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10 of the best interactive toys for children

A Bluetooth-synching guitar that rocks out tunes, a raptor that runs, a camera with green screen and special effect – and more! We've found the best interactive toys for babies, preschoolers and children up to 9 years

10 of the best interactive toys for children

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. Little Tikes My Jam Electric Guitar, £36.99

– Great for rockstar music-making

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4 | Batteries: 3 x AA (included)
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A mini (50cm x 19cm) guitar that can you play solo (in 3 different modes) or synch up with any Bluetooth-enabled device to play your favourite songs through the guitar’s speaker and strum along. Comes with a detachable shoulder strap.

Why we love it: Our child tester, Ronni, 4, declared it “the bestest guitar ever!” and we can see what he means! The Bluetooth hook-up is really special and we may have hogged the rock-out limelight a little longer than our child testers felt was strictly necessary… We also like that can use the original packaging as a travel case – and we definitely appreciate the volume-control button!

Available at: Little Tikes, Smyths Toys and Amazon

2. My First Scalextric, £44.99

– Great for hand/eye coordination

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3 | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A mains-powered car-racing toy with 18 pieces and 2 bridge supports that create a figure-of-8 108cm x 61cm track. Comes with 2 speed-limiting hand controllers and 2 magnetic cars.

Why we love it: This preschooler entry-level Scalextric track is nice and compact and the controllers are well-sized and shaped for little hands. The cars go nice and fast and our child testers were entranced. Laura, mum to our child tester Isla, 3, said, “My little girl was super excited to play with this toy, as was my very nostalgic husband!”. Isla adds, “I like the car racing and can race really fast against Daddy. I like changing the tracks too – it’s fun. Sometimes my car goes so fast, it falls off!” The track itself is super-easy to set up but obviously you will need to be near a plug socket as it runs off a mains power supply.

Available at: Scalextric, Amazon and John Lewis

3. Little Tikes Tobi 2 Director’s Camera, £69.99

– Great for first film makers

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 6 | Batteries: Rechargeable (USB cable included)
Awards: Editor’s Choice, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A HD camera that films video and takes photos, with a lens that flips out to takes selfies. You can edit your creations on the camera’s 6cm display, add effects, create stop-motion or time-lapse films and play games. Comes with a green screen (you can add 40 animated backgrounds), a tripod and a microSD slot for more storage space.

Why we love it: There’s so much your child can do with this camera, from filming against the huge range of screen backgrounds to mastering special effects to taking selfies with the flip-out lens. As soon as it was charged, our child tester Isabella, 7, “was off playing with it and making vlogs like the kids she watches on YouTube,” said her mum Isabella – who was impressed how easy Isabella found it to navigate all the control without any help.

Available at: Little Tikes

4. Squeakee the Balloon Dino, £80

– Great for remote-control fun

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 7 | Batteries: 6 x AAA (not included)
Awards: Editor’s Choice, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A 36cm-high dinosaur, shaped like it’s made of balloons and programmed with 70+ interactive sounds and movements. Comes with headphones (put them on him and he’ll dance) and a squeaker bone (squeak it to make him stomp and roar; put it in his mouth and he’ll chomp down and play tug of war with you). You can also ‘pop’ him and pump him back up.

Why we love it: He’s pricey and he’s a battery-guzzler but he’s impossibly cute – and has real wow factor. Our child testers were all absolutely enthralled with him and immediately wanted to show Squeakee to all their friends and relatives. “I love Squeakee so much – he’s just so funny!” said Rowan, 7. “My favourite is making him fall down asleep, and then I get to pump, pump, pump him up like a real balloon! Sometimes he even farts!”

Available at: Selfridges, Smyths Toys, and Argos

5. Linkimals Dance n Groove Cool Beats Penguin, £34.99

– Great for laughing and learning

Age suitability: 9 months + | Best for age: 9 months+ | Batteries: 4 x AA (included)

What it is: A 24cm-high penguin that flaps its flippers and bobs from side to side when you press his buttons, along with lots of lights and musical sounds. Other features include sounds and phrases to help teach numbers, shapes, letters and opposites. Apart from his soft flippers, he’s a very solid toy (not cuddly) but his dancing is very cute – and very appealing to babies. Can interact with other toys in the Fisher-Price Linkimals range.

Why we love it: Our baby testers were captivated by this toy’s friendly face, light-up tummy and colourful flapping flippers. 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 at: >Amazon and Smyths Toys

6. Clementoni Once Upon a Time Storyteller, £15

– Great for story creating

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Batteries: 3 x AA

What it is: A 24cm x 20cm storytelling toy that lets you customise each story by selecting a hero, a theme and a setting by moving each of the 3 coloured rollers before pressing the button for the 2-minute story to play. There are up to 64 possible story combinations. Comes with a jack for earphones.

Why we love it: This is a much simpler, less whizzy interactive toy than our other choices – no lights or screens or sound effects– but it was a big hit with our child testers, who loved that they could pick it up and use the chunky rollers to create lots of different stories. all on their own. We like the headphone jack – with earphones attached, this could be a nice toy for taking on journeys. “The stories are quite short,” said Ellen, mum of our child tester Henry, 4, “but the fact you can keep changing them meant it held Henry’s attention for ages – he really was lost in concentration.”

Available at: Smyths Toys and Amazon

7. Robo Alive Rampaging Raptor, £9.99

– Great for robot fun

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Batteries: 2 xAAA (not included)

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.

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 at: Smyths Toys and Argos

8. Tonies Toniebox, £69.95

– Great for story lovers


Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Batteries: Rechargeable (comes with charging station)

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.

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 at: Tonies and Amazon

9. FurReal Cubby the Curious Bear, £79.99

– Great for nurturing role play


Age suitability  4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: 4 x C (not included)

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.

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 at: Amazon and Smyths Toys

10. Soggy Doggy Friends, £16.99

–  Great for silly fun


Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: 3  x AAA

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).

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 at: Amazon and Argos

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About the author

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she’s also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

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