The importance of cause and effect toys for toddlers

So often parents ask me to recommend toys for their toddlers (ages 12-24 months). The problem is that there is not just one particular toy or even 3 particular toys for any age group. In fact, there are so many great toys out there for everyone. What’s important is knowing what to look for.


When buying toys for toddlers, one important thing to look for is Cause and Effect. What that means is, a child’s action should cause a quick reaction so that the child can learn and understand that if they do A, B happens. The goal is to make a child see that they are able to make a change in their environment. Since toddlers don’t have very long attention spans that change has to happen quickly and immediately following their action. For example, shaking a rattle that makes a noise and quiets down as soon as they stop shaking it, pushing a button and seeing something pop up right away, or pushing or pulling a cart and immediately watching it move.

Unfortunately, there are so many toys directed at toddlers that do not have a clear cause and effect. There are also some electronic toys where there may be a cause and effect, but not a clear one and children are not able to connect that their action had caused a reaction. For example, if a child pushes a button and the toy begins to sing the ABC’s, and the child continues to press the same button with the song just continuing to play, there is no clear cause and effect. In fact, the child does not learn that his/her action means anything and the toy loses its teaching opportunity.

Here are some ideas for cause and effect toys.  Click on the pictures to get more info and/or purchase.