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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.”
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- Bestselling toys and books for 2-year-olds
- Best toys for 2-year-old boys and girls
- Best books for 2-year-old boys and girls
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Bestselling toys and books for 2-year-olds
Baths will be so much more fun with this floating boat and helicopter set.
“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.
At 2, toddlers love mimicking household chores. These pint-sized versions are perfect for playing house.
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.”
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
Wheeled toys are fun for 2-year-olds to push around. Older toddlers will start to create stories with them, too.
Conti loved these natural blocks that she calls open-ended — there’s no specific way to build them.
“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.
Scooters, tricycles and balance bikes all encourage coordination.
If you pick up a bicycle or scooter, be sure to get a helmet, too!
A ride-on toy promotes coordination and the beginnings of pretend play.
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.
Cooking with parents and pretend cooking are favorite activities at age 2.
Stuffed animals are good for imaginative play and comfort.
Easy setup allows this flexible road to go anywhere your toddler does, with plenty of room to play for cars and trucks.
This xylophone doubles as a pull toy.
Mom and Dad may not love this, but banging away on a drum is a great entrée to musical instruments.
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.
Dollhouses with a little more room to play are a great way to fuel their imaginations.
Klein loves little buses and car toys that kids can take figures in and out of, like this one.
This puzzle is age-appropriate and makes sounds to confirm the right placement.
“There’s nothing like a good old Tonka truck," Conti said. "Put them in a sandbox with them and they’ll spend hours."
Remember See ‘N Say? It’s back! The classic toy will give toddlers hours of exploration and help them identify animal sounds and words.
Best books for 2-year-old boys and girls
Girls are in the driver's seat for this rhyming book about vehicles that asks girl readers where they might go.
A stroll to market gives little ones delightful illustrations and new words in Spanish and English, like an updated Richard Scarry classic.
This ode to the power of sisterhood is perfect for little ones expecting new siblings, or fans of #ReadwithJenna.
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.
Brendan Wenzel's colorful introduction to the world of animals encourages exploration and preservation.
In case your 2-year-old could use some instruction, this charming book illustrates number concepts.
A handsome cat with a tangle of siblings just wants a little space to stretch in this rhymer.
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.
- Gifts for babies
- Gifts for 1-year-olds
- Gifts for 3-year-olds
- Gifts for 4-year-olds
- Gifts for 5-year-olds
- Gifts for 6-year-olds
- Gifts for 7-year-olds
- Gifts for 8-year-olds
This gift guide was originally published on Nov. 17, 2017.
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