The best toys for 2-year-olds from our 2019 gift guide

These toys will help your little ones grow new skills and help parents get through the 'terrible twos.'
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/ Source: TODAY
By Lisa Tolin

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They may have a “terrible” reputation, but 2-year-olds are also a blast. And the best toys for 2-year-old boys and girls may not be toys at all, but things you already have in the house: kitchen tools or dustpans and brooms.

“I always encourage families to buy everyday materials,” said Marie Conti, the head of The Wetherill School in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, and a board member of the American Montessori Society.

Now that they’ve mastered walking, they love pulling wagons and other things behind them. And as they learn to speak in full sentences, 2-year-olds are also figuring out how to interact and engage with others.

“Two-year-olds are entering pretend play and figuring out who they are. Kitchen items, cars, trucks, baby dolls, allow them to pretend to be in the adult world in their play,” said Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of “How Toddlers Thrive.”

It's time to start holiday shopping! From bath toys to books, we have more than enough options for you to purchase for your little one this holiday season.

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When we release our 2019 gift guides, we make sure all prices are current. But prices change frequently, so there’s a chance the prices are now different than they were the day of publication.

Bestselling toys and books for 2-year-olds

1. Green Toys Rescue Boat with Helicopter

Baths will be so much more fun with this floating boat and helicopter set.

2. Melissa & Doug Tabletop Art Easel

“Due to a heightened sense of curiosity, imagination and discovery, 2-year-olds will appreciate drawing tools and chalkboards,” said educational toys expert Lauren Leisk.

3. Melissa & Doug Dust, Sweep & Mop Toy Set

At 2, toddlers love mimicking household chores. These pint-sized versions are perfect for playing house.

4. “Press Here," by Herve Tullet

Nina Lindsay, president of the Association for Library Service to Children, loves Herve Tullet’s classic “Press Here” for 2-year-olds who are learning about the excitement of turning pages and making things happen: “The idea that you can interact with a book in that way is really exciting.”

5. Lego Duplo All-in-One Box

Let the Lego-mania begin. Kids will be enthralled by Legos for years to come. Conti suggested sticking with a big bucket of them, not a specific kit.

Best toys for 2-year-old boys and girls

1. Green Toys Fire Truck

Wheeled toys are fun for 2-year-olds to push around. Older toddlers will start to create stories with them, too.

2. Constructive Playthings Tree Blocks

Conti loved these natural blocks that she calls open-ended — there’s no specific way to build them.

3. Play-Doh Fun Factory

“Play-Doh is good for developing the skills of imagination and play through touch and feel,” said Leisk. Green Toys also makes an organic dough, which is available on Amazon.

4. Micro Mini Kick Scooter

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Scooters, tricycles and balance bikes all encourage coordination.

5. Nutcase Baby Nutty Helmet

If you pick up a bicycle or scooter, be sure to get a helmet, too!

6. Radio Flyer Little Red Roadster

A ride-on toy promotes coordination and the beginnings of pretend play.

7. Green Toys Sand Play Set

Toddlers love digging in sandboxes or the dirt, so give them tools to explore.

8. Echo Glow

Does your toddler wake up at the crack of not-yet-dawn? A toddler clock can make a world of difference. This new device from Amazon, which must be paired with an Echo Dot, also comes in handy for rainbow dance parties.

9. Kidcraft Vintage Kitchen

Cooking with parents and pretend cooking are favorite activities at age 2.

10. Jellycat Bashful Bunny

Stuffed animals are good for imaginative play and comfort.

11. Way to Play Flexible Road Track

Easy setup allows this flexible road to go anywhere your toddler does, with plenty of room to play for cars and trucks.

12. Janod Xylophone Roller Toy

This xylophone doubles as a pull toy.

13. Hape Little Drummer Kid's Wooden Drum

Mom and Dad may not love this, but banging away on a drum is a great entrée to musical instruments.

14. Calico Critters Cozy Cottage

At 2 and 3, toddlers are often pretending to be Mommy or Daddy and working through ideas about separation. This one features little animal critters.

15. Hape All Seasons Kids' Doll House

Dollhouses with a little more room to play are a great way to fuel their imaginations.

16. PlanToys Doll Family

These little figures come in a variety of shades and family styles to help little ones understand families and engage in pretend.

17. Playmobil School Bus

Klein loves little buses that kids can take figures in and out of, like this one.

18. Old MacDonald’s Farm Sound Puzzle

This puzzle is age-appropriate and makes sounds to confirm the right placement.

19. Tonka Classic Steel Mighty Dump Truck

“There’s nothing like a good old Tonka truck," Conti said. "Put them in a sandbox with them and they’ll spend hours."

Best books for 2-year-old boys and girls

1. "Go, Girls, Go!" by Frances Gilbert and Allison Black

Girls are in the driver's seat for this rhyming book about vehicles that asks girl readers where they might go.

2. "Vamos! Let's Go to Market," by Raúl the Third

A stroll to market gives little ones delightful illustrations and new words in Spanish and English, like an updated Richard Scarry classic.

3. "Sisters First," by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush

This ode to the power of sisterhood is perfect for little ones expecting new siblings, or fans of #ReadwithJenna.

4. "Llama Destroys the World," by Jonathan Stutzman and Heather Fox

This pie-loving llama rips a hole in his pants that could mean disaster for the universe in a silly debut from a married author/illustrator duo.

5. "Hello Hello," by Brendan Wenzel

Brendan Wenzel's colorful introduction to the world of animals encourages exploration and preservation.

6. "How to Two," by David Soman

In case your 2-year-old could use some instruction, this charming book illustrates number concepts.

7. "Stretchy McHandsome," by Judy Schachner

A handsome cat with a tangle of siblings just wants a little space to stretch in this rhymer.

8. "Dandy," by Ame Dyckman and Charles Santoso

Daddy's lawn is perfect until a pesky dandelion appears and his daughter gets attached. In this funny tribute to a father's love, Daddy may need to change his idea of perfection.

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