Pretend Play Suggestions

Updated on August 03, 2010
E.B. asks from Wilmington, DE
14 answers

Hi Mamas!

My son is turning 2 next week. I’ve noticed very recently that he’s starting to engage in some “pretend play.” Most notably he likes to “feed” his stuffed dog--- putting food up to its mouth and then making chewing noises. I’d like to get him some birthday gifts that encourage “pretend play” -- similar to the doll house I had for my step-daughter when she was this age. Anyone have recommendations for a 2 year old boy?


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answers from Dallas on

I have 2 1/2 yo twins (b/g)... they LOVE to pretend they are cooking. They also like to pretend they are doctors/ vets so medical kits can be used more multiple pretend situations.

Target has a pretend isle and they had some fireman and policeman outfits the other day for $5.99

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answers from Harrisburg on

Don't let boy/girl stereotypes stand in your way.

My 15 year old son got a boy baby doll for his 3rd birthday. He named him Jimmy! Later, he wanted a baby sister for Jimmy so I got him a baby girl doll with braids. He carried her by the braid, lol. The idea that I had to teach my husband as well is that if girls can learn to be good mommies (learning to care and nurture) boys can learn to be good daddies as well. He would also carry around an old purse of mine and fill it with his Hot Wheels. To him, it was just a sturdy bag for his cars! Maybe if more boys were given the opportunity to become "good daddies" we wouldn't hear about so many grown men who are dipsticks as husbands and fathers.

Kitchen sets are great for 2 year olds! My 23 year old son had a small table top version when he was little and was always making me spaghetti for lunch and dinner, lol. It was a great time to talk while he "cooked" and "washed" the dishes.

Dress up clothes are another great thing! The best time to buy is right after Halloween when everything in stores AND online go 50-75% off. Last year I bought lots of Star Wars and princess costumes for my triplets after Halloween as Christmas presents. They were THRILLED!

Fisher Price Little People are another great pretend play series. Pick the farm, doll house, school, etc. Little People are a BIG hit with preschoolers.

Building blocks is a good choice. Legos, wooden, Lincoln Logs, waffle, any kind can create a castle, a ship, anything the mind can imagine. My 23 year old built a battle ship out of Duplos when he was 2.5!

You can introduce washable crayons and coloring books. Color Wonders is fun as well, and easy clean up.

Play-Doh and modeling clay is fun and they have a lot of accessories to use with it. The barber shop is a big hit with kids.

Magnadoodles are fun.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets
events and chat within 2 hour radius

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I bought a pretend cooking set/dishes when he was around two. He loved it. I bought the pots and pans and cooking utensils at Ikea, but I'm not sure if they still carry them.

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answers from San Francisco on

This is the perfect age for a play kitchen--Costco usually has a nice one on sale shortly before Christmas (about 1/4 the price of the nice Pottery Barn Kids one.) Both the boys and girls that I cared for clamored to the kitchen ea. day and played to their hearts' content. Ikea has some great BPA-free play dishes--steel utensils, tiny plates and silverware for just a few $.
Probably not as easy for a boy, but my mother-in-law bought a trunk & asked her friends for some dress-up stuff (hats, gloves, vests, etc.) ad had an overflowing dress-up trunk for not much money. She lives in those costumes.
You could also try the Disney Store in late August and then early October when their Halloween costumes go on sale at 50% off.
I found that the little boys preferred just hats at 2 y/o though--construction hats, fireman hats, cowboy hat, pirate, sailor, etc. Every now and then they pop up in the $1 section at Target.
My daycare guy lived in a cape that I bought him from here:
It has a velcro closure so he could put it on and off by himself. He'd arrive at my house, toss his coat onto the floor and grab that cape 1st thing in the morning :)

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answers from Columbus on

My son had a Dr & fireman costume. Toys R Us sells a bunch of costume in the store (probably online too)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

dress up clothes (dr. set at for $19.99, play dishes, the elmo's restaurant, play horses/dinosaurs, etc. There's so much out there! I love this age!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I got my sons a kitchen and they loved it! Also they sell huge bins of plastic "food". Melissa and Doug have some awesome sets where you make a birthday cake, pizza, etc.

My sons liked Fisher Price "Little People" also. Or you could try Imaginext-I have seen where they have some pretty cool boys sets.

But the best of all is Thomas!! My sons had the best pretend play ever with their little trains. Played for hours making track setups and doing stories. So good for the imagination.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Anything to do with pretend cooking/eating/food is usually a big hit for anyone that age. You can go as far as getting a play kitchen or you can just get some small play cooking items & play food. My daughter is 4 years old and still loves playing kitchen/resturant. I just found small metal pot and pans (for a dollar a piece) at JoAnne Fabrics which she is getting for her birthday in a week, she can be just like mommy with "real" pots/pans.

With the stuffed dog, if he does not sleep with it, maybe get a basket with one of his old blankets in it for the dogs bed. Even if he naps/sleeps with the dog he will still play with it because he will do things with the dog that you do with him (like put him to bed & feed him).

Maybe a doctor set, he can take care of you are his dog. Could also do other dress up clothes; doctor, fireman, police man, cowboy or whatever his favorite thing is on tv or in books that he might like to dress up like.

The wooden train set has been huge now for two years and counting with my daughter. Also the big legos are fun to build towers with and someone also got us the big lego train set which is awesome.

Could look at a local toy store, target, walmart, kids pottery barn, or where ever you find toys and see what they have to offer along those lines.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

At that age, my son really liked the pretend food/groceries. Also, I agree with the Little People toys.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My son (just turned 4) is all about pretend play! He loves his tools. WalMart has sets of kids tools that my mom got him. He is constantly fixing things around the house. Also, tractors and construction equipment. I don't know how many times my coffee table has been a work zone for fixing roads etc.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

When my son was little, we got him a pretend doctor kit. It had a stethoscope, pretend shots, bandages, otoscope (for looking in ears), thermometer, etc in a little doctors bag. (we even got him a kids set of scrubs so he could dress up for Halloween). He use to take my temperature, tell me I was very sick and he had to operate, then he'd give me a fake shot and put some of the band aid bracelets on me and tell me I was all better. He used to like to play dentist, too. And fireman, and policeman, and astronaut, and paleontologist (dig up dinosaurs). I gave up trying to figure out what he wanted to be when he grows up (right now (he's 11 yrs old now) he wants to build air craft carriers - and he has - out of Legos). He also had a toy tool belt and toy power tools (he still loves his toy chain saw).


answers from Dallas on

My son was into costumes. His favorite was Peter Pan (which I had to make myself), but he also loved cowboy, fireman, different hats or anything really. Boys love to play with action figures and create hero activity. My boys always had batman, Luke Skywalker, Superman or Spiderman with them in the form of action figures. Boys love to save the world!



answers from Dallas on

My son loved his little people at that age. He is 4 1/2 and still loves to make worlds with the Little People. His sister is almost 2 and she loves them as well. He also really loved (and still plays with) his Black and Decker toy tool bench. He has a tool belt,tool box and hard hat to go with it all. My son loves play food, but we didn't have the space for a play kitchen, so we opted for a small pretend grill instead.



answers from San Diego on

I got my son a kitchen about 6 months ago and he loves it. He will be 3 at the end of the month. I have also bought him different hats and custumes resently too. He loves to dress up like a fireman, pirate, and a chef.

Good Luck

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