What to Give a 2-Year-Old for Their Birthday

What to Give a 2-Year-Old for Their Birthday

By Aubrey Everett

Two-year-olds are active, curious and sometimes unpredictable. They have emerged from the baby stage and have two feet firmly planted in toddlerhood. Their needs and wants change as they enter this new phase of life and begin to tackle new obstacles. The fun part about second birthdays is that they are generally easy in terms of selecting gifts. Children this age are likely not going to be picky about brands or comparing items to what their friends have. Many things are going to be new and thrilling to their curious brains.

At two, almost anything has the potential to be exciting, no matter how simple. Even a big shiny bow or balloon could become a plaything for the next week. Toddlers this age are exploring their newfound movement and physical abilities, along with language and communication. With all these new strengths emerging in a significant way, anything to encourage and advance those skills will land at just the right time.

At two, almost anything has the potential to be exciting, no matter how simple. Even a big shiny bow or balloon could become a plaything for the next week.  

Toddlers this age are at a great moment of growth, and there are lots of helpful – and fun! – gifts that can encourage their development. 


If your toddler is anything like mine, he is forever on the move. Walking, running, hopping, climbing, jumping, spinning in circles – he rarely stops. Harnessing this energy and working on improving coordination is a top priority. Many scooters and balance bikes make models for kids ages 18 months and up. While intimidating at first, having a set of wheels may give your kid the (supervised) freedom they crave. Your toddler may also start resisting the stroller, which could make this a good time to introduce a wagon. It still allows for outdoor excursions while giving the child more room to spread out.


In our house, we can never have too many books. Despite a vast and varied collection, we still check out books from the library to keep the rotation fresh. At two, toddlers are likely showing a preference for certain books and may bring the same one to you night after night for bedtime reading. Rotating books is an excellent way to introduce new words, characters, animals, sounds and colors. Books with built-in sounds or tactile images can encourage further learning. We have also come to find that our toddler is now interested in longer stories rather than the short and to-the-point board books we read to him as a baby.

Consider books like: 

Pretend Play

Imaginative play is vitally important for toddler development. Putting a plush teddy “to bed” or feeding dad a toy ice cream cone shows that the child is thinking and understanding. Our son likes to vacuum with dad and even has his own mini Dyson. If you have a play kitchen, gifts such as toy food, small silicone utensils, containers of different sizes and mini pots and pans are all great items to enhance the kitchen’s play abilities. Blocks, stackable items and pull-along toys are also age-appropriate and keep toddlers entertained and engaged.

Consider playthings like: 

Big Kid Clothes

Toddlers grow and grow and just keep growing. They also become rougher on their clothes, wearing holes in pants and grinding grass stains info fabric. Extra clothes are always a good thing to have on hand. Shoes and boots are a bit more specific; they need special care when selecting. But providing friends and family with a general clothing size gives them an easy jumping-off point for seasonally appropriate clothing gifts.

Something New

Around two, our toddler was asserting more independence but also willing to try new things. We gradually worked in hats, sunglasses, and -- for these unique times -- masks. With lots of outdoors time, we wanted him to be comfortable with various sun protection levels. When we venture somewhere indoors, he needs to comply with local mask regulations, which tend to start around age two. Finding the right fit and modeling the same behavior helped our toddler get used to these new accessories.

Consider fun items like: 


About the author: Aubrey works in higher education and is the mother to an active and inquisitive son. She lives in the Boston area where she enjoys taking family walks along the beach, reading books, and introducing new foods to her son. Writing about motherhood allows her to connect to other parents and give voice to a challenging yet exciting time.  About the author: Kara is a teacher, author, and mother of two vivacious daughters. A Maryland native, she and her husband are restoring an 18th-century farm in Susquehanna State Park. Her writing centers on literature, art, nature, disability, and working parenthood.

Photo credit: iStock.com/DimitrovoPhotography


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