9 Best HABA Board Games for Toddlers (2020 Reviews)
HABA is an educational board game company based in Germany that has been making toys for children and babies since 1938. HABA board games are all about learning and developing through play. As children enjoy the game, they learn a new skill or develop their coordination without even realizing it.
That approach is particularly useful for growing toddlers; ages two through five are a fundamental point in a child’s development. And HABA games are designed with that in mind. Add to that the fact that HABA board games are all made with high-quality ingredients, and many are nominated for, or have won, major toy awards, and a HABA game is a must-have for any parent of a toddler.
But how do you know which one to get? HABA has been creating games for more than 80 years, so naturally, there is a wide variety available on the market. Nearly all of them have good reviews, so how do you know which one is right for you?
That’s where we come in. We’ve done the work for you, and narrowed it down to the nine best HABA board games for toddlers. We’ll also help you think through the most critical questions so that you know which specific game on the list is the right fit for your family.
- HABA Board Games Buyer’s Guide
- Is it Age Appropriate?
- Does it Require Assembly?
- Is There an Interesting Story?
- How Much Cleanup is Involved?
- How Many Players Can Play at One Time?
- Best HABA Board Games
- Our #1 Choice – HABA Orchard Game
- Our #2 Choice – HABA My Very First Games Here Fishy Fishy
- Our #3 Choice – HABA My Very First Games Tidy Up
- Our #4 Choice – HABA Little Bird Big Hunger
- Our #5 Choice – HABA Dragon’s Breath
- Our #6 Choice – HABA Catch Me Mini-Game
- Our #7 Choice – HABA Rhino Hero
- Our #8 Choice – HABA Sleepy Princess Pile Up
- Our #9 Choice – HABA Number Maze
- The Final Word
HABA Board Games Buyer’s Guide
Before we get into the specific board games, let’s take a moment to work through what you need to look for, and answer some frequently asked questions.
Is it Age Appropriate?
The most significant thing to consider is whether or not the game is age-appropriate for your child; this works in two directions. First of all, you want to make sure that your toddler will be able to engage fully with the game. If the game is too advanced or too complicated for them to play, they’ll have a hard time participating or drawing any benefits from the educational aspects of the game.
It’s essential, therefore, to ensure that the game is accessible for your little one. But at the same time, it’s also crucial that you don’t overcorrect and get one that’s too young for them. If a game doesn’t hold your child’s attention, they simply won’t play it. And then, of course, they won’t get any of the intended benefits.
The goal, then, is to provide a balance of accessibility and engagement. You need a game that your child will be able to play, but also one that they will want to play with. That can be a delicate balance sometimes. You also need to account for the fact that your child is growing fast. If you aren’t sure, lean towards an older toy. Worst case scenario, they’ll grow into it.
Most games have recommended age ranges on the box, but you know your child better than the recommendation.
Does it Require Assembly?
This factor, of course, doesn’t need to be a dealbreaker, but it’s still something you might need to consider. How much effort will it take to assemble the game? Some HABA board games come ready to play right away. Others, however, require considerable effort to assemble.
Perhaps this doesn’t make a difference to you. If so, go ahead and move on to the next section. But if you want to be able to play the game right away, this is something to prioritize.
Is There an Interesting Story?
A unique aspect of HABA board games is that they’re not just focused on gameplay, they typically have a story that unfolds as the game moves along. That can be perfect for toddlers and help keep them engaged and focused on the game from beginning to end.
The story topics are as diverse as the game mechanisms. One, for example, is about a princess, while another is about a rhino superhero. You know your child best, and you know what they are interested in. It’s possible that the game’s story could guide your decision just as much or more than the way the game is played.
As a bonus, many children who are interested in the story may engage in imaginative play with the figurines from the game even when they are not looking to play the actual game itself. In that way, the right HABA board game can function as a game and as a toy!
How Much Cleanup is Involved?
Some HABA board games have lots of small pieces that can take a considerable amount of time to clean once the game is over. Others are much more self-contained. There is even one game on our list, for example, where cleaning up is the main objective of the game! Once play is over, all the pieces are back where they belong.
That can go in one of two ways. You might prioritize a game that has minimal cleanup required, so you can get everything back in the box as quickly as possible and move on with your day. But this could also represent an opportunity to teach your child about the concept of cleaning up.
How Many Players Can Play at One Time?
Here is an imperative but often overlooked aspect of deciding on a game. HABA board games vary dramatically in the number of players they require, and the number they can accommodate. Some are made for groups of four to eight players, while others are made for one to three.
If you have a large family and would like to incorporate all of them in the game, be sure to look for a game on the higher end. But many games require at least three players to work properly. If you want something that you’ll be able to play with just you and your toddler to get some good one on one time, you’ll have to prioritize finding a game that can accommodate that.
All HABA board games directly say how many players can play at one time right on the box, and in the product description. It’s important not to overlook this part.
Best HABA Board Games
Now that you know what to look for let’s take a look at the specifics. Follow along, and we’ll break down the nine best HABA board games for toddlers available today.
Our #1 Choice – HABA Orchard Game
- Simple, classic gameplay
- Fosters cooperation
- Attractive board design
- Room for up to eight players
- Small pieces can be choking hazard
A classic, award-winning board game that has been lauded for more than three decades, the HABA Orchard Game is perfect for fostering cooperation. Two to eight players work together to harvest fruit from four trees before the crafty raven can steal it.
Each player takes turns rolling a die, which tells them whether to pick a piece of fruit or place a portion of the raven jigsaw. If the raven is assembled before all the fruit is harvested, the raven is the winner—give it another try. If the fruit is all picked before the raven is constructed, then the whole team wins!
The Orchard Game is perfect for teaching cooperation because players aren’t playing against each other, they’re all working towards the same goal.
Our #2 Choice – HABA My Very First Games Here Fishy Fishy
- Bright and colorful pieces attract and hold kids attention
- Perfect for developing coordination and motor skills
- Appropriate for all children two and up
- Gameplay can be very short
Designed to create hours of fun, imaginative play, HABA My Very First Games Here Fishy Fishy is excellent for helping develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. It comes with one magnetic fishing rod, six sea creatures, four collecting boards, and one die.
The game has two modes of play. In free play, kids use their imagination and explore the sea creatures however they choose. In rules mode, players roll a die which tells you which specific fish to try to catch. It’s best to start with free play, to familiarize kids with the process and help them develop their motor skills before moving on to rules mode.
Our #3 Choice – HABA My Very First Games Tidy Up
- Intuitive gameplay
- Helps foster coordination and motor skills
- Introduces children to tidying up and personal responsibility
- Perfect for all ages
- Can only be played with one to three players
- Great for younger kids but gameplay might be less engaging for older toddlers
Perfect for kids of all ages, HABA My Very First Games Tidy Up works to foster hand eye coordination while also beginning to instill the concept of responsibility. Little Tiptop has been playing all day, and his toys are scattered all over the room. Now it’s time to tidy up!
The game comes with one game shelf, 18 toy tiles, three toy chests, and one model Tiptop Tomcat. The goal of the game is to gather the toy tiles one by one and put them back in their appropriate place.
Over the course of play, your child will naturally develop object recognition, coordination, and fine motor skills, all while becoming more familiar with the concept of responsibility.
Our #4 Choice – HABA Little Bird Big Hunger
- Captivating gameplay
- Humorous design
- Helps kids learn to understand rule-based gameplay
- Less educational value than some alternatives
- Competitive rather than cooperative play
A fun, interactive game designed to captivate interest and promote organizational skills, HABA Little Bird Big Hunger lasts about fifteen minutes and can accommodate two to four players. The game comes with four sets of four bird cards, each one in the set revealing a larger, healthier bird. It also includes 20 feeding pieces and one die.
The goal of the game is for players to feed their baby bird the type of food that they want so that it can grow healthy and strong. Players take turns rolling the dice and attempting to collect the food that their bird wants. When they are successful, they remove a card, getting closer to a big, healthy adult bird.
Our #5 Choice – HABA Dragon’s Breath
- Fun, colorful pieces
- Exciting gameplay
- Sturdy game design
- Engaging story
- Little educational value
- Pieces can be choking hazards; not great for younger children
The 2018 Children’s Game of the Year Award Winner, HABA Dragon’s Breath is best for toddlers who are getting closer to school age, but is full of exciting gameplay and an engaging story. The box comes with one dragon dad, four dragon children, nine ice rings, 90 gems (18 in each of five colors), and one game board.
Stack the ice rings to form a tower, then fill the tower with the gems. Each round, each of the dragon children will choose a color gem of their own. Then the dragon dad will “melt” (remove) the top ice ring, causing gems to fall. Players collect all the gems of their preselected color, and then choose a new color for the next round. The player with the most gems at the end wins!
Our #6 Choice – HABA Catch Me Mini-Game
- Exciting, fast-paced play
- Small container; great for travel
- Helps develop reflexes
- Challenging for younger children
An exciting, fast-paced mini-game, HABA Catch Me might be a bit too challenging for younger toddlers but is loads of fun for kids aged four and up. The game can be played with three to six players, anywhere where you have access to a flat surface.
It features five mice figures, each attached to a short string, one “cat” tin tumbler (which also houses all the pieces in between play), and a single die.
All the mice gather on a blue playing mat. The player who is the “cat” rolls the die, which will indicate which mouse they try to catch. That player then tries to pull their mouse off the playing mat to safety before the cat catches it. The game helps teach reflexes and reaction time while providing fun, exciting gameplay.
Our #7 Choice – HABA Rhino Hero
- Two fun game modes
- Sturdy construction
- Learn through play
- Younger children will need assistance
A fun stacking card game, HABA Rhino Hero has a humorous story and is great for cognitive development. The set comes with 59 sturdy cardboard building cards, some meant as walls, and some meant as ceilings, plus one foundation card and one Rhino Hero figurine.
The goal of the game is to build a tower of cards as high as possible for Rhino Hero. Kids can explore free play, and build creatively however they see fit, or they can use rules mode wherein a roll of the die will tell them how to build next. Stacking games are great for boosting cognitive development.
This game is great for all ages, but younger toddlers may need a little help from parents.
Our #8 Choice – HABA Sleepy Princess Pile Up
- Competitive or cooperative mode
- Fun, engaging story
- Fosters imaginative play
- Can be tricky to master initially
Another stacking game, HABA Sleepy Princess Pile Up is more natural for younger toddlers to play. The goal is to stack the mattresses as high as possible so that Princess Penny can get a good night’s sleep. The game comes with one princess, one princess bed, and four sets of bedding (each with one mattress, one comforter, and one pillow).
A unique part of this game is that it has both a cooperative and a competitive mode. Players can work together to stack the bed as tall as possible, or they can each take turns and the player who places the piece that makes the bed tip is eliminated, like in Jenga.
The materials are also perfect for fostering free, imaginative play independent of the game itself.
Our #9 Choice – HABA Number Maze
- Fun and engaging scenesHelps toddlers learn numbers
- Develops fine motor skills
- Only one player can use at a time
A magnetic maze game, the HABA Number Maze works to help children develop problem-solving and STEM skills. The magnetic wand guides colorful balls through the maze; children can choose to match the colored balls with the same color numbers (where they become a part of that segment’s animal scene) or to simply guide the balls to the end of the maze.
The game helps children become familiarized with numbers and the sense of cause and effect, all while developing fine motor skills.
The Final Word
HABA board games are an incredible tool for both fun and child development. HABA has been crafting board games for more than 80 years, and they’ve really perfected the process of learning through play. Many of their games focus on cooperation rather than competition, while others may focus on cognitive development or fine motor skills.
To find the right game, focus first on age range. You need to focus on finding a game that your child will be able to play, but also one that they won’t be too simple for them to want to engage with. Further, you might focus on the fun stories that HABA incorporates into some of their games.
Account for all the factors in our buyer’s guide, and you’re sure to find the best HABA board game for your toddler. But you truly can’t go wrong with any of the options on our list.