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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 great, interactive options that might just help you keep the busiest child you know occupied long enough for you to finally check something off of your to-do list.
As toddlers get older, they begin to enjoy pretend play sets, trikes and scooters, puzzles, building sets, coloring books and basic craft supplies, early games, trains and racetracks, and musical instruments, says Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in South Overland Park, Kansas.
Here, the best toys for two-year-olds on the market.
YGJT Baby Balance Bike
A small, low-profile, four-wheeled bicycle can help children learn the fundamentals of riding. Use it indoors—or out—to help little ones develop confidence and learn balance, plus the feeling of going both backwards and forwards. The toy bike comes in eight fun colors, so you’ll find the perfect shade for your son or daughter.
Lovevery Play Kits
Each play kit is specially designed by academics, researchers, and healthcare practitioners to target your child’s specific age bracket, ensuring each toy is right on target in terms of both skill set development and interest. Boxes, which include items like puzzles, matching games, and mini science experiments, are divided into three-month age ranges to make sure your child is getting them right when they'll be more useful.
VTech Touch and Swipe Baby Phone
If your toddler is always reaching for your phone, this toy version will delight both of you. The touch screen mobile has 12 light-up pretend apps that are just like the ones you have installed—a pretend calendar, clock, weather, and more. There’s an educational component, too. The interactive device plays a variety of songs that help teach ABCs, 123s, and first words.
Battat Bristle Blocks
A building set that goes way beyond stacking blocks for hours of fun and imaginative play. The set, which includes 112 pieces interlocking pieces in assorted sizes and vibrant colors, is 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
Like a pet, but better because you won’t end up taking care of it. This silly little dinosaur 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
This silly stuffed animal will delight any Baby Shark fan for hours on end. 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.
Battat Farm Animals Wooden Activity Cube
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
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 safer for toddlers, 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
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 is suitable for a wide range of ages from 18 months to 8 years. The 13-piece kit includes features like maze-like spinners, ramps, and buckets for tons of beneficial STEM play.
Little Tikes Cozy Coupe
There’s a reason this little plastic car has been a household staple for so many years. 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, gas cap that opens and shuts, plus durable tires that spin 360 degrees.
TOP BRIGHT Car Ramp Racer
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 their counting and color identifying skills, too.
Playskool Mr. Potato Head
Another classic toy that has passed the test of time: Mr. Potato Head. Toddlers love playing with all of the different parts and pieces—eyes, ears, accessories, you name it!—to create fun characters with unique faces and expressions. When playing together, the toy provides a great chance to practice identifying different body parts. And if you’re worried about losing all the parts, don’t be: The toy comes with a convenient suitcase for stashing everything.
Learning Friends 100 Words Book
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
What child doesn’t love to play pretend—especially when there’s food involved? This incredibly imaginative food truck offers two sides of toddler-friendly play, complete with more than 20 removable toy pieces, plus plays more than 125 songs, sounds, and phrases to promote speech development.
Melissa & Doug 20 Wooden Animal Magnets in a Box
A simple, yet engaging toy with plenty of educational benefits, your child will love arranging their very own set of 20 zoo animals, whether it's on the floor or on 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.
Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone
Introduce your little one to the wonders of creating music with this high-quality wooden toy. The multifunctional instrument can be played in a variety of ways—use it as a xylophone, a keyword, 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.
The New York Doll Collection Soft Baby Doll
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 little 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 story time.
What to Look For in Toys For 2-Year-Olds
Always consult the packaging for the manufacturer’s recommended age. This guideline will help you determine whether the toy is safe and engaging enough (or too complicated!) for your child, says 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+, says Morency Goldman. Though two-year-olds seem much more advanced than babies and younger toddlers, they’re still too young to handle toys with very 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 longer periods of time.
Similarly, your two-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.