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- The best toys and gifts for 2-year-olds are ones that are both fun and educational.
- We spoke to experts and did the testing to compile this list of 40 gift ideas for 2-year-olds.
- Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested.
Two-year-olds are fun, imaginative, and curious. They strive to be fiercely independent as they navigate the world and mimic the adults around them.
They are also natural learners. Their brains are primed to soak up every bit of language and information in their environment. All of these traits make buying toys and gifts for 2-year-olds pretty simple if you know what to look for.
My 2-year-old and I have tested many of the gifts on this list. I also spoke to five experts to get their insight: Sarah MacLaughlin, senior writer and training specialist at Zero the Three; Munir Shivji, executive director of the American Montessori Society; Joanna Faber and Julie King, authors of "How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen"; and Dani Burg, owner and director of preschool Little Wings of Atascadero.
Here are 40 of the best gifts for 2-year-olds:
An instrument set
VTech KidiBeats Drum Set, available at Amazon, Walmart, and Target, $15.89
What 2-year-old doesn't love to bang on things and make as much noise as possible? Channel that creativity into music with this set that includes four drums and a cymbal. Shivji recommends gifts that support appreciation of art and music. This music set will certainly foster a love of music.
A wooden track set
Haba Kullerbu at The Construction Site Play Track, available at Amazon, Target, and Maisonette, $39.99
This starter wooden track set is simple enough for 2-year-olds to operate. As they grow, you can add on additional Kullerbu sets. The track snaps together easily so there's limited frustration for parents, and the car moves along the track with a momentum motor.
A themed shape sorter
Melissa & Doug Blue's Clues & You! Wooden Shape Sorter House, available at Amazon, Buy Buy Baby, Macy's, and Walmart, $45.89
In addition to traditional shapes and holes, this shape sorter includes gears, flaps, blue and magenta figurines, and even a flip puzzle. Two-year-olds who enjoy watching Josh and Blue's adventures will be inspired to play pretend with this house, too. Shivji recommends sorting objects for 2-year-olds.
A book that encourages inclusion
"I'm NOT just a Scribble" by Diane Alber, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, from $15.99
It's never too early to teach kids the importance of kindness and inclusion. In this book, a scribble teaches the other drawings to accept everyone for who they are. It also includes 100 stickers for kids to create their own scribble.
A table that's just their size
Kidkraft Wooden Farmhouse Table & 4 Chairs Set, available at Amazon, Kohl's, and Walmart, from $147.83
Easy to clean and just right for the toddler age group, this high-quality table seats four kids. Shivji recommends tables and other furniture that are the right size for 2-year-olds. Whether it's to eat a meal, do a craft, or just play, this table gives toddlers their own space.
A toy that develops fine motor skills
Buckle Whale Toy, available at Amazon, $21.99
This soft whale toy helps toddlers learn how to zipper and buckle, which develops their fine motor skills. It also features different colors, numbers, and shapes for additional learning experiences. Two-year-olds enjoy buckling and fastening things themselves. This toy can stop a meltdown when they desperately want to buckle their own car seat, but parents are already running late. They can happily play with this toy all the way to their destination.
A STEM bath toy
Boon Building Bath Pipes, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, $16.95
This bath toy will keep kids entertained during bath time while simultaneously teaching pouring skills, engineering, cause and effect, and problem-solving. Kids can use each pipe individually or create a chain to pour water through. The pipes suction to the wall and are designed so the water flows back into the tub.
A dollhouse that encourages helpfulness and kindness
Little People Big Helpers Home with Black dolls, available at Walmart and Amazon, from $39.99
Little People Big Helpers Home, white dolls, available at Amazon and Walmart, from $39.99
Shivji recommends dolls and dollhouses to support language development, and this one was a hit with my daughter when we tested it. The house comes with two Little People dolls plus a few other accessories. The interactive buttons in the house play songs and phrases that encourage kids to be helpful and kind. You can choose different skin colors for the dolls and different colors for the house.
The ultimate nostalgia toy
Playskool Sit 'n Spin Classic Spinning Activity Toy available at Amazon, $34.99
The Sit 'n Spin was a childhood favorite for many of us, and it's still around for 2-year-olds to enjoy today. I was sent a review sample to test, and it certainly stood the test of time with my daughter. Two-year-olds can spin as fast and as long as they want, and the base is just the right size for kids up to 42 pounds.
A sweatshirt that doubles as a stuffed animal
Cubcoats, available at Amazon and Nordstrom, from $35
Mickey Mouse, Marshall, Captain America, Poppy the Troll, Elsa, Eeyore … you name the character and Cubcoats has a hoodie to match. Each hoodie is designed to look like a character or animal, but the real fun is when you transform the sweatshirt into a plushie. They sent us a sample of the Minnie Mouse Cubcoat, and it doesn't get much cuter than a 2-year-old dressed as their favorite character. Check out Cubcoats new joggers, socks, and face mask buddies, too.
"Dream Big, Little One" book, available at Amazon, Scholastic, Mahogany Books, and Bookshop, from $4.79
Ella Fitzgerald, Maya Angelou, and Oprah Winfrey are just a few of the 18 Black women from America's history featured in this board book. The words inspire kids to dream big and the sentences are simple enough for toddlers to understand. Not to mention, the beautiful illustrations are captivating and engaging for kids.
A monthly subscription box full of fun projects
Kiwico Koala Crate, available at Kiwico, from $17.50/month
Kiwico crates make excellent gifts because they're subscription boxes that arrive every month. Each Koala Crate is full of hands-on learning activities designed for ages 2 to 4. Kids create hands-on learning projects like assembling a doctor's kit or creating a stained-glass landscape. "Sometimes a great gift is not an item, but a gift of spending time with a child doing something they love," MacLaughlin told Insider Reviews. Kiwico crates provide an excellent opportunity for kids and parents to bond as they work together to complete the new project each month.
A personalized chair
Crate & Kids Nod Chair, available at Crate & Kids, from $129
Two-year-olds can have a place to call their own with this comfy chair that's great for a reading nook or just lounging around. Crate & Kids sent me a chair to test, and it's very well made. My 2-year-old fits in it now and has plenty of room to grow. You can choose from a variety of different prints and can even personalize the cover.
An environmentally friendly dump truck
Green Toys Dump Truck, available at Amazon and Walmart, $27.75
4Dump trucks are a hit among the toddler crowd. MacLaughlin noted that "Toddlers this age also often love to load and unload blocks into the back of a construction truck." This truck from Green Toys is made of recycled plastic. It has a working dumper and is a wonderful starting point for imaginative play.
A customizable tricycle that will last for years
Radio Flyer Custom Build-A-Trike, available at Radio Flyer, from $70
Customize this tricycle to your liking by adding accessories like a UV blocking canopy or a classic bell. Younger 2-year-olds might not be able to reach the pedals yet, so be sure to add on the footrest. I tested this tricycle with my daughter, who now asks to ride it often. Faber and King recommend tricycles to promote gross motor skills. This tricycle can grow with kids until they're five, so it's a worthwhile investment.
Crayons and a coloring book
Crayola Washable Jumbo Crayons, 8 count, available at Target and Walmart, from $2.99
My First Big Book of Coloring, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, from $7.94
Jumbo crayons are easy for 2-year-olds to grip and hard for them to break, and the pictures in this coloring book have thick lines. My daughter enjoys pointing out familiar objects in the book. Faber and King both gave advice on how to talk to a child when looking at their artwork so we bring out the best in them, "Instead of, 'That's a beautiful picture! Very nice.' Try, 'I see a blue house with a red door. And here's a big round knob to open the door. And the sun is shining down on two cheerful purple flowers.'" They explained that responding in this way shows them we appreciate their accomplishments, and it increases their confidence.
Pinkfong Official Baby Shark Dancing DJ, available at Buy Buy Baby, $39.99
Little kids can dance, play games, and learn letters and numbers with the Baby Shark DJ. Baby Shark dances with kids and stops when they stop, making it an interactive toy that keeps them active. In game mode, kids earn stars as they dance along. Shivji recommends toys that support development of gross motor skills and appreciation for music — this toy checks both of those boxes.
Play food in a natural wooden crate
Le Toy Van Baker's Basket, available at Amazon, $19.95
This play food set comes in a wooden crate and includes a pretzel, iced bun, croissant, pain au chocolate, and a swirl bun. The pretend food is made of wood decorated with nontoxic paint. "Children respond to natural materials, such as wood and bamboo, which are not only beautiful but invite sensory exploration," Shivji told Insider Reviews.
A roller coaster for at-home thrill rides
Step2 Up and Down Roller Coaster Rapid Ride and Hide Edition, available at Amazon and Buy Buy Baby, from $139.99
I've seen various iterations of this roller coaster show up on top toy lists for years, and I finally got one for my daughter this past year. I'm not sure why I waited so long, because it's a blast. The roller coaster can be set up indoors or outdoors, and the Rapid Ride and Hide edition is designed to disassemble quickly and take up minimum storage space.
A beautifully illustrated story of a modern-day Native American family
"Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story" book, available at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $12.68
This picture book explores the history of fry bread while simultaneously introducing children to a modern Native American family. It has won numerous awards from the likes of Publishers Weekly, NPR, and the National Council of Teachers of English. The breathtaking illustrations feature diversity among the characters. The book even has a recipe for fry bread at the end, providing an opportunity to extend learning into a hands-on activity.
A board game the whole family can play
My Very First Games First Orchard, available at Amazon and Walmart, $29.99
Two-year-olds can actually join in on family game night with this board game. The object is to pick fruits from trees before a raven reaches the end of the path. This is a cooperative game where everyone playing either wins or loses together.
A gardening set made of recycled plastic
Green Toys watering can set, available at Amazon and Walmart, $6.80
If there's one thing 2-year-olds love to do, it's mimicking what the adults in their lives do. With this set made of recycled plastic, kids can learn how to take care of plants with a watering can, rake, and shovel. It's also a great toy to bring along to the beach or stow in the sand box! Shivji recommends toys that provide practical life experiences (like gardening) because they are enormously satisfying to kids.
Little Likes Kids Placemats (3 count), available at Amazon, $15.99
Keep mess at bay and make clean-up after dinner easier with educational placemats. These double-sided placemats teach the process of what happens to food before it gets to the table. They're made of non-toxic, food-safe materials, so you can feel good about serving food right from the place mat.
A multi-activity sports center
Vtech Smart Shots Sports Center, available at Target, Amazon, and Kohl's, from $34.99
When my 2-year-old has the urge to throw or kick things, I often find success redirecting her with this sports center we had the opportunity to test. The small sports center includes balls, a soccer net, basketball hoop, and plays interactive songs and phrases. I find that the interactive features keep her engaged longer than a regular net or hoop would. According to MacLaughlin, 2-year-olds don't typically have the skills to play catch, they do enjoy kicking and rolling balls.
An interactive book
"Press Here" book, available at Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble, from $8.98
One of my daughter's favorite books, "Press Here" immerses children in the story as they need to complete actions to move on to the next page. Pressing a dot changes the color and clapping makes the dots bigger, for example. This is an excellent way to engage reluctant readers or kids who struggle to sit still through a whole book.
A crawling tunnel
Lovevery Play Tunnel, available at Lovevery, $50
There is something so exciting to toddlers about crawling through a tunnel. Shivji recommends a crawling tunnel to support the development of gross motor skills. This tunnel is made of organic cotton and comes with a carrying case. The organic cotton provides a durable and soft surface for kids to crawl on.
A play kitchen with over 40 pieces of food and accessories
Little Tikes Tasty Jr. Play Kitchen, available Target, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Buy Buy Baby, from $99.99
"Kids always want to use our stuff. It can be annoying, but if you think about it, it is the ultimate flattery. They want to do what we are doing. Find a way to make it happen," Faber and King told Insider Reviews. It's easy to do with the Tasty Jr. Kitchen, which includes a sink, oven, stove, microwave, refrigerator, and more than 40 accessories. It even has an Alexa skill that teaches kids how to make pretend meals. I had an opportunity to test this toy, and even after having it for months, my 2-year-old continues to play with it almost daily.
A tricked-out ride-on car
Step2 Whisper Ride II Push Car, available at Buy Buy Baby, Target, and Kohl's, from $79.99
Two cupholders, a steering wheel, a working horn, a seat belt, a functional trunk, and even a cup holder for the adult; this ride-on push car has it all. According to Burg, "kids at this age often model their parents and peers." This is certainly the case with my daughter who often asks to ride in her car (that we received to test) instead of her stroller when we go on walks. The car even features Whisper Wheels that provide a quiet ride, especially on smooth surfaces like concrete.
Lego designed for toddlers
Lego Duplo Number Train, available at Amazon and Walmart, $16
Duplo blocks are a classic toy for toddlers. While many sets are available, this classic train set is both fun and educational. The train features numbers that help 2-year-olds learn numbers and counting. In addition to the train, the set includes two people and a cat figurine.
A combination sand and water table
Dino Dig Sand & Water Table, available at Amazon and Kohl's, from $79.99
This dinosaur-themed sand and water table will keep kids occupied for hours. It's designed to look like a dinosaur's home and even includes accessories like dinosaur figurines and buckets. The water and sand provide important sensory experiences for 2-year-olds as they scoop, dig, pour, and explore the dinosaurs' world.
Their very own tool set
New Sprouts Fix It! Tool Set, available at Amazon and Walmart, $22.13
This tool set includes a saw, hammer, screwdriver, wrench, and drill all in a toolbox. Faber and King recommend tool sets for 2-year-olds. Tool sets are an excellent way to let toddlers safely "help" around the house. These chunky tools are also easy for 2-year-olds to grip.
Lacing beads to practice fine motor skills
Crate and Kids Lacing Beads, available at Crate and Kids, $29
This lacing set features colorful wooden beads in fun shapes like stars and gems. They come with a drawstring bag to store them when not in use. Shivji recommends lacing beads for the development of fine motor skills. This set is also excellent for practicing colors and learning about patterns.
A role-playing doctor's kit
Green Toys Doctor's Kit, available at Amazon, $18.19
Two-year-olds will have fun playing pretend with this doctor's kit that includes a stethoscope, reflex hammer, syringe, forceps, thermometer, otoscope, doctor's notepad, and stickers. Faber and King recommend "toys that encourage kids to channel their dramatic urges into theater and role play." This kit provides a starting point to role play going to the doctor, which can be a very scary experience for many 2-year-olds. By playing pretend with this kit, the doctor's office might become less intimidating.
A rock wall and slide for toddlers
Little Tikes Hide and Seek Climber, available at Walmart, Amazon, and Target, $79.99
Two-year-olds need to move their bodies, and this climber and slide encourages them to do just that while developing their gross motor skills. It even has a crawl-through tunnel that goes under the top platform. The climber can be used indoors, making it ideal for long winter days when 2-year-olds are itching to burn off their energy.
A multisensory phonics playset
Square Panda, available at Square Panda, $49.50
Designed for kids ages 2 to 8 years to learn to read, this phonics set gives kids tactile letters to work with. I was sent a sample to test, and I find it to be much more effective than any free reading app I've tried. It uses an approach of emphasizing letter sounds over letter names, and there is a parent portal that allows parents and caregivers to track progress and control the words their children see. Note that it does not come with a device, but it works with iPads and Android tablets.
A retro toy from the '60s
Fisher-Price Classics Changebale Disc Camera, available at Amazon, $20.28
First introduced in 1968, this retro disc camera is a blast from the past. It comes with three picture discs so kids can see different images of classic characters and animals. This simple toy is fun, and an added bonus is that pushing the button to change the picture will help strengthen 2-year-olds' fingers, getting them ready for writing.
A music player they can control
Fisher Price Retro Music Box Record Player, available at Barnes & Noble, Walmart, and Amazon, from $32.99
Another classic, this toy was introduced in 1971. It comes with five different records that play 10 songs total. This toy gives toddlers choice in their music because they can operate it themselves. Some of the song options include "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," "London Bridge," and "The Farmer in the Dell." This toy can also be the springboard for a history lesson as toddlers learn that music hasn't always been stored on phones or in the cloud.
Six baby dolls they can cuddle
Basket of Babies, available at Becker's and Target, from $39.59
This set of baby dolls includes six plush babies stored together in a basket. Because these babies are so soft, they encourage 2-year-olds to love and nurture them. MacLaughlin recommends baby dolls for 2-year-olds to play pretend. Baby dolls are a great open-ended toy. They set the stage for many pretend play and role-playing scenarios.
A cottage to call their own
Step2 Neat and Tidy Cottage Playhouse, available at Walmart, $198
Two-year-olds crave independence and what better way to oblige than to give them their own cottage? This playhouse includes many interactive features like a sink, working doorbell, and shutters that open and close. It even has a flower box where you can plant real flowers and teach kids how to take care of them. Playhouses give toddlers their own space to practice everyday tasks as they slowly learn to be independent.
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