Did you know that puzzles for kids are amazing for short-term memory and problem-solving? They also help your child with fine motor skills and memory. Fun and educational? Sign us up.
Be aware though: some kids are more prepared than others for complex puzzles. Research shows that kids ages three and under are at different developmental stages than those ages four and up. You’ll want to choose simpler puzzles for younger toddlers. Soon enough, your kid will be a puzzle master – and probably be beating the pants off in finding that last missing piece.
In this article:
- What to look for in puzzles for kids
- How we rated our toddler puzzlers
- The best toddler puzzle for imagination: Farm 3-Layer Puzzle (ages 1-2)
- Best for learning their name: Personalized Name Puzzle (ages 1-2)
- Best for learning shapes: Let’s Learn Shapes Wooden Puzzle (ages 1-2)
- Best audio puzzle: Melissa & Doug Around the House Sound Puzzle – Wooden Peg Puzzle (8 pcs) (ages 1-4)
- Best 4-in-1 puzzle: MudPuppy Transportation 4-in-1 Box Puzzles (ages 2-5)
- Best alphabet puzzle: Crate & Barrel Janod Alphabet Baby Puzzle (ages 2-6)
- Best geography puzzle: Momo & Nashi United States Puzzle for Kids (ages 4-8)
What to Look for in a Puzzle
Puzzles vary from traditional flat puzzles where a child places pieces together, to 3D (or layered) puzzles. The American Academy of Pediatrics says toys like puzzles are optimal for development. They encourage play that enhance “curiosity,” and “facilitates memory and learning.”
We chose puzzles that are interesting to children and are right at their developmental level. We looked for features like easy-to-grasp pieces, quality materials, and interesting concepts (shapes, letters, characters) that promote a kid’s natural ability to learn.
How We Rated Our Puzzles
We looked at a few features to rate our top picks:
- Optimal for developmental stage
- Quality materials
- Interesting concepts and characters
- High reviews
- Fun for kids
The 7 Best Puzzles for Toddlers and Kids
Best Puzzle for Imagination
Farm 3-Layer Puzzle
This sweet little puzzle is sure to stir your little one’s imagination. It has three layers: the first is two bear cubs who fit snugly in their bunkbeds, the next has barn pieces that show a squirrel making breakfast, and the third is a series of other farm animals doing different tasks. It’s a quality puzzle that will their literary imagination while they develop their fine-motor skills.
Best for Learning Their Name
Personalized Name Puzzle
Full disclosure: I bought this puzzle for my son when he was two, and still feel nostalgic about it. This puzzle doubles as décor once your child is finished learning their name. It’s made of adorable, chunky wooden letters that stand the test of time and Fat Brain Toys will make one for your child even if they have a rare or non-traditional name. Simply type in the name of a child and order it to your door.
Best for Learning Shapes
Let’s Learn Shapes Wooden Puzzle
This puzzle is the perfect way to introduce shape recognition. Your little one will love the ease of the thick wooden knobs, which helps toddlers grasp pieces easily. The puzzle has five wooden shapes – triangle, oval, rectangle, circle, square – that match the slots. Encourage them by saying the name of the shape when they insert it correctly. Reviews are positive too. One grandmother said this puzzle was perfect for her 10-month-old grandson.
Best Audio Puzzle
Melissa & Doug Around the House Sound Wooden Peg Puzzle
This puzzle is a hit because it combines a traditional puzzle with sound. The noises play when the pieces of the house are taken out, and they stop when your child puts the piece back in. Melissa & Doug makes fun and educational puzzles that stand the test of time, and this puzzle is no exception. Sounds include: an alarm clock ringing, the sound of breakfast sizzling (yum!) and audio of a car engine starting. And not to worry mama, if you get tired of the low-key noise, there’s an “off switch” you can flip, but shhhh don’t tell your kiddo.
Best 4-in-1 Skill Building Puzzle
MudPuppy Transportation 4-in-1 Box Puzzles
This 4-in-1 puzzle is sure to delight kids. Particularly children who have graduated from simple puzzles. The Mudpuppy characters will be exciting because they are familiar. We love that this toy is made from recycled paper and non-toxic inks, making it an environmentally-friendly and safe choice. Not to mention, an astounding 900+ reviewers on Amazon rated this puzzle over 4.8 stars, so you know it’s a winner. Another amazing feature? Each puzzle “graduates” your kids to the next level. One puzzle has 4 pieces, the next, 6, 9, and 12 pieces so your little one can attempt more complex scenes.
Best Alphabet Puzzle
Crate & Barrel Janod Alphabet Baby Puzzle
This puzzle is the perfect choice for a kiddo who wants to learn their ABCs. It’s also ideal for moms that love minimalistic and modern toys. The natural wood tray and light pastel color palette bring a Scandinavian touch to your home. The back of the puzzle tray doubles as a simple chalkboard for more functionality. You can even display the chalkboard side once your child is finished learning their ABCs. One reviewer raves that this puzzle is “a daily staple in our play and looks lovely on display! Wonderful, saturated colors!”
Best Geography Puzzle
Momo & Nashi United States Puzzle for Kids
What better way to start your kid’s love of learning than with a puzzle of the United States? This 70-piece puzzle will connect the dots for your child and inspire them. Graduate your child who is ready for bigger puzzles with more pieces. With state capitals and scenic landmarks included, there is plenty to learn. Problem-solving and memorization are just two of the skills this puzzle promotes. Plus, it won’t break the bank – it’s under thirteen dollars.
If your child is interested in puzzles, there are plenty of easy ones to introduce.
Even kids under 1 enjoy getting to feel the chunky pieces, and older kids will delight in the ability to solve more complex problems. Simple toys can make all the difference to their learning and development – try a few out to see what works for your kid.
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