It’s never too early to start nurturing science, technology, engineering, and math skills in toddlers. Learning Liftoff shares that an early introduction to STEM can encourage the development of language, communication, and problem-solving skills. They add that it will also set them up for future academic success because they will be able to transfer these skills to other areas of study.
Similarly, the Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum reports that children are already laying roots for abstract reasoning before they turn one. “These roots,” they say, “must be encouraged through engagement and play in order for inherent tendencies to develop into lifelong STEM thinking skills.” For these reasons — if not simply for a love of STEM! — you may be interested in finding some fun yet educational STEM toys for the toddlers in your life.
There are plenty of STEM toys geared toward preschoolers and older children, but you might have to search a little harder for STEM toys for toddlers. Some STEM toys for toddlers are obvious – they are labeled as such or clearly based in science, math, technology, or engineering. Others may not overtly appear to be STEM toys, but yet they help develop some STEM-related skills.
You will find below a list of STEM toys for toddlers, focusing on children from 12-36 months old. Although I have grouped them by math, science, and engineering and technology, there will inevitably be overlap in the skills and subject areas engaged through many of these toys.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases.
Math-Based STEM Toys for Toddlers
The following STEM toys may help toddlers develop some basic math-related skills and concepts and skills, such as
- understanding of size and shape,
- recognition of patterns,
- counting, sorting, and sequencing,
- identification of numerals,
- one-to-one correspondence, and
- spatial relations.
The LeapFrog LeapStart interactive learning system engages children in a variety of subjects through books they interact with using a stylus. The books are leveled for ages 2 through 7. You buy the system once, and as your child grows, you can add books to your library that meet her new age or skill level. Some books even feature some of my kids’ favorite characters, such as PJ Masks and Paw Patrol. If you have multiple children, like I do, it’s a wonderful toy to have because once the older kids outgrow books, the younger ones can start using them.
To help teach math to toddlers, try this bundle of 4 books for children ages 2-4. Math-related concepts include shapes and counting. They’ll also learn about letters, colors, and animals!
Read my full list of top wooden puzzles for toddlers.
Use a shape sorter to help your toddler with shape recognition. There are lots available, but this one is extra fun because it doubles as a toy for pretend play. Your toddler can pull the wooden truck around, put shapes inside the mixing drum (and then unload them!), and play with the included driver doll.
Stacking and nesting cups help children work on ordering items from biggest to smallest and comparing volume. They can choose to stack the cups up into a tower or nest them together. These Discovery Toys cups go above and beyond by incorporating time-telling and measurement, and three different languages. They could also be used as water toys!
This Montessori-inspired toy will help your toddler learn to count and recognize numbers. There are a variety of ways to use the ladybugs to help your child learn, from simple counting to games. One thing I love about this toy is that it comes with its own carrying jar to contain all the ladybugs after playtime is over.
Stacking rings are common, but did you ever think of them as STEM toys for toddlers? They are! They help toddlers compare size and work on sequencing to put the rings in order. This ring stacker is popular on Amazon and incorporates different textures to stimulate your toddler’s sense of touch.
Science Toys for Toddlers
These science-based STEM toys for toddlers are fun tools to introduce
- science concepts,
- scientific vocabulary and language,
- observation through senses,
- cause and effect, and
- a sense of curiosity and inquiry.
This might just be the ultimate STEM toy for kids. The kid-sized science lab comes prepared to do 20 different hands-on experiments while experiencing fun sounds and phrases. You will just need to pitch in a few household items for the experiments. There is also a built-in ball maze and circuit center!
Touch and feel books allow toddlers to use their senses to explore the pages. Here are some great choices:
- Baby Einstein Backyard All Year: Experience different backyard textures and talk with your toddler about the changes in seasons.
- See, Touch, Feel: A First Sensory Book: Your toddler can see herself in a mirror, bang on a drum, or trace the swirl of a snail’s shell.
- Mommy’s Big Helper: Explore all the textures in your baby’s everyday surroundings as you read about a typical day. Feel the housecat’s soft fur or the sticky cake batter, and even smell the strawberries at the market!
Find more interactive books for toddlers.
Uncle Goose Blocks
Baby University board book sets introduce babies and toddlers to scientific concepts and vocabulary in a simple, fun way. I’ll bet you never thought you’d see a kids’ book about Quantum Physics or Organic Chemistry! Maybe you’ll learn a little something, too, while you read them to your toddler. Explore all the Baby University books here.
Engineering and Technology Toys for Toddlers
Through playing with toys that are based in engineering and technology, toddlers can learn to:
- build structures,
- try new ideas,
- use simple tools and machines,
- consider how (well) things work,
- and solve problems.
Bristle Blocks work well for ages 2 and up, and toddlers will not outgrow them any time soon. My 6-year-old still loves playing with Bristle Blocks! Create planes, cars, and houses with these interlocking, versatile blocks.
Every toddler needs a set of Mega Bloks! These classic building toys will grow with your toddler for years and promote creative, open-ended play. Toddlers can construct towers, animals, castles, or whatever else they dream up. The large size is perfect (and safe!) for little ones. You can also purchase themed Mega Bloks sets that combine with the starter kit to add to the fun.
See the list of top building toys for 3-year-olds for more gift ideas!