Getting something fun delivered to your door is always exciting no matter how old – or young – you are. But there's something particularly joyful about watching children tear open a package or parcel of toys that's just for them. Which is why monthly subscription boxes containing toys and activities for children are so popular with kids and their parents: they get the thrill of opening and playing with something new, while you get to enjoy their delight and experience – after all, the contents will be a surprise for you, too. And it's lovely knowing your child will receive these monthly treats without the added stress of having to research, order or shop for every item.
There are boxes designed to appeal to every age and stage of development and, as children get older, every interest so it’'s important to ensure you pick a subscription that's specifically geared towards your child. Below, we've selected 10 subscription services that cover a variety of ages and stages, from newborn to teen, as well as a range of preferred pursuits.
Remember not every box is created equal and, while most options are packed with interesting and thoughtful contents, you may find some (though none featured here) include items and ideas you could easily find or recreate yourself for practically the same amount of money.
It was with this in mind that we asked our child testers (and their parents) to try out an assortment of subscription boxes and services then put together a list of our top picks.
Family meal boxes are also a great subscription service for the whole family.
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Here's our pick of the best toy subscription boxes and services for children, as tested by kids and rated by their parents
1. Bike Club, from £5 per month
– Best for bikes that grow with your child
Age suitability: 2 to 14 | Best for age: 2+
Awards: Gold, MadeforMums Toy Awards 2021
What it is: A service that allows you to select a bike for your child – balance bikes or pedal bikes – get it delivered to your house, and then 'trade it in' for a different bike when you child grow out (or gets tired) of it.
Why we love it: Our parent testers were really impressed with the great variety of balance bikes and pedal bikes of different sizes available and also with the excellent customer service, including flexibility on delivery dates and double-checking the size of the bike chosen for delivery. Kayleigh, mum of our child tester Henry, 4, tested the lightweight Forme Cubley bike and said, "The cost of the subscription is totally worth it as the bike we chose was brand new and high quality. Knowing I can exchange when he grows out of it is fantastic – I don't need to worry about what to do with the bike when it’s too small anymore. The website is really easy to use, too."
Available at: Bike Club
2. Peas & Pod, £18.33 a month for a 12 months; £20 for a single box
– Best for child-led learning
Age suitability: 3 to 7 | Best for age: 4 to 7
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021
What it is: A monthly A5 letterbox-sized cardboard box containing creative and educational forest school activities with not a scrap of plastic in sight. Inspired by Montessori and Steiner schools, the activities are designed to be child-led and to encourage nature fun. All the materials can be reused. Can also be bought as a one-off box.
Why we love it: It's wonderfully eco-friendly and we like that Peas and Pod give £1 from each box to organisations supporting disadvantaged families. Each box is full of simple but interesting things to do: the box we tested had a beach theme and contained shells to unpack and sort, a rock pool to make out of eco clay, a magnetic fishing game, a beach scavenger hunt, a pebble pet, a shell counting game, info on the life cycle of a crab, creature classification cards and some language tips/tongue twisters. Beautiful but all paper-based, so you'd need a careful child! Our child tester Noah, 4, said his box was "brilliant"and his mum Amy liked how well everyone is designed for open-ended play. Do note that a lot of the printed contents are paper rather than card-based, so this is perhaps a box best suited to a more careful child.
Available at: Peas and Pod
3. Grow With Me, £29.99 a month
– Best for babies
Age suitability: From birth to 18 months | Best for age: 6 to 18 months
Awards: Silver, MadeforMums Toy Awards 2021
What it is: A monthly box containing 4 to 5 wooden or sensory toys and a book, tailored to your child's age. The items and come with a QR code you can scan for further product details.
Why we love it: The box contents are high quality, clearly carefully selected to encourage open-ended play – and we love that there's always a book. We're also impressed that the toys in each box seem, in total, to be worth than the monthly subscription cost, making it great value for money. Emma, mum of our child tester Effie, 15 months, was impressed – particularly with the wooden toys. She said, "We got stacking blocks and wooden screws and Effie was smiling and playing independently with them for 30 minutes at a time – that’s a rarity in itself!"
Available at: Grow With Me
4. Bring a Book to Life, from £21.80 a month for 12 months
– Best for encouraging reading
Age suitability: 3 to 13 | Best for age: 3 to 13
What it is: A shoebox-sized recyclable box containing an age-appropriate book (often signed by the author), with associated toys, games and activities all arranged around a current theme, such as a celebration or event. Choose from 4 levels: 3 +, 6+, 8 to 12 (also suitable for dyslexic children) and 10 to 13. Can also be bought for 3 months, rather than 12, or as one-off.
Why we love it: There's a good deal in these well-thought-out boxes to keep children interested and engaged, such as a soft toy linked to the book for younger readers and a creative kit or fun game for older ones – and the inclusion of a message from the book's author is an added thrill. Emma, mum of our child tester Hamza, 5, said, "I’ve struggled to get my son interested in reading but he has asked to read the book in his box (The Boy Who Grew Dragons) every night, with Biscuit the dragon (who came included) by his side. The book's perfect for his reading ability and has lots of great pictures alongside easy-to-read text. We're looking forward to sowing the snapdragon seeds that also came in the box and watching them grow."
Available at: Bring A Book To Life
5. Whirli, £13.49 to £38.99 a month (plus P&P)
– Best for sustainability
Age suitability: From birth to 8 | Best for age: 2 to 8
What it is: A toy subscription service that allows you to spend tokens on any toy from a library of over 1000, including the latest toys. You pay for tokens worth around £1 on a monthly basis, with the full number of tokens on each plan available after the 3rd month, allowing you to build up a toy collection gradually. Toys can be sent back at any point, then swapped for tokens to be spent on more toys. Delivery is free for the first month with the code DB100, then you pay £5.49 for every return and delivery. They also offer a 'Delivery Booster' which allows 1 swap per month for £6.49 per month.
Why we love it: Sustainable, affordable and a great way to declutter the toy room: our parent testers loved this flexible, customer-friendly toy subscription service. They particularly liked the chance to try out a variety of toys which they might not otherwise be able to buy, and discover more about their child's particular tastes at each stage of development. Charlotte, mum of Hector, 2, said, "Whirli really reduces the toy clutter we have at home and the core idea – that you should swap and share toys, instead of buying them – in itself is a great lesson for our toddler. And we’ve discovered that our son adores farm animals. It’s the ultimate try-before-you-buy service!"
Available at: Whirli
6. The Curiosity Box, from £13.30 a month
Best for STEM learning
Age suitability: 4 to 11 | Best for ages: 6 to 10
What it is: A monthly subscription box containing everything your child needs to carry out science and engineering experiments and activities focused on a particular theme. The boxes are aimed at 2 age groups (4 to 6 and 7 to 11) and linked to the national curriculum (KS1 and KS2). The Nano Box subscription includes 2 experiments, plus a poster and collectible stickers, while the Jumbo Box has 4 themed activities, the poster and stickers, as well as an item of lab equipment. You can subscribe for 3 months or a year or choose from several one-off options.
Why we love it: Brilliantly designed for curious children (and adults – there are boxes available for grown-ups!), these substantial (and biodegradable) boxes come packed with lots of fun, well organised sciencey stuff. "The instructions and explanations of the experiments are really clear," said Jamie, mum of our 2 7-year-old child testers. The themes, which arrive in a set order, are wide-ranging, flitting from poisonous animals and code breaking cells, slime, geology and space.
Available at: The Curiosity Box
7. The Little Sensory Box Baby's First Year boxes, £43.97 per 3-monthly box
– Best newborn gift idea
Age suitability: 0 to 12 months | Best for age: 0 to 12 months
What it is: A once-a-quarter subscription series of 4 boxes sent in your baby's first year, filled with sensory-play items including toys and resources tailored to your baby’s age and corresponding stage of development. Each box contains items that can be used for open-ended play, as well as tips for exploring the box content with your baby and the benefits for your child.
Why we love it: We love the variety of toys within and between the boxes, and that the resources are targeted so precisely at the four stages of the all-important first year of a baby’s life. It takes the hard work out of curating objects your baby is bound to love (hello mirror balls and Petit Boum Float Bottle), and makes a brilliant gift for a friend or relative's new baby. "The toys are made to a very high standard, and many are wooden so eco-friendly and durable," said Janine, mum of our baby tester Ariana, 9 months.
Available at: The Little Sensory Box
8. Little Crumbs Boxes, from £11 a month
– Best for little foodies
Age suitability: 3 to 10 | Best for age: 7
What it is: A monthly delivery of a recipe card and dry ingredients (packaged inside plastic-free, biodegradable and compostable pouches) to make a sweet treat, plus the instructions and materials to make several craft projects inside a personalised envelope, as well as a short story and scavenger hunt. There are a range of subscriptions available, including a no-commitment version and a holiday box package.
Why we love it: It's hands-on and educational for the whole family, while the activities, such as planting seeds, are good for getting children to think about where food comes from. We like the ideas of the school holiday bundle that sees a box of goodies arriving just when you need it most and the sibling boxes that come with double the contents of a regular box for less than twice the price – handy if you have two budding chefs who prefer to compete rather than collaborate in the kitchen.
Available at: Little Crumbs
9. Mini Monsters Play Well Box, from £14 a month
– Best for creative play
Age suitability: 3 to 5 | Best for age: 5
What it is: A themed subscription box filled with toys and equipment to support 5 activities designed to get young children moving and learning through creative play. Also included in each box are instruction cards for parents, as well as visual prompt cards for children. Choose from 3 subscription options, including annual, monthly and 6-monthly.
Why we love it: Brilliant for those days when your child wants to be active but you can't get outside, these boxes have been designed by Early Years specialists to help children develop their "ABCs" – that’s agility, balance and coordination. With a little encouragement and direction from you, your child will soon be leaping round your living room like a monkey or swashbuckling down your hallway while doing their best pirate impersonation. Expect to laugh lots and join in.
Available at: Mini Monsters Box
10. Mysteries in Time, from £6.95 a month
– Best for learning about history
Age suitability: 7 to 11 | Best for age: 7 to 11
What it is: An educational monthly subscription package (a personalised envelope or box) containing a story, history magazine, puzzles, activities, stickers and world map that encourage your child to imagine travelling back in history to solve a mystery. The bumper box option also contains and activity and history-related gift. The packages are sent in a specific order, starting with Ancient Egypt and taking in the Aztec Empire, Ancient Rome and the Victorian Era.
Why we love it: Engaging and well-curated, the impressive contents of this package offer older children an immersive way to learn about history by stoking their imagination as they step into a time machine alongside characters Max and Katie. The parents of our child testers were particularly commented on the subscription's great value and excellent quality. "There is so much in the box to play with," said Clare, mum of our child tester Jack, 8. "We made the clay amulets, read a bit of the book and spelt our names in hieroglyphs which my son really enjoyed."
Available at: Mysteries in Time
About our author
Gabrielle Nathan has been working as a journalist for nearly 20 years. She began writing about parenting while pregnant with her first child in 2012.
We've got more top tested and rated toys here...
Gabrielle Nathan has been a journalist for 20 years, writing lifestyle features for publications including Red, Women’s Health, Wildflower and Condé Nast Traveller. She has been writing about parenting since 2012, the year she became a mum.
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