A round up of gifts for one-year-olds.
Credit: Micro Kickboard, mudpuppy, Green Toys Inc., ©Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2022

The Best Toys for 2-Year-Olds

published Jul 27, 2022
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This feature is part of Cubby's Gift Edit, our editor-curated collection of gift ideas for every occasion. Need more inspiration? Check out all our guides here.

When my daughter was two, it was so fun for me to watch her come into herself. She suddenly had opinions — strong ones — and those opinions and preferences showed in the toys she chose to play with. Many of the toys on this list are ones she and her friends gravitated toward at two years old and still play with at four years old. 

What to Look for in Toys for 2-Year-Olds

Despite the moniker “the terrible twos,” two-year-olds are such fun people. They’re so curious about the world, and they’re learning how to be a human. As such, they enjoy toys that mimic real life. Most two-year-olds are now jumping, running, and talking up a storm. Look for toys that help support these new developmental milestones. Many two-year-olds still put toys in their mouths, so stay away from anything labeled 3+ to prevent choking. 

Our Top Pick

Our top pick, the IKEA DUKTIG Play Kitchen, is $99. We love it because it’s an open-ended toy, and it’s the ultimate toy to mimic real life. While it’s one of the pricier items on our list, it’s a good price for a play kitchen, and toddlers will play with it for hours.

Toys Under $20

1 / 9

Puzzles are a great challenge for two-year-olds, and this one with thick pieces and a reusable storage pouch ensures durability. Puzzles help them develop spatial reasoning, hand-eye coordination, and perseverance.

2 / 9

KiwiCo crates are fun gifts because they come monthly if you order a subscription. The crates are designed by educators and child development professionals, and they’re tested by kids. Some themes in the Koala Crates include camping, rainbows, doctor’s visit, and ocean games.

3 / 9

Playing games with two-year-olds can be tricky; they need something with very simple directions. This bingo game provides just that. With only four playing pieces on each card and simple directions, most two-year-olds will be able to play this game without getting frustrated.

4 / 9

Exploring music and sound is excellent for brain development, and this toy lets them get their whole body involved. The play mat plays animal sounds, musical instruments, and melodies. Being able to stand on one foot is a skill expected between the ages of two and three, making this an ideal toy to help develop that skill.

5 / 9
was $19.99

Many two-year-olds enjoy building. While an adult will probably have to help put this set together, kids can work on their pretend play skills as they take off to the moon once it’s assembled.

6 / 9

Baby dolls are great gifts for all ages and genders; the play options are virtually endless. This doll is large, soft, and budget-friendly.

7 / 9

Parents of two-year-olds are always looking for ways to help them burn off some energy. This scavenger hunt game does just that while also teaching shapes, colors, language, turn-taking, and more.

8 / 9
Green Toys

Like everything from Green Toys, this dump truck is made of 100% recycled plastic. The truck is even dishwasher safe, so your little one can take it on all sorts of adventures, and it will be easy to clean up at the end of the day.

9 / 9

This guitar is a step up from the shoebox many of us played as kids. In addition to pre-recorded songs, it also comes with a songbook so kids can learn to play seven nursery rhymes.

Toys $20 – $40

1 / 9
Melissa & Doug

Let them practice their cutting skills before it’s time to hand over a real knife with this food chopping set. It’s the ideal toy to pull out when you’re trying to make dinner and need your toddler occupied for a few minutes. The chopping also helps develop the muscles kids will later need to hold a pencil and write.

2 / 9

Watching cars go on Smart Wheels tracks is fun for kids and adults alike. This set sends a car down a spiral road and includes SmartPoints that activate sounds on the car. Smart Wheels playsets connect to each other, so you can make a huge track if you have more than one set.

3 / 9

Each figurine in this set has a corresponding train car, allowing kids to play with the set as a whole or with a single figurine. Simple playsets like this set the stage for children to develop their own stories and play scenarios.

4 / 9

Rocking and swinging toys help toddlers develop their vestibular system, which is responsible for balance and awareness of our bodies in space. Of course, your two-year-old won’t know that; they’ll just know that rocking on their whale is fun!

5 / 9

Exploring with finger paints is so beneficial, but two-year-olds are still likely to stick those paint-covered fingers in their mouths. This organic vegan finger paint is taste-safe, so you can let them create beautiful art without worrying about them ingesting the paint.

6 / 9

A ride-on toy made of 90% reclaimed plastic that also encourages recycling? Count me (and my kids) in! The toy includes a shape sorter and other interactive elements.

7 / 9
Fat Brain Toys

Water play can be very calming and therapeutic, and the bathtub is a great place to take a two-year-old when they’re having a rough day. This toy makes bath time even more fun. The slide suctions to the side of the tub, and the penguins stack, float, and slide!

8 / 9
The Tot

These beautiful blocks make building and stacking artistic and educational. Hold them up to a window or put them on a light box to enhance the beautiful colors. This set includes 20 pieces — just enough to build unique creations without being overwhelming.

9 / 9

This waterfall set can be stacked to make one tall toy, or kids can take it apart to create four separate play areas. Take it outside on a hot day or set it up in the tub on a rainy day. This set will teach them about cause and effect, and it will also promote pouring skills.

Toys $40+

1 / 7

Scooters are one of the best outdoor gross motor toys. This one is adjustable, and it comes in nine colors. It uses a lean to steer to design, which may be more intuitive for two-year-olds. Make sure you also get a helmet if you plan on buying a scooter.

2 / 7

Play kitchens give two-year-olds a special area where they get to be the boss for once. This one has a cooktop that lights up and plenty of space to store their kitchen utensils. If you’re short on space, a smaller kitchen set is fun too, and don’t forget to pick up some play kitchen accessories.

3 / 7
My Toy Wagon
was $60.00

This beautiful wooden ball set teaches kids about cause and effect as they drop the balls and watch them make their way down. The house comes with four chunky balls sized just right for little hands to grab.

4 / 7

Two-year-olds thrive on routine and stability. This book, affirmation card, and snuggler help kids understand the importance of routine. Reinforcing routines is especially important for a two-year-old who might be facing a big change, like starting daycare, welcoming a new sibling, or learning to use the potty.

5 / 7
Fat Brain Toys

These river stones are as fun as it is important for helping toddlers master walking and balancing. It's an effective way to burn off energy inside on a cold or rainy day.

6 / 7

This small but mighty climber includes two types of steps, a slide, a deck, and a tent. The camping theme encourages imaginative play. Because it’s so low to the ground, it’s an ideal place for toddlers to master climbing before moving on to bigger playgrounds.

7 / 7

Little People toys have been a hit for decades. The toys are also just the right size for little hands, and this set includes many real-life elements that toddlers love to imitate. There are also various play stages you can adjust as your child grows.

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