Best Brain-Building Gifts for Toddlers

Brain Building Gifts For Toddlers:

Why are brain-building toys important?

When it comes to helping your kid’s brain develop, the very best thing you can do for them is give them a safe and loving environment.

Once they have that though, what do you fill that environment with?

It can be tempting to equate “brain-building” with “skill mastery” or “memorization”. Yes, at some point they’ll need to learn their letters, learn to read, and memorize some math facts. But right now, your job isn’t to drill them on facts or figures, it is to help build a foundation for them to use for future decades.

Play is the most important work of childhood and toys are the tools for play. As parents, we want to provide toys that teach them to imagine. To create. To problem solve. To practice life skills and social skills. Our kids learn best through play – we need them playing with the “right” equipment.

Open-ended play gifts

Generally speaking, there are two types of toys: “One and Done” toys and “Open-Ended” toys. “One and Done” toys do the playing for our child. For example, a battery powered police car that makes a siren sound. The toy is doing the work instead of our child using their imagination and making the siren sound themselves. These tend to have a shorter life-span. An open-ended toy will grow with your child; it will put them in the driver’s seat of their play.

There is also a set of toys that have a “right way” to play with them. These can be great for developing fine motor skills (think puzzles), but are less awesome at building creativity + stimulating brain development.

You are looking for toys that your child can imagine with, make believe with, and create with. Kids need imaginative play toys that meet their creative needs as they grow and learn.

Here are some of our favorite open-ended toys for toddlers …and they’d all be awesome Christmas gifts!



These are our VERY FAVORITE. My almost four year old has played with these for 1-2 hours a day since we got them for his second birthday. They are the best money we’ve ever spent on toys. We bought a second set and the car/train add-ons. They are worth every penny.

Wooden Blocks


Kitchen + Play Food

Small Animals


Lego Duplo

Doctor Kit

Cash Register

Train Set

Tool Set

Tea Set


Dress Up Clothes

Superhero Capes

Girls Dress Up Set

Boys Dress Up Set


Kinetic Sand 


Vehicles With People

Wooden Cars + Hot Wheels

Finger Puppets

Play Silks

Baby Doll

No Spill Paint Cups 

Art Easel 

Felt Board 

Water Table Playset

Broom/Mop + Vacuum 


Stacking Cups

These are still the most beloved bath toy in our house (full list of bath toy ideas here).

Music Kit

(just maybe order yourself a pair of ear plugs to go with this)

Pull Along Toy

Ride On Toy 

Cozy Coupe 


Shopping Cart


I have compiled a list of 35 brain-building toys for toddlers! These open-ended toys will grow with your child and help them learn to use their imagination! #toddlertoys #toddlergiftguide #openendedtoys #brainbuildingtoys

I have compiled a list of 35 brain-building toys for toddlers! These open-ended toys will grow with your child and help them learn to use their imagination! #toddlertoys #toddlergiftguide #openendedtoys #brainbuildingtoys


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