The Best Birthday Toys and Gifts for 2 Year Olds

My second baby isn’t a baby anymore. My little girl is two! I’ve shared the best toys for 2 year olds before, but I’ve learned a lot the last two years. And as a mom of two (and one who’s gone through this stage twice) I want to share some of the best toys and gifts for 2 year olds. Kate is wearing this bubble, by the way. 

The Best Birthday Toys and Gifts for 2 Year Olds

We spent a lot of time at home the last two years, and I tested pretty much any toy that might keep my kids engaged and entertained. I’ve learned what works for 2 year olds, and what grows with them, too. I shared a similar list two years ago, and my favorite toys for 18 month olds are still fun for my almost 2 year old. But there are just too many toys my older daughter lost interest in. These are the ones that my kids really play with and continue to play with time and time again. 

What I look for when I buy toys and gifts for 2 year olds

When it comes to buying toys, I’ve found that open-ended toys are the best toys for toddlers. I love educational and learning toys, cause and effect toys, and toys that promote play and creativity. Keep in mind that a 2 year old wants (and needs) to climb, play pretend, and to create (building, arts and crafts etc). There are too many big, plastic toys that they don’t need, and ones that just won’t last. They lose interest in one-function toys like ball drops and car ramps etc. I’ve purchased a lot of toys that we’ve since donated because my kids lost interest in them. Here are the best toys and gifts for 2 year olds. 

But one of the most important things (to me) are toys that my child will continue to play with. I’ve sold and donated so many toys that my girls lost interest in. But if you have a 2 year old and a second on the way, or an older sibling, or even if you’re planning on one child, it’s always best to bring toys that will last into your home. I love educational gifts, but prefer ones that are fun, and will keep my kids engaged. 

American Girl

Bitty Baby

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Dream Collection

Doll Stroller

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Baby dolls: Young children love pretend play, and a baby doll is great gift for 2 year olds. I got Kate a Bitty Baby and doll stroller, and she won’t put her down. It’s so sweet. But the doll she loves most was a $5 miniature cabbage patch kid that we picked up at Target. She named her cupcake and sleeps with her every night. We do have quite the doll collection – maybe 10 of them? But my kids love them more than I ever could have imagined they would. They push their dolls all over the house in strollers, sleep with them, care for them, change their clothes, and tuck them into bed. And please remember that baby dolls are great gifts for both boys and girls! 

Pajamas: Fun pajamas are always a hit. Kids love them and they’re practical, too. I ordered my daughter her first pair of Little Sleepies Pajamas when she was just 10 months old.  It took that one pair before we were hooked. That little girl turns 4 next month and wears Little Sleepies bamboo pajamas almost every night. She loves the fun prints (especially all the treats). I love how soft they are, how long they last, that there’s free shipping on every order over $25 and that the brand gives a % of each sale to Childhood Cancer via Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

Magnetic Blocks: These are a great way to develop fine motor skills. Some kids will start building earlier and others will get into them later. It took my oldest until she was 4 to get really into Magnatiles, and I’m so glad I held onto them. Toddlers and young children can build, learn shapes and colors, and these sets are so much fun. They just came out with some Magnatile dinosaurs – they have been a huge hit with both of my kids.

Screen-Free Audio Player: I put this on every list and gift guide. It’s one of the best gifts you can buy a 1-6 year old. My girls love it and use it all the time. It’s great background while they play, but also the best toy for quiet time. My older daughter no longer naps, but will sit in her room and play with her dollhouse while listening to stories on her Toniebox. We have all their favorite characters in Tonie form, and I’m telling you – it’s just the best toy ever. 

Little Tikes

Water Table

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Melissa and Doug

Ice Cream Counter

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Water Table: This water table is the right size for families who are short on space, or those who don’t want a giant plastic water table in their garage. It’s simple in design, has a small footprint, and is very affordable. Just fill it with their favorite toys and it folds up for easy storage (and takes up very little space) when not in use. The bells and whistles aren’t really necessary – they love this one. 

Ice Cream Counter: We love this gem from Melissa & Doug – it’s the perfect gift. Toddlers love imaginative play, and this toy is it. I’ve heard from parents of 6 year-olds who’s kids still play with this toy, and it’s great for little hands. My 4 year-old has been playing with it for almost 3 years! My girls love playing ice cream shop, and it’s great for learning colors and stacking, too. 

Rubber Road: This is one of the most durable construction toys – it’s completely waterproof and is rugged enough to be played with outside. Use it indoors, or in dirt and sand. If you’re looking for gift ideas that will last for years, this is one of them. A great toy for 2-year-old boys (and of course, girls, too). My girls love theirs!

Cupcake Set: This toy can be played with in a few different ways. Stack cupcakes in the living room, bath, or at the water table. It’s a great birthday gift, and so durable. Green Toys makes eco-friendly, durable, plastic toys that we love to use in the bath or water table. This one is a favorite. 

Learning Friends Book: This is one of those electronic educational toys I would have cringed at years ago. But  when your toddler hates the car, or you need something that will keep them engaged, this is it. My 2 year-old asks for her “animal book” every time we get in the car, and it keeps her happy and entertained. Two is the perfect age for this, but my 4 year old likes it, too. 

Chunky Puzzles: These are a pain to find, but my older daughter who is almost 4 still plays with them, because the pieces can be used as figurines. Learn different shapes and colors, and use the puzzle pieces for open-ended play. 

Figurines: This is the perfect toy for toddlers who love to play pretend. We always end up with figurines for whatever the girls are really into, and they are always one of their most played with toys. My 2 year old carries around a handful of figurines at all times. 

Books: We love storybooks and board books and probably have way too many of them. Here are some of our favorites

Flower Garden Blocks: Ok, so this is one of the best cheap plastic toys ever. It’s one of those things you would think I would hate having in my home, but a friend recommended it, and my girls use it weekly. They make flower gardens and flower towers. My 4 year old still loves it – it’s great for hand-eye coordination and is a lot more fun than basic wooden blocks. There are some small parts that I removed until my 2 year old stopped putting small toys in her mouth, but if you were to pull those out, you could let a 1.5 year old play with this one. 

Cabbage Patch Kids 9″ doll: I was at Target with my younger daughter and we passed one of these on sale for $5. And she lost her mind, so I caved and bought it. She does love her Bitty Baby, but she really loves this thing and sleeps with it every night. 

Stepping Stones: These are great for a child’s development and can be played with indoors and outdoors, too. Learn colors, build strength, jump, and climb. I love this simple toy that strengthens gross motor skills. 

Scoop and Learn Ice Cream Cart: This interactive toy was a gift and both my 2 and 4 year old love it. It’s not too large, which I prefer, and isn’t quiet, which I don’t prefer, but it’s been a huge (huge!) hit, and gets used at least a few times a week. Learn different colors and have lots of fun with this toy. 

DIY a Playhouse: We got our daughter a playhouse for her 2nd birthday and our friends painted it for us since we were in the middle of a crazy few weeks. This is the exact playhouse I really wanted but it was sold out at the time. I love the style. 

Puffy Sticker Play Set: You’ll want to keep a close eye on your 2 year old when playing with this, but it’s one of the best toys for travel and dining out. My 2 year old will sit down with these sets for 15-30 minutes which in toddler minutes is basically an hour. 

Play Kitchen: Play kitchens are great for toddlers and little kids. They’re good for hours of fun – a classic toy that your kids will use throughout early childhood. We have one with a fridge, and if I could do it all over again, I’d save space and skip the refrigerator. 

Musical Instruments: These are the perfect way to get kids dancing, creating, and singing. My husband plays the guitar, so our girls have quite a few instruments and love jamming with dad. 


The Best Active Gifts for 2 Year Olds

Toddler Scooter

We had a toddler scooter similar to this without the handle, but this feels much safer (and is a lot more efficient) for going on walks. And the best part is that it converts to a normal scooter that works for kids up to age 6! The push handle is clutch for walks with younger toddlers who can’t scoot on their own. Push it like a stroller and help them learn to use their legs and balance. Then turn it into a regular scooter once they’re old enough. 


Both my kids love this one! I bought it to help my daughter build up strength (and learn to jump) when she was 2, and it did the trick. It’s a great toy for getting energy out on rainy days or during winter months. And I like that the handle folds over the trampoline. It’s not small but does fold for storage. 

Lily and River

Pikler Cimber

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Lily and River

Balance Board

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Pikler Climber

Another popular toy you’ll see on most lists. It’s great for babies once they start moving around, but my girls were late walkers and didn’t start using it until a little later on. Build gross motor skills, and climb and slide during winter months without leaving your home. We have the rock wall and ladder (both also function as a slide). This is especially nice to have if you live somewhere where it’s cold half the year, and will get used for years and years. 

Balance Board

This is another fun and simple toy that my girls love. We use it as a bridge with our rubber roads, and the girls love climbing the bridge, or using it as a rocker. 

Cozy Coupe

I had this when I was a little girl and can’t believe it’s still around. We were at a friend’s house and my younger daughter spent (almost) the entire time in this car. So I bought one for her. Our driveway is brick so the girls can’t really use their scooters on it, but they can use this car. 

Ride On: You could buy a balance bike, but I saved that for my daughter’s 3rd birthday, and we used this ride-on until then. It’s so cute and spins, so it’s a little more fun. Such a fun toy for little kids – a great choice for 2 year olds.