When parents go shopping for building block toys, most of them only know about LEGOS.
Like most parents, I also only knew about LEGOS since they’re all I knew in my childhood.
It’s not until I started buying building blocks for my son, replacing sets every now and then, that I realized there are so many different types of building blocks.
Each type is unique in its own way, so you, as the buyer, have to be specific on what you’re looking for.
This article provides you with information on 15 different types of building blocks toys to ensure you choose the right blocks for your child.
First things first.
What are Building Block Toys?
Building blocks, also known as toy blocks, are modularized construction blocks that children use for developmental play.
They can be made of wood, plastic, magnetic, foam, cardboard, silicon, etc.
Building blocks also come in different shapes, colors, and sizes.
Let us now delve deeper into the different types of building block toys.
Educational Building Blocks
Educational building blocks are century-old toys that are designed for kids to learn alphabets and/or numbers.
What better way for your little one to learn numbers and the alphabet than to let them play with labeled blocks?
Most of them are either wooden or plastic.
Fortunately, it doesn’t matter the language; you’re sure to find the alphabet and number building blocks in every language.
Magnetic tiles are building blocks that come with an inbuilt magnet.
Although they’ve been in the market for years, I’m convinced that magnetic blocks are the future of building blocks.
A few years back, the magnets in the blocks were noticeably implanted into the surface of each block, but nowadays, you can hardly see them.
They’re the perfect blocks for kids desiring to pursue a career path in architecture.
The main advantage of magnetic blocks is that they stick together, unlike the ordinary blocks, which means that even when kids make tall structures, the risk of the structure crumbling down is reduced.
There are two popular types of magnetic tiles.
Read on to know more about each of them.
Magna Tiles Are Fantastic!
Magna Tiles are the original brand of magnetic tiles.
The quality is top-notch, although the price is also quite high.
The high price is due to two reasons.
First, the blocks are made from high quality materials to ensure kids’ safety. I bought my son a set more than 2 years ago and it’s as good as new.
Second, the brand is a higher end one, so they have to set a premium.
Magna tiles are perfect for kids aged 3 years and above.
How about Picasso Magnetic Tiles?
Picasso tiles are some of the cheaper magnetic tiles you’ll find around.
They look exactly like the Magna tiles, although they have no metal rivets on the edges.
Picasso tiles are also a bit heavier than Magna tiles, which means that they’re not the best option for building taller structures.
Just like Magna Tiles, they’re perfect for kids aged 3+ years.
Wooden Building Blocks Never Go Out of Fashion
Wooden building blocks are well-loved toys for centuries.
They are either plain or naturally colored, but there’s one thing that’s sure – their beauty is unmatched.
They also don’t shatter as easily as plastic ones.
However, these amazing blocks are still prone to scratches.
It’s also common for the color to fade with time, unlike the plastic blocks such as Legos.
I recently learnt about amazing magnetic wooden blocks called Tegus.
Can I tell you about them?
Tegu Wooden Blocks
Tegu blocks are magnetic wooden blocks that have been in the market since 2006.
These wooden blocks have ingenious hidden magnets which makes it more fun for kids to build tall structures with them, frustration-free.
Because the magnets are perfectly hidden inside each block, they’re inaccessible for kids.
As such, the blocks are safe for kids aged 18 months and above.
You’re Most Likely Aware of LEGO Blocks
Legos are the most popular building blocks for kids. You most probably already have one set in the playroom right now.
They come in different shapes – triangles, rectangles, squares, circles, etc.
The best age to introduce Legos is around 4 years.
Younger kids have a high risk of choking from the small Lego pieces, which is why you should get them the larger Lego Duplos.
Duplo blocks are manufactured by the LEGO Group. They’re simply large Legos – two times the size of each corresponding Lego piece.
The company introduced Duplo to serve younger kids – at least 18 months.
Because of their large sizes, the risk of your little one choking is also lower than with ordinary Legos.
Rainbow Blocks are Popular too
Rainbow blocks are building blocks that come shaped as a rainbow and with unique reflective attributes of all the colors of the rainbow.
The sheer beauty is irresistible!
They are the mascot of experimental education, which makes them favorites for early childhood educators, especially Montessori and Waldorf teachers.
Since each piece is quite large, the recommended age is at least 18 months.
However, as you purchase rainbow blocks, always consider your child’s age.
Those with too many parts are too complex to design for younger kids, but they’re perfect for older ones.
In the same light, blocks with very few pieces will be too boring for older kids.
Have you Seen Bristle Blocks?
Bristle blocks are the perfect building blocks to grow your little one’s sensory skills.
They easily snap together with the bristles on every piece, interlocking at any angle to ensure there’s no frustration during block play.
Because of this, bristle blocks are great even for beginners – as young as 2 years.
What’s more, your little one will gain excellent color recognition skills playing with these blocks.
Castle Building Blocks
Castle building blocks are a great option for kids aged 3+ years that are fascinated by castles.
Yes, the ordinary blocks can build castles, but they’ll not look realistic.
That’s why major building blocks brands (such as Lego and Mega Bloks) came up with castle building blocks.
They’re designed mainly for castles, although they can also build fortresses, houses, a small city, a robot, etc.
Mega Blocks are building blocks produced by a Canadian company called Mega Brands.
They come in different sizes, patterns and colors. This means you can get a set for sports, planes, jungles, trains, etc.
Mega Blocks are just like ordinary Lego blocks, but they’re larger in size, hence safe for younger kids.
In fact, even 1-year-olds can safely play with Mega blocks.
What’s more, they’re cheaper than Legos!
Soft Building Blocks
Soft building blocks, also known as foam blocks, are lightweight building blocks ideal for babies’ sensory play.
They motivate babies to squeeze, throw and build, subsequently exercising their sensory skills.
Don’t forget that these sensory activities also develop their hand-eye coordination as well as fine motor skills.
Soft building blocks also come with different shapes and colors, so kids can learn shape and color recognition from as early as 6 months.
What’s more, some blocks are labeled with alphabets and numbers, meaning they’re an early learning opportunity for the little babes.
Cardboard Building Blocks are Extraordinarily Fun!
Cardboard building blocks are among the largest building blocks for kids. They’re super-big!
Kids can use the blocks to build gigantic structures to play in.
What’s more, the blocks come in basic shapes, so they allow open-ended play, depending on kids’ creativity.
The large size makes them perfect even for children as young as 18 months.
What Do You Think About Large/Giant Building Blocks?
Large/giant building blocks are the perfect building blocks for outdoor play.
Kids can literally build their world!
As the name suggests, these blocks are huge, but they interlock/snap on each other easily.
They can even build a shop and pretend to play as a shopkeeper inside the shop. How about building a big car or a huge robot?
Giant building blocks are perfect for kids aged 2 years and above.
How to Choose Appropriate Building Blocks for Your Child
Before you head out to get building blocks for your little one, there are three factors you cannot ignore, if you want to choose the perfect blocks.
Safety Comes First
As stated earlier, small-sized building blocks can be a choking hazard for younger kids. It’s best to buy large building blocks for them.
For safety purposes also, blocks meant for babies and toddlers should be soft to avoid the risk of injury. They should also be lightweight but large enough to be picked up using the large muscle movements.
What’s more, even for blocks meant for older kids, ensure there are no shattered edges.
In fact, after purchase, make regular checks and dispose of blocks with broken/shattered edges for the safety of your child.
Consider if the Blocks are Age-appropriate
There’s no doubt that building blocks that are meant for babies and toddlers will not be fascinating for 7-year-olds.
So, it’s important to consider your child’s age when shopping for building blocks.
Babies and toddlers are not interested in building a specific structure.
For them, block play is all about moving, stacking and building for the sake of it.
However, older kids build with a specific structure in mind. So, they need blocks with smaller, complex pieces that can complete a certain project.
How about the Material?
Depending on you and your little one’s preference, you can choose building blocks made of wood, plastic, foam, cardboard, etc.
However, it’s advisable to get wooden blocks for babies and toddlers who are still at the “tasting” stage.
Wood is generally safer than plastic and foam.
Which building blocks do you love?