Finding a game your toddler can enjoy is more difficult than it sounds. Some children are picky in their selection of play toys at this age, different developmental levels require specific styles of play, and the need to find a game that fosters growth from intellectual to physical levels is vital.
There’s more that goes into creating board games for toddlers than most people realize. Emotional, social, and intellectual development are highly nuanced at this age, and not every game on the market can help develop these facets of your toddler as well as you think.
So, how can you pick out the best board games for your child? While it might seem like you need a college degree in child psychology, you only need to rely on three types of experts: Those that develop and rate games, the adults who purchase them, and the children that play them.
We’ve rounded up ten of the best board games for toddlers on the market to help you make the best buying decision possible. We also included a buyer’s guide at the end to help you better identify what to look for in these types of games.
There are hundreds of websites who care more about selling you a product than helping you make the best buying decision possible. We prefer the latter and spend countless hours ensuring our lists meet our rigorous standards.
To bring you an honest, accurate list of products, we begin by finding as many worthwhile items as we can. Those with higher ratings are pooled together before we dig into their customer reviews. While every company would like you to believe their product is the best, customers tell the honest story behind how they function.
After removing those with serious complaints from the list, we take a look at customer testimonials. Like reviews, these can help any consumer identify the qualities a product has to offer. We’re also talented when it comes to sniffing out fake testimonials, and place red flags by-products with ones that are bought and paid for.
Next, we look at the data surrounding a product. Finding the best board games for toddlers means ensuring the games hold educational value, are fun enough to play countless times, and that all of the included parts are safe for that age group.
Finally, we look at brand reputation. We’re fans of new companies producing top of the line products, but we also love brands with a longstanding history of quality products and exceptional customer service. Hasbro, for instance, has created countless hits for family game nights.
After reviewing all of this information, we put each product through a rigorous vetting process. We then select the top ten performers and rate them one more time, being as critical as possible.
The result is a list of ten products that we feel are the absolute best on the market. It’s an extensive process, but we feel it’s worth it to help you make an educated buying decision.
Here they are, the ten best board games for toddlers on the market. We started the list with the best of the best, working our way down the five-star rating scale from there.
Designed for ages two and up, “Where’s Bear?” combines the love of building blocks with the joy of uncovering hidden objects. The game is played by taking turns hiding a bear underneath a collection of stackable boxes. To win, simply find the bear. Each box is decorated with a different room in the bear’s house, helping to teach household vocabulary. The game is also designed to reinforce object permanence, problem-solving, and directional relation. Classifying and matching are also a part of the educational nature of the game. The box includes one wooden bear and six nesting blocks, making it simple for anyone to use. The best part of “Where’s Bear” is that you can play quick games that retain your toddler’s attention as they reap the social and cognitive benefits of the game.
Adults will love this game for the antagonist, pesky stinkbugs, while children will immediately be drawn to the colorful game pieces. “Snug as a Bug in a Rug!” offers three levels of difficulty, each of involves helping colorful bugs find a comfy spot underneath a rug before the stinkbugs smell it up. A combination of dice and a spinner help these characters move along the game board. “Snug as a Bug in a Rug!” is designed to encourage decision-making capabilities, problem-solving skills, and foster emotional development. The game creates a non-stressful playthrough that is also excellent for developing a sense of community while building positive self-esteem. Counting, colors, numbers, and shapes are also taught through the way the game is played. Combined, these developmental elements are excellent for your toddler’s growth.
“Here, Fishy, Fishy!” offers two play modes, each designed to teach something different. In free play, toddlers can use the included fishing rod as they wish to pick up various sea creatures with the magnet. This helps to build hand-eye coordination as well as concentration skills. In the actual game, a die is rolled to decide which sea creature your child picks up next. The die color-coordinates with different creatures, helping them to identify colors and furthering their concentration skills. Parents can take this game one step further, too. Several of the fish hold specific items like a watering pail or a bucket, allowing children to identify specific objects. The easy playstyle of this game makes it an excellent choice for the two-year-old range, while the play action is a unique way for them to have fun while learning.
If you played Orchard as a child, then you’ll recognize this simplified version instantly. The game is modified to make it toddler-friendly, but still includes the educational benefits enjoyed by children and parents alike for the past 30 years. There are a number of trees in the game that each grow a different fruit. The goal is to harvest those fruits before the raven reaches the end of the board. While up to four people can play, all players must work together to beat the raven. “First Orchard” works to foster vital social skills in children with its team-oriented design. Toddlers also benefit from color recognition, counting, and work on their comprehension by understanding the game’s rules.
The Woozle is a funny-looking creature that loves to eat silly snacks like fried socks and cheesy slippers. Using a large spoon, children play against themselves or other players to feed the Woozle snacks. At the same time, a spinner decides which snacks are removed from the game. If they can feed the goofy monster twelve snacks before all of them are removed, they win. The game helps toddlers with dexterity, counting, and fine motor skills as they spoon-feed the Woozle. Social skills are also developed through cooperative play as children learn to work together in order to win. Emotional development, positive self-esteem, and creative problem solving are also cultivated through stress-free gameplay.
“Tidy Up!” offers both a matching and competitive play style that has toddlers cleaning up a young cat’s room. Tiptop, the cat, is listening to his mother’s instructions to put his toys away but is unsure of where things go. The goal of the game is to help Tiptop put all of his toys in the correct places. The game is designed to foster motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as well as object permanence and recognition. Speech is also worked on as players identify what toys go where on the shelf. The shelf itself has three slots where children inset game pieces. There’s one for stuffed animals, one for toy cars, and one for building blocks.
This cooperative game has players stack as many blocks as possible before “the smasher” makes its way around the game board to knock them down. How the blocks are stacked changes in each of the three play styles, which grow in difficulty to make this a game your toddler can play for years to come. The cooperative nature of the game fosters emotional development as well as positive self-esteem and shared decision-making skills. The stacking aspect of the game works on color matching and hand-eye-coordination skills while moving “the smasher” with a spinner helps them learn to count. As the game progresses in difficulty, players use sticks to stack the blocks. This creates a challenge suitable for ages well past the toddler years. This is a game that can bring the entire family together for hours of fun.
Players take turns controlling Frankie, an orange cat who doubles as a way to pick up game pieces. A spinner dictates which food will be a part of each player’s five-course meal. The first to successfully place their order wins the game. Land on the fly or a greedy guest, and you’ll lose a turn. The spinner and game pieces help toddlers identify geometric shapes, develop fine motor skills, and also encourages pre-handwriting capabilities through the Frankie grabber. Parents can also use this game to help children identify foods and colors. A Parent’s Choice Silver Honor game and winner of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Seal, this is an excellent choice for your toddler. Its multi-faceted educational purposes are employed through a social play style, helping to foster good sportsmanship while developing social skills.
“Roll and Play” is a simple matchmaking game designed with toddlers in mind. Players roll a large plush cube and select the card matching that side of the cube’s color. Each card contains a scene that players act out, such as roaring like a lion or making a happy face. The game is designed to teach colors, numbers, and language skills. It also encourages creativity and fosters gross motor skills. Family-style play fosters a sense of community, allowing parents to build their toddler’s self-esteem and develop positive, cooperative play attitudes. One of the neatest aspects of this game is that there are no ways to win and no endpoint. Players can roll the die until their little hearts are content. With 48 cards total, there’s plenty of fun in store.
Vocabulary and memory skills are the focus behind “Seek-a-Boo!” The game includes large, laminated cards that excite toddlers with their colorful and bright appeal. Players learn to identify shapes, colors, and objects as they turn over cards, matching objects in two categories. An included guide for parents gives you the ability to create various ways to play, even making your own unique combination of play styles. This is an excellent way to introduce young children to the concept of matchmaking, as well as teaching cooperative play skills with siblings or friends.
It isn’t always easy to know what you’re looking for in a toddler’s board game, which is why we made this buying guide to help you out. From developmental encouragement to fun elements, here’s everything you need to know.
One of the first aspects to consider is whether or not your child will have fun playing the game time and time again. Ensuring this might sound tricky, but the key is variety. The more ways your toddler can engage the game, the more they’ll love playing with it.
Games that involve stacking parts or multiple play styles keep playtime from becoming dull and redundant, allowing your toddler to enjoy them for hours at a time. Games that rely on creativity or imagination are also excellent choices since each playthrough can be different.
Some toys are designed specifically for ages two to four, while others are meant to grow with your child. These board games often involve different play styles that increase in difficulty to match the intellectual capabilities of varying ages. While most games will describe themselves as such on the box, you can quickly find out from customer reviews if a toy is designed to grow with your child.
When it comes to intellectual development, the first aspect to consider is problem-solving. These types of games allow toddlers to practice newly learned skills with repetition but also add that vital “fun factor” that keeps them interested in the game. Problem-solving games also incorporate a series of educational benefits, which vary depending on the game itself. Typically, you can expect them to aid in:
Any toddler’s toy should spur their imagination. The more their creativity is encouraged, the better it is for their development. Pretend play is excellent for language, literacy, and sequencing. Most board games involve some amount of imagination in order to play, with some placing more emphasis on this aspect than others.
When looking for board games, it is important to find something that your toddler can play with on their own as well as with friends or family. Encouraging these social bonds at a young age is an excellent way for your toddler to build a sense of community, develop their self-esteem, and foster emotional wellbeing. The multiplayer aspect of these games is far more important than their solo-playability. This element allows you to interact with your child through this critical stage of development, encouraging the skills that the boardgame works on. It also creates a stronger relationship between you and your child.
At this stage in development, there are all sorts of developmental aspects your child should be working on. Colors, shapes, and counting as essentials right now, making any board game that incorporates these elements an excellent choice. Board games that include objects your child can identify are also something you want to look for. The items in the game can range from food to animals or even everyday objects. As long as they’re identifying specific objects, you can rest assured your aiding in their development.
While several toddler-marketed toys include these features, they’re not necessary for a board game or your child’s development. While they do help keep their attention, they also limit your child’s ability to interact with the toy creatively. Top rated board games, like the ones in this article, avoid these flashy gimmicks in favor of fostering developmental skills.
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