As my youngest has just turned 2, I think it’s a good idea to make a post sharing the toys that I think are great for her age and current abilities. I’ll also list some items that I bought my son when he was 2, and that she currently loves.
I’ve noticed that most of the posts that I found online whilst looking for ideas were American, and I confess that I got slightly frustrated that some items don’t exist in the UK. So I decided to make this UK list.
Please note that these are suggestions that my kids like (and liked) at the age of 2, and that you don’t have to purchase them from these links. I am a huuuuge fan of charity shops and second hand items, so I always suggest visiting your local shops in search of these item if you have the spare time and don’t need them straight away.
But if you’re in a rush, can’t be bothered to browse in person, or like to buy everything online, I’m sharing links to the items on Amazon.co.uk for ease.
Here are my favourite items for a 2 year old in the UK.
P.S. – Please note that I’ve included affiliate links in which you pay exactly the same price for the item and I get a couple of pence for putting together a list for you.
1. LEGO Duplo
OK, I’ve got to confess: I do have a small addiction to LEGO.
But honestly, this is such a versatile toy! I am more of a fan of all the other smaller LEGO, but 2 year olds still put a lot of stuff in their mouths, so I’m not comfortable with her playing with the small pieces.
But I recommend getting one of these Classic Boxes first and build your collection over time from there. I find that with the Classic boxes they get more creative and then it’s cute to add other characters and fun pieces to the mix.
2. First Puzzles
My eldest was more into puzzles than my daughter is. I also think that I haven’t yet found the right theme for her, the theme that will make her super interested in making whatever it is that I put in front of her.
My eldest was (and still is) a massive vehicles fan. If it’s vehicle themed, he’ll learn whatever skill I try to teach him. But I haven’t found what my daughter’s passion is. She loves animals in general (and dogs in specific), she likes vehicles, she likes balls and dolls, but there isn’t a predominant theme that she cannot get enough of. So I was struggling to find a puzzle that she was interested in.
I also got her one of these Ravensburger First Jigsaw puzzles but it’s vehicle themed, so wrong theme for her. They are really good though, great size for her age. And my 5 year old loves it, despite being able to do much bigger puzzles. But it’s vehicles, so it’s always interesting for him.
3. Magnetic Tiles
There’s several brands of Magnetic Tiles/Blocks and we own three brands of them, of which both of the kids prefer one type over the other two. Basically, they prefer the ones that have no holes on them and have straight lines instead of rounded lines around the edges.
The ones we own and they prefer are the Wonderbox Magnetic Tiles, which are branded to glow in the dark, but well… Ours don’t. To be honest, I bought these at TK Maxx a few years back, so I got a discount from the price that is available on Amazon.
They are the closest version to the popular Magna-Tiles which I don’t own but have played with at a playgroup and they are really great quality.
And because of their shape, I recommend them to 2 year olds over the other rounded shapes available. Rounded are cheaper per piece, but my kids don’t play with them as much as these straight ones.
I do recommend ours because they are the best we own, and the kids like them, but considering there isn’t a huge difference in price to the same number of Magna-Tiles online, I would probably have bought Magna-Tiles hadn’t I found a discounted version of Wonderbox elsewhere.
If you’re wondering whether 32 pieces are enough, honestly they are. Unless your kid really gets into it and it becomes one of their most beloved items to play with over time, 32 is enough to start with.
4. Tempera Paint Sticks
OK. This is one of our favourite items in the house and it’s something the kids use every single day, especially my 2 year old and I recommend them to everyone I know!
Tempera Paint Sticks make every single drawing they make at this age look like art. I’m not even exaggerating! The texture is soft, it looks like paint without the mess of paint and they’re so much easier to paint with than pens, pencils and crayons. They have a larger surface, work from every angle, they don’t need to be pressed strongly and look so good on paper! They’re also actually washable. Not fake washable (you mums will know what I mean).
Honestly, they’re the best and every kid should have them at home and at school.
The first ones I bought are unavailable at the time of writing, but I have bought a second pack from Little Brian, as they had good reviews. They’re frankly very similar to the first pack and this one has a cute big box with the same stick shape. In case the first ones come back, here is the link to the ones we owned first (and bought another three as gifts to friends). The sticks and tempera quality are quite similar, the main different is price you want to pay and how many you want to own.
5. Baby Doll (and yes, I recommend it for boys too!)
So… I bought a doll for my son when he turned 2. And it took me quite a while to work on my personal bias and “force” myself to buy him a doll. And I did. The reason being that I wanted him to play pretend that he had a baby sibling or that he was the father of a child. I think it’s important to teach boys to be empathetic and caring from the same age that we teach girls (which we actually do from birth).
Also, I understand that here in the UK, Annabel is the preferred brand of dolls. But when growing up in Portugal, I’ve always wanted a BABY Born. So that was the doll I bought for my son when he turned 2 and bought another for my daughter (when she turned 1because ironically it was easier to get my head around buying her dolls – yes, plural – from a younger age. Bias dies slowly!).
There is another reason why I like the Baby Born version, which is that they can play with it in water. So they can give them baths, which extends it’s use. I’ve never tested the food and water and then peeing and pooping, to be honest. But I love that it has that feature too.
The one I have has three versions: a white baby girl, a white baby boy and a brown baby girl. Yes, it annoys me that there isn’t a brown baby boy too, and other ethnicities. It’s a work in progress I hope.
6. Bath ball run
This Bath Ball Run was one of her gifts at her 2nd birthday party and we all love it.
To be honest I don’t love giving the kids a bath, so I like making bath fun by having fun toys for them. I will get around to make another post about this soon, because we do have a good range of bath toys and useful items.
The cool thing about this toy is that it is a ball run, so it works both as a bath toy and a STEM toy. I really love it.
There’s several of these in different sizes, but our friend got us this one and it is really good quality. Both the 2 and 5 year old are having a lot of fun with it.
Most 2 year olds will be apt to play with playdough and playdough tools are always fun. You can learn to easily make the playdough yourself (I have found this really great post by Living Well Mom, which features a link to a gluten free playdough recipe too!) but I am going to suggest my favourite playdough that can be bought.
I’m one of those mums that struggles HIGHLY with the colour mixing. But I’ve learnt to control my slight stress regarding this matter, and step back from the kids when they mix colours so that they can play freely. This is also why it’s always a great present, even if they already have playdough, as they get brand new individual colours again!
I have bought the big cheaper kits from lesser known brands but to be honest, I haven’t found a better brand than Play-Doh: for both the quality of the playdough itself and the quality of the tools.
If the child has no sets at all, I would always start with a Starter Set such as this one or this one. As a kid, I was always fascinated by this addition and some sparkly colours are a lot of added fun. As with everything else, if you find a kit in a theme that the kid is interested in, they will play with it more often and for longer. For my eldest I have bought this Construction Set and this Cement Truck Set (discounted at TK Maxx) but I would buy them full price as a present. I haven’t bought an animal themed one yet, nor the “food” ones as I haven’t found one that I liked enough.
If you want to buy other brands of tools for playdough, I cannot recommend the cheap ones I have bought in the past because the quality really isn’t great. They’re flimsy, usually too small, and frankly annoying to play with. I honestly don’t feel they’re worth the cheapness.
8. Outdoor Water Table
My daughter absolutely loves playing with water. So much so that I will create another separate post on water play and fun items to add to their play.
We have the Chad Valley Sand and Water Table bought from Argos, but we bought it on sale. At the moment of writing it costs £45 which I think is quite a steep price for a very basic plastic item. My daughter uses it almost every day, but I’d wait for the end of summer sale to buy one of those, or to buy it second hand.
This looks like the same table (and here is the same one in pink) we have but with different attachments, more accessories at a slightly cheaper price. It is still more expensive than I think these kind of items should be, considering they’re made of plastic, but I can’t seem to find anything similar at what I consider to be a reasonable price. If you have an outdoor space (garden, patio or balcony), it’s a cute table and my kids use it a lot though. If you can afford it, I recommend it.
We also have an Aquaplay similar to this one at my parents in Portugal and they also love to play with it. Again, I found a deal at a local Aldi as I do think the price on these is also quite steep. They are very well made and good quality though, kids like it and play with it, and I do like it. But it’s not for every wallet.
9. Peg Board
I’ve been wanting a Peg Board for a while, but hadn’t really liked any of the designs and was honestly trying to find one in a local Charity Shop (and had no luck). This next toy is not branded as a Peg Board, but it works like one.
As my eldest is in Reception and was learning about Minibeasts and Plants, my 2 year old started getting interested in the little butterflies and bugs that live in our garden and loves our flowers, so we bought her this Flower Garden. My 5 year old son really liked it too, so it does annoy me that it seems to be targeted as a “girl” toy.
I have removed the smaller items as I am a little uncomfortable with them getting easily broken and her still occasionally putting items in her mouth, so it is a toy that will grow with her.
10. Pop Up Tent and Tunnel
There’s several options of these and at the time of my purchase (in 2020), I bought this item for £10 cheaper (what a bummer it’s not that price anymore) BUT it stores really small and it has 4 items to put together however you please. I was looking for presents for my son (who turned 2 at the time) right in the middle of the pandemic, that would keep him entertained in the apartment.
I think it’s a very versatile item with nice gender neutral colours and great for both small and bigger spaces (as it’s quick to store away). If you want good value for money, versatility and a bright design, this Pop Up Tent and Tunnel Set is the one we own and still my favourite.
This is a similar item, at the price I paid for mine, but I don’t like the colours as much.
11. Leapfrog 2 in 1 Laptop
I try to avoid a lot of electronic items (especially because I like something called “silence” – it’s quite nice!) but we have had this little LeapFrog Laptop for quite a few years and I love it. My son started learning English words with it (we’re a Portuguese household) and he goes back to it every now and then (even at 5 years old, especially now that he’s learnt to read and write).
My daughter also started to use it and loves the music mode. And in case you’re worried about the loudness of it, it has two modes, in which the lower “loudness” is decent.
I find that this is quite a good learning electronic device and that it grows with them.
12. Dress up outfit (more gender neutral and boy options in the review)
Because she’s 2, I am a little on the fence about buying her an outfit that only fits a 2 year old (unless it’s needed for Halloween or a costume party). So when a friend of mine suggested buying her a costume for her birthday I asked her to get something that could grow with her.
Last year I bought my son a fire engine outfit truck for Halloween (at TK Maxx) and she absolutely loves putting it on (it looks as if she’s driving a truck and has a button for the siren sound). I haven’t found anything similar online unfortunately, if I do, I’ll update this post.
She was then gifted this lovely butterfly outfit. It is super cute and she likes it.
I haven’t tested any of the following options I am going to suggest, but based on reviews and type of item, I’m interested in the following outfits for future school dress up days: any of these ZAC Home options, this Safari outfit, a Bee outfit, Seahorse outfit, these Superhero capes. But again, I haven’t tested any of these. If you do, please let me know your feedback on them.
13. Wooden Train Set (for girls too!)
My little 2 year old girl and my 3 year old niece both love to play with cars and trains. I think it’s a very good toy to gift a little girl, especially if her parents are a bit set on gender stereotypes.
There’s a lot of options and, in my experience, as all the different brands tend to fit in with each other, extra sets to an ongoing collection is always a great addition. You can also find quite a lot of sets second hand on Facebook Marketplace and eBay for example.
This Argos Train set is a great starter set for any kid and it’s at a great price. I also love the sets you can find in Lidl during the Christmas period. They’re really good value for money with really cool themes.
We have a previous version of this Hape set that the kids like; I love this Hape Railway Bucket set that we have played with at a friend’s house; if you’re looking for something pink this Fairy Bigjigs Train looks like a good option; and this Brio Starter set is adorable.
If they already have a set, this Paddington Tower of London is a super cute addition (keeping the honesty train, I bought ours in TK Maxx a while back); a Brio expansion pack is always a brilliant idea to make bigger tracks; a Battery Operated Train always makes them feel amazed (and here is one with extra carriages); and a tunnel, a riser or a bridge are always loved.
The great thing about Wooden Tracks is that there’s a huge second hand market for it. So you can get a lot of accessories for a fraction of the price.
14 . Wobbel Board and Gross Motor Skills items
We’ve bought a Wobbel Board when my eldest turned 2, right in the middle of the pandemic and it was a great buy for us. Overtime he has played with it a lot. It’s been a balance board, a bridge, a car seesaw and even a slide from the sofa (very handy during pandemic times).
My daughter is a little reluctant to try it yet but she started getting interested in it.
There are other brands that do it and there is now second hand sales of it (when I purchased it, there weren’t) but there’s something about the quality of the original that makes it honestly better. A friend once bought a different one, and as her ex-husband kept it after divorce, she purchased the original and noticed the quality difference. But there are more options now than there were then, so maybe there’s equivalent quality.
There are other items to consider for gross motor skills that I’d like to mention. We have Stepping Stones and I have been debating about this Balance Beam from Decathlon for a few years now. I find these type of items get their wiggles out and are great for their motor skills.
I saved the best one for last (I hope you got this far).
I love gifting books and buying my kids books. I confess I have a small addiction. So it’s soooo hard to choose just a few books to share here! So I’m making a separate post on which ones are our favourites and my reviews on them.
These books have always been favourites for both of them though. They’re the Usborne Books Sound Collection. I was trying to get a link to our favourite which is the Night Sounds, but it looks like at the moment it can only be found in a package in a decent price. I could go for some must have classics like Dear Zoo, or The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or Elmer, which are all great options. But there is a little chance that if you’re buying for someone else, that they already have them (it doesn’t hurt to ask though).
I find these types of posts quite handy when looking for gifts for my kids or friends’ kids. I hope that this is helpful to you.
To get to know me a bit better I’m on Instagram: milliadasilva