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15 of the best toys for 4-year-olds in 2023

From train sets to tech, stickers to Barbie, here is our guide to the top 15 toys that'll inspire, entertain and educate your four year old.

By Gemma Wilcock | Last updated Jan 13, 2023

Girl playing with doll

School is just around the corner at four years old, and you may wonder where your baby has gone! Seemingly overnight, they've transformed. They're more independent and opinionated and have begun forming their own interests. So, when it comes to toys, it can be difficult to decide what to buy them. 

At age four, children enjoy using their imagination and expressing themselves creatively through role-play, crafting and small-world toys. They love building with LEGO and have more patience for puzzles and board games. Learning as they go, four-year-olds need toys that keep their attention, challenge them and covertly teach them key skills in a fun and engaging way. That's in addition to ensuring, as a parent or family member, that the toy is economical, cost-effective or, at the very least, a good investment. Now, more than ever, our decisions about toys are ruled by the cost of living, and if all of that has put your head in a spin, you're not alone. 

That's why we've done that hard work for you by researching using our triple-check vetting system and creating a list of the best toys for four-year-olds. Each option has been carefully considered and selected to ensure we cover various interests and budgets. To do this, we searched for recommendations on the Mumsnet forums to see what parents – let’s face it, the real experts - rated as the best toys out there right now. Once we had a list of products, we consulted expert review sites and retailers to help us whittle it down and make sure we were recommending toys that are good quality, value for money and, of course, fun to play with. 

If you're looking for more gift ideas, why not check out our other age-related guides on the best toys for infants 0-6 months, babies 6-12 months, two-year-olds, three-year-olds and five-year-olds? We've got lists of the best tablets and board games for older children, too.

Here are the 15 best toys for four-year-olds.

1. Best overall toy for 4-year-olds: VTech Kidizoom Duo Camera

VTech Kidizoom camera

Price on writing: £69.99 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Dimensions: 4cm x 11.4cm x 8.5cm | Weight: 200g | Material: Plastic | Number of pieces: 1 | Assembly required: No | Batteries required: Yes 4xAA batteries | Age: 3-9 years | Educational Objectives: Creative expression 

Reasons to buy 

  • Teaches children photography skills
  • Fun stamps, borders and effects 
  • Comes with games to play on the go
  • Robust rubber shell

Reasons to avoid

  • Picture quality could be better
  • Requires four batteries, which run out quite quickly with regular use
  • Users recommend getting a memory to store the photos on 

What Mumsnet users say 

“VTech kids camera is a great idea. My eldest had one when he turned four and I might get my youngest one too.” WithMyEncyclopedia

“Yoto Player, VTech kids camera, and probably more LEGO.” NameChange30

Our verdict

Favourite features? The VTECH Kidizoom won the top spot for best overall toy for four-year olds because it is perfect for little photographers, as it has all of the usual features and so much more. With a five-megapixel lens, flash, and a front- and rear-facing camera, children will have lots of fun snapping photos, videos and selfies, all with easy-to-use controls.

The images and movies they create can be viewed via the digital screen. Children can then use their creative skills to edit them and add stamps, frames and funny effects - they’ll especially love recording their voice using five different sound effects. When they run out of space, the USB cable can connect the camera to a laptop or computer for easy storage. The photo quality isn’t amazing when compared with standard cameras, but it is good enough for young children. What makes this camera stand out from others on the market, though, is that it’s not just a camera, it’s a toy too. Kidizoom has computer games for your child to play with and keep them entertained. The major downside is that you will need plenty of batteries as this camera requires four AA. If you can, we'd recommend buying rechargeable batteries to save you time and money! 

2. Best budget toy for 4-year-olds: Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad - Dress Up

Melissa and Doug Sticker Pad

Price on writing: £6 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Dimensions: 35.6cm x 27.94cm x 2.54cm| Weight: 362.87g | Material: Card, vinyl, paper, cardboard | Number of pieces: 1 | Assembly required: No | Batteries required: No | Age: 3-12 years | Educational Objectives: Creative expression, fine motor skills 

Reasons to buy 

  • Stickers can be reused again and again
  • Five different backgrounds
  • More than 165 stickers
  • Great for encouraging hands-on play and creativity

Reasons to avoid

  • The book is large, so that it may be too big for travel
  • Some users found the stickers didn’t stay on the page

What Mumsnet users say 

For a four-year-old: Melissa & Doug reusable sticker pads, magnetic play sets, Aquadoodle How to Doodle board, Wikki Stix.” Fivemoreminutes1

Our verdict

Favourite features? Children love stickers, and with sticker books' ever-increasing popularity, there are plenty of options to choose from. The only downside is once stickers are stuck to the page, there is little chance of removing them without ripping the scene behind. Thus leaving them to be thrown away once all the activities have been completed. However, if you purchase a Melissa & Doug Re-useable Sticker Pad, your child can enjoy the stickers again and again and again. 

Slightly too large for travel but perfect for the dining table. The Dress-Up pad is almost A3 size and has more than 165 re-useable skirts, dresses and accessories stickers for mixing and matching on illustrated models across five different backgrounds. From the stage of a ballet to the catwalk of a fashion show, your four-year-old will delight in the ability to chop and change their mind to create all kinds of creative combinations. Don't worry if your child isn't a big fan of fashion; Melissa & Doug's sticker pads have other themes, which include animals, dinosaurs, fairies and vehicles. A Mumsnetter trusted brand and the creator of award-winning toys - Melissa & Doug's sticker pads are ideal for encouraging creative play and developing fine motor skills. 

3. Best LEGO toy for 4-year-olds: LEGO Classic Large Creative Box

LEGO Creative Box

Price on writing: £44.99 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Dimensions: H18cm x W26.2cm x D37cm | Weight: 3.77kg | Material: Plastic | Number of pieces: 790 | Assembly required: No | Batteries required: No | Age: 4 years+ | Educational Objectives: Creative and imaginative play, fine motor skills

Reasons to buy 

  • Mumsnetter recommended brand
  • 790 pieces, including windows, doors and baseplates
  • Includes building ideas 
  • Includes ideas for builds
  • Promotes creativity 
  • Comes in a storage box 

Reasons to avoid

  • Box doesn’t link with other LEGO storage boxes
  • No large base plate for building on
  • Some users found pieces were missing

What Mumsnet users say 

“DS2 is four and wants proper LEGO.” DelurkingAJ

“My four-year-old is getting very into LEGO.” Twilightstarbright 

Our verdict

Favourite features? If your child is ready to move on from DUPLO, then the LEGO Classic Large Creative Box is an excellent choice to start your LEGO collection. Designed to inspire creativity and set them on the path to creating their own masterpieces, there is plenty to love about this set. 

There are 790 pieces, including bricks in 33 different colours, windows, frames, eyes, tires and wheel rims. They've also added two different size baseplates, although some reviewers noted these were a little small. So, we'd recommend purchasing an additional larger baseplate; you can buy them in green, white and grey.   Children can follow the simple instructions inside the booklet to build creations such as a bear, frog, house and scooter. As their confidence grows, they can then use the bricks to design their own builds and, at the end of the day, it can all be tidied away in the handy storage box. LEGO play has lots of benefits, including boosting social and communication skills, encouraging creativity and problem-solving, and aiding physical development. While other brands out there may be more affordable, LEGO bricks are Mumsnetter recommended as they’re strong and last for years. There are themed sets, too, perfect for world-building. 

4. Best educational toy for 4-year-olds: Orchard Toys Shopping List Game

Orchard Toys Shopping Game

Price on writing: £7.97| Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Dimensions: | Weight: | Material: | Number of pieces: | Assembly required: | Batteries required: | Age: | Educational Objectives

Reasons to buy 

  • Highly recommended by Mumsnetters 
  • Orchard Toy's bestseller
  • Helps children learn about food
  • Encourages matching and memory skills
  • Game can be adapted for younger players

Reasons to avoid

  • Lots of pieces to the game, which could get easily lost
  • Some users thought the game was too simple

What Mumsnet users say 

“Orchard do nice games and jigsaws.” Topbird29

Our verdict

Favourite features? When it comes to educational play, you can’t go wrong with Orchard Toys, and their Shopping List Game is highly recommended by Mumsnetters and tested by teachers. Oh, and not to mention that it won a gold Mother and Baby Award in 2014 for best toddler toy. 

This bestselling board game is suitable for two to four players for family fun. Pick between four shopping lists with different food and drink items to put in your trolley or basket. The game can be played in two ways: turn the cards over and play a memory game to find all the items on your list, or, for younger children, turn the cards face up and play a matching game. The Shopping Game helps children learn, promoting matching, memory, and language and recognition skills for food. You can also add more packs if you want to expand the collection by adding extra clothes and fruit&veg

5. Best imagination toy for 4-year-olds: PLAYMOBIL City Life 70049

A picture of the City Life Ambulance box.

Price on writing: £59.99 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Dimensions: H24.8cm x W12.5cm x D34.8cm | Weight: 890g| Material: Plastic| Number of pieces: 62| Assembly required: No| Batteries required: Yes 4xAAA| Age: 4 years+ | Educational Objectives: Imaginative, communication and social skills 

Reasons to buy 

  • 62 piece set
  • Fully furnished with three figures and medical equipment
  • Real-life lights and sounds 
  • Easy to assemble
  • Part of a range for easy gift-giving

Reasons to avoid

  • Needs 4 x AAA batteries
  • Lots of little pieces that could get lost

What Mumsnet users say 

Our verdict

Favourite features?

“[Go for a] PLAYMOBIL set in a theme [your child] likes.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user BertieBotts)

Playmobil's world-building City Life sets allow children to explore the world around them, practising the language they hear in daily life and building social and communication skills. In this set there are plenty of options to choose from, so we're recommending the Playmobil City Life Ambulance

Suitable for four year olds, this vehicle features working lights, sounds and an illuminated monitor for realistic and creative play (Just don't forget the batteries!). It keeps gameplay accurate using a tonne of medical accessories including charts, respirators and first aid kit. Inspiring a future doctor or paramedic, this ambulance is easy to use with a roof and rear doors that open allowing the team of two figures to load their patient in on a stretcher. As with any PLAYMOBIL set of this size, there are lots of pieces – 62 in fact - and the set may need rebuilding but, with so much detail, children will have plenty of fun creating their own stories. Add this to other PLAYMOBIL City Life sets like their City Life School Bus or Recycling Truck to create an even bigger world.

6. Best dinosaur toy for 4-year-olds: Schleich Large Dino Research Station

Schleich Dino Lab

Price on writing: £57.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Dimensions: 48.51cm x 13.97cm x 34.54cm| Weight: | Material: Plastic | Number of pieces: 33 | Assembly required: Yes | Batteries required: No | Age: 3-12 years | Educational Objectives: Imaginative play, storytelling and social skills 

Reasons to buy 

  • Detailed, painted dinosaurs
  • 33-piece set includes plenty of accessories to inspire children’s imaginations
  • Lots more figures and sets to choose from in the dino range 

Reasons to avoid

  • Expensive
  • Lots of small parts
  • Over 50 steps to the assembly instructions

What Mumsnet users say 

“DS loves LEGO, Playmobil, Schleich animals and dinosaurs.”  Twilightstarbright

“Schleich or Papo animals or dinosaurs.”  CarolinaWeeper

Our verdict

Favourite features? There are plenty of dinosaur figures on the market but Schleich toys come highly recommended by Mumsnet users. Good quality, detailed and sturdy, Schleich’s dinosaur range is one of their most popular, and the Large Dino Research Station makes a great addition to any collection.

The 33-piece set comes with a Velociraptor, a Brachiosaurus and a researcher called Maxx, with moveable arms and legs. The station also includes many fun accessories, such as ladders, a tranquiliser cannon, a crane, a trapdoor, a net, a mobile phone, a laptop and a surveillance camera to help catch the dinosaurs and carry out research. Although no tools are needed for assembly, there are lots of little parts and over 50 steps to put it all together, so be sure to set some time aside for this. If your child loves dinosaurs and wants to expand their world even further, there are lots more figures, sets and accessories in the Schleich range for easy gift-giving ideas. 

7. Best toy for car-loving 4-year-olds: Hot Wheels City Ultimate Garage Playset

Hot Wheels City Ultimate Garage

Price on writing: £120.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Dimensions: 43.8cm x 76.2cm x 63.5cm | Weight: 6.5kg | Material: Plastic | Number of pieces: 1 | Assembly required: Yes | Batteries required: No | Age: 5-8 years (still appropriate for four-year-olds) | Educational Objectives: Imaginative play, language, communication and fine motor skills 

Reasons to buy 

  • Mumsnetter recommended brand 
  • Large car garage with five levels
  • Space for over 90 cars – good for storage
  • Side-by-side racetrack to launch cars down
  • Comes with two cars
  • Inspires children’s imagination
  • Connects to other sets for easy gift-giving ideas 

Reasons to avoid

  • Pricey
  • It’s big, so not easy to store it away
  • Some users found the launcher broke easily
  • Users found the lift gets stuck easily

What Mumsnet users say 

“Hot wheels cars and track.” Ponkydonkey

“My just four-year-old loves cars so will get more Hot Wheels stuff for Christmas.” angelopal

Our verdict

Favourite features? If your child has a box teeming with cars, they’ll have hours of fun parking them up in the Hot Wheels City Ultimate Garage Playset

This large garage with five levels has space for more than 90 cars, which can also double up as storage. With a double lane loop to launch the cars down, a shark that gobbles them up and an elevator that carries two cars up to the top of the garage, this playset will fire up any car fan’s imagination. The set comes with two cars which they can race down the side-by-side track launching them through the air. This garage is more expensive than other competitors, but the great thing about Hot Wheels is that you can connect additional sets to inspire even bigger adventures.  

8. Best creative toy for 4-year-olds: Melissa & Doug Butterfly Friends Bead Set

Melissa and Doug Butterfly Friends

Price on writing: £17.49 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Dimensions: 24.77cm x 17.65cm x 2.54cm | Weight: 260g | Material: Wood | Number of pieces: 125 | Assembly required: No | Batteries required: No | Age: 3 - 18 years | Educational Objectives: Creative, communication and fine motor skills 

Reasons to buy 

  • 120 coloured beads and butterflies
  • Promotes hand-eye coordination 
  • Develop strong fine-motor skills
  • Nice wooden set

Reasons to avoid

  • The box doesn’t have a lid, so beads can be easily lost
  • Comes with five cords, so you may need to use your own to make more jewellery

What Mumsnet users say 

"I've got dd aged 4 and a half a melissa and doug bead set but her motor skills aren't great so your dd may find them a bit too easy. The beads look lovely though." bogiesaremyonlyfriend 

"I think the Melissa and Doug sets are fine for that age." attheendoftheday

Our verdict

Favourite features? If your four-year-old is jewellery obsessed and has already begun raiding your personal collection, why not buy them this colourful, plastic-free bead set by Melissa & Doug? Perfect for fashion lovers and crafty children. As a Mumsnetter trusted brand that has won many awards for their approach to engaging and educational children's toys, you can't go far wrong. 

The set encourages children to use their creative skills to design their own necklaces using the 120 colourful wooden beads and butterflies. They get to practice their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as they feed the beads onto the five coloured cords that are included. If that isn't enough, add your string for extended design opportunities. If your four-year-old is as chaotic as most are, you should purchase a storage tin ahead of time so you can skip accidentally hoovering up several of the beads. Although there are plenty of other jewellery craft sets on the market, Melissa and Doug stand out as they are good quality wooden toys with plenty of additional bead sets to choose from. You can pick up their Butterfly Friends Bead Set to add to their collection. 

9. Best Barbie toy for 4-year-olds: Barbie Dreamplane Transforming Playset

Barbie Aeroplane

Price on writing: £59.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Dimensions: 58.42cm x 24.13cm x 27.94cm | Weight: 3.45kg | Material: Plastic | Number of pieces: 25 | Assembly required: No | Batteries required: No | Age: 3 years+ | Educational Objectives: Imaginative play, communication, social and fine motor skills 

Reasons to buy 

  • Mumsnetter trusted brand
  • 2-in-1 plane and vehicle
  • Can be pushed around on wheels
  • More than 15 accessories for inspiring imagination
  • Space for three dolls 

Reasons to avoid

  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t come with any dolls
  • Lots of little pieces that could get lost easily

What Mumsnet users say 

“Big hits from grandparents have included; Barbie aeroplane, pilot and steward…”  Jumpingintochristmas

“My DD’s fourth birthday is on Tuesday and we've got her a Silver Cross double pram, and Barbie plane (both big).” Mammaaof

Our verdict

Favourite features? Even Barbie dreams of a holiday! Now she can go on all kinds of adventures with the Barbie Dreamplane Transforming Playset

A plane and vehicle in one, Barbie fans can fire up their imaginations with more than 15 accessories. There’s a suitcase that opens and closes, a snack cart with food trays and tv screens in the back of the seats. At the front of the plane, there’s a pilot’s seat and two more reclining seats behind it so Barbie can take some friends on her travels. There’s also a cute puppy to appeal to animal enthusiasts. No dolls come with this set, which is disappointing for the price, but it will make an excellent addition to any Barbie collection. If you're feeling generous there is a Barbie Travel Doll Set you can buy to bring the play to life. You may also want to check out the Barbie Dream Doll House, which is also highly rated by Mumsnet parents.

10. Best train set for 4-year-olds: Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Talking Thomas and Percy Train Set

Thomas & Friends Talking Thomas and Percy

Price on writing: £51.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Dimensions: 79cm x 173cm x 22cm | Weight: 2.37kg | Material: Plastic |  Assembly required: Yes | Batteries required: Yes 2 x AAA (included) | Age: 3 years+ | Educational Objectives: Imaginative play, storytelling, communication and fine motor skills 

Reasons to buy 

  • Track switches and control panel 
  • Motorised train and track
  • Thomas and Percy's trains talk to each other
  • Children can explore locations from the TV series
  • Can be connected to other Trackmaster sets

Reasons to avoid

  • Some users feel the tunnel isn’t of excellent quality
  • Younger children may need supervision when building the track 
  • Quite noisy

What Mumsnet users say 

“At that age my DS was train and Thomas mad.” JiltedJohnsJulie

“Also, he had a Thomas the Tank Engine train set.” Aimee1987

Our verdict

Favourite features? Thomas the Tank fans can explore the island of Sodor with the Thomas & Friends Talking Thomas and Percy Train Set. 

Your little train enthusiast will love watching the two motorised trains whizz around the track past recognisable sights like the Railyard, Vicars Town Bridge, the Brendam Docks and Blue Mountain - all locations from the popular TV series. Track switches and a control panel allow children to decide where the trains go, and Percy and Thomas talk to each other when they meet on the track - a stand-out feature of this nifty set. Track building is great for aiding children’s development and can encourage fine motor skills, problem-solving and logistical skills, as well as inspiring children’s imagination. Similar to Brio and other wooden train tracks, this set can be combined with other Thomas & Friends sets to create more adventures.

11. Best musical toy for 4-year-olds: Yoto Player and Starter Pack Bundle

Yoto Player

Price on writing: £89.99 | Buy now from Amazon 

Key specs

Dimensions: 10.5cm x 11cm x 11cm | Assembly required: No | Batteries required: No (rechargeable) | Age: All ages | Educational Objectives: Listening, language and communication skills 

Reasons to buy 

  • Bundle includes a starter pack of cards 
  • Blank cards included
  • Choose from a huge range of stories and music
  • Children can also listen to child-friendly podcasts and radio
  • Screen-free play
  • Children and parents can record their own audio
  • Nightlight 
  • Bluetooth Technology 
  • Investment buy 
  • Easy to use 

Reasons to avoid

  • Expensive
  • Need to pay out for cards to provide content

What Mumsnet users say 

“Yoto player is always my suggestion for age four/five.” Twilightstarbright

“Mine turns four in October. Between his birthday and Christmas he's getting a Yoto Player with quite a few cards.” Fabuleuse

“I was going to suggest a Yoto. We just got one for our five-year-old and he listens with his sister and they love it!” Cric

Our verdict

Favourite features? Listening to stories is one of the most valuable activities for a child learning to read, as it is integral to the phonics and literacy skills they'll be taught in school. That's why we're recommending the Yoto Player and Starter Bundle for providing safe access to a range of stories, music, activities, podcasts and radio for hours of stream-free fun. 

Designed for kids, the Yoto Player is easy to use; pop in an audio card to play and remove to stop. Parents can have additional control via the free app.  With this bundle, you don't have to purchase the cards separately. Instead, you'll already have access to My First 100 Words, The Story Shed Podcast, Crackling Fire Soundscape, Robin Hood: A Musical Adventure, Hotel Flamingo Story, Songs from the Playground and a Pack of blank cards to make your own. Making your cards is simple and can be used to record yourself and already-owned music, radio and podcasts. There is free content via Yoto Daily and Radio, too. If you want to purchase additional cards, they make simple gift-giving ideas from other family members. The large dials make it easy for children to change the volume or skip content and it has a pixel display showing fun graphics corresponding to the content. The Yoto Player can also be used as a Bluetooth speaker through your phone - and has a nightlight function when it’s time for bed. 

12. Best role-play toy for 4-year-olds: Melissa & Doug Astronaut Children's Costume

A picture of the Melissa and Doug Astronaut Costume on a boy and a girl.

Price on writing: £34.99 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Dimensions: H76.7cm x W45.5cm x D5.6cm | Weight: 490g | Material: Polyester and Polyurethane | Number of pieces: 3 | Assembly required: No | Batteries required: No | Age: 3-6 years | Educational Objectives: Role play and imaginative play, building their communication, language and social skills 

Reasons to buy 

  • Mumsnetter trusted brand
  • Previous customers report there is plenty of room to grow
  • Machine washable
  • Re-useable ID badge 
  • Elasticated fit 
  • Encourages pretend play which is great for development

Reasons to avoid

  • One size fits all 

What Mumsnet users say 

“My DS loved dressing up at this age we had multiple costume changes a day.” 3littlewords

Our verdict

Favourite features? Role play is great for children as it can help build confidence, creativity, communication, physical development and problem-solving, as well as learning about the world. Fancy dress, in particular allows children to run wild with their imagination and embrace pretend play so why not create a fun dressing up box for them? Add this Melissa & Doug's Astronaut Costume to the collection and your child will be blasting off via their cardboard rocket for hours of space-based fun. 

Consisting of silver gloves, helmet and suit, your child will look every bit the part. It even comes with a re-useable nametag for successful second-hand fun for younger siblings. This playset is designed for children between ages 3-6 years old, hence why it's stretchy. However, we'd think carefully when ordering if you had a particularly tiny three-year-old or a particularly tall six-year-old, as this may not be a good fit for them. Made to last, Melissa&Doug are a Mumsnetter recommended brand you can trust. Oh, and this astronaut suit is machine washable too! Looking for more? Check out their doctor and construction worker costume to add to your collection. 

13. Best toy for active 4-year-olds: Strider 12 Balance Bike

A picture of a Strider Balance Bike in Black.

Price on writing: £129.99 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Dimensions: Handlebar height - 46-56cm/Seat Height 28-48cm | Weight: 3kg | Material: Steel | Number of pieces: 1 | Assembly required: Partial (no tools needed) | Batteries required: No | Age: 3+ | Educational Objectives: Physical movement - gross motor skills 

Reasons to buy 

  • Lightweight frame
  • Easy to assemble 
  • Sturdy
  • Flat-tire free 
  • Highly adjustable 
  • Perfect for transitioning 

Reasons to avoid

  • Costs extra for conversion kit and balance base 

What Mumsnet users say 

“[Buy] a pedal bike (if he has a balance bike he is growing out of).” Changechangychange

"Strider balance bike with pedal conversion kit Starts as a balance bike to let then get the weight and balance and the put the wheels on and away they go. They're incredibly light weight and worth the money." CorneliusBeefington

Our verdict

Favourite features? Getting outside on your bike as a child brings back fond memories for a lot of us parents. Racing around, learning tricks and involving them in our games was all part of the fun. That's why buying your four-year-old a bike takes some serious consideration. Whether it’s time to move on from a balance bike or you’re buying your child their first set of wheels, the Strider 12 Sport is a great intermediary between the two. 

Designed with children in mind, this balance bike has a lightweight, durable frame with adjustable seats and handlebars. That's not all that is adjustable though, as mentioned by our Mumsnetter forum quote, it is possible to take this from balance to pedal using their easy-ride pedal conversion kit. Saving you the cost of forking out for an entirely new bike. If you're child is still struggling with balance, or the Strider 12 Sport has been passed down to a younger sibling, you can purchase a rocking base for a smoother introduction to riding, too. Built to withstand a toddler's wrath and ready for the road with its flat-free foam tires that will never let you down, this bike is an investment purchase that will outlast your first child and be passed down to your second, third and fourth! 

14. Best STEM toy for 4-year-olds: VTech Marble Rush Ultimate Set

VTech Marble Rush

Price on writing: £59.99 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Dimensions: H71cm x W72cm x D31.8cm | Weight: 2kg | Material: Plastic | Number of pieces:  141 | Assembly required: Yes | Batteries required: Yes 5xAA | Age: 4 years+ | Educational Objectives: STEM, communication, language and fine motor skills 

Reasons to buy 

  • 128-piece marble run
  • Electronic Ferris wheel for spinning marbles
  • Fun music and sound effects
  • Compatible with other VTech Marble Rush sets
  • Durable and strong, so it doesn’t topple easily 

Reasons to avoid

  • Pricey
  • Only comes with ten marbles
  • Takes five AA batteries (although some are included)

What Mumsnet users say 

“The VTech Marble [Rush] because he loves construction and marbles so a perfect combo.” FlatToppedTree

Our verdict

Favourite features? The VTech Marble Rush Ultimate Set is more than just a marble run - it’s a marble adventure. This set features 128 pieces that don’t just roll the marbles but send them flying down ramps, swirling round funnels and spinning around an exciting electronic Ferris wheel. The accompanying music and sound effects make it all the more fun. You might want to purchase more marbles, with only ten included, to generate even more marble fun! 

Construction toys like marble runs are a brilliant way of teaching children STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills. The bases on this set can be split up and have colour-coded pieces, instructions for building three different marble runs, and their own creations. Unlike other marble runs, the Vtech Marble Rush Ultimate Set feels durable and sturdy, so it doesn’t topple easily when built, and you can add more sets from the range to it to make it even bigger.

15. Best Play-Doh toy for 4-year-olds: Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Rising Cake Oven Playset

A picture of the Playdoh kitchen oven.

Price on writing: £29.99 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Dimensions: 6.68cm x 38.1cm x 33.02cm| Weight: 550g | Material: Plastic and Play-Doh | Assembly required: Partial | Batteries required: 1 x A battery| Age: 3 years+ | Educational Objectives: Creative and imaginative play, communication and fine motor skills 

Reasons to buy 

  • Mumsnetters highly-recommend Play-Doh 
  • Lots of accessories included
  • Play-Doh included 
  • Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

  • Requires batteries (1xA) 
  • Tricky to assemble 
  • Previous customers recommend purchasing additional Play-Doh. 

What Mumsnet users say 

“My almost 4 year old is completely addicted to play dough…” ElspethBoomingHowsen

Our verdict

Favourite features? Play-doh is the toy of choice for children everywhere. Tactile, versatile and jam-packed with possibilities. It is the ultimate creative toy that inspires children to create all kinds of weird and wonderful creations, whilst developing their fine motor skills at the same time.  So, for the budding Great British bakers amongst us, why not purchase a Play-Doh kitchen oven for all kinds of decadent cakes? 

Complete with a colourful table-top oven and a number of accessories including icing bag, bowls, spoons and cutters, you're children can practice their cake baking and decorating craft. For the price, you also get one 84g tub of pink Play-Doh, three 56g tubs of white, blue and green, as well as a 28g tub of orange. This might sound a lot, but it isn't. Previous customers recommended making your own or purchasing extra Play-Doh as one cake takes a whole tub! To get cooking, all they need to do is pop their cake tin filled with Play-Doh cake inside, press the handle and watch the cake rise through the oven door. When the bell rings it's done! Simple, and easy to use, this is perfect for children fascinated by the cooking process.  

How do I choose the best toy for a 4-year-old?

Development

In the year your child starts school, you’ll notice lots of changes, including using and understanding more vocabulary, learning to jump with two feet, skip and climb, and learning to use zips and buttons to get dressed independently. They’ll start learning to write and draw simple pictures and use their imagination to make up stories and tell silly jokes - even if they’re the only ones who get the punchline! When looking for a toy for your four-year-old, you may want to look for toys that spark their imagination, encourage creativity, aid their cognitive and physical development  – such as practising their pincer grip for holding a pen – and helping them to practice their numbers and letters.

Age range

Always check that the toy is age-appropriate for safety. Also, whilst buying an older toy can be tempting, they may need help to play with it independently. The ideal toy would engage and entertain your child while aiding their development. 

Interests

By now, your child probably knows what they like. Are they PAW Patrol mad, or do they love Thomas the Tank Engine? Maybe they love puzzles or dressing up. Look for toys they are interested in while also ensuring longevity so that they won’t grow out of it in six months' time; otherwise, it’s likely to sit around gathering dust.

Materials 

Plastic toys tend to be robust for withstanding rough, excitable play. For non-plastic options, many wooden alternatives are well-made and look lovely in your home too.

How can I choose toys safely for my four-year-old?

As children grow out of the toddler stage, they can play with more and more toys. Giving your child new types of toys for the first time can be nerve-wracking, especially regarding small parts. Here's what to look out for to provide you with peace of mind and keep your little one safe:

  • The CE symbol shows that the toy meets all regulatory requirements
  • The British Toy and Hobby Association's 'Lion Mark' means the toy meets the organisation's safety standards. 
  • Always check the age suitability of a toy
  • Check your child's toys regularly for signs of wear - if you see any sharp edges or worn-down parts, consider repairing or replacing them

What is the four-gift rule? 

Are you looking to save money? Some parents use the four-gift rule as a gift-giving guide and limit to avoid overspending or generating a lot of clutter. The rule results in a present that the child wants, needs, wears and reads. Now that is flexible and doesn't have to be stuck to as a hard and fast rule, but when budgets are incredibly tight, this could be useful to know. For more flexibility, there's a blog about the five-gift rule too! 

Top tips for gift buying 

  • Expensive doesn't always mean high-quality; budget dupes can work just as well and sometimes better than the original. Read reviews to compare. 
  • Think planet-saving; with so many children's toys made of plastic, are there alternatives that might be more eco-friendly? 
  • Consider gifts that involve quality time for a child that has everything or certainly has enough. 
  • They may be four years old, but developmentally are there any areas where they might need support - think about gifting a toy that'll help them to gain that skill. 
  • Buy books! Reading with your child can significantly improve their educational performance, support bond-building, and enhance their communication and language skills. 
  • Buy second-hand. With budgets so tight, plenty out there that are just like new! 

What is the best toy for 4-year-olds? 

The VTech Kidizoom Duo Camera is a great all-round toy for four-year-olds. With all the usual features of a camera, children can snap photos and videos and use their creative skills to edit their creations, adding fun borders and effects. The camera also features learning games to keep them entertained too. 

How we chose our recommendations

Recommendations are all chosen using our triple-check vetting process. During our research, each toy is vetted, considering the quality, safety, value for money, extra features and material to ensure they performed well across the board.

Mumsnetter recommendations

All Swear-by articles take shape using the recommendations made by real parents on the Mumsnet forum talk boards. In particular, we looked for toys with multiple positive mentions or singular rave reviews in search of the ones rated by parents and loved by their kids. 

Expert opinions 

Next, we cross-referenced our long list using the opinions of industry experts. Any that had won awards appeared on multiple print media lists or had excellent safety ratings based on product comparison websites were shortlisted. 

Verified customer reviews

Finally, we analysed and weighed up the responses made by verified customers on retailers' pages. We were looking to exclude any that had serious safety concerns or repeated issues. 

Celebrated Toys 

Ultimately we were left with our list of the top 15 best toys for four-year-olds that were all loved by children, praised by parents, approved by experts and rated by previous customers. 

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

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