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-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 for 4-year-olds, as tested by children and rated by their parents… 

1. PAW Patrol Dino Rescue Dino Patroller, £64.99

Age: 3+

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. Requires 6 AA batteries (included).

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 little less flimsy 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: it was a surefire pick for our Top 100 Xmas Toys 2020 list.

Available from: Smyth Toys, John Lewis and Argos

2. Bee Smart Wooden Afternoon Tea Set, £19.95

Age: 3+

What is it: A 18cm-high 2-tier wooden cake stand. Comes with 2 tea cups (with saucers), 2 spoons and pretend sandwiches, cakes and biscuits.

Why we love it: It’s a lovely colourful playset, with nice chunky wooden pieces – although we think the tea cups could do with being a little bit bigger. Our child testers enjoyed pretend-slurping their tea and serving and sharing the play food, and several parents commented on how well the food pieces are designed – with loads of scope for talking about different colours and shapes and flavours and fillings.

Available from: Amazon and Bee Smart

3. Orchard Toys Big Fire Engine Puzzle, £11

Age: 4+

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 nicely 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 from: John Lewis and Orchard Toys

4. Kindi Kids Shiver n Shake Kate, £39.99


Age: 3+

What is it: A 25cm interactive doll with lots of phrases and sounds, who shivers and shakes till your hugs and pretend medicine make her better. Comes with a doctor’s stethoscope, a thermometer, a blanket, water tray, swab towel, stickers, spoon and vitamin stars. Requires 2 x AA batteries (included).

Why we love it: All our child testers loved how Kate talks – and burps and farts! And Chloe was keen to point out how nice and soft her hair is and how she’s really good to hug. We like how you can hear her heartbeat and also how the plaster on her leg disappears when you dab it with the swab towel. A lovely toy for ‘caring for others’ role-play, this made our Top 100 Xmas Toys 2020 list.

Available from: Smyths ToysArgos and Very

5. Tidlo Paragon Pirate Ship, £54.99

tildo paragon pirate ship

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. Requires some self-assembly.

Why we love it: It’s sturdy and easy to assemble, and there are lots of nice touches that, report our child testers’ parents, 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

6. Thomas & Friends Walking Bridge Set, £39.99

Age: 3+

What is it: A train set with more than 2m of track and a bridge that ‘walks’ from one piece of track to another when a train arrives on it. Comes with 2 hills, 6 risers, a buffer and a sign and a (motorised) Thomas train. Requires 2 x AAA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: It’s all about the walking bridge – which caused super-excitement among our child testers, especially William: “I love it – it’s amazing! I am going to play with it forever.” William’s mum was impressed to see the 3 different track layouts in the instructions – and reckons most 4-year-olds could easily build the tracks by themselves. We also like hidden trapdoors and secret tunnel under the bridge, and chose this train set for our Top 100 Xmas Toys 2020 list.

Available fromAsdaAmazon and Smyths Toys

7. Kid K’NEX OOdles of Pals, £39.99

Age: 3+

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 out playing with it every day since – and even roped his older brother in, too. She, like us, really rates this set for its ‘long-life’ play value. It was a shoo-in for our Top 100 Xmas Toys 2020 list.

Available from: Toy Street and Amazon

8. CAT Power Haulers, £19.99 each

Age: 3+

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. Requires 3 x AA batteries (included).

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. One of our picks for the MadeForMums Top 100 Xmas Toys 2020 list.

Available from: Amazon

9. 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.

Why we love it: It’s a nice, simple game – 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.

Available from: Argos

10. Little Brian Paint Sticks Art Station, £29.99

Age: 3+

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 from: Amazon and Argos

11. Spotty Sausage Dogs, £8.30

Age: 4+

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 from: Amazon and Orchard Toys

12. Playmobil Family Fun Family Camper, £54.99

Age: 4+

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 from: Playmobil, John Lewis and Amazon

13. Nuzzy Luvs, £14.99 each

Age: 4+

What is it: A 10-cm high interactive plush pet that nuzzles right into your hand and responds to your words and pats by, among other things, blinking, snoring, head-turning and making happy (or sad) noises. There are 4 different pets to collect. Requires 4 x LR44 batteries (included)

Why we love it: It’s very soft and cute. And we like how it encourages empathy and gentle play: if you speak to it too loudly, it can get frightened; if you whisper it’ll respond with a contented noise. Our child testers like how it falls asleep – and snores! But some of their parents did caution that it goes through batteries pretty quickly.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys

14. Rocket Baff Bombz, £3.99 each

Age: 3+

What is it: A large (110g) biodegradable rocket-shaped bath bomb that leaves a red orange and yellow ‘flame’ behind it as it fizzes through the water. Stain-free and, according to the manufacturers, skin-safe, too.

Why we love it: It really is quite spectacular to watch (although it does move rather more slowly than a rocket) and our child tester was completely wowed. Would make a brilliantly entertaining party gift or stocking filler.

Available from: Amazon and Sensory Sparkle

15. KidKraft Abbey Manor Dolls House, £99.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A sturdy hand-painted 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 a fair bit of self-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. Our child tester was particularly taken by the bunk beds with their own little ladder. And it’s a great size: not too small but not room-swampingly ginormous, either. It is a bit of a beast to assemble but it’s a lovely, high-quality buy.

Available from: Baby and Child Store, Amazon and KidKraft

16. 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 like 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

17. Imaginext DC Super Friends The Joker and Harley Quinn Battle Vehicle, £19.99
Imaginext DC Super Friends The Joker and Harley Quinn Battle Vehicle,

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. And it took a lot of less-than-delicate play from our child testers robustly well. Not bad value, either – for a movie tie-in toy.

Available from: Smyths Toys and Amazon

18. Push Along Dolly Ice Cream Van, £33.99

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

19. Cheeky Monkeys board game, £10.50

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 game is a clever combination of fun and strategy – and the sheer thrill our testers got from being allowed to ‘steal’ each other’s bananas was a joy to behold. The cardboard pieces are pleasingly thick and long-lasting (and wipe-clean), too.

Available from: Orchard Toys and Amazon

20. 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, 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 from: Galt Toys and Amazon

21. Le Toy Van Le Grand Garage, £79.95

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 self-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 and Le Toy Van

22. 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 (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 from: Amazon and Argos

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, bracelets and even 1 rather, ahem, interesting anklet… Nice price, too.

Available from: John Lewis and Amazon

Images: Product websites

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