"Your 4 year old is developing greater self-control and ingenuity, and much higher degree of empathy – wanting to be a 'helper' or comfort those who are sad," explains MFM's Helen Brown, head of content delivery and author of Parenting for Dummies. "They enjoy playing with other children their age, especially play where they can all pretend to be grown-ups or TV characters or superheroes and act out imaginary scenarios."


Which type of toys are best for 4 year olds?

"At 4, your child's pretend play is getting more and more complex – and can go on and on and on... As well as being a way to try on different roles, like doctor or astronaut or teacher or rock star, make-believe play – with playsets and chid-size replicas of household objects – is also a way to act out emotions and explore feelings," explains Helen.

Best toys for 4 year olds at a glance

Best interactive toys for 4 year olds

  • Great for repeated surprises: L.O.L Surprise Magic Flyers, £32.99
  • Great for trainset thrills: Thomas & Friends Talking Cranky Delivery Train Set, £59.99
  • Great for fairy adventures: My Fairy Garden Blossom Balloon, £19.99
  • Great for nurturing skills: Curlimals Flutter Wonder Bella Bear, £29.99
  • Great for a portable playset: Polly Pocket Pollyville Resort Roll Away Playset, £40

Best educational / learning toys for 4 year olds

  • Great for an early intro to coding: Learning Resources Space Rover, £40
  • Great for logical thinking: Kid K'NEX Oodles of Pals, £30.99
  • Great for early maths skills: Spotty Sausage Dogs, £8.30

Best role play toys for 4 year olds

  • Great for wow-factor: Barbie Dreamhouse Playset, £349
  • Great for terrific, tiny details: Sylvanian Families Baby Mermaid Castle, £54.99
  • Great for role play on the high seas: Gabby’s Dollhouse Cat Friend Ship, £50
  • Great for superhero role play: Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends Flip and Jet, £15
  • Great for TV show role play: Octonauts Above and Beyond Octoray Playset, £45
  • Great for astronaut role play: Great Little Trading Co. Wooden Space Toy, £60
  • Great for doctor role play: Barbie Fast Cast Clinic, £85.99
  • Great for musician role play: Paw Patrol My First Guitar Paw Patrol, £12.99
  • Great for firefighter role play: Hape Fire Station, £69.99
  • Great for hospitality role play: Casdon Morphy Richards kitchen set, £15.99

Best skills-based toys for 4 year olds

  • Great for real cooking: Casdon Kenwood Mixer, £24.99
  • Great for lifelike posing: Baby Born Sister Play & Style, £59.99
  • Great for fine-finger skills: Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Ultimate Ice Cream Truck Playset, £99.99
  • Great for dexterity: Fuzzikins Homemakers Family Home, £17.99

Best toys for 4 year olds for under £15

  • Great budget buy: Galt Velvet Picture Animals, £2.99
  • Great for learning how things grow: WWF Wild Scenes Tiger's Hang Out, £12.99
  • Great for learning about pets: Animigos World of Nature Guinea Pig, £13.40

Helen continues, "Your child's ever-improving finger dexterity means they can hold pencils and colouring pens with a more mature grip, and better hand-eye coordination means they can do more complex puzzles and art or craft activities, and play with toys that have smaller parts or slightly fiddlier buttons to press."

"Playing simple board games or games with other toys that involve sharing and taking turns are good to encourage. Your child will still find sharing hard: give them lots of praise when they do so willingly."

How to choose toys safely

  • Look for the CE symbol as this is used by manufacturers to show the toy meets all the relevant regulatory requirements
  • Also keep an eye out for the British Toy and Hobby Association's (BTHA) 'Lion Mark' – although this is voluntary it means that the toy has to meet safety requirements to be a member 
  • Pay attention to the age suitability of the toy
  • Avoid toys with loose fabric, hair that sheds easily or small parts that detach easily as these can be a choking hazard
  • Check toys over time for sharp points or edges. If they have become dangerously worn considering getting rid of them or having them repaired if possible

Here is our pick of the best toys for 4 year olds, as tested by children and rated by their parents

Additional reporting and product selection by Gill Crawshaw

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Best interactive toys for 4 year olds

1. L.O.L Surprise Magic Flyers, £32.99

– Great for repeated surprises

LOL surprise magic flyers being tested by a child

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4| Size: 10.16cm x 20.32cm x 22.86cm | Batteries: 3 x Lithium Polymer batteries (included) | Awards: Bronze – Best Doll, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

The L.O.L. Surprise Magic Flyer is a fairy doll that will fly out of its case and spin up in the air by itself.

Each L.O.L Surprise Magic Flyer comes in (reusable) bottle-shaped packaging. To activate the unboxing sequence, you child taps and rubs the logo following the instructions given. The bottle then shakes, rocks, and lights up before opening to reveal a L.O.L Surprise Doll in fairy form that flies out of the packaging and through the air, drone-style.

The flight is hand guided, meaning when your child holds their hand underneath the feet of the Magic Flyer the doll goes higher into the air. The doll will land by itself once finished, and it can be put back into the bottle to be "unboxed" as many times as you like: unlike some other surprise dolls, the fun can be repeated over and over again and it doesn't lose its "wow" factor.

Child tester Amelia, 6, said, “I really like the way it flies because it flies really high and it’s really cool to watch. It’s really exciting to see how it hatches out the heart and it starts shaking before it starts flying out with its wings.” Her mum Jessica added “We all had so much fun playing with it. I love how it can be charged up, so you aren’t constantly changing batteries. A definite 10/10 for excitement levels from all of us!

While the small world play potential of this slightly more limited than with standard usual L.O.L Surprise dolls this is a novelty toy that is sure to be a lot of fun. It is worth noting that it's fast and quite loud though, and many not be suited to more sensitive children.

Available at: Amazon, Argos and The Entertainer

2. Thomas & Friends Talking Cranky Delivery Train Set, £59.99

– Great for trainset thrills

Thomas & Friends talking cranky delivery train set being tested by a child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3 | Size: 69.3cm x 132.7cm x 50.5cm | Batteries: None| Awards: Gold – Best Interactive Toy £40 and over, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Bring Brendam Docks to life with this Thomas & Friends motorised train and track set that includes songs, railway sounds, and real character phrases from the Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go! series. The set features three familiar characters from the show, including Cranky the Crane, a motorized Thomas engine and a Troublesome Truck.

The set includes 14.5 feet of track round which Thomas can travel, and Cranky the Crane can spin 360 degrees and help to load and unload cargo. Three pieces of cargo are included in the set, as well as a child-powered hopper. In a move that will delight all fans of the show, the characters recognise and talk to each other on the tracks. There are also 325+ songs, sounds and phrases to soundtrack kids’ imaginative play.

Child tester Chester, 4, loved the set “My favourite part is Cranky, because he can pick up things with his claw. I want to keep playing with it and get another train track to make it bigger. I want to collect all the trains. It's my favourite toy.” Chester’s mum Kellie thought this was “A well made children’s classic toy that creates hours of fun which I am sure will be used for a long time.”

For big Thomas fans, this set can be connected to other Thomas & Friends track sets, to expand the railway play network.

Available at: Very, Amazon and John Lewis

3. My Fairy Garden Blossom Balloon, £19.99

– Great for fairy adventures

My Fairy Garden Blossom Balloon with child tester

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: L6cm x W30cm x H27cm | Batteries: None

A cross between a playset and activity kit, this little fairy garden features a fairy figure, spinning flowers and a hanging balloon with a petal canopy that folds up to reveal a pet dragon for your fairy.

It comes with coriander seeds that you can plant in the bowl (no compost included), a mini watering can and an activity book that includes a bird spotting guide and instructions for building a wind chime.

It is all quite plastic but the manufacturer does pledge to plant a tree for every 5 sets purchased. And we do love the herb-growing element – although one of our child testers was much more interested in turning the bowl into a fairy swimming pool than a seed bed!

"It's so cool. It's magic with the fairy and dragon," said our child tester Aurelia, 4 (pictured above). "I like that the balloon hangs and I can take it off and play with it, and I like that I can grow plants like Mummy."

Tanpreet, mum of our other child tester, Reeva, 5 said, "I love the idea of a really good playset that also teaches your child to love and care for plants. It's colourful, interactive and my daughter absolutely loves it – though it was a little tricky to assemble."

Available at: Hobbycraft and Bargain Max

4. Curlimals Flutter Wonders Bella Bear, £29.99

– Great for interactive cuddles

Curlimals flutter wonders bella bear being tested by a child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: 10cm x 20cm x 16.5cm | Batteries: 3 x AAA batteries (included) | Awards: Silver – Best interactive toy under £40, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Pat the head, stroke the nose or tickle the tummy of Curlimals Flutter Wonders Bella Bear and its fluttering wings will glow with different coloured lights. Bella Bear is a soft, cuddly interactive toy who sings, talks, and laughs with its owner once activated.

Interacting with Bella is designed to teach nurturing behaviour. Bella has over 100 lights, sounds, and movement (although one of our testers said her child had struggled to unlock the whole range). The bear’s wings flutter to express how they are feeling. There is also a magical hidden sequence unique to each character for your child to discover.

Our child tester Zymal, 5, said "it's like the cutest thing ever! This bear is going to be my pet forever and ever. It's so, so nice because it says, "I love you!" Her mum Sadaf added, “Bella Bear has become her constant companion, accompanying us everywhere, whether we're shopping or getting groceries. She treats Bella Bear like a pet, even putting it on her lap during our outings.”

Other toys are available in the Flutter Wonders range, including Sia the Seal.

Available at: Argos and Amazon

5. Polly Pocket Pollyville Resort Roll Away Playset, £68.99

– Great for a portable playset

Polly Pocket pollyville playset being tested by a child

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: H35.5cm x W28cm x D18cm | Batteries: None | Awards: Gold - Best playset under £70, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Take a playful and nostalgic trip with this travel-themed set, which comes in the shape of a suitcase. Polly Pocket is the tiny toy many parents played with as children, that’s now made a big comeback, and this playset offers all the attention to detail you’d expect from Polly Pocket.

The case-shaped playset opens to reveal a miniature world which holds a 3-story hotel with an elevator, an arcade, a spiral slide, and speedbumps that activate playset features. Included are four dolls, a vehicle and 25 accessories, all in tiny form. There’s also an extendable handle on the exterior of the case, meaning you can take the playset with you around the house and on the go. The Pollyville Resort Roll Away also doubles as a storage unit for Polly compacts.

"I like playing with it. I like playing with the Ferris wheel, making it go around and around and putting the car down the slide.” Said child toy tester Heidi.

Heidi’s mum Amy also noted “It's definitely a big impact "wow" toy and the contents do live up to what's on the box. It really holds her attention, and I can hear her playing out different stories in different areas of the set each time.

Heidi’s mum Amy continued “Polly Pocket is one of her top toy brands and she plays with my collection from 30 years ago, so it's really special, for us both, for her to be building her own collection and enjoying toys that were so dear to me as a child.”

Available at: Very, Argos and The Entertainer

Best educational / learning toys for 4 year olds

6. Learning Resources Space Rover Deluxe Coding Activity Set, £40

– Great for an early intro to coding

Learning Resources space rover being tested by a child

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4 | Size: ‎24.99cm x 24.51cm x 8.51cm | Batteries: Yes (not included) | Awards: Bronze – Best Science/STEM toy or kit, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Looking for an out-of-this-world coding adventure? Preschool kids coding skills will take a giant leap with the help of the Space Rover Deluxe Coding Activity Set from Learning Resources.

This is a screen-free set where young coders-in-training build their own maze, plot a coding path with cards, then send their rover out to grab magnetic space rocks, avoid rough terrain, and return safely back to base. The set comes with 20+ coding challenges and STEM activities for kids, outlined in a mission handbook that also contains space facts.

The set helps children explore simple push-button coding and they can build sequences of up to 100 steps and send their rover on different missions. Specially designed with little ones in mind, this toy helps kids as young as four build coding and STEM skills.

"It’s so cool being a space explorer," was the reaction of our toy tester Kaiden, 5, who thought the best part is "when the astronaut gets the flag.” His mum Pooja added “This toy is exciting, interactive (without screens) and excellent quality. The ability to create an endless number of unique tracks for the rover means that it will be played with for several years.”

Available at: Amazon

7. Kid K'NEX Oodles of Pals, £30.99

– Great for logical thinking

Kids Knex Oodles of Play with child tester

Age: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: Varies (different pieces) | Batteries: None

This construction set has 116 brightly coloured pieces from which you can make over 60 different creatures and vehicles. It includes spinning wheels, tractor scoops, big feet, googly eyes and curly tails and comes with a picture guide.

The chunky pieces click together really easily and our child tester Arthur, 4 (pictured above), had a lot of fun creating "funny animals with googly eyes and horns".

His mum Catherine said he's carried on playing with it every day since – and even roped his older brother in. We really rate this set for its 'long-life' play value.

Available at: Amazon

8. Spotty Sausage Dogs, £8.50

– Great for early maths skills

orchard toys spotty sausage dogs with child tester

Age: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: L5cm x W19cm x H14cm (box) | Batteries: None

Who can build the sausage dog with the most spots on its tummy? This counting game comes with 40 sausage-dog cards, a spinner, 7 coloured discs and instructions.

It's a fun game that's good for maths and matching skills and is still fun when you play it again (and again). We like that it has 2 different endings: 1 slightly more complicated than the other – and involving some additional colour-matching.

The sausage dog characters are very funny, too – our child tester Elliott, 4 (pictured above) liked the "Sherlock Bones" one best.

For 2 to 6 players.

Available at: Amazon and Orchard Toys

Best role play toys for 4 year olds

9. Barbie Dreamhouse Playset, £349

— Great for wow factor

Barbie Dreamhouse tester picture and product shot

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L157cm x W70.1cm x H114.3xm | Batteries: 3 x AA (not included) | Awards: Editor's Choice, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Host the ultimate Barbie pool party with the iconic deluxe Barbie Dreamhouse. Discover an incredibly spacious floorplan with 3 levels, 10 different play areas, integrated lights and sounds, a working lift, a 3-storey spiral slide and over 75 accessories and customisable spaces. It’s not just Barbie that gets to have all of the fun — there’s a puppy figure included with plenty of pet-friendly features such as a doggie door, pet elevator and pet slide and pool.

Whatever adventures your child has with Barbie in her Dreamhouse, they’re sure to have hours of imagination-filled fun. Andrea, mum to child tester Leyla, 4 was really impressed by the play potential of the Dreamhouse: "I've never seen my daughter so excited for a new toy and it really is a Dream House. She has been playing with it every day since it arrived. It offers endless opportunities and hours of imaginative play so overall I personally think it is an amazing playset."

"This is amazing!" was the verdict of our other child tester Annakai, 4 (pictured). Her mum Brogan said "she was amazed by the sheer size of it as it’s taller than her!" The set really is huge, so do make sure you have the space for it. It also doesn’t come with any Barbie dolls.

Available at: Amazon, Very and Argos

10. Sylvanian Families Baby Mermaid Castle, £54.99

— Great for terrific, tiny details

Sylvanian Families Baby Mermaid Castle tester picture and product shot

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L18cm x W32.5cm x H37cm | Batteries: None | Awards: Editor's Choice, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

This enchanting pastel amusement park will inspire hours of undersea-themed fun. There are plenty of interactive features to discover and play with, including 12 ocean-themed attractions. There’s a marine merry-go-round, jellyfish swings, ocean café, dream ship and much more. It comes with 3 Sylvanian Families baby figures wearing special mermaid-themed outfits and has space for over 50 figures.

You can put the figures in the rides and have fun exploring the amusement park or put them in the ‘mermaid swim holder’ to make it look like they’re swimming.

4-year-old child tester Alyssa (pictured) loved the Mermaid Castle: "there’s lots of bits that go round and round which is really fun and goes fast if you want it to. It’s so pretty, I will play with it lots and lots forever."Her mum Lisa was really impressed by the details and play potential the Castle provides, saying "it has a lot of different and exciting aspects to it. The more my daughter played with it the more little details we found, it’s a great toy for imagination and role play. Each time my daughter has played with it she has been creating a new 'story' with its extensive range of features."

Available at: Argos and Smyths Toys

11. Gabby’s Dollhouse Cat Friend Ship, £50

– Great for role play on the high seas

Gabby's Dollhouse Cat Friend Ship being tested by a child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: L47.3cm x W16.5cm x H29.8cm | Batteries: 3 x AAA (not included) | Awards: Editor's Choice, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

For fans of Gabby's Dollhouse, this latest addition to the range takes Gabby and her cats out onto the ocean in a cruise ship that'll be familiar to anyone who's watches season 8 of the hit show. "Freya was so excited to open and play with this and wasn't disappointed. She especially loved the colour changing pool and the portholes which can be turned to show different times of day so she could put the characters to bed," said Claire, parent of child tester Freya, 3.

The cruise ship comes with 18 pieces, including a pool with a smoothie bar and a photobooth. It also comes with Gabby and MerCat figures, and there's also one extra Dollhouse Delivery accessory to open – just like Gabby does at the beginning of the show.

Although this set is pricey, it's a great addition to any Gabby's Dollhouse collection: all the toys in the range are designed to work together to ensure plenty of imaginative play moments, so if your child already has the dollhouse or any additional rooms, no doubt they'll have their eye on this too.

Available at: Amazon, Argos and The Entertainer

12. Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends Flip and Jet, £15

– Great for superhero role play

Marvel's Spider and his Amazing Friends Flip and Jet with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: L17cm x W9cm x H9cm | Batteries: None

Flipping easily from a car into a jet and back again, this Spidey-themed vehicle has a super cool rotating cockpit where Spidey can spin around, and the wheels that turns smoothly for floor-whizzing missions.

"I love it 1000 percent!" said our child tester Alfie, who's just turned 5 and is a big superhero fan. "It flies and it turns into a car! I can flip it round and round and round for superhero fun and Spiderman spins round in the car. I would play with this every day forever."

It’s robust and well-made – and a decent price for a licensed Marvel toy, as Denice, mum of our other child tester Malaki, 4 (pictured above) pointed out.

Available at: Argos

13. Octonauts Above and Beyond Octoray Playset, £45

– Great for TV show role play

Octonauts Above and Beyond Octoray Playset with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: L14cm x W52cm x H39cm (in HQ mode) | Batteries: 3 x AAA (included)

This sturdy playset on wheels transforms from the Octoray jet transporter (pictured above, right) into a big Octonauts HQ (pictured with our child tester Ethan, 4, above left) with a drop-down ramp, working lift, lights and sounds.

It comes with Captain Barnacle, a detachable Mini-Ray for him to fly off in on his adventures, 3 creature figures (Chinese Sturgeon, Giant Salamander and Panda) and a mission card.

The sounds are good (just like the cartoon show) but the lights are a little underwhelming and we do wish there were another couple of Octonauts figures to join Captain Barnacle on his missions.

"I think this toy has a vast amount of play potential," said Ethan's mum Sam. "My little boy was so excited when it arrived and then he played with it all day, even carrying it up to his bedroom when it was time for sleep! It inspires such open-ended imaginative play."

Available at: Amazon and Argos

14. Great Little Trading Co Wooden Space Toy, £60

– Great for astronaut role play

Great Little Trading Company Wooden Space Toy with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: 28cm diameter (earth); 23cm diameter (moon) | Batteries: None

This space-themed playset has 20 wooden pieces, including a chunky rocket, a rotating launch pad, a satellite, a loading arm, a moon buggy, a fuel pump, 4 astronaut play figures and 2 sturdy circular play bases, 1 representing the moon and 1 representing the earth.

The loading arm has little magnets that allow it to pick up the cargo blocks and the astronauts also have little magnets so they stay in the rocket.

It might not have the sounds and lights of some other playlets but we think it's a lovely, flexible playset for all sorts of imaginative play. "I didn't think this toy would keep my daughter occupied for long but I was wrong!" said Heena, mum of our child tester Inaaya, 4 (pictured above). "She makes up such a variety of games with it."

Our child tester Edward, 5, was a fan from the outset. "Wow, this toy is amazing," he said. "AMAZING! I'm having a race to the moon! I like the astronauts with their happy faces."

"This is such a great playset< said Edward's mum Rachel. "And I think it's good value for money as there are so many pieces in the set and they are so well made. It's also the sort of toy that will grow with a child's imagination and understanding/interest in space."

Come with a fabric drawstring storage bag.

Available at: Great Little Trading Company

15. Barbie Fast Cast Clinic Playset, £85.99

– Great for doctor role play

Barbie Fast Car Clinic with child tester

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: Varies (several components) | Batteries: None

Barbie turns doctor in this medical-themed playset with 4 play areas (a medical station, exam table, X-ray machine and gift shop – well, this is medicine, US-style!). There are also moulds into which you put play dough to make 'plaster' casts for Barbie's patients (or Barbie herself, for the matter).

It comes with over 30 accessories, including stickers for decorating the casts, a face mask, a stethoscope, a hospital bed and crutches, as well as a white-coated brunette Barbie doll.

It's a sweet, high-quality playset – and it's nice to see a doll included – but it's the cast-making equipment that really makes this toy special.

"Zehra was amazed when she saw she could cast with the dough, and 'treat' patients with broken legs or arms," said Emine, mum of our child tester Zehra, 4 (pictured above). "It's very original and such fun to play with, and will definitely stand the test of time. The crutches are brilliant!"

Available at: John Lewis

16. Paw Patrol My First Guitar Paw Patrol, £12.99

Great for musician role play

Paw Patrol guitar

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: L52cm x W17cm x H5cm | Batteries: None

This fun and lightweight guitar is perfect for your budding musician. Made from plastic and with six nylon strings, it's easy to hold and play and can help your child take their first steps into the world of music.

Ideal for both encouraging pretend play and improving dexterity, it also comes with an introductory guide to help them learn the basics of tuning and chords.

Plus, it has a colourful design featuring your favourite members of the Paw Patrol: Chase, Marshall and Skye.

Available at: Very and Argos

17. Hape Fire Station, £65.78

– Great for firefighter role play

Hape Fire Station with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: L30cm x W60cm x H48cm | Batteries: 2 x AAA (not included)

Budding firefighters will love this wooden fire station, which boasts a rooftop helipad, helicopter, fire engine, furniture, fireman's pole, bell, light and a pullstring to open the doors and launch the engine from the garage.

It comes with a firefighter figure and other accessories, including a little rescue dog.

It's a really good size and we love the attention to detail – there's even a treadmill to keep the firefighters fit when they are not putting out fires! We do wish, though, that there was more than 1 firefighter figure.

"There are so many features and details in this set," said Hayley, mum of our child tester Niko, 3 (pictured above), "that even after 3 days of having it, Niko hasn’t spotted them all yet! His favourite thing is definitely the alarm and lights on the roof. It’s a brilliant playset."

Some self-assembly required.

Available at: Amazon, Toy Street and Smyths Toys

18. Casdon Morphy Richards Kitchen Set, £15.99

– Great for hospitality role play


Age: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: Varies | Batteries: None

Who needs a toy kitchen? This bright red mini set includes a coffee maker, a kettle, a toaster, cutlery, crockery and play food, and sets a child up brilliantly for hours of food-prep, food-serving and food-eating role play.

It's neat and bright and has been around for ages (we first tested it back in 2017) but is still a great buy: the toaster actually pops up and you can fill the coffee maker (with water) and pour out from the pot.

The only downside might be that it comes with 2 plates but only 1 bacon, sausage and egg: looks like Mum or Dad may have to go hungry, eh?

Available at: Amazon and Argos

Best skills-based toys for 4 year olds

19. Casdon Kenwood Mixer, £24.99

– Great for real cooking

Casdon Kenwood Mixer with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: L26cm x W15.5cm x H19.5 | Batteries: 2 x AA (not included)

Baking's always a hit with kids, and this mini version of the iconic titanium Kenwood mixer has a real mixing action for realistic play and even bona fide baking. It also comes with a ‘K’ beater, whisk and spatula. The battery-operated motor has 2 speeds (it can also be operated by hand using a lever) and the mixer arm also lifts up like on the real thing.

We absolutely love that this toy mixer actually works well enough to mix real cakes (though it might struggle with a very dense mixture that has lots of lumpy ingredients, like a fruit cake).

Our child tester Mila, 3 (pictured above), loved using it to bake cakes with her nana, and was thrilled that it looks "just like a grown-up cake mixer".

It’s great that it comes with a whisk attachment, as well as a beater (mini meringues, anyone?) and Mila’s mum Danielle was impressed that it could be used with or without batteries. She said the mixer is now a firm fixture in Mila’s toy kitchen and café.

Available at: Amazon

20. Baby Born Sister Play & Style, £59.99

– Great for lifelike posing

Baby Born sister play and style being tested by a child

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: 43cm | Batteries: None| Awards: Bronze – Best Doll, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

With seven lifelike functions and a posable head and body, you can practise yoga or even gymnastics alongside the Baby Born Sister Play & Style, as perfectly demonstrated by child tester Luna, 5, (pictured).

Designed as a big sister to Baby Born dolls, this colourful 43cm doll has a soft touch vinyl body that can stand independently. You can bend its arms, elbows, legs, and knees, meaning the doll can join your child in their chosen play activity, be it fashion styling or sports.

BABY born Sister Play & Style comes in a bright pink outfit and has long blonde hair that you can style with the hair bobbles, clips, colourful hair strands and brush that are included. She also fits all BABY born 43cm clothing and accessories from the range, which you can purchase separately.

The doll also comes in 100% plastic free packaging, although our testers found this can be slightly tricky to remove.

Child tester Mila, 5, loved the doll and has taken it on walks, to the park and even on a bike ride, saying "Look how long her hair is Mummy.”

Mila’s mother Danielle added “The quality of the toy is great, and you can tell it is well made. The ability to bend the dolls arms and legs is a great feature, she’s gone from standing up and learning to walk to attempting a 'bridge' in an acrobatics class.”

Available at: John Lewis

21. Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Ultimate Ice Cream Truck, £99.99

– Great for fine-finger skills

Play Doh Kitchen Creations Ultimate ice cream truck playlet with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: L20cm x W62cm x H95cm | Batteries: 2 x AA (not included)

This big, almost small-person-height truck doesn't actually roll along (the wheels are pretend ones) but it is absolutely stuffed with features and accessories for squishing, scooping, moulding and serving up all manner of Play-Doh ice cream creations.

There's a (slightly stiff) musical soft-serve machine, a scooping station, a little cash register with a bell and – genius touch – a little rim on the countertop into which you can sweep (brush included) Play-Doh bits and collect them in a little 'bin' underneath.

There's no disputing this toy's wow factor. "My daughter squealed with delight when she first saw it," said Laura, mum of our child tester Amelie, 4. "She spends hours playing with it, making lollies, cones and desserts. It's been great for learning through play – embedding life skills, communication and numeracy."

Our other child tester, Alfie, 4 (pictured above), also spends hours making ice creams, and his mum Dee was impressed both by its size ("It's huge!") and by all its different compartments – including a lockable bin in the bonnet for stowing everything away after play.

Comes with 4 dishes, 6 cones, 2 lolly sticks, 2 rollers, 5 moulds, a scoop, a decorating tool, a knife, 3 spoons, a brush and 12 pots of Play-Doh (10 small and 2 large).

Available at: John Lewis

22. Fuzzikins Homemakers Family Home, £17.99

– Great for dexterity

Fuzzikins Homemakers Family Home with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: L12cm x W25cm x H27cm | Batteries: None

This dinky playset has 2 rooms and a garden that you put together and then decorate with 5 washable pens. It comes with 10 felt accessories and 2 Fuzzi Bear characters.

It's nicely designed, though a little tricky to fit together. The real thrill is the colouring – especially because you can draw on the walls! And then you can wipe it all clean and start again.

"I love drawing on it and making pretty patterns," said our child tester Ophelia, 4 (pictured above). "And I like the house because the Fuzzikins can go for a bath and to bed and then they can play in the garden."

Available at: Very and Amazon

Best toys for 4 year olds for under £15

23. Galt Velvet Picture Animals, £2.99

– Great budget buy

galt velvet picture animals

Age: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: L21cm x W14cm x H1cm | Batteries: None

In this little spiral-bound pad, there are 10 cheery animal pictures, set on a velvet background, for your little artist to colour in. The way the images are set on the velvet means that, if your child goes over the lines, it won't show, however wobbly the pen-holding.

It's AMAZING value for money and, judging by our child testers, a great way to boost colouring-in confidence. The pictures look lovely when finished: perfect for display on a wall.

Available at: Amazon

24. WWF Wild Scenes Tiger's Hang Out, RRP £12.99

– Great for learning how things grow

WWF wild scenes tiger's hangout being tested by a child

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4 | Size: 13cm x 11.2cm x 12.5cm| Batteries: None |

Help a child grow a habitat for tigers using real grass seeds. WWF Wild Scenes are made with 100% recycled plastic, do not contain single use plastic, and aim to teach kids about growing and nurturing plants as well as safeguarding endangered wildlife species.

WWF Wild Scenes Tiger's Hang Out includes a tiger-friendly miniature play habitat complete with a shady tree canopy. Using the seeds that are included with the pack, kids can grow and nurture their own grass in the habitat (you will need to source your own soil though). While some patience is required with this toy while you wait for the grass to grass to grow, two toy tigers are included that you can play with in and out of the set.

While our testers were unsure as to the long-term value of the habitat piece of the toy once the grass had grown, they liked that it teaches animal facts, and that the sale contributes to safeguarding wildlife.

“I like the tigers” was the reaction of toy tester Darcie, 4 (pictured). Her mum, Katherine, added “My child was very interested in playing with it, planting the seeds, and checking to see if they had grown. As a parent I like the educational side of this toy.”

Available at: Amazon

25. Animigos World of Nature Guinea Pig, £13.40

– Great for learning about pets

Animigos guinea pig being tested by a child

Age suitability: 0+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: 20cm | Batteries: None | Awards: Bronze – Best soft toy under £20, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Calling all animal lovers! Fans of small furry creatures will love to add Animigos World of Nature Black and White Guinea Pig to their toy collection, as it’s a replica soft toy guinea pig that, at 20cm, is identical to the real thing in size and shape (but slightly easier for parents to look after).

As well as being a soft and cuddly companion that’s easy to carry around the house, the Guinea Pig is designed to help inform kids about wildlife and teach them about looking after pets before you invest in the real thing. It comes with a booklet filled with information about guinea pigs, which is a great way for fact fans to learn all about their favourite animal.

Our chid tester Orla, age 3, was ecstatic upon opening the box and said “Wow, it's so cute!” Despite being what seems like a simple toy, there is a lot of play potential. Emma, mum of our child tester Orla said “She has managed to involve it in ALL play and taken it to bed with her. It's been stuck under her arm since she opened it! It's very lifelike so great for role play as well as being a comforter.”

Available at: Amazon


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Gemma Cartwright
Gemma CartwrightGroup Digital Editor

Gemma has two decades of experience in digital content. She is mum to a preschooler, and aunt to 4 children under 4. She is particularly passionate about sleep (for babies and parents) and loves testing out gadgets, technology and innovation in the parenting world.