What Toys Are Your 2-4 Year Olds Playing With?

Updated on September 04, 2012
C.A. asks from Winchester, VA
18 answers

I've always felt like my boys do not have the right types of toys. My 3 year old being on the spectrum and not playing with toys has set his brother up! My little one love action figures, little people barns, little people houses all that pretend kind of stuff. but since first son did not play with anything, we kinda stopped buying toys as they aged. I just bought them a really really cheesy $10 magnetic train set at the dollar store and they love it! especially my 2 year old. So I am thinking about maybe saving for a train table and trains.
So what toys do your kids love and what toys can they live without? Thanks so much.

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone. I cleaned out all the infant toys that were not being played with and they were left with not a lot! We need to catch up. Guess I'll be on craiglist a lot.

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answers from Tulsa on

At around age 2, my son was really into Cars. He loved the movie and had some of the cars from it. Once he discovered Thomas, that was it. He played exclusively with Thomas for months! That is the only thing I bought for him. Now he is 5 and has started to outgrow Thomas. He will sometimes watch the show or movies on TV, but he doesn't really play with the trains or tracks anymore. Now he has moved on to Super Mario Brothers.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My almost 3 year old loves those Thomas the Train wooden tracks and little wood trains. She also loves pretend food and her toy kitchen. She likes pushing around the toy shopping cart and putting the food and stuffed animals/babies in it. She also loves her little pop up tent we put up in the livingroom. She loves marble tracks. She loves playing pretend with Little People houses and farm. Her brother, when he was this age loved the same things... but was particularly obsessed with marble tracks and musical instruments. He had a small guitar, drumset and some toy instruments like a Bontempi toy trumpet and saxophone. He was really into those - especially the guitar and drums. He also was obsessed with Cars movie toy cars.

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answers from Houston on

Thomas. that's all my son has played with since he was 2 years old. He is now 9, and also on the spectrum. Guess what he plays with? THOMAS! There is so much to collect it never gets old for him. He is now saving up for A. electric Thomas train. He knows not to talk about it at school lol.
He and his sister, who is 4, play endlessly with Thomas. I am sick to death of THOMAS! but they love it!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The right toys are the toys your kid likes.

My DD enjoys:

Books, blocks, legos (duplos), dinosaurs, my little pony, small dolls (Kelly and similar), stuffed animals, sticks, boxes, stickers, play kitchen, arts and crafts...IKEA also sells inexpensive train stuff.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Have you tried looking at Lakeshore Learning or Discount School Supply websites? Educational toys are fun and well, educational. They can be learning about science and still have fun!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My little guy loves his shake and go Thomas and Percy, but he is only 16 months, so he will develop more. He also likes stackers, we got a cheap set at Ikea and he loves it. (You know where there are squares or cups in a graduated sizes that you can put together?)..my almost 3 year old loves them too, but she is mostly LIttle People. She also loves her kitchen and play food.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

My kids played with the Little People, then they played with the action figures (Batman, Spiderman, Ben 10 etc.). The action figures liked to play in the Little Peoples barn and parking garage etc. They also liked to play with Hot Wheels, but not so much the tracks. We bought a train table, but it never got played with, although they played with train tables every where we went, just not at home. We tried the Fisher Price Geo Tracks, but since we don't spend a lot of time at home it was too much work to set up the tracks and put them away again. They liked the Lego Duplo at that age as well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

My 2 1/2 year old loves stuffed animals, namelyl frogs and this $1 lion puppet we bought at Michael's when she was a newborn!

She has entire scripts for them that Mommy or Daddy have to act out with them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

My 4 year old boy is all about Thomas the Train. He also plays with Legos and matchbox cars. He regularly asks me to build Sodor with his massive amount of train track. I am working with him on trying to build some of it himself, but he gets frustrated. We have the trackmaster set that goes by itself (battery powered), but he will play with them all day and has since he was about 2. He also plays with his army guys and runs over them with the matchbox cars. My husband found a rug with streets on it that he dumps the cars on and runs them around the roads. (IKEA, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc have them)

Craigslist is wonderful for finding train tables. Some of them are in good condition, some not so much. Some include the trains, again some don't. If only I had the room for one, I would have already gotten one.

He has also found the wii and xbox much to my displeasure. He likes the army games and Mario. He is not very good, but tries his hardest.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Matchbox cars
Wooden toy train set (no noise). Other train set we put togther occasionally (rainy days) that makes noise.
Wooden blocks
Big putzzle thing (10 huge pieces)
Make A. indoor fort w/blankets
Dress up (camoflage ((sp?)) soldier outfit, cowboy outfit, construction
worker etc)
Tinker toys
Vacuum toy
Ramps w/cars
This huge crawl through thing
Bean bag toss game
Matchbox garage car thing w/ramps
Fire trucks
Stickers (on everything), coloring books

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My kids are now 7, 5 and 3.

I'd say YES to the train table. Ours still is used every week.

YES to a play kitchen and good food (I like Melissa and Doug stuff).

My kids have a set of Melissa and Doug cardboard blocks that are well well used and very very fun. They are still used daily.

My boys play with matchbox cars daily.

We also have lots of lego's - but my oldest started those around age 4.

Imaginex has some fun stuff too - we have a cool boat (plus a little people pirate ship) that get a lot of action.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

When my son was this age, his most-used toy was a set of blocks. (The cardboard blocks suggested below are great, but do not stack up in multiples so you can't build "high"... but they don't hurt when they fall on you, so that's a plus.) Bristle blocks are awesome, and you may need to go through the set to remove any smaller, choking hazard pieces.

PLAN toys makes a Cone to take apart and put together. This was also well-used and added into block play 'stories'.

Digging tools and sand or dirt were also huge hits with him. Still are.

We also had a little kitchen set up. It was A. institutional one (for preschools) which I found at a junk shop. We bought some a wooden PLAN tea set, some wooden food which velcro'ed together and could be cut apart, added some old pots and pans and some extra utensils (think Dollar Store), and then sometimes a small amount of dried pasta or dried beans to 'cook' at times. I tend to import supplies from other activities, so our wooden alphabet puzzle letters became 'cookies' (great for introducing them) and some small paper bags turned the kitchen into a bakery. This activity was a huge hit with my preschoolers as well.... as were the blocks and cone toy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

Almost 4 yo: Trucks, trucks and more trucks! Big ones and little ones. His favorites are garbage trucks then construction vehicles. He also likes toy swords, drums, Legos/Duplos, cardboard boxes and art supplies (mainly a dry erase board w/markers). We also just recently figured out Candyland which he is now obsessed with playing. Oh and he loves his sandbox more than just about anything in this world!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

A play kitchen has been a staple for both my children as well as every child I've ever babysat, including boys. You can get one with lots of neat doodads (ours has a little coffee maker, phone, fridge, oven, microwave, and the stove has two burners, one of which makes little boiling or frying noises depending on what pan you put on it) and lots of plastic food to go with. I have seen countless children play for hours with this thing. You'll also need plastic plates and cups, etc...a lot of the kitchens come with some stuff.

Right now, my 2 and 1/2 year old likes doing flashcards...letters, mostly, but some shapes and colors...and I don't know why, but she just really likes them. She likes books, puzzles, blocks, and tiny little things (polly pockets, littlest pet shop...so whatever the boy versions of those are!)

She also likes to play with Little People stuff.

**As someone Sherri G also mentioned, we also have a HUGE set of GeoTrax which my children both adore, but it absolutely takes parental help at pretty much all times. My seven year old can just now put the tracks together, but she still can't set it up so it all connect in one huge circuit. Also takes a TON of room...even when storing, I had to buy one of those gigantic totes to put it in...the REALLY big ones. If you are going for a train, I would really recommend something smaller.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

If your kids love the dollar store toys, consider yourself blessed! My in-laws bought our kids (age 4 and 1 at the time) Leap Frog laptops for Christmas, but they couldn't care less. A few days ago they spent over A. hour playing together with A. onion in a pan. Yep, just a raw, unpeeled onion in a saucepan, pretending they were cooking it, feeding it to each other, to me, to the cat, and so on. They also love to put mesh laundry bags over their heads and chase each other around the house.

The only must-have toy that was worth it to us was legos, but 2 year olds are kind of iffy on those. My son could play with them for hours since he was old enough to pick them up, but my daughter puts everything in her mouth. You know your kids, if you think they could play with them the right way.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

my 2 and 4 year old are always playing with their big cardboard blocks. My son is obsessed with firemen, so he plays with that stuff all the time, and with his trains and cars (from the car's movie) the rest of the time. The other big toy they use all the time is the play kitchen, with cash register and tons of food. These are all their "daily" toys.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

The train table and play kitchen are both incredibly popular in my house. I have a 5 year old boy who has loved both since he was about 15 months and a 22 month old daughter. They both play with them almost daily. At age 2-4, my son was super into cars and trucks. He loved matchbox/hot wheels cars, anything from the Disney movie Cars and big construction trucks or emergency vehicles. Now, at 5, he is super into Legos, still plays with the stuff I already mentioned, and loves anything related to sports. He also really likes board games, but those are harder to play when my daughter is around since she messes everything up!

I also sell Discovery Toys, so we have some really fantastic products that come from the company. They are fun, educational, they grow with the kids, and they all have a lifetime warranty. We even have A. autism guide to help choose the best toys for children on the spectrum. If you want to check them out, go to my website at http://www.discoverytoyslink.com/karenchao
For boys your age, I would highly recommend Motor Works and Working Trio. They will also have a lot of fun with Measure Up Cups, Block It, Measure Up Shovel, and Playful Patterns. I cannot recommend them highly enough!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

Don't underestimate the power of blocks! Kids LOVE them and they are very educational and age appropriate.

Littles love anything they can mimic adults doing....play kitchens, babies (even for boys), dress-up, etc.

Christmas time is a great time to find train tables and sets. I got a really nice off brand table with trains and minimal buildings for $35 new at Walmart.....and then it went on clearance for $15 after Christmas.

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