Puzzles have to be one of the greatest educational toys for toddlers. There are so many benefits that children reap from putting puzzles together from hand-eye coordination to cognitive learning skills.
But at what age can kids start doing puzzles?
The answer really depends on the type of puzzles you are giving your child.
A young toddler between the ages of 12-15 months can easily start doing very simple peg puzzles. Peg puzzles or knob puzzles have larger pieces that have a small peg or knob on the top that helps smaller hands grasp the puzzle piece.
Simple peg puzzles with around 3-4 pieces should be a good starting point for toddlers at around 1 year old. The puzzles should be very simple in nature with things like a shape or an animal taking up the whole puzzle piece.
Starting around 18 months to around 2 years old toddlers can start doing a little more advanced puzzles but I would still stick with wooden peg puzzles. Try to find puzzles that offer 8-10 pieces that still have the peg on the back.
By around 2 years old you can start introducing more complex peg puzzles if your child is getting the hang of the simple ones.
By around 3 years of age most toddlers can start putting regular puzzles together without having to use the peg puzzles although you can certainly still use these puzzles for your child as well. Start with very simple puzzles that have very large pieces and ones that don’t have a complicated picture to put together.
You can also start with the very large floor puzzles as they seem to be easier for kids to understand the concept of “jigsaw” puzzles that connect together.
Just like any other skill, the more the child works at putting puzzles together the better they are going to be at it. Some kids who start doing puzzles at a earlier age may be more advanced than a child who just started with puzzles at 3 or 4 years old.
It never hurts to start introducing children’s puzzles to a child as long as you work with them to help them understand how to put the puzzle together.
How To Teach Your Toddler To Do Puzzles
When it comes to teaching your toddler to do puzzles the key is to make it fun and start off simple.
Putting puzzles together takes patience and toddlers usually don’t have a lot of it. If you start off with a puzzle with 24 pieces they may lose interest before you even get half of it done.
On the other hand if you start with simple puzzles that are age appropriate they are able to complete the puzzles and feel a sense of self-accomplishment. This encourages them to do more puzzles which in return will make them so much better at the harder puzzles when they are ready.
Don’t force your child to do the puzzle but instead encourage them and make it fun. For example, you can get a farm animal puzzle and with each piece they pick up make the sound of the animal.
With younger toddlers, definitely start off with the wooden peg puzzles to get them accustomed to puzzles and matching shapes. Once they have mastered these types of puzzles, then move on to puzzles that connect pieces together.
You can even start off with a simple 4 piece jigsaw puzzle to introduce the way that these types of puzzles fit together.
A variation that you can do with these types of puzzles is to put the puzzle together to show your toddler how it should look and then simple take away one piece and have them place the piece into the puzzle were it should go. You can then move onto taking away 2 pieces of the puzzle and have them figure out were those 2 pieces go together.
Once they do this a few times they should be ready to do the whole puzzle on their own and start advancing as they understand the concept of puzzles.
Most of all, as I mentioned, have fun doing puzzles with them. Don’t force them to sit down and do puzzles every day but go at their pace and make it fun for them.
Puzzles are such a wonderful way to help your toddler develop and really are a must-have for learning at this age.