The 2021 Gift Guide for Imaginative 2-Year-Olds

Last Updated on October 27, 2021 by admin

If you’re looking for a toy that celebrates the joy that 2-year-olds feel when they imitate grown-ups or play a little world of their own imagination, you’re in the right place. This gift guide for imaginative 2-year-olds includes all the best and most engaging toys that encourage toddlers to play pretend.

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The Best Big Gifts for Imaginative 2-Year-Old ($50 or More)

Train Table and Accessories

This beginner set from Brio was designed specifically for toddlers.

Most wooden train sets have a suggested age of 3 and up, either because of choking hazards, or because they’re considered too tricky for a 2-year-old to navigate alone.

2-year-olds also really like to throw, dump and destroy just for kicks — not a great fit for expensive wooden toys.

However, all the reviews I’ve heard personally and read online confirm that wooden train sets and tables are a big hit with 2-year-olds.

They can even ultimately reach all-time-favorite toy status over the years.

This Kidkraft train table comes with the train set, too.

Play Kitchen and Accessories

This play kitchen includes a selection of pots and accessories and costs about $150 on Amazon.

Here are just a few of the benefits of getting a play kitchen for your 2-year-old:

  • they’re good for hours of play
  • they’re used for years starting around age 2
  • they come with an endless supply of imaginary coffee, pancakes, and whatever else you’d like, ma’am

Play kitchens are so popular that many, many companies have created their own models. You have plenty to choose from.

Play Tent

A play tent is another classic toddler toy that inspires imaginative play and can get years of use starting in the toddler years. Your toddler will enjoy having their own little space to sit, hide, and pretend.

Prices vary wildly for play tents. You can find a cheap polyester one for less than $30, or invest in a larger canvas tent (like the one shown here) for $70 or more. Tents also come in a variety of themes, with some shaped like a rocket or a princess castle.

A substantial play tent like this one can encourage independent pretend play. It can also be rotated out to keep things fresh.

Baby Doll and Accessories (Stroller, Crib)

This wooden baby stroller from Melissa and Doug costs about $50

This is a classic toy for toddlers. For one thing, pushing a stroller is fun in and of itself. 2-year-olds know well what it feels to be pushed in a stroller, and having their own stroller to push gives them a taste of what it feels like to be big.

This toy may be especially appealing to those 2-year-olds who watch their parents push a stroller around with a little sibling, or who have a little sibling on the way.

Baby doll options abound, of course, but the best reviewed options generally cost $25 or more. A simple plastic baby doll stroller might be easy to find at a local toy resale shop (that’s where we got ours), or you could invest in a wooden stroller option like the one shown here.

Solid Gift Choices From $20-$50 for Imaginative 2-Year-Olds

Toy Vacuum Sweeper

My own 2-year-old was pretty interested in my vacuum sweeper, so I was excited to find one that worked for him.

The one I chose had real suction, but it broke pretty quickly and took D batteries, which was annoying. I also found that he actually was happy to make the sweeper sounds himself and didn’t necessarily need the toy to make any noise in order to have fun.

I think the thing that will make a toy sweeper the most interesting to kids is how much it looks like the one their parents use.

Toy Lawn Tools

2 year-olds love getting dirty in the yard with dada or mama, 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 play lawnmower is a pretty good bet if they don’t already have one.

There are also a lot of cute gardening tool sets for kids. The Radio Flyer wheelbarrow shown here has lots of Amazon reviews describing it as the perfect size for 2-year-olds, even though the official age recommendation is 3 and up. (Related post: Understanding Small Parts Warnings on Toys)

Toy Cleaning Supplies / Broom

A kids’ broom that actually works is such a good investment. Your 2-year-old will use it mostly for pretending, but as they get a little older they can use it for real to clean up some of their crumbs and other spills.

In fact, I’ve grabbed my kids’ small kitchen broom more than once instead of my full-sized one. Just check the reviews before you buy to make sure the one you’re buying actually works.

Play Tea Party Set

This tea set from Green Toys is just $23 and recommended for ages 2 and up.

The views I read online are pretty split on whether it’s reasonable or not for 2-year-olds to expect to be able to pour actual liquids from their tea sets.

Many of the cutest tea sets out there are made of lightweight metal painted with fun designs. Unfortunately, probably because the paint can chip off, these aren’t recommended for actual food and drink use. Others, like this beautiful tiny wooden tea set, could even get ruined by water.

Although I appreciate that it’s totally fine for 2-year-olds to keep their tea sets dry and running on pure imagination, I like this Green Toys set because it’s actually food safe, too. (Or, as the website states, it “meets FDA requirements for food contact standards.)

If you’re not into the pastel colors, they have another option in primary colors.

Toy Miniature Sets for Toddlers

If a train set seems like a little too much right now or you want other imaginative options for your 2-year-old, you have plenty of options in miniature sets.

I’m a big advocate of Duplo for 2-year-olds. (Related: The Lego Strategy I Wish I’d Used From the Beginning.) I don’t think you can go wrong starting your Duplo collection early, and their mini-figures will likely get more use than other plastic miniatures in the long run.

That said, my kids got a lot of use out of these Daniel Tiger miniatures. We also had a Sesame Street streetscape with miniatures that got a ton of attention, but unfortunately that’s no longer for sale. Other options are Fischer-Price Little People and Fat Brain Toys’ Timber Tots.