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Useful gifts for 2 year old - something stimulating?

(19 Posts)
spangledboots Sat 08-Aug-15 18:16:43

Hi all,

I'll try to explain this in a way that doesn't make me sound like an interfering aunt! I'll caveat this with the background information that I worked as an au pair/nanny during my university years and still sometimes babysit or help out for a couple of those families now. I've been around quite a lot of kids from different sorts of families, basically.

My brother and his (now) girlfriend have a baby - a sweet little boy who'll be 2 in September. I live far away (need to fly to get home) and only see him once a month at most. I've noticed over the last 3-6 months that he's quite a nervous little boy. He doesn't like too much excitement or noise - which makes sense as he lives alone with his mother most of the time and my dad's house is normally a hive of activity so it's scary for him. He also doesn't seem in any way interested in play. Once he's settled in to the environment, he just wants to walk around. Not even looking at things, picking stuff up - just walking around and every few minutes going up to his mum and saying 'mammie, mammie'. She barely looks up from her phone and never gets up from wherever she sits down when they get to dad's house.

I know from my brother that this is fairly normal behaviour and the only time he doesn't do this is if he's sat in front of the tv.

I really wish I could spend more time with him regularly - looking at books or playing with little toys - but as I can't do that and it doesn't seem to happen too often in his home, are there any toys/books etc. that I could pick him up for his birthday? I know they're on a budget (aren't we all!?) so if I can get him something they wouldn't buy themselves that might be useful.

I don't want it to seem offensive to my brother's girlfriend either. And if the way he's behaving is probably completely normal then tell me to shut up and I'll buy him some cute clothes instead!

Footle Sat 08-Aug-15 18:53:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

spangledboots Sat 08-Aug-15 22:00:05

Footle - her and I aren't particularly close, I don't think she'd come with me on her own. Maybe I should suggest my brother does this?

They barely leave the house.

PinkParsnips Sat 08-Aug-15 22:18:04

How about a book like this which would encourage interaction with his mum? we have it and my DD who's the same age often brings it over and wants to point out pictures etc.

First 100 Words (Soft to Touch Board Books) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1849154201/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_efNXvb7DPNSTV

sorry not sure how to do a proper link.

Or maybe something like finger paints, playdoh etc which would need help from an adult. She might just need some ideas of ways to interact with him.

callamia Sat 08-Aug-15 22:26:20

My son is just the same age. He loves little jigsaw or shape puzzles; the Orchard Toys 2 and 3 piece ones are simple enough for him to do on his own, and he sits and concentrates on them really nicely. He also gets a really clear sense of achievement from finishing a puzzle (judging by the round of applause he gives himself...).

AdamantEve Sat 08-Aug-15 22:33:18

My 2 year old loves this

It looks simple but he plays with it loads and it really encourages hand eye coordination and he likes to try to name all the sea creatures too

BecksTroll Sat 08-Aug-15 22:37:13

Duplo...a huge big box of duplo bricks. With a green mounting board. And a plastic box for throwing them all back into.

Books..."You choose" is a nice interactive one.

Sound books...gruffalo and gruffalo's child are excellent (the noises are on a panel at side of book)

I hate puzzles, we keep losing the damned pieces but you can get ones which do the elephant noise etc as you put the piece in so rewards the child for getting it right

Fisher price shape sorter is excellent value

BecksTroll Sat 08-Aug-15 22:39:17

Ooh Adamanteve, that looks good. We have a fishing game but as a puzzle, that is an interesting variant.

Ferguson Sat 08-Aug-15 22:53:48

I too think you can't do much better than Duplo. Besides the bricks there are vehicles, farm sets with animals.

I don't like books or toys that have synthetic sounds or speech, or need batteries.

It is worrying that there isn't more mother/child interaction; when I see mothers with babies in prams and the mother is absorbed in her phone, I feel I would like to shout at her : For Heavens sake, woman, ignore the phone and treasure this wonderful little baby you have!

New parents don't realise how quickly the years pass, and baby grows up. Our DS is 32 now.

Hoodedmoron Sat 08-Aug-15 23:10:10

Any of the books with lift the flaps or buttons that make noises are a hit with my nearly 2yo.

A DIY kitchen? You could keep small food boxes and Sellotape them back, like the small cereal selection type things, wash out a finished lurpack tub etc and put them together in box with wooden spoon and mixing bowl and a couple of plastic plates and cups.

Hoodedmoron Sat 08-Aug-15 23:17:43

Sorry I've just read they are on a budget not you! So the DIY kitchen is a bit of a crap suggestion!

What about a tool kit/work bench? Cars with a mat that's a road?
Playdoh?

Strawberrybubblegum Sun 09-Aug-15 09:00:05

The tricky thing is going to be choosing toys which he can start playing with without too much help: the risk with a toy that needs input (or books, for example) is that it will just be put in a cupboard and not used sad.

I'd add an up-vote for a fishing game like the one anadanteve suggests - they're really popular with that age group and also versatile since once you've fished the pieces out, you can put them back in like a puzzle (but it's more appealing/less intimidating than just a puzzle) and it can be played with alone or as a game. here is one with insects rather than sea creatures, if that appeals more.

Alternatively, Wow do some nice interactive vehicles, which don't take batteries. Eg motorbike or tow truck

And how about a fire fighters hat as a stocking filler.

WeSailTonightForSingapore Sun 09-Aug-15 09:07:50

Some great suggestions here. Seconding duplos.

Also Melissa and Doug have a great puzzle board called locks and latches, and one hide and seek puzzle board - very popular with my 20month old.

I also second the arts sets mentioned above - Alex Jr do a great finger painting set, very easy to wash out (unlike the crayola 'washable' paint!). And the Mothercare version of play doh is also very popular here.

MiaowTheCat Sun 09-Aug-15 10:26:54

My 2 year old loves lift the flap type books - like Dear Zoo - get the board book version rather than the paper page version as it's more durable if they're using it independently.

Some of the Happyland sets are more accessible than others in that bit before they're really into imaginative play when they can still put the figures in and out of the holes. The London bus one was a hit when mine were in the early 2s www.elc.co.uk/Happyland-London-Bus-Set/132577,default,pd.html

Jigsaws are going to be a bit of a pain in that they require adult input to get going on. There are days when even I inwardly groan at having to do them.

Duplo - one of mine was very into that, the other one less so (I have two girls - age 2 and 3 - one's very mechanically/technically minded).

A nice set of wooden blocks (which I know I will have to remove from my slippers when I put them on this morning)

Footle Sun 09-Aug-15 12:18:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

spangledboots Tue 11-Aug-15 20:31:31

Just checking back! Thank you so much for all of the suggestions, guys. I'll have a proper look into all of them.

Footle, I do worry about the little guy sometimes. I know it's not my right to tell anybody how to raise their child but a few people in our family have mentioned that she just seems 'bored' with him now. When he was a little baby with clear immediate needs (feed me, change my nappy etc.) she was pretty attentive to him (I say 'pretty' because I only ever saw her at my mum's place where her and I also helped out because we were doing the doting auntie/gran thing!) compared to how she is now.

I did mention about getting him into some sort of nursery/creche. She was at college until May and he went for one day a week to her college creche which at least got him into a place with other people and children his age. I asked if she could get any 2 year old place for him and she said he won't be going anywhere now until he's 3 or 4?

Footle Tue 11-Aug-15 21:00:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Footle Tue 11-Aug-15 21:02:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

spangledboots Tue 11-Aug-15 21:21:10

I wish I could hang out with the little guy a bit more!

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