Most likely, your 2-year-old’s favorite word, at this point, is a strident, defiant “No.” And it’s one reason that finding the best gifts for 2-year-olds — who are at that in-between age between babyhood and preschool — isn’t always intuitive or easy. But with a little research, you can assemble a solid list of gifts that will delight both girls and boys. You can’t go wrong with a mix of educational games for 2-year-olds, interactive toys for toddlers, and timeless books.
Toddlers aren’t exactly easy to shop for: There’s a reason this age is called the terrible twos. By age 2, according to the CDC, your cuddly little angel is showing some defiant behavior and craves more independence. So you’ll want to find gifts for 2-year-olds that encourage their development. Per the CDC, your kiddo is developing into a full-functioning little human who’s starting to run, not merely walk. She can point to pictures when you name them, say four-word sentences, and is beginning to sort shapes and sizes. She can build towers with four or more blocks, name animals, and kick a ball.
According to experts at the early childhood development nonprofit Zero to Three, age-appropriate toys for 2-year-olds should be open-ended and able to be used in a variety of ways. You want things like shape sorters or stacking toys, which encourage problem-solving. Because kids are figuring out how the world works, give them things that look like the real deal: Pretend food or pretend medical kits are great examples. And you want toys like Duplo blocks that will grow with your kids, or toys like balls or ride-on toys that encourage them to be active and explore their own physicality.
Best Toys for 2-Year-Olds
This toy guitar gets little kids interested in music, which in turn helps foster social and emotional development.
Sized just right for little hands, this toy guitar empowers kids. How? When they pluck at strings and create a melody, they feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment.
Quite possibly the most beautiful medical kit for kids we've ever seen, this is a kit that can help kids make sense of the real world because they, too, see doctors for check-ups.
From a blood pressure cuff to a stethoscope, all made of gorgeous wood, this is the medical kit to get for your kid. “Realistic” toys like this one help kids understand the world around them.
And while we're at it, this equally stunning veterinary kit even has a cone for pretend dogs to wear after pretend medical treatments.
So many kids dream of becoming vets, so help them get into that pretend-play world with this magical wooden kit. Plus, caring for animals teaches empathy, something this world could use more of.
This super-fun memory and matching game lets two year olds learn all about animals and if you ask us, it's never too early to start.
Generally, puzzles for babies and toddlers are one-and-done. Meaning, once they put the pegs into the right slots, the fun is over. This game ups the ante by having kids match up oversized tiles that feature animal illustrations and thus learn their first words
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 Magna-Tiles obsession usually starts around 2 years old, and lasts… let’s just say that you’ll end up playing with them, too. This top pick in our 50 Best Toys of 2019 list includes plenty of pieces and shapes to make whatever weird structures your toddler desires (real examples from the kids of Fatherly‘s editors: a pizza-flower, a horse-robot, a car for bears). The open-ended quality of the tiles is everything you want in a toddler toy.
Hands down the most attractive and solid-feeling play food out there.
This Milton & Goose play food set, another one of our 50 Best Toys of 2019, is obviously fancier than necessary for your toddler’s pretend cake — the set, if you can stand this, comes with “Organic Milk, Almond Milk, Goat’s Milk Butter, and two Free-Range Eggs.” But come on — they’re just so frigging cute. And preciousness aside, this is a perfect toy for 2-year-olds trying to get a sense for how things work.
Kids can tote around dolls and stuffed tigers and Legos and whatever the hell they want in this beautiful toy stroller.
This sweet pram doubles as a cart (and a push car, and a wagon, and… and…), while serving as a perfect “real world” toy for toddlers trying to figure out how this whole humanity thing works. Your kid won’t care about this, but the minimal design will make your living room toy clutter a bit more aesthetically pleasing.
If your kid is 2, we're betting his or her favorite song is Wheels on the Bus, and this sturdy vehicle helps bring it to life.
Not only do the front and rear lights actually work, the set comes with four Playmobil figures and the bus also has room for any extra characters your little one already has.
When your 2-year-old pulls this interactive puppy's leash, it's almost as if the dog is following her around: It moves its legs and jingles the keys in its mouth.
The best educational toys for 2-year-olds are ones that feel fun and effortless, and flashing lights and fun sounds help this one keep your toddler engaged.
First order of business when choosing toys for your 2-year-old: Make sure it's something that's open-ended and can be used in different ways. This fits the bill.
Construction toys like this starter Playmobil set can be a working farm. Or, it can be anything else your kid dreams up, sparking his or her imagination.
It's a genius dump truck crossed with a shape sorter. The truck has a back door that lifts while the truck bed tilts to dump blocks out.
Sets like this one allow kids practice new skills again and again and again, letting them figure things out on their own. Which leads them to become expert problem solvers.
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 gorgeous set of wood blocks encompasses more than 20 learning activities that range in complexity to meet each stage of your child's development from 18 months to four years.
You can’t get better open-ended toys than this fantastic set. It includes 70 pieces in 18 colors and tons of shapes, including arches, wheels, a bead threader, a rolling ramp, and shape sorter. And sure, kids have a blast building their empires while also learning the basics of physics and problem-solving.
Not only is this push bike mad-cute, but it has rubberized wheels to protect your floors and ensure that the wheels last longer. Plus, it encourages kids to move around and get comfortable with their physicality.
This push-along scooter, from one of the toy industry’s best brands in terms of quality, is a great choice for developing muscle strength and balance, as a lead-up to an actual bike.
Kids learn to count to ten by pressing the syrup pump or coin button on the ice cream cart, which is a great example of a real-world toy that's relatable to kids.
Kids learn to count and recognize colors through this super-cute set, which comes with eight scoops of ice cream, three toppings, and three cones. Plus, everything gets stored in the cart.
If you don't have the space for a massive toy kitchen, get this spectacular little pizza oven instead, which can help kids act out stories.
This set isn’t just fun. It helps kids with cognitive development and fosters endless open-ended play. Kids can pretend to be master chefs, making you the ultimate pies. The set includes a pizza counter, pizza paddle, rolling cutter, delivery box, prep instructions, a reusable menu, cheese shaker, felt sauce, cheese, wooden crust, toppings and play money.
Kids learn fine motor skills by placing vivid, colorful flowers and insect pegs onto this garden pegboard.
They learn about colors. They engage in imaginative play. And they don’t get bored, because this set comes pre-loaded with 15 flowers and 12 insects including lady bugs, butterflies, dragonflies, and bumblebees.
Little guys and gals arrange these easy-to-connect segments to create endless combinations, which send the Code-a-Pillar in different directions depending on the configuration.
As entertaining as it is educational, kids have a blast deciding which way to send the toy and love its colorful lights as well as its music. It’s durable and gives kids a fine motor skills workout.
So, little Thomas Keller, you need an oven? Then you need this Play-Doh set, which lets chef cook up pretend foods like muffins, casseroles, pizzas, and cakes. Just don't eat it. Please.
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.
These are magic and magically fun blocks that stick together, almost like Velcro, so kids can build whatever they want with zero frustration.
Plus, these bristly blocks help develop dexterity and hand-eye coordination. And they foster endless, limitless imaginary play.
Music is an integral part of child development, and that's one of the many reasons we love this all-in-one music machine, with a xylophone, a drum, a cymbal, a clapper and drumsticks.
This gorgeous musical set is easy to clean (you just wipe it down) and helps kids with hand-eye coordination, and developing an ear for melody. They have to work to make this instrument play, and that’s the goal. That’s how they learn.
If you don't love bunnies, you're dead inside. Especially Flora the bunny, whose ears flap when kids play with her.
When kids press on her left foot, she plays peek-a-boo. When kids press the right foot, she sings a song, and waves her ears around.
LeapFrog's counting train lets kids insert the 10 double-sided learning blocks into the train to hear sounds and phrases that introduce professions and colors. Plus, when kids press buttons, they hear questions about colors and professions, as well as melodies and songs.
This toy combines music and learning to help kids with building and hand-eye coordination. A singing train? What could be better?
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.
Kids learn coordination and color-recognition with Hoot, whose coins come in five colors and reinforce matching skills.
Your toddler will have a hoot (sorry, we can’t help ourselves here) inserting coins into the owl. And then, rotating his eyes, poking his beak, and flapping his wings.
This starter laptop teaches toddlers opposites, rhymes, shapes, colors and numbers.
Kids open this “laptop” and say hello to Scout, and learn about colors and numbers while doing it. When kids press his name tag, they can play peek-a-boo.
A classic 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 it teaches 2-year-olds about controlling speed and helps them practice balance, coordination, and motor skills.
Kids build their own toy train track and push cars around the track to hear a variety of sounds. The talking train set includes an electronic train station, bridge and tunnel, and a conveyor belt hill.
Start that language training early, as this train greets passengers in Spanish, German, and French. But even cooler is the brand’s SmartPoint technology, which adds an interactive element to the toy. When you roll the train or any other SmartPoint vehicle over a SmartPoint location, your child hears phrases and sounds.
Your child can built forts and castles and anything else under the sun with this set of 60 natural-finished, smooth-sanded hardwood blocks by Melissa & Doug.
At this age, you want to encourage kids to sort shapes. And this Melissa & Doug set, made up of 60 wood pieces, is ideal for encouraging imaginative play. The blocks also help develop hand-eye coordination.
This toy, from one of our favorite brands, teaches fine motor skills, boosts concentration, and helps your child learn numbers 1-5.
This maze is brilliantly, deceptively simple. Your child uses a magnetic pen to move the balls around and match them with the corresponding animals and numbers. And when she’s done, you tuck the pen into a storage slot.
At this age, kids start to play simple make-believe games, so arm them with this solid and fun set.
Who says toys for 2-year-olds can’t be practical? Kids are encouraged to use their imagination and go to town with a child-sized broom, mop, duster, brush, and organizing stand. The red dustpan clips into all handles. They learn coordination, and how to complete a task.
We love this brand because the toys are eco-friendly, and the truck is actually a pretty dope stacking toy.
This deceptively simple and colorful set helps your 2-year-old develop and build motor skills, and recognize different hues.
We can't say enough good things about this stellar building block starter set that grows with your kid.
At age 2, your child is starting to build towers of four or more blocks. He or she can go wild with this vibrant, solidly-constructed bag o’blocks, which comes with its own storage bag.
Kids learn to identify a rectangle, a triangle, and other shapes, but they hone their motor skills.
By age 2, your child can identify some shapes and shades. This wooden shape sorter hones those skills. You get eight blocks in four colors and four shapes, which fit into a corresponding opening.
Yes, kids love pounding things. But this genius bench actually serves a larger purpose.
We apologize in advance for the noise, parents, but this bench helps your 2-year-old hone his or her fine motor skills, with the pegs going up and down when your kid nails each one with the mallet.
This set encourages imaginative play, which is crucial at age 2.
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.
Kids feed chickens, tuck in the horse, and hear tons of songs and phrases with this interactive farm set.
This set keeps 2-year-old kids engaged because of all its (literal) bells and whistles. Your child rings a ball to call to his or her animals, opens the stall door to let the horse graze, and tucks the critters in for the night. Little People products are often recommended as top toys for 2-year-olds, and with their simple lines and adorable characters, it’s easy to see why.
It's a fun and easy way to introduce your child to the joys of moldable toys.
This dough is solid because it’s made from actual ingredients we recognize (like flour) and lets your kids go nuts by making whatever they want, from simple ball they can now throw overhead, to ice cream cones and cars. 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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