The 20 Best Gifts for 2-Year-Olds
Whether you view this age as terrible or terrific, one thing’s certain: Shopping for 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 best gifts for 2-year-olds based on their developmental stage—plus our favorite gift ideas 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 all kinds of changing! “They’re becoming social butterflies who are finding all kinds of new ways to communicate and move,” says Christina Low Kapalu, 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 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 good gifts for 2-year-old girls and boys.
Plus, kids 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 even 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.
Playmobile 1.2.3 Zoo
Two-year-olds love to build—as long as the pieces are sized appropriately for them. The biggish parts in this cheery set are shaped just right for this age group. Your tot will have a fence up to keep the animals safe in no time. Fine motor skills get an added boost from pushing the gorilla on the swing, feeding the penguins fish and helping the zookeeper with his wheelbarrow.
Buy it: $40, 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 play table is basically a mini water park in your backyard, complete with waterfalls, maze-like spinners, ramps and buckets. With over 1,000 Amazon reviews at nearly 5 stars, it’s clearly among the best gifts for 2-year-olds around.
Buy it: $55, Amazon.com
Mega Bloks Block Chompin’ Croc
Two-year-olds are changing and growing fast. This versatile toy keeps up with them, serving as a toddler-sized vehicle, a set of blocks and a scooper. What kiddo wouldn’t want to scoot the morning away on this reptilian ride-on, gobbling up blocks?
Buy it: $35, Amazon.com
Hape Mighty Mini Band
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, cymbal, guiro and clapper.
Buy it: $35, Amazon.com
Yvolution My Buddy Wheels
Balance bikes are easy to find. But a balance bike that doubles as a noble steed, fierce dragon or magical unicorn? 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 could very well still be in rotation at Christmas 2020.
Buy it: $80, Amazon.com
Leapfrog LeapBuilders ABC Smart House
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 gifts for a 2-year-old are still on your shopping list. When your child places a block inside the “smart star cube,” they’ll hear the letter (say, Q) and word (quail) shown on that block. Press the “question button” for a suggestion for which block to find next. As your little chatterbox recognizes ever-more letters and words, their confidence will get a nice big boost.
Buy it: $28, Amazon.com
'Bedtime for You' 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: $30, Wonderbly.com
JellyCat Bashful Dragon Stuffed Animal
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: $23, Nordstrom.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: $34, Amazon.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 a 2-year-old 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 Christmas gifts for 2-year-olds.
Buy it: $149, CrateandBarrel.com
Wild & Wolf Animal Town 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 a solid pick. These 26 vibrant pieces can keep up with your little one’s blossoming creativity.
Buy it: $35, Nordstrom.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: $32, Amazon.com
Fisher-Price Grow-to-Pro Soccer Super Sounds Soccer
The concept of playing with a pal is just taking hold at age 2—so bring on team sports! Not only does this ball and electronic net combo let kiddo kick to their hearts content, but it can even keep score for two players. The target can be adjusted to make scoring more challenging as time goes on. It’s easily one of the best gifts for 2-year-olds who love to kick and run.
Buy it: $48, Amazon.com
Alex Jr. Tots Art Start
This is the year when tots start showing off their flair for design. Make it easy for your eager artiste to craft and create with a kit geared toward beginners. Included supplies make six different projects (with just a little help from you). You’ll be hard-pressed to find better gifts for 2-year-olds at a price this low!
Buy it: $8, Amazon.com
Janod Zigolos 28-Piece Linking Train Set
This colorful wooden train is one of the best gifts for 2-year-olds who love to stack and build. The 28 block pieces form a puzzle that encourages tots to work those critical thinking and spatial reasoning skills. Bonus: They can also be stacked independently, perfect for open-ended imaginative play.
Buy it: $35, Nordstrom.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: $100, LittleTikes.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 (sshh, it’s magnetic) wand to feed the outgoing ogres the right portions.
Buy it: $20, Amazon.com
Brio My First Railway Beginner Pack
If you’re on the hunt for Christmas gifts for a 2-year-old, 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.
Buy it: $47, Amazon.com
Step2 Ball Buddies Tunnel Tower
To be sure, balls make for good gifts 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: $27, 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, 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 gifts for 2-year-olds.
Buy it: $20, Amazon.com
Updated October 2019
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