Toddler toys may be my favorite list to create. (Don’t tell the other gift guides, okay?). Why? Because good toys for toddlers can be tricky to find. These toys are the kickoff to the independent play Super Bowl that is to come. So, let’s introduce our children to open-ended toys that will help develop habits that last a childhood. Toys for toddlers are everywhere, and I am here to help you narrow your search to the best of the best.
After raising three toddlers, I have seen the toys we continue to play with versus those tossed to the side. Here are my favorite toddler toys to add to your holiday gift list.
What Makes a Good Toddler Toy
The best toddler toys introduce children to discoveries connecting with prior knowledge. Sensory play, outdoor toys, climbing and movement domes, bath, and learning toys enrich your toddler’s ability to play.
When searching for the best toy for your girl or boy, look for toys that:
- Spark conversations
- Lead to mathematical problem-solving
- Enrich open-ended play (aka no buttons or lights flashing directing the play)
- Extend their imagination
- Create an exciting experience to play out prior experiences.
- Keep their brains and bodies moving (hello, gross motor skills).
- Welcome creativity
Are Toys Good for Toddlers?
The truth is that some toys are suitable for toddlers, yet they are certainly not all created equal.
There is a saturated toy market for toddlers with many bells and whistles. Beware! These toys will keep your toddler’s attention for three minutes. After that, it will be tossed aside, just waiting to go to Goodwill. We want toys that engage in learning through play.
I spent three days deep-diving into the brands we know and trust. I can confidently tell you that I understand the toys suggested well beyond a stock image.
Allow me to be your guide to finding high-quality toddler toys!
As a former educator and a mom to three young boys, I have studied how children play and what they need to enhance storytelling and imaginary play.
We are looking for an open-ended toy with flexibility around how the play unfolds.
Related: Quick and Easy Activities for Two-Year-Olds
TOYS FOR KIDS
After attending the NYToy Fair, I updated this list with the best toys for kids in 2023-2024. Open-ended toys your child will grow with.
What are Good Toys for a Two-Year-Old?
Here’s where I come in!
My knowledge, combined with the CDC toddler stages of development, I hand-selected these toddler toys to help your child thrive. You can see how these all fit together in one playroom, or you can strategically pick a few to place throughout your home. Find what works best for your home environment for play. I decided on these toys to align with toddler brain development.
My two-year-old plays with these just as much as my five-year-old!
A GOOD toy will do that!
Value the toys you purchase your child, and you will see how they get played with years later.
Related: Want to see these toys come together for learning activities? 50+ Ways to Play will give you plenty of play prompts!
The Best Toys for Toddlers
This toy list is my list of all-time top toys for toddlers. These toddler toys welcome creativity, ignite the imagination, and allow toddlers to expand on ideas they’ve experienced.
This isn’t just any list. These are toddler toys children will use for years.
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Outdoor Toddler Toys
You know how your child insists they want to go scooting down the road and around the block, then 1/2 in, they declare they are tired and not moving a step further? Yep. I remember that, too. This 3in1 scooter folds up to easily store in the stroller. (Thank you, Micro!)
This Cozy Coupe lives in our backyard. Nope. I am not ready to pass it along any time soon. It has created so many memories, and watching my three boys play with it is never dull. When the boys were toddlers, they rolled around the house with it as my husband pushed them from room to room. I am tearing up just thinking about it! Such fun times had everyone belly-laughing.
Between the pedaling toys listed in this outdoor toy list and the balance bike, my boys took off the second they were ready for a bike kid bike. Skip the training wheels and build confidence on this bike.
We love this balance bike and used it with all three boys.
I watched having a tricycle, and a balance bike allowed my boys to hop on their pedal bikes once ready to try it. They had the balance down from the balance bike and the pedal movements from the tricycle.
Another toy coming in from memory lane! My brother gifted my oldest this years ago, giving us years of fun. This ride-on tractor is a great introduction to learning how to pedal as you cart things.
Okay, can we talk about the kid’s roller coaster? We were gifted this gem shortly after my youngest was born; dare I say, it stayed in the house a little longer than it needed to. I will take all the child-led entertainment I can get with a new baby. Moving it outside elevated the fun and brought the neighborhood together for some epic play.
Toddler Building Toys
Every great toy collection begins with a set of unit blocks. These blocks are part of our forever toys because we brought them home at two years old, and my boys still play with them at seven—the perfect starter set with lots of three-dimensional shapes to stack and build.
Duplos also fall in our forever toy category. These bricks are another toy that is still played with by all three of my boys. Duplos are a terrific toy for your toddler that children will use for years.
This cargo train is the steam train leveled up. It has a similar train with more features.
One of Hape’s top sellers is this cityscape transport bucket. Great for small space and to pack up and take on the go.
These. Are. Fun. Stick these little suckers on many surfaces to keep toddlers entertained for dinner prep!
Toddler Gross Motor Toys
I was super impressed meeting the founder of Bilibo at the NY Toy Fair. He knew more about open-ended play than anyone I spoke with. Get this balance toy and let your child take the lead.
Did you know you can BYOC to the grocery store? Well, maybe this isn’t a straightforward invitation by the grocery store, but it has been so helpful in keeping my son focused as we shop. But that’s not all! This cart is also a great toy to keep at home to inspire imaginary play. It is a winner in our house that I plan on keeping for other generations to come.
Give me all things that stack for my toddler to explore and problem-solve! These buckets also make a fun addition to bath play.
Toddler Transportation Toys
Suggested for ages 3+
If you are looking for a real-life truck, Bruder is your brand. This skid steer is one of their top sellers.
Suggested for ages 3+
This is a large flatbed truck that will last for years. It is another best seller for Bruder and great for your transportation-loving child.
Suggested for ages 3+
This Magic Tracks set made our Christmas morning come to life when my boys were toddlers. We turned it on, the boys came downstairs, and memories were made. Christmas morning was magical with this simple toy. The lights and the movements are a huge wow factor for gift-giving.
I played with this interactive dashboard in the Melissa and Doug showroom at the NY Toy Fair and was amazed by it! You can even record your voice for take-off.
Get ready for Kindergarten with this school bus! This bus is a fun toy to begin discussions about what it is like to ride the bus, and then my older children can reenact bus conversations through play.
Green Toys for the win again with this made-in-the-USA train! 100% Recycled Plastic and dishwasher safe. We will have this train for another handful of years! The bears that come with the train are small, so you may want to take them away and save them for when your child is older.
My children almost always take an interest when seeing a car transporter go by on the road. Look, mom! Look at all those cars! This toy car makes an excellent gift for the holidays or birthdays for your toddler.
I chose the fire engine because this is on our wish list. We currently have a recycling truck, a dump truck, and a helicopter. The quality is excellent and typically makes its way into imaginary play.
Looking for a dump truck? This truck is a noteworthy one to add to your vehicle collection. CAT has a variety of trucks that are ready for little toddler hands to play with.
Toddler Art Toys
Let’s inspire our little artists with some chunky crayons! It makes a good stocking stuffer and a simple activity for sitting with your toddler and making lines and curves over the holidays.
These paintbrushes are also chunky and work well with small chubby hands!
These watercolors are my FAVORITE! They are so bright and colorful. If you are looking for watercolors, add these to your cart. You will not be disappointed.
Paint that doesn’t involve a mess? Yes, please. These Kwik Stixs were a hot seller for last year’s gift guides. Perfect for what to do after all the gifts are open. Who needs a fresh set?
We used this paint set when I first began painting with my boys. This paint set is perfect for those venturing into painting with kids!
Looking for a wow gift for your little creative kiddo? This easel is well made and has two sides to encourage and inspire art.
This colorful lap desk comes in four different styles. Choose from a cheeseburger, rainbow, shooting star, or unicorn. Although this was selected as a toddler gift, we purchased one for each of my sons this holiday. They are a great way to sit and work on some art or writing!
Toddler Imaginary Play
I wish these were around when my boys were toddlers. I have many friends with toddlers who enjoy their Toniebox, and I have played around with them at the NY Toy Fair this September—a great toy for quiet time, on the go, and preparing for bed.
After my third was born, this cash register was given to my oldest, and again, another forever toy! They keep this register by the play kitchen and have daily sales. Creative play meets math in its simplest form!
Toddler Wooden Grill Set
The meat cooks! Well, okay. It doesn’t actually cook. But it makes it look like it did! I saw this grill set in the Melissa and Doug showroom, and she mentioned that it cannot stay in stock. Families are loving this!
We ADORE our ice cream scoop set. Everyone that walks through our door is handed a menu and an ice cream. This set makes the perfect ice breaker for children to begin conversations with new family and friends.
Ice Cream Set 2.0
If the ice cream set had a family, this would be it. A pretend ice cream maker, register, and more additions to the traditional ice cream set exist. – Both options are a big win IMO.
I remember this toy from my childhood and still gush over it today. We gifted this tree to my three-year-old, but everyone swooped right in! This Timber Toys Tree House is a hit all the way around!
We’ve had this toolkit for years, and just when I think the boys have finished playing, and it comes back out! It is another toy we purchased in our toddler years and continue to use five years later.
Learn how to cut fruit with this play food set. The pieces are large enough to hold with one hand and cut with the other. Like most of this list, we still have and use this cut fruit!
The simplicity of this kitchen set is what officially won me over. There are no over-the-top lights or buzzers, just a classic kitchen where my kids can cook a creative snack to offer their grandparents- who apparently will eat ANYTHING.
Toddler Toys for Sensory Play
Gosh, I love this toddler toy list because it brings back so many memories of toys we’ve had for years. These jumbo-eyedroppers have always been a hit. Use the droppers to mix colors or water play—a fantastic tool to strengthen small hands and prep for writing down the road.
A fun toy to press! Easy for little hands to grab and squeeze. Problem-solving as they play! Add them to the bath for water play, or put them on the table while you finish making dinner.
I love these poke and count books. These books are a great way to reinforce number symbols with total amounts for early learners. These books are a must for toddlers!
These toys for toddlers are the best!
For a mom of three, these gifts will last much longer than the day they are opened. Check out these toy lists that are also great for toddlers:
Frequently Asked Questions
Provide age-appropriate toys that are not a choking hazard. Toddler toys should encourage object exploration, such as touching, looking, hearing, grasping, stacking, filling, dumping, connecting, disconnecting, sorting, and classifying. Toddler toys also need to encourage gross motor skills such as balancing, transporting, climbing, swinging, throwing, pretending, and constructing.
Think about what your child enjoys doing. Think about the action (such as transporting) and choose a toy that encourages that action.
Toddlers should own a small handful of toys that are easy to reach. Think about rotating toys if you have the ability to do so. Too many toys may overwhelm the child and encourage longer time spent with each toy. Too many toys can be very distracting for toddlers.