The Best Gifts For 2-Year-Olds, According to Child Development Experts

These toys will help them develop independence, be creative, and make sense of the world.

by Donna Freydkin
Originally Published: 
Best Gifts For 2-Year-Olds a rocking horse, a toy piano, a whale and a toy castle
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When buying gifts for 2-year-olds, prioritize toys that speak to their developmental progress as well as their interests. You want to invest in 2-year-old toys that encourage them to explore the big, bright world around them. Some great ideas include books, doctor’s kits, household play items, construction toys, toy lawnmowers, and other toys that encourage them to use their imagination and mimic the activities they see happening around them. Books are always a good idea too.

While 2-year-old kids tend to master new skills daily at this age, they learn the most by watching their parents go about their daily lives. They are avid observers of… you, says Rebecca Parlakian, the senior director of programs at Zero to Three. “Imitating how you use your phone, carry your bag to work, or make dinner is how toddlers learn about the world.”

Kids this age also vacillate between wanting to play with others and flying solo. They’re starting to speak in simple sentences and are honing the fine art of defiant behavior, so most likely, your toddler’s favorite word, at this point, is a strident, uncompromising “no.”

“What they lack in self-control, older toddlers make up with enthusiasm and determination,” says Parlakian. “This determination can be channeled towards toys that challenge their emerging problem-solving skills, like good old wooden blocks, simple puzzles, and even art materials like washable crayons, markers, and paints.” These editor-picked 2-year-old toys check all of those boxes.

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