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Best toys for four-year-olds 2022: Keep your kids entertained, educated and happy

Martha Alexander
19 Apr 2021
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Keep your little bundle of energy occupied with our pick of the most fun toys for four-year-olds

Oh, to be four again. An age where you have boundless energy and everything is exciting. The world is full of possibility and opportunity with no responsibilities to worry about for another decade or so.

Four-year-olds are starting school, they’re beginning to identify letters and numbers, can grasp the difference between pretending and reality, and are beginning to understand their own mind in terms of preferences. That said, they’re open to new ideas and thrive off them.

There are so many toys on the market for four-year-olds that the phrase “spoilt for choice” is perfectly apt. Advertising frequently tells us that the newest, most expensive and biggest are what children want, but this simply isn’t true, and it’s a trap to avoid falling into at all costs. Working out how much enjoyment your child gets from a toy after the initial wow factor has evaporated is the way to find a good one. The best toys for four-year-olds will tick a few boxes all at once, including being fun, educational, engaging and durable.

READ NEXT: The best books for babies and toddlers


Best toys for four-year-olds: At a glance


How to choose the best toys for your four-year-old

What does your four-year-old like?

This might sound stupidly simple, but adults do have a tendency to buy children things that they’d like rather than shopping for the four-year-old in question.

It’s difficult, but try to avoid gendering toys. Boys can love playing with beads and girls can be equally happy building Lego racing cars. Let them pursue what they like – you’ll have a much happier child as a result.

Does the toy inspire fun?

Again, this sounds basic, but is it fun? So many toys look exciting but lack substance and engagement beyond the first play. You want something that will continue to inspire fun, which can be built upon as a child’s development progresses.

Is it educational?

The best toys teach children on the sly. Almost any toy has an educational bent, sneaking in learning while fun dominates. But things such as building structures, counting beads or make-believe with a doll’s house are all especially helpful for a four-year-old’s development, as they marry up with themes they’ll be absorbing at school.

Is it durable?

The best toys should be used time and again, and hopefully handed down to a younger sibling or relative. One-hit wonders aren’t cost effective and usually aren’t good for the environment, either. They can also inspire an insatiable appetite for new things.

The best toys for four-year-olds

1. GeoSafari Jnr Talking Wildlife Camera: The best for little adventurers

Price: £60 | Buy now from Learning Resources

There are 130 vibrant, crisp and clear images of wildlife within this camera, which is supported by a tripod, making it perfect for four-year-olds with a love of nature and the great outdoors.

As well as the images, the camera “talks” thanks to the voice of Animal Planet’s Robert Irwin, and children can learn 120 facts and test their knowledge through the built-in quiz.

Our tester was instantly compelled to find out more about this brightly coloured toy, not least because its aesthetic mimics cameras used by adults. Parents can expect to be given their own lessons on anything from pelicans to giraffes before playing make-believe with this camera in the garden.

The quiz mode, with true/false and multiple-choice questions, might be a little advanced for four-year-olds, but it’s always good to have something for them to aim for. This is a hard-working toy that really does offer everything a parent could want a four-year-old to play with.

Buy now from Learning Resources


2. Nuzzy Luvs: The best for budding vets

Price: £15 each | Buy now from Amazon

These soft little critters are essentially pets without the mess or responsibility. Four-year-olds who love to nurture will fall in love at first sight, partly because they’re all made from acid-bright fluff, but also because they laugh, sigh, snore and more in response to each other and their owner’s voice. This allows children to start picking up on clues about their pet and working out how to respond.

Our tester was instantly delighted by Luvbug and Pookie. They’re both soft and plush, so perfect for stroking, and they’re small enough to be easily carried in one hand. She quickly got to understand how they worked and what they needed most, which was cuddles! There’s already talk of collecting all eight Nuzzy Luvs, which is nothing if not a good sign.

Parents may find the noises a touch irritating, but there’s an off button for moments of peace and quiet. These are a brilliant option for children who love animals, caring and make-believe, and the price is brilliant too.

3. Sylvanian Families Baby Amusement Park: The best for make-believe

Price: £50 | Buy now from Sylvanian Families

These cute woodland creatures have been a nursery staple for over 35 years and counting. The appeal, especially for four-year-olds, is the world of imagination that these animals and their environments open up. Sylvanians are an excellent prop for supporting young storytellers and helping children become comfortable with make-believe and narrative.

This amusement park is for the babies of the Sylvanian community, which are even cuter than their larger counterparts. There’s a galleon, a rocket, a Ferris wheel and go-karts, all of which are movable. Doors open and there are plenty of little cubby holes to place figures in. There’s a lot to explore.

Sylvanians are collectables and this really appeals to their fans, so parents of any child who falls hard for these furry friends can expect wishlists to start featuring theatres, treehouses and other playsets for the Sylvanian community to mingle within.

Buy now from Sylvanian Families


4. Little Red Riding Hood Game: best for problem solvers

Price: £19 | Buy it now from Hamleys


This is a very clever toy that manages to seamlessly weave together storytelling, problem solving and maths. It is also a toy that parents will genuinely enjoy sharing with their children. Somewhat confusingly, this is billed as suitable for ‘preschool’ children as well as  ages four to seven years old, but we can confirm it’s perfect for children aged four and older.

The game consists of a grid on which Red Riding Hood, Grandma’s house, trees, roads and even a wolf can be placed – but not just any which way. There are 48 challenges that require children to find a clear path for Red Riding Hood to reach the house, and four difficulty levels for the challenges. We can attest that the harder ones did a good job of teasing grown-up brains.

Playing this crunches through time – it’s so absorbing and strangely calming, allowing children to work through problems and get used to the frustration of facing difficulty with the certain knowledge that it can be overcome.

Our tester loved that it was Red Riding Hood themed and that it comes with a graphic story book telling the famous tale. This is a really original, intelligent toy.

Buy it now from Hamleys


5. Aquabeads Fairy World: The best for children who love colour and sparkle

Price: £15 | Buy now from Aquabeads

We know that hundreds of tiny beads in the hands of a four-year-old child is enough to make any parent’s blood pressure rise, but the benefits of Aquabeads outweigh the inevitable spillages. They’re a creative and time-consuming toy that help develop patience and fine motor skills.

The tiny beads are arranged in a flat design, found within the set, then sprayed with water. When wet, they’re adhesive, so stick firmly together once dry. There are plenty of different collections in the Aquabead stable, but the Fairy World is a hit for children who love jewellery as all of the woodland designs can be put onto brooches, rings and necklaces, the bases for which are found within. It includes 820 beads in 16 different colours.

Adult supervision is necessary as this is a fiddly process, but it’s ideal for headstrong aesthetes in the making. Feel free to encourage little ones to make their own designs, too – the templates provided aren't essential.

Buy now from Aquabeads


6. Lego Classic Creative Building Bricks: The best for creativity

Price: £45 | Buy now from Lego

Lego is an enduringly popular toy for children and adults alike – and it’s not hard to see why. It’s so absorbing and calming, while requiring creativity, logic and patience.

This 1,200-piece set encourages children to tap into their own imaginations and create whatever they please. While there are seven build ideas included – from a mouse to a space shuttle – these are to be seen as an inspiring starting point.

What’s so good about this particular set is that it’s just as appealing for beginners as it is for children who, by four, are already Lego addicts. There’s also no “right” way to do it. Most Lego products have a rigid set of instructions, but this set has no rules, which we think is exactly what four-year-olds need – an open activity where anything goes.

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