23 of the best toys for 4 year olds

Our pick of the top toys for boys and girls aged 4 to 5

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best toys 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…

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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 play with toys that have smaller parts or slightly fiddlier buttons to press.

Here is our pick of the best toys to choose for your 4-year-old…

1. Great Little Trading Company Seaside Fish & Chip Shop, £44

Age: 3+

What it is: A dinky (21cm x 32cm x 21cm) wooden shop, that comes with 4 ‘newspaper’ cones (made from cardboard), and 32 wooden accessories, including 2 fish pieces, a set of tongs, 2 portions of chips, peas, lemon wedges, salt, vinegar and ketchup. Some self-assembly required (instructions included).

Why we like it: This is a really well-made, long-lasting pretend-play toy that’s compact enough to carry around and set up anywhere. Our testers were very taken with the tongs and using them to pick up the chips and place them in the cones – and we particularly like the mushy peas! Won a special Editor’s Choice award in our MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019.

Available from: Great Little Trading Company

2. FurReal Cubby the Curious Bear, £79.99

Age: 4+

What it is: A big (43cm-high) interactive cuddly bear who pricks up his ears when you speak to him and babbles back. He also dances, sneezes, hugs, blows kisses, plays peekaboo, and ‘eats’ honey when you feed him. In ‘sleepy’ mode, he’ll yawn, shut his eyes and play soothing music for 5 minutes. Comes with a honey bottle and comb and requires 4 C batteries (not included).

Why we love it: His face is amazingly expressive and he interacts very cutely and with loads of variety (though his body is quite solid, with a furry coating, rather than squishy). Our child testers fell in love with him – and especially liked feeding him honey (he’s very appreciative!). Won a special Editor’s Choice award in our MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths

3. Baby Born Surprise Doll, £11.99 each

Age: 3+

What it is: An egg-shaped plastic container that holds 1 of 12 collectible 11cm-high Baby Born dolls (you can’t tell from the outside which doll you’re getting). Once opened, each doll is wrapped in a themed swaddle, with a bottle, a nappy, distinctive hairstyle and a birth certificate. Her eyes are closed – dab them with water to find out what colour they are – and if you feed her water from her bottle, she’ll wet her nappy to reveal a little pattern.

Why we love it: The dolls are very cute and the little extras are well thought out, offering play opportunities well beyond the initial excitement of discovering your surprise. Our child testers liked unwrapping and wrapping up the swaddles – and were very excited by the whole eye-colour-reveal process. Won Bronze in the Best Collectible Toys category of our MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019.

Available from: Amazon, Argos and Smyths Toys

4. PAW Patrol Super Paws Mighty Pups Jet Command Centre, £60

Age: 3+

What it is: A large (56cm x 20cm x 41cm) jet with lights and sounds that converts into a ‘mobile command centre’ and back again. Comes with a mini jet, a Ryder Figure, 5 launcher discs, 1 sticker sheet and instructions. Requires 3 AAA batteries (included).

Why we love it: Big, sturdy and rescue heaven for any young Paw Patrol fan. If we’re being picky, there could be a few more figures included (you can buy more separately). We like that there’s lots of space for storing other vehicles on board. Our child testers liked launching Ryder out of the big jet in his mini jet most. Won a special Editor’s Choice award in our MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths

learning resources coding critters

5. Learning Resources Coding Critters, £40

Age: 4+

What it is: A screen-free coding toy where you help Ranger and his friend Zip complete a series of challenges, from hide and seek to fetching a ball, using the storybook included. You can also design your own coding games. Includes a house, a slide and a tennis ball launcher. Requires 4 x AA batteries.

Why we like it: The instructions are great and easy to follow and the little dogs are very cute: it certainly makes coding fun, as well as good for developing critical thinking skills. We also love how you can press Ranger’s nose to make him dance and sing. Won Bronze in our MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019.

Available from: Hamleys, John Lewis and Amazon

6. Peppa Pig Muddy Puddle Game, £14.99

Age: 4+

What it is: A game where you race from muddy puddle to muddy puddle to reach Peppa at the top of the hill – without falling into 1 of the deep puddles and having to start again. Comes with 12 playing pieces and 24 action cards. For 2 to 4 players. No batteries required.

Why we love it: It’s nice, simple game for preschoolers to grasp – and it really made our child testers laugh a lot. It takes about 20 minutes to play – which is just about right at this age, we think. And, of course, the whole Peppa theme is the icing on the board-game cake. Won Gold in our MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019.

Available from: Amazon, Smyths Toys and Argos

7. Cry Babies dolls, from £29.99 each

Age: 3+

What it is: A 31cm-high onesie-clad baby doll with moveable arms and legs who cries ‘real’ (water) tears when you take her dummy out. Choose from 11 dolls, each with a different name and look (we’ve pictured Lady, above). Requires 2 AAA batteries (included).

Why we love it: They are a bit bug-eyed for our grown-up tastes and they do cry a lot (and quite loudly) if you don’t comfort them but our child testers LOVED them – and took great pride in hugging them and comforting them to make them stop crying. Won Gold in the Best Dolls category of our 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys

8. Magformers Vehicle Wow Set, £34.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A 16-piece set of magnetic triangles and squares that ‘stick’ together to create 2D or 3D shapes and cars. Comes with 2 wheel sets, a driver and large, illustrated wipe-clean ‘play sheets’ showing you how to make 20 different vehicles.

Why we love it: The pieces have lovely rounded edges and click together really easily (the magnets sealed inside are free-spinning so they always ‘attract’ and never ‘repel’). Our child testers had no trouble following the colourful instructions and were thrilled to create cars they could wheel around. Pricey but worth it.

Available from: John Lewis and Amazon

9. KidKraft Abbey Manor Dolls House, £106

Age: 3+

What it is: A sturdy 58cm x 33cm  x 72cm 3-floor wooden dolls house that comes with a removable wraparound porch, opening roof and side and 16 accessories. Requires some assembly.

Why we love it: The rooms and the accessories are beautifully detailed: there’s a piano, bunk beds, a chandelier and even a loo. And it’s a great size: not too small but not room-swampingly ginormous, either.

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Available from: KidKraft

10.Glow Tracks Super Set, £14.99

Age: 3 +

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. Requires 6 AAA batteries (not included).
Why we love it: We love how long and versatile this 3.4m track is – and what great value for money. 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 from: Smyths Toys

imaginext-DWV56-Joker-and-Harley-Quinn-Vehicle

11.Imaginext DC Super Friends The Joker and Harley Quinn Battle Vehicle, £26.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A 24cm x 16cm x 34cm rolling tank with spinning claws. You can turn the ‘Power Pad’ to open the cockpit and launch a projectile from the fire launcher on the tank’s scorpion-like tail. Comes with Joker and Harley Quinn figures, a projectile and a hammer. No batteries required.
Why we love it: It definitely does what it says on the Gotham City tin: the spinning claws on the front are excellent. Not bad value, either – for a movie tie-in toy.

Available from: Smyths Toys and Amazon

le toy van wooden dolly ice cream van

12. Push Along Dolly Ice Cream Van, £35

Age: 3 +

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 from: Kidly, Amazon and Le Toy Van

13. VTech Kidizoom Flix playset, £59.99

Age: 4+

What it is: A detachable 29cm alien camera on a tripod that also has facial recognition, plays games and repeats words and phrases back to you in his cute alien voice. Features a 2 mega pixel camera, a twistable lens and a built-in rechargeable battery. Comes bundled with a flexible tripod and USB cable for photo uploading. Choose from Blue or Pink.

Why we love it: You can change Flix’s eyes and skin colour, which is cool, and our child testers absolutely loved Flix’s ‘Guard mode’, in which he takes ‘secret’ motion-activated photos and videos.

Available from: Amazon

14. Cheeky Monkeys board game, £10.25

Age: 4+

What it is: A game of chance, where you try to collect the most bananas. Includes a 3D tree, 32 monkey cards, 1 pool board, 1 spinner board and 1 two-part plastic spinner arrow. For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: This fun game won Gold in our 2017 Toy Awards for its clever combination of fun and strategy – and sheer thrill our testers showed at being allowed to steal each other’s bananas. The cardboard pieces are pleasingly thick and long-lasting (and wipe-clean), too.

Available from: Orchard Toys and Amazon

 

tildo paragon pirate ship

15. Tidlo Paragon Pirate Ship, £45.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A 59cm x 18cm x 48cm 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 from: Amazon

16. Soggy Doggy’s Friends (Dizzy), £14.99

Age: 4+

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. There’s also a Daisy version (who’s pink). Requires 3 x AAA batteries.

Why we love it: If you’re at the stage where your child really wants a puppy but you’re not ready for the real thing, Soggy Doggy might just hold off the requests for a wee while. He’s not the most sophisticated toy in the world but our child testers really loved looking after him – feeding and petting him. And he’s great value for money. Won Silver in our 2018 MadeForMums Toys Awards.

Available from: Smyths Toys and Amazon

17. Galt Velvet Picture Animals, £2.99

Age: 4+

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, so, 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 look: perfect for display on a wall.

Available from: Galt Toys and Amazon

18. Thomas & Friends TrackMaster Cave Collapse Set, £39.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A 21-piece train set featuring a mineshaft with a hand-cranked train elevator, 4 boulders and a ‘crumbling cave’. Comes with Darcy the digger and a Thomas engine that piggybacks on top after falling down the mineshaft slide. Requires 2 x AAA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: It’s a good size (110cm x 50cm) but this track’s all about the special effects: Thomas riding up the elevator and then zooming down the shaft to piggyback on Darcy, plus Darcy’s rotating front attachment that knocks away the flying boulders. Huge fun – especially, said our testers, turning the crank to release the boulders down the shaft.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys

19. Le Toy Van Le Grand Garage, £89.95

Age: 3+

What it is: A 55cm x 42cm x 12cm wooden garage with 4 levels, including a helipad and (plastic) ramps. Features a petrol pump and a car lift, and comes with a little green car and blue helicopter. Some assembly required.

Why we love it: We really like the vintage colours (in non-toxic paint) and the solid, sturdy rubberwood 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 from: Hello Baby, Le Toy Van and Amazon

20. Casdon Morphy Richards Kitchen Set, £17

Age: 3+

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 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 from: Amazon

21. Orchard Toys Big Fire Engine Puzzle, £10.50

Age: 4+

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

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

Available from: John Lewis and Orchard Toys


22. Little Tikes STEM Jr Wonder Lab, £99.99

Age: 3+

What it is: This 40cm x 71cm x 85cm pretend science lab has 20 experiments, and more than 50 accessories as well as sounds and phrases.

Why we love it: There is so much to this toy – our child testers were blown away by how many bits and pieces they are to play with (it won a Silver award in our MadeForMums Toy Awards 2018). The experiments obviously need a little adult help but we defy any grown-up not to want to assist a small scientist making snow and bubbles and vampire blood…

Available from: Little Tikes, Very and Smyths Toys

23. Melissa & Doug Butterfly Friends Bead Set, £7.99

Age: 4+

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. Nice price, too.

Available from: Amazon and John Lewis

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