What is it about LEGO bricks? Whether you pour out a pile of various sizes on the floor or open a brand new set with instructions to build something specific, there’s just something so fulfilling about constructing something original and solid out of those little bricks.
When my daughters were younger, I spent countless hours on the floor of their playroom building with LEGOs. We had big, plastic tubs filled with a wide variety of LEGO blocks in every color and size that we used to create castles, houses, schools, and anything else we could imagine.
When LEGO Friends came along, that quickly took over as one of their favorite things with which to play. There’s just something so satisfying about laying out all the little pieces, following the directions, and watching them come to life.
In an age when screens of all types have become an easy distraction, it’s comforting to have a sturdy, simple toy that will capture your kids’ attention, spark their imagination, and engage multiple senses.
And the experts agree. Building with blocks is tremendously beneficial to a child’s development. Here are some of the benefits of playing with building 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.
Regular LEGO vs DUPLO: Which Are Better for Your Kids?
So you know that building with blocks is a great toy and favorable for development… but you want to know which ones will be best for your child. Regular LEGOs and DUPLOs are two of the most popular building bricks. As you’ll see, it might not be so much a question of which is right for your kids, but which is right for your kids right now.
Get all the facts before you decide which LEGO set is best for your kids: regular LEGO or DUPLO. Find out how these sets differ, for what ages they’re best suited, and more.
Overview of Regular LEGOs
LEGOs are plastic building blocks made of bright colors that fit together with their signature interlocking studs. Originally manufactured in Denmark, LEGO comes from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means “play good.”
LEGOs rose in popularity throughout the 20th century, crediting their staying power to their simple design. Due to the simplicity of the bricks, they can be made into just about anything.
LEGO offers Classic sets that include the most basic LEGO elements: bricks, plates, wheels, windows, doors, etc. The intention is to inspire free building and allow imagination to take over, the options of what to build are infinite.
With so many different parts and pieces, children can go beyond basic structures and create machines, vehicles, and animals. This is a great entry point for anyone looking to purchase their first LEGO set.
Over the decades, LEGO has created thousands of sets for children 4 years old through adulthood, that include a specific amount of bricks and building instructions, in order to create the intended formation. Sets span a wide variety of scenes, structures, and pop culture. No matter what your child is into, there is probably a LEGO set for them!
Overview of LEGO DUPLOs
LEGO DUPLO bricks 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 sets are good for toddlers 18 months to five years but 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 sets come in bins of 65 or 85, made up of a variety of 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.
Main Difference Between Regular LEGOs and DUPLOs
The biggest difference between these two products is their size. DUPLOs are larger, chunkier bricks, designed for little hands. Twice the size of LEGOs, toddlers can easily pick up and build with the bigger blocks.
DUPLO is made for children 18 months to 4 years, while regular LEGOs are designed for children ages 4 and up.
The regular LEGO bricks include tiny pieces that aren’t safe for little builders who often put things in their mouths, posing a possible choking hazard. DUPLOs are double the size to help prevent choking. The duller edges of DUPLO bricks, compared to the precise edges of regular LEGOs, add to their safety.
The flat, precise edges, smaller pieces, and wider variety of sizes and shapes of regular LEGO bricks increase the level of precision in any given design. The chunkier shape of DUPLO doesn’t lend itself to the same kind of precise builds.
Pros of Regular LEGOs for Kids
- Quality: Regular LEGO bricks are the gold standard in the industry. Built to last for generations, LEGOs are versatile, sturdy, and an ideal toy for children and adults alike. They can withstand decades of tough play and still be good as new. In fact, my daughters and their cousins have long played with the LEGOs that my brother and I grew up with– and you would never know that they’re over forty years old!
- Size: Regular LEGOs have a wide variety of sizes, which not only helps to create really cool structures, but it also helps kids with their fine motor skills and dexterity.
- Capacity: Because regular LEGO blocks come in more sizes and shapes, the range of what can be created is truly infinite. These options create a wider capacity for what can be built, pushing the bounds of a child’s creativity and imagination.
- Precision: The precise edges and corners, attention to detail, and tiny pieces allow for creations that can be really spectacular.
Cons of Regular LEGOs for Kids
- Size: Because regular LEGO bricks are made up of small, even tiny, pieces, they can pose a choking hazard for children under the age of 4, or for children who are prone to putting things in their mouths.
- Level of pain: Have you ever accidentally stepped on a LEGO brick in bare feet? Most parents will tell you– it hurts! While stepping on any plastic brick is far from pleasant, there is something particularly painful about those little LEGOs jamming into the arch of your foot. It’s definitely good motivation to train your little ones to clean up when they’re done playing!
Pros of DUPLOs for Kids
- Good quality: DUPLO blocks are a high-quality product, made of strong plastic that will last for generations and since they work with regular LEGOs, they’re good to keep around even after your kids have outgrown them.
- Size & shape: DUPLOs are large enough for very young children, the chunkier size making it an ideal option for children as young as 18 months. And since the edges aren’t as sharp as the regular LEGOs, they’re a better option for younger builders.
- Versatility: DUPLOs work with regular LEGO blocks, making 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 age groups.
Cons of DUPLOs for Kids
- Price: DUPLOs often cost more than other brands of similar-sized building bricks.
- Tight fit: The DUPLO bricks have a snug fit that younger children might find frustrating to stack, connect, and pull apart.
- Size: Because of the chunky, larger size of DUPLOs and limited capacity for precise building, most kids will lose interest in them once they reach the age of 4 or 5.
Regular LEGOs and DUPLOs are both excellent options for any playroom, it’s just a matter of timing. If you have young children, start out with DUPLOs. The DUPLO blocks are the best and safest option for the littlest of builders. They’re a great choice for 1-year-olds up to the age of 4 and a fun introduction to the world of LEGO.
Once children reach 4 or 5 years old, it’s a good time to introduce them to regular LEGO bricks. Since both sets of blocks fit together, there’s no reason to get rid of the DUPLOs, and a great way to encourage collaborative play.