The toddler years are a tremendous time for learning, when your little one’s brain develops the skills and abilities they need to interact with their world. As a parent, it’s important to foster this learning, and the best educational toys for toddlers can help do just that.
Educational toys teach a wide range of developmental skills, with many tackling multiple different areas at once. Some toys focus on motor skills, including gross motor skills (which involve the movement of large muscles in the body) and fine motor skills (which involve the more precise movement of smaller muscles, such as those in the hands, fingers, and wrists). Some toys help your toddler master essential concepts, like recognizing and identifying shapes, colors, numbers, and words. There are also toys that develop broader skills like problem-solving, or even real-life skills like cutting up food or using money.
There are an overwhelming number of toys available for purchase, so I scoured Amazon to identify the absolute best educational toys for toddlers. These toys all help to teach a variety of different skills, and are — of course — super fun and engaging.
We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.
1. Battat Farmers Market Basket
Ages: 3 to 8
This Battat farmers market basket is filled with everything needed for a tiny foodie to prepare an imaginary feast. The set supports plenty of imaginative play time as your toddler pretends to shop for groceries and prepare a delicious meal. The play food is held together by hook and loop fasteners, and it easily comes apart when your toddler “slices” it with the toy knife. Amazon reviewers noted that this toy keeps their toddler entertained for hours — they rated this pick an impressive 4.8-stars among 1,200 and growing reviews.
The 37-piece set includes a toy basket, two cutting boards, two toy knives, and a variety of play fruits and vegetables.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I ordered these for my nephew and I am SHOCKED at how durable and FUN they are. Real cutting action kept my sweet boy busy for HOURS! I love that they stand up to wear and tear and were a SCREEN-FREE source of so much fun. So interactive and imaginative."
2. Learning Resources Spike The Fine Motor Hedgehog
Ages: 18 months to 4 years
If you’d like to focus on developing your child’s fine motor skills, there’s no better toy than this hedgehog from Learning Resources. The toy features colorful, chunky pegs that your toddler fits into the back of the adorable hedgehog. In addition to fine motor skills, this pick can also teach other skills, like color recognition, sorting, and counting. Tons of Amazon reviewers mentioned that this toy is their child's favorite, giving it a high 4.7-star rating on the site among 4,000-plus reviews.
Once playtime is over, the hedgehog is easy to clean; the plastic toy can be wiped down. Storage is also a breeze, since the quills stow snugly inside the hedgehog's body.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "This is a great toy! My [three] grandchildren all played with it in different ways. The oldest made color patterns, the middle did the expected fitting in and pulling out of the holes, and the youngest was able to pull them out and grab the 'quills.' When done the pieces fit inside making it easy to store. I love Learning Resources toys they are well made and thoughtfully designed."
3. ECR4Kids SoftZone Climb & Crawl Activity Play Set
Ages: 9 months to 3 years, with supervision
Climb, crawl, slide, stack… the play possibilities of this ECR4Kids activity set are virtually endless. But no matter how your little one plays, they'll likely develop gross motor skills in the process. The foam set comes with five different pieces — a square, rectangle, cylinder, wedge, and half-moon — that can be arranged and rearranged in different configurations. The dense foam structure of each lightweight piece keeps kids safe as they play. And the nonslip bottoms ensure stability.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "These blocks are perfect for a child just starting to climb on things! My 1 year old daughter loves climbing onto, over, across these blocks. We got them for her a few months ago and she even loves just sitting on them. The five different shapes are nice, but we really only use the big square, the little rectangle and the ramp. Maybe as she becomes more mobile she will enjoy the other shapes too. They also function nicely as the foundation for a tiny pillow/blanket fort. The material seems to be of sturdy quality and the colors are bright and engaging. The foam is strong enough for an adult to sit on it without deforming excessively and it springs back immediately."
4. Sesame Street Elmo's On The Go Letters
Ages: 2 to 4
Toddlers will love exploring the alphabet with this Sesame Street letters toy. The bright red case has slots for each of the 26 letters to snap into place. Underneath each letter is an image of a word that starts with that letter, for even more learning. If your child is a little older, the letters can be used to spell out words. Beyond that, this pick is extra special because it's specifically designed for use on-the-go; the case easily folds up, so your little one can carry it with them wherever they please. (Which means they'll stay occupied wherever you please!)
The alphabet toy boasts an impressive 4.7-star rating on Amazon, a true testament to its ability to be both fun and educational.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "Bought this for my 2 year old, and we keep it in the car for restaurants and other places we need quiet(er) time. He enjoys saying the letter and matching them with the cute sesame street character graphics behind the letters. Super colorful, and it stores nicely. The letters stay put when the case is closed, so [you're] not dealing with a mess when you open it. Great learning tool!"
5. BettRoom Geometric Sort Wooden Educational Toy
Ages: 1 to 6
This toy from BettRoom may look basic, but you'll be pleased when you see how much your toddler can learn from it. Watch as your little one explores a variety of different shapes — including circles, squares, and triangles — and places them on the correct pegs. Encourage your toddler to count each piece and name its color, too.
With more than 750 reviews on Amazon and a 4.7-star rating overall, reviewers wrote that they love the toy's all-wood construction, as well as the fact that the pieces are easy for little hands to manipulate.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I purchased this for my 3-year-old son and he absolutely loves it! My 5-year-old daughter even loves playing with it! You can do many educational activities - shapes, colors, sorting, counting. Placing the shapes on the pegs also promotes hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. As a parent, you worry about the quality of the products used when making these toys. It is very important to me that the materials are non-toxic and safe for my children. I would definitely recommend this product."
6. The Learning Journey Count & Learn Cookie Jar
Ages: 2 to 4
Your toddler will actually enjoy learning to count thanks to this adorable cookie jar from The Learning Journey. The toy features two different modes to help your little one with their numbers. In the “let’s learn counting” mode, the jar counts the number of cookies as your child pushes them into the jar (this helps with fine motor skills, too!). In the “find it” mode, the jar challenges your preschooler to recognize numbers by asking for one of the 10 numbered cookies to be inserted.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "My son would not put this cookie jar down after seeing it at a friends house. In the cookie jar is durable and stands up to the repeated abuse of a toddler constantly jamming the toy cookies inside. The cookie jar counts the cookies as they are inserted, and asks for specific numbered cookies, knowing if the right cookie is inserted, helping my son learn numbers! All in all this is a great toy that keeps the kiddo entertained for long stretches and [teaches] him something at the same time!"
7. AOKIWO Toddler Musical Instruments
This 33-piece set of musical instruments will quickly become a new favorite in your household. The set comes with a wide variety of instruments — including shaking, tapping, beating, and blowing ones like tambourines, maracas, and a recorder — that will allow your little one to explore the world of music. And you can even join in on the fun, too. Your toddler will love expressing their creativity as they make up songs, and the set will even help your child develop their fine motor skills. When playtime is over, it all fits into the included carry bag.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I bought this music instrument set for the infant-1 year old at my daycare. As you can see from the pictures I attached, the children loved them a lot! I’m glad that I decided to purchase this set. There’re 28 pieces in total. It’s perfectly enough for all the little ones I have at the daycare. They are good quality baby and early childhood toys. They enjoy them a lot. I would recommend!."
8. Jasonwell Aqua Magic Doodle Mat
Little artists will love expressing their creativity with this Jasonwell aqua magic doodle mat. And the best part for parents? It’s totally mess-free. Fill the magic pen with water, and your little one can create masterpieces by “drawing” on the magic mat. Within a couple of minutes, the drawing magically disappears, and your kiddo can doodle all over again. Amazon reviewers adore this pick, awarding the mat an impressive 4.5-star rating among 2,700 and growing reviews.
The aqua doodle mat comes with four suction cups to attach it to a wall or window if your child prefers a vertical art surface. The mat is large — 39.5 by 31.5-inches — so there is plenty of space for siblings and friends to get creative, too.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "This water magic pad is amazing! I bought it for my two children ages 2.5 and 1.5, they both love it! I was so tired of scrubbing a table or floor after letting them use art supplies. I was tired of the extra bath after parts and crafts. This is perfect! I put the pad on the floor for them to sit on (yes my toddler actually sits still for more than 5 seconds now!) And color while I do dishes/clean. They love it, I love it, if anything happens to it I'll buy another. I 100% [recommend]."
9. VTech Little Apps Tablet
Ages: 2 to 5
For toddlers that enjoy electronics, this VTech Little Apps tablet will certainly be a hit. The tablet is loaded with tons of interactive activities that will introduce learning skills like counting, letters, math, music, and words. As your child grows, this pick grows with them thanks to progressive learning levels, a feature that Amazon reviewers really enjoy. Reviewers gave this pick a standout 4.6-star rating after thousands of reviews. Available in black or pink, the tablet has volume control and automatic shut-off to save battery.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "We have two grandkids staying with us ages 3 and 5 and this was perfect for both of them. There are enough "advanced" functions to keep the kids motivated to keep using the tablet because they can continue learning from basic number counting and letter recognition to more challenging games involving missing letters in words or missing numbers in a sequence. There is also a volume setting which is nice for us parents/grandparents."