Brainy Parenting

Inside: Stop playing boring toddler board games and play these quick and fun board games for toddlers instead. Approved by kids *and* parents!

We have four kids – a 12-year-old, first grader, preschooler, and toddler – so it’s a little tricky to find fun family board games that everyone can play together.

Because although my toddler tries his hardest to keep up with his big sisters, he just doesn’t have the same attention span, patience for taking turns, or impulse control to stop himself from turning into the Toddler Hulk, flipping over the whole board when the game doesn’t go his way.

With my first toddler many years ago, I asked around about the best board games for toddlers, and I got lots of recommendations for games like Candyland, Chutes Ladders, and Hungry Hungry Hippos.

But those games happen to have one very big problem. They’re mind-numbing for the adults playing along.

The Problem With Most Board Games for Toddlers

The typical toddler board games require no strategy. They’re all chance and no thought, and at best they prepare your kid to understand the concept of a scratch-off lottery ticket.

Plus, the whole point of playing a game with your toddler is to have fun while connecting. If you’re bored out of your mind, your child will sense that. Kids are more perceptive than we give them credit for.

Your toddler may take your annoyance personally and assume you don’t want to play with them.

Not exactly a recipe for fostering a healthy connection between you and your child.

And yet as much as I’d love to groom my toddler into a Trivial Pursuit prodigy, some of the best family games are way too advanced to be board games for 3-year-olds and 2-year-olds (and definitely 18-month-olds).

Toddler board games don't have to be boring

But You Don’t Have to Suffer Through Boring Toddler Board Games

Ever since my oldest daughter reached board game maturity years ago, we’ve been on a quest to find the best board games for families. The ones that won’t make you want to gouge out your eyeballs with your toddler’s favorite spork.

Over the years, we’ve curated a well-loved collection of toddler board games that are actually fun for the whole family.

It’s just that you rarely hear about these board games for toddlers because Chutes Ladders and its ilk became the default choice of board games for 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds. And unfortunately, searching online for “board games for toddlers” returns those same ol’ boring toddler board games we dread playing with our kids.

Related: The Best 10-Minute Fix to Spending Quality Time With Kids {Printable}

25 Awesome Toddler Board Games That You’ll Love, Too

Get those boring toddler board games out of your home and play these kid-approved (and parent-approved!) board games for toddlers instead.

Life is too short to be pulling out your hair when you could be giggling with your toddler. Use this list of fun board games for 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds to beef up your family game collection, and you won’t be sorry.

This list grew out of my family’s quest for the best family board games and card games over the last several years. Plus, we researched for hours and hours online to find as many suggestions as possible of toddler board games for 3-year-olds, 2-year-olds, and even 18-month-olds, then market-tested them with our own crew and with friends who have toddlers.

Not only will your toddler love these board games and card games, but you will too. If you need more ideas after you check out this list, head over to our list of the best preschool board games for more ideas.

But First, a Warning

When my second child was three, she swallowed a coin that got stuck in her throat. One emergency room visit, one surgery, and one five-figure hospital bill later, trust me that choking hazards are nothing to take lightly. We were lucky that we caught it in time.

Some of these toddler board games – even the games marketed specifically for toddlers – may contain game pieces that are the perfect size to be choking hazards. Please always keep a close eye on your child when they’re playing with a game that has small pieces. And if you have an infant, make sure they’re sleeping or otherwise occupied so they don’t find a fallen game piece and pop it into their mouth.

Now for the list of the best toddler board games!

A Quick Note About Suggested Ages

The sections below are organized by age. But keep in mind that as with anything when it comes to kids and suggested ages, your mileage may vary. For example, some 2-year-olds might be able to play and enjoy some games for 3-year-olds, whereas some 3-year-olds might need help playing a few of the games for 2-year-olds.

If you try a game and your child doesn’t seem ready for it, put it away for a couple weeks or a month, then try again. The toddler brain is growing constantly, so they might surprise you sooner rather than later!

  • Board Games for 3-Year-Olds
  • Board Games for 2-Year-Olds
  • Board Games for 18-Month-Olds
  • Need More Ideas? More Toddler Games You’ll Love
  • How to Introduce Your Toddler to Board Games

Note: indicates my family’s absolute top favorites on the list. These are the games my whole family can’t get enough of! In fact, we love them so much that we stock them in our store. Order from us here, and you’ll be supporting a family-owned business while also treating your own family to a fun new game!

The Best Board Games for 3-Year-Olds

Here are the best board games for 3-year-olds that parents and older siblings enjoy playing, too. So long, Candyland! For more awesome board games for 3-year-olds, check out The Ultimate List of the Best Board Games for Preschoolers (And Parents).

1. Outfoxed!

Time to Play: 15 minutes Number of Players: 2-4 Get It: Outfoxed!

This toddler-friendly board game is like Clue but for younger kids. Here’s the backstory: A fox stole a pot pie, and you have to figure out which fox did it before they escape into the foxhole.

Younger 3-year-olds may need a parent’s help when playing, but it’s well worth it because it does a fantastic job of building your toddler’s logic and deductive reasoning skills.

My kids will regularly play this cooperative whodunnit game on their own, and I love watching them work together as a team to solve the mystery!

Bonus: All game orders placed in our family-owned shop get a $7.99 bonus credit after purchase to spend on instant downloads!

1,129 families purchased this game after reading this post...

Outfoxed

MSRP $17.99         "Outfoxed is cooperative so it’s fun for everyone and easy enough for even preschoolers to participate!" – Elizabeth

2. Life on Earth Memory Game

Time to Play: 10-20 minutes Number of Players: 1 or more Get It: Life on Earth Memory Game

It took us three tries to find the best memory matching game for toddlers: the Life on Earth game by eeBoo.

The original Memory game was fine, but the artwork is babyish so our older kids weren’t as interested in playing, not to mention the cardboard pieces were flimsy and easy to bend. Another edition was a little too “creative” for toddlers to figure out, and we couldn’t seem to find the memory game that was the perfect fit.

Then we found the Life on Earth edition: The artwork is gorgeous, and the thick, sturdy pieces are perfect to prevent bending or ripping by curious little hands. Plus, with younger kids, each piece gives you an opportunity to talk through different types of animals and share fun tidbits you know about them. Great for building your toddler’s vocabulary!

Here are a few ways you can play this memory game with your toddler:

  • Classic game: Flip all the cards upside down and take turns flipping two at a time to find matches.
  • Variation for younger toddlers: Flip all the cards right side up and take turns spotting matches. Or as another option, you can set out just a few matching sets at a time like 3 or 4 matching sets face down.
  • Sorting game: Flip all the cards up and sort them into groups. For example: Which of these would you find in the ocean? The sky? On land? Or: Find all the purple cards, and so on.

Life on Earth Memory Game

MSRP $17.99         "I've gone through a few different memory games over the years as my kids have grown, and I wish I'd just started with this one. The pieces are durable, the illustrations are beautiful, and I love watching my 3-year-old play with her grandparents!" – Jenny

3. Dinosaur Escape

Time to Play: 10-20 minutes Number of Players: 2-4 Get It: Dinosaur Escape

This is another of our favorite cooperative board games for toddlers. In this one, all the players work together to get all the dinosaurs safely to the island before the volcano erupts. Working together towards a common goal is perfect for toddlers because they don’t always grasp competitive tactics.

Your child will build memory skills and learn how to work on a team, all while having fun playing in a pretend world with dinosaurs and an erupting volcano. Even my 12-year-old gets into this toddler game!

Because this game is designed for younger kids, you’ll rarely lose to the volcano. But for toddlers and preschoolers just getting their feet wet in the world of board games, that goes in the pro column because it helps build their confidence.

If you’d like to make this game more challenging over time, the game instructions include suggestions for variations. Or you and your kids can come up with your own house rules. Here are a few rules we sometimes play with to make it more challenging for older toddlers:

  • Dinosaurs can search only the area they’re in
  • Game pieces can move in only one direction
  • Add more dinosaur or animal figurines so you have to rescue more before the volcano blows
  • Each player can move only one dinosaur
  • If you get a T-Rex, shuffle all the fern tiles and redistribute
  • If you get a lizard, go back one space

Dinosaur Escape

MSRP $17.95         "We LOVE Dinosaur Escape in our family. It only takes about 10 mins to complete so it holds our 2 year old’s attention span. It’s simple enough for both our 5 year old and 2 year old to grasp. But best of all, it’s a cooperative game that gets them excited to work together...this is a winner!" – Katie

4. Gobblet Gobblers

Time to Play: 5 minutes Number of Players: 2 Get It: Gobblet Gobblers

This toddler board game is like tic-tac-toe with a twist. Just like in tic-tac-toe, you line up three of your pieces to win. But in this version of the game, your piece can also “gobble up” another person’s piece (or even your own piece) because the game pieces are like nesting dolls.

While it can get boring to play tic-tac-toe with a child once they figure out the strategy, this game shakes things up enough to make it fun for all ages. The game is quick, which is a plus for a toddler’s limited attention span.

But your toddler won’t even realize they’re building critical thinking, memory skills, and spatial awareness skills while having fun!

One quick tip though: Be sure to get this wooden version of this game, not the newer plastic version. The reviewers who accidentally ordered the plastic version were disappointed because the plastic edition isn’t nearly as sturdy.

1,109 families purchased this game after reading this post...

Gobblet Gobblers

MSRP $28.99 $24.99 on sale!         "Far and away our family’s favorite game!" – A boy mom

5. Sequence for Kids or Sequence Letters

Time to Play: 20 minutes Number of Players: 2-4 Get It: Sequence for Kids or Sequence Letters

This is the children’s version of the popular board game Sequence, and it’s one of the best educational games for 3-year-olds. Basically, this version for kids is a matching game with a splash of strategy because you need to get four matches in a row to win. But what’s cool is that after you play it a few times, you’ll notice your child start thinking ahead a couple turns instead of just playing the second they find a match.

If you need to keep this game simple at first, try taking out the dragon and unicorn cards. Those are the cards that allow you to remove another person’s chip and that act as a wild card.

To work on letters with your toddler, Sequence Letters is another fun educational game for 3-year-olds.

1,202 families purchased this game after reading this post...

Sequence for Kids or Sequence Letters

MSRP $16.59 $15.99 on sale!         "The one we have enjoyed playing most with our 4-yr-old daughter is Sequence for Kids. We loved it so much that she wanted to purchase one for her friend for Christmas. :)" – Kim

6. Spot It! Jr. Animals

Time to Play: 10-20 minutes Number of Players: 2–8 Get It: Spot It! Jr. Animals

When it comes to toddler board games, this is one of our absolute favorites. The game is similar to the regular version of Spot It! but simplified for toddlers, with larger images and fewer images on each card.

The best part of this matching game is that it’s so portable. Just keep it in your car’s glove compartment, or throw it in your purse when you’re heading somewhere the kids will have to wait a bit, like the doctor’s office or to a restaurant. The small tin holding the cards also makes this game the perfect fit as a stocking stuffer for kids.

If your toddler loves this game, be sure to check out Spot It! 123 too.

1,132 families purchased this game after reading this post...

Spot It! Jr Animals or Classic or 123

MSRP $9.99 for Jr Animals; $15.25 for Classic; $12.99 for 123         "A must have game for every home perfect for ALL ages…Spot It! It’s a matching game on a whole new level. My husband and I love this game as much as the kids!" – Cristy

7. Yeti in My Spaghetti

Time to Play: 5-15 minutes Number of Players: 1 or more players Get It: Yeti in My Spaghetti

This game is similar to Ker-Plunk, but it’s a better fit for younger kids because Ker-Plunk’s marbles are choking hazards.

To play this fun little game, you lay the spaghetti pieces across the bowl then put the yeti on top. (No logic or story behind this setup – just go with it.) Then each player takes turns pulling out one piece of spaghetti. If the yeti falls to the bottom of the bowl on your turn, you lose. This is usually the point where the kids collapse into giggles, which can be contagious!

This game is perfect for toddlers because it helps develop their executive functioning skills when they learn (the hard way) to be patient and pull the spaghetti pieces out slowly.

162 families purchased this game after reading this post...

Yeti in My Spaghetti

MSRP $17.99         "We love Yeti in My Spaghetti. :) Low competition and just a fun game!" – Jane

8. Create a Story Cards

Time to Play: 5-15 minutes Number of Players: 2 or more Get It: Create a Story Cards

This simple card game for older toddlers is a great way to foster your child’s imagination and build literacy skills.

The game has several variations, but our favorite is this: Each player takes turns picking a random card. The first person starts a story with “Once upon a time…” and then on the next turn, the next person uses their card as inspiration to add to the story.

The stories we come up with as a family always leave us giggling. You can play this with a 2-year-old too, but just be prepared for their stories not to make much sense quite yet!

Another bonus with this game is that you have several versions to choose from, and to kick it up a notch you can even mix different sets together:

  • Fairy Tale Mix-Up
  • Animal Village
  • Mystery in the Forest
  • Volcano Island

This one also makes for a fun travel game to take along on road trips or plane rides.

1,208 families purchased this game after reading this post...

Create a Story Cards

MSRP $13.99         "This little game is quick, easy, and fun! You pick a card, say “Once upon a time…”, and let your child fill in the details. Then you can ask follow-up questions like “and then what happened?” until they peter out. I love that this requires minimal brainpower from me when I’m tired (which is always) and my daughter LOVES coming up with the stories. Great for her imagination!" – Fiona

9. Hoot Owl Hoot or Orchard by HABA

Time to Play: 15 minutes for Hoot Owl Hoot; 10 minutes for Orchard Number of Players: 2–4 for Hoot Owl Hoot; 1-8 for Orchard Get It: Hoot Owl Hoot or Orchard

In the category of cooperative board games for toddlers, these are two more favorites. But because the game play for these two games is so similar, I recommend picking up either Hoot Owl Hoot or Orchard.

My kids love both games, so you really can’t go wrong. The wooden game pieces for Orchard are super well-made and sturdy, but if that game is a bit outside your price range, Hoot Owl Hoot is just as fun. My kids regularly pull out both games to play together independently!

Warning: If your child tends to put small objects in their mouth, I recommend starting out with the First Orchard edition (see below) because it has larger game pieces perfect for younger kids.

222 families purchased this game after reading this post...

Orchard or First Orchard

MSRP $49.99 for original; $29.99 for young kids' edition         "We LOVE Orchard and Animal Upon Animal!" – Richard

Side note: We’ve tested nearly every cooperative game for toddlers and preschoolers made by Peaceable Kingdom, the same folks who make Hoot Owl Hoot. The other games were fun too, but Hoot Owl Hoot and Dinosaur Escape have been the clear winners!

877 families purchased this game after reading this post...

Hoot Owl Hoot

MSRP $15.95         "Family games should be fun for everyone! We have five kids, and that is one of the rules of our Friday Family Fun Night. We play a lot of co-op games with our kids — Hoot Owl Hoot and Outfoxed are really fun! ... Co-op games are great for teaching kids slowly, as open hands and working together are good." – Michelle

10. My First Castle Panic

Time to Play: 20 minutes Number of Players: 1-4 Get It: My First Castle Panic

Castle Panic is one of my absolute favorite board games for the whole family, so I was super excited to discover they had a kids’ edition.

This is a cooperative game, so you work together to fight off a horde of monsters who are trying to tear down your castle walls and destroy your castle. It sure is fun to work together as a family towards a common goal that doesn’t involve loading the dishwasher!

My First Castle Panic

MSRP $19.95         "We play Castle Panic and Carcassonne with our boys, and they LOVE them both. They are 3 and 6. Sometimes, our 3 year old is on a team, but he can usually play by himself for both games." – Autumn

11. Animal Upon Animal

Time to Play: 10-15 minutes Number of Players: 1-4 Get It: Animal Upon Animal

When your child is ready to move from cooperative to competitive toddler board games, this is a fun stacking game for older toddlers. In this game, you stack different wooden animal figurines on top of a large alligator, trying to see how high you can stack them before it all comes crashing down. This game develops your child’s executive functioning skills as they learn they’ll need to be patient and use creative problem-solving in order to get their animals to stack without falling down.

But even when the stack does come crashing down? Giggles all around.

This game is great for developing your toddler’s fine motor skills. But it can also be a fun challenge even for adults because the painted pieces are a bit on the slick side, so it’s harder to stack them than you might imagine.

Then when your toddler beats you fair and square at this game, you won’t even care because they’ll literally glow with pride.

And unlike some other stacking games for kids that are made with low-quality plastic, these sturdy wooden pieces are made to last. Toddlers aren’t always the gentlest with flimsy game pieces, but our copy of this game has lasted through four kids! (Side note: This game is made by the same company who makes Orchard, which my kids also love.)

At first, start by just stacking the pieces like you would with blocks. As your toddler gets more confident and comfortable with the physics of the game, you can follow the game rules.

Warning: If your child still tends to put small objects in their mouth, I recommend starting out with the First Animal Upon Animal edition because it has larger game pieces perfect for younger kids, then later you can get this edition that works best for 3-year-olds and up.

139 families purchased this game after reading this post...

Animal Upon Animal

MSRP $24.99         "We LOVE Orchard and Animal Upon Animal!" – Richard

12. The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

Time to Play: 15 minutes Number of Players: 2-4 Get It: The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

This makes a great first board game for toddlers because it doesn’t require a lot of strategy, it’s quick to play, and the game rules are easy to understand. Plus, the artwork is adorable!

But here’s my favorite aspect of this game: Kids can easily play this independently while you sneak a catnap on the couch.

If you have more than one child or your child likes to play board games with friends, you’ll likely want to play this with the kids the first couple of times to help them learn the rules, but after that you can peace out.

563 families purchased this game after reading this post...

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

MSRP $21.99         "Great fun for little ones and adults!!! We play with my 5 year old who loves it and my 2 year old who is starting to understand. It’s one of the few kids games that is actually fun for me to play as well. I highly recommend this game. It is great quality and great design!" – Dan

The Best Board Games for 2-Year-Olds

When your child isn’t quite ready for the toddler board games in the previous list, here are the best board games for 2-year-olds – that are also fun for the rest of the family.

13. Stack Up!

Time to Play: 15 minutes Number of Players: 2-6 Get It: Stack Up!

This stacking game is a cooperative game where all the players work together towards a common goal. Cooperative games like this are great for building teamwork skills, plus competitive tactics can go over younger kids’ heads.

Even if the tower topples and you “lose” the game, your toddler will still giggle like mad because knocking stuff over is their idea of comedic gold.

As your toddler gets familiar with the rules, the game rules include a couple variations to keep things challenging and fun.

2,072 families purchased this game after reading this post...

Stack Up!

MSRP $19.95         "Thank you so SO much for your recommendations! We’ve purchased Ruckus, Sleeping Queens, and Stack Up, and my 4 year old LOOOOOOOOooVES these games. Less screen time and more bonding time." – Shirley

14. First Orchard

Time to Play: 10 minutes Number of Players: 1-4 Get It: First Orchard

Orchard in the Board Games for 3-Year-Olds section above is one of our all-time favorite board games for toddlers. But if your child tends to put small objects in their mouth, I recommend starting out with the First Orchard edition because it has larger game pieces perfect for younger toddlers.

In this cooperative game, you work together to pick all the fruit in the orchard before a pesky raven comes to snatch it all up. Young toddlers may not yet understand the rules of this game, but that’s okay. Keep pulling it out every week or so, and they’ll get it! This game clicked at various ages with my kids, ranging from 19 months to 25 months.

Then after your toddler turns three and stops putting small objects in their mouth, you can graduate to the full Orchard edition of this game.

222 families purchased this game after reading this post...

Orchard or First Orchard

MSRP $49.99 for original; $29.99 for young kids' edition         "We LOVE Orchard and Animal Upon Animal!" – Richard

15. Hisss

Time to Play: 10-15 minutes Number of Players: 2-5 Get It: Hisss

In this game, you build colorful snakes by matching up sturdy cards that feature different snake shapes and colors. When you place the head or tail on a snake to complete it, you say “Hisss!” and slide the snake into your snake pit to claim it. At the end of the game, the person with the most snake cards wins.

This is a cute and simple game that reinforces color identification, matching skills, and the basics of gameplay like taking turns. Then as your child keeps playing and grows with this game, they’ll progress from just matching colors to engaging into strategic thinking about whether to start a new snake or finish one and claim it.

Unlike some games for this age range, the cards are thick and sturdy, so they hold up over time.

And here’s one more big plus for this game: Siblings or friends can easily play this one independently if you need a break.

Note: The manufacturer says this is for ages 4 and up, but according to several other families (including mine!) many older 2-year-olds are ready for this game.

Hisss

MSRP $14.99 $13.99 on sale!         "This game is a great one for toddlers and preschool age! The kids can actually play this…on their own!! And matching the cards up by color is fun for toddler age even just as a busy quiet time activity. Highly recommend!" – Carolyn

16. Acorn Soup

Time to Play: 5-10 minutes Number of Players: 2 or more Get It: Acorn Soup

Toddlers love this simple pretend play game. During the game, your child will mix up different soup recipes for a squirrel who’s preparing extra food to store for winter. The game does a great job of introducing your child to board games and how much fun it can be to play together, plus they’ll learn the basics of gameplay like how to take turns.

The instructions include several different variations of how to play, which helps keep things interesting when you’re playing with your toddler or if they’re playing with an older sibling.

Plus, here’s one more variation our toddlers have all enjoyed: Pull up a chair backwards to the kitchen counter so your toddler can stand on it, then set up their recipe card and ingredients on the counter. Your toddler will love pretending to be like you cooking in the kitchen!

Acorn Soup

MSRP $17.95         "A game full of imagination and secret learning! I find my three year old “playing” this game by himself all the time. Just sitting and mixing up recipes using his counting skills. I love a game that provides this much repeat fun, imaginative play, and skill mastering." – Becca

17. First Animal Upon Animal

Time to Play: 10 minutes Number of Players: 1-4 players Get It: First Animal Upon Animal

This is the toddler-friendly edition of Animal Upon Animal, a stacking game similar to Jenga but way more fun for young kids. In the game, you stack different wooden animal figurines on top of each other, trying to see how high you can stack them before it all comes crashing down. This game develops your child’s executive functioning skills because they learn they’ll need to be patient and use creative problem-solving in order to get their animals to stack without falling down.

But you know toddlers – even when the tower comes crashing down, that’s just as fun!

After your toddler turns three and stops putting small objects in their mouth, you can graduate to the full Animal Upon Animal edition of this game for more of a challenge.

The Best Board Games for 18-Month-Olds

Finding fun board games for 18-month-olds can be tricky because their young toddler brains are still doing so much growing. Below, you’ll find the best first board games for toddlers who are starting to learn the basics of game play.

18. Where’s Bear?

Time to Play: 5-10 minutes Number of Players: 2+ players Get It: Where’s Bear?

This is a board game version of hide-and-seek, and it’s one of the best first board games for toddlers. You take turns hiding an adorable wooden bear in the different rooms of the bear’s house, then the other players try to find the bear.

The box says this game is for 2-year-olds, but my kids have all loved this game starting around 18 months. The instructions include five different variations of how to play, which keeps things interesting for parents and older kids. When my older kids are playing with a toddler sibling, they also like to hide the bear around our actual house to keep the fun going.

My youngest toddler loved this game so much that he insisted on carrying the bear around with him even when we weren’t playing!

Where's Bear?

MSRP $17.95         "Great game for 18 months+. There are so many options for play. The bear is super cute. Was and still is a favorite!" – Kaylyn

19. Seek-a-Boo

Time to Play: 5 minutes Number of Players: 2 or more Get It: Seek-a-Boo

What I love about this jumbo-sized game of memory for young toddlers is that the pictures are all of real objects as opposed to illustrations. The real-life pictures captured my toddlers’ attention more than the “cute” illustrations on other memory games for toddlers.

Plus, the pictures on the cards gave us lots of opportunities to say different words and grow their vocabulary.

Fair warning that the cards included are just regular card material not cardboard. If your toddler tends to be rough on stuff like that, be prepared for the cards to get a little bent. I’ve heard that some parents laminated the cards to make them extra sturdy!

For more ideas on how to play memory toddler board games especially with younger toddlers, check out the suggestions under the Life on Earth section earlier in this post.

Seek-a-Boo

MSRP $24.90 $19.95 on sale!         "This is by far one of the most used games in our house! From the time they can toddle and recognize shapes they can play and find the images. Later on, they can sort them by category or color. One of my favorite parts is that I can facilitate from the couch! We still play with my 4, 5 and 7 year old as it’s now a race to see who can return the correct card. AND now that they are older, they are taking turns facilitating themselves! I give this gift to young parents whenever I can!" – Stephanie

Need More Ideas? 5 More Toddler Board Games You’ll Love

If you’ve already played all the games recommended above and you want more ideas, check out the list of even more toddler board games below. Note: We don’t stock the following board games in our shop, so I’ve included links to Amazon for your convenience.

20. Shopping List

Time to Play: 15 minutes Number of Players: 2-4 Minimum Age: Some younger toddlers can play this one, but this is a great pick for kids age 3 and up Get It: Shopping List

This memory game lets kids pretend play they’re at the grocery store filling their cart with everything on their shopping list. My kids have all absolutely loved this game starting around the age of 3, which is probably an indication that I should put them to work at the grocery store more often. When they were younger, they loved to join in on the game, but their attention span didn’t last for a whole game.

If your child loves this game, you can get expansion packs for extra fruit and veggies and for clothing items.

21. Richard Scarry’s Busytown

Time to Play: 30 minutes Number of Players: 2-4 Minimum Age: Younger toddlers can play this game with a little help, but 3-year-olds and up are the best fit Get It: Richard Scarry’s Busytown

Like many of the toddler board games in this list, this falls into the category of cooperative toddler board games like Outfoxed!, and my kids love playing this one too. But game play takes about twice as long for this game, so it’s not as appealing as the other cooperative games we own.

The part that keeps this game interesting for us as parents is the “I Spy” component of looking for little details on the game board. Still, this game isn’t our first choice to play with the kids. We encourage them to play independently, and they have just as much fun!

22. Go Fish

Time to Play: 20 minutes Number of Players: 2–6 Minimum Age: The matching concepts are a good fit for 3-year-olds, but some 2-year-olds may be ready for this one Get It: Go Fish Alphabet

Playing this classic card game with your kids when you’re exhausted levels out the playing field. I don’t believe in letting my kids win, but when we play right before bedtime, I’m not ashamed to admit that my toddler has beat me and my husband at Go Fish.

Our favorite set of this game is an alphabet set that helps our toddler get familiar with the different letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make.

23. Uno or Uno Moo

Time to Play: 15-30 minutes for Uno; 15 minutes for Uno Moo Number of Players: 2-10 for Uno; 2-4 for Uno Moo Minimum Age: 3-year-olds can understand the matching part of Uno; some 2-year-olds are ready for Uno Moo Get It: Uno or Uno Moo

The classic Uno card game is technically for ages 7 and up, but toddlers can pick it up quickly. Uno is mostly a matching game, and toddlers love matching games!

When we first started playing with each of our toddlers, they’ve needed a little help understanding the “special” cards, but after playing it a few times, they learn the meaning of the different symbols. Including how to properly unleash the wrath of the Wild Draw Four card. Womp, womp.

But as another option, you can get Uno Moo, which uses the same concepts as the Uno card game but in a format that’s a great fit for toddlers.

To simplify the original Uno game for your toddler, here are a few variations to try:

  • Skip keeping score at the end of each hand.
  • Remove the “special” cards like wild, reverse, and so on, and play with just the number cards to start with.
  • Deal a fewer number of cards instead of 7 to start. For example, you might try dealing just 3, 4, or 5 cards to keep it simple and make it easier for your toddler to keep up with their cards. (To help them with holding cards, be sure to get this awesome little card holder! We’ve tried a few but this is the best by far.)
  • On every turn, remind your child what they can play. For example, if it’s a blue 5 shown, you might say, “Do you have a blue or a 5 to play?”

“We also really like Uno! My 2-yr-old plays with us and loves it.” – Christie

24. Roll and Play

Time to Play: 5 minutes Number of Players: 2 or more Minimum Age: Toddlers who are 18 months and up can enjoy this game Get It: Roll and Play

In this game specifically designed for young toddlers, you “roll” a big plush cube to see which color lands face up, then choose a matching color card and do the activity listed on the card. For example, the card might tell you to moo like a cow, spin around, or make a happy face.

This is a simple game to get your toddler used to the idea of taking turns and following directions. Plus, they love rolling the cube, which in our house means throwing it up as high as you can in the air and seeing where it falls.

As with Seek-a-Boo, the cards can be a little flimsy for young toddlers, so some parents laminated the cards to keep them in good condition over many game sessions.

25. Zingo

Time to Play: 5 minutes Number of Players: 2–8 Minimum Age: Some 2-year-olds can play this one, and it’s an even better fit for 3-year-olds Get It: Zingo

At first glance, this is a simple matching game. But what keeps the game interesting for older kids and adults is the competitive twist – you have to be the first one to notice a match and snag it before someone else does.

That sounds like a simple enough task, but you’d be surprised how often our kids snake a match out from under our noses. (I’m blaming chronic parental sleep deprivation.)

“I can’t say enough good things about Zingo! From day one, all three kids loved it and understood the concept.” – Nina

How to Introduce Your Toddler to Board Games: 8 Tried-And-True Tips

If you haven’t played many board games with your toddler yet, this section is for you.

Toddlers aren’t exactly known for their ability to sit still, follow directions, and take turns. So at first, playing board games with your toddler can feel a bit…futile. They toddle off three minutes into the game, they seem determined to destroy as many game components as possible, and trying to bend your toddler’s will to follow the rules can land you in the middle of an epic toddler tantrum wondering when the “fun” is supposed to start.

After introducing my own four toddlers to board games and also playing countless games with the toddlers of our friends and neighbors over the years, I’ve stumbled on a few tricks for how to make playing games with your toddler go more smoothly.

Here are a few tips for introducing your toddler to board games so that you’ll both grow to enjoy the experience of playing games:

  • Do a test run. Your toddler has a limited attention span. So if you’re playing a brand-new-to-you game for the first time, you might use up all their patience while you’re reading the rules and figuring out the game. Before you sit down to play a new game with your toddler, play it by yourself after your toddler’s bedtime or during naptime. That way, when you do play the first time with your child, you’ll be able to jump right into the fun part.
  • Go for cooperative first. When you’re starting out, play cooperative toddler games like Outfoxed! or First Orchard. Competitive elements of a game tend to go right over toddlers’ heads, and also competitive games typically leave younger kids feeling less enthusiastic about the game and may even lead to them acting out after the game. If you do play a competitive game where there’s one winner, you can make a big deal about how much fun it was to play the game together. You can also model good sportsmanship by congratulating the winner, but try to keep the focus on how fun the whole game experience was.
  • Make it quick. Because toddlers have short attention spans, you’ll have the best results if you start out with quick 5- or 10-minute games like Yeti in My Spaghetti, rather than games that take 15 to 20 minutes or longer.
  • Put fun first. If you’re a stickler for following the rules (that’s me!), you might get especially frustrated when your toddler loses interest in a game you’ve started or refuses to play by the rules. But if at any point you or your toddler are no longer having fun, give yourself permission to hit the pause button on that game and try again later. I am absolutely guilty of turning a game into an unnecessary power struggle with my toddler, and that never ends well!
  • Bend the rules. As your toddler gets used to playing games, feel free to bend the rules to simplify a game or make it more fun for your toddler. Some of the toddler board games listed above include rule variations for younger children, but you can make up your own variations too. The ultimate goal is to connect with your child and inspire a love of playing games, so be flexible. For example, when we’re playing the Life on Earth Memory Game with a toddler, we flip all the cards right side up and take turns spotting matches that way.
  • Repeat yourself. For a toddler brain to learn, they need repetition. So while it may feel frustrating to keep reminding your toddler of what to do next and what not to do, gentle and kind reminders are exactly what they need to improve their ability to focus, remember instructions, and control their impulses.
  • Play on teams. To get your toddler used to the mechanics of game play, play a few rounds with them on your “team” before you let them loose to play on their own. When you’re on a team together, your toddler can be responsible for things like rolling dice, picking a card from the draw pile, moving your pawn, and so on.
  • Follow the leader. For example, if your toddler is having fun stacking the animal pieces in Animal Upon Animal, that’s awesome. But if instead they start playing pretend with the animals and doing all the animal noises, that’s awesome too. The overall goal of playing board games with your toddler is to have fun together, so follow your child’s lead and roll with the punches.
  • Narrate the game. Pretend you’re a sportscaster, and comment on everything that happens in the game. Narrating the game both helps your toddler understand the game rules and boosts their vocabulary. Also, game strategy may go over your toddler’s head right now, so talking through your own decisions during the game can help build their reasoning skills.
Before you go, get my FREE cheat sheet: 75 Positive Phrases Every Child Needs to Hear

Want More?

For more awesome game ideas, check out The Ultimate List of the Best Board Games for Preschoolers (And Parents) because most games on that list are toddler-friendly too.

Your Turn

What are your favorite toddler board games? Share in a comment below!

Kelly Holmes, author and Certified Parent Educator

I'm a mom of four, a Certified Parent Educator, and the author of Happy You, Happy Family. I believe if you want a loving parent-child relationship that will last into the teenage years and beyond, the time for nurturing that kind of relationship is now. The good news? All you need is 10 minutes a day. Start here »



This post originally appeared on Happy You, Happy Family