11 of the best toys for active play

From indoor ride-ons to dance along playmates, find out which toys are the best buys to get your child moving when you're stuck inside

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Small children are full of energy (don’t we know it!) and, even when it’s bucketing down outside, they still need ways to run, throw, dance, wiggle, rock and jump off steam. Toys specifically designed for active play indoors are a can’t-leave-the-house godsend – and they’ll also help your child develop their coordination, balance and strength.

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Here are the best toys for keeping kids active, as chosen by our child testers…

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1. Hauck Ride on 1-2-3, £69.99

GOLD winner, Best Toy For Active Play, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 6 months+

What it is:  A height-adjustable mobile play centre with padded seat that converts to a walker and then to a ride-on. Features handles, ‘steering wheel’, ‘headlamps’, (noisy) horn and a panel of colourful buttons to press. Includes non-slip rollers and 6 safety stoppers.

Why we love it: The Ride On 1-2-3 is great value, saving parents from splashing out on lots of different equipment for each stage of their child’s mobility. Our judges also liked its space-saving potential, and that fact that if you have a baby and toddler you get twice as much use. Babies will have lots of fun with the interactive buttons, while young adventurers can take their first steps with the walker before whizzing around on the ride on.

What our parent and baby testers made of it:

  • ‘I’m truly impressed with this walker and the various ways you can use it. I haven’t seen anything like it before. It doesn’t take up space, the seat fabric is washable and it’s good value. I can see us using this for a long time.” Ijeoma, mum to Joel, 8 months
  • ‘This is a great product and very stable. The buttons are easy for little fingers to press and keep Senna busy. It’s easy to change from one element to another and there aren’t too many pieces to store. Overall, it’s fantastic value for money.” Kelly, mum to Senna, 12 months

Available from Amazon and Very

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2. Chicco Goal League, £29.99

SILVER winner, Best Toy For Active Play, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 2+

What it is: An electronic football goal net, measuring 58cm x 14cm x 45cm. Offers 3 play modes with different challenges and levels of difficulty, plus flashing lights and 25 sound effects like crowd noises and songs. Comes with a soft ball and scoreboard. Needs 3 AA batteries (included). Suitable for outdoor use, too.

Why we love it: Perfect for engaging ball-obsessed younger toddlers and letting them burn off some steam. The crowd noise was a particular hit with our testers.

What our child testers made of it:

  • We are so impressed with this. It was easy to set up, and the sounds and interactive features it fun. Oakley can get bored with toys quite quickly but the positive reinforcement of sounds has captured my son’s attention and really given him the confidence to play and even challenge his siblings.’ Hayley, mum to Oakley, 3

Available from: Amazon and Very

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3. Fisher-Price Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo, £42.99

BRONZE winner, Best Toy For Active Play, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 9 months+

What it is: A freestanding toy with rainbow-striped antennae and plenty of buttons to press to play more than 40 songs that encourage dancing and learning. Has 3 different modes to introduce letters, numbers and colours, including one where you record a phrase and BeatBo remixes it into a song for everyone to dance to! Requires 4 AA batteries.

Why we love it: This is an active-play toy with plenty of musical and educational extras. And all our testers showed great pleasure at seeing BeatBo’s lovely smiley face.

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘Noah and I love this toy. His smiles and giggles when it’s playing songs are fantastic to see. It’s an exciting toy which has provided hours of fun already.’ Loretta, mum to Noah, 15 months
  • ‘This toy is excellent value for money. Both Summer and her 5-year-old sister like playing with it. It’s lovely that they can enjoy a toy together.’ Samantha, mum to Summer, 15 months

Available from: Argos and Smyths Toys

Peppa's Interactive Playmat

4. Peppa’s Interactive Playmat, £19.99

Age: 3+

What it is: An interactive floor mat encouraging little ones to get active as they follow Peppa Pig’s instructions. Has 4 different modes, including a numbers game and a sing and dance option (including the infamous Bing Bong song!). Requires 3 AA batteries.

Why we love it: Frankly, almost anything with Peppa on gets an excited squeal but we like how this mat also encourages early number and colour recognition, as well as memory, concentration and attention skills. And the bright surface is wipe-clean (always a bonus).

Available from: John Lewis and Amazon

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5. MyRebounder Mini Trampoline, £89.95

Age: 3+

What it is: A 102cm diameter mini trampoline, with 6 folding, rubber-footed legs. Stands at 7cm tall, comes with storage bag and is designed for use indoors. Available in pink or blue.

Why we love it: This bridges the gap between a toddler trampoline and an older outdoor one – and rain does not stop play. Very sturdy construction – our testers’ mums had a jump to confirm! Good for families without room for a garden trampoline – just make sure you have a suitable soft landing area when your child inevitably bounces off.

Available from: Amazon 

Nerf Laser Ops Pro Alphapoint Blaster

6. Nerf Laser Ops Pro Alphapoint Blaster, £29.99

Age: 8+

What it is: Hasbro’s new laser-battling blaster: it fires live-action shots with the simple pull of the trigger, using light and sounds to register who’s been hit and who’s still in the game. Includes blaster, armband, and solo attachment.Works with select iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android devices and requires 4 AA batteries.

Why we love it: It’s ‘battle-ready’ out of the box, and we particularly like the quick reload button.

Available from: Argos

Little Tikes 3 in 1 Adventure Course

7. Little Tikes Lil’ Ocean Explorers 3-in-1 Adventure Course, £79.99

Age: 6 months+

What it is: A multi-activity assault course (55cm x 55cm x 150cm) that is suitable from sitting to walking. Features more than 20 sounds, a crawl through tunnel, play balls, mirror, hanging toys, clackers and knobs, and a stretchy wall. Needs 2 AA batteries and a fair bit of assembly.

Why we love it: Oh so much to keep your child busy, whatever stage they are at, from pushing the submarine door to putting balls in the octopus. We love how the modules can be fitted together in different combinations or used individually.

Available from: Outdoor Toys

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8. Happy Hopperz, £25.99

Age: 12 months+

What it is: An inflatable bounce-on toy. Choose from a cow, dog or puppy design with a thinner body for smaller toddler, or a bigger dinosaur, horse or bull for children up to age 5. Each design comes in 2 colours.

Why we love it: A toddler-friendly twist on the classic Space Hopper, these are tons of fun to use and look really cool. We love how the ears and horns double up as handles, while the feet mean your child won’t roll off. They deflate and inflate super quickly too.

Available from: Amazon and Uber Kids

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9.Gonge River Stones, £58

Age: 2+

What it is: A set of 3 large and 3 small triangular stepping ‘stones’ in bright colours. Made from durable plastic with non-slip edges. Comes with a play booklet. The stones stack together when not in use.

Why we love it: These are such fun – and they’re great for balance and coordination. We love how you can arrange the ‘stones’ in different combos and use your imagination to make the course harder, even adding in other toys like trampolines and ball pools to the mix. Bonus points for stacking away neatly.

Available from: Amazon

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10. Worlds Apart Zebra Square Sensory Ball Pit, £24.99

Age: 6 months+

What it is: A pop-up ball pool with 30 balls and 3 sensory bean bags. The walls have holes for posting balls through. Measures 80cm x 80cm x 30cm. Folds flat for storage.

Why we love it: It’s so bold and colourful and the extra-sensory toys and shape-sorter-style holes make it a cut above bog-standard ball pools.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths

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11. Mister M Juggling Balls, £19.99

Age: 3+ years

What it is: A set of 3 colourful juggling balls in a bag, with access to an online instruction video. 

Why we love it: There’s fun for all the family here, from kids who’ll love putting on a “show” once they’ve mastered the art of juggling, to contests to see who can juggle for the longest. The balls don’t roll away when dropped, shortening that moment of frustration when kids inevitably drop the ball and start again – bonus!

Available from: Amazon

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