The best time to start teaching your child about shapes, colors, and numbers is before they turn two years old. To help you on this journey, we’ve come up with a list of educational toys for 12-24 month olds. We hope these will be useful in helping your child learn while having fun! Every child is born to make discoveries. He has a fundamental need to learn, which will be satisfied by the discovery of his environment, including other people. This innate curiosity makes learning possible through play using all available senses without exception. Play is a child’s way to explore the world and learn through developmentally appropriate activities. Play also lays a foundation for life-long learning, which also includes school readiness.

Basic Requrements for 12-24 Months Old Toys

Age appropriate choices

Here are a few suggestions on what kind of toys are appropriate for 1-2 year old children.

Shape sorters

Teach your child shapes, colors, and sorting with a shape sorter toy. There are a variety of types out there with different features that can help older kids learn how to count as well as recognize shapes. Some have lids to open and close while others will make sounds when the pieces fit inside. Some types even offer a treasure hunt to find all the shapes that fit in the correct holes.

Shape puzzles

These are another great way for kids this age to learn how to put items together, sort them by color or shape, and they can work on matching skills too. Many of these also come with activity books that include matching, mazes, and other puzzles. Some can even keep track of progress as they complete each puzzle.

Puzzles

Puzzles are a great way for kids to develop problem solving skills as well as hand eye coordination to pick up pieces and place them where they belong. Give your child a 3-4 piece puzzle that will be a little more challenging or a 12-piece for more of a challenge.

Flash cards

Flash cards are great for learning colors, shapes, numbers/counting, and letters (upper and lower case). They can also build vocabulary skills by learning the names of objects around them like cars, trucks, fruits & vegetables, and more.

Balls

Balls are a great item to have for open-ended play! Balls can roll, bounce, be thrown or kicked. They come in a variety of colors and sizes that will grow with your child. Balls are lightweight and easy to grip which makes them perfect toys for young children just starting out with their fine motor skills.

Push/Pull Toys

These are perfect for kids to develop their gross motor skills while learning how to walk or run! These toys can be pushed or pulled around on smooth surfaces like floors, carpets, and more. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes that include animals, vehicles (cars, trucks, trains), characters from favorite kid’s TV shows or movies, and more. Many come with sounds that are fun for kids to press while playing with them!

Musical Toys

Musical toys will develop your child’s auditory skills by introducing different instruments like drums, xylophones, bells & chimes, and pianos. They will play music while your child learns about rhythm & beat! Many of these also come with lights that move in coordination to the sound which makes this learning fun for your little one.

Ride on Toys

These toys are perfect for active kids looking for something fun to do! These can be pushed or pulled by adults or older siblings while they sit on them and steer. These types of toys come in a variety of shapes, sizes, features (lights, music, steering wheels), and even characters that kids love like Disney princesses & superheros!

Stuffed Animals & Dolls

These are perfect for kids to learn how to take care of their own “babies”! Stuffed animals are great because they can be played with at home or taken along in the car or stroller. Dolls are also great for pretend play and come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and even special features like talking & singing!

Our Top Picks of Toys for 1-2 Year Olds

VTech Pop-a-Balls Push and Pop Bulldozer Amazon Exclusive,Red
  • Push the handle to roll the red bulldozer across the floor and watch it pop balls out of the chimney into the bucket
  • Press the buttons to learn colors, numbers, phrases and music
  • Roll the bulldozer and trigger motion sensors to listen to fun tunes and songs on the move stimulating attention and coordination

Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone - Award Winning Durable...
  • MULTIFUNCTIONAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT: This kids xylophone can be played in variety of ways. The kids can fetch balls as pounding sends the balls tinkling over or they can pull out the keyboard and xylophone and play a solo
  • FINE MOTOR SKILLS DEVELOPMENT: Promotes dexterity, hand eye coordination, manipulation, arm movement, cause and effect
  • ESTABLISH MUSICALITY: This pounding toys for toddlers encourages musical development and exploration, audio recognition and play

Melissa & Doug First Play Wooden Touch and Feel Puzzle Peek-a-Boo Pets With...
  • 4-piece wooden chunky puzzle with textured animal pieces that stand up for pretend play
  • Pieces include kitten, puppy, bunny, and bird
  • Mirror in the center of sturdy wooden puzzle board and pictures under pieces

Toddler Toys for 1 2 Year Old Boy and Girl Gifts Wooden Race Track Car Ramp...
  • MOM'S PRIORITY CHOOSE: This toddler ramp race track toy is made of high quality wood, BPA Free and stained with bright non-toxic water-based paint. Fully tested to the highest U.S. ASTM F 963 and European EN71 toy safety standards. The vehicles also passed tensile tests of ASTM, the wheels can not be pulling out without violent destruction. No concerns about wheels falling off or pieces coming apart. The car is large enough not to risk suffocation even you buy it as gifts for 1 year old boy girl
  • UNIQUE TOP PARCKING LOT: 4 bright ramp racer set off from the top parking lot and then slides down the rainbow toddler race track, bringing the toddlers pleasure of racing and improving visuals tracking ability. When the game stops, the toddlers can collect the cars in the top parking lot by themselves, improving your 1 2 year old boy and girl’s sense of storage, and prevent the cars from getting lost
  • TODDLER FESTIVAL GIFT: Size 12"x4"x10", weight about 2 pounds, including 4 car ramps, 1 parking lot and 4 toddler ramp racer . Packed in a very sturdy color box .The only piece need to be attached is the removable top parking lot, other no assemble needed. This toddler race track toy is compact and sturdy, can be easily stored on shelving or in small room. Suitable for toddler playing at home indoor or outdoor activity, best gift for 1 2 year old boy and girl's birthday

Soft Car Toy Set with Play Mat for 1 Year Old Baby,Toddlers,Boys and Girls...
  • 【Nice set】The set includes nine soft, cloth-covered vehicles and a activity play mat/storage bag.
  • 【easy to clean】Using durable and easy to clean fabric.
  • 【Safe set】 They're soft so even if toddlers accidentally hits themselves with them, it doesn't hurt .

M SANMERSEN Piano Mat - Musical Keyboard Playmat 39.5" Electronic Music...
  • MULTIFUNCTIONAL KIDS PIANO MAT: Kids piano mat with 8 piano function keys and 8 kinds of animals sound and pronunciation, the sweet music can simulate the children's hearing. Foldable keyboard play mat sound is clear with flashing light effect, also can adjust the volume of music blanket to choose the suitable volume for your kid.
  • HIGH QUALITY & SAFETY MATERIAL: M SANMERSEN musical piano mat is made of soft non-woven fabric, tasteless and non-toxic. High-quality fabrics do not hurt kids' feet and it is easy to clean. Electronic music carpet is sensitive to touch, it can be automatically recognized even children not touch accurate target.
  • EASY TO CARRY: Kids dance mat is foldable and easy to carry. It is easy to use whether you are traveling or at home. More convenient than a stand keyboard piano. No risk of falling damage, suitable for kids over 3 years.

Melissa & Doug Animals Jumbo Knob Wooden Puzzles Set - Fish and Pets -...
  • Two 3-piece wooden jumbo knob puzzles
  • House Pets features adorable puppy, kitten, and bird in a house-shaped puzzle board
  • Fish Bowl features a fish, turtle, and crab in a fishbowl-shaped puzzle board

Melissa & Doug Take-Along Town Play Mat (19.25 x 14.25 inches) With 9 Soft...
  • Activity play mat/storage bag with around-the-town scene and 9 soft vehicles
  • Mat features bright colors and non-skid backing
  • Vehicles make crinkling, squeaking, or rattle noises

Premium Wooden Shape Sorter Toy with Sliding Lid & Carrying Strap 12 Color...
  • NEW AND IMPROVED DESIGN!** Cubbie Lee has upgraded this shape sorter based on customer feedback. Replacing the hinged lid with a sliding lid that wilL STAY IN PLACE AND KEEP BLOCKS FROM FALLING OUT, EVEN WHEN YOUR TODDLER TIPS IT OVER! This is now the only shape sorter available on Amazon that fixes that frustrating problem.
  • SAFE TO PLAY WITH - Only Non-toxic paint is used, no choking hazards, no rough edges on every block. Like every Cubbie Lee toy, this toy meet or exceeds the strict product safety regulations set forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) within the ASTM F963 regulations for children's toys for ages infant to 3.
  • WILL NOT FALL APART - SUPERIOR QUALITY & DESIGN - When you touch this shape sorter cube, you'll feel the difference in quality. Handcrafted to be an heirloom toy, you'll notice the weight and strength of the solid wood, the vibrant colors and smooth finish. Like all Cubbie Lee kids toys, this toy is built to last for years and to be played with by multiple children! Unlike other shape sorters on the market, it includes a sliding lid and a carrying strap for convenience.

TOYVENTIVE Wooden Kids Baby Activity Cube - Girls Gift Set | 1st Birthday...
  • ❤️EXCELLENT GIFTS FOR 1 YEAR OLD GIRL - Contains toddler activity play cube, fully accessorized with bonus stacking cups and essential words board book, all coming in a cute pink gifts ready packaging - best 1 year old girl gifts. These baby wooden toys are the perfect one year old girl gifts. Educational, fun, and parent-approved, an ideal choice for holiday and a 1st birthday gifts, which will put a big smile on her cute little face.
  • ❤️FUN LEARNING TOYS - This magnificent toddler educational one year old girl toys set is designed to promote counting and math skills, while also developing color, pattern and shape recognition in an engaging, fun and interactive way. Our Play Ideas e-book will help you teach these concepts and have fun with your baby! These toddler girl toys will be passed down and become the favorite learning toys for 1 year olds and older.
  • ❤️LIGHT AND COMPACT - The top and the bottom of the bead cube are detached and they can be played with separately. In addition, the top flips over and fits inside the box for easy storing. This makes the whole wooden toy easily portable and excellent for toddler travel toy. Activity cube size: w: 7.08 x d: 7.08 x h: 12.21 inches.

The Toddler Ten: The 10 most important milestones in the second year of your child’s life

The period of life from 12 to 24 months is one which sees unprecedented growth, unique learning, and an overall collection of astounding developments in a child’s life. These are the ten most noticeable and most important changes that a toddler may go through.

A Stair-ing Contest

An infant will take his/her first steps at around a year old. After this, walking will become a second nature, and many important developments will take place. One of these developments is the ability to ascend and descend stairs. This requires a high level of muscular coordination and a solid sense of balance. The sense of balance comes from development of the spinal cord and back muscles that takes place at the start of the second year of life. Climbing the stairs will suit toddlers well until they discover the true way to go down the stairs – sliding down the bannister.

Tiptoeing Through the Tulips

Your child will learn how to tiptoe around 14 months of age. This ability, which is made possible due to the development of the extensor muscles in the foot, makes many wonderful activities possible. The toddler becomes a much more apt hide-and-seek player. Not to mention, the ability to tiptoe around the house and over to the cookie jar. While standing on tiptoes may not seem like a big deal, it further displays the rapid development of the toddler’s locomotive skills and balancing abilities. Not to mention, the toddler’s knowledge of when he/she should tiptoe shows an awareness of movement abilities.

A Life Sentence

Your child learned to say monosyllabic, partially babbly words like “mama” and “papa” by the end of year one. By 18 months of age, he/she will start saying actual words such as “fire truck” and “dog”. This will give the toddler more freedom to express intentions and desires. He/she will go from “mama ma mama” to “I Hungry”. In another 6 months, the child’s linguistic abilities will develop to a whole new level. By the end of his/her second year, a toddler will start producing complete sentences. “I hungry” will transform into “Mom, I’m hungry.” It is a true pleasure to see your child begin expressing him/herself through such eloquent and complex dialogue. These abilities all stem from the development of Wernicke’s Area, Broca’s Area, and the Arcuate Fasciculus, the 3 main language areas in the brain. In addition to speaking his own words, your child may also begin imitating words he hears from you or from books that are read aloud to him (so be careful what you say!).

Two Directions

Toddlers are not necessarily the best at following directions. However, this is usually because of a choice to not follow directions. Around 18 months, your child will develop the capacity to obey 2 part complex commands. Such commands include “pick up the toy and bring it to me” or “stop riding the dog and pet it instead”. This capability is due largely to developments in the neural pathways of the brain. These pathways transmit input from the outside to signals that cause the brain to make certain decisions and certain action to be taken. Now, whether or not your child will actually choose to follow directions is a different story.

The Color and the Shape

At around 16 months, your child will begin to identify colors and shapes. This is a huge step because it opens multiple doors and gives your child different opportunities for development and self-expression. With the transition to a color world, your child will have a lot more fun playing with colorful toys. The toddler will also start showing artistic prowess by drawing with chalk or crayons. It’s fascinating to see what kinds of ideas and thoughts your child can convey through art. The concept of shapes is also a new one that your toddler will pick up. This new skill will allow him/her to construct towers of 2-4 blocks.

First Pitch

With an increased affinity for recognizing shapes and a better ability to control movement comes the development of the combination of the two – hand-eye coordination. The brain’s input and output sensors start to work in sync with the spinal cord to give your toddler the ability to react to approaching objects more smoothly. One activity that he/she will be able to do is throw a ball. While you may not be able to enjoy full out sporting events and intense games of catch, the foundation for numerous catch sessions will develop at around 18 months in the form of the capability to throw a ball for the first time.

Dress Up Day

With an increase in your toddler’s ability to coordinate movements and function comes an increased sense of independence and pride in doing things on his/her own. This doesn’t mean that your child is ready to move into college at 24 months. However, small tasks that you used to do for your child may become independent activities. One such activity is dressing up and undressing. Prepare yourself to judge copious amounts of fashion shows and costume parties, as your child will realize that he/she can make decisions about what to wear on his/her own. This skill combines hand-eye coordination with a growing ability to think logically and make decision. Fair warning, however: the ability to think logically may not be too evident from your child’s self selected outfits.

Feeding Frenzy

Your child will also gain independence in the dining arena. It will all start with the toddler’s ability to wash their own hands. Then the ability to choose foods will commence to develop. He/she may start to develop preferences for certain types of foods and not be inclined to eat other types. This, combined with the toddler’s increased capacity for conveying ideas through words may lead to some enticing conversations such as “Mom, give cookie” or “No broccoli, I want ice cream!” Watching the scope of your toddler’s diet increase can be a rewarding and funny experience. However, it is also at this age that many food allergies become evident because of the new foods tried. It is important to keep an eye on the toddler when he/she is trying new foods.

Pretend Play

Your child may start to develop a vivid imagination around the age of 20 months. When paired with a grasp of muscular movement and an ever-growing vocabulary, this can give your child hours of pretend play fun. The toddler will, at first, try and emulate the biggest role model in his/her – parents. You can watch in awe as your child pretend plays through your various daily activities – from driving a car, to talking on the phone, to feeding a doll. It will be impressive to see this growing sense of independence and imitation. Your child may also be more inclined to attempt other “grown-up” activities, such as using a toilet. This is actually a big helper during the potty training years.

Someone Your Own Age

Through the first two years of life, your child will only interact with a handful of people – family friends, nurses, relatives, et cetera. At 2 years old, he/she will gain an affection for other people, particularly ones his/her own age. After all, the toddler can only have so much fun playing with non-toddlers. It’s a lot more fun to spend time with kids that are going through what your child is going through. You child may be drawn to other kids more than ever. This is the start of a new, fascinating phase of development – the social phase. Now that your child has developed skills for his/her own benefit, it’s time to see what skills he/she develops when interacting with others. Social interaction will help the brain grow and new connections to form. It will truly be exciting to see your child start to gain independence and associate him/herself with others socially.