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Best Toys and Gifts for Toddlers and Twos

The perfect picks for holidays, birthdays, and just because

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Some simple blocks to electronic gadgets that wow adult techies, there is a plethora of toys out there for little kids. Use this list to find the perfect present to match how your child likes to play and what stage of development your little one is at.

Have a favorite gift idea for toddlers and twos? Share your toy reviews.

LEGO Duplo Building Sets

lego duplo
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Interlocking blocks are a must-have for toddlers. They are perfect for introducing a variety of early concepts -- colors, size, numbers -- and foster constructive play. They also help young children build fine motor skills. DUPLO blocks, are the best of this category of toys in my opinion. Look for playsets reaturing themes like animals or characters like Winnie-the-Pooh.

Sand and Water Table

Sand and Water Table from One Step Ahead
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You have to be at ease with the concept of messy play to really get the beauty of a sand and water table. I actually believe it can be used indoors year round if you are careful about clean up. And it's worth it, because you'll be amazed at how your little one gets lost in his own imagination just by filling and refilling a water cup over and over again. The One Step Ahead model of sand and water table is my favorite because it allows for all that solitary play but doesn't go overboard with bells and whistles (literally) like some products.

LeapPad2 Power Learning Tablet

leappad2
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If you have an older toddler who loves your iPad or iPhone, this affordable, learning table is a great pick, allowing them to have fun in a child-safe environment.

Melissa and Doug Happy Giddy Bowling Set

Melissa and Doug Happy Giddy Bowling Set
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There are a million ways that toddlers like to play with balls, but no activity delights them quite so much as using the rolly ball to knock other things over. I love the design of this toddler bowling set. Plus, a handy carrying bag makes it easy to pack it up and store it or take it with you to the park.

Corolle My First Doll 13" Rag Doll

Corolle 13 Inch My First Rag Doll - Pink
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This is a doll that your little girl will play with for years to come. It's perfect for toddlers because it's all cloth and has no loose parts or accessories that could pose a choking hazard. It can also be tossed into the wash and dried (saving so many tears) and, beyond those things, it's just so precious. The details on these large rag dolls are also age appropriate -- from embroidery she can feel to bright colors that will delight. In short: it's a happy doll for happy memories.

A. A. Milne's Pooh Classics Boxed Set (Audio CD)

A. A. Milne's Pooh Classics Boxed Set [Audio CD]
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I do love the Disney version of Winnie the Pooh and his buddies, but I also think it's worthwhile to introduce children to the original stories that started it all. The language is so rich and the fun, you'll enjoy listening to this collection on your holiday road trips as well. The unabridged audio collection includes A. A. Milne's stories from Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, and poems from When We Were Very Young, and Now We Are Six.

Little Tikes Easy-Store Large Slide

Little Tikes Easy-Store Large Slide
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A super-safe, super-big slide is welcome in my home anytime. Little Guy will literally go up and down for hours. Then he'll spend a few more hours rolling cars down the slide. That's why when the weather gets too chilly or snowy, this gets a quick wash down and I set it up in the den. Wweeee!!!!

Playskool Superheroes

Playskool Marvel Super Hero Adventures
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Please be aware that these toys are recommended for ages 3 and up. That said, I have found this series of action heroes really good for ages 18 months and up. However, if you do buy this or any other toy for older children, you should obey toy safety guidelines such as being careful your little one doesn't put the pieces into his mouth. The real advantage, I've found with the Marvel, Star Wars, and Transformers play sets by Playskool is the fact that Little Guy can play with the same characters that Big Brother plays with -- he loves that. In fact, Big Brother loves Little Guy's toys, too!

B. Toys Times Square Activity Cube

B. Toys Times Square Activity Cube
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To be honest, I am not completely attached to this model, but, rather, I like the idea of a good engaging activity cube. No electronic noises, no batteries, just lots of moving parts and fascinating shapes to introduce some fundamental concepts to toddlers. It's also a great toy for encouraging independent play and can be a good for toddlers who are transitioning from functional play to more advanced forms of play.

Pacific Play Tents

Pacific Play Tent
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I love a good playhouse, but I really can't believe what they cost. A nice alternative that grows with toddlers is a well-designed play tent. With some models, you can add on to the tent (tunnels, etc.), making it a better investment in my opinion.

Trumpette Howdy Cows

Trumpette Howdy Cows
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We once had a rocking horse. I hated that thing. Like all "good" toddler versions, it had straps or harnesses that I felt complied to put on -- much to my kids' misery. And why? Inevitably they ended up head over tea kettle, crying on the floor. This cow is another story. It bounces. Everywhere. It's right for little legs, and it is just hysterical to watch kids ride on.
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