18 Cause and Effect Toys for Babies & Toddlers

18 Cause and Effect Toys for Babies & Toddlers
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When my son was a year old, we joked that his favorite toy with a light switch.

But really, it wasn’t a joke at all.

His favorite thing to do for a while was stand on a chair so he could reach the light switch, then turn it on and off while proudly proclaiming, “Offie!” (which was one of the few words he could say at that age).

At time we just thought just it was cute, but the fact was that he was discovering cause and effect, something that children learn at a very young age. Everything we do impacts something. Even a one year old has the power to change their environment with even a simple action.

Understanding this concept of cause and effect plays an important role in speech development and language skills, which is why cause and effect toys are often used in speech therapy.

What are cause and effect toys for toddlers?

Simply put, cause and effect toys teach children that their actions can cause something to happen. Press a button, an animal pops up. Pound a ball with a mallet, the ball rolls down the chute. Tap a musical instrument, it makes a sound.

Below are 18 of the best toys for toddlers to learn about cause and effect — and have a lot of fun!

 

Pop-Up Toys

Pop up toys are a classic cause and effect toys for older babies and toddlers. They also help develop fine motor skills, since they usually have different buttons or knobs that have to be twisted or pushed.

 

Peek a Bug Pop Up Toy

Peek a Bug Pop Up ToyPeek a Bug Pop Up ToyPeek a Bug Pop Up Toy

 

This pop-up toy has four different buttons of different sizes and colors that each correspond to a different bug — a caterpiller, ladybug, snail, and bumblebee.

Each button and bug has it’s own unique sound affect (click, ding, squeak, and click-clack).

No batteries required.

 

Galt Pop Up Toy

Galt Pop Up ToyGalt Pop Up ToyGalt Pop Up Toy

 

This durable wooden toy includes four colorful figures that go up and down on hidden springs.

Babies will just enjoy taking the little guys in and out of their slots, and then will eventually understand the pop-up concept as they get older.

And don’t worry — the pieces all pass the “choke tube test”!

 

Gravity Toys

What goes up, must come down. Here are a couple fun ways for toddlers to learn about gravity.

Wooden Race Track Car Ramp with 4 Mini Cars

Wooden Race Track Car Ramp with 4 Mini CarsWooden Race Track Car Ramp with 4 Mini CarsWooden Race Track Car Ramp with 4 Mini Cars

 

I’ve already featured this toy in my post about wooden toy garage sets for toddlers, but it didn’t occur to me at the time that this is also a great cause and effect toy for helping children understand gravity (even if they don’t know that it has a name).

It comes with four mini-cars and four different ramps, each in four different colors, plus a parking lot at the top. (You can purchase replacement cars here.)

Be aware that the tower is only twelve inches high. (Some reviewers were disappointed by how small it was.)

 

Full Size Spinning Drum Montessori Toy

Spinning Drum Montessori ToyFull Size Spinning Drum Montessori ToySpinning Drum Montessori Toy

 

This spinning drum toy is recommended for ages 6-12 months. Babies can turn the drum, watch the vibrant colors, and hear the jingle of the bell inside.

This toy can even help with sensory development. The different colored drumheads are all made of slightly different materials, and there is also a glass mirror.

 

Fat Brain Toys SpinAgain Stacking Toy

Fat Brain Toys SpinAgain Stacking ToyFat Brain Toys SpinAgain Stacking ToyFat Brain Toys SpinAgain Stacking Toy

 

This colorful toy won the Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award in 2016.

It has a set of 6 graduated discs. Half of them are flower shaped and the other half are starburst shaped, and each one has two colors. They spin down a corkscrew pole to be stacked in any order.

Click here to see a video of a 2 year old having fun with this toy.

 

Pounding Toys

In addition to learning about cause and effect, pounding toys also introduce kids to the idea that we can use tools to help us accomplish tasks. They also help develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, self-confidence, and and problem-solving skills.

(Plus it’s just kinda satisfying to be able to pound something, don’t you think?)

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench with Mallet

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench Wooden Toy With MalletMelissa & Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench Wooden Toy With MalletMelissa & Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench Wooden Toy With Mallet

 

Here’s a classic pounding toy with a unique twist. As one colorful peg gets hammered down, the adjacent peg pops up, basically playing peek-a-boo.

Reviewers were impressed with the high quality of this toy and liked the fact this was a simple toy without any gimmicks.

The best part is that the pegs are not removable, so you never have to worry about pieces getting lost or making a big mess all over the living room.

 

Battat Pound & Roll Activity Toy Station with Toy Hammer and 4 Balls

Battat Pound & Roll Activity Toy Station with Toy Hammer & 4 BallsBattat Pound & Roll Activity Toy Station with Toy Hammer & 4 BallsBattat Pound & Roll Activity Toy Station with Toy Hammer & 4 Balls

 

This toy lets babies pound the 4 balls through the holes and then see them roll down the maze or the chute. They can either use their hands or the hammer, which is ergonomic and perfect for little hands.

You can either allow the base to catch the ball, or remove it to let the balls roll away. (A great way to let your older baby practice crawling.)

Reviewers were impressed that this toy held their child’s attention for a very long time.

 

Click here to see a photo of a one year old having a great time with this toy.

 

Push and Pull Toys

Push and pull toys help develop gross motor skills involving the big muscles of the body. It also helps with coordination, spatial skills, and visual perception.

Hape Walk-A-Long Snail Wooden Pull Toy

Hape Walk-A-Long Snail Wooden Pull ToyHape Walk-A-Long Snail Wooden Pull ToyHape Walk-A-Long Snail Wooden Pull Toy

 

This bright and colorful wooden pull toy was the winner of the 2013 Play Advances Language Award and the 2014 Parent’s Choice Recommended Award.

The snail’s “shell” features three differently shapes holes for toddlers to practice shape sorting with a blue triangle, red cylinder and yellow square. On the other side is an elastic banded opening for toddlers to safely and easily store the shapes.

What’s really super-cute is that the tail waves, the tentacles sway, and the snail makes a “clack-clack” sound as he (she?) rolls along.

 

Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone

Fisher-Price Chatter TelephoneFisher-Price Chatter TelephoneFisher-Price Chatter Telephone

 

Here’s a classic toy that you probably had yourself when you were a kid. If you didn’t have it, your friend or cousin had it. Or maybe it was at your church nursery or preschool.

It’s kind of amusing to realize what an “antique” this type of phone is now (who even knows what a rotary phone is anymore?), but that doesn’t make this toy any less great. (If anything, it probably adds to its charm.)

The Chatter Telephone comes in bright colors, features fun ringing sounds and eyes that move up & down, introduces toddlers to the numbers 0-9, and encourages pretend play as kids pretend to make “calls.”

Some reviewers complained that the cord on this toy was too short, but keep in mind that if it were much longer, it could become a strangulation hazard.

Two AA batteries are required.

 

Fisher-Price Classic Xylophone Pull Toy

Fisher-Price Classic Xylophone Toddler Pull ToyFisher-Price Classic Xylophone Toddler Pull ToyFisher-Price Classic Xylophone Toddler Pull Toy

 

I’m a music teacher, so I’m obviously going to get excited about any pull toy that’s also a musical instrument.

Babies and toddlers use the tethered mallet to tap on the 8 colorful keys, which helps develop both their hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills.

Reviewers liked how this toy was inexpensive, didn’t require any batteries, and wasn’t too loud.

Click here to see a quick video clip of a parent demonstrating this xylophone toy.

 

Rolling Toys

Playing with rolling objects allows to coordinate vision and action, evaluate distances, anticipate the act of slowing down or accelerating, maintain balance while moving, dissociate the movements of the upper and lower body.

Oball Classic Ball

Oball Classic BallOball Classic BallOball Classic Ball

 

This toy has over 29,000 5-star reviews on Amazon, which is pretty impressive. It’s also one of the most inexpensive toys you’ll ever buy.

This is more of a “baby toy” that most of the others on this list (it’s great as a teether), but one reviewer said that their daughter still loves it at two year old.

 

Tiger Montessori Infant Rolling Drum Toy

Tiger Montessori Infant Rolling Drum ToyTiger Montessori Infant Rolling Drum ToyTiger Montessori Infant Rolling Drum Toy

 

This simple toy is made of high-quality wood and is designed for ages 0 to 3 years old.

Little babies can use it as a rattle, it can be used to encourage crawling in older babies, and toddlers can make a game of rolling it back and forth to a family member, an activity which can also help develop social skills.

 

Popper Toys

Seeing something go “pop” is fun. Being the one to make it pop is even better.

Fisher-Price Corn Popper Toy

​Fisher-Price Corn Popper Toy​Fisher-Price Corn Popper Toy​Fisher-Price Corn Popper Toy

 

I think there must be some law that every toddler is required to have one of these. I had it. My kids had it. I’m sure you either had it as a child, own it currently, or know someone who does.

And it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular toy. It’s inexpensive, sturdy, and safe. I doesn’t take up much space, and doesn’t have any pieces that end up all over the house. And who wouldn’t enjoy having the power of making colorful ball pop?

A Phillips screw driver is needed for assembly.

 

Hog Wild White Unicorn Popper Toy

Hog Wild White Unicorn Popper ToyHog Wild White Unicorn Popper ToyHog Wild White Unicorn Popper Toy

 

This toy is more suited for older toddlers and preschoolers. I decided to go ahead and include it, because squeezing a unicorn to shoot a foam ball 20 feet away is something everyone should experience if they can.

You can purchase foam ball refills if you need them.

This can also double as a pet toy. Click here to see a video clip of a cat playing with the balls.

 

 

Wooden Blocks

I still have vague memories of sitting in my basement in our house when I was three or four, playing with a big set of wooden blocks. There was a photo of the box cover of a little boy in the middle of building a big, sprawling creation, and I found it very satisfying to duplicate it.

For years I would look back on that and feel embarrassed that I had so little creativity or imagination.

But I’ve finally realized that there was nothing wrong with my way of playing. Copying a model involves both patience and attention to detail. And hey, the late composer Johann Sebastian Bach almost obsessively transcribed other composers’ work, including an entire Renaissance mass by Palestrina.

(Interestingly, as an adult I still enjoy things like cross-stitching and crocheting, where I am carefully following a pattern and design that someone else has created.)

 

Solid-Wood Building Blocks With Wooden Storage Tray

Solid-Wood Building Blocks With Wooden Storage TraySolid-Wood Building Blocks With Wooden Storage TraySolid-Wood Building Blocks With Wooden Storage Tray

 

This set of 60 natural-finished, smooth-sanded hardwood blocks is very similar to what I remember playing with as a child.

Reviews liked how these blocks were heavy, dense, and “smooth like buttah” with no sharp edges.

Maybe the best part is that the blocks come in a wooden storage crate. Even better than that, there’s some packing styrofoam inside, which means there will be extra time for you and your child to toss the blocks any which way you’re finished with them.

 

Click here to see photos of a couple creations that were made with these blocks.

 

Wooden City Construction Stacker Set

Wooden City Construction Stacker SetWooden City Construction Stacker SetWooden City Construction Stacker Set

 

I would have really liked these block sets when I was a kid. Not only would it have given me some structure on what to build, but I would have done all kinds of pretend play with my city once it was finished.

I love how the blocks come with a play mat, giving kids some parameters to build their city around.

 

Click here to see some close-up photos, plus a short video clip.

 

Musical Toys

Build fine and gross motor skills. Support sensory development.

Along with enhancing fine and gross motor skills from handling the toys, babies can also improve sensory development.

Band-in-a-Box 10-Piece Musical Instrument Set

Band-in-a-Box 10-Piece Musical Instrument SetBand-in-a-Box 10-Piece Musical Instrument SetBand-in-a-Box 10-Piece Musical Instrument Set

 

I absolutely love this toy. It includes a tambourine, cymbals, maracas, a clacker, tone blocks, and a triangle — all things that I use in my elementary music classes! And honestly, even nine and ten year olds get excited about getting to play these instruments.

The instruments are all high-quality, not a goofy plastic toy version of a musical instrument. It comes with a wooden storage crate so it’s easy to put away.

You can have so much fun with these. Put on some of your favorite music and sing and dance and have a great time together. Have your child turn around, play one of the instruments, and see if he or she can name which one it was. Practice keeping a steady beat (which is one of the educational standards for kindergarten).

They’ll love it — and so will you.

 

Fisher-Price Piggy Bank with Songs and Sounds

Fisher-Price Piggy Bank with Songs and SoundsFisher-Price Piggy Bank with Songs and SoundsFisher-Price Piggy Bank with Songs and Sounds

 

You don’t need bona fide musical instrument for a musical toy to teach cause and effect. This interactive piggy bank has over 40 songs, sounds and learning phrases that play when you put the colorful coins in the slot or press the pigs nose.

There are two levels of play. The level for two and three year olds including numbers, counting, and even Spanish words.

 

Click here to see a short video clip of how this toy works.

 



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