As a stay-at-home mom when my girls were little, I spent countless hours sitting on the floor of our playroom, building with blocks. We built castles and houses, farms and schools, and probably thousands of towers.
The beauty of building with blocks is the infinite options that it provides, engaging multiple senses, and igniting the imagination. You can play with them time after time and it’s always a new adventure. Beloved by children (and adults) of all ages, blocks are one of those classic toys that stand the test of time.
Building with blocks is tremendously beneficial to a child’s development. Here are some of the benefits to playing with blocks:
- Sharpens both gross and fine motor skills.
- Increases attention span.
- Betters hand-eye coordination.
- Helps with thinking skills, like problem-solving and planning.
- Increases descriptive vocabulary (colors, shapes, comparison words, etc.)
- Engages mathematical concepts, such as symmetry, sorting, comparing, and one-to-one correspondence.
- Naturally introduces science concepts, like cause and effect, gravity, weight, stability, and balance.
- Coping and life skills pertaining to perseverance, determination, creativity, and, when playing with others, cooperation and taking turns.
Two of the most well-known brands of building blocks for kids are Lego Duplo and Mega Bloks. Both of these sets are large, chunky, brick-like blocks that fit or snap together. Both are beloved and popular, especially with young children. But what’s the difference between the two?
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Overview of Lego Duplo
Lego Duplo blocks are large, colorful, toddler-friendly bricks that are perfectly sized for little hands. Duplo bricks are twice the size of regular Legos. In fact, the word “duplo” comes from the Latin word for duplex, meaning double.
Lego Duplo bricks are good for toddlers 18 months to five years but are enjoyed by children of any age. The durable blocks snap together for a tight fit and even work with regular-sized Legos, so you can mix them together as children get older.
The basic Lego Duplo blocks come in sets of 65 or 85 different colors and shapes, incorporating fun features like blocks with the numbers 1, 2, and 3. There are plenty of extras to add to your collection, like cars, trucks, animals, and people. And loads of additional sets with decorative pieces, where children can build specific scenes, like a farm and an airport.
Overview of Mega Bloks
Mega Bloks come in a variety of colors and are big, plastic bricks that are suitable for toddlers from 12 months to three years and up. The chunkier, rounder pieces are easy for younger children to manipulate. Since the fit isn’t very tight, young children can stack and pull them apart easily.
A basic set of Mega Bloks comes in counts of 80 or 150. These colorful pieces feature images like shapes and pictograms as well as the numbers 0-9, creating multiple learning opportunities. There are extras that add to the fun, including dump trucks, a sorting wagon, as well as farm and train building sets.
Main Differences Between Duplo and Mega Bloks
While these building blocks are pretty similar, there are four, distinct differences: size, fit, quality, and price. Let’s take a deeper look at each.
Mega Bloks are larger in size than Lego Duplos, making them easier for smaller hands to grasp and stack. Because of their large size, they pose no choking hazard. Children as young as 12 months should be able to safely play with them.
The Duplos are smaller bricks, making them better for a slightly older toddler. The recommended age to introduce this toy is 18 months.
Since the Duplos are similar in style to their traditional Lego counterpart, they have a tight fit and stay together. This makes the Duplos great for building sturdy structures and tall towers without risking collapse.
The Mega Bloks have a looser fit, ideal for young children who might find connecting or pulling apart the Duplos more challenging. While the Mega Bloks don’t always stay connected and can frustrate older kids, they are easier for young toddlers to play with.
Not only do the Lego Duplo bricks have the high-quality name of Lego behind them, but they are also made of thicker, stronger plastic that will pretty much last forever. They can easily be passed down the generations and stay in the same, solid condition.
The Mega Bloks are made of thinner plastic and some customers have even found that the plastic can crack or break.
While the extra cost of the Duplos might be a disadvantage to some, others are willing to pay more for better quality.
Pros of Duplo
- Good quality: Lego Duplo blocks are a higher quality product, made of stronger plastic that will last and last.
- Fit: The Duplo bricks fit together tightly, making them the superior choice for building structures that stay put. (Note: this can also be a con.)
- Versatility: The fact that Duplos work with the smaller, traditional Lego blocks make them a great option for longer and more varied usage as your kids grow. This also increases the opportunity for collaborative play between siblings and children across multiple ages.
Cons of Duplo
- Price: Duplos cost more for fewer pieces.
- Tight fit: The Lego Duplo bricks have a snug fit that younger child might find frustrating to stack, connect, and pull apart.
- Size: Because the Duplos are a little smaller than the Mega Bloks, they aren’t recommended for toddlers under 18 months of age.
Pros of Mega Bloks
- Size: The larger, chunkier size of the Mega Bloks make this a more enjoyable experience for younger children. Since it’s safe for children 12 months and older, it’s an ideal 1st birthday gift.
- Fit: The loose fit of the Mega Bloks makes it easier for younger children to build and play. (Note: this can also be a con.)
- Price: You will get more pieces for less money when you buy Mega Bloks.
Cons of Mega Bloks
- Quality: Mega Bloks are made of thinner plastic, making them more susceptible to cracks and breakage. Not only is this frustrating from a customer standpoint, but it can also pose a danger to kids, despite the child’s age.
- Fit: The loose fit of the Mega Bloks can be extremely frustrating to older children. Instead of being able to build solid structures, they find them easily coming apart or falling over.
So, what’s the final verdict in the comparison of Mega Bloks vs Lego Duplo?
Well, it depends. You’ll need to consider what’s most important to you: price, quality, or the age of your children. Mega Bloks is the cheapest, short-term option for the youngest builders. However, the Duplos are the clear winner across the board in terms of quality, versatility, and entertaining a broader age range of kids.
If you are looking for a set of building blocks for older babies and very young toddlers, Mega Bloks is the best place to start. Your one- and two-year-olds are more likely to enjoy the larger pieces, looser fit, and rounded chunky feel. And since they’re at a lower price point, it might be okay that you’re only using them for a year or two.
While quality is definitely a concern, it’s hard to pass up the deal you get with Mega Bloks. If cost is a big part of your decision, Mega Bloks is a clear winner, giving you a major bang for your buck.
The real, long-term value here is the Lego Duplo blocks. While they are pricier, they are the clear winner in quality, made with thick plastic that will last for generations. And they have a tight fit, making construction solid so that your child’s imagination can run wild.
This is the kind of investment that pays off, creating endless creative play and learning opportunities for your kiddos. Plus, the Duplos will fit with the smaller Legos, so they grow with your family.
While Mega Bloks offers short-term fun for very young children, the Lego Duplo building blocks are the better investment overall.