Your 4-year-old is developing greater self-control and ingenuity, and that means his or her pretend play is getting more complex and imaginative – and can go on and on and on…
Your child’s ever-improving finger dexterity means he or she can pencils and colouring pens with a more mature grip and better hand-eye coordination means he or she can do more complex puzzles, and play with toys that have smaller parts or slightly fiddlier buttons to press.
Here is our pick of some of the best toys to choose for your 4-year-old:
1. GOLD winner, Best Doll, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards
Age: 3 to 5
What it is: A baby doll that’s 31cm in height and comes in 6 different characters. She wears a onesie – and you’ll need to get replacement batteries at some point but, to start with, they are included. Yay!
Why we love it: We did think at first these dolls were a bit, shall we say, unusual looking, but our toy awards child testers LOVED them.
They cry real tears when you put water in the top of their head, and lots of our parents said they like the fact the dolls encourage your child to show their nurturing side.
GOLD winner, Best Scooter, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards
Age: 2 to 5(ish)
What it is: This trainer scooter adjusts from 4 to 3 to 2 wheels, to give them balance when they start off scootering. The handlebar is adjustable in height too. It comes in a variety of colours and you get a toolkit with it as well.
Why we love it: Judges at our toy awards love the fact this scooter starts with 4 wheels to help young kids get used to using it. They also found it was really light – a good bonus if you end up carrying it for some distance (as we know happens). They were really impressed with the price point too.
Available at: Argos and Amazon
SILVER winner, Best Educational/Learning Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards
What it is: Click together 60 magnetic pieces to create 3D structures. Comes with 6 large laminate mats and step by step instructions.
Why we love it: As well as being great for motors skills, our child toy testers found this to be seriously fun.
The pieces click together really easily too, so even some of our younger testers – aged 4 – found it simple to make towers, trains, rollercoasters and more.
Available from: Argos, Amazon and Asda
What it is: A sturdy, 3-floor dolls house that comes with 16 accessories and is hinged so it’s foldable.
Why we love it: Your little one’s imagination can run wild in this dream house: the rooms are beautifully illustrated, there’s a balcony for the dolls to enjoy and you can create new floor plans to change things up a bit.
Suitable for ages: 4+
Available at: Baby and Child Store
What it is: Flix will become your little one’s alien best friend. He has facial recognition and repeat words and phrases back to you in his cure alien voice.
Why we love it: You can change Flix’s eyes and skin colour, plus: he also takes secret photos and videos. He detaches from his tripod so you can take him anywhere. Oh, and he comes in this rather fetching blue – or pink, if you prefer.
Available at: Amazon and Zavvi
What it is: A fun game of chance for all the family: who can grab the most bananas though?! Simple rules = always a bonus.
Why we love it: Board games are a great way for brining the family together and this one’s so much fun, young and old will love it – will spin or stick to get the most fruit and be a grand winner?
Available at: Orchard Toys and Amazon
GOLD winner, Best Play Set, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards
What it is: This firetruck has an impressive extendable 2ft (yep, 2ft!) ladder, a mini fire car, and flashing lights and sounds. It comes with a Marshall figure, water ‘plumes’ to fire from the water cannon, a hose, grabbing claw and stickers for a spot of decoration.
Why we love it: First off – the ladder is so long – we were really impressed by it! Child testers for our toy awards loves the ladder in particular and used it to rescue toys from all over the house.
But it’s not just the length of the ladder our judges liked – the truck overall is a good size and so makes for great play fun.
Available from: Smyths Toys and Argos
Take a look out more of our Toy Awards playset winners
What it is: A wooden pirate ship with recessed wheels, so it can ‘sail’ across the floor. Comes with 6 posable pirate figures.
Why we love it: It’s sturdy and easy to assemble, and there are lots of nice touches that really add value to make-believe play, like the cannons, the barrels, the treasure chest and the anchor that goes up and down. Oh, and we particularly like that there are girls, as well as boys, in this pirate crew.
Available at: Amazon
SILVER winner, Best Interactive Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards
What it is: A 16cm pup you can take for a walk on its (detachable) lead, and who barks, make happy sounds when you cuddle him, and snores when he’s asleep. Choose from Dizzy (pictured) or Daisy (who’s pink). You’ll need batteries – it requires 3 AAAs.
Why we love it: If you’re at the stage where your child really wants a puppy but you’re not sure you can plump for the real thing, Soggy Doggy is a great option.
Our child toy testers really loved looking after him – feeding and petting him.
From a value point of view, our parents judges thought he was a great price point = bonus.
Available from: Smyths Toys and Amazon
What it is: 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, so, however wobbly the pen-holding, the finished picture is really lovely.
Why we love it: It’s a great way to boost colouring-in confidence, and it’s great value for money. The pictures are backed on nice thick card, too, so the pics your child finishes look great displayed on a wall or given as a gift to grandparents.
Available at: Galt Toys and John Lewis
What it is: A rip-roaring helter-skelter of a train set, based on the Thomas & Friends DVD movie, Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure. Comes with a Thomas motorised engine and needs 2 AAA batteries.
Why we love it: After a long steep climb, Thomas goes on a gasp-inducing plunge, turning upside down as he whooshes along the spiral track. The track is a bit tricky to build, though: definitely some grown-up assembly required.
Available at: Amazon
What it is: An easy-to-assemble wooden garage with 4 levels including the helicopter pad. Comes with a little green car and blue helicopter.
Why we love it: We’re suckers for wooden toys (they’re just that bit more retro) and we love the fact this comes complete with a car and ‘copter. We’re mad on the pretty vintage colours too and reckon this is one that your kids will come back to over and over again.
Available at: Hello Baby
What it is: A bright red kitchen set, including coffee maker, kettle, toaster, cutlery, crockery and play food.
Why we love it: Nothing’s missing from this neat little set: the toaster actually pops up and you can fill the coffee maker (with water) and pour out from the pot. It’s almost better than our own grown-up kitchens… The only downside might be that it comes with 2 plates but only 1 bacon, sausage and egg (looks like Mummy may have to go hungry, eh?)
Available at: Dunelm and Argos
What it is: A big, bright floor puzzle with 20 sturdy pieces. Comes with activities on the back, too.
Why we love it: It’s super-colourful and genuinely fun for any firefighter fans! Lots of discussion points to be had about fire and safety too. Love it.
Available at: John Lewis
SILVER winner, Best ScienceToy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards
What it is: This pretend science lab has 20 experiments, and more than 50 accessories as well as sounds and phrases.
Why we love it: Our toy awards child testers loved looking at all the things that came with the kit – there is so much to it.
Parents recommend their children will get years of fun out of it – partly because they get older they’ll understand more and more about the experiments they’re doing.
Available from: Little Tikes and Amazon
What it is: A wooden till measuring 19.3/21.1/15 (l/w/h in cm). Made to Hape’s environmentally friendly standards.
Why we love it: This till is beautifully finished and is super sturdy. The abacus is brightly coloured, and your child will also love the barcode scanner and chip and pin block.
If you like wooden, more vintage toys we think this is a serious contender at a great price. And it’s not too big so it won’t take up too much precious room if you’re short on space.
Available from: Precious Little One
Available at: Storkz
What it is: A super-soft sand that doesn’t dry out or stain
Why we love it: You get all the fun of sand without the mess with Sands Alive. It’s made out of natural materials and is easy to mould so your little ones can let their imagination run wild. If you can’t get to the beach -bring the beach right to your home.
Available at: Argos
What it is: Easy to use, mess-free paint sticks in a bold range of colours.
Why we love it: The finish is paint but they’re as easy to sue as crayons and you’ll be free from messy splurges on the carpet. Artsy fun for wet weekends when you find yourself inside.
Available at: Baker Ross and Great Little Trading Company
What it is: A wooden wall clock measuring 47.5 x 47 x 3 cm that features day of the month, day of the week, a clock and calendar months so you and your child can keep track of where you are in the year and the day.There’s even a weather measure so you can click on snow, rain or sun.
Why we love it: This is a really sturdy piece and will get you talking to your kids about the weather and the time, so it’s really nice and educational too.
It comes with 2 molds in the back so you can easily wall mount it as well: we think it makes a lovely retro piece for the nursery.