Figuring out what to gift the 2-year-old in your life can be frustrating. What do they need that they don’t already have? How can you make sure you’re not contributing to the ever-growing pile of plastic crap but instead providing them with gifts that will enrich their lives and help support their continued growth?
Gifts and toys that will stimulate their creativity and encourage them to mimic the behaviors of adults around them are your best bet. Two-year-olds are “at the beginning stages of pretend play,” says Monica J. Sutton, a New York and New Jersey based Early Childhood and Special Education expert. “At this age, they are feeling confident with walking and moving around on their own. Now they’re ready to really figure out their world.” Sutton recommends giving gifts that allow two-year-olds to play pretend. “Dolls, baby dolls, and accessories encourage children to mimic what they see adults do with babies and with them. They can hold the dolls, feed the dolls, etc.” Dolls are obviously not just for girls, by the way! Sutton also suggests food-related toys that allow children to pretend they are serving a meal, which allows them to work on “social skills, fine motor skills, and language skills.”
With all these recommendations in mind, Scary Mommy has curated the best development gifts and toys for the 2-year-old in your life.
Things With Wheels
Sutton explains that using toys with wheels help children mimic what they see outside in the world or on TV.
It’s never too early to teach toddlers about cleaning up and this miniature replica of a real Dyson vacuum actually works on tiny messes.
Encourage play and imagination with this truck set that makes stacking cars super fun.
This shape sorter and tag along or push toy can go at a snails or a toddlers pace.
A toddler can work up an appetite as they work this ice cream cart! They will also learn colors, how to count, and dance to songs along the way.
Toddlers learn how to stack colorful and numbered blocks in order as they learn how to count. This is also a perfect way to introduce the concept of zero.
Children learn caregiving skills. They can “hold the dolls, feed the dolls, clothe the dolls, and even attempt to brush or comb their hair,” says Sutton. Our top picks:
This French-styled doll is the perfect size for toddler boys and girls to hold and play with. Baby Carolle is also made of vanilla scened soft-to-the-touch vinyl.
Coming in at only 10 inches and less than 10 ounces, this doll is a sweet baby for the little “baby” in your life.
These sweet twin dolls will have you seeing double! At 13 inches long, they’re still small enough for toddlers to cuddle and carry. And check out those adorable pajamas.
“Kitchen toys like cups, plates, pitchers, and more allow children to mimic what they see at home during meal time.”
This full kitchen set will have your little chef cooking up a storm! With real sizzling and bubbling sounds, this 45-piece play set will spark a toddler’s imagination.
Finally your toddler won’t be unloading your cabinets on the kitchen floor with this miniature alternative set of real stainless steel pots and pans. Unfortunately, the banging sounds will be just as loud.
This 25-piece produce set teaches kids colors and the names of their favorite fruits and vegetables.
Food toddlers should actually play with that also promotes color recognition, sorting skills, and counting.
Spark pretend play and imagination with this interactive microwave set that will have a toddler cooking up all sorts yummy treats.
Boxes or Containers
Sutton suggests toys that “allow children to pick up, put in, close and open […] You can use anything with a top that children have to pull off and push on.” She also says that you can give children a ball or stuffed animal that they can then use to put in and take out of a box. “All of this play will help children strengthen their fine motor skills,” she says.
These stackable farm animal blocks feature adorable nesting figurines, numbers, and bright pops of colors to help foster pretend play and develop fine motor skills.
Check out Scary Mommy’s selection of toys here.