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10 of the best interactive toys for children

A cuddly bear that dances, a raptor that runs and a doll that sings as she sees – and more! We've found the best interactive toys for babies, preschoolers and children up to 9 years

best interactive toys

A toy that uses clever tech to come to life before your child’s very eyes is tough to beat for its magical ‘wow’ factor. And there are more and more interactive toys – for all ages – to choose from these days. But, beyond the initial excitement of the interactive ‘reveal’, which ones have proper, long-lasting play value?

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We’ve been hard at work – with the enthusiastic help of our team of child testers – looking at, playing with, assessing and rating a whole host of interactive toys to bring you the best buys for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and older children – in a range of prices and interactive features.

Here’s our pick of the best interactive toys for babies and children, as tested by kids and rated by parents…

1. Linkimals Smooth Moves Sloth Baby Toy, £29.99

Age: 9 months +

What it is: A 22cm-high sloth that claps its soft, padded hands and bobs its plastic head to music. Buttons on its (plastic) feet play 85+ songs and phrases and its tummy lights up. Can interact with other toys in the Fisher-Price Linkimals range. Requires 4 x AA batteries (included).

Why we love it: Our baby testers were captivated by this toy’s friendly face, light-up eyes and colourful clapping hands. It’s super-robust and the buttons are easy for baby fingers to press. There’s lots of early-learning stuff about opposites, colours, the alphabet and numbers in the button-activated phrases and the music is very jolly. Great play value for the price, this one.

Available from: Argos, Amazon and Smyths Toys

2. Robo Alive Rampaging Raptor, £15

Age: 3+

What it is: A 15cm-high robotic raptor that runs and claws and makes biting/chomping motions. Comes with a Dino Egg filled with glow-in-the dark slime and a surprise. Available in Red and Green and, also (more pricily) as an Attacking T-Rex. Requires 2 x AAA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: It actually runs about pretty rapidly – on a smooth, uncarpeted floor – and the biting action was a particular hit with our child testers who delightedly let it chomp down on their own toys.  It’s nice and robust (although the batteries do run out fairly fast) and we love that little glint in its eye. The slime-filled egg is a fun little extra, too – extra points for glow-in-the-dark thrills!

Available from: Smyths Toys and Argos

3. Squeakee the Balloon Dog, £59.99

Age: 5+

What it is: A 40cm-tall interactive pet which looks just like a red balloon dog. Performs more than 60 sounds and movements, including sitting, begging and playing ball. Comes with a ball, a pin (for pretend deflating) and a pump (for pretend reinflating). Requires 4 x AA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: This was such a hit with our 7-year-old child tester, who loved Squeakee’s cheekiness (he does a very good line in burping and farting) and really enjoyed working out how to make him do tricks and play with his squeaker ball. We really like how you can ‘pop’ him with the pin – great sound effects – and how he rolls onto his back when you rub his tummy. We selected this for our Top 100 Christmas toys list.

Available from: CharacterAmazon and Argos

4. Tonies Toniebox, £69.95


Age: 3+

What it is: A 12cm wifi speaker cube with soft-touch sides that, when paired with a hand-painted, collectible Tonie (available separately for £15 each) plays pre-recorded songs and children’s stories. You can also use the included Creative Tonie to play your own recordings. Comes in a variety of colours, including green, pink, red, grey and light blue, and with a rechargable battery and charging station.

Why we love it: Our child testers effortlessly grasped its screen-less, intuitive controls – squeezing the ‘ears’ for volume control, tapping the side to skip tracks or fast forward – and were all thrilled to have their own little storybox. Nikita, mum of our child tester Logab, 3, said: “‘Wow, Mum’ – that was my son’s initial reaction. He was fascinated that the box could speak and listened to the stories for ages. It really settled him for bedtime.” There are umpteen Tonie figures to buy, aimed at babies and children up to 6 and including famous tales like The Gruffalo and Guess How Much I Love You but, if you don’t fancy splashing out, the self-recording option is great – once you’ve worked out how to upload your recording to the Tonies site.

Available from: Tonies and Amazon

5. FurReal Cubby the Curious Bear, £79.99


Age: 4+

What it is: A 43cm-tall, wide-eyed interactive bear with over 100 sound and motion responses: he chats, dances, sneezes, plays peekaboo and even burps when fed his bottle. Also has a night-time mode, in which he plays 5 minutes of soft music. Comes with a bottle/comb accessory. Requires 4 x C batteries (not included).

Why we love it:  He’s pricey but he’s pretty amazing, with the cutest head, eyes, nose, mouth, arm and tail movements – and pretty soft and cuddly for a hard-bodied toy with a lot of moving parts. Our child testers really liked that he hugs you back and that he makes eating noises when you feed him. We particularly like the night-time mode, with its twinkling music, sleepy sounds and automatic shut down.

Available from: Amazon, Argos and Smyths Toys

6. Learning Resources Coding Critters Ranger & Zip, £40


Age: 4+

What it is: A 22-piece playset that introduces children to real coding concepts by getting them to ‘programme’ Ranger the dog and his mischievous pup friend Zip to play hide and seek, fetch a ball, ride down the slide – and more. Comes with 10 coding pawprints, ball, seesaw, house, slide, start-up guide and storybook.Requires 3 xAAA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: Ranger moves around in response to the path you code for him with the arrows on his back but what sets him apart from other coding toys – and why we’ve included him and his playset here – is that he also has a play mode, where he’ll dance and sing and you can feed, stroke and take care of him. Our child testers’ parents were really impressed to find a coding toy with so much fun and educational play potential – and our child testers were very taken with the seesaw.

Available from: Learning Resources, Amazon and John Lewis

7. Soggy Doggy Friends, £14.99


Age: 4+

What it is: A 16cm-high squidgy dog 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), Requires 3 AAA batteries.

Why we love it: This pup has lovely shaggy, rubbery coat that jiggles brilliantly when he trot along to heel. All our child testers thought he was very funny and very cute. One of them spent hours taking him for walks on different surfaces and comparing jiggles! Simple, silly and sweet.

Available from: Amazon and Argos

8. Baby Alive Potty Dance Baby Doll Baby Blonde, £39.99


Age: 3+

What it is: A poseable 40cm doll that blinks, drinks from her bottle, does a ‘potty’ dance when you hold her hand and sings while she wees. She can also say 50 phrases in both English or Spanish. She comes with a comb, soap dispenser, bottle, reward chart and stickers, removable outfit and big-girl pants.

Why we love it: She’s very funny, and you certainly get a lot of accessories for your money. Our child testers rather overdid it with the bottle-feeding and were rewarded with multiple wees! We really rate the switch that lets you choose for the doll to call you Mummy or Daddy – so boys can get fully included in the potty-training action, too. She used to come in different skin tones and hair colours but is only available as Baby Blonde now (which is a shame).

Available from: Smyths Toys

9. Vtech Myla the Magical Make-up Unicorn, £45


Age: 5+

What it is: A big (40cm-high) velvety electronic unicorn that comes with a (pretend) make-up palette and magic make-up brush: point the brush at the palette to choose a colour and then ‘paint’ the colour onto Myla’s wings, eyes and horn. Myla also moves her head, blinks, lights up, play games, sings and, if you touch her back, she’ll tell you your lucky colour for the day. Comes with 5 mane-styling accessories. Requires 4 AA and 2 AAA batteries (included).

Why we love it: Myla’s magical make-up brush is enchantingly clever (and blessedly mess-free) – but what makes this unicorn special is how much else she can do besides. Our testers particularly loved her the sing-with-me function and her cute hair accessories, which include a tiara and hair clips. Laurie, mum to child tester Olivia, 6, said: “She has a lovely voice. Olivia even has her in bed – they sing together just before she falls asleep. And make-up without the mess: that’s a plus!”

Available from: Amazon, Asda and Argos

10. Fingerlings Baby Monkeys, £15


Age: 6+

What it is: An 8cm-high interactive monkey that clings to your finger (or similar object) and has 2 sensors on its head to trigger noises and actions. It can talk, blink and sing and you can rock them to sleep. There are many colours to choose from and collect (and other Fingerlings animals, too).

Why we love it: It’s not so much why we love it, but why our children love it, and, boy, do they just. Although they’ve been around for a few years now, Fingerlings are still hugely popular with small people – our child testers just adored that the ways theirs clings to their finger and the sweet way it turns its head. We like all the different variations you can choose from and/or collect – from glitter Fingerlings to miniature ones and in all shades of the rainbow.

Available from:  Amazon and The Entertainer

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