with larger challenges in the time to come.

Problem-solving is very important to a developing child as it helps provoke intellectual questions by utilising their creativity, promoting teamwork and better communication. It also increases their flexibility as children learn to solve different kinds of challenges through constant practice. 

Problem-solving Improves Academic Performance

Problem-solving discernment by allowing children to better understand the types of problems they can solve and which ones should be best left alone.

Children have a deeper understanding of cause and effect by learning how to problem-solve. This allows them to make predictions or look for similar patterns boosting reflective and critical thinking.

Problem-solving also fosters practical and analytical thinking through the art of research, deliberation and argument. This helps children consider both sides of a question, discuss realistic situations and present finding clearly and eloquently.

Problem-Solving Builds Confidence

Effective problem-solving results in happier, confident and independent children especially when they tackle challenges on their own or through collaboration. It makes them resilient, look at problems from a fresh perspective and take calculated risks.

Children also develop greater situational and social awareness, learning to manage their time effectively and evolving into more patient beings. This helps them rely on creative thinking and enhances their sense of independence.

Problem-Solving Prepares Children for Careers

Children tend to appreciate lifelong learning when they problem-solve as it keeps them curious, motivated and innovative. Nowadays, employers are looking for imaginative new hires as they are facing challenges that are new in today’s society.

It begins with children envisioning a goal, identifying logical steps and planning. This also requires persistence and the ability to power through failure. Besides personal excellence, employers do require team players that encourage group problem-solving which help build leadership qualities.

3 Different Types of Toys to Develop Problem-Solving in Kids

Toys help children build and enhance problem-solving skills by providing one or multiple solutions like puzzles or building with blocks. Playful problem-solving experiences that toys offer also teach children that when a problem is not solved immediately, there is a lesson in trying again.

The Double Knotted Pocket Puzzle is another such toy that provides a sound challenge for any kid by trying to manoeuvre the pieces until you separate them.

The Coil Tail Pocket Puzzle is a metal brain teaser with wire pieces twisted together for your child to unravel.

The Travel 4-In-A Row Game is a classic childhood game that teaches social skills, patience as well as basic numeracy. 

The Wooden Animal Train  is a great way to push your child’s fine motor skills and spatial awareness. This is an extremely safe toy without added toxins.

The 65 Piece Oval Puzzle in Box represents an iconic French character and is made from cardboard. It is presented in a beautiful pink box and is an ideal activity to boost concentration and observation.

The 96 Piece Ocean Puzzle has beautiful watercolour illustrations representing all things under the sea. It also comes with a poster to help younger children put it together as well as a magnifying glass to observe the details a little closer. Picture descriptions on the back of the poster help in recognising different texts both in English and French to enrich a kid’s vocabulary. This game comes beautifully packaged and requires patience and concentration to develop observation and coordination skills that are suitable for children above the age of 5 years of age.

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