Editor's Picks: Toys for Two Year Olds
Updated November 2016
Two year olds are simply a blast to play with! At this age, many of them will start showing interest in real building toys and train sets. They're likely to start figuring out more complex puzzles at this stage, and may be ready for peg puzzles (which require development of the pincer grip) and/or simple multi-piece jigsaw puzzles this year. Pretend play will open up whole new worlds: for example, play kitchens and food, vehicles, dolls, and so on. As toddlers who are becoming increasingly confident in their physical play, two year olds often can't get enough of ride-on toys; some more advanced two-year-olds may even be ready for a balance bike. Art supplies such as crayons and finger paints are great for promoting fine motor skill development and artistic expression.
Below are our editor's picks for two-year-old toys by subcategory:
Note: Our editors developed this list by summarizing TotScoop parent favorites and adding a few hand-picked editor favorites and new releases. Our picks are 100% unbiased — we never accept compensation in exchange for coverage. That said, this page may contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small commission on any purchases that you make (at no cost to you); see our full disclosure.
You may also be interested in the following related guides:
Blocks & building toys
Most two year olds are ready to start enjoying basic block and building sets. Any set made of safe materials (including wooden blocks and safer plastics with non-toxic paints/finishes) is a good choice. Here are a few of our favorites.
These old-school, quality blocks are great for stacking and open-ended building, and have great educational value as well (they feature letters, numbers, and animal pictures on the sides). Uncle Goose also produces blocks featuring a number of other alphabets/languages.
We love HABA, and this 102-piece block set is no exception. The blocks are made from solid, untreated beach wood, and are satin smooth and incredibly well crafted. When you're ready, you can easily expand your child's collection by adding on other HABA block sets, people, ball tracks, etc. Also check out similar but smaller (and less expensive) sets from Hape, Plan Toys, and Melissa & Doug.
This is our pick for a great general starter DUPLO set. Other favorites include My First Farm, My First Zoo, My First Construction Site, My First Playhouse, and My First Cars and Trucks.
We also love this DUPLO set: not only can it be used to learn numbers and counting, but it also includes a great basic train with a locomotive and three cars that can be mixed and matched with the rest of your child's collection.
Bristle blocks feature soft bristles that interlock in a way that is less frustrating for young toddlers versus the common building blocks. Since there are a variety of ways to connect each piece, creativity takes hold and your child can build whatever his or her heart desires.
Trains & vehicles
Train sets are top favorites for two year olds. Consider also getting a train/activity table or floor mat with roads on it to house your child's new favorite toy!
Brio is the original wooden train set brand, and still makes some of the best-quality wooden trains around. This is the perfect starter set, including a basic figure-8 track, a locomotive with two trains, a station, and decorative trees.
This wonderful puzzle-train can be used as a puzzle, to improve hand-eye coordination, and for pretend play. The very accessible price only makes it that much more of a winner.
Aspiring firefighters will love this large fire truck. It has an extendible, pivoting main ladder and two removable side ladders. The same line also includes a dump truck, fire truck, school bus, recycling truck, race car, and more. All Green Toys are made of recycled milk jugs (#2 plastic) and are BPA, phthalate, and lead free. See the entire line on Amazon.
If your child is new to puzzles, see our top recommendations for chunky puzzles (along with our general primer on the different stages of puzzles) here. For kids ready to move onto peg puzzles and multi-piece puzzles, see our top recommendations below. As they grow increasingly comfortable, increase the number of pieces.
The classic peg puzzles from Melissa & Doug aren't the highest quality puzzles every (for example, many parents report the tops of the puzzle pieces peeling off quickly), but they are affordable ($6-8 for most puzzles at Amazon) and are available in a wide range of themes. See all Melissa & Doug peg puzzles on Amazon here.
For just a few dollars more per puzzle, Hape offers beautifully crafted wooden peg puzzles ($9-12 per puzzle at Amazon). The tops are painted on for superior longevity. Available themes include farm, emergency vehicles, construction site, alphabet, and numbers. See all Hape peg puzzles on Amazon here.
This set of four mini-puzzles (3, 4, 5, and 6 pieces each) is the perfect introduction to multi-piece jigsaw puzzles. See also this similar set from Haba.
You can't beat the value of these sets of four tiny 12-piece puzzles from Melissa & Doug. They come four to a box and store up very compactly. These puzzle sets are available in multiple themes, including vehicles, construction, dinosaurs, zoo, farm, pets, sea life, and more. Click here to see the entire line on Amazon.
These large, 24-piece floor puzzles from Petit Collage are high quality and feature gorgeous artwork. They are available in several themes, including Ocean Life, Our World, the USA, and Alphabet Kingdom. Note that 24-piece puzzles are most appropriate for precocious two-year-olds or typical puzzlers closer to their third birthday. See the entire line on Amazon.
We love these 9-cube block puzzles from Hape, which can be combined to form six distinct images. You can give a younger child a head start by turning all the cubes to the correct side (e.g., all sheep pieces have a red background). Older kids will be able to sort the cubes and put all the puzzles together on their own. Available in both Farm and Zoo themes.
We've scoured the market, and Hape is our top pick for wooden alphabet puzzles. The quality is incredible, and the pieces stand on their own so you and your child can start spelling out words together. We recommend getting the uppercase rather than the lowercase version, as that is usually what is taught first.
These fantastic puzzle pairs are made out of thick, high-quality cardstock, and feature letters A through Z as well as numbers 1 through 10. Perfect for helping your little one to learn his letters and numbers while having fun!
Two year olds are just beginning to engage in imaginative play. Popular toys for this age group include play kitchens & food, tea sets, market and grocery store toys, toy shopping carts, toy vacuums and lawnmowers, fire stations, barns with animals, dollhouses, dolls and doll strollers, etc. Here are some of our favorites.
Hape is our top pick for play kitchens — they make one that both kids and parents will love. It's made of wood (plywood), is finished with non-toxic paint, and won't be an eyesore in the kitchen or playroom. Also check out their coordinating cookware set.
Hape's Chef's Choice and other food sets can be used either together with a play kitchen, or for standalone play. Hape's play food is made of wood and finished with non-toxic paints; many pieces feature velcro for easy cutting and reassembly. See the entire line on Amazon here. See also similar sets from Plan Toys, HABA, and Melissa & Doug.
No one does tea time better than Green Toys. Your child will love this set as much as his stuffed animals do. The dishes are food-safe, in case you want to add some real beverages or snacks. Also check out their matching cookware & dining set. All Green Toys are made from recycled milk jugs (#2 plastic) and are BPA, phthalate, and lead free.
We love Janod's Story Boxes for their high quality wooden pieces, non-toxic paint, and playset backdrop (which cleverly doubles as a storage box). They come in several themes, including Farm, Circus, Firefighters, City, Safari, and more. See them all on Amazon here.
The Playmobil 1.2.3 playsets are designed for youngest builders, from 18 months old. They feature larger scale, less complex parts than the main Playmobil line. The Large Farm featured here is a 2-year-old favorite. See the complete Playmobil 1.2.3 line on Amazon here.
When your child is ready for her first doll, our pick is these Corolle dolls from France. They are lifelike, lightweight, soft, and bean-filled (for posability). They are available with different skin tones and outfits; accessories (e.g. stroller, cradle, etc.) are also sold separately. See the entire Corolle line (with different skin tones, hair colors, etc.) on Amazon here.
This popular Little People set is our pick for your toddler’s first dollhouse. This house features interactive sounds to help encourage creative role play. It comes with three dolls, all compatible with the full Little People line, plus a removable table and chairs. All of the removable pieces store in the folding dollhouse, making clean up a breeze.
Dress-up and role play are key parts of pretend play. Melissa & Doug costumes are convincing and durable. Each costume comes with accessories to really allow your child to play any role or character. This popular firefighter costume comes with a jacket, helmet, badge, customizable name tag, fire extinguisher, and even a bullhorn with sound effects. Check out all of Melissa & Doug's costumes on Amazon here.
Musical & electronic toys
For our top musical instrument picks for toddlers, see our guide to toys for one year olds here.
When your child places a letter tile into the reader, the speaker plays a song about the letter and the sound it makes. Educational and fun! The reader and the tiles attach to the refrigerator or any other magnetic surface, which is great for keeping your toddler occupied during dinner prep. LeapFrog also makes a magnetic numbers set.
Designed for kids ages two through four, this toy laptop will recite your child's name, teach the alphabet and corresponding animal names, and play a number of different songs.
Designed for ages two through four, this learning system allows children to explore both school and life skills through a variety of interactive activities and games. The system comes with an activity sampler book; additional activity books are available when your child is ready to delve in in more detail.
Ride-ons & bikes
Traditional ride-ons (either foot-powered or parent-powered), scooters, tricycles, and balance bikes are all great choices for this age. Here are some of our favorites.
This classic foot-powered ride-on is a favorite with toddlers. If you've got a backyard, this or another ride-on like it is a must have.
This top-rated mini-scooter is perfect for two year olds. It's lightweight and low to the ground, and has two front wheels for stability. We haven't met a kid yet who doesn't love this thing!
This classic trike from Radio Flyer has a long lifespan: it converts from a push trike (up to 24 months, with parent handle and no pedals) to a transitional trike (24-36 months, with pedals and parent handle) to a classic trike (3-5 years, with pedals but no parent handle).
The FirstBIKE is our top pick for balance bikes for kids 18 months through three years old. It rides great, and has unmatched safety features including recessed bolts, a hand brake, and a turning limiter to limit over-steering. The tires are air-filled, and so provide excellent cushioning and traction. It will fit older toddlers (wearing 3T pants) out of the box; an optional lowering kit ($13) is recommended for younger kids (wearing 2T or 24 mo. size pants).
The Strider is the most popular balance bike in the US, and with good reason. Like the FirstBIKE, it's also an excellent choice for two-year-olds, and is slightly more affordable. One of the highlights of the newer Sport model is its adjustability: with the included extra seat and seatpost, it fits most kids 18 months through 5 years. As a result, it's a great choice if you want a bike that will last for several years, and/or if you want to be able to share a bike between multiple siblings. Other features include a footrest, an optional brake, and foam tires (which are lightweight and will never go flat, but won't provide quite as much cushioning or traction as air-filled tires).
Arts & crafts
Crayons and paints (either finger paints or paints applied with jumbo brushes) are great basic choices to encourage two year olds to explore color and express themselves. Most two year olds also love (and have sufficiently developed fine motor skills to manipulate) Play-doh, rubber stamps, and stickers.
Sure, you can pick up Crayola crayons anywhere... but for smoother glide and more vibrant color, try beeswax crayons. These Faber-Castell crayons are our pick for a reasonable compromise between performance (great glide and color, and jumbo size and triangular shape perfect for youngest artists) and price. If nothing but the best will suffice, check out Stockmar crayons, which are very expensive but are used in Waldorf schools.
Moulding with your fingers is for suckers, people! Your kids will be able to take their Play-Doh game to the next level with this insane tool set. The central tool is the "Fun Factory" tool, which with the help of the accessory rails allows your child to extrude Play Doh in a number of fun shapes. A number of cookie cutter type cutters are also available.
Melissa & Doug stamp sets are excellent value: they include not only a broad range of stamps and a washable, non-toxic ink stamp pad, but also a small set of colored pencils for additional detail. (Parents report that the stamp pad sometimes arrives dried out, but even if you expect to have to replace it, the set is still pretty good value.) They come in a number of themes, including animals, vehicles, rainforest, fairy garden, alphabet, etc. See all Melissa & Doug stamp sets on Amazon here.
These ingenious auto-coloring boards (your child just colors the obscured pictures with a water pen, and the colored background is magically revealed) are perfect for occupying toddlers who don't yet have the fine motor skills to draw detailed objects on their own. They're also completely mess-free, making them perfect to take along to restaurants or on a trip. See here to view the entire line on Amazon.
Two year olds are suckers for stickers.. and so what could be better (in the mind of a two year old) than a huge sticker book featuring multiple scenes and reusable stickers? The stickers will also adhere to glass, mirrors, etc. around the house. They are available in a range of themes including farm, city, vehicles, play house, food, faces, and more. View them all on Amazon here.
This is one of the few (board or board-like) games rated for two year olds, and it's a great one. It is a cooperative game (meaning the players all work together to win), and teaches basic counting and color recognition skills as well as the concept of taking turns. There's also a slightly more advanced version available for ages 3+.
Transitioning to the big tub opens up lots of new possibilities for bath toys! Not only can you go bigger, but your two year old will probably also be ready for some educational content with his bathtime fun. Here are some of our favorites:
Green Toys makes some fantastic bath toys, and this is one of our favorites for the big tub. It's a large ferry that comes with two mini cars — which your child can drive on or off of the ferry via an extendible ramp. Like all Green Toys, it's made from recycled milk jugs (#2 plastic) and is BPA, lead, and phthalate free. The Submarine from Green Toys is another favorite. See more bath toys from Green Toys here.
These foam letters and numbers float in the water, stick to bathtub walls, and have great educational value. According to the manufacturer, the foam is non-toxic.