As a busy mom of four, finding ways to occupy my toddler that are both engaging and not super frustrating isn't always easy. Puzzles are a staple in our household: they boost hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, shape recognition, and concentration. If your toddler isn't ready to tackle a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle yet don't worry! I've got the top picks for every type of kid, including the ones I know you'll want to keep for years to come.

Best Puzzles for Beginners
Even toddlers need to start somewhere! My toddlers always started their puzzle journeys with chunky puzzles because they have big pieces that are ideal for little hands to grasp. Another great thing about these puzzles is that since the pieces are big and can stand up on their own they double as pieces for imaginative play. Price: $9.83

Another great starter puzzle is a peg puzzle. These pieces are also perfect for my toddler's chunky hands because each piece has a peg that is easy for him to grasp. Packs like this Melissa & Doug animal bundle help ensure that my toddler never gets bored and are a great value. Price: $22.99 for three,

Best Building Puzzle
Castle Logix was an instant hit in my house because it built on my toddler's love of building with blocks. Instead of leaving toddlers up to their own devices, this puzzle comes with multiple challenges that grow with your toddler as their puzzle skills improve. I really like that once my toddler figures out a challenge he isn't bored with the puzzle but can continue to be challenged. An added bonus is you can also use the pieces to build castles! Price: $29.99

Best Mix-and-Match Puzzle
I like any toy that lets my toddler use his imagination! Getting creative isn't something that's possible with most puzzles but this Merry Animal Mix and Match Puzzle from Haba gets big laughs from my toddler because he can create fun combinations by mixing-and-matching different animal legs, heads and torsos. His current favorite is a dog with sheep legs taking pet goldfish for a walk. I also love that this puzzle comes in a sturdy wooden box so it's great for throwing in my bag for errands or car rides. Price: $14.99

Best Puzzles for Promoting Imagination
My toddler loves the Quercetti Magnetic Smart Puzzle for its soft, animal-shaped pieces. I love it because it's magnetic so it's difficult to knock pieces out of place and it works well to keep my toddler busy in the car. I really like that this puzzle can be flipped over to reveal an inviting farm scene so that when my toddler tires of playing with the puzzle he can engage in imaginative play. Price: $26.86

This Three Little Piggies SmartGames puzzle uses one of my toddler's favorite fairy tales to draw him in. He is very proud of himself when he solves the problem of how to make sure the pigs can play outside without being threatened by the big, bad wolf. This puzzle has big, easy-to-grasp pieces and nearly 50 challenges suitable for kids two and up. Reading the included storybook is an added bonus. Price: $26.99

Best Puzzle for Learning the ABCs
It's never too early to introduce toddlers to the ABCs! I picked up the Haba My First ABC Clutching Puzzle with this in mind! This puzzle features colorful letters and big knobs perfect for little hands to clutch. When my toddler works through completing this puzzle, I take advantage of the opportunity to introduce him to the names of the letters and the sounds each makes. With so much to learn it helps to be able to double-up on skills while playing with your toddler! Price: $17.99

Best Progressive Puzzles
As moms, we are always looking for a little more bang for our buck. The My Time of Year layered puzzle from Haba delivers because it is four puzzles in one. Each layer features a different season and gets progressively more complex. Since I have limited space, I also love that these puzzles all fit onto the same base for easy storage. Price: $12.99

DJECO Progressive Puzzles are great progressive puzzles that helped my toddler gain confidence. Each progressive puzzle pack contains three different puzzles that increase in complexity. Chose from themes including In the Forest, In the Sea and In the Jungle. Price: $12.05

Best Activity Board Puzzles
Not all puzzles involve fitting pieces together! Like most toddlers, mine is fascinated by puzzles that involve moving parts. The Activity Board Puzzle from Little Partners fits the bill and is similar to the puzzles often seen attached to pediatricians' walls. I like that these activity boards are available in themes that include writing skills and shapes. I also like that these activity boards can be free-standing but can also be attached to a playroom wall or a Little Partners Learning Tower, so they can be readily available to curious toddlers and who won't need help fishing this puzzle out of a closet. Price: $39.99

No puzzle keeps my toddler busier for longer than this Latches Board. My toddler can practice hooking, snapping, clicking, and sliding the latches on this activity board all day long. Once my toddler figures out the latches he is rewarded by getting to open all kinds of doors than can start over by locking them again. Price: $20.19

Best Puzzles for Hand-Eye Coordination
There are a few puzzles that have been passed down to all four my children. This one-of-a-kind Fishing Magnetic Puzzle is one of them. This puzzle sets itself apart because instead of picking up pieces, my toddlers all delighted in going fishing for them instead. Bonus: they were working on hand-eye coordination while doing it! Price: $9.98

It takes my toddler a lot of concentration to fit the pieces in the Hape Creative Toddler Wooden Toy Puzzle on just the right peg but the pay-off is worth it! I like that this puzzle is actually two in one since the puzzle has four pieces that fit together to provide a stable base. The pretty, colorful pieces are also nice to display in our playroom! Price: $19.99

Best Puzzles for Two
My toddler loves puzzles but if I'm being honest, sometimes I get bored with them! I love Katamino Family because not only can a sibling or I play with my toddler but everyone can complete a puzzle appropriate for their age from toddlers to adults. Each puzzle-player chooses a card that matches their skill level and then fills the board using only the pieces pictured on the card. I love going head-to-head with my toddler but not feeling like I'm completing a toddler puzzle. This is also a perfect puzzle for my toddler to complete with his older siblings since they can all have fun. Once my kids are done playing with the pieces as a puzzle, they use the colorful, oddly shaped puzzle pieces to build 3-D structures. Price: $34.99

Every mom wants a puzzle where pieces are guaranteed to never get lost. Is that actually possible? Yes, if the answer is a magnetic bead maze puzzle where your toddler can use the magnetic wand to move a bead through the puzzle. This version has two separate mazes and wands so it's another great choice for parents or siblings to play with a toddler. Price: $39.24

Best Puzzle With Sound
Sometimes my toddler needs a little motivation to complete a puzzle. Sound puzzles reward my toddler with anything ranging from a horse neighing to the sound of a police siren when he put the piece in the correct spot. With versions ranging from farm animals to sea creatures to vehicles, every toddler will find something they like! Price: $13.99

Best Puzzles to Display
Parents love toys that don't add to the clutter and can double as décor. I love having an adorable Hape Animal Parade Puzzle on display. My toddler can get it by himself and link the animals together on his own. As a bonus, this puzzle is double-sided! I can flip the puzzle over to reveal the ABCs and start to teach my toddler the letters of the alphabet. Price: $17.99

Who doesn't love a rainbow? I have a Coogam Rainbow Stacker puzzle on display in our toy room to add a splash of color and fun. My toddler has so much fun figuring out how the seven colorful arches fit together and it's a great way to teach colors. My toddler learned that he can play with this puzzle another way by turning the pieces on their sides and stacking them. When not in use as a puzzle, my toddler uses the arches as a tunnel for his toy cars and as rocking chairs for his figures. Price: $15.99

Best Puzzles With Multiple Possibilities
This LiKee puzzle is a find because it includes eight different puzzles in one package. The puzzle pieces are in the shape of popsicle sticks and once lined up properly, they reveal a favorite animal, dinosaur, ocean scene or vehicle. I started by giving my toddler only enough pieces for one or two puzzles at a time. Then, I made the puzzle more challenging by encouraging my toddler to chose the correct color-coded pieces for each puzzle on his own. Price: $9.99

While many puzzles are tossed to the side once mastered, I appreciate that the Hape Animal Block Puzzle Game has longevity since it is actually six puzzles in one. Since each animal has a different colored background I also use this puzzle to teach my toddler about colors and matching. Price: $17.99

—Jamie Davis Smith


Jamie Davis Smith is a writer and photographer who loves reading, going to amusement parks, and exploring with her four children. Read more stories by her here.