The age of 4 is magical because kids in this group still have a foot in two worlds: that of the little kids they were and that of their older counterparts heading to kindergarten and starting to explore the world around them. Shopping for toys for 4-year-olds can be fun but also challenging for this reason. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up some of the biggest hits in this age group that will help you find exactly what the toddler in your life hopes for. These toys not only encourage fun and exploration but also hit a lot of the developmental needs of this period.
Whether you’re shopping for toys for 4-year-old girls or boys, plenty of items on this list are sure to please, so take a look and start hitting “add to cart” on these fun finds.
7 Toys That Encourage Imaginative Play for 4-Year-Olds
At this developmental stage, imaginative play is still critical to kids. Not only does it help them develop social and emotional skills, but it also helps them work on creative thinking and language development. Even though these gifts may look like they’re just allowing them to play make-believe, they’re setting toddlers up for navigating the real world.1
1. Bluey Hammerbarn Shopping Playset
Help children expand their imagination and creative play with this fun playset featuring everyone’s favorite family of cartoon dogs. Not only can the little Bluey or Bingo in your life get a chance to recreate that fateful trip to Hammerbarn with this play set, but they’ll get to do it time and time again, changing their shopping every time they play.
2. Gabby’s Dollhouse Gabby Cat Friend Ship
All aboard the friend ship! This cute boat-style dollhouse has two toy figures, some surprise toys, and plenty of accessories to give any Gabby’s Dollhouse fan hours of imaginative play. You can add to the collection by purchasing add-ons or gift this friend ship as is. With two toy figures, some surprise toys, and a few classic accessories, this playset will become an instant favorite.
3. PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie Aircraft Carrier HQ
When Ryder issues the call for help, all the Pups will know exactly where to go with this fun aircraft carrier playset. Inspired by the newly released PAW Patrol movie, this massive toy comes with Mighty Chase, a vehicle, and a few action-packed missiles. You can include some of the other Mighty Pups with this one if you want to splurge on a major gift.
4. Monster Jam Grave Digger Trax
If you know a little one who loves all things remote-controlled, they will go wild for this Monster Jam set. The all-terrain remote control vehicle is great for use indoors. But it shines when you take it outside because it’s tough enough to use in dirt, grass, snow, and even water.
5. Rubble & Crew Deluxe Bulldozer
The new Rubble & Crew television show inspired this construction set. It comes with a mini Rubble figurine that will help the 4-year-old in your life move giant boulders and engage in all kinds of make-believe play. (The Kinetic Sand kit is sold separately.)
6. Minnie Mouse Bow-Tique Bowdazzling Vanity
Disney lovers will appreciate this adorable vanity set. It’s the perfect size for 4-year-olds who want to sit in front of the reflective mirror and style their hair. The set comes with 10 accessories, including four fun stickers, two Mini-styled bows, a hairbrush, and a faux bottle of perfume.
7. Tonka Hat and Bucket
Give your mini builder the perfect play set to stretch their imagination with this Tonka design. The large building blocks come in a fun Tonka hat bucket, which can be flipped over and used as a building platform. They don’t call them “Tonka Tough” for nothing; this playset should last the little one in your life a long time thanks to its high-quality construction.
2 Stuffed Animals for 4-Year-Olds
Kids this age still love snuggling up with their favorite stuffed animals, and these finds are sure to make the list of top stuffies among toys for 4-year-olds. From cuddly bears to mice that sing, there’s plenty to love with these plushes.
1. Disney Junior Mickey Mouse E-1-Oh! Plush
Farmer Mickey wants to snuggle and is looking for the perfect little boy or girl. This 16-inch soft play toy is ideal for cuddle time and helps kiddos get the wiggles out while playing a selection of musical numbers and a call-and-response game of “What animal sound is that?” Six AAA batteries are already included, so this will be ready for fun as soon as it’s opened.
2. Care Bears Superstar Bear
This Care Bears stuffy will give the grown-ups some major nostalgia. Not only is the Superstar Bear made from soft and huggable plush, but it also comes with an important message about caring for the planet and finding a “cleaner and greener way to grow.” This 14-inch plush is made with recycled materials and carefully designed to ensure every 4-year-old can grow up in a “green” world.
2 Necessities for 4-Year-Olds
Buying gifts that kids need instead of just the ones they want doesn’t have to be boring when you shop with a child’s interest in mind. These fun must-haves are practically guaranteed to make the toddler in your life happy.
1. PAW Patrol Coloring Placemat
Whether you’re looking for a way to keep your toddler busy while out to eat or want to make mealtimes at home more fun, you’ll love this coloring placemat. The mat comes with eight washable markers so that it can be used again and again and again. Since it features everyone’s favorite PAW Patrol pups, we have a hunch this will become a mealtime staple.
2. Melii Snackle Box
Nobody likes a hangry kiddo, so this “snackle” box is perfect. With this bento-style food storage solution, the 4-year-old in your life will always have access to a healthy and fulfilling snack, whether at home or on the road. With 12 compartments and removable dividers, kids can use it for snacks or take small games and accessories on the go.
3 Outdoor Toys for 4-Year-Olds
These toys will ensure the 4-year-old in your life is excited about getting a chance to get outside for some fresh air. Even better, their grown-ups will breathe a sigh of relief as they watch their kids get those wiggles out.
1. Animal Bean Bag Toss Game
Help kids stay active while working on their gross motor skills with this fun bean bag toss game. Not only does it help encourage screen-free play, but it also helps them learn cooperation when they play with it with others. When they tire of the animal design, the game can be flipped for more precise target practice, such as a velcro ball toss.
Keep them on their toes with this fun soccer ball. Grown-ups will love it because it encourages movement and outdoor play. It can also be played with indoors since this ball weighs less than an ounce and will not break any windows! Kids will love it because they’ll get to personalize the ball, thanks to the customizable design that allows kids to color on the ball by using any marker.
3. Ninja Kidz TV Giant Mystery Ninja Ball
A 2023 National Parenting Product Awards Winner, this Ninja Kidz toy teaches children how to work on their ninja skills. It includes throwing stars, sticky stars and targets, and mission cards. And when the weather isn’t exactly cooperating, the kids can bring the fun inside and play with the five included Ninja Kidz action figures.
2 Riding Toys for 4-Year-Olds
Toddlers love to move around, and these gifts will help them do so in style. Whether they want to be on two wheels or four, these riding toys will have them covered.
1. Strider 12″ Balance Bike
Learning to ride a bike can be challenging for 4-year-olds, so we love balancing bikes. These bikes don’t have pedals, so children learn to balance on them before worrying about learning the foot-eye coordination needed to ride a bike. This adjustable version from Strider is 12 inches high and perfect for kids as young as 18 months and as old as 5. Just don’t forget the safety gear when you gift this one. While bike helmets are necessary, we recommend elbow and knee pads for younger riders, too.
2. Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Dinosaur
This dinosaur version of the classic Cozy Coupe car promises a roaring good time for the 4-year-old in your life. It has a removable floorboard and handles for grown-ups to push smaller kids. Once they start to get the hang of things, the floorboard can be removed so that kiddos can “drive” themselves by pushing along with their feet.
4 Montessori Toys for 4-Year-Olds
The Montessori method is about letting children learn and develop skills by offering them the freedom to move their bodies while encouraging them to learn by getting hands-on experience. These four Montessori toys embody that approach and will help the 4-year-old in your life develop physically and mentally while they play.2
1. Canvas Set, 25 Pieces
Is your 4-year-old a budding artist? Then they’re going to love this reusable canvas set. They can use these interlocking tiles to build with — the pack comes with 25 pieces that can be locked together using small connectors — and they can also draw on each tile to bring their visions to life thanks to the whiteboard material coating them. Are you drawing a boat? A rocketship? It’s up to them to decide!
2. BIRANCO Flower Garden Building Toys
Do you know a 4-year-old who loves to spend time in the garden? This cute building set from BIRANCO allows them to bring their love of the great outdoors inside by allowing them to build a plastic garden. With 120 pieces, including a base, stems, flowers, and more, the little plant lover in your life will have many opportunities to create the garden of their dreams, helping them flex their imagination muscles, all while encouraging a love of the outdoors.
3. The Original Stair Slide
For those days when the kids can’t get outside but need a chance to move their bodies and get the wiggles out, there’s a stair slide. This customizable design comes in four pieces so you can find the perfect size for your space and the kiddo using it, ensuring a fun and safe experience. Each piece can be used on carpeted or plain stairs and has a protective barrier to ensure it doesn’t leave any marks behind once the fun is over.
4. Store Shopping Cart
Little kids love it when they can mimic their favorite grown-ups, and this store shopping cart does just that. It’s great for imaginative play because it allows them to pretend they’re cruising the aisles of their favorite store, grabbing food for their play kitchen, or shopping for staples for the home. Grown-ups will love it because it’s just the right size to be tucked away after playtime.
2 STEM Toys for 4-Year-Olds
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. While it may seem like those concepts are too advanced for the average toddler, many experts believe that children learn about STEM through play, starting as infants.3 These gifts can help encourage STEM learning, all while encouraging fun and imaginative play.
1. Kinetic Sand Deluxe Beach Castle
Nothing stretches the imagination quite like kinetic sand. The sensory-friendly material can be used independently or with fun molds and tools, allowing kids to maximize their fun. As a bonus, this unique design doesn’t leave a gritty feel behind on hands, so kids won’t mind getting washed up when it’s time to clean up for the day.
2. Magna-Tiles Downhill Duo
The possibilities are endless when it comes to playing with Magna-Tiles, thanks to the magnetic locking power of these building blocks. Add in this fun car track design, and kiddos will get to do more than build. They’ll get to take their designs for a test drive! This set has 40 magnetic pieces, four ramps, two bases, and two drivers.
3 Educational Toys for 4-Year-Olds
The 4-year-old in your life won’t even realize they’re learning valuable skills when playing with these fun gifts. From toys that teach the basics (like color and number recognition) to ones that help budding rock stars learn about music, these gifts have it all.
1. Cocomelon Learning JJ Doll
Toddler favorite JJ pops off the small screen and into homes with this fun interactive learning doll. JJ lights up, plays music, and makes sounds to help little ones learn their letters, numbers, and colors. Thanks to the familiar cartoon face, they’ll be delighted to spend time with the doll, mastering all those things they’ll need to know before they head to kindergarten next year.
2. Melissa & Doug Band-In-A-Box
Encourage the full sensory experience with this band-in-a-box kit from Melissa & Doug. Each set has a triangle, symbols, maracas, and more to help kids learn the basics of standard instruments. These make great toys for 4-year-old boys and girls and can help instill a lifelong love of music. Just check with parents before you buy: You don’t want to get on anyone’s bad side for giving a 4-year-old something that can make this much noise!
3. Melissa & Doug Catch and Count Fishing Game
Go fish! Melissa & Doug have created the perfect fishing game that promises to be loads of fun and teaches number and color recognition. Each kit has two fishing poles, 10 numbered fish, a spinner to play the game, and a reusable cloth pack to keep everything together. They can play this with a partner or as a solo activity, offering plenty of opportunities for educational entertainment.
We know shopping for young kids can be tricky, but this list should make it easier to cross the 4-year-old in your life off your shopping list. So, go ahead and hit “add to cart” on one (or more!) of these age-appropriate gifts, and get ready to see some real joy and happiness. While a “thank you” is always appropriate, there’s nothing quite like getting a toddler the perfect gift and watching them squeal delightfully!