16 Toys for Toddlers That Will Encourage Imaginary Play Skills

Toys That Encourage Imaginary Play

Did you know that imaginary play has HUGE benefits for your toddler?


Before we jump into what toys work great for imaginary play, let me just give you a few reasons on why imaginary play is so important for toddlers:

Cognitive:  Problem solving skills are sharpened during pretend play as your little one has to look for ways to use their surroundings to support their ideas.  This could mean making a garage for their car out of books and wooden blocks (like these) or covering their baby with a towel because there is no blanket near by.

Language:  It teaches them to combine new words into short phrases to convey a message.  They get repeated practice of words in play themes which will allow their speech to become more clear over time.  Vocabulary starts to grow as they expand on different themes they enjoy (click here for more ideas on how to grow vocabulary.) 

Motor:  Gross motor skills are practiced while your child crawls on the floor while pretending to be a cat or dog.  They build strength in their legs when hopping like a frog.

Social Emotional:  Pretend play allows little ones to express themselves in a way that no other type of play does!  They can pretend to be happy, mad, or sad which gives us a perfect opportunity to talk about emotions with them.

Self Help:  When your toddler is playing dress up or putting on their baby doll’s clothes they are practicing the skills needed to become independent when getting dressed and undressed.

Read more about the benefits of imaginary play.

Imaginary Play Toddler Toys

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Imaginary Play Toys for Toddlers


Pizza Party


Toddlers love to pretend with food.  This pizza party provides your child with lost of opportunities to get creative by making their own pizza.  Fine motor skills get practice as they pick up the smaller pieces to place them on their slice.  New vocabulary is learned by talking about the toppings and supplies needed to make their pizza.

Not a pizza fan?  There are lots of other pretend food sets or themes to choose from:

Fruits and Vegetables

Baking Set

Coffee Maker

Barn Set


Simple play sets encourage your child to use their imagination to create their own little world.  Show your child how to feed and wash the animals by pretending.  A barn set introduces animal names and sounds which are easy to imitate with lots of built in repetition through pretend play.  I prefer sets that do not have built in sounds so that you and your little one can make up your own!

Need some ideas for activities to do with your toddler? Makes sure to sign up for the FREE 7-Day Toddler Challenge!

Here are some other similar sets that have different themes:

Zoo Play Set 

Camping Play Set

Toddler Doll House

Dress Up Clothes


There are TONS of options for playing dress up.  If you look around your house and through your own clothes you probably have lots of things that your little one would love to play dress up with.  Even simple pieces like these cat ears would give your toddler a great start for pretend play (you could even make your own).  After Halloween add that costume to your dress up collection as well.

Here are some more dress up ideas:

Disney Princess Dress Up Trunk

Doctor Dress Up

Chef Costume


This classic toy is perfect for not only imaginary play but also language development (more strategies on growing language).  If your toddler is not using words yet then show them how to make animal sounds.  These are easier than words to say and also very motivating to imitate because it is fun.  Puppets are great because you can actually start using them when your child is just a baby (if you need ideas on toys for infants click HERE).  As your baby grows in to a toddler they will be able to use them for their own imaginary play scenarios.

Here are a few different varieties of puppet sets:
Farm Animals

Mickey Mouse

Community Helpers

Do you have a favorite that did not make the list?  Tell me about it in the comments below or find me on Facebook!  I would love to hear from you!  

Related Posts You Will Enjoy


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How I Taught My Toddler Spanish and You Can Too

4 Simple Ways to Boost Your Toddler’s Vocabulary

The Benefits of Imaginary Play in Toddlers

5 Fun Bath Toys that Encourage Development

Toys that encourage imaginary play in toddlers make perfect Christmas or birthday gifts. Imaginary play for toddlers helps them develop cognitive and language skills.

Toys that encourage imaginary play in toddlers make perfect Christmas or birthday gifts. Imaginary play for toddlers helps them develop cognitive and language skills.

About Kayla ONeill

This is me and my beautiful bouncing baby boy! Before my little guy arrived I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education Birth to 21 as well as my Masters in Education. For six years I worked as an Early Interventionist serving children and families from birth to age three before becoming a stay at home mom to be with my son.

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