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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.”
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- Best-selling gifts for 2-year-olds
- Best toys for 2-year-old boys and girls
- Best books for 2-year-old boys and girls
Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s 2020 Gift Guide to find the perfect present for everyone on your list!
Best-selling gifts for 2-year-olds
“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 age 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.”
Girls are in the driver's seat for this rhyming book about vehicles that asks girl readers where they might go.
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 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.
Easy setup allows this flexible road to go anywhere your toddler does, with plenty of room to play with cars and trucks.
Dolls allow 2-year-olds to pretend to be the grown-up, and this soft version is a cuddly introduction.
These hand-knit dolls also give back: For every doll purchased, 10 meals are given to children in need.
Scooters, tricycles and balance bikes all encourage coordination.
If you pick up a bicycle or scooter, be sure to get a helmet, too!
These colorful blocks are perfect for open-ended construction, or for sorting colors and counting.
Conti loved these natural blocks because there’s no specific way to build them.
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.
Stuffed animals are good for imaginative play and comfort.
11. Sigikids Beast
This adorable dragon inspires both adventure and snuggles.
This xylophone doubles as a pull toy for your little one.
At 2 and 3, toddlers are often pretending to be Mommy or Daddy and are working through ideas about separation. This set features little animal critters for their pretend time.
Dollhouses with a little more room to play are a great way to fuel their imaginations.
Two-year-olds can build their own dollhouse with this kit from Lego.
Klein loves little buses and car toys that kids can take figures in and out of, like this one.
“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.
A ride-on toy promotes coordination and the beginnings of pretend play.
Baths will be so much more fun with this floating boat and helicopter set.
Cooking with parents and pretend cooking are favorite activities at age 2.
This puzzle is age-appropriate and makes sounds to confirm the right placement.
Best books for 2-year-old boys and girls
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.
This whimsical story finds half a room under the light of a half a moon, full of half-objects that come together for a whole new perspective.
From the creators of the popular "Trashy Town" comes this fun, chant-along book on demolition.
Beautiful, die-cut illustrations show the changing seasons and celebrate the gifts of our planet.
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.
This rhyming book about taking time to appreciate the world around us is a helpful reminder for parents and children alike.
In this bedtime story, all the creatures come home to their dens, including the child at bedtime.
When a new little robot arrives, the grown ups have trouble following the instruction manual and it’s big sister to the rescue.
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.
"Yet" is a magical word that helps a child understand the power of effort and patience as they try new tasks.
Still looking for the perfect gift? Be sure to check out Shop TODAY’s 2020 Gift Guide to shop for everyone on your list, including:
- 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.