Your 2-year-old is full of energy and curiosity. She or he can solve simple problems through trial and error and often likes to ‘practise’ an activity over and over until she or he has got it the hang of it. At 2, children also start to pretend more during play, using familiar objects and situations to copy the grown-ups them.
So what kind of toys suit a 2-year-old best? First things first, it’s got to be indestructible. Like, really indestructible. And fun, obviously. Ride-on toys get a big thumbs-up, as do anything that lights up or beeps when you press its buttons. Now that your child’s hand-eye co-ordination is improving, puzzles and simple construction toys can come into the mix, and maybe even some first ventures into drawing and art.
Here is our pick of the best toys for 2-year-olds:
1. MURO, £195
Age: 1 to 5
What it is: A large shape-shifting modular play centre, made from birch and rubber wood, developed with educational psychologists. Essentially a super high-quality busy board, with cogs and pegs and wheels and switches and beads – and all sorts (you get to choose). Available as a 40cm floor cube or wall board (75cm x 40cm).
Why we love it: It’s colourful, durable and packed with so different things to touch and move and play with that it more than lives up to its price tag. Appeals to a wide range of ages (1 tester even reported her 8 year old enjoying it). We think this one’s a keeper.
Is it any surprise it took home a Editor’s Choice award and a Silver gong in the Best Wooden Toy category, in the 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards?
One tester felt it was ‘perfect’ for her inquisitive toddler, and could see her using her imagination and learning new skills. It’s also easy to put together, too. A bonus!
Available from: Muro
Age: 2 to 5
What it is: An alternative to the toy kitchen – an push-along, pastel-coloured stand filled with ice cream combos.
Why we love it: LeapFrog’s latest role-playing toy is visually eye-catching, thanks to the candy-coloured design and the ‘magic ice cream scoop’ which recognises all the different colours and flavours on offer.
It’s fun and imaginative, sure, but there’s also an educational element: a pack of cards detailing orders you can make, which vary in difficulty to follow, giving your little one the chance to understand sequences of numbers.
Be warned, you will find yourself with a craving for a sweet treat after playing 🍦 Which reminds us, we also like the wow factor of the stand ‘gobbling up’ all the left over ice cream.
Available at: £39.99 from Smyths Toys, Argos and for full-price from The Entertainer
Age: 18 months to 3
What is it: A train children can build, which also helps them learn how to count from 1 – 9.
Why we love it: The objective is simple: put all the blocks together to make a train, but make sure the numbered blocks line up in the correct order. It’s a nice and low-key introduction to numbers for children just learning to count.
The train was a hit during its MadeForMums product test – with tots across the recommended age range giving it a go. Mums said it helped keep their kids’ attention, and that their little ones got real satisfaction from helping each other build, and from successfully putting the chunky bricks in the right order to complete the train.
It also comes with 3 DUPLO figures, who can ride aboard the locomotive. Our mums said the figures were one of the most captivating part of the toy for their little ones! You can even pop one in the drivers seat… but which character will they choose? 🤔
Available at: John Lewis, Argos and the official LEGO store
Age: 1 to 5
What is it: A uniquely interactive fire station play set.
Why we love it: Like all Toot-Toot toys, we simply love the different ways youngsters are engaged. With the Fire Station in particular, there are lots of manoeuvrable elements. There’s a vehicle flipper, a ladder they can pull out, a fire hose they can turn – among other things.
That’s in addition to the sing-song melodies it can play, the fact that all Toot-Toot tracks and cars can be played with together, and like the others, this set also features SmartPoints. When the fire truck hovers over, songs they can singalong to are played.
Available at: Smyths Toys, and for £33 from Selfridges
Age: 18 months+
What it is: A large (95cm x 115cm) unicorn-drawn carriage with a pull-along handle that converts to a hold-in-your-(toddler)-hand rein.
The floor can be removed for some small-foot-propelling action. The door opens, and the unicorn moves right and left and make a clip-clop sound effect as you trot along – and the horn lights up. Comes with a toy storage box inside and a ‘parent console’ on top. Some assembly required.
Why we love it: This unicorn update on last year’s bestselling Princess Horse & Carriage ain’t small or subtle but, to a toddler, it sure has maximum kerb appeal.
Our child testers were beside themselves with excitement at the sight of it – and their parents liked how easy it was to pull along, its 2-way reins and the storage console on top (perfect for your keys and phone).
That’ll be why it took home SILVER in the Best Ride-On Toy category at the 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards.
Available from: Smyths Toys, Amazon and Very
What it is: A smiley toy version of the CBeebies character Bing, which interacts with your child through phrases and songs.
Why we love it: He sings after a good squeeze, and pressing his tummy activates lots of fun phrases. A great toy for comforting little ones.
Available at: Argos
Age: 2 to 5
What it is: A 15-piece puzzle that, put together, transforms into a bustling, British red bus.
Why we love it: Orchard Toys jigsaws are always super-sturdy, so your child can piece them together again and again. And we love the character details in this set – where could each passenger be headed?
Available at: Orchard Toys and Ocado
What it is: A wooden safari truck with 2 rangers, and 7 animals that each fit into the truck though a differently shaped hole in the side.
Why we love it: Well, it’s a truck and a shape-sorter, with extra alligator/elephant/hippo/giraffe/lion/zebra/rhino animal action: that pretty much scores a bullseye on the 2-year-old dartboard of play fun.
It’s a great toy for encouraging hand-eye co-ordination and shape recognition (obviously), as well as being a good springboard for all sorts of imaginative play (the set comes with some nice play ideas).
We also like that there’s a female ranger figure, as well as a male one, and that the cargo door lifts up so your child can unload the animals.
Available at: Amazon for £13.60 and Argos
Age: 18 months+
What it is: The classic toddler ride-on car, with horn, ‘ignition switch’ and open-and-close petrol cap.
Why we love it: The Cozy Coupe has been a bestselling ride-on for 30 years, and that’s simply because it’s a toddler magnet. There’s something about the open-and-close door, the perfectly pint-sized seat, the steering wheel and the bright yellow roof that just warms the cockles of every 2-year-old heart.
We love this classic red anniversary edition but the Coupe also comes in a variety of other colours and looks (including dinosaur, truck, police car, fairy and fire truck).
Available at: Smyths Toys
Age: 12 months+
What it is: An agricultural toy set, featuring a farmer, a cow, and their light-up tractor.
Why we love it: Each of the toys in the set is is colourful, chunky and easy to grip, and you can hitch up the trailer to the tractor and lower the ramp to load the cow. If your child presses the tractor’s green ‘chimney’, he or she will see lights and hear some good sounds.
Available at: Early Learning Centre and for £18 at John Lewis
Age: 18 months+
What it is: A compact, wooden, self-assembly kitchen, with large play oven, sink, shelf, clock, and hob, measuring 62.2cm (H) x 43cm (W) x 12.6cm (D). Comes with a range of wooden accessories, including a ladle, spatula, frying pan and saucepan.
Why we love it: The child judges who did the testing for our MadeForMums Toy Awards 2016 rated this gorgeous kitchen a worthy ‘gold’ winner for its fun colours, sturdy build, small-child-friendly height and, best of all, the clicking hob-control knobs. Read more about what our judges (and their mums) thought.
Available at: Amazon (for £46.02) and Argos
Age: 18 months+
What it is: A plastic toy boat with a carry handle and removable roof. Comes with 3 little people, a dog, suitcases, 2 fish, a dove, a whale and a rubber ring.
Why we loved it: This toddler-friendly-sized boat (24cm high, 34cm wide and 14cm deep) is light and very portable, while still being nicely robust. And it properly floats in water (not all toy boats do, you know).
Our MadeForMums Toy Awards child judges all loved stowing the play figures away in the hull. And we have to say we think the animal figures – especially the dog in his rubber ring – are very cute.
Available at: Amazon (for about £30) and George
Age: 2 to 5(ish)
What it is: A trainer scooter that adjusts from 4 wheels, to 3 wheels to 2, as your child gets older and more co-ordinated. The handlebar height is adjustable and the whole scooter folds in half for easy storage. Comes in blue and green, or pink and yellow, and with a small tool kit.
Why we love it: It’s a brill starter scooter for toddlers, and we really like the stage-by-stage wheel changes that allow your child to build up confidence as they master the art of balancing and steering.
That’s why it was the gold winner in Best Scooter category at the 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards. Our testers fell ‘in love’ with this scooter, also because it’s light, easy to ride, and excellent value for money.
Available at: Argos and Amazon
Age: 18 months to 5
What it is: A set of chunky LEGO DUPLO bricks that fit together to make a rocket and a (slightly strange-looking) planet.
Why we love it: The bricks are well designed for small hands, and this simple, stacking build is a great way to introduce your child to the construction wonders of LEGO. We also love the bricks decorated with 1, 2, and 3: the perfect launchpad (groan) for some early number-recognition and lots of excitement doing ‘3,2,1, LIFT OFF!’ countdowns.
Available at: Waterstones and Amazon
Age: 18 months+
What it is: A cute cuddly monkey with a whole set of clothes that can be taken off and put on again.
Why we love it: It teaches proper real-life skills without being all worthy and dull. The 11 ‘dressing activities’ your child can tackle include buttons, snaps, hooks, loops, buckles, zips and ties: that some serious practice for those fine motor-skills!
We can’t promise that you won’t end up being the one who puts the clothes back on (especially the lace-up sneakers) after your child rips them all off – and we certainly can’t promise that your child will learn to dress him or herself anytime soon – but this is a good, fun start…
Available at: Amazon, and for £33.96 from Smartoys
Age: 18 months to 5
What it is: A 5 x 18cm recording microphone, which lets your child record a song or a spoke message, and play it back. Easy-to-figure-out buttons show you how to speed up, slow down or even make the recording louder. Comes with a fabric handle for carrying around, or looping on your wrist. 3 AAA batteries are included.
Why we love it: Ideal for little ones who love music, live to chat, or are still exploring their words and speech as it develops. It also helps them get to grips with their own voice.
Beyond all the skill stuff, it’s just good fun, and easy for older siblings, friends, or even mum and dad to join in. There’s also 8 pre-recorded songs, if your child’s a little mic shy!
Available from: Bright Minds and Amazon
Age: 18 months+
What it is: A rainbow-coloured house made of 66 chunky, toddler-friendly bricks. Once built, there’s lots of fun to be had to unleash the house’s 80 phrases, sounds and songs to teach children all about… you guessed it: phonics!
Why we love it: It’s a clever, deceptive educational tool. Any time a block is placed into the ‘magic window’, the house will talk back with a sound. these are all British sounds and spellings, so ideal for UK families who want to encourage their little ones’ speech.
Also a hit for mini music fans, as there are 5 piano keys in the house, which help to also teach about colour, shapes and numbers.
Of course, it works well on its own as a playset: with plenty of windows, doors and configurations to explore.
Available from: Amazon