Building blocks enable your 2-year-old to sort and stack, promoting both fine- and gross-motor skills.

The Best Toys for Two-Year-Olds

by Debra Pachucki

Toddlers play with the strangest things. From wearing Mommy’s underwear on her head to using the TV remote as her own personal cell phone, a 2-year-old is often entertained by the unlikeliest of items. Learning the best toys for this age group will not only keep your tot busy with her own objects of fascination, but will reinforce developmental skills and abilities, too. Regardless of which toys you choose, make sure that they are age-appropriate, well-built, do not contain toxins or leaden paint, are shatterproof and easy to clean.

1. Problem-solving Toys

Two is a special age for kids. They aren’t quite babies anymore, yet they’re not preschoolers, either. Toddlers begin to think and act independently as they explore the world around them. According to the National Institute for Childcare, problem-solving toys such as wooden puzzles, snap-together blocks and shape sorters are perfect for this age group, because they allow 2-year-olds to engage in safe and appropriate active discovery learning. Save your best lipstick or your favorite novel from certain destruction at the hands of your tot, and put her in front of one of these meant-to-be pulled apart toys instead.

2. Pretend-play Toys

Encouraging your tot’s imagination is one of the best things you can do for your 2-year-old. It promotes the thinking skills essential to your little one’s ability to inquire, reflect and respond to the world around him. The National Association for the Education of Young Children suggests reinforcing imaginative play with dolls, child-sized furniture sets, costumes, play-food and sandbox toys. Not only will these toys promote thinking skills in your toddler, but as an added bonus, you just might find your good tablecloth in the linen closet where it belongs instead of wrapped around your little guy's shoulders like a cape.

3. Arts and Crafts Toys

Arts and crafts items can make developmentally appropriate toys for 2-year-olds. The Creativity Institute says that large, non-toxic, washable crayons, markers and finger paints allow your little one to create without causing damage to herself -- or your carpeting, furniture or walls. Sidewalk chalk, child-safe scissors and colored construction paper enable your tot to practice fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination by using her finger muscles and vision to draw, cut and crumple objects. Providing your little one with these art materials will ensure the longevity of your furniture, book collections and clothes.

4. Activity-based Toys

According to Early Childhood News, your 2-year-old’s body requires physical stimulation that promotes exercise and develops his use of large muscle groups. Sure, riding on the family dog and finally conquering that child gate will contribute to your tot's climbing abilities, but certain toys will promote the same physical development minus the headaches for Mom or Dad. Balls for kicking and throwing, ride-on equipment, low climbers and tunnels will give your 2-year-old plenty of developmentally appropriate exercise. As an added bonus, all that activity will tire your tot out enough to give you an extra hour or two of sleep-in time tomorrow morning.

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