At one point, we were all children who loved puzzles. Then, we grew up and everything changed.
Thanks to an unexpected global pandemic, 2020 found many adults turning to jigsaw puzzles for entertainment during stay-at-home orders. For many, it was the first time even touching a puzzle in years.
However, for toddlers, puzzles are a mainstay and they don’t need a virus to make them want to pull out their favorites!
This is great news because the best toddler puzzles can be an important tool for building a youngster’s brain!
|Best Toddler Puzzle||Why It's Best||Mom Rating|
|Melissa & Doug Touch and Feel Puzzle||Best for Younger Toddlers||♥♥♥♥♥|
|SainStore Inc. SainSmart Jr. Wooden Tetris Puzzle||Best for Older Toddlers||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Joyin Inc JOYIN Toy 4 in 1 Wooden Puzzles||Most Versatile||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Asher and Olivia Wooden Toddler Puzzles and Rack Set||Best Value||♥♥♥♥♥|
The Best Toddler Puzzles for Building Brain Power
Melissa & Doug Vehicles Peg Puzzle
The Melissa & Doug Vehicles Peg Puzzle is a cute vehicle puzzle featuring all the classics.
You may only be on the first item of this list, but I hope you’re prepared for more than a few Melissa & Doug entries.
The company, known for its popular wooden toys, has cornered the market on the toddler puzzles.
Not that I have anything against that if my own toddler’s puzzle rack is any testament. He absolutely loves Melissa & Doug’s puzzles board – and so do I.
The first M&D offering is this cute vehicle peg puzzle. It has all of your toddler’s favorites, including a fire truck, a school bus, and a garbage truck (other toddlers love garbage trucks as much as mine, right?)
This hand-crafted puzzle has colorful chunky pieces and bright red pegs and it’s a great learning tool for teaching the names of vehicles.
Wooden Toddler Puzzles and Rack Set by Asher and Olivia
The Wooden Toddler Puzzles and Rack Set by Asher and Olivia is a complete puzzle set and rack.
I repeat: this puzzle set includes a rack. Why is that important? I speak from experience: trying to find a puzzle rack after amassing a large collection is a puzzle in itself.
It’s a whole thing. Even if you buy the brand’s specified puzzle rack, not all their puzzles will fit. With this Asher and Olivia set, you won’t have to search for a suitable puzzle rack!
Beyond the now well-documented rack, this set includes 6 wooden insert puzzles with large pegs. It also has a foam clock for learning how to tell time!
These easy-to-grasp puzzles feature every toddler’s favorite themes: shapes, animals, numbers, letters, vehicles, and tasty fruits.
Melissa & Doug Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles in a Box
The Melissa & Doug Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles in a Box is a fun puzzle set in a box.
On the third entry, we’re already on our second Melissa & Doug product. This one is targeted towards older toddlers than the last one.
Peg puzzles are typically made for younger children. Jigsaw puzzles, however, require more skill, which is why this is recommended for ages 3 to 6.
This nifty puzzle set includes 4 jigsaw puzzles and a wooden storage box. Each puzzle has 12 pieces each and creates a vibrant scene with a vehicle.
The company added a neat trick to these puzzles. If you’re afraid your child might dump out all the pieces and mix them up, don’t be.
On the back of every piece is a shape stamp. All the pieces for one puzzle have one corresponding shape, while another puzzle has another shape. Genius, right?
I’m highlighting the vehicles one which has a train, a school bus, a fire truck, and a racecar. Still, don’t be deterred if your little one isn’t into things with wheels.
This set also comes in construction, dinosaur, fanciful friends, pets, and wild animal versions. There is something for every kid!
BEESTECH Elementary Wooden Toddler Puzzles
The BEESTECH Elementary Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles for Toddlers is a 4-pack of jigsaw fun!
In one box, you get 4 fun animal jigsaw puzzles! The pieces are perfectly sized for little ones, but large enough to not be a choking concern.
The manufacturer recommends these puzzles for ages 2 and up. However, I think these are better suited for 3 years and up. There are just too many pieces for a 2-year-old to put together.
Each puzzle has a different number of pieces for varying difficulty levels. The smallest puzzle is 9 pieces, while the largest is 20 pieces.
Included in the box set is a guide that features images of all 4 of the puzzles completed. It’s just a piece of paper, so try to keep track of it!
The box it comes can be reused as a storage box. It’s not exactly a puzzle rack, but it will do!
Gudi Toy Wooden Jigsaw Toddler Puzzles 4-Pack
The Gudi Toy Wooden Jigsaw Toddler Puzzles 4-Pack is a cheery set of puzzles made to make a toddler smile.
Vibrant illustrations are the keystone of these Gudi Toy puzzles. Images of a giraffe, panda, cow, and elephant are cheerful and fun in these easy 9-piece puzzle.
These wooden jigsaw puzzles were created with young toddlers in mind. The pieces are durable, meant to withstand drooling, biting, and bending.
I like how the puzzles feature full-colored illustrations underneath the pieces to help with piece placement. This is vital for early puzzle users.
The only concern is that these jigsaw puzzles are smaller than expected. Dimensions are easy to overlook, but try not to!
BEESTECH Animal Beginner Puzzles
The BEESTECH Animal Beginner Puzzles are fun puzzles of varying degrees with friendly animal friends!
There are a lot of helpful features included with these puzzles that you and your child will appreciate. Each animal is color-coded and numbered on the back as a cheat sheet.
Meanwhile, a 23” x 16.5″ map is included. It showcases a fanciful landscape with designated spots for each animal puzzle.
The 8 puzzles increase in difficulty. Puzzles are either 3, 4, 5, or 6 pieces. These levels, along with the large map guide, make this a great option for family game night with siblings.
If your little one prefers his puzzles a little more Jurassic, there is also a dinosaur version!
TomatoFish Matching Egg Set
The TomatoFish Matching Egg Set is a sp-egg-tacular toddler puzzle!
I apologize for the egg pun. It was too obvious to not go for it. Hilarious jokes aside, this is such a great learning tool for toddlers.
Granted, it doesn’t look like a puzzle. It looks like a carton of eggs. In fact, my mother was concerned that my son was carrying an actual carton of eggs around my house.
The bright yellow egg carton is whimsical, sure, but it’s incredibly helpful because it keeps all the eggs together, neat and tidy.
Instead of yolk, the eggs are filled with brightly colored 3D shape halves that need to be put back together by your little one.
This puzzle is a hands-on way to introduce colors and shapes to your toddler while working on those fine motor skills. Also, this playing with this set taught my son the word “egg.”
INNOCHEER Wooden Animal Puzzles
The INNOCHEER Wooden Animal Puzzles is a great bundle of colorful animal puzzles!
This bundle of lovely wooden puzzles will delight your toddler! The bright eye-catching colors will tear your kid’s attention away from anything, even “Baby Shark” or “Johnny, Johnny.” I swear.
Chunky puzzle pieces come together to create bright and colorful animals like a turtle, an owl, and a giraffe.
The organization addict in me loves how this puzzle set includes a drawstring bag. This makes storing the pieces a breeze and allows the boards to be stored separately and upright.
The major downside to these puzzles is that they lack a guideline image under the puzzle pieces. This might make it complicated for new puzzlers.
GYBBER&MUMU Wooden Preschool Colorful Shape Puzzle
The GYBBER&MUMU Wooden Preschool Colorful Shape Puzzle is a high-quality shapes puzzle board.
Puzzles are a fun way to teach your child concepts like shapes. I also like to sneak in a lesson in colors (“Yes, a triangle! And what color is the triangle, sweetie?”).
That’s why I love this GYBBER & MUMU puzzle board. It’s the perfect tool for both shape and color recognition.
You can go over all the basic colors: yellow, blue, and red, for example. You cover the basic shapes: square, triangle, diamond, and more.
Although, if your toddler manages to pronounce a “dark green quincunx,” let me in on your secret to parenting. Personally, I’ll just stick with calling that piece a “flower.”
All the chunky shapes fit into a smoothed wood puzzle board. This product has passed rigorous tests to be certified lead, BPA, and phthalate-free.
Melissa & Doug Vehicles Mix N Match Peg Puzzle
The Melissa & Doug Vehicles Mix N Match Peg Puzzle is a silly puzzle that is guaranteed to entertain.
Do you have a toy car addict on your hands? I get it. This puzzle is a must-have then.
This handcrafted peg puzzle has 9 vehicles and 9 corresponding puzzle pieces. The fronts of the cars are movable peg pieces. All the pieces fit for every vehicle half.
Essentially, this is a matching game in a puzzle. Since all the pieces fit in every spot, your child has to use context clues and colors to find the correct piece.
They could also just put the garbage truck half with the school bus half because why not?
Melissa & Doug Large Farm Jumbo Knob Puzzle
The Melissa & Doug Large Farm Jumbo Knob Puzzle is for the littlest of puzzlers!
There’s a good chance your toddler loves song Old MacDonald Had a Farm. What could be better than a catchy tune and animal noises?
This beginner’s puzzle brings the classic song to life. Your little one gets to put Old MacDonald and all his animals in their rightful place in the puzzle board!
This cute Melissa & Doug barnyard puzzle is perfect for the tiniest of hands. The large wooden knobs on every puzzle piece are easy to grasp and lift.
As your toddler places the correct animal in the right spot, review the animal’s signature noise and maybe a verse or two of Old MacDonald. They’ll love it.
Hape Alphabet Puzzle
The Hape Alphabet Puzzle is a colorful way to learn the alphabet!
An alphabet puzzle board is essential when it’s time to start teaching those ABC’s to your toddler. An alphabet puzzle is a hands-on method to learn the 26 letters.
The alphabet is actually very exciting if my toddler’s experiences are any indication. He thinks it’s a lot of fun to yell the different letters as he pulls the pieces out.
If you’d like to bring that same level of joy to your household, try out this Hape wooden alphabet puzzle.
For bonus fun, the letters do stand up on their own. This will come in handy when it’s time to learn sight words.
Most importantly, Hape is a brand you can feel safe about giving to your toddler. The company only uses natural materials in their toys.
The Learning Journey: My First Match It – All My Toys
The Learning Journey: My First Match It – All My Toys is a beginner’s introduction to jigsaw puzzles!
In this box, you’ll get 15 different 2-piece puzzles. These are self-correcting puzzles, meaning only the correct halves will fit together. Wrong pieces will not.
I ordered the Things That Go version. Other versions include: At the Ocean, Colors and Shapes, On the Farm, and Dinosaurs.
The “All My Toys” theme is ideal for introducing your toddler to jigsaw puzzles. It features objects they encounter every day, like a baby doll or a rubber duckie.
Although, this is the first puzzle toy I have bought that was an organizational challenge for me. My son’s other puzzles fit on a puzzle rack or had its own container.
These 2-piece puzzles come in a plain cardboard box that was damaged in the mail. Therefore, I find myself cleaning up and attempting to store 30 puzzle pieces every time my son plays with them.
As far as downsides go, it’s a minor one. It’s well worth it for how excited my son gets when he puts together the puzzles. His favorite? The bicycle!
Sesame Street My Pal Elmo Foam Floor Puzzle
The Sesame Street My Pal Elmo Foam Floor Puzzle is a fun floor puzzle featuring everyone’s favorite monster!
For toddlers, Elmo is practically Elvis. This makes him the perfect subject for a toddler jigsaw puzzle!
Your toddler will love putting together Elmo piece by piece. The pieces are made of soft thick foam and are tough enough for some roughhousing.
The manufacturer’s recommended age is 2 to 5 years old. It’s currently Amazon’s Choice for “puzzles for 2-year-olds.”
Currently, at a few months shy of 2 and a half years, my son can’t put this together correctly, but he certainly has fun putting it together incorrectly!
Meanwhile, his friend who is a few months ahead of him can put this together, so gauge your child’s skill level before buying. They can also grow into it!
This foam puzzle features the furry red monster along with a few puppy pals. It has 25 pieces in total and is 24 inches tall when completed.
Hape First Shapes Toddler Wooden Puzzle
The Hape First Shapes Toddler Wooden Puzzle is an elegantly simple puzzle for young toddlers to learn shapes.
Parents and toddlers alike love this shape puzzle. It’s simple, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to shape sorting.
These bright wooden shapes are toddler tested and mother approved. Many rugrats have made chew toys out of these chunky pieces and yet the non-toxic paint stays put.
Instead of knobs or pegs, the pieces have 3D shapes for grasping. All the edges are rounded, even on the puzzle board, so there are no sharp edges.
This puzzle is great for teaching the concepts of shapes, colors, and even counting (“how many pieces are there?”).
Plus, with Hape, you always know you’re getting a quality child’s toy with no toxic materials.
TOP BRIGHT Number Toddler Puzzle
The TOP BRIGHT Number Toddler Puzzle is a unique and fun number puzzle board!
I’m really drawn to this number puzzle board. My son has a similar Melissa & Doug puzzle board, but it just doesn’t have the character of this one.
I especially like the different learning opportunities packed in this one puzzle. It teaches numbers, but it also has lessons about animals and nature.
Each number has a little creature hanging around it. The numbers are then decorated with a pattern of that creature’s favorite snack.
For example, the 3 has a dog and a bone pattern. The 6 is topped by a frog and painted with 6 flies.
Once your little one has the numbers down, you can teach them the different animals and what their corresponding pattern means.
Physically, these puzzle pieces are chunkier than most, making them easy for little hands. The edges are rounded and the paint is water-based.
Melissa & Doug First Play Wooden Touch & Feel Puzzle
The Melissa & Doug First Play Wooden Touch & Feel Puzzle is all the fun of a touch-and-feel book in a puzzle!
You probably have a few touch-and-feel board books on your child’s bookshelf. Tactile books are staples in beginner libraries because they encourage sensory awareness and hands-on interaction.
Your child gets the same benefits from this Melissa & Doug puzzle board. It’s the sensory benefits of a touch-and-feel with the cognitive development and motor skills engagement of a puzzle.
The chunky puzzle pieces are a sweet dog, cat, rabbit, and bird. They’re all painted with bright basic colors and have furry textures. They also stand up for pretend play.
The center is a diamond-shaped mirror, where your little one can make some silly faces while they play.
This puzzle board is probably best suited for younger toddlers, so 12 months and older.
JOYIN Toy 4 in 1 Wooden Toddler Puzzles
The JOYIN Toy 4 in 1 Wooden Preschool Puzzles is a versatile set of wooden puzzles that will challenge your preschooler’s brain!ly set
This JOYIN set is a bundle of brain-boosting fun in four different puzzles. The puzzles involve sorting and stacking chunky colorful blocks (tip: you can use this as an early set of toddler blocks if you wanted!)
As the parent, you’ll love how it follows the Montessori method. Even better? It keeps toddlers entertained for long chunks of time. Yes.
The age recommendation for this set is 18 months and up. Be forewarned that this is a generous endorsement. 18-month-olds might enjoy stacking the pieces, but this is a bit too advanced for them.
This wonderful puzzle set is best suited for 2 to 4-year-olds but is certified safe for all children by US ASTM F963 Toy Standards.
SainSmart Jr. Wooden Tetris Toddler Puzzle
The SainSmart Jr. Wooden Tetris Toddler Puzzle is a toy made for creative problem-solving.
I won’t lie. I was pretty skeptical of the recommended age range on this one. The recommended ages for this puzzle are 2 to 8 years.
I didn’t doubt the abilities of children, necessarily. I just couldn’t imagine my grown self fiddling with this thing for long without growing frustrated.
Am I smarter than a 3-year-old? No, I am not. I wouldn’t give this to a 2-year-old, but it’s definitely acceptable for 3 years or older!
There isn’t just one way to complete this Tetris-inspired puzzle. Multiple solutions work, which makes this an entertaining challenge.
Don’t worry – the back has an answer key if you need some help (like me!)
It includes 40 wood pieces and a puzzle board. All parts are made from high-quality wood and colored with non-toxic paint.
Fat Brain Toys Wooden Personalized Name Puzzle
The Fat Brain Toys Wooden Personalized Name Puzzle is a personalized puzzle you have just got to have!
Your child’s name becomes a brightly colored and fun puzzle with this product. For a little one, it’s better than their name in lights!
These puzzles are a big hit in my friend circle. Every mom adores these personalized puzzles. Plus, it’s a fun way to introduce your child to their name and, later, how to spell it.
Not only is this a practical toy, but it’s also an attractive one. You can buy it early and until your child shows an interest in it, it makes an adorable piece of nursery or playroom decor.
Fat Brain Toys will personalize a puzzle with a name with up to 9 letters. If your child’s name happens to be longer than that, a nickname always works too!
PlanToys Wooden Weather Dress-Up Puzzle
The PlanToys Wooden Weather Dress-Up Puzzle is perfect for Montessori teaching!
If you aren’t familiar with the Montessori-style of teaching, it focuses strongly on independent learning. One aspect is learning about different weather.
When children understand the different seasons and the expected weather, they can then make independent choices, like choosing their own outfit for the day.
That is what makes this a must-have for any Montessori followers. The circular wooden puzzle is decorated with four children representing the different seasons.
Each character is dressed for a particular season, like a coat and a hat for winter or a swimsuit for summer.
The pieces also have depictions of the weather, like flowers in spring or barren trees in fall.
This sustainably-sourced puzzle is two-sided! The flipside of the tiles are stencils to make coloring time extra special!
Buying Criteria for Toddler Puzzles
As with any toddler toy, it has to be able to take a beating. For this list, I wanted to include toddler puzzles made of strong materials.
Most of the puzzles on this list are made from strong high-quality wood. They are made to survive your chewing and drooling little love bug.
Toddlers can’t complete a 500-piece puzzle of Portland’s skyline. Most of them don’t even know what a skyline is.
Still, toddlerhood covers a varied range of ages. Most sources consider a toddler to be between 1 and 4 years old.
A 1-year-old needs a very different puzzle than a 4-year-old. For this list, we tried to include offerings for very step of toddlerhood.
There is a puzzle of everything. If you can dream it, you can print it up and cut it into jigsaw pieces!
Still, toddlers are drawn to certain looks and themes. Toys with bright colors and familiar themes grab a toddler’s attention first.
So, what themes are considered toddler favorites? Little ones love vehicles and animals. Of course, favorite characters like Elmo are always a hit.
They’re also drawn to shapes, numbers, and letters.
FAQs About Toddler Puzzles
What are the benefits of toddler puzzles?
Puzzles are vital to a toddler’s cognitive development. In fact, a child’s ability to complete puzzles is highlighted in the CDC’s milestones list.
By age 3, toddlers should be able to complete puzzles with 2 to 4 pieces. This is because completing any puzzle involves the mastery of a whole list of cognitive and physical skills.
Putting together 2 puzzle pieces doesn’t seem like a monumental task, but you aren’t seeing newborn babies accomplish it.
Through only a couple of years of play and exploring, children build up a skillset from scratch. Puzzles can show these skills all working together.
What skills do puzzles help strengthen and build?
- Hand-eye coordination
- Spatial awareness
- Fine motor skills
- Gross motor skills
- Concentration and focus
- Shape recognition
What kind of puzzle is right for my younger toddler?
Puzzles are a fantastic learning tool, as long as you are choosing developmentally appropriate ones. After all, you wouldn’t hand a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle to a 2-year-old, right?
Choosing the right puzzle for a toddler is striking a balance between challenging and frustrating. Your little one should be mentally stimulated but not discouraged by something too difficult.
For young toddlers, which covers 18 months to 2 years old, stick with puzzle boards. These are also called insert puzzles. They are exactly what they sound like: pieces are inserted into a board.
Small hands and clumsy motor skills do best with pieces that have large knobs to grasp. The Asher & Olivia puzzle set mentioned above is an example of this.
Toddlers at this stage can also stick with chunky puzzle pieces that have no knobs but are still easy to grasp. Look to the Hape Alphabet puzzle or the TOP BRIGHT Number puzzle.
As fine motor skills strengthen, your toddler can graduate to peg puzzles. The pegs are significantly smaller than the knobs. The first entry, the Melissa & Doug vehicle puzzle, is a peg puzzle.
What kind of puzzle is right for my older toddler?
Peg and knob puzzles are best for younger toddlers, but they are far too simple for older ones.
Eventually, your child won’t need the aid of knobs or pegs or even thick puzzle pieces. Now, they can break out the jigsaw puzzles.
Of course, they aren’t jumping into that 1,000-piece puzzle I brought up before. A lot of toddler jigsaw puzzles are only 2 or 3 pieces!
The BEESTECH Animal Beginner Puzzles are simple enough, as they are only 4 pieces. When your child has mastered the small puzzles, they can add in more and more pieces!
Outside of traditional puzzles, 3D puzzles are an entertaining learning tool as well. The TomatoFish matching eggs are far from a jigsaw puzzle, but they have all the benefits of one.
You know your child best, so trust your instinct when choosing a puzzle for him or her!
Narrowing this list down to one single puzzle offering was no simple task. After all, different puzzles suit children in different stages of life.
To choose only one, I had to eliminate choices with certain criteria.
Longevity was an important factor. Will this puzzle only be useful for a short season in life? Or does it hold value for longer?
With that in mind, the puzzles for the youngest toddlers, like the Melissa & Doug Touch and Feel puzzle, was out of the running.
Still, every puzzle is eventually grown out of it, unless it has a secondary use.
For this reason, and more, the Fat Brain Personalized Name Puzzle is the overall best puzzle for toddlers.
This puzzle gets top marks for several reasons. First and foremost, it’s unique. It isn’t the same old puzzle board with animals or cars.
Second, it’s useful for years. Tiny 6-month olds can play with the letters because they are large enough to be safe.
Young toddlers can use it to learn how to use a puzzle board and hone those puzzling skills.
Once your child hits kindergarten, they’re going to be expected to learn to spell their name. Guess what puzzle comes in handy then?
Third, and last, it’s an attractive design and fits with any decor. Plus, how can you beat something personalized?
In the end, if you don’t agree with my top choice, that’s okay! There are no wrong answers here. Just make sure your toddler has a few puzzles to learn with!