Ten Toddler Toys that Encourage Children to Use Both Hands during Play

Sometimes our little humans have a stark preference for using one hand over the other. This could be from a diagnosis (e.g. cerebral palsy, stroke) or from learned preferences for a variety of different reasons.

It is important to encourage play with both hands to maximize neuroplasticity and to facilitate functional use from a young age. Every child is different and will develop at their own pace. Helping children feel empowered as they learn is a powerful framework for success.

Age ranges are approximations, follow the manufacturer’s recommendation when indicated.

Pop Beads (6+ months) encourage bringing two hands together and for the child to pull the beads apart. They can be made into a chain and the bright colors are motivating.

Pop Tubes (6+ months) encourage pulling and pushing the tubes together and the sound is motivating. These can also be combined with other tubes and twisted into new shapes and creations.

Jumbo Nuts & Bolts (12+ months) are easy to hold and require one hand to stablize while the other twists and turns the nut on the bolt.

Matching Eggs (12+ months) encourages attention and motivation to hold each side in each hand to match the halves together.

Musical Instruments (12+ months) can provide hours of fun with different sounds and encourage two handed use to hold mallets and make sounds with shakers. Musical instruments also create opportunities to imitate sound and rhythm.

Mega Blocks (12+ months) encourage two handed play by pulling the blocks apart and stabilize the building while adding additional blocks.

Bristle Blocks (18+ months) start to teach children to apply pressure to press each block onto the other. These are motivating because the child can be successful without great accuracy.

Magna-Tiles (2+ years) provide success because the tiles come together with magnets and also allow for endless creativity as children put the shapes together.

Art Supplies (2+ years) such as paint can be highly motivating. Children can use their hands or many other tools (e.g. sponges, brushes) to paint. Be sure to use a washable paint option (hint: add a few drops of dish soap to tempera paint to make it washable).

Lacing (3+ years) requires someone to hold the lacing board (usually with the affected hand) and lace with the other hand. There are many different varieties and themed lacing boards that can be motivating for children.

Where to pick-up these toys? My favorites are checking at a local second-hand store, Amazon, or Facebook marketplace to name a few.

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