With the right toy, you can fuel your child’s creativity and imagination, improve their physical skills, and help in their overall development. But what is the right toy? Here’s our guide on the best toys for 4-year-olds to help you out.
With so many toys and stores in Australia, choosing the best toys for 4-year-olds isn’t as easy as you may think. Add that with what you have to consider when buying a toy for this specific group age – like interests, abilities, developmental stage, and more – and the task gets even harder.
While you can always buy whatever is in trend or the flashiest one with all the bells and whistles, it may not be the most beneficial toy for your child’s growth and development. It may also not hold your child’s attention long enough for you to get your money’s worth. Worst, it may not get played with at all.
So to help you find the right toy for your child, our team of toy design experts have spent dozens of hours scouring toy retailers in Australia. We looked at Fun Stuff, Brio, Honeysticks, Inspired Kids, Kid Made Modern, and more. Of course, we also checked online leading marketplaces such as Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and Catch.com.au.
That said, we were able to put together a list of the best toys for pretend play, fine motor skills, problem-solving, outdoor play, creativity and imagination, and language skills. All toys included are suitable for boys and girls ages 4 years and up. They are carefully chosen based on their quality, durability, value for money, educational value, safety, and design. We also made sure that these are toys 4-year-olds can fully engage, enjoy, and have fun with.
The Best Toys for a 4-Year-Old
- Best for Pretend Play: Wooden Play Kitchen
- Best for Fine Motor Skills: Honeysticks 100% Beeswax Crayons
- Best for Problem Solving: Brio Train Starter Set
- Best for Outdoor Play: Range Rover Electric Car
- Best for Creativity and Imagination: Rainbow Craft Kit
- Best for Language Skills: Stainless Steel Kitchen Set
1. Best for Pretend Play: Wooden Play Kitchen
The Wooden Play Kitchen by Fun Stuff is the perfect toy for engaging your child in pretend play. Designed just like a real kitchen, it offers hours of pretend cooking, baking and prepping meals for your little chef.
Complete with a tap, sink, hood, oven, and microwave plus all kitchen accessories, your child is sure to have tons of fun with this toy. It even has working knobs for a more realistic role-play experience.
This toy is recommended for kids ages 3 years and up, including 4-year-olds. For older kids, consider adding more kitchen accessories to take their roleplaying to another level. The Melissa and Doug Wooden Fridge Food Set and stainless steel kitchen set, for example, are perfect for letting them feel like they are in a true kitchen.
We highly recommend this wooden play kitchen to parents who want to inspire their child’s imagination. It also allows them to take on different roles. They can be a chef for today, run their own cafe or restaurant tomorrow, and host a party for friends the next.
With a play kitchen, children can express their creativity, explore, and experiment in their own way – all while improving their language and communication, fine motor skills, social skills, and planning and organisation.
The best thing is that this toy is incredibly fun for preschoolers, especially with its very detailed features and components. Plus, it’s certified child-safe, easy to clean, and super sturdy that it’s sure to last for a very long time. So make sure to check it out!
2. Best for Fine Motor Skills: Honeysticks 100% Beeswax Crayons
The Honeysticks Beeswax Crayons are the perfect tool for helping your child’s fine motor skills. As they grip them, they are improving the muscle development of their hands, fingers, and arms. This also allows them to practice how to grip a pencil properly.
Including 6 extra long jumbo-sized pieces, this set is designed for little, stubby hands. It can be used for scribbling, drawing, writing, and bringing their imaginations to life.
These crayons are perfect for toddlers. However, they are also great for preschoolers even with their better grip and precision. This is because they are more unlikely to break, unlike thin ones. Then as your child grows older, you can introduce them to Honeysticks’ Beeswax Crayons Thins.
Aside from enhancing their fine motor skills, crayons can also increase your child’s creativity and imagination. You can also teach them about primary and secondary colours, and allow them to explore what happens when they mix different colours. With this toy, your child can improve their concentration and thinking ability as well.
Now, with the many different brands and manufacturers of crayons, what makes Honeysticks Beeswax different and a better option for young children? Well, it’s made from 100% pure beeswax and nontoxic pigments. So it’s perfectly safe for all ages. This also gives it a better colour payoff and a smooth glide on paper.
Even better, this set of crayons is environment-friendly with a yummy honey scent to boot! So do give it a try!
3. Best for Problem Solving: Brio Train Starter Set
The Brio Train Starter Set is one of the best toys for promoting your child’s problem-solving skills. By allowing them to build the tracks, they will have to use their abilities and knowledge to get where they want to go. They also have to figure out how to attach the train cars and put them in a certain order.
With this toy, children can learn about trial and error as they try to put together a track that will let the train continuously move. They also have to think about how to move the train cars smoothly and without separating the pieces.
This train set has everything your child needs to get started with their train journey. It consists of 26 pieces, forming a figure 8 track that rises over Mount Brio in the middle. There are 3 train cars, a driver, and even 2 passengers.
What’s great about this toy is that the pieces can also be arranged into anything your child wants. There’s even a guide included that your child can follow or copy, allowing them to engage in structured play – which can then help improve their spatial abilities.
We recommend this toy for children ages 3 to 4 years old. For those older than that, you can easily expand it with additional tracks and trains to make it more fun. If you are interested, you can check out Brio’s Starter Track Pack. It includes 13 additional pieces of long and short tracks.
The best part? There’s no limit to how big or complex this train set can be. Aside from all Brio wooden train sets, it is also fully compatible with all major wooden train brands. And with more pieces, the more fun for your little one. So make sure to buy it today!
4. Best for Outdoor Play: Range Rover Electric Car
If you are looking for a toy that can get your child to play outdoors, then consider the Range Rover Electric Car. With its powerful 50W twin motor, your child will certainly have a great time driving around your neighbourhood or park while getting some much-needed sun.
Not only is this fun for them, but it also allows them to explore and be more aware of their surroundings. Plus, it will allow them to learn about navigation.
This ride-on toy has workable doors and a dash stacked with vivid control for starting, speed, lights, horns, and going forward or reverse. It also has comfortable sports seats and even MP3 connectivity. So needless to say, it has all the bells and whistles of an electric car for kids.
We recommend this Range Rover-inspired electric car for kids ages 3 to 8 years old. So it can be used by your little driver for a long time. As they grow older, you can make this toy more fun and exciting by putting up an obstacle course or track that they will have to complete or follow.
With this toy, not only does your child get to have some outdoor activity but they can also fine-tune their motor skills. By using the latched doors and steering wheel, they are exercising their hands. They also have to figure out how to use their hands to maneuver or control the car in the right direction.
What’s great about this electric car is that it can spark your child’s imagination. With their own vehicle, they can create endless make-believe scenarios, plotlines, and situations. They can be a race driver, mailman, etc. While this might simply look cute and silly to you, such pretend play is actually helping develop your child’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Plus, it’s perfectly safe. It doesn’t go too fast, has a seatbelt, and is complete with anti-slip wheels for good traction and a 4-wheel suspension for all the bumps along the way. It also allows adults to override the control through a remote just in case your little one gets carried away while driving. So what are you waiting for? Go check it out!
5. Best for Creativity and Imagination: Rainbow Craft Kit
The Rainbow Craft Kit is a great choice if you want to enhance your child’s creativity and imagination. It has everything your child needs to make countless fun designs, including pom poms, assorted beads, rainbow cording, glitter sheets, felt sheets, fuzzy sticks, palettes, and paper tubes. It even includes googly eyes to make funny creatures.
While this toy has a manufacturer’s age recommendation for 6 years and up, it is certainly fun and entertaining even for 4-year-olds. However, it will require adult supervision.
If you’re looking for an arts and crafts box that’s recommended for 4 years and up, check out the Jumbo Creation Box by Educational Colours. For older kids, you can combine all these craft kits so they can make more complex and fun creations.
With this toy, children can create anything they want, from fuzzy creatures to accessories and everything they can imagine. And as they do so, they can work on their fine motor skills and dexterity.
Not only that but a craft kit can also improve a child’s concentration and increase their stamina to sit and do the same task for an extended time – which they will need later in school. So do give it a try!
6. Best for Language Skills: Stainless Steel Kitchen Set
This Stainless Steel Kitchen Set is a great toy to improve your child’s language skills while fostering their early interest in cooking. It features 8 pieces, including a strainer, pans, saucepan, lids, wooden spatulas, and a rack to store them all. With this toy, your child will surely enjoy pretending to be the next master chef.
We recommend this toy for kids ages 3 to 8 years old. For older kids, you might want to look at add-ons like the Deluxe Toy Kitchen Cookware Set to make their pretend play more fun and realistic. This toy also goes well with the wooden play kitchen we have mentioned above.
We highly recommend this toy to parents who want to help improve their child’s language and communication. By pretending to be a chef or a parent prepping meals, your child will come up with different scenarios and situations. This encourages them to engage in conversations with those they are playing with.
As a result, they can try out new words and exercise their vocabulary. They will feel more confident when speaking as well as they are able to express their thoughts and emotions freely.
To make it even better, this kitchen toy set is made of stainless steel while the spatulas are of wood. This makes it extremely sturdy and durable. It’s sure to last for a very, very long time. So go get one now!
How We Researched the Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds
Using reliable studies on choosing toys children really like and with our vast toy design experience, we were able to put together a list of only the very best toys for 4-year-olds.
We looked at several Australian toy retailers, from online and to those with physical stores to see what is available. We then shortlisted all the toys we liked and those highly recommended by parents. From there, we arranged and categorized them accordingly.
To further cut down our list, we began identifying which toys were the best in their respective categories. We considered their functionality, quality, design, value for money, educational value, safety, and durability. Of course, while making sure they are tons of fun for 4-year-olds.
For this list, we have identified over 80 different toys from 30 different retailers. After much consideration and discussion, we were able to cut this down to the final 6 you see above.
That said, we guarantee that all the toys on this list are truly the best for 4-year-old kids.
What to Look for When Buying Toys for a 4-Year-Old Girl
When buying a toy, the first thing you should look for is the manufacturer’s age recommendation. This can be easily seen in the packaging or the product listing for online purchases. This will give you an idea of whether or not a toy is safe and suitable for your child.
Take note, however, that while the age and safety recommendations by manufacturers are important, it does not necessarily mean that they accurately apply to your child. This is according to Karen Stephens, a director of Illinois State University Child Care Center. Stephens further states that you can observe your child when playing to know what types of toys appeal to them the most and those that will respond to their current abilities.
So aside from checking the manufacturer’s age recommendation, you should also try to be familiar with your child’s personal abilities, interests, and inclinations to determine whether or not a toy is appropriate for them.
Safety is another important factor to consider when buying toys for preschoolers. Some of the things to look out for are the material, make, finishing for wooden toys, durability, and maintenance.
Toys for 4-year-olds should be sturdy and shatter-proof. Also, there should be no sharp edges or points that can cause injuries. Toys should not be made of glass or brittle plastic, too.
Furthermore, the materials and paint should be non-toxic and lead-free. They should be easy to clean as well.
For toys with electrical parts, adult supervision is a must. Try to avoid, however, those that use button batteries as they can cause severe injuries to children. But if you must buy such products, make sure that they have child-resistant battery compartments as suggested by the Department of Western Australia. This will make the battery difficult for young children to reach as it can only be accessed by a tool such as a screw or a similar fastener.
Design and Aesthetics
4-year-olds prefer toys that have working parts and those with realistic details. At this age, they are also able to use toys with smaller components, so there’s a lower risk of choking. However, if your child is still mouthing objects, best choose toys without any small parts.
In terms of design, you should also look for a toy that is easy to use. It should be simple and easy enough to understand that 4-year-olds can work on it on their own to be able to fully enjoy it.
Toys aren’t cheap and the cost to buy them adds up when you keep buying new ones. So to save some money, consider getting toys that last longer. They should be able to entertain and engage your kids, not just for a single season, but all year round.
It’s also a good idea to find toys that your child can enjoy for many years. A play kitchen, for example, can be played with until 8 years old. The same goes for the stainless kitchen set, electric car, and train set.
When it comes to looking for long-lasting toys, you should consider durability as well. They should be able to survive a 4-year-old’s repeated handling (and mishandling). This means that they should be made of solid and stable materials.
Another essential factor you have to consider when buying a toy is its educational value. See, a toy should not only be fun but it should also be able to teach children how to create, imagine, and think. Ideally, it should help them in their growth and development.
That said, the best toys for 4-year-olds are those that can cater to their new skills and interests while allowing them to improve their existing ones. It should also allow them to learn and explore.
For instance, by 3 and 4 years old, children have an increasing interest in dramatic and pretend play, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This is why we highly recommend toys that allow kids to recreate adult occupations and role-play materials like housekeeping and cooking equipment.
Benefits of a 4-Year-Old Playing with Toys
Healthy Growth and Development
The Journal for the Education of Gifted Young Scientists by Eda Yazgin says that “The ‘right toys’, that are indispensable to children’s play, support early childhood development significantly and reduce the risk of developmental delays.” It is further stated that “children with richer play experiences grow to be more attentive, responsible, and resilient individuals.”
That said, children are driven largely through play and toys are the tools that can enhance such an experience. Together, play and toys contribute to a child’s learning and behavioural development. This is why Yazgin recommends carefully selecting preschool toys in accordance with “children’s play needs and areas of interest, in a way that encourages meaningful and quality play.”
Playing and toys play an important role in the education of children. According to an article published in the Institute of Education Sciences, it is through playing that children learn and understand the real world.
The article further states that by playing games and toys, children can deal with unwanted situations and try different social roles. They learn about self-regulation, setting up rules, and abiding by these rules. They are playing not only to have fun but also to experience, learn, and understand the things they still can’t do in real life.
Additionally, plays and toys are said to have a close relationship with education, sociology, psychology, history, geography, politics, industry, and tourism. Or, in short, with culture.
Fine Motor Skills
Helping your child practice and improve their fine motor skills is another benefit of toys. For instance, when they engage in crafts work, they will tear, twist, use scissors, colour, string beads, and more. All these actions help strengthen and develop the muscles in their hands, fingers, and wrists.
Fine motor skills are a set of skills that will allow your child to manipulate smaller objects with their hands and fingers. They are necessary for preschoolers to learn and master as they will need them in school as well as in their daily life. For example, feeding themselves, brushing their teeth, tying their shoelaces, and buttoning their shirts. They are also critical in learning how to hold a pencil or crayons and in the development of their ever-important writing skills.
According to the Victoria State Government, evidence also suggests a “close relationship between fine motor development and other aspects of language, literacy, and cognitive development. So it’s an important learning focus for emergent literacy.”
Playing with toys triggers your child’s creative thinking. By allowing them to engage in free play and use their toys as props, they are creating imaginative scenes and situations.
An electric car, for example, allows your child to make a wide range of possible play scenarios. They can be a police officer, a race car driver, spy, or anything they want to be. This encourages them to use their imagination, fantasize, and explore. Not only that, but they are also thinking and predicting what will happen next.
According to the Department for Education in South Australia, “critical and creative thinking is essential for students to become successful learners.” It will allow them to imagine possibilities, suggest alternatives, seek solutions, and put ideas into action.
Language and Communication Skills
Language is made easier when children “interact with adults and peers in a playful manner” as mentioned in a 2019 case study. It is also stated that “play with adults and peers bolsters language development because it encourages greater language use.”
That said, playing is essential in the development of a child’s language and communication skills – and toys are the tools that can make playtimes better and more fun.
So how can playing with toys help? Well, they encourage interactive play where kids can freely ask questions, speak their minds and feelings, and simply have conversations with other people. They are describing, imitate, and narrating, which then builds their speech, vocabulary, grammar, sentence structures, and comprehension.
Social and Emotional Skills
Toys allow children to relate to real-life scenarios and vocations like chefs, doctors, cafe owners, and more. Such pretend play requires them to put themselves in another person’s place. This teaches them about the responsibilities that come with a particular role and what others may be thinking and feeling. In short, it teaches them about empathy.
Additionally, playing with toys with other children also helps develop your child’s social skills. They will have to cooperate, take turns, share, and figure out when to lead and when to follow.
Toys and play offer many opportunities to stimulate a child’s cognitive development or their ability to figure things out, learn, think, and explore. This is because toys expose them to the concepts of cause and effect, abstract thinking, imitation, and problem-solving.
For instance, a train set requires kids to assemble the tracks so the train can keep moving forward without any hindrances. They will have to go through trial and error and figure out how to arrange the pieces correctly. This is a skill where they have to see A and relate it to B. While this may sound simple, this actually builds your child’s problem-solving skills – which are crucial to achieving success in the future.
And there you go! These are just some of the benefits of letting kids play with toys. Just remember, play is an important activity that helps children with their development and toys are at the forefront of such activities. So you must choose your child’s next toy wisely.