If you’re looking for a toy idea for a 2-year-old, it’s tough to go wrong with miniature versions of the stuff they see their parents using.
Pretend toys are great because toddlers love to feel like they’re helping, and these toys actually DO help parents because they encourage toddlers to join in on regular household tasks instead of begging for the parents’ attention to be elsewhere … at least for a solid 5 minutes.
Toddlers develop the ability for imaginative play throughout their second year and beyond, but age 3 is typically when their creative juices really start “firing on all cylinders,” so maybe that’s why so many of the toys in this category have manufacturer age recommendations of 3+ even though many 2-year-olds would love them.
Pro tip: The more these toys look like what they see their parents using, the better. The bright colors can be fun and don’t necessarily get ignored, but most tots prefer to play with what looks “real.”
NOTE: This article contains affiliate links to toy suggestions. If you click them and buy something as a result, I might get a small percentage of that purchase.
1. Play Kitchens, Cooking and Groceries
Toddlers will get years of use out of a little play kitchen, starting around age 2. Most of the coolest looking wooden kitchens come with “small parts” warnings and are therefore recommended for ages 3+, even though in many cases the small parts are only unattached when the kitchen is pre-assembled.
A quality play kitchen can be a significant investment, so if you’re not ready to spend more than $75 – or if the 2-year-old you’re buying for already has a play kitchen – check out some of these kitchen accessories for under $25:
- play food (look for the kind they can “cut” in half)
- play groceries
- play cookware
- pots and pans
- play dishes
- tiny aprons and oven mitts
2. Yard Work and Gardening
Getting dirty in the yard with dada or mama is like a dream come true for a 2-year-old, especially when there are tools involved.
Younger 2-year-olds still haven’t lost the thrill of just pushing things around for the sake of pushing, so a lawnmower is a pretty good bet if they don’t already have one.
A toy shovel is also a must for 2-year-olds who want to “help” parents shovel snow in the winter, and it can also be used in the garden in warmer months. I’d also suggest a toddler-sized rake, especially for the fall. For spring and summer, give them a watering can so they don’t have to lug the adult-sized model around.
There are also a lot of cool toy power tools (leaf blowers, chainsaws, trimmers) online that I know my 2-year-old son would love, but all of them have choking hazard warnings and 3+ age recos so I feel like I can’t list them here 🙁
Sidenote in Terrible Parenting: The spade and green rake in this popular toy garden tool set have been some of my son’s favorite toys since before he was even 2. But the age suggestion is for 5 and up — these are real metal tools (I’ve even found them useful occasionally) and could do serious damage if they made impact with another child’s head or were fallen on. But the fact that they’re “real” and do a good job moving dirt and leaves is probably what makes them so fun.
3. Cleaning and Laundry
We make my 2-year-old use his toy broom every night after dinner to sweep up all the food that he has thrown on the floor (on accident or otherwise … he has no idea it’s an exercise in responsibility because he thinks it’s fun).
He also likes this toy vacuum sweeper that he got when he was one month shy of turning 2. He used to cry and try to unplug my real, adult sweeper whenever I turned it on. Now he just gets his own and we sweep side-by-side. It does come with a choking hazard warning in case it were to fall apart, and the little removable dirt catcher is too complicated for him, but in general, the idea of a toy vacuum sweeper is a good one.
If you’re looking for a big, exciting cleaning item, there are some pretty cool play laundry sets online that look like they would be fun to keep next to the big washer and dryer.
A toy tool bench is always big draw for kids who love fitting pieces together and using tools (hint: that includes most kids). Tool benches generally cost less than other larger role playing toys such as play kitchens, and can get a lot of use.
But if you’re looking to spend less than $40 or so, try some of these fun toy tool options for under $20:
If a little sibling is on the way or already in the picture, “parenting” toys are a great idea.
A little fold up stroller like the one pictured here is fun for kids to push their stuffed animals and dolls around in.
Other, smaller options:
- baby carriers (the big baby carrier names like Ergo and Moby have their own mini lines for kids, which is great because – again – kids want their toys to look real)
- baby dolls (I love this line and will totally be buying my son one when/if I get pregnant again)
- baby doll accessories like bottles, bibs and diapers
I hope this gave you some good suggestions for that special 2-year-old in your life. If I missed any great pretend toys, please leave your suggestions in the comments.