LEGO Duplo Building Sets

A Top Pick for Fun and Skill Development

lego duplo
It's worth it to invest in a big box or multiple themed sets of Duplo LEGOS. Pricegrabber

I consider a good set of blocks a must-have for toddlers because -- from simple stackables to interlocking bricks -- blocks nurture a variety of early skills. And out of all the (many) varieties of blocks I've given my children, LEGO Duplo bricks are hands down my top picks.

What Makes Them Unique?

LEGO is not the only interlocking bricks game in town. Mega Bloks are another toddler-friendly brand that my kids have enjoyed, but these softer plastic blocks have warped on us and, the individual pieces are actually a bit too large for toddlers to work with easily.

Other brands such as Playmobile and Knex toys are recommended for ages 4 and up.

LEGO DUPLO toys, however, are specifically made for ages 18 months and up. The fact that they appeal to children beyond preschool is an important point for me as a mom and consumer for two reasons:

  1. I like to get my money's worth and always try to buy toys that will be played with for years to come. These are durable enough to last for years and engaging enough to appeal to children as they grow.
  2. That brings me to my second point: With two older children in the house, it's nice to have some toys that siblings can play with together. DUPLO bricks is that perfect toy. Everyone in my house under the age of 7 can crowd around the brick pile. By 20 months, my kids were truly building with the blocks. Before that, they may only have chewed on them a bit and banged them together, but that's still playing in a baby's eyes. The older kids may collaborate together while the littlest one is involved in parallel play, but to that little one, he's still involved and learning from the others.

    How Do LEGO DUPLO Bricks Help Develop Skills?

    If these blocks weren't fun, they would have no place in my home. But the added value of LEGO DUPLO sets is that, through a playful encounter, they nurture the skills toddlers and 2-year-olds are starting to develop. These include:

    • building
    • fine motor skills
    • understanding how objects fit together
    • recognizing when things are different (even if they don't completely articulate that "this is larger than that")
    • sorting similar things (same color, same size, etc.)
    • following simple instructions (practiced when you play with your toddler and suggest how to put the blocks together)
    • playing cooperatively with others as they move out of the parallel play stage.

    Which Sets to Pick?

    So now you've decided you want some of these blocks...and when you go to the store or browse online you just can't believe how many different products there are. What is worth getting?

    Start with the basics:
    A large brick box runs about $30 and includes 60 to 70 bricks. This gives your toddler a lot of variety and you can put together some of the sample constructions to inspire her.

    Invest in one or two themed sets:
    Don't expect your child to start building towers immediately; often you need to model how to construct things and engage with your child at first to show him the possibilities. After that, if you see has some interest, you may want to purchase a themed set that includes characters your child loves. Some recommendations:

    • Sets featuring Disney's Cars appeal to both girls and boys because the sets are loaded with wheels and gadgets that let them make very unique creations.
    • Winnie-the-Pooh LEGO DUPLO sets also appeal to boys and girls and usually feature very cute surprise pieces (like a slide) that kids will love.
    • Animal sets with a zoo or jungle theme are a nice option because you can introduce animal names and sounds as you play with your toddler.

    Also Recommended

    If I had to say there was a down size to LEGO blocks (DUPLO or regular), I'd have to point to how maddening it can be to keep track and make sure all the bricks are put away. Stepping on a LEGO in bare feet is no fun. My favorite tool for keeping the clutter organized are Neat-Oh! LEGO ZipBin Toy Boxes and Playmats.

    These boxes have zip-down sides that provide a play surface for your child's LEGOs (very nice if you're working on a bumpy rug or hard wood floor). Zip the sides back up and then toss all your LEGOS inside before covering up the box with a top that Velcros closed to prevent spills. The good news is that throwing LEGOs is an easy clean-up skill that your toddler will be happy to mimic (although you may have to work on the "don't take them back out" element).

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