The 12 Best Building Blocks for Toddlers

And Why They Are Important For Your Toddler’s Development

Welcome to my review of the top 12 best building blocks for toddlers.

No longer do building blocks come as just those classic wooden block. Nowadays, construction blocks come in an endless variety of shapes, sizes, colors, materials, and designs. So, how to choose the very best building blocks for toddlers?

best building blocks for toddlersA set of building blocks is one of the best toys for early learning

After extensive investigation, and many hours of playing with a whole range of blocks by my trusty team of research toddlers, we have drawn up a list of our top 12.

Before we reveal it to you, have a read through the eight benefits of block play below to help you understand why playing with blocks is so important for your toddler’s development. You’ll then be able to better evaluate for yourself each type of block that I recommend.

8 Benefits of Block Play for Toddlers

I’d go as far as to say that block play is essential for early childhood development as it offers so many educational benefits.

There’s no doubt that including block play in your toddler’s daily routine will have a positive impact on their learning and growth. To understand how and why let's take a look at eight key benefits of block play.

1. Increased Attention Span

When toddlers engage in block play, they become fully absorbed in their creations. Whether trying to construct the tallest tower possible or designing a house for their play people, they dedicate extended periods of time to their projects. This focused engagement helps enhance attention span and concentration skills. Additionally, block play cultivates perseverance and determination in children, as they strive to bring their visions to life.

2. Motor Skills Development

Block play supports the development of both fine motor and gross motor skills in toddlers. As they grasp, stack, and manipulate blocks, they refine their fine motor skills, which involve precise finger and hand movements. At the same time, block play engages their gross motor skill muscles, the body’s larger muscle groups responsible for whole body movement. The development of these motor skills is crucial for the everyday tasks they will do throughout their life.

3. Spatial Perception

Block play is instrumental in developing toddlers’ spatial perception, that is, the ability to understand spatial relationships in their environment. Initially, your little one will simply carry the blocks around, but over time, they’ll progress to forming rows and stacking blocks. As their skills advance, they’ll learn to create bridges and other complex structures, demonstrating an increasing understanding of spatial relationships. Spatial perception is an essential skill that they’ll need for navigating and functioning in the world around them.

4. Early Mathematics and Number Concepts

Even before they begin formal math instruction, toddlers can learn about early mathematical concepts and gain foundational mathematical skills through hands-on block play activities. They will quickly develop an understanding of numbers, quantity, and shape by, for example, counting blocks, and sorting them by colors or shapes.

They will soon begin to grasp the vocabulary of more complex concepts that will lead into addition and subtraction such as 1 more block, add a block, take away a block, and learn to compare sizes and lengths. Block play enables children to explore number concepts, measurement, and geometry naturally and intuitively.

5. Language Development

During block play, toddlers often like to talk about what they are constructing, and should be encouraged to do so as this provides an excellent opportunity for language development. There will be lots of new vocabulary to learn such as, on, next to, under, behind, tall, and short. As your toddler engages in block play with family and friends, there will also be further language development as construction ideas are shared and discussed.

6. Problem-Solving Skills

Block play is first-rate for developing problem-solving skills in toddlers. Constructing any structure requires critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Your little one will need to plan their designs and contemplate solutions to challenges they encounter along the way. Whether it's ensuring stability to prevent a structure from falling down, or adjusting dimensions to fit teddy into his block-built car that’s too small for him, block play trains children to think creatively and develop problem-solving skills that extend to other areas of their lives.

7. Introduction to Science Concepts

Block play also provides a foundation for early science concepts. As toddlers build and explore, they naturally encounter and learn about gravity, weight, stability, and balance. Through cause-and-effect relationships, children discover how different objects interact and influence one another. As they learn, their building skills will develop and their structures will become more stable and more complex.

8. Cooperation with Others

When children collaborate with siblings or friends during block play, they develop essential social skills, particularly cooperation. Building structures together requires effective communication, sharing of blocks, consensus on building plans, negotiation of tasks, and resolution of disagreements. Through this collaborative play, children learn to work in cooperation to achieve a common goal, fostering empathy and teamwork.

Asian toddler playing with building blocksBuilding blocks encourage imaginative play

Tips on Choosing the Best Building Blocks for Toddlers

Engaging Colors and Shapes

Vibrant colors capture your toddler's attention and spark their curiosity. Choose blocks with different colors to stimulate their visual senses. Additionally, explore blocks with different shapes, such as squares, rectangles, triangles, and cylinders, as they provide variety in play and promote cognitive development.

Interlocking Versus Stacking Blocks

Interlocking blocks offer added stability and open up possibilities for more complex creations. They allow toddlers to build taller structures with ease, encouraging them to experiment and explore. On the other hand, stacking blocks help develop balance, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness. A combination of both types can provide a well-rounded building experience.

Additional Features and Accessories

Some building block sets come with additional features like wheels, doors, or windows, which add an extra element of creativity to playtime. These features allow toddlers to build more intricate structures and engage in imaginative play. Consider sets that include storage solutions or building mats for added convenience and organization.

My Top 12 Best Building Blocks for Toddlers

1. Fisher-Price Mega Bloks

Mega Bloks are perfect for young toddlers who are ready to learn how to join individual building blocks to build large structures. With 80 large blocks of varying shapes and sizes, there’s plenty of scope for imaginative play. The brightly colored oversized blocks are easy for small hands to handle and fix together easily. They come with their own storage bag. An ideal first construction toy.

2. Squeezable Building Blocks

These super soft blocks are a must for babies and the youngest toddlers. They are squeezy to give your toddler a wonderful sensory experience as they stack them up and knock them down. They will also stand up to chewing making them the ideal blocks for little ones who like to nibble. Apart from building fun, there’s lots to discover on the 16 colorful cubes with their 96 sides of animal pictures, numbers, shapes and fruits, all molded to be beautifully tactile for little fingers to explore.

3. Classic ABC Wooden Blocks

This lovely set of 30 x one-inch traditional wooden blocks comes in a sturdy wooden cart that your toddler will love to pull from room to room. When they’re not building with the blocks, the selection of letters and pictures will provide hours of entertainment as they match letters like for like, and learn letter sounds and match them to the pictures, for example, C – cow.

There are number blocks to assist with early math skills. Unfortunately, they are only numbers 1-4 but that’s plenty to get your toddler started. Packing the blocks away in the cart after playtime is also great fun so no problems getting them to tidy up.

If you particularly want numbered building blocks from 1-9, go for the set with 50 blocks in. The only drawback is that they don’t come with a cart to play with and store them in.

Whichever you go for, traditional wooden ABC cubes are still commonly voted the best building blocks for toddlers.

4. JaxoJoy Foam Building Blocks

Foam building blocks have a lot going for them. They are soft, easy to handle, can be used indoors and out, and even make an excellent bathtime toy. Most of all, from a parent’s perspective, they are quiet when the structure your toddler is making falls down! If you’ve suffered the earache of wooden blocks clattering on a hard surface for hours on end, you’ll appreciate this attribute. This 108 piece set contains a great selection of shapes for imaginative construction projects and there are sufficient blocks for sibling or play date sharing.

5. Blockaroo Magnetic Foam Blocks

For something a bit special, I recommend Blockaroo Magnetic Foam Blocks. This is the 50 piece set but there is also a 100 piece pack available. These blocks offer one of the easiest building systems for toddlers and can be used to create wonderful little models such as boats, airplanes, rockets, animals, insects, monsters, and anything else your toddler’s mind can conjure up, as well as larger constructions. They make an ideal bathtime toy, the strong magnets working just as well in water, and are dishwasher safe making them super simple to keep clean and germ free.

6. Press and Stay Sensory Blocks

The 24 colorful blocks in this sensory set are perfect for nurturing early engineering skills. The uniquely designed pieces easily connect and disconnect from any angle, eliminating frustration in young toddlers still developing their strength and their coordination skills. Even little hands can push them together and pull them apart with ease. Whether stacking them up or building sideways, these blocks make construction easy and inspire imaginative play.

7. Hedgehog Blocks

For slightly older toddlers ready to take construction with sensory blocks to the next level, you won’t go wrong with this impressive 120 piece set of Hedgehog Blocks. The bristles design makes them easy to connect and disconnect whilst staying securely in place for building. The excellent range of different sized and shaped blocks will enable your toddler to create imaginative build 3D structures large and small.

8. Nesting and Stacking Blocks

Each of the 10 cheerful blocks in this set is a different size so, not only do they stack well, but they also fit neatly inside each other – great for developing problem-solving and manipulation skills. Your toddler will love building them up high, knocking them down, and figuring out how they all fit back together. There are also early literacy skills to develop as they build up the alphabet from the colorful letters and delightful, fun pictures.

Be aware that these blocks are made of cardboard and, although sturdy, are not as robust as if made of plastic. They are a lovely set, though, and much loved by toddlers.

9. Wooden Building Blocks

Introduce your toddler to the timeless joy of building, and knocking down, with this classic wooden block set. Featuring 100 solid-wood blocks in vibrant red, blue, yellow, and green, the set offers a versatile variety of shapes, including rectangular prisms, cubes, cylinders, half circles, arches, and rectangular planks of different sizes. It provides endless opportunities for constructing towers, castles, houses, bridges, and whatever else your toddler’s mind can conceive. These lightweight, durable wooden blocks will last for years.

10. Magnetic Building Tiles

Your toddler’s creativity will go into overdrive with these exciting transparent, magnetic building tiles. The 60 piece set comprises 28 colorful squares in two sizes and 32 triangles in three sizes. More than enough scope to let the imagination run wild. They’ll have such fun fixing the pieces together to create wonderful geometrical 2D designs and 3D models. The more developed their manipulative and design skills become, the more complex will be their creations.

11. Geometric Stacking Blocks

For something completely different, and variety is everything in learning, give your toddlers a set of these fun geometric stacking blocks as a new challenge. They have been cleverly designed to stack in many different and interesting ways enabling your little one to create endless fascinating towers. The 30 blocks come in 5 colors and shapes, more than enough for your toddler to stack away to their heart’s delight. This is a toy designed for maximum engagement. I bet you’ll want to play with it yourself.

12. Stacking Rocks

I wasn’t sure about these building blocks when I first saw them but having watched them being tested by my toddler team, I’m completely won over. Novel, to say the least, every rock in this 30 set is multi-faced, each different in size and weight. This makes stacking them more challenging than with standard shapes and encourages your toddler to tackle the building process in a completely new way. They’ll certainly learn a lot about balance and will hone their fine motor skills as they carefully place the blocks one on top of another to build a stable tower.

How To Assist Learning – Guide For Parents

You can buy the very best building blocks for toddlers but your little one will need your guidance and support to get the greatest benefit from these excellent learning toys.

Here are a few ideas as to how you can easily support them in their learning while enjoying special playtimes together.

Encourage Imaginative Play

Offer a variety of building blocks and let your child choose how to use them. Allow for unlimited creativity by letting them play freely without goals for extended periods of time. By providing open-ended play opportunities, you encourage your child's imagination and exploration.

Promote Problem-Solving

Take time to play with your toddler on occasions. Encourage them to experiment with different block combinations and structures. Support them in overcoming challenges and finding solutions. As they engage in building and problem-solving activities, they develop critical thinking skills and spatial awareness.

Introduce Basic Math and Science Concepts

Make use of building blocks to introduce basic math and science concepts to your toddler. Count blocks together, sort them by colors or shapes, and explore simple patterns such as, red, yellow, red, yellow. Talk about concepts like size, weight, balance, and cause and effect as you engage with the blocks.

Develop Language and Communication Skills

Engage in conversation while your toddler is playing with their building blocks. Describe colors, shapes, and actions, and encourage your child to express their ideas and ask questions. Pretend play scenarios involving building blocks provide a platform for language development and communication.

Foster Collaboration and Social Skills

Organize play dates or sibling playtime with building blocks to promote sharing and cooperation. Encourage the playmates to work together on building projects, taking turns, and respecting each other's ideas. This collaborative play fosters social skills and empathy.

Praise and Celebrate Achievements

Acknowledge your child's efforts, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Celebrate their achievements, no matter how big or small. Positive reinforcement boosts their confidence and encourages further exploration and learning.

Mom and toddler playing with building blocksYour encouragement will boost your toddler's confidence

Final Words

Choosing the best building blocks for toddlers is an investment in your little one’s growth and development. By providing them with the right tools, you are opening up a world of imagination, exploration, and learning.

From classic wooden blocks to magnetic marvels and everything in between, the options, as we’ve seen, are extensive. By introducing your toddler to different types of building blocks, you expose them to diverse textures, shapes, and building techniques, enhancing their learning experience.

Watch your toddler thrive as they build, stack, and create, realizing their boundless potential, one block at a time.

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About Jacky Spear

Jacky Spear passionately promotes learning toys for child development. With 30+ years of teaching experience, she understands the power of play in engaging and nurturing children, including those with special needs. Drawing from personal experience in both the school and home environment, Jacky helps parents to select the best learning toys to unlock their children's potential and create a lifelong love for learning. Learn more about Jacky >>

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