10 of the best interactive toys for children

From dinosaurs and pet dogs to unicorns and dancing llamas, we've found the best interactive toys for children aged 3 to 10

Toy Awards Best Interactive Toy

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A toy that magically comes to life before a child’s very eyes is tough to beat – whether you’re looking for a cuddly bear that dances, a dog that goes for walkies or a dinosaur that bites, we’ve got something to delight and enchant your child.

Before investing, think about the level of interactivity on offer and how long your child will be amused for. Some products offer learning potential, while others are pure fun!

Our testers, from the MFM team and toy experts, to parents and children, have weighed up the pros and cons of each and every product to come up with this list of the best interactive toys on the market.

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

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1. tonies Toniebox, £69.95 – best for storytelling

Age: 3 to 6
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Interactive Toy – Gold

What it is: A Wi-Fi speaker unlike any you’ve come across before – this clever gadget is soft to the touch and paired with a hand-painted, collectible Tonie figure, which is pre-recorded with songs and popular stories like The Gruffalo. You can also add your own content – a story, song or message, for up to 90 minutes.

Why we love it: Children are big fans of its squishy design and we like its screen-less, intuitive controls – squeezing ears for volume control, tapping the side to skip tracks or fast forward – it’s a joy to use and children pick it up effortlessly.

The library on offer is ever expanding – Disney has just been added to the ranks to add to the brand’s kudos and listening to the tales is an immersive, relaxing wind-down from the day. Adding your own content is another special addition and a lovely way for children to stay connected to loved ones who maybe live further away.

It’s a touch expensive, but it’s a pioneer in interactivity and parents give it their value-for-money vote. MFM tester Nikita, mum of Logab, 3, says: “‘Wow, Mum’ – that was my son’s initial reaction when he saw this product. He was fascinated the box could speak and once set up he listened to the stories for hours and it really settled him for bedtime.”

Available from: tonies, Amazon and Prezzybox

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2. FurReal Cubby the Curious Bear, £79.99 – best for a special gift

Age: 4+
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Interactive Toy – Silver

What it is: A wide-eyed super cute interactive bear called Cubby that responds with over 100 sounds and motions – he chats, dances and even burps when fed his bottle! He has a night-time mode in which he makes sleepy sounds and plays soft music.

Why we love it: The interactivity of the furReal Cubby the Curious Bear is pretty amazing, enough to scoop our Silver award. He’s a chatty little thing and when you talk to him he loves to chat back – he’s curious and expressive, he plays peek-a-boo and even hugs you back, which our child testers delighted in.

The feeding bottle was also a big hit and many mini testers report that giving Cubby his milk was their favourite part. This toy is definitely an investment buy, but we predict children will be instant BFFs with Cubby for a long time.

MFM tester, Maxine, mum to Ellis, 4, says: “This is really clever and does lots of cool things like babble back at you, sneeze, sing happy birthday (or what sounds like it!).”

Available from: Amazon, Argos and Smyths Toys

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3. Learning Resources Coding Critters Ranger & Zip, £40 – best for STEM skills

Age: 4+
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Interactive Toy – Joint Bronze

What it is: A range of adorable coding toys that gently introduce children to real coding concepts in a fun, hands-on, yet screen-free way. The collection includes Ranger the dog, Scamper the cat and Rumble the dinosaur – each one has arrow buttons, which are pressed to build the code and programme their critter and each one comes with a 22-piece play-set and full-colour storybook.

Why we love it: Little learners are introduced to critical thinking, problem-solving and other STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills while learning the fundamentals of coding with these toys, and they’re all wrapped up in an adorable animal package – what’s not to love!

The storybook encourages little ones to code the critters to play hide-and-seek, fetch a ball and more – many of our younger testers needed help at first, but soon grasped the idea and loved coming up with their own ways to move their mini characters.

MFM tester Laura, mum to Kaiden, 4, says: “Kaiden loved to use the small dog and ball on the seesaw to make the ball fly! The book is good as it helps develop a story and the play is led by the book, so it’s very interactive.”

Available from: Learning Resources, Amazon and John Lewis

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4. Soggy Doggy Friends, £14.99 – best for value

Age: 4+

What it is: A squidgy dog that you can take for walks, he barks, makes happy sounds when you cuddle him, and snores when he’s asleep. Choose from Dizzy (pictured) or pink-coloured Daisy.

Why we love it: It’s undeniable that Soggy Doggy is cute – with a lovely shaggy, rubbery coat that jiggles when he trots to heel, he has a wide-eyed, tongue-out face that warmed the hearts of all our testers who befriended him. Soggy Doggy’s adorable, scampering run made our testers belly-laugh and they spent hours taking him for walks on different surfaces.

The interactivity is limited in comparison to other toys on our list, but this is reflected in the price – all our parents agreed Soggy Doggy was a bargain buy for the amount of play their children got from him.

MFM tester, Natalie, mum to Millie, 5, says: “Millie’s loving taking her dog for a walk, petting it, pretending to wash and feed it. And her little sister loves it, too. A great price.”  

Available from: Amazon and Argos

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5. Robo Alive Dinosaur, £15 – best for movement

Age: 3+

What it is: A 30cm walking, roaring T-Rex that has lifelike movements and actions – including biting! Choose from two colours – Jungle Green or Wild Amber, pictured.

Why we love it: It roars and walks thrillingly well, and the biting action was a particular hit with our testers who delightedly let it chomp on many different things. The roar is pretty ferocious too – so much so, some younger siblings found it a tad scary at points.

It’s not as all-singing-and-dancing as some interactive toys but it’s also a lot kinder on your wallet. The same price as the Soggy Doggy Friends, both toys have simple movement-based interactions that delighted our young testers and it all comes down to whether your little ones enjoy cute and cuddly or exciting and prehistoric!

MFM tester, Caroline, mum to Declan, 5, says: “This is great toy for a wide age range. Declan loves that it glows in the dark. Definitely worth the money!”

Available from: Argos, Amazon and Smyths Toys

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6. Baby Alive Potty Dance Baby Doll, £39.99 – best for length of play

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. Choose from different skin tones and hair colours.

Why we love it: With big, bouncy hair and a sweet face, our testers all thought she looks great, she’s fun and you certainly get a lot of accessories for your money.

All items got a great amount of play, especially the potty and the bottle – many of our mini testers enjoyed feeding her over and over again so that she’d let them know she needed a wee.

An Editor’s Choice award winner last year, mainly for her tip-top sense of humour, the Baby Alive Potty Dance Baby Doll is the only doll on our list and she sits in the mid to high end of the price bracket.

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.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys

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7. Vtech Myla the Magical Make-up Unicorn, £45 – best for being creative

Age: 5+

What it is: A 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. 

Why we love it: Winning gold in 2018’s awards, Myla’s magical make-up brush is enchantingly clever (and mess-free) – but what makes this unicorn special is how much else she can do besides. Our testers particularly loved the sing-with-me function and her cute hair accessories, which included a tiara and hair clips. When painted she glows in colour, which little testers couldn’t get enough of.

Double the price of the Pomsies Lumies (below), the Vtech Myla unicorn looks more robust and has more features to justify its higher price.

MFM tester, Laurie, mum to Olivia, 6, says: “We love Myla. She is cute, fun, magical and 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

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8. Pomsies Lumies, £19.99 – best for colour recognition

Age: 3+
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Interactive Toy – Joint Bronze

What it is: A super-fluffy, animated unicorn-type creature that reacts to colour by matching it and glowing. There are 3 Lumies – Dazzle Go Go, Sparkle Rush and Pixie Pop – each with their own cute look and each come with a comb. The music mode turns colours into beats with over 1,000 possible mixes.

Why we love it: Our testers were captivated with the charming look of the Lumies with their bold hair, sparky unicorn horns, heart-shaped faces and colourful ponytails – even before they realised the play potential.

The interactivity – keeping the Lumies happy by ‘feeding’ them colour – is a simple concept and it’s reflected in its lower price and while it’s not as complex as other toys on our round-up, it did hold the interest of our testers who enjoyed it when it glowed in different hues, its sweet voice and different musical combinations depending on the colours they placed it on.

The comb is a nice extra and our testers enjoyed taking care of the Lumie and brushing its hair.

Available from: Amazon, Argos and Very

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9. Fingerlings Baby Monkeys, £15 – best for cute factor

Age: 6+

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

Why we love it: It’s not so much why we love it, but why our children love it, and, boy, do they just. One of the biggest breakout toy hits from last year, it’s still hugely popular with small people – they adore that it clings to your finger, the sweet way it turns its head and all the different variations you can collect – from glitter Fingerlings to miniature ones and in all shades of the rainbow.

The concept for Fingerlings, and their interactivity, is very simple in comparison to others on our list and similarly-priced products, like the Soggy Doggy and Pomsies Lumies, are arguably smarter, but you can’t put a price on child satisfaction and there’s no doubt Fingerlings are a runaway success with our testers.

Available from: The Entertainer and Amazon

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10. Zuru Pets Alive Boppi The Booty Shakin’ Llama, £25 – best for dancing

Age: 3+

What it is: A fun and fluffy dancing llama – press the button on its side and it springs into action, tossing its head around and moving its bum in a pretty intense action! It has three songs that it plays and dances to.

Why we love it: This twerking, head-shaking creature made our little testers laugh out loud and jump up and down in glee – the first time you see it leap into life and dance is rather impressive and it has an energy that’s catching – it’s not long before everyone around the llama is bopping around, too!

Llamas are set to be huge and even eclipse the unicorn in popularity – this product is already causing a stir on social media and its hot-tipped to be a Christmas must-have. Our child testers loved its cute look and couldn’t get enough of its dancing movements and fun songs. It’s not the cheapest, or the most sophisticated, but it created a pretty big buzz amongst testers.
Available from: Amazon, The Entertainer and Very

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