Best Wooden Puzzles for Kids & Toddlers in 2018

Children of all ages are able to benefit from puzzles. They offer a learning experience that is brain-building, engaging, and interactive. Puzzles help children develop their fine-motor skills, promote cooperative play, and boost their problem-solving abilities. When playing with puzzles, children most often benefit when adults are there to work with them. This is a great way to take a learning experience and also make it a bonding time. Kids are able to feel proud of themselves for completing the puzzle and adults are able to use it as a learning opportunity to encourage colors, shape, letter, and number recognition.

There are so many different kinds of puzzles for different ages of children. Young children benefit most from the puzzles that have large wooden pieces that fit together in easy board cutouts whereas older children like puzzles that have different shapes and more configurations. Then there are the puzzles that feature locks, flaps, and sounds. Everyone loves those kinds of puzzles.

When you first sit down with your little one at a young age and present their first puzzle, they may want to put the pieces in their mouth more than on the board, but that is all part of the learning experience. The more you engage with them, the more the hand-eye coordination will take control and before you know if they will be putting the pieces right into place. The best part is watching the smile on their face.

Being patient helping them with puzzles may be as frustrating as finding the best puzzles. We have researched many puzzles on the market and were able to compile a comprehensive list of the best wooden puzzles for kids and toddlers. This list features wooden puzzles for all ages.

Last Updated:
By Amanda Milewski:

Wooden puzzles are a great way to hone your child's fine-motor and problem-solving skills, among many others. We have recently updated our list of the 10 best to include products to appeal to a wide variety of age ranges and skill levels. In addition, we have reviewed all pertinent product information to ensure that it is all up to date and accurate.

Our Top 3 Picks

Green Start Chunky Wooden Puzzles
  • Green Start Chunky Wooden Puzzles
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Developmentally-focused Puzzles
  • Price: See Here
Melissa & Doug Animals Puzzles Set
  • Melissa & Doug Animals Puzzles Set
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Easy To Grasp Pieces
  • Price: See Here
Melissa & Doug Vehicles Puzzles
  • Melissa & Doug Vehicles Puzzles
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 12 Piece Puzzles
  • Price: See Here

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Wooden Puzzles for Kids

Puzzles are the type of toy that never goes out of style. One of the great things about them is that they don’t require batteries and can occupy a child for hours. When we put together this list, we took into consideration certain elements that a parent would no doubt look for when choosing wooden puzzles for toddlers and young children.  We also wanted the wooden puzzles to range from beginning stages of life to older kids who are ready to start learning academically. Puzzles benefit a child and their development perhaps in more ways than we stop to consider, but when taking a closer look we discovered that the following are great benefits of puzzle building for a child.

Child’s Development

At a young age, it’s important to encourage a kid’s developmental skills. The children’s wooden puzzles we chose to place on this list cover important key developmental components. This includes the following:

Cognitive Development: Puzzles can be key to helping a child exercise their minds.  Kids will learn how to follow directions and memorize something such as where a piece will go or fit.  Puzzles also help kids to identify various shapes and colors, which also helps to sharpen the mind.

Vision: While working a puzzle, a child will have to study the puzzle carefully. This will sharpen their abilities to identify certain things with their eyes, such as shapes, colors, and sizes.

Communication: Yes, kids can even learn more about communicating while building puzzles. This would include being able to ask for a specific piece by name.

Creativity: Building a puzzle will help heighten a child’s creativity and their imagination. While working a puzzle, the kid feels as if they are creating something themselves.  This will also have a child feel a certain amount of accomplishment and help build their self-esteem.

Motor-Skills Development

While working a puzzle, kids use their hands to put each piece together. This helps a child learn to grab hold of something and to even help build the child’s muscles in their fingers.  They also learn how to control their hands by taking hold of the piece of the puzzle.

Educational Skills

This is another crucial element that is found in puzzle building at an early age.  Through building puzzles, kids will not only learn things such as letters of the alphabet or simple words but also there are other educational elements that can be sharpened such as language, mathematics and geography.

Problem-Solving Skills

A kid even at an early age can learn about solving problems and this is where a puzzle can come into play. Puzzles give kids many pieces and it’s up to them to figure out how to take these pieces and make them into a completed image. Puzzles are an early lesson about how to see a problem at hand and figure out how to fix it.

Social and Bonding Skills

It’s essential for a parent to build a bond with their child at any age. Building puzzles together is a great way to have a bonding moment. Building puzzles is also a great way for kids to learn how to socialize with other kids and spend quality time with their parents.  This will include friends or their siblings who can help them put their puzzle together.  So, puzzles can be a fun, challenging and interactive experience for more than one individual.

Puzzle toys are great for stimulating your child’s cognitive development while at the same time enhancing both his physical and emotional skills. We are optimistic that you will be able to choose several from our list of the 10 best wooden puzzles to give to your kid.

What Determined the Best Toys on Our List

It is clear that wooden puzzle toys are one of the most beneficial learning tools you can ever provide your kid. It is, therefore, crucial to choose one that is not so complicated for your child’s developmental age but is challenging enough to make him or her want to strive.

We know how difficult it can be to choose an age- and developmentally appropriate kids wooden puzzle so we have come up with our list of the 10 best. Our researchers have to consider the developmental appropriateness of a few hundred wooden puzzles and chose only those that are safe, of high-quality construction, manufactured by credible toy companies, and passed the discriminating tastes of parents.

Puzzles and the Young Brain

Puzzles help with the development and enhancement of your kids’ physical skills. Specifically, they learn to develop and master their hand-eye coordination as they try to pick up the puzzle pieces and slot them into their places. These kinds of toys also help develop and refine your child’s gross- and fine-motor skills. Younger kids will be able to develop their gross-motor skills as a necessary foundation for more precise fine-motor skills. As they grow older, they will be able to pick up and slot puzzle pieces with absolute precision which can help them master their fine-motor skills. This becomes the foundation for better handwriting skills later in childhood.

Puzzle toys also help develop your kid’s cognitive skills, especially his or her recognition of shapes and colors as well as help enhance his or her memory, spatial intelligence, problem-solving skills, and a general understanding of the world. Puzzle toys that come in different shapes and colors can develop and reinforce your kid’s recognition of these characteristics which can pave the way for more complex cognitive processing of more abstract puzzles. Your kid also will develop his or her memory as he or she attempts to remember or recall the specific shape of puzzle pieces that may not fit a particular slot now but will fit at a later time. This also helps enhance their spatial intelligence where they try to make sense of the puzzle slot and attempt to correlate that with the various shapes of puzzle pieces that they see. Overall, their problem-solving skills are enhanced through constant trial-and-error methods as well as the use of rudimentary logic and critical thinking skills.

Children who grow up with puzzles tend to be more patient as they will have to take their time to sort things out before putting the pieces together. They learn that they cannot reach the end without first having to spend some time working on the puzzle itself. Additionally, they learn how to set goals. They know that solving the puzzle is their ultimate goal and that this can be achieved by coming up with a strategy to achieve the goal. Later in life, they will use this skill to make clearer life goals for themselves.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I keep track of puzzle pieces?

A: One of the main cons of the puzzles on this list is the fact that pieces can get lost over time. This is one of the main drawbacks of puzzles in general no matter the age level. So, when a child is done playing with the puzzle, try to account for all the pieces. The best way to do this is to put the puzzle together to store it away.

Q: Are these wooden puzzles built to last?

A: Wooden puzzles are quite durable and are built to last with quality construction. A wooden puzzle can take much wear and tear. That’s not to say that some care isn’t involved.  For example, it is not a good idea to get a wooden puzzle wet such as a child accidentally spilling a beverage on it or leaving a puzzle out in the rain or throwing it in a pool. Water can damage the wood and cause it to warp and wear down so always make sure that if a puzzle is exposed to water or dampness, it is dried off immediately and then air-dried overnight.

Q: Are all these wooden puzzles safe and nontoxic?

A: This has been a major concern for parents since 2007 when the major plastic toy recall occurred that involved many popular baby toys. However, this recall involved plastic toys only, not wooden ones. A wooden puzzle is made from something that is completely natural. Yes, there are other things that are involved such paint, finishes and even a certain amount of plastic. As stated above, several of the wooden puzzles listed here ensure consumers that these puzzles were made with the nontoxic material. The companies featured on this list have taken the time to understand these concerns and to try to put their consumer’s fears to rest by creating puzzles for younger kids that are safe and nontoxic.

Q: Can a wooden puzzle be cleaned and sterilized?

A: Like any young child’s toy, it will be important to sterilize wooden puzzles periodically. However, there are certain parameters to keep in mind, such as using a safe, nontoxic cleaner such diluted vinegar placed in an empty spray bottle that will actually disinfect the pieces without being harmful to the child. Another thing to always remember is not to soak any of these pieces in water, as water is an enemy of wood. The best course of action is to get a spray bottle of the nontoxic cleaner of choice, spray the toy with the cleaner, then using a damp washcloth go over the toy once more. Afterward, gently pat down the toy with a dry sterile towel, then place the pieces in a dry spot for them to air dry, usually overnight. There are several step-by-step tutorials that can be found online that will guide you through sterilizing wooden puzzles and other wooden toys.

Q: What is the ideal age for a kid to start building puzzles?

A: On average, the ideal age for a child to start being introduced to simple puzzles such as the ones listed here is age 2 years. However, a child who is around 12 months old will start to learn about placing things such as blocks into containers.  A few of the puzzles listed here are ideal for this stage of development and are perfect for kids who are 1 year of age.

Q: How do I know which puzzle is ideal for my child?

A: First, it’s important to take into consideration the age of your child. As stated above, not all wooden puzzles are ideal for all age levels. It’s always important when choosing a puzzle to look at the box for a listing of the age recommendation. If your child falls below the recommended age level, this isn’t the ideal puzzle for them. Also, as a child grows they start to develop interests, and this is also a hint as to which puzzle will interest them. Yes, always a good idea to buy some educational puzzles such as the examples above, which are ideal for kids who are around 4 or 5 years old and prepare them for what they will be or are learning in school.

Q: How do I get my child to interact with puzzle building?

A: This can be a challenge for parents who are trying to get their toddlers to understand what a puzzle is. Sometimes, the child will just watch the parent build the puzzle, and not interact at first themselves. The best course of action is to be patient. If a parent shows the child step by step what needs to be done to complete the puzzle, eventually the child will catch on that they themselves can do this.

Q: Will puzzles continue to interest my child the older they become?

A: This is a good question with no easy answer.  The older a child gets the more they will no doubt be interested in technology and video games.  However, introducing them to puzzles at an early age could very well lead to them wanting to continue building puzzles and perhaps even give them a fun-filled hobby as they get older.  In any case, a kid will still learn some great developmental skills building puzzles at a young age, no doubt about that.

Sources

  1. Baby Center, When can my baby do simple puzzles?, Informative Articles,
  2. Janice Davis, Why Puzzles are so Important for Kids Learning?, Informative Article,
  3. Zac Cusac , The Benefits of Puzzles in Early Childhood Development, Informative Article,
  4. Puzzle WareHouse, By Age, Product Information,
  5. Sara Langer, How to Clean Wood Toys: An Easy Guide, How to Guide,