Gift for two year old
October 26, 2015 1:47 PM   Subscribe

What gift will blow my two year old's mind? Thank you!

I am looking for a birthday gift that will provide challenges for a long time.

Example we are getting her:
A set of magnetic sticks and spheres that you can combine at will.

Things she already has access to and likes (due to older sibling):
Duplo, Lego Fabuland, Playmobil,
Playdoh, paints
Bikes, scooter, balls
Multicolored magnetic tiles
Toy kitchen
Way too many dvds of Maia the Bee.

I'm sure she would love kinetic sand, but would spread it everywhere in the house in no time.
She also enjoyed dropping things on a thing that emits gusts of air and watching them float.
posted by Omnomnom to Shopping (34 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
A gyroscope is going to be tough for her to use on her own at age two, but man they are so cool. I went through a big being-fascinated-by-gyroscopes thing when I was about 4 or 5. Checks that blow mind box for sure.

It's always the right age for wooden blocks. The Childcraft sets are standard and high quality.
posted by phunniemee at 1:52 PM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

How about an awesome plasma ball? For now it's just cool, but later she can learn about why it does what it does.
posted by rmless at 1:54 PM on October 26, 2015

Response by poster: Sorry, should have said: she has two different sets of wooden blocks.

Also enjoys books about animals that make noises.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:54 PM on October 26, 2015

Two words: ZUBE. TUBE.

Yeah, it says 3+, but whatever.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:57 PM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Stickers...even better...animal sticker books.
posted by artdrectr at 1:57 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think this isn't what you mean, exactly, but my 6.5 year old and 2.5 year old play every single day with their correlle baby dolls - mon preimer sized. This is despite them both having access to a variety of other dolls including bitty babies and american girl dolls. They make up elaborate schemes including cooking, school, and all the other things that go along with it. So I'm not sure how long "a long time" is, but they've been the best money we spent after the things you list up there.

These river stones are also a huge hit and are fun even for grown ups.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:59 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

How about some dominoes? For her second birthday someone gave my daughter a set of wooden animal tiles that you are supposed to mix and match to create new animals. She still doesn't do that but we have had good fun lining them up domino style and knocking them down. She isn't so good at the lining up part but pretty good at the knocking part. Your older kid could help with the set-up, allowing them to play together.

I pretty much buy dominoes and marble runs for every kid I know.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:11 PM on October 26, 2015

One of those Pin Art things would be pretty rad.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:13 PM on October 26, 2015

You need outdoor space to really make it work, but if you have a yard or balcony, a sand/water table is always a big hit.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:36 PM on October 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

My friend swears Benny the Jumping Bull is the way to go
posted by lil' ears at 2:38 PM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

A big cardboard box? Like a refrigerator box?
posted by jazh at 2:38 PM on October 26, 2015 [12 favorites]

For our older kid's Christmas right before he was 2, we filled a giant cardboard box with random stuff from our local recycled materials art supply shop. Things like: an old calculator, a tie, one of those cardboard tubes posters come in, some plastic eyeglasses, plastic Easter eggs, unused syringes, string, fabric squares, pipe cleaners, a sieve, etc. He's almost 5 now and still plays with most of that stuff.

Both my kids have also really enjoyed MagnaTiles.
posted by linettasky at 2:43 PM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks to any portmanteau I just checked out marble runs and found one that's compatible with duplo! That might be a winner, thanks!
(But please keep them coming, we always have way too many doting grandparents and too few ideas!)
posted by Omnomnom at 2:45 PM on October 26, 2015

i have it on very good authority that she would absolutely love a giant oversized noise-making card, the kind that have the cardboard tab attached to the super cheap sound card (and her parents will hate it).

authority-level: uncle to a couple of girls under 3.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:46 PM on October 26, 2015

Along the lines of Benny the Jumping Bull, we have this bouncy horse which is HANDS DOWN the number one toy in our house. Friend, vehicle, baby -- this horse is all the things. And the neighbor kids, even the older ones, come over to ride the pony. It is the boss.
posted by danielle the bee at 2:48 PM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I got my kid one of these Usborne Peep Inside books (the Night Time one) and it has approximately a million flaps and holes to poke his finger in.

A giant parachute and giant un-poppable soap bubbles (Dawn and glycerine, I think) have also been big hits when we've run into them at the park/playgroup. Nth the giant cardboard box.... =) Shaving cream and soap crayons for the bath. Hearthsong has TONS of cool stuff.

I find though it can be hard to know. My kid's been obsessed with our cordless upright vacuum for months. Who knew?

On Preview: yeah, those greeting cards that play music when they open? Endless Enjoyment. Make sure you pick a tune that's not super annoying, and that you won't mind hating. Our card has lasted nearly six months (and still going!) which I'm kind of shocked by. I taped down the edges of the card with super thick 3M Book Tape because the music device is powered by watch batteries which should definitely NOT be eaten. (We often use this as a distraction when changing a diaper, so supervised.)

Holographic postcard (we found an old Jurassic Park one in a box in the closet) got some decent attention too.

(Sidenote that as awesome as kinetic sand is, I think it's really dangerous if ingested! Another reason to wait on that one.)
posted by jrobin276 at 2:52 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite] I got my 2 year old a doll stroller for her birthday. And she LOOOOOVES it. I got her the $10 Target one but apparently there are some fancy-ass doll strollers in the world.

Of course her favorite hobby was already running laps back and forth across the living room, so plunking a teddy bear in the stroller and running with it is, just, like, gravy on the cake.
posted by telepanda at 2:54 PM on October 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

On reread, I will enthusiastically second the Gonge Riverstones. We got them for our coordination-challenged 4 year old (at the time) last Christmas, but the newly minted 2 year old is starting to use them. We play lots of lava (/crocodiles/whatever) games - make it along the path without slipping off any stones. You can amp up the challenge by placing them further apart, turning the steep side in the direction you're stepping, etc.

We also have a set of the hemispheres that go with them. Although the lone Amazon reviewer hates them, and what that reviewer says is not untrue, they really are great for balancing, and they don't seem to hurt kids' feet nearly as much as adults' (the foot-to-hemisphere size ratio is quite different). You're not going to stand on 2 of them flipped over, but one on the flat side and one on the curved side is quite a balance challenge. And they're great to intersperse with the Riverstones.
posted by telepanda at 3:07 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

My friend's two year old has got SO MUCH mileage out of one of those rugs that has roads and shops and farms on it, and the accompanying set of four cars that go on a little low loader.
posted by emilyw at 3:27 PM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

You might take a look at the website for Fat Brain toys, there's some interesting things there. Just last night I was looking at their skateboard/snowboard "training" toy, which a lot of people said was meant for their older kids but which their 2-3yo's loved.
posted by vignettist at 4:04 PM on October 26, 2015

Seconding Linettasky regarding Magna tiles. Easy to build with, beautiful colours and really grow with the kids. Ours have come out with grownups as well for parties.if you have enough you can build towers up to seven or eight feet tall.
posted by five_cents at 4:45 PM on October 26, 2015

Wow, a marble run that works with Duplo sounds like something I need to get my daughter. What is it called?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:35 PM on October 26, 2015

Jumbo cardboard blocks (you buy them flat and then assemble them). These were a great success with my niece and nephew last Christmas. They do take up a lot of space though.
posted by mskyle at 7:03 PM on October 26, 2015

As many balloons as you can inflate.
posted by swift at 7:04 PM on October 26, 2015

Example we are getting her:
A set of magnetic sticks and spheres that you can combine at will.

If she's two...magnet toys can be a big swallowing risk, unless they are absolutely too big to swallow. Not to be one of Those People, I just read so many horror stories about little kids eating powerful magnets and getting seriously hurt when they pinched together in their bodies. My husband brought home some from the museum when our kid was about that age, and we had to put them away till he was well past "putting stuff in his mouth" age.

Back to your question, I would second the giant box o' cardboard whatsits. Unstructured, cheap, can be colored on/beaten up without worry, and to a little kid, epic fun.
posted by emjaybee at 7:11 PM on October 26, 2015

Giant roll of bubble wrap!
posted by bluebelle at 7:52 PM on October 26, 2015

I know it's declasse compared to some of the upscale educational type toys that are available, but yeah, my two year old passionately loved her $10 pink doll stroller... at least as long as she loved anything else, which is to say, for a few weeks, then intermittently for a few months.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:55 PM on October 26, 2015

A wooden railway set! Get parts that follow standard so you can add to it with time. If you can, start out with enough pieces and trains to allow a bit of creativity already from the beginning. A two-year-old might mostly like to drive different arrangements of vehicles around a closed track, but as she grows older she'll be able to do more advanced railway engineering. Expand the set accordingly, both with basic and specialized parts. With switches, bridge pieces and crossings, you can make surprisingly advanced systems. My friend and I had fun with this until we were maybe nine years old.
posted by Herr Zebrurka at 8:39 PM on October 26, 2015

Response by poster: Wow, a marble run that works with Duplo sounds like something I need to get my daughter. What is it called?

Hubelino. Has extension sets and looks pretty cool. Apparently easy to assemble, too.

We live in a country in Europe Magna-Tiles won't ship to, which is a shame. It looks amazing! Now I'm wondering if Playmags is equally good?

To answer a few things:
We have doll strollers and yeah, they're a huge hit!
Swallowing risk of magnets:
They're giant magnets. The kids love them.
posted by Omnomnom at 10:13 PM on October 26, 2015

I read somewhere that if you hide half the toys now, you can switch them out for the other half later. As far as the kids are concerned, it's as interesting as a whole new batch of toys!
posted by aniola at 1:41 AM on October 27, 2015

In my sons play group (youngest children there were 2 1/2) they had Magformers für under threes and definitely purchased in Europe (in the city listed in my profile)
There is a set for home for under 3s on their German website
whcih I cannot find on the English website
they do not have separate magnetic balls rather the magnets are inside the plastic elements, and are quite large. But I think also quite expensive.
posted by 15L06 at 3:58 AM on October 27, 2015

Wouldn't marbles be a choking hazard for a child that young?
posted by maurreen at 7:59 PM on October 27, 2015

Trampoline. If you live somewhere with bad winter weather, one small enough to fit inside the house. This is by far the biggest hit in our house, it's a great way for kiddo to burn off energy, work on large motor skills and build focus.
posted by Safiya at 10:04 AM on October 28, 2015

How about a PlasmaCar? It says for 3+ but if she likes bikes and scooters she should be fine.
posted by Lay Off The Books at 6:42 PM on October 30, 2015

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