Sorting and Nesting Toys: Toddlers love to sort, stack, unsort, unstack, and basically reorganize their lives. Sorting and nesting toys are great fun for those who are trying out their early problem-solving skills.
Climbing Gym: A tiny gym can give your toddler a safe place to climb, hide, slide, and practice all her emerging motor skills – over and over again. But these sets can also be pricey and are quickly outgrown.
Balls: Any ball that’s easy to grasp will be a hit with this group – underinflated beach balls, vinyl balls, cloth balls. Stay away from foam balls that could end up as a mouthful. This is the age at which you can introduce your child to “catch.” Start slowly – she’ll begin to get the back-and-forth rhythm with some practice.
Washable Crayons and Paper: Let the scribbling begin! Hand your toddler no more than a couple of crayons at a time – you don’t want to overwhelm her – and tape the paper to the floor so she can make her mark without dragging the paper along with her.
Ride-On Vehicles: This mode of self-locomotion may be even more popular than walking. Many small ride-on toys have models with handles for an adult to push when the child gets tired. Avoid the electronic versions – they’re expensive and take away from the fun of getting around under your own power.
Tool Bench or Toy Kitchen: Junior fix-it kids or aspiring chefs will get hours of play out of plastic or wooden models scaled to their size. Sets like these give a child a chance to emulate the things he sees adults doing, and they’ll continue to hold his interest for several months as his play gets more sophisticated.
Picture Books: Your toddler will enjoy more advanced picture books showing familiar objects and activities. She may also start to take pride in her own library and the chance to pick out a favorite for you to read.