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Two-year-olds can be tough to shop for—they’re not babies anymore, but they’re not quite big enough for many of the more complex toys that interest their older siblings. But, if you know where to look, you can find plenty of engaging and interactive gift ideas that will keep your toddler occupied and mentally stimulated. Think STEM sets, ride-on toys that can be used indoor or outdoors, and car toys.
"As toddlers get older, they begin to enjoy pretend play sets, trikes and scooters, puzzles, building sets, coloring books, basic craft supplies, early games, trains and racetracks, and musical instruments," says Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in South Overland Park, Kansas. Why? These toys can help your toddler develop motor skills and social play before they start school.
Here, the best toys to gift 2-year-olds this holiday season.
Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog
Dimensions: 9.1 x 9.1 x 3.9 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 18 months and up
Toddlers may lose interest quickly
Toddlers will love learning valuable skills with Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog. The adorable critter has 12 removable quills to help toddlers practice their fine motor skills as they maneuver them in and out of the holes. Young ones can also practice counting and sorting with the different colored pieces with this educational toy. When play time is over, place all the quills pack in Spike for easy cleanup.
Little Tikes Go and Grow Dino Indoor Outdoor Ride On Toy
Dimensions: 15.5 x 22 x 16 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 1 year and up
Can be used indoors or outdoors
Grows with your child
Cheaper and lightweight quality
Kids at this age love dinosaurs, and this trike features a friendly design that's liked by toddler boys and girls. This ride-on toy can be used indoors and outdoors, and it includes a wide front wheelbase and oversized rear wheel, making it easier to balance on and ride. Note that the max weight limit for this trike is 50 pounds.
CoComelon Musical Yellow School Bus
Dimensions: 5.09 x 9.53 x 4.92 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 2 years and up
Car toys are popular for this age
CoComelon fans can play along while watching their favorite educational program. Along with the bus that features six seats for CoComelon family and friends, this set includes a mini J.J. doll. Toddlers can easily push and maneuver the bus thanks to its free-wheeling motion, plus they can sing along to "Wheels on the Bus" as it plays.
Lovevery Play Kits
Dimensions: Not listed | Material: Sustainably harvested wood, organic cotton, nontoxic paint, and baby-safe plastics | Recommended Age: 1 year and up
Backed by healthcare practitioners and academics
You can skip or cancel subscriptions at anytime
One-time purchases unavailable
Academics, researchers, and healthcare practitioners carefully customize these Lovevery play kits according to your child’s specific age bracket, ensuring each toy is right on target in terms of both skill set development and interest. Subscription boxes include items like puzzles, matching games, and mini science experiments, which are divided into 3-month age ranges to guarantee your child is getting them right when they're at the appropriate developmental stage.
VTech Touch and Swipe Baby Phone
Dimensions: 0.98 x 2.83 x 5.51 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 6 months and up
Durable for toddler play
Touch screen is interactive, not just decorative
"Swiping" feature is really a lever mechanism
Sound effects could be louder
Now your toddler can have a more kid-friendly copy of your own phone. The touch screen mobile has 12 light-up pretend apps that are just like the ones you have installed, like a pretend calendar, clock, weather, and more. There’s an educational component, too, as the interactive device plays a variety of songs that help teach ABCs, 123s, and first words.
Battat Bristle Blocks
Dimensions: 12.5 x 3 x 14 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 2 years and up
Helps with dexterity and motor skills
Wheels aren't as intuitive
Packaging comes in a bag, not a box
A STEM-based building set that goes way beyond stacking blocks for hours of fun and imaginative play, this set includes 112 interlocking pieces in assorted sizes and vibrant colors. It's ripe for creating everything from towers and cities to boats and cars. Unlike traditional blocks, these won’t topple and cause frustration—they stay securely together until your child decides to start anew.
VTech Mix and Match-a-Saurus
Dimensions: 4.64 x 11.18 x 11.68 inches | Material: Plastic and metal | Recommended Age: 2 years and up
Builds toddler appreciation for music
Helps promote emotional intelligence
Might be scary for some toddlers
This silly little dinosaur is like a pet, but better because you won’t end up taking care of it. It talks, moves, walks, and dances based on the tiles you put into its back. The 27 possible tile combinations include a range of emotions, music choices, and characters to help your child identify and understand their feelings and how they affect their behavior.
WowWee Pinkfong Baby Shark Official Song Puppet
Dimensions: 13.8 x 8.3 x 6.9 inches | Material: Plush | Recommended Age: 2 years and up
Sings the classic "Baby Shark" tune
Have to keep moving the puppet to keep the song playing
Could be louder
"Baby Shark" fans, including toddlers and their parents, will have hours of fun playing with these puppets. Simply slip your hand into the back of the doll to move the puppet’s mouth up and down to play the beloved tune. The song plays at varying speeds, depending on how fast or slow you move your hand, providing fun for the whole family. You can collect all three song puppets, including Baby Shark, Daddy Shark, and Mommy Shark.
Battat Wooden Activity Cube
Dimensions: 13.4 x 11.81 x 17.72 inches | Material: Wood | Recommended Age: 1 year and up
Multiple activities in one
May not be challenging enough for older toddlers
This expertly crafted, solid wood toy has five sides of fun to keep your toddler engaged longer. Depending on their mood, they can drive the tractor around, zig-zag the beads up and down, or move spinners to their heart’s content. You’ll love the toy’s rounded edges, which add an element of safety for children who aren’t fully steady on their feet.
Micro Kickboard Mini Deluxe 3 Scooter
Dimensions: 12 x 21 x 17 inches | Material: Aluminum, polyurethane, and fiberglass | Recommended Age: 2 years and up
Three wheels and wide base help toddlers balance
Fun color combinations
Some assembly required
Lean and steer could be difficult for beginners
Take neighborhood walks to new heights (and—win for parents—burn more energy!) by gifting your child their very own scooter. Though your little one will still need to wear a helmet, this one is more toddler-friendly, thanks to low-profile wheels, a wide standing board, and a sturdy, adjustable handlebar. It’s a way to help your child gain confidence on wheels and practice their balance and coordination skills.
Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table Playset
Dimensions: 39 x 24 x 32 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 1 year and up
Suitable for various ages
No pre-drilled holes
Screws can cause slight leaking
Promote hours of summer fun with this interactive water table. It’s a great choice for children with siblings, as there’s plenty of room for all, plus it's suitable for a wide range of ages from 1 and up. The 13-piece kit includes features like maze-like spinners, ramps, and buckets for tons of beneficial STEM play.
Little Tikes Cozy Coupe
Dimensions: 29.5 x 16.5 x 33.5 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 18 months to 5 years
A classic favorite reimagined
Can be used indoors or outdoors
Instructions aren't clear
Lots of parts to assemble
A timeless pick in the toy world, these little cars are a household staple for a reason. Toddlers will feel empowered behind the wheel of this imaginative toy, thanks to a slew of fun features, like working doors, a steering wheel with a horn, a clicking ignition switch, a gas cap that opens and shuts, plus durable tires that spin 360 degrees. Ride-on toys are a great pick to use indoors and outdoors to burn off energy with your toddler.
TOP BRIGHT Car Ramp Racer
Dimensions: 8.86 x 3.81 x 10 inches | Material: Beechwood and polypropylene | Recommended Age: 18 months and up
Can help kids learn numbers and colors
Cars come with little magnets to stay on the track
Material is a little flimsy
This simple, high-quality wooden toy teaches cause and effect, plus promotes dexterity and hand-eye coordination as children watch their car zoom down the varying tiers to the finish line. Each car is numbered one through four and painted a different color, so you and your child can practice counting and identifying colors, too.
Playskool Mr. Potato Head
Dimensions: 4.02 x 5.98 x 7.52 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 2 years and up
Comes with a storage compartment
Easy to clean
Pieces are difficult to insert into holes
Mr. Potato Head is another classic toy that has passed the test of time. Toddlers love playing with all the different parts and pieces—eyes, ears, and accessories—to create fun characters with unique faces and expressions. When playing together, the toy provides a great chance to practice identifying different body parts. Don't worry about losing all the pieces: The toy comes with a convenient suitcase for stashing everything.
Learning Friends 100 Words Book
Dimensions: 9.4 x 9.2 x 1.9 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 18 months and up
Educational and interactive
Promotes bilingual learning
Multiple ways to play
Pages are a little thin
Loud, no volume control
Help your child grow their ever-expanding vocabulary with this fun, interactive book. Three cute characters—Turtle, Tiger, and Monkey—come to life to introduce more than 100 age-appropriate words chosen by learning experts. As a bonus, all words, songs, and instructions can be heard in both English and Spanish for a fully bilingual experience.
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Servin' Up Fun Food Truck
Dimensions: 21.97 x 22.99 x 27.99 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 18 months and up
Includes fun food and accessory toys
Multiple ways to play
Might be small for some toddlers
Light, so can tip over
What child doesn’t love to play pretend, especially when there’s food involved? The Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Servin' Up Fun Food Truck offers two sides of imaginative play, complete with more than 20 removable toy pieces. Plus, it plays more than 125 songs, sounds, and phrases to promote speech development.
YGJT Baby Balance Bike
Dimensions: 19.29 x 9.76 x 7.09 inches | Material: Carbon steel | Recommended Age: 10 months and up
Kids can push themselves
Nice design that's fairly durable
Can be used indoors or outdoors
Wheels on the back are close together
Can be too small for some kids
Small and balanced by four wheels, this little bike can get your toddler more comfortable riding a bicycle on their own. Use the bike indoors—or out—to help little ones develop confidence and learn balance, plus the feeling of going both backward and forward. The toy bike comes in three fun colors, so you’ll find the perfect shade for your son or daughter.
Melissa & Doug 20 Wooden Animal Magnets in a Box
Dimensions: 5.5 x 2 x 8 inches | Material: Wood | Recommended Age: 2 years and up
Well-built and sturdy
Helps promote strategic thinking
Comes with storage case
Pictures can peel off slightly
Storage case doesn't come with cover
A simple yet engaging toy with plenty of educational benefits, your child will love arranging their very own set of 20 wild and pet animals, whether it's on the floor or a magnetic surface like the refrigerator. For the most valuable learning experience, play together, naming each animal and repeating the sounds they make. When you’re done, tuck everything into the sturdy wooden storage case.
The New York Doll Collection Soft Baby Doll
Dimensions: 10 x 6.69 x 3.54 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up
Promotes nurturing skills
Suitable for various ages
Poor paint job
Arms are a little loose
Let kids explore their nurturing side with this soft, lifelike baby doll. It’s an especially great choice for any toddler welcoming a home a sibling, as it’s a great introduction to caring for and playing with a baby. The 11-inch doll is just the right size for little arms, and it's soft enough to cuddle with during storytime.
Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone
Dimensions: 24 x 13.5 x 15 inches | Material: Wood, water-based paint, and metal | Recommended Age: 1 year and up
Great for developing hand-eye coordination
Can build musical appreciation
Not the best value in terms of quality
Xylophone is slightly off-key
Introduce your little one to the wonders of creating music with this high-quality wooden toy. The multifunctional instrument can be played several ways: use it as a xylophone, a keyboard, or shake the balls together like maracas. No matter which way you play, benefits abound, including helping them practice dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and cause and effect.
What to Look for in Toys for 2-Year-Olds
Always consult the manufacturer's instructions for the recommended age. This guideline will help you determine whether the toy is safe and engaging enough (or too complicated) for your child, notes Kristin Morency Goldman, senior advisor of strategic communications for The Toy Association.
When shopping, keep an eye out for toys with small parts that can be a choking hazard—generally, these toys are labeled 3+, suggests Morency Goldman. Though 2-year-olds seem much more advanced than babies and younger toddlers, they’re still too young to handle toys with small parts.
As any parent knows, babies and toddlers grow into new stages, and their interests change in a flash. Consider how long they’ll be able to use the toy you buy. And, whenever possible, look for toys with multiple applications since these items will be more likely to hold your little one’s attention for a longer time.
Similarly, your 2-year-old is rapidly developing all kinds of important language, social, cognitive, and motor skills. Look for toys—ones with letters, colors, numbers, and other educational components—that help foster the skills they’re working on when you begin shopping.
What are must-have gifts for 2-year-olds?
Two-year-olds are new at life and love novelty. You can never predict what any kid will end up becoming obsessed with, but 2-year-olds are generally fans of illustrated children’s books, animal figurine sets, finger puppets, brightly colored bath toys, alphabet blocks, crayon sets, and simple musical instruments like mini drums or xylophones.
What do you gift a 2-year-old boy?
Two-year-old boys are bustling with energy and curious about life. Give them something fun and interactive that will allow them to explore and learn new skills. Like an age-appropriate ride-on toy, building blocks, simple puzzles, coloring books, a musical instrument, or a whimsical pop-up book.
How do you explain gift giving to a 2-year-old?
The act of gift-giving is self-explanatory and does not require language to be understood. But you can help ritualize the act of giving and receiving by wrapping presents to create suspense, using simple language to let them know you are giving them a special gift, and encouraging them to say thank you.
Why Trust the Spruce?
This roundup was written by Brigitt Earley, who has written and edited hundreds of gift guides for various publications over the course of the last 10 years, including The Spruce's lists of best gifts for the whole family, best virtual gifts, and best Christmas gifts for your best friend. Additional research was done by Julia Fields, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays since October 2021. Before that, she covered similar topics including toy reviews, product round-ups, interviews with experts, and more.