While their first Christmas may seem like a distant memory, there’s nothing quite like a buzzy toddler to add to the festive cheer.
Casting the terrible twos aside (oh don’t you wish that was a myth), at two years old little ones really begin to show their personalities, expanding their natural curiosity and their love of play.
This means it’ll be worth your while to buy them something that aids their development during these progressive early years, it may even give you some time back.
Role play starts to come into action too at this age, and as their imagination deepens consider a gift that will tap into their creativity. It may not come naturally at this young age to play with others, so toys that can be played independently is also recommended.
With the help of our two-year-old testers, we gathered a range of gifts; but there are a few key elements when it comes to testing toddler toys.
We took into consideration whether it stimulated them enough to play independently, if the toys aided development, such as coordination, dexterity and motor skills, and most importantly, if they were interesting enough to be played with again and again.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
GG* oekaki house
A modern etch a sketch? Yes please. Not only will your toddler get kicks out of playing with this fun and stylish toy, but we also think parents will love taking a turn too. Choose from the triangle, square, circle or go freestyle with the pen to make a masterpiece, the stamps are easy for little hands to grasp and we love that they’re magnetic so that they stay in place – plus name a child who doesn’t love a magical magnet? Beautifully crafted using beech wood sourced from an ecological forest, the muted colours also show the natural grain of the wood and have been finished with a natural and safe beeswax coating. The quality of this toy is second to none and our tester loved sliding the little dog figurine to watch the drawings mysteriously disappear. A fun drawing toy without the need of a digital screen, that’s a win, win!
Buy now £52.00, Kiko & GG
Micro Scooter mini micro 3in1 deluxe Gruffalo push along scooter
Just when you thought the team at Micro Scooters couldn’t up the appeal, it collaborated with everyone’s favourite furry friend, the Gruffalo, and is available in four exclusive Gruffalo-inspired designs which feature along the extra grippy foot deck. The three-in-one scooter starts life as a ride-on with an adjustable and removable parent steering handle and then it develops into an independent sit-on scooter for more assertive toddlers with a comfortable and adjustable seat. Finally, for those two years plus it graduates into the mini micro deluxe scooter, and the handlebars adjust meaning it’s suitable to use up to five years old. A smart investment we’d say.
Buy now £129.95, Micro Scooter
Janod sweet cocoon shapes and colours dog
French brand Janod has been making wonderful wooden toys for 50 years, so it’s safe to say it’s pretty well versed when it comes to toddler gifts. This four-legged friend is sure to be the best of chums with your little one in no time, as they spin his tummy to match up the shapes or colours. At 28 months old, our tester was more occupied with wobbling the dog’s spring-mounted head and tail or stroking and wiggling the soft felt ears, but this is a great educational toy for those precious pre-school years. Not only did our toddler love it, but it also looks great on the shelf too – made from a mix of beech wood and Chinese cherry wood, and using water-based paint, play has never looked so good!
Buy now £30.00, Kidly
Bigjigs Toys 100% FSC certified activity cube
Just in time for Christmas 2020 Bigjigs Toys has launched a 100 per cent FSC certified range and we’re more than impressed. This activity cube is sure to be a hit with toddlers, allowing them to develop their coordination and dexterity while having a whole lot of fun. Push and pull the coloured beads along the wired frame, match up the wooden shapes with the correct holes, twist and turn the cogs, and learn their ones, twos and threes, and ABCs – play really is the order of the day with this activity cube. Our tester loved seeing her face in the mirror, and with so much to do it kept her occupied and saw her coming back for more.
Buy now £49.99, Bigjigs Toys
SmartMax my first totem
We really dig SmartMax for its innovative, colourful and safe magnetic construction toys for young ones. Designed to inspire STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning, this toy gives toddlers the chance to explore the fascinating world of magnets. The set includes eight sensory magnetic building blocks, which all make a different sound when shaken and boast different styles and textures. Little ones can work their way through the 24 challenges on the cards (these do get harder, so some may be more suitable for slightly older children), building the blocks to make the totems, or do as our tester did and freestyle it – this kept her well and truly occupied.
Buy now £20.41, Amazon
Quut quutopia treasure island bath puzzle
This 12-piece set from Quut will take bath time fun to a whole new level. Little ones can get creative and build their own bath toys, sticking pieces to the side of the bath or simply splashing about with these fun shapes. Made from a soft foam which keeps them bobbing along nicely, it’s also great for developing fine motor skills while keeping toddlers stimulated. The set also includes three little finger puppet dolls, which are made from a durable plastic – which is, of course, BPA, phthalates and latex-free – our tester loved moving these little characters around the bath.
Buy now £17.50, Bon-Tot
Brio pull-along giraffe
Swedish toy brand Brio fails to disappoint, then again if you have been creating quality products since the end of the 17th century you must be getting something right. Toddlers love a pull-along pal, and what better companion than this gorgeous wooden giraffe, that’s made from FSC-certified wood? Moving its neck and head as your toddler pulls it along, little ones will have buckets of fun taking a walk on the wild side with this toy.
Buy now £18.95, Amazon
Cuddledry limited edition Christmas cuddle elf
Bringing Christmas cheer to the bathroom and beyond is Cuddledry’s new toddler towel. Made with the brand’s signature blend of pure cotton and naturally soft and sustainable bamboo towelling it’ll make the cosiest gift around. There’s a handy popper at the neckline to hold it in place, and you can even get it personalised too. Full of fun, but hugely practical too, we’re sure this little elf will put smiles on everyone’s face.
Buy now £37.99, Cuddledry
Kid’s Concept Aiden garbage truck
We simply love the green messaging of this toy – teaching little ones about the importance of recycling. Made from plywood and stainless steel, this is a super sturdy wooden toy and it’s safe to say that after plentiful pushes from our tester – and even more crashes – this truck can really hold its own. It comes with four sorting bins for recycling, which can be placed on the lift at the back and then lifted up into the truck. We love the detailing – each bin has a different symbol for paper, glass, and metal, and the whole set has been finished with water-based paint.
Buy now £43.00, The Little Living Company
My 1st Years personalised woodland animal shape sorter
You can’t get more thoughtful than a monogrammed gift, and this brand is the ultimate, offering a fabulous free personalisation service (up to eight characters). This woodland animal shape sorter is utterly adorable, painted in sweet pastel colours and carefully crafted from 100 per cent wood. Toddlers can develop their sensory, motor and coordination skills as they try their turn at sorting the smooth shapes and cute little creatures. Our tester loved the handle too, carrying it around the house like a prized pony.
Buy now £27.00, My 1st Years
Steiff soft cuddly friends – dinkie donkey
If you think Steiff is out of your price range for Christmas then you may want to take a gander at its soft cuddly friends range, a more purse friendly option but made to a high standard that you’d expect from the luxury teddy brand. The festive period isn’t complete without a little donkey – standing at 20cm tall, Dinkie donkey is ready for copious cuddles, and we love the tuft of black hair and cheeky grin. The softness has to be touched to be believed, it’s no surprise our two-year-old tester loves snuggling up to Dinkie.
Buy now £25.00, Selfridges
‘That's not my Reindeer…’ by Fiona Watt, published by Usborne
Usborne’s That not my… book series is a huge hit with pre-schoolers. Designed with bright pictures and patches of different textures to create a sensory journey – you’ll struggle to find a toddler who isn’t obsessed with turning the pages of these touchy-feely books. If gifting a book alone feels a little on the frugal side, then this charming gift set is sure to tick the boxes. You’ll receive a That's not my Reindeer book and an adorable soft reindeer toy to snuggle up with.
Buy now £15.00, Books2Door
The verdict: Gifts for two-year-olds
Toddlers just love the GG* oekaki house and we can see why; it’s creative, ergonomically designed for children and it even looks nice when tossed to one side. We also had great fun testing out the Bigjigs Toys activity cube and comes highly recommended.
Looking to reduce your child’s screen time? Take a read of our guide to the best kids’ audio players