The time between infancy and toddlerhood is short, but you’ll be in awe when you witness firsthand how much your baby changes and grows within that time frame. For example, fine motor skills start developing as early as four to six months old, but once the toddler years hit, they’ve already outgrown the tools you used to strengthen and train their baby muscle movements. Sure, they might plop down and stack some cushy rings every once in awhile for giggles (or out of boredom), but the best fine motor toys for toddlers will challenge them in new and advanced ways.
Fine motor skills are the small but significant muscle movements adults take for granted each day: Things like scribbling on paper, holding a writing tool, flipping the page of a book, eating with utensils and unzipping or buttoning clothes are all fine motor skills. But for toddlers just starting to piece together how they can use their hands in contexts that don’t involve a bottle, honing in on these abilities is important, and rest assured your little one is anxious to explore them. To entice their curiosity even further, and enhance their skills in the process, here are the best fine motor toys for toddlers.
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1. Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog
Kids love animals, and we have no doubt they’ll be equally as obsessed with this spiky creature from Learning Resources. Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog features a blue shell in which chunky, colored peg-shaped quills stem out from for the taking. By grasping, pulling and sticking the pieces back into their respective holes, kids workout their wrists, fingers and hands — aka their fine motor muscles. Plus, aside from the physical aspect of this educational activity, this fine motor toy for toddlers also encourages little ones to flex their brain muscles through color recognition, counting and sorting.
2. Skoolzy Nuts and Bolts
Nuts and bolts fall under the classic toddler toy category, along with building blocks and jigsaw puzzles. Your builder-to-be will love working with these vibrantly colored plastic tools mirroring the ones in your own metal box. They’re sure to get lost in the pattern of screwing and unscrewing the shapes, and in doing so, they’ll strengthen their manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination, start to identify individual colors and shapes, and pick up on the importance of focusing solely on the task at hand.
3. Coogam Clamp Bee to Hive
While under normal circumstances we’d highly encourage that parents not allow their children to play with beehives, Coogam’s fine motor toy for toddlers is the exception to the rule. Each Clamp Bee to Hive set includes one beehive, seven busy bees, tweezers for plucking and a storage box for safe keeping. Have your little beekeeper pick up and place the bees inside the hive with their tweezers to flex their motor skills and stimulate their senses. What’s more, the colorful bees match colors in the hive to help your toddler develop basic color identification and counting skills.