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How Many Toys Does a Toddler Need?

Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS · Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 09, 2021

    How Many Toys Does a Toddler Need?

    Toys don’t only provide fun for toddlers; they also promote holistic development. So, does that mean that your little one should have many toys? Or is it more beneficial for them to only have a few? How many toys does a toddler need?

    Toddlers Don’t Need Many Toys, A Study Finds

    Here’s good news, parents: one study1 discovered that your little one doesn’t need a lot of toys. Researchers found that with fewer toys, kids had better play quality.

    In the research, 36 toddlers engaged in supervised, individual free play under two circumstances: first, they play with four toys, and then they were asked to play with 16 toys.

    At the end of the study, the researchers noted that with only a few toys in their environment, the toddlers spent more time on one toy, allowing them to explore it better and find more ways to play with it.

    Infant Development Play: Activities for Babies (3 Months to 1 Year)

    Consider Their Development When Choosing Toys

    How many toys does a toddler need?

    The truth is, there’s no hard and fast rule on exactly how many toys a child needs at every stage. However, experts remind parents to always consider their little one’s development when selecting toys.

    Case in point, most toddlers can already hit the following milestones:

    • Physical – walking, running, climbing, kicking a ball, pedaling a bicycle, and drawing. Is your toddler not walking yet? Learn more here.
    • Communication – Saying single words and eventually stringing them into sentences. Here are some tips to stop them from saying bad words.
    • Social – Playing with others, taking turns, fantasy, or pretend play.
    • Cognitive – Differentiating colors and shapes, and understanding that objects serve specific purposes.

    Choosing toys based on these milestones helps them master the skills more. Furthermore, it serves as “groundwork’ for when they enter preschool.

    The Only Toys a Child Needs

    According to Harvard Health2, there are only 3 kinds of toys a child needs, and they are the following:

    Toys that encourage movement

    As early as toddlerhood, teach your child to love physical activity. Experts say you can never go wrong with toys that get them moving. Great examples include:

    • Ball
    • Jump ropes
    • Bicycle or scooter

    Important: Ensure safety with these toys. For instance, a ball can bounce off the road, and they might chase it. With bicycles, don’t forget to give them a helmet as well as knee and elbow pads.

    how many toys does a toddler need

    Toys that encourage imagination

    Even if we have no exact answer to the question, how many toys does a toddler need?, we know that toddlers need toys that encourage them to get creative. Such toys are usually those that can be used in several ways.

    Examples include:

    • Blocks which they can use to build things.
    • Art materials with lots of blank paper.
    • Play-pretend toys such as doll-houses, preferably with mini-people to go inside.
    • Kitchen toys, with matching chef costumes.
    • Dress-up clothes.
    • Toys representative of everyday things such as cars, ambulance, trucks, etc.
    • Musical instruments
    • Mechanical toys with parts (buttons, levers, etc.) which they can “operate.” As much as possible, avoid choosing toys that need electricity to run. This is so we can reduce the risk of electric shock.

    Toys that promote social interaction

    We still don’t have a definite answer to the question of how many toys a toddler really needs, but we do know that toddlers need toys that encourage social interaction, especially with parents and siblings.

    These toys are crucial in building parent-child relationships, which will later impact the child’s emotional growth.

    Examples of such toys are:

    • Board games
    • Books which you can “read” together.
    • Tents which can fit in a few people (or you can make a fortress out of bedsheets, table, and chairs)
    • Walkie-talkies
    • Models that you and your child can build together.

    The Best Learning Activities for Your One Year Old

    Final Reminders on Toddler Play

    Just as toys are important, how they play and how you play with your children are also crucial.

    Don’t forget to incorporate the values you want to instill in them. For instance, if they spend too much time drawing, praise them for great artwork, but remind them that physical activity is vital for their health.

    Learn more about Toddlers and Preschoolers here. 


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS

    Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 09, 2021

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