When kids turn 2 years old, there's so much more they can do — which makes playing all the more fun. When shopping for the best toys and gifts for kids of this age, there's so much more they can handle. "This is a huge jump in their thinking skills!" says Rebecca Parlakian, M.A., E.D., a parenting expert from Zero to Three, an organization that focuses on kid development during the early years. "As they are discovering that they, themselves, are individuals with their own thoughts and feelings, they are also learning that others have their own thoughts and feelings too. Pretend play gives children a chance to take on these different perspectives. Usually the first pretend play parents see is 'playing house,' since it’s what children know best, but really children act out any familiar scenario — like when my daughter picked up a toy phone and said, 'Shhh, I have a conference call.'"
Parlakian also says roleplaying items can encourage pretend play, including toy kitchen items, dolls and strollers or vehicles with chunky figures that can fit inside. In addition, she suggests looking for toys that encourage problem-solving like wooden blocks, building toys and puzzles. Toys and games that support open-ended play and can be used multiple ways are good, too.
But the best toys and gifts for toddlers still have a lot of safety considerations, too. Two-year-olds are still too young for toys with small parts that can be choking hazards, and they still don't have enough motor coordination for some complicated toys and games.
With all this and in mind, and to help prepare kids for pre-school and beyond, the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute test hundreds of toys for safety, functionality and fun factor. They look for toys that build on these developmental skills, toys that are well constructed and playthings toddlers will return to again and again. Some of our recommendations are even previous Good Housekeeping Best Toy Award winners! With all that in mind, these best toys and gifts for 2-year-olds in 2022.
1Best STEM Toy for 2-Year-OldsPinkfong Baby Shark Tablet WowWee Read More
22022 Good Housekeeping Kids' Book Award WinnerRoar! I’m a Dinosaur HarperFestival Read More
3Good Housekeeping Best Toy Award WinnerCoComelon Ultimate Learning Bus Just Play Read More
4Fun Learning Toy for 2-Year-OldsScoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart LeapFrog Read More
5Best Art Toy for 2-Year-OldsEasy-Clean Finger Paint Crayola Read More
Puzzles, educational toys, interactive games and gifts that inspire open-ended play did best with our testers, as did toys with some of their favorite characters from shows like Peppa Pig or CoComelon. Here are our testers' faves, sure to please any 2-year-old on your list.
Before including our favorite picks in an article, the Good Housekeeping Institute does rigorous toy testing to ensure we're recommending only the best. Many of our choices come from our yearly Toy Awards, where we test each item based on the following criteria:
✔️Safety: Our engineers and analysts make sure that each toy reaches all safety standards. They also assess things like pinch points and make sure toys won’t shatter into small pieces to pose a potential choking hazard.
✔️Ease of Use: We look at each toy to evaluate how simple it is to assemble, how well it’s constructed and how durable it is during play.
✔️Kid Approval: Aside from testing each toy for skill-building attributes, like how well it develops social-emotional skills, all our final decisions come from more than 100 children, ages 1 to 15, who assess the fun factor!
Much of the toy testing for this article was overseen by Rachel Rothman, the Good Housekeeping Institute's chief technologist and director of engineering, with the help of Marisa LaScala, Good Housekeeping's senior parenting and relationships editor. For more than 15 years, Rachel has put her training in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics to work by researching, testing and writing about parenting products. Plus, as a mom to three kids under 5, she has plenty of first-hand experience.
Marisa has covered all aspects of the world of parenting, from the postpartum years through the empty nests, since 2015, and she's pitched in with Good Housekeeping's toy coverage since 2018. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter, who are both avid toy collectors.
Looking for more great gifts for kids? Let the experts do all the hard work for you!
- Top-tested items: See what toys, gifts and books ranked the very highest in our Lab tests with our 2022 Good Housekeeping Best Toy Awards and our 2022 Good Housekeeping Best Kids’ Book Awards.
- Tech for kids: Our lab experts are often asked for recommendations for digital devices for kids, and we've tested kids' phones, game consoles and kids' tablets to see which ones held up the best for families.
- Great learning toys: While all toys can be helpful vehicles for supporting developmental growth, we love to spotlight notably exceptional educational Toys and STEM toys as well as ones that can support social-emotional growth, like those included in our lists of the best sensory toys, pop fidget toys and autism toys. Some of our favorite also landed in our lists of Hot Toys for 2022 and The 50+ Best Toys for Kids of Every Age.
- Gifts for babies: Please the newest members on your gift list (and their parents) with these useful baby registry items, as well as gifts for babies, gifts for baby girls and gifts for baby boys. Of course, you might want to get something for new parents to help them through the hectic newborn stage.
- Gifts for toddlers: The coolest new toys in this space pull double-duty, whether it's social-emotional learning combined with motor skills, or creative play combined with language, as you can see in our gift guides for 1-year-olds and all toddlers, as well as our stocking stuffers for toddlers.
- Gifts for preschoolers: As they begin to explore the world around them on a deeper level, help them explore with STEM sets, art kits, creative toys and toys that inspire their imaginations. Find our favorites in our gifts for 3-year-old boys, gifts for 3-year-old girls, gifts for 4-year-old boys, gifts for 4-year-old girls, gifts for 5-year-old boys and gifts for 5-year-old girls.
- Gifts for big kids: By these ages, they've developed their own interests. Help them dive deeper into the subjects that most interest them, from coding to art to cartooning to history and geography, with these gifts for 6-year-old boys, gifts for 6-year-old girls, gifts for 7-year-old boys, gifts for 7-year-old girls, gifts for 8-year-old boys, gifts for 8-year-old girls, gifts for 9-year-old boys, and gifts for 9-year-old girls.
- Gifts for tweens: Sure, once they get old enough for an iPad or gaming console you might be at a loss of what to get them. We have you covered with engaging picks for gifts for 10-year-old boys, gifts for 10-year-old girls, gifts for 11-year-old boys, 11-year-old girls and gifts for 12-year-olds, or see what's trending with boys or tween girls as a whole.
- Gifts for teens: We decode what's on the lists for this picky age group, from the hottest accessories to the most-wanted tech gifts, with gifts for 13-year-old boys, gifts for 13-year-old girls, gifts for 14-year-olds, gifts for teen girls, gifts for teen boys and even fun stocking stuffers for teens.