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38 best toys and gifts for 2-year-olds in 2021

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

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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 and 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.”

From stuffed animals to books, we have more than enough options for you to purchase for your little one for any occasion in 2021.

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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. Way to Play Flexible Road Track

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

3. Manhattan Toys Wee Baby Stella

Dolls allow 2-year-olds to pretend to be the grown-up, and this soft version is a cuddly introduction.

4. Cuddle + Kind Sebastian the Lamb

These hand-knit dolls also give back: For every doll purchased, 10 meals are given to children in need.

5. Micro Mini Kick Scooter

Scooters, tricycles and balance bikes all encourage coordination.

6. Nutcase Baby Nutty Helmet

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

7. Constructive Playthings Tree Blocks

Conti loved these natural blocks because there’s no specific way to build them.

8. 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.

9. Jellycat Bashful Bunny

Stuffed animals are good for imaginative play and comfort.

10. VTech Zoo Jamz Xylophone

This xylophone doubles as a pull toy for your little one.

11. Hape All Seasons Kids' Doll House

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

12. Lego Duplo Town Modular Playhouse

Two-year-olds can build their own dollhouse with this kit from Lego.

13. Playmobil School Bus

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

14. Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set

“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.

15. Radio Flyer Little Red Roadster

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

16. Green Toys Rescue Boat with Helicopter

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

17. Kidcraft Vintage Kitchen

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

18. Blockaroo Magnetic Foam Builders

This building toy uses magnetic foam, which is easy for little hands to grasp and put together and even floats in the tub.

19. 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.

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

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

21. Fisher Price Classic See 'N Say

Remember See ‘N Say? It’s back! The classic toy will give toddlers hours of exploration and help them identify animal sounds and words.

22. The Learning Journey Learn With me Count and Learn Cookie Jar

Help your child improve their motor skills and counting abilities as they try to stick each cookie correctly into the jar.

Best books for 2-year-old boys and girls

1. "¡Vamos! Let's Go Eat," by Raúl the Third

In this follow-up to "¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market" take a stroll through food trucks with delightful illustrations and new words in Spanish and English.

2. "In the Half Room," by Carson Ellis

This whimsical story finds half a room under the light of half a moon, full of half-objects that come together for a whole new perspective.

3. "Smashy Town," by Andrea Zimmerman, David Clemesha and Dan Yaccarino

From the creators of the popular "Trashy Town" comes this fun, chant-along book on demolition.

4. "My Friend Earth," by Patricia MacLachlan and Francesca Sanna

Beautiful, die-cut illustrations show the changing seasons and celebrate the gifts of our planet.

5. "Awesome Man: The Mystery Intruder," by Michael Chabon and Jake Parker

Awesome Man has a new superhero coming to town, and he'll have to decide if this new addition is a nemesis or if they can fight crime together.

6. "Hurry Up! A Book About Slowing Down" by Kate Dopirak

This rhyming book about taking time to appreciate the world around us is a helpful reminder for parents and children alike.

7. "Woodland Dreams," by Karen Jameson and Marc Boutavant

In this bedtime story, all the creatures come home to their dens, including the child at bedtime.

8. "Robobaby," by David Wiesner

When a new little robot arrives, the grown ups have trouble following the instruction manual and it’s big sister to the rescue.

9. "One Girl," by Andrea Beaty and Dow Phumiruk

All it takes is a small spark to make a big difference. This lyrical story is inspired by the movement to bring education to girls everywhere.

10. "The Magical Yet," by Angela Diterlizzi and Lorena Alvarez

"Yet" is a magical word that helps a child understand the power of effort and patience as they try new tasks.

11. “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.”

12. "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.

Still looking for the perfect gift? Be sure to check out Shop TODAY’s Gift Guide to shop for everyone on your list, including:

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This gift guide was originally published on Nov. 17, 2017.