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41 best gifts for your imaginative 2-year-old, according to experts

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.

To quickly jump to the category you're looking for, click on the links below or keep scrolling to see all 41:

Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s Gift Guide to find the perfect present for everyone on your list!

Top-selling gifts for 2-year-olds

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.

Blockaroo Magnetic Foam Builders

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

“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,” she said.

Lovevery Play Kits

These expert-designed play kits come in three-month increments to find the just-right toy for your toddler. Buy a subscription for $120 per box, or shop a la carte from their Montessori-inspired offerings.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Train Set

This wooden train set is perfect for pushing, pulling, and taking apart — all favorite things for 2-year-olds.

"Construction Site: Road Crew, Coming Through," by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Ag Ford

The latest in the popular "Good Night, Good Night Construction Site" series features a hardworking road crew with a big job to do in a rhyming story sure to please construction-minded toddlers.

Best toys for 2-year-old boys and girls

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.

VTech Pop-a-Balls Push and Pop Bulldozer

Buzz around the living room with pop-a-balls or take a break with musical push buttons — this bulldozer will keep your toddler busy for hours.

Land of B. Floor Piano Lolo's Musical Meowiscal Mat

Your little one will have the time of their life hopping and dancing along to this "meowiscal" floor mat. This toy features three different musical modes that are both silly and wacky.

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.

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.

Cuddle + Kind Sebastian the Lamb

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

Micro Mini Kick Scooter

Scooters, tricycles and balance bikes all encourage coordination. This one is made with recycled and sustainable materials.

Nutcase Baby Nutty Helmet

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

Constructive Playthings Tree Blocks

Conti loved these natural blocks because there’s no specific way to build them so their imagination can run as wild as they'd like.

Top Bright Wooden Race Track

You can take this wooden race track anywhere your toddler goes, and it features plenty of bright ramps and mini cars to play with.

Jellycat Bashful Bunny

Stuffed animals are good for imaginative play and comfort.

Hape All Seasons Kids' Doll House

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

Lego Duplo Town Modular Playhouse

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

Playmobil School Bus

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

Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set

Play-Doh is an excellent source for developing the skills of imagination and play through touch and feel, according to child development experts. Green Toys also makes an organic dough, which is available on Amazon.

Radio Flyer Little Red Roadster

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

Green Toys RV Camper Set

This 3-in-1 play set includes a pick-up truck, camper, and boat that comes off its own trailer for bathtime fun.

Kidcraft Vintage Kitchen

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

Melissa & Doug Dust, Sweep & Mop Toy Set

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

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.

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.

Strider Balance Bike

Balance bikes are a great way to learn to ride without training wheels. Two-year-olds can touch the ground while learning to balance.

Tegu Magnetic Blocks

These magnetized blocks make for frustration-free building for little hands. Conti is a big fan of wooden magnetic blocks for easy manipulation with less frustration.

Nugget Play Couch

These rearrangeable foam pieces can be a couch, a slide, a ramp, a fort ... whatever your growing 2-year-old imagines.

Best books to give to 2-year-olds

"The Napping House," by Audrey Wood and Don Wood

Everyone is snoozing until an unexpected visitor wakes up a bed piled with a snoring granny, child, cat, dog...and mouse!

"The Wonky Donkey," by Craig Smith and Katz Cowley

This endearing, three-legged donkey is a perfect read-aloud that will have your child in hysterics with his wonkiness.

"Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race," by Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli and Isabel Roxas

Children notice differences at a young age. This board book was developed by experts in early childhood and activism against injustice to start conversations about race in a simple, straightforward way.

"Everybody in the Red Brick Building," by Anne Wynter and Oge Mora

The classic bedtime story gets an urban update in a big apartment building, where everyone is asleep until a series of noises ricochet from one unit to the next.

"The Poop Song," by Eric Litwin and Claudia Boldt

If you're thinking about potty training, there's nothing like a catchy song to inspire new fans of the toilet. This book also links to a song for repeat listens.

"Over, Bear! Under, Where?" by Julie Hedlund and Michael Slack

This funny, punny book features friends Over and Under for a wordplay-filled take on prepositions.

"Best Friend in the Whole World," by Sandra Salsbury

Roland is a little lonely until he discovers a pine cone named Milton. When he sees missing signs for a suspiciously similar pine cone, he may have to decide between his best friend and doing the right thing.

"Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn," by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

Kitty thinks she’s a unicorn, even if she gets plenty of ribbing about it. When she meets a unicorn with a big secret, they both learn to shine.

"Don't Hug Doug (He Doesn't Like It)" by Carrie Finison and Daniel Wiseman

You can hug a lot of things, but not Doug. He doesn't like it. It's a simple but effective lesson for children learning their own personal boundaries.

"Blanket: Journey to Extreme Coziness," by Loryn Brantz

This blanket-loving child is all of us in winter, rolling up to become something worthy of a cocoon.

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

Girls are in the driver's seat for this rhyming book about vehicles that ask 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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