“They’re learning new things,” says Dr. Ashley Taylor, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Connection. “They’re starting to interact with friends more often. They’re just really taking in so much information and growing and changing at such a fast pace.”
See more: Best Toys for Toddlers
Thankfully, there are a few things parents can look for when choosing games, things that all toddlers tend to react positively to. Games should be colorful, maybe a little silly, and very simple. If a game is too complex and not completely intuitive to your toddler, there might be some crying and screaming.
Focus on the game’s visuals. Toddlers like items that are aesthetically pleasing, and they’re really into primary colors.
“You want something very simple,” says Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness. “Simple is the name of the game.” Our favorite games for toddlers are easy to learn, easy to play, and, just as importantly, loads of fun.
This dog-themed games teaches toddlers counting and the fickle nature of chance. Ideal for ages four months and up.
The object of this game is to get the most bones. Kids spin two wheels — one to decide if they’ll collect, lose, or steal bones and the other to decide how many — to play. They pick up bones and put them in their bowl with a Shelby Squeezer, essentially a dog-shaped clip.
Players ages three and older try to match hidden head tiles to the correct body tiles. If the head and body don’t match, players walk and talk like the mismatched tiles. Hilarity, for all ages, really.
Players match the head of an animal with its body. If the two don’t match, suddenly, kids bark like a dog while walking like a cat. The player with the most matched cards wins.
Ideal for kids three and up, this game has players moving six snails along the board, following their color path.
This game isn’t competitive, so there won’t be any board game bloodshed. In fact, every player follows his or her snail’s path, until he or she reaches the end of the board. Kids learn to take turns, and work at their own pace.
This is one of the best-selling pre-school games for toddlers. Kids learn about colors as they help squirrels find their acorns.
Kids learn about matching skills and taking turns with this board game, which has players spin the spinner and scoop up matching acorns with a special squeezer. The first player to collect five acorns is the winner.
This game gives kids the chance to practice a bunch of different skills in a fun, cooperative atmosphere. Ideal for ages three to six.
Kids can play this game as three different levels, so as they grow up and get smarter they will still find it challenging. Kids can learn body awareness, motor skills, counting, and cooperation when they work together to feed the Woozle chocolate covered flies, hairy pickles, and fuzz donuts.
This game is a flexible update to classic try-to-match-the-cards memory game. Ideal for ages three and up.
The best part of this game is the five double-sided cards, which have different images to match. You can choose numbers, letters, shapes, or vibrant illustrations for kids to play with, a fact that allows focus on particular cognitive skills.
The pieces in this game are essentially different masks with various accessories that can be attached and detached with ease. Ideal for ages three and up.
To play this toddler board game, kids follow one of the 16 playing card guides to create a face with the right accessories of the 58 included. But don’t be surprised if they get creative and start to make their own.
This game is made mostly of bamboo, a welcome respite from the world of plastic. It can be played as either a turn-based game or a race to the finish, depending on how your kid prefers to play. Ideal for ages three and up.
This toddler board game helps kids develop fine motor skills as they use the included fishing roads to hook and remove the shark pieces from the board. And because the sharks are different colors, you can also help them learn and reinforce those concepts.
Anyone who's ever argued with a kid who tried to cut the line knows that turn-taking is a skill. This rabbit-themed game helps kids practice it, along with hand-eye coordination. Ideal for ages three and up.
Up to four players get a basket in this toddler board game. The object: fill it up with carrots, which kids can pick up with the included rabbit squeezer. A spinner determines how many they can pick up or if, disastrously, they’ll have to dump their basket back into the field.
The minute they strap on this absurd Anteater headband — complete with velcro-lined nose! — kids will be hooked on this game. Ideal for ages four and up.
Once they’re dressed to play, kids dip their head and try to snag onto fabric ants, which they only get to do if they make matches in the tried-and-true game of memory.
They're called toddlers because they're learning to walk at this age. After walking comes dancing, and this game is a great way to inspire toddlers to move. Ideal for ages 18 months to five years.
To play the game, simply toss the included plush cube to get a color and choose a card with a matching color. Each of the 48 cards has a different move on it, and there’s no wrong way to do them. Kids get to use their imagination, improve their balance and coordination, and have fun while they’re at it.
Even if they're not familiar with the classic book — though they really should be! — Let's Feed The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a fanastic game that incorporates counting, collecting, and building.
To play, kids move 3D-sculpted caterpillars around the board, from fruit to fruit. The first to collect five pieces metamorphosizes into a beautiful butterfly and win the game. But it’s the artwork, borrowed from Carle’s iconic work, that make this game truly engaging.
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