The 7-Word Guide to Sorting your Toddler's toys!!! + Free Mnemonic Poster

We're back to school and this means it's time to get the house a little bit tidier again! I have always wondered what toys I should donate, throw, keep, or if there's anything I need to buy to support my son's learning.

I decided to brush up on my Childhood development knowledge and refresh what was taught to us in Nursing Uni by reviewing the theories of Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson.

Jean Piaget's theory of Cognitive development states that bubs from birth to 2 years are in their Sensorimotor stage of Cognitive development. This is the stage where the brain develops rapidly but is dependent on the stimuli they receive by observing the world around them, eating food or other things on the floor, touching things, and listening to sounds among others. So basically, their learning is dependent on their sensory perception of things and exploring the world around them.

On the other hand, Erik Erikson's theory of Psychosocial development tells us that toddlers of 18 months to 3 years of age are currently in the Autonomy vs Shame stage of their Psychosocial development. This is when toddlers are developing a greater sense of self-control, that's why I assume my son always says "No!" and tries to climb the jungle gym by himself. He wants to try to be free from mum and dad and be his own person.

Now, looking at these 2 theories alone, I could surmise that toys I buy must be appropriate not only to his physical readiness but also to his cognitive and psychosocial preparedness. Therefore, I should buy or make him things that would maximize the use of his senses, motor skills, and that which would foster his autonomy without risking his safety.

Hence, I made a mnemonic as a guide in choosing the best toys to buy for my toddler and the mnemonic is as easy as  - T.O.D.D.L.E.R.!!! 


The first in my list are free toys from nature. These include sand, soil, leaves, twigs, water, and many other things found outside the house. I believe nature is the ultimate playground and gives the kids (and us parents) holistic sensory awakening. The best thing of all is - it's free!

My son playing with water and sand from our backyard. (This is how clean we were at the beginning).

My son also loves toys which support nature play like sand and water tables, and sand castle making kits like the ones featured above.


With their desire to become more autonomous, I try my best not to hover over too much when he's at the playground. I try to give him some space when I can help it, which I must say is pretty darn hard (overprotective parent alert*)

Also, I make homemade sensory toys which may decrease the risk of poisoning. Non-toxic toys sold in the market are good too but if you can make them, they're easy and free because most food items are found in the cupboard and are common cooking items like flour and oil.

Playdough made from food in our pantry as inspired by Twinkl.

If you are looking for inspo, I usually go to Twinkl which is a website built to inspire mums and teachers in creating activities for infants up to school age children.

If you want the recipe of this playdough, hit me up in the comments. xx

Other parents also opt for their kids to play with wooden instead of plastic toys. I usually do a combo of both. This was a gift to Yo by my SIL and I also purchased some toys from Little Wooden Toybox which is a good website for purchasing wooden toys.

Wooden alphabet


To practice their autonomy even more, role-playing toys are a fantastic purchase! This is Yo's vacuum cleaner and he usually imitates me when I clean the house. 

I also have a friend who bought her son some kitchen tools from the Children's section of Ikea and I think it's a fantastic way for kids to learn about cooking and preparing food. 

Yo's vacuum cleaner.


Because these early years until 7 y/o is the time of rapid brain development and learning, educational materials are a must-have. Posters, flash cards, books, shape sorters - these are non-negotiable and should be part of your "to buy" or "to borrow" list. 

We want more books!

Yo's fave shape sorter.


One of the most important thing to consider when buying toys for toddlers is the size. They have to be large enough not to be lodged in our children's throats. 

I have recently received this Playskool Heroes box from Hasbro and I am amazed that they have manufactured action figures that reduces the risk of choking hazards. These superhero toys have non-detachable parts mostly but some accessories which are detachable are large enough to be safely played with by toddlers. The colors and shapes of the figures were simple and they stuck true to their mantra, "Big boy brands for little boy hands."

Playskool Heroes boxes from hasbro. ($9.99 for 2-pack set and $39.99 for adventures set)

Unboxing of the Playskool Heroes set from Hasbro. 
Know more about these Superheroes sets by visiting the Hasbro website, Twitter, or their Instagram feed. 


Colors are a huge part of learning and keeping toddlers interested so I would suggest to buy toys that are colorful and would awaken their senses like these posters. Even if these are "serious" learning topics, I find that my son is interested because it is multicolored and has lots of pictures.  

Our learning posters set from Kmart ($7).


One thing that parents dread is noise but musical instruments are a good way to provide auditory stimulation to these toddlers. Here are some musical instruments we have at home. 

Musical instruments for Toddlers.

Musical tables and pull toys for toddlers.

So for a recap of my mnemonic, here's a poster I made to help you remember it. I am giving away (FREE!!!) a clear copy of this poster if you sign up to my blog today.

How about you? Do you have any particular toys that you would suggest to keep/buy for toddlers? Hit me up in the comments!

Cheers my dear mummas!!!

Jacqui xx

Note: The Playskool Heroes  toy set is gifted but all write up in this post are 100% my own. xx


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