It’s easy to feel like your drowning in toys when you have a toddler! These toddler-approved non-toy gifts for two year olds will help you find a meaningful present for your tot that won’t just add to your toy problem.
Although this post is geared towards two year olds, many of these non-toy gift ideas are also appropriate for three and four year olds. Some of them are also good choices for younger toddlers – my daughter has owned several of the items listed since she was ~14 months old.
I hope you enjoy these gift ideas that aren’t toys!
This post includes affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission on qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.
I’ve included several photos to show that these gift ideas really are toddler approved! I don’t show my daughter’s full face online, or share her name, so you may see some emojis over her face in photos. You can read about why we don’t post photos of our daughter online if you care to know more.
Practical Life Materials
Practical life materials are fabulous gifts for toddlers. (My Montessori-inspired side is showing a bit here!)
What are practical life materials? They are items that help your toddler learn about everyday activities like cleaning, grooming, cooking, taking care of animals, etc..
Child-sized cleaning supplies make fantastic gifts for two year olds. These are a few of my favorite cleaning-related non-toy gifts for toddlers.
A carpet sweeper. We got LG a carpet sweeper for Christmas when she was 1, but it was a little difficult for her to use. Now that she’s older, it’s easier for her to handle and she loves picking “trash” up off the floor with it! We have this carpet sweeper and didn’t add one of the handle sections to make it shorter.
- All surface carpet Sweeper from Casabella is a compact carpet Sweeper, perfect for quick clean up when the vacuum may not be necessary
- Product Dimensions: 44Long x 11wide
- The three piece pole and compact size make our carpet Sweeper a dream to store
A small brush/dust pan. If you don’t already have a small dustpan set, now’s the time to get one for your toddler! We use our OXO dust pan set to clean up after meals and pick up other small messes. LG isn’t super coordinated with it, but she loves asking for a turn and sweeping up what she can.
- Slim shape allow for convenient storage
- Brush snaps into Dust Pan and stores with the bristles covered
- Soft rubber lip conforms to surfaces for efficient cleaning
A broom/mop set. I basically can’t use a mop or a broom without my daughter rushing over and asking for a turn. Although she likes trying to use full sized options, smaller mops and brooms are way easier for her to handle!
A lot of people like the Melissa and Doug kid’s cleaning set. I think it’s okay. The stand is handy and the items to work, but they clean more towards “toy” quality, in my opinion. I prefer a small corn broom and a small mop that’s actually made for cleaning use.
A window cleaning set. My mom has someone who helps clean a few hours each Friday. LG loves following her around and mimicking her. She uses a cloth to wipe down windows and cabinets and it’s so adorable!
You can put together your own set with a cloth, spray bottle, and a small squeegee, or you can get a children’s window cleaning set. (I’m normally all about glass and wood instead of plastic, but I think plastic makes sense for a cleaning set, especially if you have tile floors.)
- Melissa & Doug
- Great for pretend play or bath play: the Melissa & Doug Spray, squirt & squeegee play set includes a waterproof Caddy with Cleaning supplies That...
- Helps teach responsibility: our kids cleaning set includes a cleaning checklist that helps kids learn about which supplies work best on different...
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Choppers and “knives” are fantastic for wonderful who want to explore in the kitchen.
A wavy/crinkle cutter makes a great toddler “cutting” tool (with careful adult supervision, of course!). We mostly use ours to cut strawberries. As soon as LG sees me pull out a strawberry, she rushes over saying “help!” and “knife!” because she loves using her wavy cutter!
- FAST AND FANCY CUTS – Great for making fancy edges and waffle cuts on various fruits and vegetables.
- USE ON VERSATILE FOODS – The knife is ideal for potatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, melons, carrots, and other firm produce.
- STURDY DESIGN – Made of stainless steel, the knife is strong and durable, with a super sharp blade.
A wood “knife” is also a fantastic choice for a toddler. It’s more like a wedge than a true knife, which means it’s highly unlikely to cut little fingers.
- ENCOURAGES HEALTHY EATING: Safely cut fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese and more!
- TRAINS DEXTERITY: The perfect kids knife trains the dexterity of their hands at a young age.
- SAFETY: Children as young as the age of 3 can cut fruits and veggies under adult supervision. Great for kids cooking.
A blunt cheese spreader is another option for a toddler so she can practice spreading soft spreads, like warm cream cheese or almond butter, on to rice cakes or toast.
- HIGH QUALITY- Our butter spreader is design with a stainless steel blade and a original wood handle, which is firm, eco-friendly and easy to hold.
- SIZE- 4 inch Long in total. The blade is measured 2.2 inch long.
- EASY TO USE- Grab, dip, spread. It’s such easy and convenient to use! Dishwasher safe: Easy to clean and store in your kitchen cabinet.
Many toddlers adore the outdoors, plants, and animals. Gardening and outdoors-related items can also make good non-toy presents!
A watering can is great for both indoor and outdoor use. LG would water the plants with her personal watering can all day long if I let her!
There are many small watering cans available. Some of my favorites include the Hape watering can, this set with a watering can from Green Toys, and Kinderific gardening set. Hape is a toy company with a reputation for high quality and non-toxic toys and Green Toys makes their items in the USA from 100% recycled plastic!
Your little garden helper will need a pair of boots! We own and enjoy these Western Chief boots. The loop handles make them easier for your toddler to pull on by herself and they come in a wide variety of colors/patterns.
- KID-FRIENDLY WATERPROOF BOOTS |The main material we use in our Waterproof Printed Rain Boot with Easy Pull On Handles is natural rubber, which is...
- SOFT AND COZY POLY/COTTON LINING | Nobody wants to wear boots that are abrasive and rough – especially kids! We line our boots with soft,...
- A BENEFICIAL INSOLE | Children are rough on boots and need a comfortable insole to run around on. Our rubber boots are made with a cozy EVA insole....
My daughter loves playing with a small wheelbarrow whenever she has the chance! I love that Hape, one of my favorite, trustworthy toy companies, has a wheelbarrow for toddlers and young children.
- This wheelbarrow is perfect for transporting and moving
- With a helpful plastic design, this wheelbarrow is great for water and messy contents as it is easily cleaned
- With its bright color and design, your child will be working in style
Then, of course, there are other practical life materials for toddlers.
If you don’t already have a wood brush/comb set for your toddler, trying getting one and placing it somewhere accessible. You may be surprised by how quickly they figure out how to brush their own hair!
- 💛 FOR A HEALTHIER SCALP; Unlike other plastic Hair Brush Sets for babies that have stiff synthetic bristles, our hairbrush has it all together...
- 💛 BECAUSE YOUR BABY DESERVES IT; We as parents want what´s best and SAFE for our families; Fephas’ hair brushes are made of eco-friendly natural...
- 💛 BONUS WOODEN COMB: Fephas ’ adorable maple wood comb is excellent for styling and detangling your little one’s hair; it’s safe as it’s...
Toddlers love to do everything themselves, but sometimes their abilities don’t quite match their desires. A set of “dressing frames” that help your toddler practice skills like buttoning, snapping, and zipping can help your little one master these important skills!
- Develop the kids basic Skills,learn to dress,tie shoes
- 6pcs aids in package
A hooded towel can be a fun non-toy gift!
Cute clothes, nice coats, and rain jackets are also good choices for non-toy gifts. Special occasions are the perfect time to splurge on an adorable outfit you might not buy otherwise! LG has received nice birthday and Christmas present clothing that she’s worn for months to come.
For example, the red coat and baby Ugg boots my daughter is wearing in this photo were Christmas gifts.
You can also get accessories, like a nice pair of unbreakable toddler sunglasses or a hat. Again, this is a good time to go ahead and get something a little “nicer” than what you might normally purchase! We recently bought LG a pair of polarized baby sunglasses to replace her cheapo Target sunglasses and they are so much better.
A watch or clock. I LOVE the Preschool Watch (and so does my daughter!). They have both a clock and a watch. Both use colors and animals instead of numbers so young children can start to gain a sense of time before they can read numbers.
Some people will think I’m totally crazy, but I believe that toddlers should own, and practice with, small scissors. We have these blunt-tipped small Fiskars and they are only used with close supervision. They’re a little bit large for my girl (she’s on the smaller side), but our scissor time mostly consists of her holding strips of paper while I demonstrate snipping, so that’s okay!
Small tongs. Tongs are great for so many activities! Our favorite is pom pom pickup. LG loves her tongs and asks for them specifically when she wants to do a tong-based activity.
- 【DURABLE METERIAL, EASY ON YOUR HAND】HINMAY mini food tongs are made from a thick, corrosion resistant stainless steel for unbeatable strength and...
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- 【MULTI-PURPOSE USAGES】Great for taking vegetable, food, meat, cheese, bread, ice and more, lightweight and convenient, easy to carry at any place,...
Books make a fantastic non-toy gift for toddlers (as well as for children, teens, and adults!).
My family has always enjoyed giving books as gifts. In 6th grade I actually got a paperback in my stocking with the implication that I wasn’t supposed to wake up my parents until I was finished reading it!
My daughter loves books so much that it’s hard to pick just a handful of favorites!
That having been said, I think these three are the top requested board books most days:
The Pout Pout Fish. My daughter loves this book, and even “reads” it to herself while making blub and kissing noises.
- Diesen, Deborah (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 34 Pages - 08/01/2013 (Publication Date) - Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Publisher)
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? This book was a shower present and has been a favorite since birth. It’s such a classic and words great for teaching animals and colors.
- Martin Jr., Bill (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
First 100 Board Book Set. Okay, so this is a bit of a cheat because it’s a set of three Priddy books! She loves all three volumes (First 100 Words, First 100 Animals, Numbers Colors Shapes) and will frequently bring one to me while exclaiming “animals!”
- Priddy, Roger (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 01/26/2016 (Publication Date) - Priddy Books US (Publisher)
Because we love books so much, I have several posts on books for toddlers by category:
Coloring books. I know some people consider coloring books to be “toys,” but coloring is such a huge part of our life right now that I have to mention coloring books! You can buy printed coloring books for toddlers, but I love printing my own coloring pages so LG can “color” her favorite designs again and again. Right now we’re loving this set of 4 mini coloring books!
Experiences and other non-toy gifts
A fish. If you know you toddler has an interest in fish, then a relatively low-maintenance fish like a beta, tetra, or a goldfish can be a good non-toy gift. Please don’t get a child a pet, even one as simple as a fish, without consulting their parents first!
A butterfly garden. A butterfly garden is so much fun and educational, too! You send away for the caterpillars, place them in the “house,” follow the care/feeding instructions, and watch nature take its course. When I worked retail in college we sold these butterfly gardens so we had to try one out for ourselves – it was cool!
- Pop up, reusable 11.5 inch tall mesh habitat perfect for butterfly viewing; includes feeding dropper and complete instructions
- Witness one of nature's most spectacular transformations up close
- Caterpillars ship separately via included voucher (Additional $7.95 for processing); Packaging may vary
A zoo membership. My mom got a zoo membership for the family and we love it! Our closest zoo is about an hour away, but it’s still totally worth it. A membership really takes the pressure off each visit and makes me feel more okay with spending just an hour or two instead of making it into an all-day marathon experience.
Children’s museum or aquarium membership. We don’t live close enough to a children’s museum or aquarium for a membership to make sense, but like a zoo membership, belonging to a local aquarium or kid’s museum can be “worth it” very quickly!
Lessons or classes. Swimming lessons and toddler gymnastics classes both make a great experience gift for toddlers. If there aren’t toddler gymnastics classes available in your area, check out this list of the best gymnastics toys for toddlers to bring the gymnastics experience home!
I really hope you’ve enjoyed these toddler-approved non-toy gift ideas! Please take a moment to go ahead and Pin this post so you don’t lose track of it for future reference!
Didn’t see something that feels just right? Maybe you’ll find something in one of these other posts!
Indoor gross motor toys for young toddlers
Natasha Núñez is a former classroom teacher with a Masters of the Arts in Teaching. She also is a registered yoga teacher & holds a certificate in natural skincare formulation from the School of Natural Skincare. She shares her passion for education, positive parenting, free printables, and recipes for DIY bath & home products. Learn more about Natasha and where she’s been featured.