Is your child meeting or exceeding developmental milestones? Parents are often worried about the nature vs. nurture debate and feel that we don’t do enough on both fronts. That’s why the right kind of stimulation is critical, especially when we want to introduce toys at this age.
Parents of kids between 1 and 3 now have the added worry about screen time and electronics – so it’s up to family and caregivers to filter what toys for toddlers develop creativity and a high IQ.
1. How Toddlers Develop Creativity
It’s surprising to think of creativity as a skill to be learned and developed because it's not inborn. Older babies need a hotbed of triggers to boost their imagination. Experts recommend unstructured, open play to let kids’ creative juices flow.
Any object can be a “toy” – because toddlers are exceptionally curious; they want to explore the world and everything in it. Anything they can see, hear, touch, and taste, is a source of amusement that makes the little wheels of their mind turn. Experts call this “active learning”.
2. What Are the Things that Affect Toddler IQ?
Intelligence is defined as the ability to:
- learn from experience
- catch on
- figure out what to do
…in connection with our surroundings.
While genetics can play a big part, there are still plenty of ways to enhance your toddler’s mental abilities by letting them (safely) try to make sense of the situations, people and things around them.
Studies show that environmental factors that can influence IQ include:
- where kids live
- family income
- physical exercise
- parents’ occupation and education
A combination of these factors can create an ideal environment that helps children develop their skills, and influence the way they think later in life.
3. Why Boredom is as Dangerous as Unsafe Toys
As parents, we hope to raise smart kids or even geniuses with advanced abilities. However, not all kids are born gifted. Yet all children need an optimal environment to test their imagination without being told how things work beforehand. Otherwise, boredom can hamper creativity. Toys should promote active learning to keep your child’s interest; this promotes better mental growth.
4. The Best Toys for Toddlers That Spark Creativity and Boost Intelligence
At this age, toddlers are curious about everyday family routines and can even mimic how you use things or how you talk. The world is their oyster and every object is fair game for investigation. As much as possible, invest in open-ended toys that make small kids use all their senses to use objects, in countless ways – and not make kids passive watchers.
Toddlers typically interact with toys by throwing them, pushing and pulling, hiding and finding them; they especially love putting toys in their mouths. The many creative ways that children come up with to use toys is what inspires creative thinking to bloom. This, in turn, fosters healthy development.
Dana Entin, RN, MN, PNP, a parenting educator, advises parents to first make sure that any toy is safe, and should be:
- ergonomic, with no sharp edges
The best educational toys don’t have to be expensive or even electronic. Here’s a list of the best open-ended toys that parenting experts recommend to inspire lifelong curiosity in your child:
1. Wooden Blocks and Legos
Both these toys provide opportunities for construction play that benefit children in the best ways possible. Toddlers gain valuable problem solving, engineering, and math skills that can be valuable tools for critical thinking.
2. Balls and Bicycles
Most first toddler toys are balls or kiddie bikes, which offer loads of fun and physical activity for kids to enjoy. Your child can also learn how to share and take turns as they grow, when they play with others. This boosts emotional intelligence skills to build better relationships.
3. Art Supplies (scissors, markers, paper, etc.)
Arts activities are a must to inspire creativity even more. It helps kids express themselves in more unique ways and gives them a feeling of accomplishment when they share their art.
4. Dress-up Clothes, Play Kitchen Sets and Dollhouses
Roleplay is another essential outlet for your child to exercise their imagination. You don’t even have to buy new toys; you can just come up with simple things found in the house!
All these toys have staying power because they can be played well into the preteen or teen years, passed from one sibling to another, or handed down to the next generation.