Our favorite toys for 2 and 3 year olds-pretend play, outdoor play, creative play, and more!
This is a list BEST toys for 2 year olds that my kids have reached for over and over again!
I. love. good. toys.
I also love a good toy list or “gift guide”.
So, that’s what this is: compilation of my kids’ favorite toys from 2 through 3, and maybe a few toys I wish we had (that friends have), as well as some toys that are on our wish list for this year!
Let me know; what are your kids’ favorite toys? Did I miss any 2-3 year old toys that I need to add to my list!?
*There are affiliate links in this post. Read my full disclosure to learn more*.
A caveat to this 2 year old toy gift guide:
The most important part of Christmas/birthdays isn’t gifts, OF COURSE.
Your kiddos do NOT need a million gifts. The most important thing to give them is connection.
Put down your phone, turn off the TV, take away the tablet, and interact with them! Read to them, talk to them, play with them, and HUG them.
They won’t be little long, mama.
Toys are great tools, but they are just that- TOOLS, they are not the most important part of childhood- YOU ARE. 🙂
Finally- BEST TOYS for 2 year olds
Alright! Let’s jump into my list for two and three year olds! I tried to organize these by category in a way that made sense to me!
You’ll notice that there are few electronic toys on here, and none involving screens. The only toys with sounds and lights that we have are ones that make sense.
For example, we have a Playmobil ambulance that has a siren and lights, because they do in “real life”, and my son also has a leaf blower and other lawn care toys that make noise because they do in “real life”.
Most toys don’t have lights or sounds, because that’s what we prefer!
You decide what’s best for your family!
Pretend Play Toys for 2 year olds
Playing pretend is a HUGE part of toddler-hood!
Here are the BEST toddler toys for playing pretend! There are so many more, y’all, but these are the ones that have stood the test of time!
Melissa and Doug Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter
This toy, y’all. It had to be first on this list. My daughter actually got it for her first birthday, and it has been a HUGE HIT for both of them since August. So much so that we are adding a few more that are similar to their Christmas wish lists this year. There are so many ways to play with it; it also comes with a menu and play money. My son has been practicing how to politely take orders and fill them correctly; he just LOVES this toy!
Melissa & Doug Wooden Pizza Counter
This is on my son’s Christmas/birthday list this year because we love pizza and I know he’ll love this because it’s similar to the M&D Ice Cream set above.
Melissa & Doug Birthday Party
My 2 year old loves to make “birthday cakes” out of anything an everything! He will love this!
Melissa & Doug Slice and Bake Cookie Set
Another M&D winner!
Melissa & Doug Fold & Go Barn
This is the barn we have and it works great! It comes with a few animals, a ladder, and a fence. Both of my kids love playing with it!
Terra by Battat – Wooden Animal Barn
My best friend has this barn and it is JUST GORGEOUS! It is a lot larger than the M&D barn. If you’re looking something beautiful and most substantial, this is it!
My kids love playing with these animals!
Lawn care and tools for toddlers
My 2 year old wants to be JUST like his daddy.
His daddy works in the yard and in his “shop” (garage) ALL OF THE TIME, so, naturally, my son wants to as well!
My son (and now my 18 month old) LOVE these toys to help “play” like daddy!
These toys are our favorite lawn care and tools for toddlers!
Husqvarna Kids Battery Operated Toy Leaf Blower + Weed Eater + Hedge Trimmer + Chainsaw
My father, being the great Pop Pop he is, bought my son a leaf blower for his second birthday and he LOVED IT! It was his most favorite thing ever!
However, it broke for good (after manyyy a duct tape repair) after 6 months of continual play. My dad tried to promptly replace the leaf blower, and it was discontinued… SAD DAY! However, he quickly found a different brand, and proceeded to also buy the weed eater and chainsaw, in addition to the leaf blower. Ohhh, grandpas!
Now, these DO make noise, but it’s okay because the real deals make noise, AND it was a super thoughtful/generous gift from Pop Pop. Grandparents can break all the rules, amirite!? haha!
Also, these can be purchased separately!
Toy Lawn Mower
Oh my goodnesss! I didn’t know there was a matching lawn mower to go with the other Husqvarna things! Don’t tell Pop Pop!
My son LOVES his lawn mower; it’s a bubble lawn mower like this one. He got it last winter from his Granny, and he played with it inside at first- he LOVED IT! When it got warmer, we took it outside and put the bubbles in it and it’s still a consistent favorite a year later.
Pretend Tool Set
We have 3 or 4 different sets of tools around here, but the one with the tool box is definitely the winner!
Real, toddler-sized, tool set
This is the next set of tools we will get. They are REAL TOOLS, but made for smaller hands!
Toddler Garden Tools-Large
I found a set similar to these two years ago at Aldi. They were super cheap and have been used constantly since my son was old enough to pick them up! My daughter is starting to love them now at about 18 months.
Note: These are real tools, just kid-sized! Constant supervision, demonstration, and reminders are required. 🙂
Toddler Garden Hand Tools
I also found these at Aldi a few years ago! They came in a cute little carrying bag like this and both of my kiddos love them! They work so much better than the flimsy plastic shovels!
We are getting my son this for Christmas and I know he’s going to be THRILLED! He loves help my husband pick up sticks from the yard, and gets frustrated when he can’t maneuver his wheelbarrow. I cannot wait to see the look on his face when he has one of his own!
Our favorite toddler kitchen play accessories
As a stay-at-home-mama, I cook ALL OF THE TIME! It’s only natural that through seeing me cook all day, that my kids would also want to “cook” as well!
I like to get them involved in real cooking and baking when I can, but they also love to “play” cook!
Here are the best toys for 2 year olds who love to cook!
We love our play kitchen! It’s definitely gotten more and more use the older my son has gotten. We store play kitchen pots and utensils in it, but we also use it to store the kids’ real plates, cups, snack plates, bowls, and silverware. I love that its a place for them to play, but it’s also useful!
Our play kitchen is made from an Ikea Trofast, but they have a great, relatively inexpensive kitchen there also (it looks similar to the one pictured above).
You do NOT need to get a super fancy one! And they are on resale pages all the time; check yours often!
Play Pots and Pans
These have been a hit from the time my son was 7 months old! He loved to hit them together, chew on them, and see what kinds of noises they made when they clanged together. Ours are from Ikea.
Play Cooking Utensils
Our play utensils are from a hodge-podge of places, but these look so nice I would have them in my personal kitchen! haha!
Our play food is felt and from Ikea and Target. There are SO many options to choose from!
Toddler Apron (and/or baking set)
Your toddler can play AND actually help you in the kitchen in this apron. I love this set that comes with mits and baking tools as well.
My mom found this hand-mixer (for much cheaper than the current listed price) at TJ Maxx or another similar store. She just had to get it because my son LOVES to bake with me. It was a hit! He uses it in our sensory bins, as well!
Kid-friendly Knives and small cutting board
These knives are the best! They cannot cut fingers, I promise! They’re made from nylon, not very sharp, but perfect for cutting fruits and veggies! Get your kids in the kitchen. My son LOVES cutting up strawberries, bananas, cucumbers, carrots, you name it! Bonus: This is really helpful for mom, and also a time user for those slowww days!
If you’re interested in other kitchen tools for your kiddo, check out Nicole Kavanaugh’s post! (If you’re familiar with Montessori, so many aspects of my parenting are inspired by it! And if you’re not, and are interested in helping your toddler be more independent, check it out! Nicole’s page is a great place to start!)
Dress-Up toys for 2 year olds
Most kids love to dress-up!
Here are some easy dress-up staples for toddler boys and girls!
Fireman (or policeman, doctor, etc…)
My son is just now starting to get into dressing up (he LOVED Halloween). He’s also really into pretending to be a fireman at the moment, so we are getting him this for Christmas!
Little girls love tutus! My friend’s 3 young girls LOVE LOVE LOVE their set of different colored tutus! They can be part of a ballerina, princess, or fairy costume, or just make for a fun day!
Wings (for butterflies, fairies, etc…)
My friend’s little girl who’s has been really into wings lately. These are great for open-ended play as well!
What’s a little girl without play jewelry?
My 1 year old got her first pocketbook for her birthday and has really loved it! When she gets older, she can switch out a few of the fake accessories for real ones like lip balm, a snack, and a wallet with her money in it!
Wallet (coin purse)
One of my friends has her little girl (3.5) carry cash in her own coin purse to make her own purchases! This is a great idea for sooo many reasons!
Best 2 year old toys for baby doll care play
We bought my son his first baby doll when I found out I was expecting our second (my son was only 10 months old- and yes, my second was planned… haha! Although you should NEVER ask that question!)
My son has loved playing with his baby doll on and off ever since! And now his sis loves it, too!
*Let your son play with baby dolls! ;)*
We love baby dolls at our house (and so do the toddlers that visit)! This is a great size baby doll (11″) for little ones!
Baby doll carrier
If this isn’t the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is!
I don’t want a million types of “gear” for baby dolls in my house, but a stroller is a must!
Baby Diaper Bag
We love this diaper bag for baby dolls; it comes with so many accessories!
Best 2 year old toys for building
My son LOVES to build, build, build.
(And my daughter loves to knock his buildings over! haha!)
These toys are the best toys for 2 and 3 year olds to build with!
We currently have Mega Bloks, and they’re a great first set of blocks for 1 year olds (and 2 year olds!)! My mother-in-law has these Duplos and my son loves them! We will be getting some for our house; they’re a great transition block between Mega Blocks and Legos.
Magnetic tiles are so the “it” toy right now! The most popular brand is Magnatile, but we have Picasso and love them! They’re much cheaper and frequently on sale.
Melissa and Doug wooden unit blocks
These are the standard blocks you will find in pre-k classrooms everywhere! I love the size and weight of them; perfect for small hands!
Melissa and Doug cardboard blocks
These blocks are a pain to put together, but MY GOODNESS they’ve gotten a lot of play! Get two sets of them or it’s kind of a let down.
Transportation Toys we love for toddlers
My son could play with his trucks ALL.DAY.LONG.
If yours could as well, check out this section!
Melissa and Doug Trailer and Excavator
My son is REALLY INTO excavators, so my husband was looking for an excavator toy for him and bought this on a whim. I didn’t really think it would be THAT amazing, but BOY WAS I WRONG! HE LOVESSSSSSS IT. It’s a great size, and the “boom” moves really well. It’s been played with every day for months.
Big Tonka Dump Truck
We’ve been looking for big trucks that can haul dirt, and of course Tonka is the winner! My mom found a steel dump truck at Sam’s, and we found a loader at Marshall’s (the loader is plastic, but it’s still really sturdy).
My son saw his friend get these vehicles for her 3rd birthday and LOVED THEM, so we ordered them for him. There’s a tow truck with a magnet (tow trucks are another one of his current obsessions). He hooks it up to everything! This is a great, small set of vehicles!
I found this ambulance at a consignment sale for $10 and thought I had hit the jackpot (because I had!). It’s only been out of rotation for maybe a week in the 2.5 years we’ve had it! Every single kid that visits plays with it and absolutely loves it!
*There are small pieces you should remove if you have younger kids who mouth toys*
Playmobil Police Car
We bought this police car for my son because the ambulance was such a hit, and it’s a huge hit as well!
*There are small pieces you should remove if you have younger kids who mouth toys*
Big Tonka Firetruck
My son got this from his cousin as a hand-me-down and he just loves it!
Pull-back construction vehicles
These get played with every single day at our house!
My son got this for Christmas this year and it has been THE BIGGEST HIT!
It’s been two months and it’s been played with every single day for at least an hour or two!
Run, don’t walk!
Outdoor Toys for 2 year olds
WE LOVE TO PLAY OUTSIDE!
Outdoor play is SO beneficial for kids; and a great way to encourage outdoor play is to have awesome outdoor toys!
You can get many of these secondhand; no need to spend a fortune!
Our best friends had one of these and our kiddos LOVE IT! We were lucky enough to be given one from friends who no longer needed it, and it has been the best addition to our outdoor toys!
We also have a baby/toddler swing that both of the kids still love as well!
This was a consignment find as well ($10). I gawked at the price when I looked it up because I can’t believe people would pay that much for a wagon! Check out consignment sales and stores, y’all! There are so many good finds there!
Ride on Toy
We don’t have this particular toy, but these reviews look awesome! We have a (hand-me-down) ride-on dump truck and excavator (sensing a trend, here?). Just get something your kiddo can ride on!
My in-laws purchased this other tricycle two Christmases ago (it was on my list), and it’s honestly been a bit of a letdown. It’s now getting some use, but I think the one above would have been better.
My advice for choosing ride-on toys is this, though: take your kiddo to Wal-Mart and let them try-out the ride-on toys (they have some out of packages). Choose the one they like and can maneuver best!
Bicycle with training wheels or Balance Bike
I think we have landed on getting my almost three year old a balance bike instead of a bike with training wheels. I’ve seen some kids use them and it just looks like they’re easier to maneuver, but I will report back on my findings! Either are great options for closer to 3!
Make sure you require helmets when your kids ride anything with wheels!
I know this isn’t a “toy”, but they make for great presents! Get your kids some appropriate shoes/clothes for whatever weather you have and let them play outside as much as possible!
Including this as well; get those kiddos outside in the rain!
Craft Supplies for 2 year olds
These aren’t technically “toys” but I have to include them here because my kids love them so much!
This is a great way to “paint” that’s less messy than regular paint!
Paint and Paintbrushes
After your kids stop putting everything in their mouths, you can begin experimenting with paint! Take their shirts off, paint outside, or cover their shirts with a bib or smock to minimize the mess! But remember, it’s good for kids to get messy! Relax and enjoy!
These markers are magical! They only color on the special paper.
All you need is water to paint these pictures! The paint is literally attached to the paper!
Play-Doh is a must-have for little ones! It’s great for hand-strengthening (needed for handwriting).
Play-Doh cutting set
These are so fun to use with Play-Doh
Stickers are so good for fine-motor practice! Get ones that are puffy to begin with so your toddler can peel them off independently!
Y’all. This sand is the coolest. It’s NOT magnetic, but it behaves like it is. SO COOL! I promise that adults will play with it as well!
Final thoughts on favorite toddler gifts
Thanks for checking out my list, guys! This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, just some of our favorites from this age. I’ll continue to add to it, as well as create more lists for you; WE LOVE GOOD TOYS!
I hope this was helpful!
Lots of love,
BEST gifts for Dads or Husbands