Puzzles are a fun, affordable gift that encourage fine motor skills and cognitive development, and there are plenty of puzzles designed just for 2-year-olds that are well-loved. (Whether their parents will love picking up all the pieces is a different story.)
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Basic Puzzles for 2-Year-Olds
Puzzles geared for 2-year-olds all have larger pieces that are easy for little hands to grab, either with pegs or by being taller than the background board. These puzzles take the guesswork out of figuring out which piece goes where, but still provide the satisfaction of fitting the pieces into the right spots.
The company Melissa and Doug seems to dominate the market for this category. My son likes trucks, so we have their very popular construction site puzzle.
Finally, for a really unique gift, try a personalized name puzzle (shown right). These are a cool way to help toddlers learn about letters and spelling, and they look great on display in their bedrooms, too.
Puzzle Pairs for 2-Year-Olds
Puzzle pairs introduce kids to the next step in puzzle play: actually fitting pieces together. These puzzles can also can teach numbers and matching. They’re great for toddlers who may have graduated from basic puzzles and are ready to learn counting. There are a lot more puzzle pair options marketed to the 3-and-up crowd with smaller pieces, but the brand shown right is well-reviewed and made just for younger toddlers.
Busy Boards for 2-Year-Olds
2-year-olds are fascinated with opening and closing doors and fasteners (which is just one of the many reasons why you can never take your eyes off them). That’s why 2-year-olds, especially younger ones, love latch boards, also sometimes called activity boards or “busy boards.”
Crafty, hands-on types might try making one themselves (here are some ideas), or you could just go for the tried-and-true Melissa and Doug latch puzzle, shown here, for $20.
The puzzle is suggested for ages 3 and up, likely because its small parts could become choking hazards if they fell off. However, the reviews say it’s sturdily built, and many user reviews reference 2-year-olds really liking the toy. As always, use discretion and check for loose or damaged parts.
Other Great Puzzle Ideas for 2-Year-Olds
A few more cool options in the puzzle category:
Boikido Stacking Puzzle, $25 – Tots learn to sort shapes and stack them in the right spots in this cute wooden puzzle.
Puzzle Play Mat, $40 – These, large foam floor mats double as puzzles and as colorful play spaces.
Tomy Hide n Squeak Eggs, $11 – Six colorful eggs – each fits into its own space in a carton, and each has a shell that’s perfect for a 2-year-old to take apart and fit back together.