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Despite the notoriety of the “terrible twos,” 2-year-olds are a boatload of fun.
They’re independent enough that they can feed themselves, get around on their own, communicate their wants and needs, and self-entertain in small doses. In fact, the year after your tot turns 2 is full of exciting adventures and joyous moments for you both to enjoy.
It’s also packed with periods of immense growth and development — physically, mentally, and emotionally — so it’s no surprise that your child might take a turn in terms of his interest in certain toys.
As you have probably realized in your child’s first year of life, their interests can change at the drop of a dime. It’s important to not only keep them entertained but also interested and intrigued when it comes to the toys that occupy their time and energy.
Luckily, toy manufacturers often label their toys for certain age ranges so parents know which ones are most suitable for their child at any given time. Most toys on the list should still be used with parental supervision, especially ones with small parts that may be a choking hazard.
It’s especially fun to shop for toys for 2-year-olds. They’re starting to grasp a better understanding of the world around them and are learning the ways in which things big and small work.
When it comes to shopping for toys for a 2-year-old, try to home in on their established interests. For example, your 2-year-old is probably fascinated by different shapes and colors, which means they enjoy putting together puzzles and playing shape-sorting games.
They’re also starting to understand numbers and letters and their correct order, and love to practice fine motor skills by fitting objects inside other objects. Toys that make sounds or musical instruments that play songs are also favorites among 2-year-olds.
To create this list, we reached out to parents of toddlers between the ages of 2 and 3 to learn which toys their children played with the most.
We also considered the age-appropriate guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to determine which developmental milestones 2-year-olds should be meeting.
Finally, we combed through copious amounts of customer reviews and heavily relied on ratings to determine which toys were the biggest hits for 2-year-old children.
Whether you’re looking for a holiday gift, birthday gift, or simply a just-because gift for your child or a family member, here are some of the best toys for 2-year-olds on the market today.
Best toys for 2-year-olds: Under $20
Toddlers love farm animals and, by 2 years old, your tot can likely name them all — or at least know the sounds that they make (moo! baah!).
The chunky design of these wooden puzzle pieces should make it easy for your child’s tiny hands to grasp and manipulate them across the board, making it a gift many 2-year-olds would likely enjoy.
It comes with 8 pieces to fit into place and is ideal for children ages two to four.
One way your nightly routine may have changed as your child entered year two is that you now have a brushing regimen down pat.
Teaching a 2-year-old how to brush their teeth isn’t always easy, but this familiar and beloved Sesame Street character may help.
With a simple squeeze of Elmo’s tummy, he aims to teach your child how to learn to love brushing their teeth, and encourages at least 2 minutes of brushing by playing music.
Music is so good for young children’s minds, and 2-year-olds in particular love to move to fun rhythms.
This music-making toy has three drum pads and cymbals that make their own unique sound so your child can play along to the nine included melodies that range from dance and rock, to pop.
In addition to music, this toy is also designed to help teach numbers and letters.
This odd-looking, yet charming, peg-shaped hedgehog may help foster your child’s fine motor skills. The peg-shaped spikes fit in and out of the hedgehog’s shell.
By grasping at the different pieces that are just the right size for a 2-year-old’s little hands, your child can work on their color recognition, sorting, and counting skills.
This may also be a solid gift for visually impaired children, as it allows for maximum sensory play.
The small wins are as worth celebrating as the big wins, and your child can feel accomplished each time they master one of these five small puzzles. Each has its own unique design.
This pack of puzzles comes with a set of 6, with 36 pieces total.
The fun part for your kiddo is figuring out which pieces go with each puzzle. You may be surprised by how well this toy occupies your child’s attention.
Here’s a toddler-friendly and age-appropriate tool set that looks just like mom’s or dad’s.
It even comes with an electronic fix-it tray, working toy drill, hammer, wrench, and, of course, nails and screws that your child can spin and drill into place.
There are light-up buttons that play songs and aim to teach your child about the variety of tools and how they work. The sounds should give your child the feeling that they’re building towards something and making their own masterpiece.
Best toys for 2-year-olds: $20–$50
Your child doesn’t need to have an established affliction for cars to appreciate this fun toy.
It’s designed like a parking lot with three garages, a gas station, and a repair shop underneath four vertical ramps.
Your child may enjoy watching the cars slide down the multicolored racetrack ramps one by one, over and over again. The material used in this toy is free of Bisphenol-A (BPA) and has passed the highest U.S. ASTM F963 toy safety standards.
You might remember a toy like this from your own childhood. While Crayola’s Touch Lights have come a long way since your heyday, the concept is pretty much the same.
This toy allows your toddler to doodle away without harming your hardwood floor or newly painted walls. It lights up when your child touches it and plays six fun songs.
It’s interactive, showcasing 12 varying light colors and fun instructions for your child to follow.
Not only might this barn pique the interest of your 2-year-old for the mere reason that it is a barn full of fun animal figurines, but it also features unique latches and locks on all sides that may foster your child’s fine motor development.
While it’s geared towards 3-year-olds, parents say that it’s a great toy to introduce to your 2-year-old. That’s because it takes some time for kids to figure out how to maneuver the locks in the right positions in order to open the doors.
It comes with four soft animal figurines, including a cow, pig, goat, and horse.
This little learning carrier is designed to teach your child how to care for animals, and may be especially useful if you have a dog, cat, or any other pet in your home.
It comes with everything your 2-year-old needs to care for a pet, including a plush puppy, bowl, ball, comb, and bottle.
The side panel features buttons with numbers and letters to introduce educational concepts and play entertaining music and sounds — including more than 100 songs, melodies, sounds and phrases.
If you have friends or family members with kids, chances are, you’ve seen this set of toys before. They’re called Magna-Tiles and they allow your child to create almost anything in an easy and hands-on method using magnetic tiles.
Your child can build castles, houses, buildings, cities, or even fun animals using these Magna-Tiles, which also connect to anything that can hold a magnet (i.e. your fridge or washing machine). The opportunities are endless with this toy that your child just may enjoy for years to come.
Best toys for 2-year-olds: $50–$100
Here’s a toy that the whole family can have fun with as you encourage your child to name all of the toy foods that come with this truck.
This toy is interactive and introduces toddlers to sizing, sequencing, taking turns, number counting, and songs and phrases they’ll repeat over and over.
It comes with 20 removable play pieces that your child can use with other toys, too.
You may recognize this toy as one of the fairground favorites you might remember from your own childhood. It’s based on the whack-a-mole concept and helps encourage your 2-year-old’s hand-eye coordination.
It has 38 varying speeds and changing levels that increase in difficulty as your child continues to play with it.
The hammers that come with it are soft, so parents shouldn’t need to worry about their children injuring themselves from it.
Chances are, your 2-year-old is already a fan of this tasty treat, so they’ll likely relish playing with pretend ice cream.
This interactive toy is at an appropriate height for your 2-year-old, and has an easy-to-grasp magnetic scooper that allows your child to make ice cream cones with flavorful toppings for the whole family.
It also helps encourage color recognition, as well as an understanding of flavors.
If you really want to invest in educational toys for your 2-year-old, this activity desk from VTech is worth considering.
It features an LED display that lights up to illustrate letters and numbers, and teaches your child how to draw basic shapes like squares, triangles, and circles.
The desk also transforms into an easel and a chalkboard to encourage artistic play, as well. As an added bonus, there are little storage spaces on the side to keep art supplies.
Two-year-olds love to push things around and get objects from point A to point B. That’s why this buddy stroller by Lovevery is such a big hit.
This toy helps encourage pretend play, which is so important for just about every stage of your child’s life, but especially at this age.
It claims to be crafted from 100% baby-safe material, including FSC-certified, sustainably harvested wood, and water-based nontoxic finishes.
This classic LEGO toy includes a full steam train track with 16 pieces that your child can play with via hands-on activity or remote control.
It helps encourage learning through pretend play and spatial thinking, and is designed to teach your child about locomotive movement, animals, and travel.
It comes with a few character figurines, but you can always purchase additional characters separately, which could make for future gifts.
Best toys for 2-year-olds: over $100
Two-year-olds are at the perfect age to enjoy play kitchens, which have a reputation for being great investments because your child will likely stay interested in playing with them for the next few years.
This particular play kitchen is designed for children as young as 24 months, while many others are for children age 3 and up.
It features realistic kitchen parts, including the sink, stove, oven and coffee making station. The set even has a little seating area for your child to sit and enjoy their crafted meals.
All of the pieces are made from an easy-to-clean plastic material that should wipe up without a fuss.
If your child has shown an interest in trains, this set is the real deal.
It comes complete with 120 colorful pieces, including 3 train cars, 8 people and 1 engine, as well as a sturdy wooden table top upon which your child can play.
The addition of three storage bins helps encourage cleanup and makes it a streamlined process for parent and child.
It’s also nice if you have more than one child because it’s so large that several children can play with it at once.
Balance bikes are miraculous when it comes to teaching active little ones confidence on two wheels.
You should be able to get your toddler riding as early as 18 months with the Strider balance bike.
What we love about Strider bikes in particular is that — unlike other balance bikes on the market — the strider has real rubber wheels. And the no-tool adjustable handlebars and seat make this a bike that will grow with your child until they’re ready for the real thing.
Have a Mr. or Mrs. Fix-It on your hands? This pretend play workbench is designed to encourage hands-on mechanical experience, as well as foster your 2-year-old’s development.
It includes 50 accessories to go along with the workbench and work surface, including an electric drill, drill bits, screws, nuts, pliers, and more.
Lucky for parents, the tool chest-looking cabinet has a drawer that slides in and out so you can store all of the parts for easy cleanup.
Best educational toys for 2-year-olds
At first glance, you might be wondering what on earth this device is — and whether or not it’s even a toy.
Rest assured, the Bilibo is a toy, albeit a very simple one that allows for endless imaginative possibilities for little minds, including spinning, sitting, standing, filling, and dumping.
Designed by Swedish child development professionals, the Bilibo is meant to open up your child’s creativity.
Kids of all ages love wagons, especially the kind that they can pull around themselves and store some of their favorite toys inside.
This toy wagon offers not only physical fun but also educational activities. Your child may enjoy counting, sorting shapes, practicing the alphabet, and even learning Spanish words!
It’s ideal for children ages 6 to 36 months, so if you have children in that age range they all can enjoy it.
Start them young telling time using this clock from Fat Brain Toys, designed for children ages 2 and up.
It’s designed to teach shapes, numbers, colors, and early math skills while giving your child a chance to practice their fine motor skills.
What’s more, the clock operates in both English and Spanish, so your little one will begin to hear vocabulary in two languages.
Foster your child’s musical development with this whimsical toy that includes a drum, xylophone, guiro wooden block, and a bell.
It also comes with two mallets so your cutie can go to town, making all sorts of fun sounds.
While it might not always be music to your ears, especially if you’re working from home or simply hoping to get some peace and quiet, it is a great way for your child to hone in on his fine motor skills.
There are so many words that your child will start to say and understand in her second and third year of life.
This interactive storybook should help introduce your toddler to 100 of them, including animals, furniture, eating utensils, and more.
It’s touch-sensitive on every single page and has a light-up star button that plays a theme song.
It also comes in varying themes and colors to suit your child’s interests.
Best outdoor toys for 2-year-olds
Chances are, you’ve been asked by another parent, friend, or colleague, whether or not you’ve bought your child a water table yet.
It’s like a rite of passage for a toddler, and a toy you’ll soon come to realize will likely capture your child’s attention for long periods of time.
Water tables are especially useful in the summer and fall months when the weather is pleasant and you can spend lots of time outdoors.
Between pouring, filling, splashing, and submerging, your kid will have plenty to keep them busy with this sensory, stimulating toy.
The best part about this roller coaster from Step2 is that it can be used inside or outside, as long as you have the space.
Kids as young as 24 months can play with it for hours as they practice climbing the stairs, stepping over the car seat, and taking off down the ramp.
The car can come off the track for additional play as a ride-on toy.
And pro tip: Bring this toy out at your child’s next birthday party to make it one every kid will likely remember.
This push toy is a great way to give your 2-year-old the feeling of independence they crave, with the safety of knowing you’re really the one in the driver’s seat.
It has an automotive design (complete with a horn that beeps!) and an easy-to-fold handle so you can tuck it away for easy storage.
There’s a safety belt included and spacious storage under the seat to keep belongings.
For whatever reason, few activities excite young children more than bubbles. While it’s fun to blow them yourself for your wide-eyed and grinning child, it can get exhausting after a while.
Let this bubble machine do the job for you.
With the switch of a button, this fun and friendly whale makes bubbles for your child. It’s easy to transport and comes with a bubble solution that will last you several uses.
Are learning or stimulation toys best for a 2-year-old?
As fun as children’s toys are, their main function is to help foster learning and brain development.
According to Gary Kirkilas, MD, a pediatrician at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, toddlers tend to learn best through play as opposed to structured teaching.
For this reason, he recommends opting for less flashy toys, which are successful at immediately grabbing a child’s attention, but have a novelty that wears out fast.
Instead, he suggests choosing toys that are specifically designed to help stimulate a child’s natural inclination to learn.
“It also helps if learning toys are the norm for the household in order to foster a more learning-centric environment,” he says. “Parents can also encourage family and friends to stick with toys with learning in mind as gift ideas.”
Do you really need to follow the recommended ages on toys?
It’s important to consider age recommendations when purchasing a toy for your child, as these indicators serve several purposes, with the first being safety.
“Toys with small pieces that could pose a choking hazard are labeled only for older children who have progressed past developmental stages where they are likely to put toys in their mouth, nose and ears,” explains Dr. Kirkilas.
Age recommendations can also help guide parents on which toys their children will likely enjoy.
“Purchasing toys outside of the recommended age range can lead to frustrated children (when purchasing toys with age ranges above their children’s age) or bored children (when purchasing toys with age ranges below their children’s age),” he says. “That being said, every child is different, with some advancing to developmental stages slower or faster than others.”
How can I ensure toys are safe for my child?
For optimal safety, it’s a good idea to purchase toys in the recommended age range.
Toys designed with older children in mind may have small pieces that could pose a choking hazard to your child. Additionally, Dr. Kirkilas points out that toys designed for learning often have more thought put into them, which usually means less safety issues.
He recommends looking for toys from reputable sources and reading reviews prior to purchase.
“Toys that often break, fall apart, or cause safety issues will quickly get bad reviews,” he adds. “Lastly, you can use the Consumer Product Safety Commission Website to look up or keep track of any toy recalls, which happens more often than most parents realize.”
There’s so much fun to be had with a 2-year-old.
Choosing the right toy for this age is easy when you remember how enthusiastic they are to explore the world around them. As they grow more independent and confident, you’ll see their curiosity, wonder, and excitement grow.