best toys for toddlers to avoid screentime

2020’s Best Toys for Toddlers [Reduce Screen Time!]

2020’s Best Toys for Toddlers [Reduce Screen Time!]

The World Health Organization recommends no screen time for children under the age of 2, and for toddlers and kids aged 2-5, limiting it to just 1 hour per day[*].

While it’s obvious that the members of the WHO making that recommendation have never spent an entire day with a 3 year old, most parents want to follow it… even if to keep away the (unfair but extremely common) mom-guilt.

So if you're looking for ways to cut back on your toddler's screen time without turning your home into tantrum central, we've got your back. These 12 toddler toys are educational, engaging, and most importantly attention-holding.

Is Screen Time Really Bad for Toddlers?

There’s some debate in the childhood development world about how bad screen time truly is.

In reality, There's a huge difference between sitting down with your toddler to watch an age-appropriate educational show (extra points if you chat about what's unfolding) and plonking kids down in front of a screen and leaving them to their own devices (pun intended).

While limited screen time with parental direction and interaction probably won't ruin your toddler, some small studies suggest that screen time could lead to some developmental delays, including:

  • Connector.

    Slower language development

    Babies and toddlers learn by interacting with those around them. Until the age of about 2 ½, toddlers are unlikely to learn new words simply by staring at a screen — and every hour spent watching is another hour without valuable one-on-one interaction.

  • Connector.

    Reduced social engagement

    Everyday experiences with parents, siblings, and caregivers teach toddlers how to socialize. Being glued to a screen blocks opportunities for face-to-face interaction and the development of vital social skills.

  • Connector.

    Increased risk of becoming overweight

    Research indicates a strong connection between too much screen time and childhood obesity. Not only do children miss out on physical activity while watching TV or online videos, but it also increases the likelihood of mindless snacking

  • Connector.

    Difficulty sleeping

    If you've ever noticed that your child has a tougher time than usual drifting off after a Baby Shark marathon, you're not imagining things. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with melatonin release (a natural sleep-inducing hormone), making it more difficult for toddlers to settle down.

Ultimately, these are still just theories and there is little evidence supporting the validity of these claims. However, as parents we all want to do our best, and sometimes that means following your gut when it comes to these issues. If your gut is telling you to limit screen time for your kiddo in line with the WHO’s recommendations, these toys should help.

The 12 Best Educational Toys for Toddlers to Help Limit Screen Time


Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Servin' Up Fun Food Tru

Your very informative product description goes here. This is where you explain what you like and don't like about it. This section should be informative and fun, but not overly long or short.

You may also break the text up into several paragraphs as necessary to make it more readable.

Pros

  • Touch activated sound features teach toddlers about everything from size and sequencing to counting and colors.
  • Comes with loads of realistic touches, including a light up grill, functioning dashboard, talking cash register, life-like sound effects, and several food and drink pieces.
  • Grows with toddlers with 3 adjustable learning stages.
  • Decent size, but doesn't take over an entire room.

Cons

  • Putting it together can take some elbow grease.
  • No volume control.
  • Some parents wished it was a little bit bigger.

Toddlers can happily spend hours shaping, molding, and rolling playdough. This set comes with 6 tubs of Play-Doh and a bunch of accessories to keep young minds and little hands occupied.

Pros

  • Encourages creativity without limits.
  • Comes with a wide variety of tools, including dough cutters, a roller, and a squeeze extruder.
  • The overall quality is excellent — sturdy tools and soft, pliable playdough.
  • Great value for money.

Cons

  • Younger toddlers might eat some (luckily the dough is non-toxic).
  • Extruder can be difficult for little hands to squeeze.
Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag

Playing with building blocks is a great way for toddlers to work on problem solving and fine motor skills. This award-winning set of chunky, toddler-friendly blocks comes with enough pieces for kids to enjoy hours of imaginative play.

Pros

  • Large blocks are easy for toddlers to grip.
  • Set comes with 80 pieces and a zippered bag for storage.
  • Encourages creativity and allows kids to hone vital physical and cognitive skills.
  • Vibrant colors are visually appealing and ideal for teaching toddlers about colors.

Cons

  • Younger toddlers might need some help from older siblings or parents.
  • Bag feels a bit flimsy.
Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table

Most kids are obsessed with water play, and this is one of those toys you'll have to pry your toddler away from. Large enough to accommodate multiple children and comes with loads of moving parts for added fun.

Pros

  • Interesting enough for hours and hours (and hours!) of play.
  • Features an upper level that creates a rainfall effect.
  • Comes with spinners, cups, toys, and other accessories.
  • Large and sturdy.

Cons

  • Assembly requires an electric screwdriver.
  • Little kids might not be able to reach the top level.
Jasonwell Aqua Magic Doodle Mat

Toddlers love drawing and painting. So much so that most will go to work on any available surface — and that includes your walls and floors. With this water doodle mat, kids can unleash their inner Picasso using nothing but water.

Pros

  • Refillable water pens means there's no chance of unwanted graffiti ending up on your walls.
  • Mat dries and clears after about 10 minutes, allowing toddlers to start all over again.
  • Comes with a bunch of drawing and writing accessories.
  • Big enough for 2 or 3 kids to play at once.

Cons

  • Pens and stamps need to be thoroughly air dried to prevent mildew.
  • Smaller pens require frequent refills.
  • Parents of younger toddlers might need to remove smaller accessories.
Melissa & Doug Water Wow! Reusable Activity Pads

If you like the idea of a water doodle mat, but need something more compact, these reusable activity pads are a great alternative. Each pad comes with a refillable water pen and the pages clear up after drying, so kids can paint again and again.

Pros

  • Mess-free and reusable.
  • Size is ideal for on-the-go use.
  • Set comes with 3 pads, each with 4 reusable pages.
  • Chunky “pens” are easy to grip.

Cons

  • Too much water can cause the pages to warp.
  • Enthusiastic artists might press down so hard that the brush tip splits.
Step2 Crazy Maze Ball Pit Playhouse

Playhouses are always a big hit with toddlers, and this one brings double the fun with ball play. A multitasking design allows toddlers to alternate between fast-paced physical play and more focused role-play fun.

Pros

  • Features transparent rooftop tubes, a built-in maze, a launcher, and holes for exciting ball play.
  • Improves aim, coordination, and motor skills.
  • Comes with 20 balls for active play and a boiling pot and pouring pitcher for role-play.
  • Accommodates group play.

Cons

  • Assembly is easy enough, but a lack of pre drilled holes makes it a hassle.
  • A bit of extra “counter space” would be nice.
VTech Smart Shots Sports Center

This 2-in-1 basketball hoop and soccer goal post provides the perfect outlet for pent-up energy and gives toddlers ample opportunity to hone motor skills and coordination. Big fun with a small footprint.

Pros

  • Features an LED scoreboard with fun sound effects that cheer kids on everytime they score a goal or toss a ball into the basket.
  • Gears, buttons, and moving parts on the frame add interest and help with fine motor skills.
  • Comes with 2 balls for fun straight out of the box.
  • Strong and sturdy, but compact and light enough to move from place to place.

Cons

  • It's pretty short and older toddlers looking for a challenge might find gameplay too easy.
  • Toddlers who are learning to stand can topple the frame when pulling up.
American Plastic Toys Kids Outdoor Sand Table

Sandboxes are awesome, but full-sized versions can be a hassle to maintain. With a 50 lbs sand capacity, a raised design, and a waterproof cover, this sand table delivers just as much fun with none of the fuss.

Pros

  • Holds enough sand to keep toddlers busy digging, building, and pouring for hours.
  • Easily doubles as a water table.
  • Raised legs and a waterproof tarp help keep sand clean, dry, and hygienic.
  • Assembly is effortless and the table itself is sturdy enough to last for years.

Cons

  • Play sand needs to be bought separately.
  • We'd like it more if it came with a snap-on cover.
  • Determined toddlers might push it over if they really try.
ALEX Discover Tots Art Start

Thinking of introducing your toddler to the world of arts and crafts? Then this award-winning set is the best place to start. Specially designed with toddlers in mind, this art set delivers a safe and satisfying crafting experience for the younger crowd.

Pros

  • Comes with a variety of craft supplies and 6 projects.
  • Sparks creativity and imagination while cultivating focus and patience.
  • Easy to use and produces very little mess.
  • Good value for money.

Cons

  • Doesn't come with glue.
  • Enthusiastic toddlers can work their way through the 6 projects pretty quickly.
Kiddey 3 piece Kids Play Tent

Kids love tents and this option delivers triple the fun with a triangular tent, a tunnel, and a square tent. Use them separately or connect them and add balls to the square tent for extra novelty.

Pros

  • Versatile, with multiple ways for kids to play.
  • Tunnel encourages physical activity.
  • Super easy to set up and fold down.
  • Ample room for 2 kids to play together.

Cons

  • Tent entrances are low and balls can spill out.
  • Rough play can cause the tunnel to separate from the tents.
Step2 Great Creations Art Desk Easel

This art desk is more of a furniture piece than a toy, but with the right accessories, budding artists will be busy for hours. Generous storage space, 2 easels, and a desk make this art station ideal for use with siblings or friends.

Pros

  • Double-sided easel features a chalkboard on one side and a dry erase board on the other.
  • A variety of storage compartments, slots, baskets, and cups makes it easy to keep art supplies organized.
  • With a dedicated area for creative projects, toddlers are less likely to paint or draw on inappropriate surfaces.
  • Kids won't outgrow this option in a hurry.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Younger toddlers might have a tough time reaching the top of the easel.
  • No pre drilled holes makes assembly more difficult than it needs to be.

And there you go — 12 amazing toddler toys that will beat boring old screen time any day of the week!

Also read: Best Pack and Plays

One Comment on “2020’s Best Toys for Toddlers [Reduce Screen Time!]”

  1. Pingback: How to Work from Home with Your Toddler During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Adventure Baby

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *