Learning & Literacy Modern Parenting Product Reviews

4 Inexpensive Toys to Help Promote Fine Motor Development & Independent Play

I’ve got to be honest. Harper is not big on toys. I know, the title of this post promises toys! But if we’re being real, she would rather play with an empty oatmeal container and my old credit cards than a new toy. I’ve gathered that most toddlers are like this. Give them a cardboard box and they’re as happy as a kid in a cardboard box. So is it really worth it to spend money on toys? Strangely, I say yes (when it comes to the right toys, of course).

For us, the right toys include ones that help promote Fine Motor development. Fine Motor skills are essential for babies and toddlers as these skills can help them master everything from their pincer grasp (picking up a puff) to learning how to properly write their name one day. As far as independent play, do I need to go any further? If your little one is interested in something for more than 10 seconds, take those 10 seconds for yourself and power through another cup of coffee. You’ve earned it.

The best part about these toys is that they’re all under $12! Add these to your Amazon Wishlist, your Baby Registry, or buy them for the new mom, nephew, cousin, or baby in your life!

1. Playskool Pop Up Shape Sorter – $11.48

4 Inexpensive Toys to Help Promote Fine Motor Development & Independent Play

Harper got this as a gift for her 1st birthday and several months later, she still loves playing with this toy! The shapes come apart into 2 pieces, and the cat base pops up so the shapes can fall through.

Get it on Amazon here.

2. Stack It Peg Game – $9.99

4 Inexpensive Toys to Help Promote Fine Motor Development & Independent Play

I swear sometimes I think she could play with this for hours. Right around her 1st birthday Harper was interested in this “toy.” She likes to stack the pegs on top of one another, then pull them all down and start again.

Get it on Amazon here.

3. The Learning Journey Lift and Learn Puzzle – $11.95

4 Inexpensive Toys to Help Promote Fine Motor Development & Independent Play

Does your baby/toddler LOVE barn animals? Harper is obsessed. This puzzle obviously satisfies her need to see barn animals 36 times a day. The puzzle pieces have no peg to lift them out, so little ones really need to grip the piece itself to take it out of its spot and then put it back in. Bonus: toddlers can learn matching skills and practice their animal noises.

Get it on Amazon here.

4. Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Pound-a-Peg – $7.99

4 Inexpensive Toys to Help Promote Fine Motor Development & Independent Play

Can it get more old school than this? I’m a firm believer that toys don’t need to be complicated and they don’t always need to flash lights and talk to our kids in high-pitched cartoon voices. Sometimes you just need to give them a wooden hammer and a peg and let them go to town.

Get it on Amazon here.


If you missed the 4 Phases of Breastfeeding on Monday, click here for a good laugh. What are your toddler’s current favorite toys? I’d like to know!

Don’t Forget to Pin It!

4 Inexpensive Toys to Help Promote Fine Motor Development & Independent Play

Note: this post contains affiliate links for your convenience

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  • Esther
    October 10, 2016 at 4:00 PM

    Ooh! I love the stack it peg game. I’ve never seen that one before, but I think it would be great activity to work on gross motor skills. Thanks for sharing.

    • Marla
      October 10, 2016 at 6:54 PM

      Me too! Yes it would be great for gross motor skills as well!

  • Jen G
    October 10, 2016 at 9:06 PM

    My kids always loved the pound a peg. Great list!

    • Marla
      October 11, 2016 at 2:16 PM

      It’s always a favorite! Thanks, Jen!

  • amie@thedisorganizedparent.com
    October 10, 2016 at 11:21 PM

    Love those fine motor activities!! good lucks 🙂

    • Marla
      October 11, 2016 at 2:15 PM

      Thanks, Amie!

  • Darby
    October 11, 2016 at 5:15 AM

    Great post! My 1 year old is in physical therapy. His therapist has all of these toys and he loves them, especially the pound-a-peg. He likes it so much I grabbed him his own for Christmas!

    • Marla
      October 11, 2016 at 2:14 PM

      Thanks, Darby! The pound-a-peg is definitely a favorite. She likes to take the pegs out and then put them in herself and then pound them. So the toy has multiple functions, which is awesome!

  • Onlygirl4boyz
    October 12, 2016 at 3:42 PM

    Great toys here! We have a few of them but, I really need to get my son some more puzzles!

    • Marla
      October 12, 2016 at 8:57 PM

      Harper really loves puzzles! They are great for teaching matching!

  • Laura
    October 12, 2016 at 4:43 PM

    This is a great round up of toys! We love the Melissa and Doug Pound a Peg. My little guy is 3.5 and still plays with his. I also love the stack it peg game! I may have to add that to our christmas list. Thank you so much for sharing these!

    • Marla
      October 12, 2016 at 8:58 PM

      Thanks, Laura! Good to know that toy will keep her interest for the next couple of years!