Momming, Parenting

The importance of Puzzle Play in toddlers

untitledPuzzles comes in all different shape, sizes, themes and colors.
Puzzles can be played from early childhood straight through to adulthood.

I just love the way puzzle building challenges my thinking and it’s good exercise for our brains too.

I would like to share a few benefits and how to get your little one engaging puzzle play.

The benefits that comes with playing puzzles;

Physical Skills

  • Hand & eye coordination
    When your toddler is playing with the puzzle. They flip, turn, remove, place etc. the puzzle pieces. This helps to connect their hands and their eyes.
  • Fine motor skills
    Fine motor skills require small, specialized movements that puzzle play provide.


Cognitive Skills

  • Shape recognition
    Puzzles comes in a whole range of themes, colors and topics. This helps your little one with shape recognition. All puzzles needs to be recognized and sorted before they can be assembled. Learning to sort and recognize shapes is very important part your toddlers development.
  • Memory
    When doing a simple jigsaw puzzle, your toddler will try and fit the puzzle piece, when it doesn’t fit it will be put aside. He or she will then have to remember that puzzle piece for when it is needed at a later stage.
  • Problem solving
    As your toddler looks at the various puzzle pieces, trying to figure out where they fit, he or she is developing the valuable and very important skill of problem solving and logical thinking. Puzzles gives them the opportunity to practice the trial and error method of finding a solution.
  • Spatial Language
    Puzzle play may increase children’s exposure to spatial language as parents frequently use such terms (e.g., “edge”, “flat”, “straight”, “corner”, “curve”, “side”, “top”, “bottom”, “long”, “short”, “inside”, “outside”, “between”, “upside down”, “flip”) to guide children’s efforts during puzzle play.

Emotional Skills

  • Social skills
    When playing a puzzle with others, your toddler will have to communicate when a puzzle piece is required or to instruct where the piece should fit.
  • Self esteem
    I have seen this in Mason (my eldest) over and over. When he completes a puzzle he is on such a high. Achieving a goal brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in any child, this in turn boosts their pride and builds self confidence.
  • Patience
    Puzzles can’t be completed by cheating , they take a lot of patience and concentration. Your toddler must practice patience and slowly work through the puzzle before they are rewarded on completion of the puzzle.

How to get your little one to engage in puzzles;

  • Ensure the puzzle is age appropriate
    You don’t want the puzzle to be too easy so your little one can do it eyes-closed, and you also don’t want it to be so difficult that the challenge frustrates them to a point of giving up or damages their emotional skills.
    (All puzzles do indicate what ages are appropriate for the specific puzzle)
  • Ensure the puzzle is of interest
    Mason currently loves everything and anything Ben10, so he would want to engage and complete the Ben10 puzzle rather than an ABC one.
    Find something your little one is obsessed or an fanatic about. Smaller children (babies) would rather engage in a colorful, bright and fun puzzle.
  • Try and encourage them
    Encourage your toddler on completing the puzzle, even if this means you need to work with them. This way you will also have some quality time with your little one. – BONUS!

Sometimes it can be confusing to know where to start with all the educational toys on the market.

Please check out the following from OT Mom Learning Activities

The steps below will help you introduce your toddler to the joys of doing puzzles and will show you which resources are most helpful. 

One Piece Puzzles and Peg Puzzles
Two Piece Puzzles
Four Piece Puzzles

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