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.
When buying Christmas gifts for 2-year-olds, aim for toys that speak to their developmental progress, as well as, their interests. You want to invest in toys for 2-year-olds that encourage them to explore the big, bright world around them. Some great ideas include 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 Rebecca Parlakian, the senior director of programs at Zero to Three.” 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,” says Parlakian. These toys for 2-year-olds check all of those boxes.
Christmas Gifts and Toys for 2-Year-Olds
When you're looking for toddler gift ideas, the chance to imitate a parent will always win points. To boost your 2-year-old's imagination, you get kid-safe tools made from durable, soft plastic. The set includes a saw, hammer, screwdriver, wrench, drill, and toolbox.
A classic fun toy that never loses this appeal, this spinning saucer teaches toddlers to sit, spin, and balance themselves. Sometimes, we forget that simple can be spectacular. This spinning saucer is not only fun, but helps toddlers practice balance, coordination, and motor skills.
Kids conduct simple experiments on color mixing and shining pennies, and get age-appropriate tools to do so. The 22 piece set includes everything they need: A beaker, magnifying glass, funnel, eyedropper, flask, tweezers, goggles, one large six inch test tube (with lid and stand), two small test tubes (with lids and stands), plus 10 activity cards.
A portable wood dollhouse, this one folds up when kids are done playing with it. The colors are totally gender-nonspecific, and the set itself has working doors and includes 11 pieces of wooden furniture as well as two dolls. It's great for open-ended pretend play.
Kids work on their fine motor skills while also learning about feelings. It's a win-win with this clever toy, which features avocados that come with a spinning pit that displays unique emotions. Children learn to identify what it means to be sleepy or happy or frustrated.
Toddlers, and older kids, too, are obsessed with Magna-Tiles for a reason: they look cool, are easy to use, and encourage creativity. This set made our Best Toys of 2019 list. The open-ended quality of the tiles is everything you want in a toddler toy.
Alphabet blocks are as classic as they come, and this wooden set, which is corralled in a lovely wagon, has vintage good looks. The best learning toys for 2-year-olds grow with them as they build skills. In the beginning, your toddler will have fun sorting these blocks by color; by the time she's 5, she'll be spelling out sight words.
This no-peddle bike lets kids ages 18 months to 3 years move themselves along by pushing with their feet instead of peddling, eliminating the need to balancing skills they may not have mastered yet. It makes a perfect gift for girls and boys. It's large, no flat tires will withstand the test of time.
Trains help kids explore and learn about their environment. And you really can't get much better than this Brio set, which includes a railway engine, animal wagon, five wooden animal characters, an interactive farm, two curved railway tracks, and two ramp tracks. Kids learn the basics of building and connecting things together with this classic train set, which encourages open-ended play.This makes it one of the most practical gifts for 2-year-olds. Plus, it works with all other Brio sets, so it grows along with your child.
Good ol' Play-Doh not only challenges kids to make stuff cooked up by their imagination, they then serve up the pretend food at pretend meals. Kitchens are key to fostering pretend play. And this Play-Doh cooking set comes with cutters, a knife, fork, spoon, plate, six cans of Play-Doh and food attachments. Dinner is served.
This dough is solid because it's made from actual ingredients we recognize (like flour) and lets your kids go nuts by making the garden of their dreams. Sorry in advance for the mess, but sensory-play items that provide physical stimulation always rank among our favorite age-appropriate toys for 2-year-olds.
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