Even though I am a mom of a 6 and 3-year-old, I still find myself struggling to think of good gift ideas for younger kids. I am not one to stroll the toy aisle at Wal-Mart or Toys R Us and just grab the first thing I see. I know what it’s like to have a house full of toys that no one ever touches. It looks fun and exciting when your kid first gets it, they rip open the package, you frantically put it together and they are completely enthralled for…20 minutes…then it ends up in the black hole of toys never to be seen again.
Sound familiar? So because of this I try really hard to give gifts that are not just a flash in the pan and try even harder to give gifts that they will want to play with for years to come.
I have complied a list of gifts for 2 year olds that will keep them entertained well past their 3rd birthday.
Putting a bit of thought into how a toy can be used will help you envision if your child will still like it as they get older. Toys with a specific use are typically used for less time, and kids lose interest sooner. Just because something cannot be used independently by a 2-year-old child is not a good reason to cross it off your list. They may need a little help now, but in a few months, or a year, they may be able to play with it in a whole new way on their own.
Each of the toys I have listed we have had in our home for a least 5 years and are still using.
Play-Doh Fun Factory Set
Play-Doh may actually be the one thing that my kids have stayed interested in the longest. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t use it every day or even every week, but since my son was 2 years old, now 6, he has continually gone back to Play-Doh. What I like about it is that it allows for imaginative play at different developmental ages.
Using Play-Doh with a 2-year-old involves lots of adult help, basically you will do the building and they will do the squashing. But as their fine motor develops so will their ability to do some of the building. Soon you will be making cookies, hotdogs and bananas playing store and eating Play-Doh suppers. As their imagination and confidence grows so will their artistic talents. Play-Doh is our number one rainy day activity at the lake.
Water table, sand table, rice table…yes we have put many things in our table and are still getting lots of use out of it. My kids started off playing with the set of toys that come with the table but quickly incorporated their own favorites. My son turned it into a monster truck ring when we put sand in it and my daughter loves digging out buried toys. In the winter we moved it down stairs and filled it with rice in place of sand…easier to clean up! Standing to play and reaching out with their arms is a great way to build core strength as well as shoulder strength.
What kid doesn’t love a fort! I’m sure you have collected the chairs from around your dinning table more than a few times and thrown blankets over top to build your little ones a fort. If your kids are anything like mine, the next step is for them to go in and out, and in and out filling it with their favorite things. Which means you are on stand by to fix the blankets that keep slipping off. The Crazy Fort has gone days set up in my living room without me having to fix he blankets once. The construction of the fort is not the easiest, and will definitely require your help when they are younger, but my 6-year-old is now able to out it together on his own. He likes following the instructions to build the different configurations. The fort can easily fit 2 kids along with their pillows and favorite toys.
This may be a bit more expensive then the other suggestions, but it is well worth it. I would recommend choosing a kitchen with more features than less, even though you have a 2-year-old in mind they learn quickly and the more options for play the longer they will enjoy it. When my daughter was 2 my son was 5 and they equally loved make-believe with the play kitchen. Making food, ordering food, serving food, cleaning the kitchen, grocery shopping, we have spent hours playing with our kitchen.
Table and chairs
This may sound a little boring, but trust me, this will be the most functional, well used toy in your home. Look for a sturdy set that is not easily knocked over, but lightweight enough your little one to move the chair by themselves. The uses for this set are endless, and you will likely end up putting in your living room or kitchen because it is a great place to set up an activity while you need a few minutes, or even serve a snack. The advantage of using kids sized furniture is that it fits them properly. Sitting with their feet being able to touch the floor gives them stability in their arms and hands to be able to perform tasks better. The can get on and off the chair independently which builds confidence and they can start and stop what they are doing when they want.
You may look at toys in a whole new way now, happy shopping!
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