Best Puzzles For 1 Year Olds And Why They Are Important

Children’s puzzles are treasures in your play area, masking beneath plain wooden pieces.

They challenge and exercise  your little ones brains in so many ways. 

So what exactly do kids learn through puzzles? Here’s a brief overview of all the skills and knowledge little ones can get by playing with puzzles.

  1. Exercise concentration which is one of the essential pillars for learning just anything.
  2. Builds spatial awareness by relating objects to each other.
  3. Teach geometric forms and shape recognition.
  4. Provides topic-specific learning opportunities like learning about animals, fruit, vehicles, colors, shapes etc.
  5. Fine motor work is always in progress whenever they need to use their pincer grasp to pick and place puzzle pieces.
  6. Promotes hand eye coordination activity each time to have to locate the right spot and then fit the puzzle piece in.
  7. Hands on problem solving skills. What if the puzzle piece doesn’t fit in?
  8. Puzzle are a great tool for language development as you can talk through wide range of words and concepts while being their with your child to work on the puzzle.
  9. Improving short term memory by repetition – putting the same puzzle together over and over again.
  10. Boosts self-confidence and self-esteem when the project that was once in disorder and mess is now nice and neat.

You can read more about the benefits of puzzle work here: 11 Advantages of Puzzles for Your Child Development

With all the benefits of puzzle work there comes a challenge of choosing the best, age-appropriate puzzle for your little one. 

Think of it in this way: if the puzzle is too difficult, they’ll get impatient and give up. But, puzzles that are too easy don’t provide enough challenge to boost your child’s focus and patience.

When and How to Introduce Puzzles To Babies And Young Toddlers

Puzzles can be introduced as early as 9 months old. You will notice when your baby is ready when you see him play and manipulate simple objects with his hands. Most simple single object puzzles would be perfect as your baby’s first puzzle. You’ll find a list of age-appropriate puzzle for 1 year olds below. 

Once mastered introduce more shapes or different size puzzles.

It’s best to start with a circle puzzle shapes as it can fit in any direction

How To Pick Best Puzzles For 1 Year Olds

Start with the most simple single shape puzzles.

Puzzle pieces should be easy to pick up, therefore choose chunky jumbo ones and/or those with knobs. They are easy to handle and will enhance your child’s pincer grasp. Choose simple shapes and simple patterns. 

Avoid ones with too many colors and too busy patterns. Complexity must be age appropriate. As your child matures, he will be ready to try out more challenging pieces. When just starting out, give preference to shapes and later to puzzles with realistic objects rather than cartoon-ish. 

Here’s the list of best baby and toddler friendly puzzles.

Don’t forget that all children are different so don’t be stuck just on how old is you little one but mostly important observe and follow their interests.

Best Puzzles For 1 Year Olds that promote development, learning and are super fun to do!

Baby First Puzzles (9 months +)

Single Shape Puzzles

According to Dr. Maria Montessori, “The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” Ignite your child’s passion in learning by introducing this most simple wooden single shape puzzles by Elite Montessori. Each shape has a knob perfect for little hands and fine motor skill exercises.

Geometric Shape Wooden Puzzle

Our little ones definitely love hands-on activities. Ever wonder why they love to be around whether you’re having a laundry day or why they lend a helping hand whenever you’re baking some cupcakes? It’s because they’d love to give it a try too!  This puzzle will keep their little hands busy.

These round puzzle pieces can fit in any direction and are good for beginners. Circle pieces are the most simple shapes as they fit any direction.

Aside from hand-eye coordination, the geometric shape puzzle would be a great way to present big & small. Tracing the round shapes with their fingers, as well as the round slots, develop their tactile sense.

Multiple Shape Puzzle

Shape puzzles may look simple for grown-ups but for little ones, it’s a wonderland! A puzzle with different shapes and multiple colors is a good combo to keep your little ones interested.

Same as previous 2 puzzle this one has jumbo knobs that are very helpful for finger work.

Playing with this multiple-shaped puzzle is a good pre-writing exercise. This improves their grasp for crayon gripping in the future but be sure to be ready when that time comes and they start giving color to your…..walls! 😀

Puzzles for 1 year olds ( 13 months + )

Jigsaw Puzzles For 1 Year Olds

The Learning Journey: My First Match It – Head and Tails

At 13 months and up, your little one may be ready for more advanced shapes and puzzle pieces. You can start with one of their favorites- animals!

The Head and Tails jigsaw puzzle provides an age–appropriate challenge for your child as they seek to pair up two pieces of puzzle together. A piece will only fit with its correct match, therefore encouraging the child self-correction.

Enhance this activity by playing pretend-animal with your toddler. Sharpen your kid’s cognitive skills while sharing lots of laughter at the same time.

The Learning Journey: My First Match It – Things That Go

After an out of town trip with your kiddo and after seeing and riding different kinds of transportation, why not make it a more enriching experience by presenting this Things That Go puzzle.

Kids love learning by realia or real objects. After their exciting trip, support the experience through picture cards and puzzles. My First Match – Things That Go will be a perfect fit.

The Learning Journey: Match It – Head to Tail

Be silly and pretend play with your child. Run like a horse or croak like a frog! Level-up the kiddie game by working out the Head to Tail pieces together.

Talking about animals spark children’s interest and help develop their vocabulary and conversational skills. How about do it together with the whole family?

Montessori Puzzles For 1 Year Olds

Guidecraft Circle Sorter – Shape & Color Puzzle

Create a “Circle Day” and enjoy pointing out anything circle and round. Wear a polka-dots shirt, paint a circle paper plate and let your child solve a circle sorter puzzle. This wooden knobbed puzzle comes in different colors and varying sizes. Tracing the circle pieces together in a piece of paper will reinforce learning the circle shape.

Guidecraft Geometric Colorful Puzzle Board

A more interesting way to introduce secondary colors to a child is by doing it through a puzzle. Each package of this colourful wooden piece comes with stickers to stick at the shape base.  Why not let them help you even with the sticking part? Kids love how stickers work.

Wooden Puzzle Board – Shape & Color Sorter

Another Montessori shape puzzle with added complexity. Help your little one learn colors and shapes while working on this puzzle.

Topic-Specific Puzzles

Melissa & Doug Vehicles Wooden Peg Puzzle

A great puzzle for little ones who love vehicles.

Not only you can use it as a puzzle but also as a sorting activity.
Sort puzzle pieces (vehicles) whether it travels on land or in the air!
Make this themed puzzle a car puzzle and whenever you’re traveling.

Melissa & Doug Mini Puzzle Pack

Melissa & Doug never disappoint. This mini puzzle set is great for little hands, doesn’t take much room and it’s perfect for traveling.

Slide out puzzle trays include color-coded organizer tabs and come in a compact, stay-closed travel case.

There is a string that holds the puzzle so you don’t have to worry about losing any of them!

Four mini puzzle boards contain 4 animals each and they are even organized farm, animals, safari animals, sea creatures and domestic animals.

Melissa & Doug Colorful Chunky Fish Puzzle

Easy-to-grasp extra-thick pieces in a vibrant rainbow of colors make this a perfect puzzle with enough challenge and room for defining their skills.

Fish come in blue, red, orange, brown, yellow, pink, and green, and the colors are bright and vibrant. Colors and color names underneath each puzzle piece reinforce color and word recognition.

The eight friendly fish in different chunky shapes also stand up for pretend play. . The adorable little fish may even inspire kids to engage in imaginative play, using their little friends as characters in their stories!

Wooden Vehicle Jigsaw Puzzle

This set of 6 adorable puzzles features 6 common vehicles. Each puzzle consists of a wooden board and has about 5-6 pieces. Multiple layer water-based colors make them durable and safe even for the young toddlers.

They’ll provide lots of fun and learning opportunities for your 1 year old and even older siblings.

Since there are 6 puzzles in the set you can even use each piece separately as a stocking stuffers for all toddlers in your family.

RELATED: Stocking Stuffers For Toddlers Under $10 They Will Love!

Don’t like vehicles theme? Check out from the same series this Animal Puzzle. To be precise it contains 6 puzzles: bear, ladybird. turtle, butterfly, bee and toy car.

Melissa & Doug Animals Jumbo Knob Wooden Puzzles Set – Fish and Pets

This is a set of Two 3-piece wooden jumbo knob puzzles. One featuring most common pets: cat, dog and bird in on house shaped puzzle board.

Another fishbowl puzzle board has 3 sea creatures: fish, turtle and crab.

Jumbo Goula Fruits Peg Puzzle

Children love fruits and this fruit sorter puzzle will challenge their absorbent minds even more. Be ready to prepare a fruity snack as they might look for something to munch on after solving the fruity pieces.

EduShape Giant Puzzle Farm Animals

This another excellent puzzle for young learners with realistic animals. Notice the neutral background, moderate colors and large knobs. Can’t wish for more when picking a puzzle for a young toddler.

5 Layers Wooden Puzzle (Whale)

This puzzle might seem simple and easy to do from the first glace. But don’t let the fool you. If you get this puzzle for a younger toddler (15 month +) they’ll have lots of opportunities to test and refine their skills.

Just like with other puzzles make sure to do it with your little one a couple times and let him do it on his own once he picks up.

Besides whale shape there’s also a bird shape, hedgehog, bunny and elephant shape.

Whale, bird and elephant are the easiest shapes to start with. Hedgehog is the hardest.

Whale, bird and bunny are Montessori aligned since it has gradient paints which will also help the young one to put them together in the right order.

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