What Do Two-Year-Olds Like To Play With?

what do two year olds like to play with

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As your child approaches the age of two, you will notice that they are learning new skills and ways of playing constantly. Two is a wonderful age full of energy, excitement and an eagerness for life.  You may find your two year old has toys or activities that they prefer over others, and you may have noticed these preferences change regularly. Life for a two year old is not without its challenges; two year olds can become very frustrated whilst mastering their new skills. 

However, for family and friends looking to get their favourite two year old a gift it can be confusing because unless you have had a child yourself it’s difficult to know what a two year old may like to play with. You don’t want to waste your money by getting a gift that isn’t suitable.

What do you two year olds like to play with?


  • Buckets, watering cans and other carrying objects
  • Balls
  • Ball pit
  • Sand pit
  • Balance bikes
  • Bubble machines
  • Pencil and paper to scribble
  • Tower blocks
  • Pencil and paper for scribbling
  • Colouring book
  • Rope and thread toys
  • Pretend cooking station with utensils
  • Play-dough
  • Books with familiar imagery
  • Profession costumes such as police, fire, medical
  • Table top play areas
  • Role playing accessories
  • Doll houses
  • Seesaw
  • Activity tables
  • Indoor tents

What development milestones has a two year old reached and working through?

We feel the statement of ‘children learn through play’ to be spot on and is a good quote to use when looking for a toy or game for a two year old. The key to finding out what a two year old may like to play with is to understand what they’re capable of and can use to further develop themselves.

A two year old can:


  • Carry toys from one location to another
  • Can walk confidently and run
  • Can climb
  • Stand on their tip toes
  • Kick a ball

With this in mind, a two year old may be interested in toys and games that can be carried from one place to another such as a bucket, watering can or small lightweight boxes. Kill two birds with one stone with a sand pit. If the two year old has an interest in sports then you can not go wrong with a new ball. A ball pit is also a good choice.

Despite infants learning to ride a bike properly at around 3, 2 year olds can still use their new found balance and running skills to practice on a balance bike.

Lastly, bubble machines are a good choice now that they are established on their feet and may begin to practice being on their tip toes and to run after rogue bubbles. 

With their hands

  • Can hold onto a pen or pencil and scribble
  • Build simple towers from blocks
  • Hold onto utensils
  • Strength to grip and mould soft objects

By the age of two their fine motor skills will have developed tremendously but will have their limits. The key here is to offer a child something they can get to grips with that will entertain them at two but also help them continue to improve these skills. 

With this in mind, a great idea for them to play with is a simple pencil and paper to help them scribble and get their thoughts out there, they won’t be able to colour within the lines but a colouring book would still be a great present to help them develop not just their fine motor skills but their brain development, too. 

A child’s grip is now much stronger at 2 but still not quite enough to be able to grab heavy things or move them with accuracy. Therefore, it is a good idea to help them practice their grip and accuracy with games such as putting a rope through a hole, an imaginary cooking station with easy to grip utensils and lastly – play-dough!

The latter being one of the best gifts for a two year old to play with as it helps them tremendously to push fine motor skills to the next level by squashing it and making new shapes. Plus, it can also go hand in hand with identifying colours and shapes.

Language and speech

  • Can point and identify familiar objects spoken to them
  • Can say up to 15 words
  • May be able to say 2-4 word sentences
  • Can repeat words even if they don’t know what they are

A child’s speech comes on strongly between one and two, they may not be able to say complete sentences but they’re keen to try and add more words to their vocabulary. Because of this, they can begin to have a lot more interest in books, especially books with colours, shapes and objects they recognise – hidden object books are fantastic to play with as are bed time stories with vibrant imagery.

Showing them a book and asking them to point things out can create a really pleasant hour or so.

They can’t read at two, but they do enjoy being read to and guided through new words – two year olds love to repeat the words they know especially when it’s met with praise and enthusiasm from parents.

Brain function

  • Begins to take part in imaginative play
  • Can find hidden objects
  • Organise objects by size and colour

Perhaps the biggest and most noticeable change in children who are 2 or are approaching two is imaginary play and the ability to engage in ‘pretend play’. This newfound imagination is one of the easiest methods to find something they love to play with and the possibilities are endless. However, what can make imagination play easier is to give them the tools to really bring their thoughts to life such as costumes like police, fireman, doctor and so on. Furthermore, you can recreate some scenarios with a mini kitchen, supermarket tills and other table top play areas.

Lastly, two year olds will be able to get more out of games and toys such as dolls houses which can be purchased related to practically any character you can think of such as Peppa Pig, Batman or Sylvanian families.

Social skills

  • Mimic other adults
  • Sense of self
  • Be able to play with other children
  • More independent

Children do not know how to interact properly with other children until they learn a sense of self and therefore a sense of others. This happens around two years old when you can see children start to play collaboratively or just near each other. Before the age of two, toys which are designed to be played by more than one child are a little bit useless but once they reach the age of two that changes. Therefore, toys and games which can be used by more than one child can become brilliant such as a seesaw, activity tables and indoor tents.

Two year olds have probably been copying parents for a while before they turn two but now they can mimic much more complex behaviours and language nuances and although it sounds like a cop out but toddlers do enjoy playing watching and then mimicking parents which can be really fun for them.

2 year olds are much more independent now which means that they can have fun on their own and may even prefer it from time to time so don’t be afraid to get them something that is best played solo. 

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