Best Gifts for 2-Year-Olds to Take Playtime to the Next Level
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? The best learning materials and toys for toddlers are items that encourage them to express their blossoming sense of self and practice new skills. Here, we break down how to go about picking the right toys for 2-year-olds based on their developmental stage—plus, we’ve selected a few of our favorite presents for little boys and girls.
Your tots 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 in 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 are a good go-to gift.
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—like animal figurines and dress-up clothing—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 at a rapid pace. “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 and math skills. 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 $18 per crate depending on the plan, KiwiCo.com
Little Feminist Book Club
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 Little Feminist Book Club carefully selects inclusive children’s literature designed to teach little boys and girls about empathy and equality. Each month you’ll receive two board books (recommended for ages 0 to 2) or one picture book (recommended for ages 2 to 4) and a discussion card focused on the moral message in each story. Bonus: This book subscription won a Best of Baby award in 2021.
Buy it: $23 per month, LittleFeminist.com
Lovevery Block Set
Your child is on the cusp of being able to confidently manipulate blocks to create whatever their imagination can conjure. Let the building begin; a sturdy construction set is one of the must-have toys for 2-year-olds. These 70 heirloom-quality pieces include a shape sorter, 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
Boon 13-Piece 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: $33, buybuyBABY.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 gross motor skills. To prevent tumbles always supervise your child while using the Wobbel board.
Buy it: $210, Maisonette.com
Slumberkins Slumber Sloth Snuggler
There are plenty of toys that drive creativity and foster fine tune motor skills—but the best gifts for 2-year-olds help kids develop emotional intelligence too. That’s why we love Slumberkins—a company dedicated to helping families raise caring, confident and resilient children through affirmations, stories and creature characters. The Slumber Sloth bundle, which includes a board book, lovey and affirmation card, promotes relaxation and positive sleep habits for toddlers—because there’s nothing better than the gift of a good night’s sleep!
Buy it: $45, Slumberkins.com
Step2 Ball Buddies Toddler Tunnel Tower Toy
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 too.
Buy it: $35, Wayfair.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
Balu Organics Medium Velvet Ball Pit with 300 Balls
If you’re stuck inside and searching for an activity that’s sure to see daily use, 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 it won’t be an eyesore in your living room.
Buy it: $259, TheTot.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 toy let your kiddo kick and shoot hoops to their heart’s content, but it also keeps score and plays engaging songs. It’s easily one of the best gifts for 2-year-olds who love to kick, throw and run.
Buy it: $40, Amazon.com
Lily & River Bamboo Wood Climber
Anyone with a 2-year-old knows that littles this age want to climb everything in the house (the couch, the banister, the dining room chairs). Give them a designated safe space to practice scrambling with a wooden climber. Kiddos can scale the ladder-like rungs of the triangle, and you can add on the rock wall for added difficulty.
Buy it: Starting at $420, TheTot.com
Put Me in the Story Goodnight to You Personalized Book
Starting a bedtime story habit early on 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 you both treasure.
Buy it: Starting from $25, PutMeintheStory.com
BRIO World Wooden Railway Train Set
If you’re on the hunt for extra-special gifts for 2-year-olds (think: birthdays or holidays), this beginner set is a fantastic choice. Wooden Brio trains are among the most classic toys for toddlers, and with 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: $70, Amazon.com
Pacific Play Tents Fun Tube Tunnel
Never underestimate the power of a toy that offers simple, physical 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; plus, it folds flat for easy storage.
Buy it: $40, Kohls.com
Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag
Two-year-olds love to build—as long as the blocks and 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 a masterpiece just right.
Buy it: $25, Amazon.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, your little one will be counting to 10 and recognizing numbers. 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: $20, Amazon.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 table is basically a mini water park in your backyard, complete with waterfalls, maze-like spinners, ramps and buckets.
Buy it: $86, Step2.com
Mon Ami Dax Dragon Plush
Teamson Kids Little Chef Westchester Retro Play Kitchen
There’s a reason a play kitchens often top the list as the best gift for 2-year-old girls and boys. At this age, toddlers are itching to imitate everything you do, so a pint-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 your home decor (look at that cool retro fridge).
Buy it: $285, Teamson.com
Battat Big Red Barn Animal Farm Playset for Toddlers
It’s practically a universal fact that toddlers love animals, so look for toys for 2-year-olds that play into this truth, 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 for playing on the go.
Buy it: $23, Amazon.com
Pottery Barn Kids My First Dollhouse
A dollhouse is one of the best gifts for 2-year-old girls and boys alike, as it encourages imaginative play and emotional intelligence. Pottery Barn Kids has some great options, but we like this wooden model that boasts a stylish, gender-neutral design and a built-in carry case. Plus, it comes fully furnished, so your tot’s dolls or figurines are ready to move right in. Pro tip: Remove any small pieces or parts from a dollhouse as they can be a choking hazard for babies and toddlers.
Buy it: $79, PotteryBarnKids.com
Baby Einstein Magic Touch Wooden Xylophone
Calling all music lovers! This awesome instrument is a good gift for 2-year-olds who enjoy banging out rhythms and reveling in noise. The xylophone uses “Magic Touch” technology to produce music with the touch of a finger.
Buy it: $30, Nordstrom.com
Crate & kids Whale Rocker
A rocker is a classic gift for a 2-year-old—and with good reason. Rocking back and forth burns excess energy, has a soothing effect and helps kids work on their balance skills. Designed exclusively for Crate & kids, this plush whale rocker has an extra comfy seat, a sturdy wooden frame and beautiful embroidered details.
Buy it: $149, CrateandBarrel.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 take 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: $39, Amazon.com
Lalaboom Sensory Balls and Educational Beads
This set comes with balls, beads and shapes in a variety of colors. Toddlers can twist, pop and stack these colorful objects in a variety of configurations—a great exercise for building those important fine motor skills.
Buy it: $25, BarnesandNoble.com
Melissa & Doug Monster Bowling
The monsters have moved out of the closet and into this easily totable toddler toy. And they’re not scary; they’re friendly! Teach toddlers about cause and effect using this beastly bowling set by Melissa & Doug. The fuzzy plush pins are ready to be bowled over by Klonk the silly stuffed ball. Once playtime is over you can pack everything away in the handy mesh storage bag.
Buy it: $41, Amazon.com
Radio Flyer My 1st Scooter Sport Three Wheel Scooter
Toddler scooters help little riders develop strength, mobility and coordination skills, making them great gifts for 2-year-olds. And this affordable option from Radio Flyer is a great place to start. Features like a wide, stable base, footbrake and a specially designed turning radius ensure your tot can scoot safely. Just don’t forget to pick up a helmet too.
Buy it: $24, Walmart.com
SkipHop Zoo Unicorn Phone
Toddlers love to mimic their parents, which is why this toy phone is among the best gifts for 2-year-olds. The unicorn design has a light-up horn, musical buttons and an easy-grip handle designed for little digits. And, if your childs not into unicorns, there’s a dinosaur version too!
Buy it: $10, SkipHop.com
Petit Plume Pajama Set
Pajamas are a good gift for 2-year-olds and beyond. (Who doesn’t love a fresh pair of PJs!) This luxury set by Petit Plume is made from the highest quality cotton that actually gets softer with each wash. They come in a range of prints and sizes with the option to add a monogram for a personalized touch. Plus, you can even get matching doll pajamas—how cute is that?
Buy it: $58, Maisonette.com
Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Car
Millennial parents may be familiar with this classic gift for 2-year-olds: The iconic Cozy Coupe! This snazzy kid-powered vehicle boasts a working steering wheel, doors, horn and durable tires suitable for indoor and outdoor use. This is one of our top contenders for best toys for 2-year-olds.
Buy it: $57, Amazon.com
John Deere Preschool Build-A-Johnny Tractor
This gift for 2-year-olds is actually two presents in one—little engineers will relish building the tractor before playing with the finished product. The set, which comes complete with a battery-powered toy drill, plus all the equipment needed to piece the vehicle together, is sure to get your tot’s cogs turning and their imagination all fired up.
Buy it: $30, FatBrainToys.com
AILA Sit & Play Virtual Preschool Program
Next up is a high-tech gift for 2-year-olds designed to kickstart their education. Developed by educators, Animal Island Learning Adventure (AILA) is a safe virtual preschool program preloaded onto a hands-free monitor. It promises to improve toddlers’ attention spans and aid cognitive development in the early learning years.
Buy it: $199, buybuyBABY.com
Munchkin Fishin’ Bath Toy
Like many of the best gifts for 2-year-olds, this pick helps them develop motor skills and hand eye coordination. Catching the floating bath toys with the magnetic fishing rod will keep tots happily occupied at bathtime. We promise your kiddo will fall for this toy hook, line and sinker.
Buy it: $9, Munchkin.com
LEGO DUPLO My First Number Train
Toddlers will love to build, demolish and rebuild this train. The chunky blocks are the perfect size for little hands, and the included figures will spark creative play. Plus, this toy for 2-year-olds will help introduce kids’ to numbers and counting.
Buy it: $49, Walmart.com
Manhattan Toy Harper Plush Toy
Plush toys make fantastic gift ideas for 2-year-old girls and boys—a special doll or teddy bear will help them self-soothe when they’re feeling emotional. There are tons of options to choose from, but we like this pick by Manhattan Toy. It’s super-soft, with embroidered features (meaning there are no loose parts), and the best part is it’s machine-washable.
Buy it: $26, NeimanMarcus.com
Tender Leaf Toys Alphabet Pictures
By their second birthday, kids are ready to beef up their phonics understanding and vocabulary. Picking up this item 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 a word, helping them expand their language skills.
Buy it: $35, Amazon.com
B. toys Wooden Abacus Counting Toy
Of course, you can’t go wrong with timeless educational toys for 2-year-olds. Case in point: This wooden abacus with a sweet twist—the counting beads are shaped like fruits! This traditional toy introduces kids to mathematical concepts such as addition and subtraction. Not bad for $16.
Buy it: $16, Target.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, consider the search over.
Buy it: $197, Amazon.com
Brushies Willa the Whale Toothbrush with Book
Teach kids healthy habits with this unique gift for 2-year-olds. The set comes with a storybook and a toothbrush that doubles as a finger-puppet to make brushing fun.
Buy it: $20, Maisonette.com
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