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A baby doll stroller is Awesome! Target sometimes has a gift pack that has a baby and the stroller and some appropriate accessories. Nothing with tiny pieces. Almost any of the "Parent mazine" toys are good learning toys as well. They also have disney princess dolls geared to younger kids (more baby looking)
No gift cards. Call the mom with the suggestion to get approval.
I always liked art supplies from Michaels. Or, you can get some cool bathtub stuff - pills that change the water different colors, "paint" for the bathtub.
A flashlight, fishing pole (they have kiddy ones).
I personally never like receiving the "junky" Walmart gifts like Dora or a doll. They are marketed to be very appealing in the store but rarely hold a child's fasicination for more than five minutes.
My all time favorite gift would be an "event" that I would never take my child too because I'm too busy/have other kids/can't afford. Museums have fun programs, the zoo, our orchastra has a children's series. A membership to somewhere also. These are for someone more special but really make the kid appreciate it.
At my suggestion, my brother-in-law (with no kids) gave my children a trip to a water park this summer for Christmas. They are anticipating that long after the fun of any other gift has worn off.
I'm with those who suggested what I call "imagination" toys. Those are the BEST, and the ones that will last long after the wrapping paper has been tossed. Like the Baby Stroller, or the Tea Set, or Play Food, or Play Kitchen Tools....or books with lots of things to do in them, like pictures that pop up, or other fun things on the pages. My son had one that was a Taxi - and every page opened something different in the Taxi Cab. You could check the tires, check the oil, open the glove box, etc....he LOVED that book! Oh - also Mega Bloks. I don't know if little girls like them as well as little boys, but those were a HUGE hit w/ our 2 yr old boy.
my daughter will be 2 next month... Right now she is really into her little kitchen and her play food as well as the stroller and her baby dolls... She even pretends to eat... I would ask the mom what the child is into... I know all kids are different...