Puzzles are great for growing brains. Not only a fun way to occupy little hands, they help with shape recognition, color matching, visual-spacial awareness, problem solving, strategizing, working toward a goal, and of course, fine motor control!
Here's a way to take them to the next level by adding some additional motor planning and hand strength. Bonus: read to the end to see how to re-use this activity and turn into a way to occupy the baby.
What you need
optional baby extension - whisk and/or empty tissue box, diaper wipe box, paper towel rolls, left over container with hole (or not) - basically whatever you have.
Ok... are you ready for my big, grand secret to an awesome activity?!? Get ready to take notes: Wrap the puzzle pieces in foil.
That's it. Now your kid has to UNwrap them all and put the puzzle together. (I put two pieces per wrapper.) For added hand strength work, have them squish each foil wrappers into small, tight balls. Save these balls to then occupy the baby.
How to occupy the baby? Stuff the foil balls into a whisk and hand them to the baby to yank out one at a time. Or give them an empty tissue box with them inside to take out and put back. Or a paper towel tube to roll them down... or whatever you can find. Do keep at least a side eye on this in case your baby figures out how to rip off pieces and decides to taste, which obviously wouldn't be great.
Enjoy the two for one activity!