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Toys for 24 to 30 months

Your child is now two, and has become even more assertive. But his defiance really results from the tug-of-war between his desire for independence and his continuing need for help. What he's doing -- again and again -- is testing his limits.

Along with independence come expanded language skills. He can now speak in short sentences and has become more purposeful, telling you what he needs or wants. He is also beginning to understand abstract concepts. He can ask for more milk, and inquire about whether he can go to bed later. But he still doesn't understand what next month or next year means.

He can form images in his mind, and organise his toys by size, or colour, or shape. His memory is improving and he may be able to tell you at the end of the day what he had for lunch.

Toddlers are energetic little people, so look for toys and activities that give yours a way to channel his energy. Also look for toys that challenge his developing mind.

Ride-on toys: Your child will still love wheeled toys he can push himself along on, such as tricycles (pedalling is still probably more than he can handle). Look for ride-on toys that are well balanced. Luggage compartments that allow your child to pack and unpack for his trips are a nice feature.

Balls: Balls continue to be a favourite, but even more so now that your toddler can target his throws. A few tots this age even make the occasional catch. Set up a waste paper bin as a "goal" and see who can throw the ball in from a short distance. Or make two "goals" in the garden and introduce your child to a simple version of football.

Art supplies: Let your child be creative. Set up an area in your home where it's okay for him to be messy. You can prompt his artistry by asking your toddler to draw certain things: the sky, or grass, or even what the sound of rain looks like. When you're feeling brave -- or maybe the word is energetic -- bring out poster paints and some broad brushes, stand well back and see what he produces.

Percussive instruments: This is the age when music inspires dancing, clapping, spinning, hopping, even shouting -- so why not add to the fun by handing over a tambourine, or drum, or rhythm sticks? Experiment with different genres of music and invite your child to beat out an accompaniment.

Dressing-up clothes: Pretend play starts to take off about now. Designate a drawer or a box for dressing-up clothes and stuff it with an assortment of shirts, skirts, hats, shoes, and whatever might inspire some imaginative romps. If nothing else, it's a great excuse to practise putting stuff on and taking it off -- an exercise two-year-olds seem to love.

Child-sized household equipment: Toys for dramatic play need to be realistic. So buy a set of toy dishes, pots and pans, and plastic food. Set up a small table and chairs where your child can host tea and dinner parties. Acquire a small broom, or even a little vacuum cleaner, to make cleaning up fun, too.

Construction toys: Your child may become interested in construction now. Consider giant Lego blocks or toys with pieces that can be linked or snapped together. Your child may be able to create wonderfully wonky buses, trains, farms, houses and more.

Puzzles: Your child's new dexterity has opened up many new play possibilities. He can more easily organise cups so that one nestles inside another, assemble four- or five-piece puzzles, use a set of plastic keys to open doors in a plastic house, and dress and undress a doll dressed with laces, snaps, and buckles.


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