Best (developmentally appropriate) toys for 2 year olds

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Looking for the best toys for 2 year olds that support development and learning? You’re in the right place.

Developmental Milestones of 2-Year-Olds

I don’t use the term “Terrible Twos,” because really this time of development is so exciting. In fact, there is a growing phenomenon to re-brand this age as the “Terrific Twos,” a term which resonates with me as well. 

As explained by WebMD, two-year olds are going through an extreme phase of cognitive, physical, and linguistic development. No wonder they get cranky sometimes!

Developmental milestones of 2-year olds

What this age group needs & loves

So, what does that mean for toys? Simply put, they crave toys that allow hands-on play that they can use independently. This is a striking contrast to the popular light-up, singing, talking toys that are really popular.

Below, find my favorite toys that support very critical growing and learning of your favorite two-year old.

Table of Contents

Toys for 2 year olds that support independence and cognitive thinking

Where’s Bear? Game. This game is actually wonderful for children ages 1.5-3.5 years old or so. It’s age appropriate– it has many different ways to play and there’s no “winner” or strict turn-taking required. I love this game because I can play it with my son, but he can also play it independently. He enjoys stacking the boxes himself in different sequences, examining the pictures on each one, and hiding Bear himself.

Fanny pack. They make them in kid-sizes! Our friend gifted Eddie one of these when he turned two and it was a huge hit. While sporting one of these, your favorite toddler can carry all of their little treasures and snacks with them.

I recommend including a little train or stuffed animal to put in it when you introduce it, so they see right away that it’s something for carrying special things.

Magic Mom Hack

One of my household rules is “if it fits in your fanny pack, you can bring it.” It’s taught my son size awareness a little bit and I don’t have to carry around his stuff. Double win.

Touch and Feel Puzzles. These touch-and-feel puzzles are a great introduction to puzzles with multiple pieces. Each box comes with three puzzles, and each puzzle only has three pieces. I was surprised how quickly my son took to these. He enjoyed practicing them over and over again and they were a great stepping stone to larger, more complex puzzles.

creative musical play with xylophone

Toys for 2 year olds that support creativity and imaginative play

Play-doh and play-doh tools. Play-doh allows for two-year olds to tap into their imagination. My son, for an example, gets a kick out of making baby worms and mommy worms when we play. I love it because I can throw a can of it in the diaper bag along with a silicone mat and bring it just about anywhere on the go– restaurants, airplanes, etc. 

Sometimes, we play with it just as it is, but sometimes I also put it out with plastic cookie cutters, other shaping tools, plastic kid scissors, or even a spoon or fork from our kitchen. This allows children to practice other fine motor skills.

In general, I try to stay away from the sets that have lots of very specific tools or toys that come with them. That way, my son Eddie is able to utilize his imagination to make a countless number of things.

Magic Mom Hack

Play-doh is made with wheat. If you have a wheat allergy in your home, you can make your very own gluten-free doh at home!

This post by One Creative Mommy has three recipes you can make at home. I used them for household when my son had a wheat allergy.

Sidewalk Chalk. This traditional toy is easy fun. Bring it to the park, your driveway, or grandma’s house. I’ve found that stores like Target or the Dollar Store are the best, most affordable place to buy chalk.

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Toy House. This toy house is fold-able and is one of the few that doesn’t come with any battery-operated features. My son loves to bring all of his little toys over and move them around the house.

There are wooden people that are sold separately by the same company, but for the two-year old age group I love the Little People brand. They’re sturdy, adorable, and are available to reflect people of many different ethnicities. Plus, they have animals, community helpers, and various TV favorites such as Daniel Tiger, Disney Princesses, and Frozen characters.

Car rug. My husband actually bought one of these for our son when he was only months old because he was so excited about it. It stayed tucked away for a while, but around the time my son turned two, he understood that the roads and parking spaces on his rugs were for his cars. This rug comes with four cars included! There is also an extra large one available here. It doesn’t come with any cars, but it would be perfect for a playroom or child’s bedroom.

Toys for 2 year olds that support gross and fine motor development

Duplo Legos. Duplo legos are great for this age group because they have more versatility to them (as opposed to Megabloks that are easier for tinier hands to manipulate). I really like the general set that doesn’t come with one predetermined theme idea (bakery, etc etc). That way, the legos can be used to build an infinite number of things. I will say though, we were gifted two of the construction vehicles sets and one of the train sets and my son will arrange and rearrange those cars for hours.

Magic Mom Hack

While two-year olds are beginning to seek out independence, they also still need to feel supported to feel safe. A toddler carrier is a great way to accomplish this (and help you ditch the stroller!).

Lincoln Log Train Set. This train track is the best track I’ve come across (and trust me when I say, we’ve come across many). It can be assembled and disassembled by a young child independently. This is the only track we’ve had in our house where Eddie hasn’t been constantly frustrated that it’s broken and he can’t fix it (so it’s the only track we have now ha). The actual Lincoln Logs need a bit of scaffolding until a child is 3 or 3.5, but overall the train set is fantastic for any two-year old.

Wooden train blocks. If your house is like my house, trains are always a hit. I love this set because it can be assembled and reassembled many different ways, giving children the opportunity to practice their fine motor control.

Toddler climbing toys. Toddlers are hardwired to move their bodies, climb, jump, and wiggle. Adding a climbing toy to your home or yard can provide hours of entertainment, while promoting gross motor development and physical exercise. Find the top toddler climbing toys here.

Toy shopping cart. I’m always very hesitant to buy larger toys because we’re tight on space at our place, but this one was well worth it. We’ve had it almost two years now and it still gets regular use. It allows Eddie to practice his gross motor skills and also the transporting schema.

Scooter and helmet. This one really allows two-year olds to get outside and use their big muscles. It was really important to me that we bought a scooter that was fold-able, had an adjustable handle bar and a sturdy brake. As it turns out, that’s not an easy thing to find both of those things in a two-year-old sized scooter. We ended up getting this Goobler one that we love.  I think we are going to get a few years of use out of it.

Want to read more about toddler scooters? Check out my comprehensive review of the top ones here.

Magic Mom Hack

When we got our Goobler scooter, we sprung for the one with light-up wheels so my son would be easier to spot at night.

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