Are you looking for more than just a toy? Do you want something that helps establish early learning, engineering, logic, and spatial skills? If so, you may want to check out this list of the best building toys for kids.
Open-ended toys, like building blocks, help encourage your child to develop problem-solving skills as well as motor skills (1). If you’re looking for more than just another toy to add to the shelf, building blocks can be a great choice.
Let’s explore what you should look for in building toys — then I’ll let you in on some of my favorites on the market.
Why Choose Building Toys?
There are a lot of toys out there, and that makes your choice as a consumer harder than ever. Before you start shopping for building toys, take a look at this buyer’s guide for the features you’ll want to keep in mind.
Great building toys should encourage development. Here are some reasons to pick building blocks and building toys over other kinds of toys out there.
- Motor skills: Picking blocks up, taking blocks apart, and putting them back together all build finger dexterity. These actions help your child finesse both fine and gross motor skills.
- Problem-solving: Building with blocks can be frustrating — in a good way. Your child will quickly learn their structures will tip over if they aren’t balanced. They’ll learn what fits where, and then experiment with how to correct those problems.
- Social and language skills: Building toys usually inspire collaborative play, which encourages communication skills and the need for language (2).
What to Look For
When you’re shopping for this type of toy, here are some things you’ll want to check out before you buy.
- Sturdy: It’s likely your building blocks will be dumped out of boxes, thrown, and stepped on — usually by mom or dad in bare feet. Make sure you choose a building toy that won’t break easily. Frequently inspect your building toys to make sure none are damaged or have sharp edges.
- Material: There are great options made out of plastic or wood. Check the product information and make sure the paint and materials are safe for children to touch or even chew on (4).
- Recognition: Look for pediatrician-approved, Organization-recognized, and award-given products. This can help point you in the right direction for high-quality toys that deliver.
The Best Kids Building Toys of 2020
Now that you have an idea of what you’re looking for, let’s take a look at some of my favorite building toys. Whether you’re looking for wooden, plastic, magnetic, or otherwise, there’s something here for you.
1. Mega Bloks Big Building Bag
This Mega Bloks bag comes with 80 different pieces and offers hours of imaginative and creative play. It’s compatible with all other sets from this brand and is convenient to store away in the included tote.
These building blocks hold appeal for boys and girls from the age of 12 months and continue to do so well into childhood. Both BPA and PVC-free, you can worry less about your child being exposed to toxic chemicals when playing with these blocks.
2. Fat Brain Toys Tobbles Neo
This clever set allows for easy cleaning and won’t take up much space on your toy shelf. The six toys stack, wobble, and tilt on the base, making playtime fun and educational for babies aged 6 months and older.
Great for building hand-eye coordination, these toys are fun and brightly-colored, and as an added perk are made from non-toxic and child-safe materials.
3. Straw Constructor Toys
This sophisticated play set includes 300 different pieces. Crafted without BPA, it inspires creativity and 3D thinking. The flexible straws pop securely into connectors, allowing a wide range of shapes and builds.
Great for older kids in elementary school looking for big, adventurous builds, these are also suitable for toddlers aged 3 or over. This straw set will help engage critical thinking skills and remain challenging for several years.
4. Mag-Genius Tiles
These magnetic building tiles are suitable for children ages 3 years and older. They’re brightly colored and great fun to build with, encouraging critical thinking skills. The set comes complete with 187 pieces, plus a sturdy storage bin.
They can be used alongside other magnetic building toys. The magnets are fully contained within these durable tiles. It’s a great starter set or collection to add to existing building magnets.
5. Melissa and Doug Wooden Blocks
A long-time favorite, these wooden building blocks introduce shapes, colors, and early-building skills. Suitable for preschoolers aged 3 and up, this set of 100 blocks is a great educational toy that will provide hours of entertainment.
Durable, yet lightweight and safe to play with, they have rounded edges and a smooth, painted surface that resists splintering. They aren’t recommended for babies or young toddlers, as some of the blocks are quite small.
6. Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack
This classic stacking toy is the perfect introduction to building. It’s a great way to learn about size and proportions, while also exploring color and hand-eye coordination.
The rings are lightweight and easy for babies to grasp and handle. A fun way to teach and expand processing skills, these are suitable for babies 6 months and older.
7. Cossy Engineering Blocks
The Cossy engineering blocks come with 88 multi-colored pieces. Gears, wheels, connectors, nuts and bolts, and other accessories encourage your child’s exploration and cultivation of new skills.
They are certified lead-safe, BPA-safe, phthalates-safe, and are non-toxic. Suitable for children ages 3 and up, they come with a money-back guarantee.
8. MagicJourney Giant Marble Run Track
A great STEM-building activity, this jumbo set comes with 176 colored track pieces, 24 see-through tubes, and 30 marbles. Help nurture your child’s problem-solving, reasoning, and logic skills while sparking creativity and fun.
An instruction booklet is included, with details of four different combinations, from easy to very hard. Great for kids 6 and up, it’s a fantastic option for family bonding.
9. Foam Building Blocks
With 52 pieces in different shapes and colors, this non-toxic foam set will keep your child occupied for hours. Even safe for use in the bathtub, these are lightweight and come with a heavy-duty storage bag.
Great for stacking, the blocks are waterproof and easy to clean. They’re a great choice for kids 6 months and older. A 100 percent satisfaction guarantee is included.
10. Magnetic Building Blocks
These brightly-colored tiles allow for versatile play for children 3 years and older. Different shapes enable your child to explore geometry in their 3D constructions.
Made from non-toxic and high-quality ABS plastic with smooth edges, these blocks do contain magnets, so they should be used with supervision for younger children. A 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a warranty for defective products are included with purchase.
11. Boon Building Bath Pipes
Containing five different-shaped pipes, these Boon Building toys are BPA- and PVC-free. Equipped with suction cups, it’s a great way to expand on logic skills during bath time.
These pipes can be used alone or slotted together to create fun and interactive waterways. They are suitable for children ages 12 months and up.
Wash before initial use and then as needed, with warm, soapy water. Rinse with fresh water and allow to air dry.
12. Melissa and Doug ABC Blocks
These ABC wooden blocks are a classic choice for the playroom and will transport many of us back to our childhood. Textured and colored, these blocks are perfect for a child exploring tactile and sensory skills.
This set, for ages 2 and over, includes numbers, letters, and pictures. The letters are great for young children just learning their alphabet and older children beginning to spell. Blocks are conveniently stored in a wheeled tray, adding another element of fun.
13. Emido Building Blocks
Complete with a storage bag, this 120-piece building set is great for traveling and encouraging non-traditional building skills. These pieces are on the small side at just over an inch high, so they are not suitable for young children. Age 3 years and up will be good to go.
Emido building blocks are durable discs that snap securely together and can withstand even rough play. Made from non-toxic materials, they are BPA-free and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Start Building Skills Early
These building block sets are great options for fun toys that will strengthen your child’s skills and enhance their learning. Hopefully, you’ve found some building toys here you know your child will love.
If I could keep these all on my shelf, I would. If I had to choose only one, though, it would have to be the Mega Bloks big building bag set. I love that it occupies and pushes the youngest child developmentally, while still engaging older children.
What building toy is your favorite at home? What couldn’t you live without and which one can’t you wait to try? We’d love to hear all about it — leave us a comment below.