26 of the best toys and gift ideas for toddlers in 2020

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  • Toddlers have strong opinions, so finding gifts they'll love more than the boxes they come in can be a challenge.
  • As a mom of a 2-year-old, I've already gone through that process and have rounded up 26 toddler toys and gifts they're sure to love. 
  • You can check out all of our 2020 holiday gift guides here to shop for everyone on your list.

Toddlers can be picky little humans. You know this if you've ever seen how long they're entertained by a cardboard box or bubbles, only to leave a pricey toy sit by the wayside day after day. 

I would know — my 2-year-old has a big personality. But I've become a pro at buying gifts that she plays with longer than the packages they come in. That's why I've rounded up 26 gifts that will be a hit with any toddler. Many of the picks on this list have also been tried, tested, and well-loved by my own child.  

Check out 26 of the best toddler gifts and toys in 2020:

This list includes a Sponsored Product that has been suggested by Crocs. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*

The ultimate racetrack

Go! Go! Smart Wheels Ultimate Corkscrew Tower
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Go! Go! Smart Wheels Ultimate Corkscrew Tower, available at Walmart, $19.88 

This quickly became our family's favorite Go! Go! Smart Wheels track after the company sent us a review sample a few months ago. It can be configured into one tall spiral or two smaller spirals for racing. You'll get one race car, and the track includes a switch track, hazards, and a trap door. Five different locations along the track prompt the car to play various sounds, songs, and phrases. If you already have other Go! Go! Smart Wheels tracks, you can connect them to the tower.

Recommended ages: 1 to 5 years

A color-changing bath book

Color Me: Who's in the Water? (Wee Gallery Bath Books)

"Color Me: Who's in the Water?" available at Amazon, $12.95

Toddlers will think this book is magic when it changes color in their bathwater. The illustrations are the central focus with just a few words on each page. This creates an ideal environment for reluctant readers to pick up a book. Use it for some water painting fun out of the bath, too. 

Recommended ages: 1 to 3 years

Star Wars Crocs

Gifts for kids Crocs

Kids' Crocs Fun Lab Darth Vader Lights Clog, available at Crocs, $44.99

May the force be with your young padawan in these fun light-up Crocs. The Darth Vader Lights Clog has embedded LEDs that illuminate with every step — making your kid feel like they're in a "Star Wars" movie themselves. And Crocs are great kids' shoes: effortless to slip on and off. They are also durable and easy to wash

*Sponsored by Crocs

A pull sled for wintertime fun

emsco toddler sled
Dick's Sporting Goods

Emsco Toddler Sled, available at Dick's Sporting Goods, $19.99

Another classic toy to gift this holiday season: a sled. The Emsco toddler sled is simple and lightweight — just what a toddler needs. With a seatback for stability and a seatbelt, it's ideal for younger toddlers. For more ideas, check out the best snow toys for kids.

Recommended ages: 18 months to 3 years

A World of Eric Carle puzzle

My First Puzzle Pairs Brown Bear

My First Puzzle Pairs Brown Bear, "Brown Bear What Do You See?" available at Amazon and Walmart, $12.67

Two-piece puzzles are a step up from peg puzzles, another toddler favorite. This set of 10 puzzles is inspired by the popular book "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?" As a former English teacher, I can't resist a toy that encourages reading. Even if you don't have the book at home, these puzzles will still be engaging and challenging while simultaneously exposing toddlers to color matching.  

Recommended ages: 2 years and up

Reusable mess-free coloring pads

Water Wow! 3 Pack - Dinosaurs, Adventure and Space
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Melissa & Doug Water Wow! 3-Pack, available at Amazon and Walmart, from $13.49

If you have a toddler living in your house and you haven't yet discovered the magic that is Water Wow, you're missing out. Each pad comes with four reusable boards that change color when they make contact with the water pen. They make absolutely no mess and are some of our favorite travel toys for toddlers. We keep one in the car and always bring them along to places like the doctor's office and restaurants. 

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

A picnic play set and shape sorter all in one

LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket

Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket, available at Walmart, Buy Buy Baby, and Amazon, from $20.99

 This picnic play set is one of our favorite toys for 1-year-olds. It teaches toddlers concepts like shapes, colors, manners, and sharing. The basket includes a shape sorter, two cups, two forks, two plates, six food items, and a picnic blanket. 

Recommended ages: 6 months to 3 years

A dump truck made of recycled plastic

Green Toys Dump Truck

Green Toys Dump Truck, available at Amazon, $22

Whether you have a sandbox, a dirt pile in the backyard, or a bunch of toys that need to be moved around the house, toddlers will enjoy loading this truck and dumping things out. The brightly colored toy is made of 100% recycled plastic. An added bonus: After this truck spends a long day hauling materials for your child, you can throw it in the dishwasher. 

Recommended ages: 12 months and up

A doll to love and care for

wee baby stella

Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella, available at Amazon and Bed Bath and Beyond, from $21

This doll can grow with children as they move through different developmental stages. Toddlers can practice caring skills and strengthen their fine motor skills by removing and replacing the doll's binky as well as changing its clothes. At 12 inches tall, Wee Baby Stella is also a great size for toddlers. 

Recommended ages: 1 year and up

An interactive thinking chair

blues clues chair

Blues Clues and You! Play and Learn Thinking Chair, available at Walmart, $49.44

If you have a Blues Clues fan, this real-life thinking chair will be a big hit. It comes with a mailbox, letters, and an interactive handy dandy notebook. The chair can detect when kids sit down or get up, and there is even a storage space under the seat. We've been testing it for a few months, and my daughter hasn't let it leave our living room since. 

Recommended ages: 2 to 5 years

A flashlight for exploring and playing in the dark

Melissa & Doug Giddy Buggy Flashlight
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Melissa & Doug Giddy Buggy Flashlight, available at Amazon, $12.99

Toddlers can turn this simple flashlight on and off easily, and it has a convenient handle. My daughter uses hers to make shadow puppets, read books in the dark, go on "letter hunts" through the house, and more. A flashlight is one of those toys that seem incredibly simple to adults but is novel and exciting for toddlers. 

Recommended ages: 3 to 7 years

Toddler-size crayons and coloring books

My First Toddler Coloring Book
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My First Toddler Coloring Book, available at Amazon, $4.29

Crayola Jumbo Crayons, available at Walmart, $2.97

Crayola Multicultural Large Crayons, available at Office Depot, $2.89

This is a simple yet exciting gift for young toddlers who are just learning how to color and develop their fine motor skills. The large pictures, numbers, letters, and shapes have thick lines, and the pages are durable. These are all characteristics that make coloring easier for toddlers. Thicker jumbo and large crayons are designed for toddlers to have success coloring. This book was one of the first coloring books I bought my toddler over a year ago, and it's still going strong. 

Recommended ages: 1 to 3 years (coloring book); 3 years and up (crayons)

A push car with all the bells and whistles

step 2 whisper ride on car

Step2 Whisper Ride II Ride-On Push Car, available at Amazon, $79.99

My neighbors can't help but smile when they see my toddler roll by in this push car. Step2 sent a review sample that we've been testing since the beginning of the summer. It's still in great shape and handles hills and bumpy roads well. Some standout features include a storage trunk, a working horn, cup holders (for you and your toddler!), and a seat belt. 

Recommended ages: 18 months to 4 years

A cuddly version of everyone's favorite Star Wars character

Star Wars Mandalorian The Child

Star Wars The Mandalorian The Child aka Baby Yoda Plush, available at Kohl's and Target, from $19.99

Toddlers can cuddle up with quite possibly the cutest Star Wars character ever. Toys based on characters like this one give kids just enough inspiration for imaginative play scenarios without doing all the work for them. Even if you haven't seen "The Mandalorian," it's hard to resist this endearing little creature.

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

A doctor's play set

B. Dr. Doctor Toy

B. Toys Toy Doctor Kit, available at Amazon, $21.95

Doctor visits can be scary, but role-playing with a play doctor kit makes them more approachable and even fun. This 10-piece kit comes with a stethoscope, otoscope, blood pressure cuff, syringe, scissors, thermometer, mirror, a pair of tweezers, a beeper, and a carry case to keep it all organized. The pager beeps and lights up, and the stethoscope makes a heartbeat sound. 

Recommended ages: 18 months and up

A Lego set for learning the alphabet

lego duplo alphabet truck

Lego Duplo My First Alphabet Truck, available at Walmart, $24.95

This Lego Duplo set encourages hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as toddlers stack blocks and move the truck around. It comes with 36 Duplo pieces, including 26 letter bricks, a truck, and 10 other bricks and figures. 

Recommended ages: 18 months and up

A customized tricycle

Radio Flyer Trike
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Radio Flyer Custom Build-A-Trike, available at Radio Flyer, from $55

There's nothing quite like a classic red tricycle under the tree on Christmas morning. Radio Flyer sent this tricycle for me to test, and I'm impressed by its quality. Depending on how you customize it, this tricycle can grow with your child from 9 months to 5 years old. Available customization options include a classic bell, a canopy, and a footrest. What I appreciate most about it is the push handle — I use it to help my daughter learn to steer and make sure she is safe while learning to ride. 

Recommended ages: 9 months to 5 years

A set of musical instruments

B. Toys Drumroll Please Instrument Set

B. Toys Drumroll Please Instrument Set, available at Amazon, $33.50

This musical set inspires imagination and creativity. It includes a drum, two drumsticks, castanets, a whistle, a tambourine, and a shaker egg. All of the instruments fit neatly inside the drum so toddlers can take it anywhere.

Recommended ages: 18 to 36 months

A cash register with play food and money

LeapFrog Count Along Cash Register

LeapFrog Count Along Cash Register, available at Target and Amazon, $19.99 

My daughter and I have played many hours of "grocery store" with this set. It comes with a working cash register, eight pieces of play food, 10 coins, and a credit card. Prompts encourage kids to count coins, and buttons on the display correspond with the play food.  

Recommended ages: 2 to 4 years

A starter dollhouse

Melissa & Doug Fold and Go Wooden Dollhouse
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Melissa & Doug Fold and Go Wooden Dollhouse, available at Amazon, $42.04

Dollhouses can keep toddlers entertained for hours as they imagine new scenarios and practice everyday skills. This one seems plain at first glance, but after testing many dollhouses for our buying guide, it's the one my toddler played with most often. The set comes with 11 pieces of wooden furniture and two dolls, which is a big plus as many dollhouses don't come with dolls. 

Recommended ages: 3 to 6 years

Holiday and winter-themed books

Holiday Books for Toddlers
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"The Polar Express," available at Amazon, $9

"Poke-a-Dot: The Night Before Christmas," available Target, $9.99

"The Sweet Smell of Christmas," available at Amazon, $8.98

"Chanukah Bugs," available at Barnes & Noble, $12.99

"Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story," available at Amazon, $6.99

"Diwali," available at Amazon, $7.59

There's nothing quite like cuddling up with a blanket and a good book on a cold winter day. From pop-ups to scented pages to engaging stories, these books encourage toddlers to actually sit through the whole story. Books are an excellent way to teach children about other cultures and traditions, so consider buying one about the holiday you celebrate and another about unfamiliar traditions. 

Recommended ages: varies by book 

A fire truck that blasts 'water'

Ryan's World 6 Inch Ryan and Fire Engine

Ryan's World Fire Engine, available at Walmart, from $5.18

This small but mighty toy includes a fire engine with a moveable ladder, a Ryan figure, and two water projectiles. The removable Ryan figure can sit in the bucket of the ladder to blast the water. With its small size, this toy would make an exciting stocking stuffer, too.

Recommended ages: 3 to 6 years

A stylish play mixer for the budding chef

KidKraft Baking Set Modern Metallics

KidKraft Modern Metallics Baking Set, available at Target, $19.99

This stylish mixer can be an addition to an existing play kitchen, but it's also ideal if you have limited space. The set comes with a mixer, a bowl, eggs, flour, sugar, milk, a baking sheet, cookies, and a working rolling pin. Toddlers can't help but imitate daily life, and this set let my daughter "make" cookies without making a mess. 

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

Everything they need to complete rescue missions

Paw Patrol Rescue Rev Up Vehicle with Mystery Dinosaur Figure

PAW Patrol Dino Rescue Rev Up Vehicle with Mystery Dinosaur Figure, available at Amazon, $14.97

For less than $15, this toy comes with a figurine, a vehicle, and a surprise dinosaur egg. Choose from six different Paw Patrol characters: Chase, Marshall, Rocky, Rubble, Skye, and Zuma. Each vehicle has a rev-up motor and a working tool.

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

A cleaning set so they can 'help' around the house

Melissa & Doug Let's Play House! Dust, Sweep & Mop Set
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Melissa & Doug Let's Play House! Dust, Sweep & Mop Set, available at Kohl's and Amazon, from $25.49

My daughter loves to "help" me clean around the house and this set is the perfect size for her. It comes with a pint-sized broom, mop, duster, brush, dustpan, and even a storage rack. My toddler has consistently used it for more than a year, and it's still in excellent shape. 

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

Their first toolbox

Little Dutch Tool Box

Little Dutch Toolbox, available at Scandiborn, $27.95

Toddlers can "help" put together all their new holiday toys with this 20-piece tool kit. The set includes a hammer, wrench, screwdriver, four bolts, four screws, two nails, two blocks with holes, two long junction strips, and two short junction strips. Each piece is made of wood and painted with water-based paint.  

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

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