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23 of the best toys for 4 year olds

We've trialled and tested toys for boys and girls aged 4 years, to create a brilliant selection of toys that will educate, entertain and enthrall developing children

Selection of best Toys for 4 year olds

Which type of toys are best for 4 year olds?

Your 4 year old is developing greater self-control and ingenuity, and that means their pretend play is getting more complex and imaginative – and can go on and on and on… As well as being a way to try on different roles, like doctor or rock star,  make-believe play is also a way to act out emotions and explore feelings.


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…

1. Little Tikes My Jam Electric Guitar, £36.99

– Great for musical fun

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: 3 x AA (included)
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A plastic, battery-powered L50cmxD6.5cm guitar with detachable shoulder strap. Can be used in 4 different modes: ‘Play with the band’, ‘Free play’, ‘Solo jam’ and ‘Play any song’, where you can sync the guitar with any Bluetooth-enabled device to play your favourite songs through the guitar speaker.

Why we love it: Our testers loved strumming along to the music and living out their mini rock star dreams, with this fun, lightweight, interactive toy guitar. Our child tester, Ronni, 4, declared it, “the bestest guitar ever!” and kept asking his mum to play different songs from her phone through the guitar using the Bluetooth hook-up, which he loved. You can use the original packaging as a travel case which we thought was a clever touch, and we appreciated the volume control button – although some parents thought it was still a little loud even on the lowest of settings. That’s rock stars for you!

Available at: Little Tikes, Smyths Toys and Amazon

2. Casdon Kenwood Mixer, £22.99

– Great for real cooking

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: 2 x AA (not included)
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A 26cm x 15.5cm x 19.5 cm mini version of the iconic titanium Kenwood mixer with real mixing action plus ‘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.

Why we love it: We absolutely love that this toy mixer actually works well enough to mix real cakes (though it might struggle with a very dense mixture with lots of lumpy ingredients, like a fruit cake). Our child tester Mila, 3, 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, Asda and Toy Team

3. Thomas & Friends Trains & Cranes Super Tower, £104.99

– Great for imaginative play

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: 2 x AAA (not included)
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: An 87cm x 82cm x 65cm multi-level Thomas & Friends train set with a motorised Thomas engine, non-motorised Percy train, Harold the helicopter and 4 cargo cars for loading and unloading. Also includes a spinning turntable and cranes. Compatible with other Thomas & Friends track sets (excluding wooden versions). Some assembly required.

Why we love it: Standing at 87cm tall this train set certainly has the wow factor once built. Our testers loved all the interactive elements like the spinning turntable, switches at the stop points and the exciting Cranky the Crane who moves the bridge. Kaiden, 3, was a big fan of the motorised Thomas engine and said, “I like watching Thomas go chugga chugga choo choo up the track!” Though Kaiden’s mum, Pooja, did note it’s a bit of a battery guzzler, so make sure to have some spare so you get the most out of the motorised elements of the set.

Available at: Very, Argos and Smyths Toys

4. GLTC Growing Garden Wooden Toy, £70

– Great for role play and learning about nature

Age suitability: 3 to 7 | Best for age: 3 to 5 | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeforMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A portable 30cm x 44xm wooden gardening set, in plastic-free packaging, with flowers, fruit and vegetables to plant, water, dig and harvest. Includes 1 tulip, 1 sunflower, 2 lettuces, 2 strawberries, 2 carrots, 3 tomatoes, 3 peppers, 2 potatoes, 5 seed markers, 1 watering can, 1 trowel, 1 crate, and 1 packet of seeds.

Why we love it: It’s beautiful to look at, easy to carry and we really like the Velcro on the veg, so you can stick them onto their stalks – and then pick them off. We like the seed makers too – good for those early reading skills. Our child tester Jaime, 3, said, “I like the look of it. I like the fork!” His mum Aimee added, “I’m very impressed: this is possibly one of the highest quality toys we own.”

Available at: Great Little Trading Company

5. Kindi Kids Poppi Pearl Bubble ‘N’ Sing, £29.99

– Great for nurturing skills and fun

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4 | Batteries: 3 x AA (not included)
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A 27cm-high plastic doll with a multi-coloured ponytail, that comes with a feeding bottle and bubble wand. If you feed her the bottle, then press the shell on her bathing suit, she giggles, sings her ‘happy bubble’ song, then blows out ice-cream scented bubbles from her mouth.

Why we love it: Bubbles and a doll combined are always going to be a winner, and this interactive toy proved a great hit with our child testers (the bubbles stream out really well). Addie, 3, loved feeding the doll her bubble mixture bottle, then trying to catch and pop the bubbles, and enjoyed seeing her little sister Bella, 12 months, looking, clapping her hands along to the song. Their mum, Anna, thought the bubble indicator on the back of the doll, which indicated how much mixture was left, was very handy to help keep track of when it needed re-filling – tantrums averted!

Available at: Smyths ToysAmazon and Argos

6. Hape Fire Station, £69.99

– Great for pretend play

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4 | Batteries: 2 x AAA (not included)
Awards: Bronze, MadeforMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A 60cm x 30cm x 48cm 3-storey wooden fire station with 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. Comes with a firefighter figure and other accessories, including a little rescue dog. Some self-assembly required.

Why we love it: 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, “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.”

Available at: Wooden Toy Shop, Toy Street and Smyths Toys

7. Great Little Trading Co Alphabet Learning Toy, £38

– Great for early literacy skills

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4 | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, Made For Mums Toy Awards 2021

What is it: A 26cm x 15.8cm x 6.5cm wooden box containing wooden alphabet tiles (upper case on 1 side, lower case on the other), flashcards (with letters on one side and letter-formation guides on the other) and a wooden pencil. The box itself has a chalkboard lid which can be flipped over to become a tray for sensory letter-tracing play with sand or rice (not included).

Why we love it: It’s a beautifully designed box that’s just perfect for lots of child-led letter play. It would be nice if it came with some chalk for the chalkboard, though. Katrina, mum of our child tester Sienna, 3, said, “Sienna has gained so much confidence with phonics since using this box. The flashcards are a good size, they are colourful and they have age appropriate images on for letter recognition and phonics.”

Available at: Great Little Trading Company

8. Barbie Fast Cast Clinic, £69.99

– Great for role play

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4 | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A 32cm x 50cm x 12cm medical-themed Barbie playset with 4 play areas (a medical station, exam table, X-ray machine and gift shop – well, this is medicine, US-style!) and dough that you can put into moulds to make ‘plaster’ casts for Barbie’s patients (or Barbie herself, for the matter). Comes with over 30 accessories, including stickers for decorating casts, a face mask, stethoscope, a hospital bed and crutches, as well as a white-coated brunette Barbie doll.

Why we love it: It a sweet, high-quality medical-centre playset – and it’s nice to see a doll included – but it’s the cast-making equipment  that really makes this toy special. Her mum Emine, mum of our child tester Zehra, 4, said, “Zehra was amazed when she saw she could cast with the dough, and ‘treat’ patients with broken legs or arms. It’s very original and such fun to play with, and will definitely stand the test of time. The crutches are brilliant!”

Available at: Smyths and Argos

9. Fuzzikins Homemakers Family Home, £19.99

– Great for dexterity and creative play

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4 | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeforMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A 27cm-high house with 2 rooms and a garden that you put together and then decorate with 5 washable pens. Comes with 10 felt accessories and 2 Fuzzi Bear characters.

Why we love it: This dinky playset is 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 Ophelia, one of our child testers, 4, “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: Amazon, Studio and Smyths Toys

10. PAW Patrol Dino Rescue Dino Patroller, £64.99

– Great for TV rescue fun

Age: 3+ | Best for age: 4 | Batteries: 6 x AA (included)

What is it: The first-ever motorised PAW Patrol team vehicle (38cm x 57cm x 13cm) comes with dinosaurs. It has massive wheels, a push-button starter, 2 projectile launchers, a Chase figure and a T-Rex figure, which opens its jaws when you push its tail.

Why we love it: “I like that it moves by itself,” says our child tester Max. “It makes me very happy!” It’s quite pricey (you’re paying for the PAW Patrol badge) and the projectiles could be a more robust but our child testers’ parents were all really impressed by how big and sturdy the truck itself is. And Max was definitely not the only child tester who was super-thrilled to play with it.

Available at: Smyth Toys and Argos

11. Orchard Toys Big Fire Engine Puzzle, £11.25

– Great for dexterity and logical thinking

Age: 4+ | Best for age: 4 | Batteries: None

What it is: A big, bright 53cm x 42cm shaped floor puzzle with 20 cardboard pieces.

Why we love it: It’s super-colourful, with good, thick pieces. The fire crew are diverse and our child testers’ parents liked the ‘learning guide’ on the back of the box that has some nice (but not too worthy) suggestions for fire-engine-themed chat with your child after the puzzle’s complete.

Available at: Orchard Toys

12. PAW Patrol Movie Ultimate City 91cm Tall Transforming Lookout Tower, £159.99

– Great for pretend play

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: 5 x AAA (not included)

What it is: A 90cm x 70cm x 50cm lookout tower playset modelled on Paw Patrol Adventure City’s HQ and featuring an extendable light-up rescue ramp, a vehicle lift, a rotating pup selector, and sound effects. Comes with 6 Paw Patrol figures (including Chase), Chase’s vehicle, 3 sticker sheets, 3 projectiles and assembly instructions.

Why we love it: This is a Wow toy for Paw Patrol fans. It’s VERY big (if this is a gift, do note that it comes in a huge box and it does take a little while to assemble it and add the stickers), has masses of Chase & Co cool and, unusually for Paw Patrol playsets, comes with lots of pup figures – though if you want more than 1 vehicle, you’ll need to buy those separately. The ramp is great and fun to make pop out, and we love the projectile-launcher backpack you can clip on to Chase back.

Available at: Smyths Toys and Amazon

13. Kid K’NEX OOdles of Pals, £39.99

– Great for logical thinking

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

What is it: A 116-piece building set from which you can make over 60 different creatures and vehicles. Includes spinning wheels, tractor scoops, big feet, googly eyes and curly tails. Comes with a picture guide.

Why we love it: The chunky pieces click together really easily and our child tester Arthur 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: Toy Street and Amazon

14. CAT Power Haulers, £19.99 each

– Great for construction fans

Age: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: 3 x AA (included)

What is it: A 16cm-high miniature version of a Caterpillar construction vehicle. Comes with Motion Drive Technology that activates lights and sounds. Choose from Dump Truck, Cement Mixer, Wheel Loader and Excavator.

Why we love it: Our child tester Mason liked how the sounds change according to the movement of the vehicle – the digger, for example, revs when it goes forward and beeps when it reverses or the scoop is lifting. All the vehicles are nicely made and will withstand a lot of heavy action at the imaginary building site.

Available at: Amazon

15. Little Brian Paint Sticks Art Station, £29.99

– Great for artistic development

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

What is it: A 14cm-high double sided (whiteboard/chalkboard) art station, with storage pots and a carry handle. Comes with 6 chalk sticks, 6 paint sticks, 10 sheets of paper, a clip for holding paper and a wipe-clean cloth.

Why we love it: This is great for (almost) mess-free arty fun. And we like how it’s super-easy to clear away – everything just pops into the tray, the easel folds down and you’re done. Our child tester loved all the storage compartments and found the paint and chalk sticks really easy to use, although the chalk sticks are a bit more fragile (the tips wouldn’t last long in toddler hands). The paint and chalk does wipe off well but you’ll need to dampen the cloth first.

Available at: Amazon

16. Spotty Sausage Dogs, £8.30

– Great for early maths skills

Age: 4+ | Best for age: 4 | Batteries: None

What is it: A counting game that’s all about who can build the sausage dog with the most spots on its tummy. Comes with 40 sausage-dog cards, a spinner, 7 coloured discs and instructions. For 2 to 6 players.

Why we love it: It’s a fun game that’s good for counting 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. And the sausage dog characters are very funny – our child tester Elliott liked the “Sherlock Bones” one best.

Available at: Amazon and Orchard Toys

17. Playmobil Family Fun Family Camper, £54.99

– Great for pretend play

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4 | Batteries: None

What is it: A 28cm-high Winnebago-style camper van, with a removable roof and sidewall and a pop-up roof storage box. Comes with 3 family  figures (a man, woman and boy), and accessories including camping chairs, mountain bikes, BBQ, crockery and cutlery, a teddy bear and sun cream.

Why we love it: The attention to detail is amazing. Our child tester was amazed by the rotating seats and driving wheel, the foldout telly and the sliding door to the bathroom. We really like all the clever accessories, especially the electric-box charging point with its little strip of flowers along the base.

Available at: Playmobil, John Lewis and Amazon

18. Glow Tracks Super Set, £14.99

– Great for building skills – and thrills

Age: 3 + | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: 6 x AAA (not included)

What it is: A flexible 216-piece race track with 2 light-up racing cars. Includes a lift piece, 4 green conjoined railway pieces, a stone track piece, a bridge, 3 crossgirders, 2 solid bridges, 24 bridge columns, 6 pier pieces and a fork.

Why we love it: We like how long and versatile this 3.4m track is – and what great value for money it is. It can be made into lots of shapes and can fit in and around furniture. And, of course, as all our child testers agreed, the glow-in-the-dark effect is magic!

Available at: Smyths Toys

19. Push Along Dolly Ice Cream Van, £34.95

– Great for imaginative play

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

What it is: A dusty pink wooden ice cream van (29cm x 13cm x 19cm) that comes with stickers you can personalise it with. It has a lift-up roof with ice cream options painted on, and a serving window.

Why we love it: It’s beautifully made (with proper working wheels) and its pastel colours and sweet decorations might just have melted our hearts a little bit. Our testers really liked the stickers – and popping other toys inside while they pretend-served them ice creams.

Available at: Kidly, Amazon and Le Toy Van

20. Galt Velvet Picture Animals, £2.99

– Great for colouring confidence

Age: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A book of 10 animal pictures, set on a velvet background, 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.

Why we love it: 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: Galt Toys and Amazon

21. Le Toy Van Dino’s Toy Garage, £69.95

– Great for toy garage play

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

What it is: A 50cm x 30cm x 38.5cm wooden garage with 3 levels, including a helipad and (plastic) ramps. Features a car lift, a little red car and stickers for customisation. Some self-assembly required.

Why we love it: We really like the bright colours (in non-toxic paint) and the solid, sturdy wooden design. It’s easy to assembly but be warned that it does take a while. For our child testers, the lift and the helipad are the bits that make this garage a winner.

Available at: Amazon, Mulberry Bush and Le Toy Van

22. Casdon Morphy Richards Kitchen Set, £17

– Great for home play

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

What it is: A bright red mini kitchen set, including a coffee maker, a kettle, a toaster, cutlery, crockery and play food.

Why we love it: This neat little role-play set 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

23. Melissa & Doug Butterfly Friends Bead Set, £9.99

– Great for fine motor skills

Age: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A wooden box containing 5 threading cords and 120 differently shaped and painted wooden beads. Comes with an instruction book.

Why we love it: It’s a prettily presented little set and the pieces are just chunky enough (and the threading holes big enough) for 4 to 5-year-old fingers to manipulate. Our testers really enjoyed choosing their beads and designing their own necklaces, bracelets and even an anklet… Nice price, too.

Available at: John Lewis and Amazon

Images: Product websites


About the author

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she’s also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

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