Toys

25 Non-toxic & Developmentally-friendly Toys For 2-Year-Olds

Updated on 15 September 2022 • 12 minute read

 

Overview

What are the best toys to give a 2-year-old? There are thousands, perhaps even millions, to choose from, but how do you know if they’re ideal for this age group?

You’ll notice that many toys for 1-year-olds continue to be a popular choice for older children, although it’s rare for these toys to be interesting to 10-year-old kids.

Learning toys teach new skills, whether they’re wooden blocks or board books. Toys for imaginative play, such as kitchen sets, are also a good choice. 

We’ve compiled a list of toys from various categories including Montessori and STEM-inspired* educational toys:

  • Montessori-inspired toys
  • Other STEM toys
  • Toys that help develop cognitive skills
  • Toys that promote hand-eye coordination
  • Toys that help develop problem-solving skills
  • Toys that develop gross motor skills
  • Pretend play or role-play toys
  • Art & crafts
  • Stuffed animals & dolls
  • Musical instruments
  • Bath toys

 

What factors should you consider when choosing toys and gifts for your 2-year-old? How many toys should your 2-year-old have? Which toddler toys grow with your child? Find out below.

*STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. 

 

These Are Our Top 25 Toy Picks For 2-Year-Olds

Montessori-Inspired Toys

LOVEVERY The Enthusiast Play Kit

(source: lovevery.com)
  • Price: $120 per play kit
  • Best features: Science experiments with weights and balance, learning about geometric shapes, and motor precision
  • Product safety: Free from heavy elements and phthalates
  • Materials: Sustainably-harvested wood and other child-safe materials
  • Type of toy: Educational (toy subscription)
  • Age range: 28-30 months
  • Extra features: Includes stacking peg puzzle, sticky shapes glue station, board book, and child-size squeegee cleaning set
  • Certification: FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: It can be pricey.

 

LOVEVERY The Investigator Play Kit

(source: lovevery.com)
  • Price: $120 per play kit
  • Best features: Basic science experiment kit, including lessons for liquid conservation and volume
  • Product safety: Free from heavy elements and phthalates
  • Materials: Sustainably-harvested wood and other child-safe materials
  • Type of toy: Educational (toy subscription)
  • Age range: 31-33 months
  • Extra features: Includes memory game, match-and-tap hammer box, countdown timer with color indicators, and board book
  • Certification: FSC
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: It can be pricey.

 

Monti Kids Level 7 Montessori Box

(source: montikids.com)
  • Price: $297 per quarter
  • Best features: Promotes STEM learning, life skills (such as baking), literacy, and fine motor skills
  • Product safety: Non-toxic paint
  • Materials: Wood and other child-safe materials (certified for 0-3 years old)
  • Type of toy: Educational (toy subscription)
  • Age range: 22-28 months
  • Extra features: Includes a baking set designed for kids, dressing frames with buttons and hooks, and a lacing activity set
  • Certification: ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) International F-963 Toy Safety Standards), CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), and FSC
  • Product recall: (Updated on July 21, 2022) Monti Kids recalled the Wooden Push Toy included in this set on July 21, 2022, because of choking risks. The company received over 145 reports of the rolling cylinder in this toy separating and exposing the small balls inside, posing a choking risk. (1)
  • Cons: It can be pricey and it had a recall.

 

Monti Kids Level 8 Montessori Box

(source: montikids.com)
  • Price: $297 per quarter
  • Best features: Promotes creativity and learning of math concepts such as fractions
  • Product safety: Non-toxic paint
  • Materials: Wood and other child-safe materials (certified for 0-3 years old)
  • Type of toy: Educational (toy subscription)
  • Age range: 29-36 months
  • Extra features: Includes mystery bags that can build memory skills and promote exploration
  • Certification: ASTM, CPSC, and FSC
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: It can be pricey.

 

Other STEM toys

The Kiddo Toys Set of Cards (Words & Numbers)

(source: thekiddotoys.com)
  • Price: $55
  • Best features: Promotes speech development and math learning
  • Product safety: Non-toxic materials that meet rigorous safety inspections (US and European standards)
  • Materials: 100% natural wood and velcro
  • Type of toy: Educational toy
  • Age range: 2+ years
  • Extra features: Handcrafted, ethically-made toys
  • Certification: US and European standards of child safety
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: Limited options to buy this toy from other sellers.

 

Melissa & Doug 100 Piece Wood Blocks Set

(source: melissaanddoug.com)
  • Price: $23.89
  • Best features: 100 solid wood blocks in four colors and nine shapes
  • Product safety: Free from phthalates and lead
  • Materials: Sustainably sourced wood
  • Type of toy: Educational
  • Educational value: Introducing early math concepts, early engineering skills, fine motor skills and dexterity, and color and shape recognition
  • Age range: 2+ years old
  • Extra features: Box converts into a carrying case; toy is also great for 4-year-old kids and older
  • Certification: U.S. and E.U. conformity certificates, and FSC
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: Some customers complained about the blocks being smaller than they expected.

 

Fat Brain Toys Count and Sort Stacking Tower

(source: fatbraintoys.com)
  • Price: $17.95
  • Best features: Color-coded sorting tower for learning about numbers
  • Product safety: Child-safe materials that meet US, European, and international safety standards
  • Materials: Wood
  • Type of toy: Educational 
  • Educational value: Promotes sequencing, counting, and number recognition
  • Age range: 2+ years old
  • Extra features: 10 number tiles that match the stacking peg and 45 color-coded discs
  • Certification: ASTM, European Safety Standards Commission, International Council of Toy Industries, and CPSC
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: Spare parts aren’t available so you can’t get new rings if you misplace any.

 

Toys That Help Develop Cognitive Skills

Hape Twist And Turnables

(source: hape.com)
  • Price: $12.99
  • Best features: Unique blocks with screw-together shapes so they won’t tumble down
  • Product safety: Water-based paint
  • Materials: Wood
  • Type of toy: Educational
  • Educational value: Basic engineering skills and creative thinking
  • Age range: 24+ months
  • Extra features: Shapes that vary from the usual block shapes
  • Certification: Passed sharp point, bite force, tensile, small parts, chemical, and drop tests
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: Some customers complained about the blocks having a bad smell.

 

Plantoys Miracle Pounding II

(source: plantoys.com)
  • Price: $50
  • Best features: A new ball pops up in place after your child hits the other with a mallet.
  • Product safety: Water-based dyes and organic color pigment, free from formaldehyde, lead, or heavy metals
  • Materials: Recycled rubber plantation wood
  • Type of toy: Hammering set for cause and effect
  • Educational value: Develops fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and concentration ability
  • Age range: 2+ years
  • Extra features: Colorful balls
  • Certification: ASTM (USA) & EN71 (Europe) 
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: It can be pricey.

 

Toys That Promote Hand-Eye Coordination

Uncle Goose Cubelings Sea Blocks

(source: unclegoose.com)
  • Price: $19
  • Best features: Four blocks with different sea creatures
  • Product safety: Free from heavy metals 
  • Materials: Sustainably sourced basswood or linden tree with non-toxic, mouth-safe inks
  • Type of toy: Educational blocks
  • Educational value: Imaginative play
  • Age range: 2+ years
  • Extra features: Includes four different paper environments for pretend play
  • Certification: ASTM F963 (US), EN71 (Europe), and Japanese ST Standards Parts 1-3 compliant
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: It can be pricey.

 

Toys That Help Develop Problem-Solving Skills

Maple Landmark Shape Sorter Bench

(source: maplelandmark.com)
  • Price: $30.50
  • Best features: Twelve blocks with four shape holes
  • Product safety: Free from any paint or dye
  • Materials: Unfinished, sustainably harvested maple hardwood
  • Type of toy: Shape-sorter puzzle toy
  • Educational value: Problem-solving skills
  • Age range: 2+ years
  • Extra features: Includes a pouch for storing the pieces when not in use
  • Certification: CPSC
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: It can be pricey.

 

Begin Again Balance Boat Shapes & Colors

(source: beginagaintoys.com)
  • Price: $11.99
  • Best features: Shape-sorter with different shapes and colors
  • Product safety: Eco-friendly water-based stains
  • Materials: Eco-friendly rubberwood
  • Type of toy: Shape sorter
  • Educational value: Problem-solving skills, spatial awareness, and imaginative play
  • Age range: 2+ years
  • Extra features: The brown sorter can be used as a boat where the other shapes can ride
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: Some complaints about the toy being smaller than expected.

 

Toys That Develop Gross Motor Skills

Green Toys Wagon

(source: greentoys.com)
  • Price: $29.99
  • Best features: Pull-along wagon with 100% cotton rope handle that tucks inside the wagon for storage
  • Product safety: Free from BPA (bisphenol-A), phthalates, and PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
  • Materials: 100% food-grade recycled plastic with soy-based inks
  • Type of toy: Pull-along toy
  • Educational value: Gross motor skills
  • Age range: 18+ months
  • Extra features: Can carry your little one’s toys
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: Many complaints that the wagon is too small and the rope is too short.

 

Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike

(source: striderbikes.com)
  • Price: $139.99
  • Best features: Unique balance bike without pedals
  • Materials: Steel frame with flat-free foam rubber wheels
  • Type of toy: Ride-on toy
  • Educational value: Balance, coordination, and gross motor skills
  • Age range: 18+ months
  • Extra features: Adjustable seat height
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: The lack of pedals can make it challenging to use this bike.

 

Radio Flyer 4-in-1 Stroll ‘N Trike

(source: radioflyer.com)
  • Price: $129.99
  • Best features: Convertible trike (from push stroller to regular tricycle)
  • Product safety: With a safety harness and a removable UV-protection canopy for shade
  • Materials: Steel frame with plastic and rubber parts from sustainable sources
  • Type of toy: Ride-on toy
  • Educational value: Speed and gross motor skills
  • Age range: 2-5 years
  • Extra features: Music, lights, and a ‘walkie-talkie’
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: It can be pricey. For example, Fisher-Price Nickelodeon PAW Patrol Lights & Sounds Trike only costs $84.99 (but it isn’t convertible).

 

Pretend Play Or Role-Play Toys

Under the Nile Veggie Crate Gift Set 

(source: underthenile.com)
  • Price: $46
  • Best features: Wooden toy crate with vegetable plushies
  • Product safety: Free from AZO dyes, BPA, formaldehyde, fragrance, flame retardants, PVC, and lead
  • Materials: 100% organic Egyptian cotton and raw, untreated natural wood
  • Type of toy: Pretend toy
  • Educational value: Imaginative play
  • Age range: 2+ years old
  • Extra features: Sustainably made using scraps from clothing production leftovers
  • Certification: GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and Gold Egyptian Seal of authenticity (it’s made of 100% organic Egyptian cotton)
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: Some complaints about the plushies being smaller than they expected.

 

Le Toy Van Egg Cup

(source: letoyvan.com)
  • Price: $14.95
  • Best features: Six-piece wooden egg cup set
  • Product safety: Non-toxic water-based paints
  • Materials: Sustainably sourced wood
  • Type of toy: Pretend toy
  • Educational value: Imaginative play, social interaction, and fine motor skills
  • Age range: 2+ years
  • Extra features: Includes two hand-painted wooden ‘soldiers’
  • Certification: FSC
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: Some complaints about the toy being too pricey. For example, a 50-piece pack of plastic eggs only costs $13.99 on Amazon. (Just be sure to check for child-safe materials before buying these plastic toys.)

 

Little Tikes Picnic on the Patio Playhouse

(source: littletikes.com)
  • Price: $279.99
  • Best features: Playhouse set with a table and benches
  • Product safety: Free from BPA, latex, PVC, phthalates, lead, and other heavy metals
  • Materials: Child-safe plastic
  • Type of toy: Playhouse
  • Educational value: Imaginative play and social interaction
  • Age range: 18+ months to 5 years
  • Extra features: Includes dishes, some play food, and a pretend phone
  • Certification: ASTM F963 (US) and EN-71 (Europe)
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: It’s bulky and pricey.

 

Arts & Crafts

Honeysticks Originals

(source: honeysticks.com)
  • Price: $22.99
  • Best features: 12 jumbo crayons for little hands
  • Product safety: 100% natural and non-toxic food-grade ingredients
  • Materials: Beeswax
  • Type of toy: Crayon
  • Educational value: Creative learning
  • Age range: Suitable for all ages
  • Extra features: Difficult to snap
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: It can be pricey. For example, a pack of 16-color Crayola jumbo crayons only costs $6.19 at Target (but Crayola isn’t organic).

 

Imagine Childhood Eco-Dough

(source: imaginechildhood.com)
  • Price: $20
  • Best features: Child-safe playdough
  • Product safety: Eco-friendly and organic
  • Materials: Flour, cream of tartar, organic rosemary oil, salt, vitamin E oil, soybean oil, coconut oil, citric acid, potassium sorbate
  • Type of toy: Playdough
  • Educational value: Sensory and imaginative play
  • Age range: 2+ years
  • Extra features: Five colors in each tube, with coloring materials sourced natural extracts from beets, spinach, paprika, carrots, red cabbage, purple sweet potato, blueberries, and tomatoes
  • Certification: ASTM D-4236 and CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act)
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: It can be pricier than other playdoughs. 

 

Stuffed Animals & Dolls

Bella Luna Organic Waldorf Baby Doll

(source: bellalunatoys.com)
  • Price: $65
  • Best features: Handmade Waldorf doll
  • Product safety: Child-safe materials
  • Materials: 100% organic, pure new wool with certified organic cotton terry cloth
  • Type of toy: Baby doll
  • Educational value: A Waldorf doll with minimal facial features that encourages your child to use their imagination
  • Extra features: Hand-painted doll face
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: It can be pricey. 

 

Our Green House Hand Knit Organic Stuffed Dog – Cooper

(source: ourgreenhouse.com)
  • Price: $59
  • Best features: Hand-knitted stuffed animal
  • Product safety: Free from chemicals like asbestos and radon
  • Materials: 100% organic cotton yarn with OEKO-TEX certified polyester stuffing (certified free from 100+ harmful chemicals)
  • Type of toy: Plushie
  • Educational value: Imaginative play
  • Age range: 2-4 years
  • Certification: OEKO-TEX
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: It can be pricey.

 

Musical Instruments

Vtech KidiBeats Drum Set

(source: vtechkids.com)
  • Price: $16.69 (price on Walmart)
  • Best features: Freestyle drum or play along with nine preset melodies
  • Product safety: Meets US and European safety standards
  • Materials: Child-safe materials
  • Type of toy: Educational and musical toy
  • Educational value: Musical creativity, sensory development, visualization memory, and phonics
  • Age range: 2-5 years
  • Extra features: With lights to teach numbers and ABCs
  • Certification: ASTM (US), EN71 (Europe), and Canadian Hazardous Products Regulations
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: Some complaints about the toy being too small.

 

Bath Toys

Nuby Floating Purple Octopus with 3 Hoopla Rings Interactive Bath Toy

(source: nuby.com)
  • Price: $7.99
  • Best features: Toy octopus that floats on water
  • Product safety: Free from BPA, phthalates, and other suspected harmful chemicals 
  • Materials: Child-safe plastic
  • Type of toy: Ring toss and bath toy
  • Educational value: Hand-eye coordination
  • Age range: 18+ months
  • Extra features: The octopus’ legs/arms can be used with the three rings for a ring toss game
  • Certification: FDA, CPSIA, CPSC, and European standards/regulations
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: This octopus toy only has six legs/arms instead of eight, which can confuse kids.

 

LEGO Duplo Bath Time Fun: Floating Animal Island

(source: lego.com)
  • Price: $39.99
  • Best features: 14-piece bath playset with a floating island, four animals, floating ring, and activity bucket
  • Product safety: Meets global safety standards
  • Materials: Polyethylene from sustainable sources (elements from sugarcane)
  • Type of toy: Bath toy
  • Educational value: Promotes imagination, motor skills, and creativity
  • Age range: 1.5+ years
  • Extra features: The floating island converts into a container for keeping the toys when not in use.
  • Certification: FSC and US quality standards
  • Product recall: None
  • Cons: It can be pricey. For example, the 100-piece Kangaroo rubber duck set (assorted duck designs) costs the same on Amazon.

 

What Toys Should My Two-Year-Old Be Playing With?

At age two, most kids can walk without any help. They’re also ready to run and kick a ball. But you can’t expect them to play well or understand the rules of a ball game like a 6-year-old.

Many of them already recognize the ABCs, basic shapes and colors, and numbers 1-10, but usually fewer than your preschooler or 5-year-old. Simple puzzles can be ideal for this age group.

Educational toys like Montessori-based and STEM toys (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), sometimes also called STEAM toys, encourage them to learn more and improve their fine motor skills.

Their problem-solving skills are better than a one-year-old, and they’re likely curious about how things work. They try to use knobs, switches, buttons, etc., on toys. (2)

They can build more complex structures using blocks and similar toys during playtime

Tots this age love imaginative play, so you can also pick toy sets like play kitchens, train sets, playhouses, dolls or action figures, and toy lawn mowers or similar pretend toys.

You can also encourage them to spend time outdoors by offering fun outdoor toys. Yet they can still have fun and learn during bath time.

 

How Many Toys Should A 2-Year-Old Have?

There isn’t a specific rule or guideline that sets how many toys a child should have. 

However, a 2018 Infant Behavior and Development study showed that children with fewer toys in their environment could focus more and play more creatively because they spend more time with each toy. (3)

The researchers recommend letting your child play with fewer toys at a given time to support their development and promote healthy, creative play. (3)

This is also in line with the Montessori method. With Montessori play, your child gets limited options during playtime, but you rotate their collection to let them explore all their toys.

Monti Kids explains: (4)

Give your child limited choices when setting out their toys. Having too many choices is overwhelming and dissatisfying. 

It is harder for them to decide what they want to play with, and it is harder for them to stick with the toy once they’ve chosen it. 

Rather than concentrating on the toy and fully enjoying its purpose and value, they will flit from one toy to the next, making a mess and feeling progressively undone.

 

How Do I Keep My 2-Year-Old Entertained All Day?

You might notice that your two-year-old has a shorter attention span than a much older child, such as an 8-year-old. So, keeping them entertained all day can be a challenge. 

Some parents set up different play areas around the house. For example, your kids can play with their train set in the living room, but blocks and puzzles are only for their room.

Arts and crafts can be in their study area or bedroom. 

You can also assign one spot for your 2-year-old and a different spot for your 7-year-old or other older kids, especially because they probably have different interests. 

Your kids aren’t likely to stay in one spot for more than just a few minutes, so you can also offer other options. Let them play music, run outside or play with outdoor toys (such as trikes), create art, or learn new skills with other toys (such as a balance bike).

Books and wooden toys can also offer hours of entertainment for your kids.

 

Factors To Consider In Buying The Best Gifts & Toys For 2-Year-Olds

Most of the factors to consider when choosing toys for 1-year-olds also apply to toys for 2-year-olds:

  • Safety – check for product recalls and unsafe parts
  • Materials – organic, child-safe materials are preferable
  • Age range
  • Quality and durability
  • Educational value
  • Learning resources
  • Activity level

 

Dangers To Watch Out For

  • Choking risks
  • Batteries
  • Magnets
  • Magnets
  • Loud noises
  • Sharp edges
  • Sharp points
  • Small toys or those with small parts (choking risk)
  • Long cords and strings (suffocation risk)
  • Shooting toys
  • Flying toys
  • Needs electricity
  • Glass
  • Brittle plastic
  • Splinters
  • Harmful or toxic chemicals

 

Toxic Chemicals & Materials To Avoid

Studies show that the following chemicals can cause cancer, fertility problems, premature puberty, liver or kidney dysfunction, behavioral problems (such as aggressiveness and hyperactivity), or other health concerns: (5)

  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
  • BPA (bisphenol-A)
  • Phthalates
  • Heavy metals (such as lead and cadmium)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Polystyrene (such as Styrofoam
  • Polycarbonate
  • AZO dyes 
  • Flame retardant chemicals 
  • Asbestos
  • Radon

 

Safer Alternatives

If possible, choose organic, ethical, and sustainably sourced materials.

These are also safer alternatives to the toxic chemicals listed above:

  • Cotton
  • Wool 
  • Unfinished wood
  • Wood finished with natural oils
  • Wood finished with waxes like beeswax or walnut oil
  • Toys made of fabric that can be washed
  • Food grade silicone
  • Natural rubber – BPA and PVC-free, but check for allergic reactions (nausea, itching, runny nose, hives, and trouble breathing) (6)
  • Polypropylene – one of the safest plastic options for toys (7)

 

Certifications

Safety & Quality Standards

  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100 – passed at least 100 tests for toxic chemicals (8)
  • GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) – safe, organic fibers (9)
  • ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) International F-963 Toy Safety Standards – for toxic chemicals (e.g., heavy metals like cadmium or lead), material quality, labeling or safety warning requirements, etc. (10)
  • CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) – safety standards for different factors, such as flammability, choking hazards, sound pressure levels, etc. (11)

 

Sustainability Standards

  • PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification)
  • FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)
  • Rainforest Alliance

 

What Toys Should A 2-Year-Old Girl Have? 

It depends on their interests. While parents typically choose baby dolls, kitchen sets, and other “girly” or feminine stuff for their little girls, there aren’t absolute rules that stop them from playing with toys for 2-year-old boys.

If you aren’t sure, you can always observe which toys your child likes to play with, so you can choose similar items or offer them variety, depending on their needs and your observations.

For example, you can let your kids use their imaginations to create stuff using the Imagine Childhood Eco-Dough ($20). 

It’s more expensive than the Play-Doh Drizzly Ice Cream Playset ($15.99) which already has six modeling compounds and an ice cream maker toy, but it can be a safer option. Although Play-Doh maintains that its products are non-toxic, there are concerns that it might have questionable ingredients. (12)

 

 

 

References

(1) https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2022/Monti-Kids-Recalls-Wooden-Push-Toys-Due-to-Choking-Hazard-Recall-Alert

(2) https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-2yr.html

(3) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0163638317301613

(4) https://montikids.com/montessori/what-makes-toy-montessori/

(5) https://health.ucdavis.edu/mindinstitute/resources/resources_pdf/Plastics_and_Plastic_Toys_7_14.pdf

(6) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/latex-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20374287

(7) https://www.greenchildmagazine.com/plastic-toys/

(8) https://www.oeko-tex.com/en/apply-here/standard-100-by-oeko-tex

(9) https://global-standard.org/the-standard/gots-key-features

(10) https://www.cpsc.gov/Business–Manufacturing/Business-Education/Toy-Safety/ASTM-F-963-Chart

(11) https://www.cpsc.gov/Regulations-Laws–Standards/Voluntary-Standards/Topics/Toys

(12) https://www.seniorcare2share.com/is-playdough-toxic/#Is_playdough_safe_for_2_year_olds

 

 

 

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