37 Best Gifts for 2-Year-Olds Who Love Engaging Toys
February 15, 2021
Whether you view this age as terrible or terrific, one thing’s certain: Finding the best gifts for 2-year-olds can be tough. They might be exhibiting a little more independence and imagination in their play, but they’re still young toddlers with pretty short attention spans. So what playthings are going to really resonate? Here, we break down how to go about picking the right toys for 2-year-olds based on their developmental stage—plus our favorite gifts for 2-year-old boys and girls.
Your 2-year-old’s burgeoning abilities should guide your selection of toys. So what skills are they generally honing right now? At 24 months, your toddler is changing in all kinds of ways! “They’re becoming social butterflies who are finding all kinds of new ways to communicate and move,” says Christina Low Kapalu, PhD, a clinical child psychologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, Missouri. Your child is probably walking confidently and quite possibly running with ease. You’ll notice other new gross motor skills too. “They can now carry items around, push and pull toys, kick a ball, climb on and off objects and walk up and down steps,” says Low Kapalu.
Toddlers’ fine motor skills are also blossoming at this age. “They can most likely manipulate containers to pour items out, build small towers and create something resembling art on paper,” Low Kapalu says—so construction and craft supplies make some of the best gifts for 2-year-olds.
Kids who have just wrapped up their second year of life can usually sort items by shape and color, follow simple directions and identify named items or people. “These little language sponges are absorbing new words daily,” Low Kapula adds, so books you can read with your tot to help build their growing vocabulary are also among the best gifts for 2-year-old girls and boys.
Plus, kids this age can now actually play with a little pal instead of just side by side, and may even begin to show preference for one playmate over another. They might start to work in some make-believe into their play, so open-ended toys that encourage kids to flex their imaginations are good bets.
Remember, every toddler is unique and will hit developmental milestones at slightly different times—but regardless, tots at this age are learning and growing up a storm. “Take advantage of your toddler’s ‘learning renaissance’ when selecting toys,” Low Kapula recommends. “Musical instruments, ball-popping toys, hammer and peg sets and building blocks are all likely to be enjoyed.”
Ready to start shopping? Here, some of the best gifts for 2-year-olds to spark their interest and support their learning.
KiwiCo Koala Crate
The best gifts for 2-year-olds make learning anything but boring, and this pick definitely checks that box. KiwiCo’s monthly toddler subscription box is packed with fun, educational projects created by child development experts to promote language development, math skills and more. Bonus: Each themed box is designed to give you and your child some quality time together and includes tips for how to engage, learn and play in different ways.
Buy it: Starting from $17 per crate depending on the plan, KiwiCo.com
Lovevery Block Set
Now that your child is on the cusp of being able to confidently manipulate blocks to create whatever their imaginations can conjure, a sturdy construction set is one of the must-have toys for 2-year-olds. These 70 heirloom-quality pieces include a shape shorter, a lacing string and a box that converts into a pull car to keep up with your little one’s blossoming creativity.
Buy it: $90, Lovevery.com
Balu Organics Large Premium Ball Pit with 400 Balls
If you’re stuck inside and searching for an activity that’s sure to see daily play, look no further than a ball pit. We love the soft organic fabric and neutral color scheme of this one (you can choose the ball colors!) so that it doesn’t look completely out of place in your living room.
Buy it: $289, TheTot.com
Magformers Stick-o Magnetic Blocks Set
Start in on STEM learning early with this fun magnetic building kit. To make it extra simple for this young age group, each block has magnets that rotate so toddlers can create freely without frustration.
Buy it: $15, Nordstrom.com
PlanToys Green Dollhouse with Furniture
A dollhouse is one of the best gifts for 2-year-old girls and boys alike, as it encourages imaginative play and emotional intelligence. This stylish wood and felt design is not only nicely gender-neutral, but it also boasts up-to-date, eco-friendly elements like a wind turbine, solar panels and a rain barrel. Plus it comes fully furnished, so your tot’s dolls or figurines are ready to move right in.
Buy it: $250, Maisonette.com
Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table
Splashing, scooping and pouring water is one of those rare activities that can keep many a 2-year-old entertained for a good long while. This incredible water play table is basically a mini water park in your backyard, complete with waterfalls, maze-like spinners, ramps and buckets. With over 6,000 Amazon reviews at 5 stars, it’s clearly among the best gifts for 2-year-olds around.
Buy it: $70, Amazon.com
Goodnight to You Personalized Book
Starting a bedtime story habit early is one of the best things you can do for your child. So a brand new book certainly makes the list of best gifts for 2-year-olds. This one is special, written in rhyming verse and personalized with your child’s name. A cuddly cast of characters will usher your wee one off to dreamland. It’s destined to be a keepsake after the last bedtime story has been read (sniff!).
Buy it: Starting at $25, PutMeInTheStory.com
Janod Confetti Music Table
Calling all music lovers! This awesome wooden instrument set is a good gift for 2-year-olds who enjoy banging out rhythms and reveling in noise. The all-in-one melody-making machine includes a xylophone, drum and drumsticks, and cymbal.
Buy it: $35, Maisonette.com
Cubcoats Panda Hoodie
This gift for 2-year-olds is actually two presents in one—a cute character hoodie and a cuddly plush toy. Made with super-soft cotton, the lightweight jacket folds up into a zippered pouch to form a fuzzy friend that they’re sure to love long after they outgrow the hoodie. Plus, with a huge selection of designs featuring adorable animals and popular characters from Disney, Marvel, Star Wars and more, you’re sure to find one any toddler will love.
Buy it: $45, Cubcoats.com
Mickey Mouse Construction Set
One of the best gifts for 2-year-old boys and girls is their very own tool box. This one has the added bonus of being Mickey Mouse themed, complete with an adorable mouse ear hard hat. Your little one can practice turning screws, hammering nails and even sawing wood planks apart and putting them back together (with the help of a little Velcro, of course).
Buy it: $25, ShopDisney.com
Yvolution My Buddy Wheels
Balance bikes are easy to find. But a balance bike that doubles as a dinosaur? That’s a rare find. Your child’s imagination will take flight on this toddler training bike. The handlebar and seat is adjustable, and with a weight limit of 44 pounds (and puncture-proof tires), this unique gift for 2-year-olds will last them at least a few years.
Buy it: $80, Kohls.com
This seemingly simple piece of wood can be a surfboard, a bridge, a slide or a mountain—the only limit is your little one’s imagination. When standing, sitting or sliding on the board, toddlers will improve their balance and strength too, making this one of the best toys for 2-year-olds to work on their gross motor skills.
Buy it: $149, TheTot.com
Mon Ami Dax Dragon Plush
Help your little one’s imagination take flight with this sweet stuffed animal. It boasts soft plush wings and tiny horns for little hands to explore and hug. They might even offer to share with their favorite playmate (watch those burgeoning social skills soar!).
Buy it: $32, Maisonette.com
Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag
Two-year-olds love to build—as long as the pieces are sized appropriately for them. If you loved LEGO as a kid, get your little one in on the fun early with these large blocks that are just right for this age group. Fine motor skills get an added boost from stacking, connecting and disconnecting blocks to get their creations just right.
Buy it: $20, Kohls.com
BRIO My First Railway Battery Train Set
If you’re on the hunt for extra-special gifts for 2-year-olds (think: birthdays or holidays), this beginner set would be a fantastic choice. Wooden Brio trains are among the most classic toys for toddlers, and for good reason: They encourage creativity and hand-eye coordination, and they’re beautifully crafted. This one has a battery powered train and is compatible with other BRIO sets so you can add more pieces over the years.
Buy it: $60, Walmart.com
Tubby Todd Beautiful Beautiful Me Gift Set
Combine bathtime with book time in this unique gift set from Tubby Todd that pairs a gentle bubble bath with a must-read book. This uplifting story teaches children to appreciate and celebrate diversity while also learning to love themselves just as they are.
Buy it: $30, TubbyTodd.com
PlanToys Dancing Kangaroo
Push toys are fantastic gift ideas for 2-year-old boys and girls—it’s just one more reason for them to run around with glee. This mama marsupial, crafted of sustainable rubber wood, will impart balance, coordination and fun as your kiddo makes her hop faster and faster.
Buy it: $33, Maisonette.com
Crate&kids Ride On Firetruck
A little red fire truck ride-on—with a shiny silver bell!—is about as classic a gift for 2-year-olds as they come. They’re just the right age to maneuver their way to the next big rescue. This snazzy vehicle boasts a working steering column, plastic fenders (for the sake of your furniture), rubber tires and a chip- and rust-resistant finish. This is one of our top contenders for best toys for 2-year-olds.
Buy it: $149, CrateandBarrel.com
Petit Collage Rock & Roll Alligator
Made of sustainable wood and in modern style, this double-duty beauty hits on two skills children this age are just getting down pat: pulling toys and sorting shapes. The chunky pieces ease the way toward shape (and color) recognition and smooth hand-eye coordination.
Buy it: $30, Amazon.com
Tender Leaf Toys Alphabet Pictures
By their second birthday, kids are ready to beef up their phonics understanding and vocabulary. Picking up this toy is an easy decision if a few educational toys for 2-year-olds are still on your shopping list. This wooden alphabet puzzle will help toddlers match each letter to the word it starts, helping them expand their language skills.
Buy it: $30, TheTot.com
Boon Pipes and Tubes Bath Toy Set
Don’t neglect bathtime when thinking of 2-year-old gift ideas: It’s the perfect opportunity for good, clean fun (literally).These pipes suction to the side of the tub to create a pathway for pouring water. Kids love watching the gears whirl and spin while the water trickles back into the tub.
Buy it: $30, BuyBuyBaby.com
VTech Smart Shots Sports Center
The concept of playing with a pal is just taking hold at age 2—so bring on team sports! Not only does this soccer and basketball combo let kiddo kick and shoot hoops to their heart’s content, but it can even keep score and play engaging songs. It’s easily one of the best gifts for 2-year-olds who love to kick, throw and run.
Buy it: $40, Kohls.com
Teamson Kids This Little Chef Chelsea Modern Play Kitchen
Yes, a play kitchen often tops the list as the best gift for 2-year-old girls, but it’s absolutely a toy boys will love too. At this age, toddlers are itching to imitate everything you do, so a tot-sized kitchen is the perfect way to encourage them to imagine making their own meals instead of being constantly underfoot while you cook. Bonus: This stylish version will fit right in with the rest of your home decor (look at those trendy gold fixtures!).
Buy it: $200, Maisonette.com
Haba Highlights Monsters Munch Magnetic Maze
The monsters have moved out of the closet and into this easily totable toddler toy. And they’re not scary; they’re friendly! Fine motor and counting skills get honed as your child using the magic wand (sshh, it’s magnetic) to feed the outgoing ogres the right portions.
Buy it: $20, Walmart.com
Disney Mickey Mouse & Friends Wooden All Aboard Train
This colorful wooden train is one of the best gifts for 2-year-olds who love Mickey Mouse and vehicles. The sturdy, wooden characters are built to last, and the interlocking cars are fun to link, unlink and rearrange. Bonus: The train cars are large enough to fit all sorts of toys and figurines, so Mickey and friends aren’t the only ones who can take a ride
Buy it: $17, MelissaandDoug.com
Step2 Ball Buddies Tunnel Tower
To be sure, balls make for good toys for 2-year-olds—but telling a toddler “no playing ball in the house” is less than fun. This new game keeps it safe and easy. Two toddlers can play together as they take turns loading the lightweight balls and then launching them down the ramp or through a tunnel. The mini dump trucks can be put to work carting balls to and fro.
Buy it: $35, Kohls.com
The Story Box
Fostering a lifelong love of reading starts now, and what better way to introduce new books to your toddler than a monthly subscription box? The Story Box sends two board books (recommended for ages 0 to 3) or two picture books (recommended for ages 3 to 6) and a tip card geared toward getting little ones involved in the story.
Buy it: Packages start at $15 a month, JointheStoryBox.com
Domestic Objects Space Ship Tent
A tent is an open invitation to imaginative play—especially when it’s in the shape of a rocket ship! Your child’s mind will journey out of this world when they climb inside this cozy space that can fit two kids ready to read, snuggle and play.
Buy it: $165, TheTot.com
Janod Cleaning Set
Now is the perfect time to get your child involved in cleaning the house (before they get old enough to start groaning every time you remind them to do their chores). At this age, kids are usually excited to help out and feel a little responsibility, which makes a cleaning set one of the best 2-year-old gift ideas. This quality set includes a mop, broom, dustpan and more.
Buy it: $38, Maisonette.com
The Learning Journey Count and Learn Cookie Jar
Here’s when you’ll want to catch your kid with a hand in the cookie jar. Before you know it, they’ll be counting to 10 and recognizing numerals. It takes a bit of strategy to get a cookie in the jar the right way (fine motor skills at work), but when they do, they’ll hear the number representing the chips on that cookie. This toy is worth a look if you need ideas for budget-friendly, educational toys for 2-year-olds.
Buy it: $27, Walmart.com
Pacific Play Tents Fun Tube Tunnel
Never underestimate the power of a toy that offers simple fun. A crawl-through tunnel definitely makes the list of best gifts for 2-year-old boys or girls. We love that this one has mesh sides so little ones can peer out and that it folds flat for easy storage.
Buy it: $40, Kohls.com
Little Tikes Princess Horse & Carriage
Hear ye, hear ye: Your toddler’s carriage awaits. This stately ride allows for foot-to-floor motion, so gross motor skills get a workout. Clip-clop sounds add to the fantasy, and the footman (that would be you) has a handle to push tuckered out royals back home. If you’re still trying to narrow down all the big gifts for 2-year-olds, the search may be over.
Buy it: $126, Walmart.com
Lily & River Bamboo Wood Climber
Anyone with a 2-year-old knows they just want to climb everything in your house (the couch, the banister, the dining room chairs). Give them a designated safe space to practice scrambling with a wooden climber. Little ones can scale the ladder-like rungs of the triangle or add on the rock wall for added difficulty.
Buy it: Starting at $450, TheTot.com
Lalaboom 5 in 1 Snap Beads
This set combines both lacing and snap beads for the best of both worlds. Toddlers can twist, string, pop and stack these colorful beads in a variety of configurations—a great exercise for those important fine motor skills.
Buy it: $28, Maisonette.com
Melissa & Doug Emergency Vehicles Set
Vehicles are among the best gifts for 2-year-old boys and girls, as they offer tots loads of fun as they “drive” these toys around and imagine different play scenarios.This set of emergency first responders offers additional learning, as it gives you and your child the opportunity to discuss the importance of these helpful professions.
Buy it: $20, Nordstrom.com
PlanToys Assorted Wooden Fruit And Veggies Food Set
Get a head start on teaching your little one about healthy eating with this beautiful wooden fruit and veggie set. To make it extra fun, each piece is sliceable with the included wooden knife, so kids can practice their chopping skills early.
Buy it: Starting at $30, TheTot.com
Battat Big Red Barn
It seems to be a universal fact that all toddlers love animals, so look for toys for 2-year-olds that play into that interest, like this adorable toy barn. It features all of their favorite farm animals, plus doors and stalls they’ll love to open and close. Best of all, the whole kit folds closed for easy storage and includes a handle to take it on the go.
Buy it: $25, Amazon.com
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