Don’t Buy These Toys for 2-Year-Olds (They Will Hate Them)

Last Updated on December 10, 2021 by admin

Pictured in featured image: VTech Move and Zoom Racer

Most of the posts about “annoying toys” floating around the internet focus on toys that annoy parents, not kids. (But hey, toys aren’t FOR parents, are they?)

Toys that actually annoy kids are more rare — because, of course, they’re designed to do the opposite. But there are a few toys that actually do annoy kids, specifically at age 2.

Any toy that frustrates a 2-year-old because it was designed for older kids is one thing. But there are a few toys out there that LOOK like they would be fun for young toddlers that end up being frustrating instead.

Of course, there are more types of toys to avoid for 2-year-olds, including many that are choking hazards (such as typically-sized marble runs), and “toys” that can do permanent damage to your furniture (such as non-washable art supplies).

But here are the toys that are actually marketed for 2-year-olds that they will hate (or at least just try once and toss aside).

Remote Control Cars and Motorized Cars

This VTechMove and Zoom Racer was motorized. My toddlers much preferred to push trucks around than watch this one drive itself.

This one might be contentious, but it’s a no-brainer for me.

2-year olds don’t need motors and technology. They are hands-on, and if they’re anything like mine, they freaking love toy vehicles that they can “drive” themselves by pushing them along the floor or the ground. As I mentioned before in my post on play dough and play sand for 2-year-olds, my son also liked to get his vehicles “stuck in mud,” which is not conducive to toy vehicles with batteries and gears.

Remote control cars and trains that run along a motorized track are annoying because running them manually along the floor might break them. So 2-year-olds have to deal with adults freaking out and explaining to them that, no, you can’t push the brand new car/truck/train.

If you really want to buy a motorized vehicle set for a 2-year-old, you might want to look at this Duplo motorized train, which is described as a “push to start” and “push to stop.” In my opinion, this is a genius development. (At this point, I’ve recommended Duplo so many times and for so many toy categories that I think I’m officially their biggest fan.)

Duplo Motorized Train Set, $119

On the other hand, toys where the cars drive themselves or toddlers attempt to control the car with a remote are just better for older kids. I’d argue that you could probably skip motorized vehicles entirely until kids are kindergarten age or older, as there are plenty of really cool vehicles available for the same prices that don’t require batteries. (Batteries are just annoying for everyone. Don’t we have enough to deal with in our lives with out adding that little hiccup?)

This is how my kids like to play with toy vehicles.

Costumes (Especially Ones That Include Hats)

My barely-3-year-old loved to indulge in the occasional mask-wearing.

I feel pretty confident in leaving costumes off my website entirely because they’re just not for toddlers. 

Again, it’s difficult to make such sweeping generalizations about all 2-year-olds. I guess some older 2-year-olds might voluntarily wear a sparkly princess tutu, for example.

But most costumes, especially ones that require masks or headwear, will be ripped off in earnest by 2-year-olds — especially younger ones. My oldest showed about zero interest in costumes before age four. My younger son, shown here as Catboy right after his third birthday, did get into the occasional cape wearing, though. I started to wonder if I had been wrong about costumes as gifts 2-year-olds. 

Then, on Halloween, I tried to cajole my little 2-year-old nephew into wearing a cowboy hat for a minute. His resistance was immediate and vigorous. When I thought back to my own kids’ toddler Halloweens, I remembered similar struggles.  

Most costumes do say that they’re designed for ages 3 and up. But I think it’s still worth mentioning that it’s a good idea to limit toddler-costume-forcing for rare occasions. 

Anything With Parts That Don’t Fit Easily

Some reviews say this truck doesn’t actually fit into the garage! That makes it a no-buy for me.

I didn’t experience this firsthand with any of my kids’ toys. But, I did really want to add this Green Toys fire station to my list of recommended miniature sets — until I read several reviews saying that the fire truck doesn’t fit in the garage! Oh man. My kids would have been so pissed. 

Along those lines, little figurines that are a struggle to get in and out of tiny doors are annoying. My kids kind of ignored the little drivers that came with a lot of their Green Toys sets completely, which is fine. (They tend to give the vehicles themselves the power of personality anyway.)

A runner-up in this category is toys whose pieces don’t move even though they look like they should — like a cement truck with a barrel that doesn’t turn, or a door on a toy house that looks like it will open up but actually doesn’t.

Honorable Mention: Bubbles

I kind of hate to add bubbles to this list. They’re such a classic staple entertainment for little kids — and they’re so budget-friendly! 

But, do I think most of the people who try to blow bubbles for a 2-year-old will ultimately find the experience frustrating for everyone. That’s because most 2-year-olds, reveling in their newfound and blossoming independence, will insist on trying to blow the bubbles themselves. You can just resign yourself to this and give them the bubbles, which will ultimately end up all over their mouth and on the ground, and maybe just call it a draw. 

But I think, in retrospect, I should have invested in a bubble machine for this age group instead. Related: Staff Pick: Bubble Machine for 2-Year-Olds.