The Best Toys for 4 Year Old Boys list is complete! We found so many cool toys for toddler and preschool kids for this list.
For young children, play is learning. Children discover the world, and themselves, through play.
The best toys for 4 year old boys list is designed to encourage deep play and creativity for young kids.
“Play is the work of child” – Maria Montessori
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Four-year olds love to play! Check out this selection of fun, educational, and creative toys for 4-year-old boys. There are exciting gift ideas here for all kinds of kids!
Best Building Toys for 4 Year Old Boys
Building toys are a staple for kids. There are lots of building toys on the market, but some stand out for their quality, durability, and overall design. Here are my top picks.
Magna-Tiles are easy to use, versatile and can be combined with lots of other toys! Make a garage and add matchbox cars; build a house and add some figurines. The options are endless.
- High quality, durable tiles
- STEM approved
- Easy to store and cleans up without a fuss (no tiny pieces!)
- Magna-Tiles are on the pricey side, and you may find that you want to expand your set sooner rather than later. If you want to start big, you could always go with the Magna-Tiles 100 Piece Set.
Marble Genius Marble Run Super Set
My son is obsessed with Marble Run! It fascinates him, and he’s not alone. There is something really cool about creating a structure and then seeing the fruits of your labor come to life.
- Extremely fun for kids to design
- Kid friendly connectors
- Cause and effect play
- Lots of layout possibilities, so this can be as simple or complex as your child makes it
- Some kids will need help making the tracks
- Younger siblings could wreak havoc on this toy
- Marbles are a choking hazard. Safe storage and supervision is key, especially for younger siblings
This one’s a classic for a reason! Everyone loves LEGO, from toddlers to adults!
(Some adults maybe love it a bit too much, as evidenced by “Adult Only” nights at Lego Land. I mean I like Lego as much as the next guy but…not as much as the guy at that event.)
- Can be used creatively, or your child can follow the instructions step by step
- Versatile and durable
- Limitless design options
- Tiny pieces can get lost and stepped on
- Storage needs to be thought out; there are lots of sets to keep track of, and dumping them all together can create chaos.
Lakeshore Ultimate Fort Builder
As soon as we began playing with this toy we knew it was a hit! Kids can create large, fairly sturdy structures that easily convert into “caves” and hideouts with a simple sheet thrown over the top. Some adult help is needed at the onset, but once they get the hang of it kids can do a lot of the building on their own.
- Sturdy design, flexible layout options, and very large size make this a lot of fun for kids!
- Makes large forts (kids love to hide inside!)
- This can become a bit of a “project,” so it’s better to use when you have a little time to work on it. Not, say, 5 minutes before you leave for school.
Best Outdoor Toys for 4 Year Old Boys
The average child gets considerably less outdoor play time than experts recommend. By investing in some basic outdoor toys you can increase the chances that your child will get the exercise and fresh air that they need for healthy development.
Razor Junior Lil’ Kick Scooter
We have used a few different scooters, and the Razor brand has been the standard for high quality in our neighborhood.
- Easy to use, even for young riders
- Compact design makes for easy storage and portability
- Great stability
- Larger wheel size for smooth ride
- A very athletic kid might want something more challenging; this is probably suited to less confident 4 year old riders.
- No brake on the back as in some other models
Stomp Rocket Junior Glow Rocket
The Stomp Rocket won the Creative Child’s “Top Toy of the Year” Award. This is a STEM toy and hits an impressive soaring heigh of 100 feet!
Perfect for a backyard party, and with a glow in the dark feature this would be a huge hit for a nighttime event. I love the fact that kids can operate this and that it’s a low-tech toy.
- 100% powered by your child – no batteries
- Fast, easy setup
- Glows in the dark!
- STEM toy, teaching your kids about gravity, trajectory and force all while having fun. That’s the best type of learning!
- There are complaints of the base being flimsy
- Rockets can get stuck in trees – be careful where you launch!
Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table
With over 1,000 4.5 star ratings and #1 Best Seller status, you can feel confident that this toy is a winner. Step2 outdoor toys are known for their durability and good quality for young kids. This water table boasts an impressive two-tiered design, which kids love.
- All accessories included
- Cool water fall effect
- Cause & effect STEM play
- Maze pieces can be rearranged to create different water flow patterns
- Encourages independent play, and is lots of fun for varying ages; this is especially important if you’re trying to find toys that younger brothers and sisters can also enjoy
- Water tables are large and can become dirty when left in the yard; Plan on doing a power wash at the end of the season
Per Perego John Deer Gator XUV
This vehicle is built for some serious fun. With a realistic design, kids really get the experience of driving.
- This toy is a blast for kids! It is a lot of fun, and if there is plenty of space for kids to drive around safely, you will get a lot of mileage out of this
- Easy to get in and out of
- Rugged, good on grass
- Adjustable seat & 2 speed settings
- Fits two kids comfortably
- If you’re on a busy road or don’t have ample space for kids to drive around safely, skip this toy
- Cost; the price tag on this one matches the cool factor (both are high)
- Sometimes the wheels have trouble with traction
Saucer Tree Swing
We recently discovered saucer swings, and they really add a different dimension of fun for the kids! We’ve used our tree swing mainly for parties, and when friends are over to play, but it could be used for a single child just as easily.
- Various hanging options (from a swingset, from a tree, etc.)
- Can be hung to swing back and forth, or you can hang it from a single point to create a circular (read: dizzying) option that kids love. That option makes me want to vomit, but I’m not the target audience here. Ha!
- Sturdy and long-lasting design; high quality materials
- May be a tight fit on some swingsets if the other swings are up; on our swingset we have to put the saucer up and take other swings down for parties
- Have to buy the hanging straps kit and the swing swivel rotational device separately.
Best Materials for Art + Sensory Play for 4-Year-Old Boys
It’s nice to have a variety of high quality art supplies on hand (and it’s very nice to have washable art supplies on hand, if you value things like “your sanity”). Sensory play, which is often messy, is important for child development, and fairly easy to work into your play routine.
The options in this category are endless, but here are a few ideas to get you started.
Crayola Washable Markers
Crayola is a trusted brand and a great place to start. Washable markers are kid-friendly and you won’t have to worry about your couch getting destroyed.
- Nice carrying case
- Great for car trips, restaurants, etc.
- Markers tend to lose their caps and dry out, but this is as good a time as any to teach your child that they need to take care of their things!
Melissa and Doug Easel
Our kids love this easel! We’ve gotten several years of use out of this already, and it is holding up well. I plan on using it for several more years.
This is the kind of solid, basic toy that doesn’t “do too much” for the child, allowing them to be the designers of their own fun.
- Encourages independent, creative play
- Includes dry erase board, chalk board + locking paper roll holder
- Takes up a decent amount of floor space – make sure you have a place in mind to put this!
National Geographic Play Sand
This is a fantastic companion to a traditional outdoor sandbox. It can be used on a rainy day, and kids love the feel of the sand. You’ll want to get a large enough container that allows for your child to spread the sand out to get the most benefit from this toy.
- Excellent sensory experience
- Encourages creative play
- Easy to clean up
- Great on a rainy day!
- Younger kids may dump the sand on the floor; even though it’s easy to clean, this can be annoying
- You will likely want to purchase more than one container of this sand
We discovered these recently, and I wish I had known about them sooner. They are a very “low prep” activity with a cool effect.
The water beads expand nicely, and can be reused even after they dry out by adding more water. My sons have been using these in the yard, but as the weather turns colder we will be using them in the house as well.
- Amazing sensory experience that’s reusable and non-toxic
- Easy activity to set up
- Inexpensive for how cool this item is
- The beads can end up on the lawn, and they don’t dissolve. I’ve heard they turn into colorful crystals if they freeze outside (not sure if you think this is a pro or a con!)
Indoor/Outdoor Water Table
As you can see we use more than one water table! The larger STEP2 table lives outside, but the smaller blue water table is perfect to move into the house in bad weather (in fact, I’m sure it would rust if it lived outside, so I would suggest storing it indoors).
The blue bin in the photo is similar to what you might see in a child care center, but smaller in scale to make it perfect for sand or water activities in the house. Some cleanup will be required, so have a dust-buster on hand!
- Easily moveable
- Takes up limited floor space
- Very easy to clean, so you can switch out what sensory materials you want to fill it with (we have used both water and sand at different times)
- Only good for one child to use at a time (we bought two tables to put side by side)
- Shouldn’t be kept outdoors for extended periods, would likely rust (this is more suited for indoor play although we use it for both)
Sago Brothers Modeling Clay
Clay gives kids a great opportunity to make art while also providing for a calming sensory experience. For kids working on fine motor skills, using clay is also an excellent way to gain hand strength. Lots of 4 year olds will be working on writing, and this is a fun way to exercise those small finger muscles.
- Soft to the touch
- Vibrant colors
- Comes with re-sealable packaging to keep the clay fresh
- More expensive than Play Doh
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Best Basic Toys for 4 Year Old Boys
The “basic toys” category has a mix of toys that can be used in a variety of ways, and that will give your child flexibility in their play options. It’s important to have some basic toys on hand, although the specifics that you choose will depend on your child’s interests.
Grimm’s Rainbow 12-Piece Rainbow Stacker
Grimm’s toys are known for their exceptionally high quality and durability. The Grimm’s Rainbow is what I would consider an “heirloom” toy that could be passed down to future generations.
Kids can play with the Grimm’s rainbows in lots of ways – they can be stacked to create house-like structures, they can become ramps for cars, etc. My son loves this toy and as a parent it’s my absolute favorite, because it looks so nice on display!
- Exceptional “heirloom” quality
- Esthetically gorgeous; can be used as a design element as well as a toy
- Versatile in that a child can imagine whatever they’d like into this toy – promotes creative use
- The cost is high, so this toy might be best as a special occasion gift
Melissa and Doug Wooden Blocks
For 30+ years Melissa and Doug has been committed to producing high quality toys for early childhood, prompting NBC to call the brand the “gold standard” in early childhood play.
Simple, basic wooden blocks like these are ideal for child development – they don’t flash and light up or “do too much” for your child.
Rather, they are a calm, sturdy foundation on which your child can implement their own designs and ideas. In a culture where bells and whistlers are everywhere, it’s especially important to maintain some simpler, less over-the-top toys for young children.
- Working with blocks helps to introduce early math concepts, like shapes, parts to whole, and sorting
- Natural, smooth finish is very nice to the touch
- Longevity of use – blocks are great for younger toddlers, but continue to have utility for pre-schoolers and beyond
- Heavy to store as a collection; you should have a sturdy basket available for these
Thomas Train Table
This is the train table I wish we got for my kids! Ah well, 20/20 hindsight. I love the design of this table, and the train storage row underneath. Lots of train tables will serve a similar function, I’m just a fan of the look and design of this table in particular.
- Solid construction
- Easy assembly
- Allows for kids of various ages to play together
- Although this is a “train table” it can be used for a variety of purposes – crafts, LEGO, cars, etc.
- This may be a bit “young” for some 4 year olds (you know your own child!)
Hot Wheels 9-Car Gift Pack
I’m always a bit surprised by the staying power of Hot Wheels. There are loads of options for little cars, but I’ve found that Hot Wheels is a long-time favorite for a reason. This is a nice starter set that you can easily expand on over time.
If your child really gets into Hot Wheels, the Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Track Set is a very cool gift idea.
- Very long “shelf-life” – kids don’t outgrow these quickly at all
- Not a big financial investment
- Lots of cool colors and car styles, and you can easily and inexpensively add to your collection over time
- I honestly can’t think of a con for Hot Wheels! What’s not to like about an inexpensive toy that your kids will use for years?! I guess these are easy to trip on, but we can’t really blame Hot Wheels for that!
Fisher Price Little People Take Turns Skyway
Not all ramps are created equal! We have had some that just fall apart into lots of pieces almost immediately. So frustrating!
The Fisher Price Skyway ramp holds up well under lots of use, which is critical. Unless you for some reason like repairing toy ramps, which, by all means, you do you.
- Design promotes sharing and turn taking
- Smaller matchbox type cars are fun to use on the Fisher Price ramps
- Takes up a lot of space! That’s been the top drawback I’ve found with ramp toys. Ah well, someday my living room will look prettier again. Not today.
National Geographic Balance Stepping Stones
Balance Stepping Stones are my new favorite toy! I’m obsessed with these, partly because I love the texture, and partly because they look at LOT like macaroons. But I digress.
The Stepping Stones allow kids to create their own paths across the floor (great for “the floor is lava” game), and they can be used indoors and outdoors. These also work great for “Twister”!
It’s nice to have a simple toy that can help improve balance for toddlers, and develop coordination and imagination all at once. Triple Threat! Like the J-Lo of toys.
- Excellent for obstacle courses
- Suitable for indoor or outdoor use
- Ideal toy for developing balance, coordination, and gross motor skills in young kids
- May be a bit slippery, especially with socks on
Best Pretend Play Toys for 4 Year Old Boys
Pretend Play is very important for 4 year olds. At this age, kids are becoming immersed in creative story-telling and pretend play. Think of toys as the “tools” they have to dive deeply into this world of their own creation.
GUND Cozys Collection Puppy Dog Stuffed Animal
There’s something enormously comforting about stuffed animals for young kids. For young kids, stuffed animals often serve as important “transitional” objects (they make kids feel safe when going into unfamiliar situations, for example, during nap times at a new day care or pre-school).
GUND is a trusted brand familiar from our own childhoods, and their stuffed animals are cuddly and adorable.
- Comforting and cozy
- Totally reliant on your child’s imagination to make this toy “come to life”
- GUND makes consistently high quality stuffed animals that stand the test of time
- May seem like a gift for a younger child
PLAYMOBIL School Bus
PLAYMOBIL toys are something of a staple for many children. There are loads of different PLAYMOBIL figures and sets available. I chose the School Bus set for its high ratings, and for the fact that it combines kids’ love of vehicles with their fascination with the world of “big kids.”
Kindergarten will be starting soon for this age group, and the bus set will give them a chance to imagine into their upcoming experience.
- Simple, unfussy design
- Real-life applicability for kids who are just starting to learn about their world
- Working front and rear lights kids will love
- 4 figurines included
- Some parents complain that the top of the bus does not come on and off easily and that the little people don’t stay seated as well as one would hope
Cartoon Satin Capes for Kids
Kids love to dress up in costumes, and capes are a versatile, relatively inexpensive option for this. The cape set would work equally well for a dress up bin, or for party favors.
- Nice satin material
- Comes 6 in a pack
- Kids may fight over who gets to be which Superhero!
Alphabots are so cool! My son discovered them at a friend’s house and was immediately hooked. We ordered a set, and then ordered several more to give out as gifts.
Each letter converts into a transformers-type character. This is a really cool toy for kids who are interested in the alphabet and like to play with figurines (which applies to a lot of kids!)
- Very cool concept, and kids will love seeing letters turn into action figures
- Nice design, even adults will enjoy fiddling around with this toy
- Kids may need help to figure out how to transition from letter to figure and back again
Best Character Toys for 4 Year Old Boys
Generally speaking, I like to lean away from TV character toys. They can direct a child’s play more toward an adult-created vision of creativity, rather than allowing a kid to develop this on his own.
However, I think there’s a place for some character toys in the mix; the kids ask for them, they enjoy seeing characters they recognize, and there is an undeniable pop-culture pull to these toys (just like may of us were pulled toward Cabbage Patch kids in the 80s!)
With this in mind, here are a few of my favorite picks for Best Character Toys for 4 Year Old Boys.
Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck
My boys LOVE the Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck! Actually they love all of their Paw Patrol vehicles, but this one stands out for its cool features (extendable ladder, working claw arm, launching water cannons).
- Lots of features for kids to manipulate
- Well built, not flimsy at all
- Winner of the 2019 Toy Association TOY OF THE YEAR Award
- Larger size can be a storage hassle
Star Wars Galactic Heroes Poe’s Boosted X-Wing Fighter
This is a very sturdy, indestructible feeling toy. It’s got a substantial feeling to hold, which is nice for a child. The toy receives an impressive 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon, and is a great gift option if you have a Star Wars fan in your family!
- Nicely built toy with a relatively simple design
- No extra loose, extraneous parts to end up all over your house
- Some parents may not love the fact that the fighter is carrying a weapon
Playskool Heroes Transformers Rescue Bots
Rescue Bots are fairly basic (read = kids don’t need your help to play with them) toys for young kids. The kids will enjoy being able to switch between “modes”, and they don’t break the bank!
- Relatively simple design makes this toy frustration-free for young kids
- Easy to convert between Bot and Vehicle Mode
- Inexpensive considering you get 4 toys at once!
- There have been a few complaints of the toys getting stuck in one position
Best Board Games for 4 Year Olds
Board games are a great way to promote family bonding time. By the age of 4 most kids will be developmentally ready to sit down for some simple games with their family.
As an added bonus, playing games with young kids at home will give them a chance to practice losing! This is not something that comes naturally for a lot of kids, but emotional self-regulation (i.e. not having a fit if you lose a game!) is an important social skill that kids will need to develop in order to be successful with their peers.
This game is a hit in our house! I like it because the directions are simple, it’s fun for kids, and it doesn’t take too long to play. My son likes it because it is just the right level for him, so he can feel successful playing it.
- Kids love to make their guesses, and the game isn’t overly complex for young players
- It doesn’t take forever to play! So you don’t need to commit an extended amount of time to it
- The game is a bit on the flimsy side, and the pictures pop out easily
It’s nice to play a game with your child that you grew up playing. Candyland is also great because kids love the colorful images of desserts.
- Nostalgic and classic
- Kids love the vibrant colors and pictures of treats!
- Simple game that 4 year olds can follow
- If your goal is to help your child build skills, this game doesn’t have much to offer (although like all games, it’s always good to practice losing sometimes!)
Chutes and Ladders
Like Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders is another classic game that most parents probably grew up playing. There is something sweet about introducing these childhood games to the next generation, and realizing that some things really do have staying power.
- Sweet, timeless illustrations
- Takes a bit more thought than Candy Land, although at the end of the day it still comes down to a roll of the dice.
- Sometimes this game can take a loooong time. Which isn’t ideal, say, before bedtime. Not that we’ve had that happen in my house. But yes we’ve had that happen in my house more than once.
Looking for Book Gift Ideas? Check out the best Books for Toddlers and the 15 Best Books for Preschoolers!
What to Look For in a Toy
Ideally, a child will play in a deep, immersive way.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our kids need to be entertained (which is passive), when what our kids most need is for us to set the proper conditions for them to be the architects of their own play (which is active).
When choosing toys for our kids, it is important that we keep this in mind.
So, what makes a good toy? Here are some things to remember when going through the list of best toys for 4 year old boys:
- Look for open ended toys.
- Simpler toys are often better.
- Toys that are too “set” or do too much for the child don’t encourage creativity.
- Find toys that your child can “imagine into” (dolls, stuffed animals, costumes, etc.)
- Kids often process hard emotions through play. Having toys that give them a blank slate for this is useful.
- You have to live with these toys! Try to find ones that don’t make you want to claw your own eyes out.
Understanding a bit about where your child is at developmentally can also be useful in deciding on what types of toys might be best for them. Let’s talk about the developmental milestones that most kids will be reaching by age four…
Developmental Milestones for 4 Year Olds
Physical Milestones for 4 Year Olds
At the age of 4, children are rapidly developing their fine and gross motor skills. At this age children are still learning to control their bodies, and they are becoming more adept at mastering physical challenges. (You may be interested in this post about ways to improve balance for toddlers).
Gross motor skills: 4-year-olds are less likely to crash into things, as they have a better handle on their place in space. They can run well and may be able to play sports, like soccer.
Fine motor skills: Improved hand-eye coordination now makes it possible for your child to do more challenging manipulations, like stringing beads and coloring inside the lines. Art supplies can encourage the further development of these skills.
Emotions can quickly overwhelm young children, and as adults we are in the best position to help kids process new, challenging feelings and experiences. One way we can help in this area is by making sure we keep life as simple and manageable as possible (which is a challenge in today’s world).
We can simplify the environment for ours kids (which may mean limiting the amount of “stuff” they have). We can also keep their schedules on the calmer side, allowing for plenty of time for independent play.
This time is especially important since at age 4, kids are quite capable of experiencing a broader range of emotions – everything from jealousy and anger to excitement and fear.
Giving kids this age the chance to work through emotional experiences is a gift. Creative, immersive play is especially beneficial, and it’s crucial to carve time out of hurried days to allow for unstructured free play. The best toys for 4-year-old boys list has lots of items geared toward creative play.
By age 4 kids are showing a strong desire to be independent, which also emerged strongly in the early toddler years. Use this natural tendency to allow your child a bit of space to explore, as much as you can safely allow.
Four year old kids can be quite cooperative, but they easily veer toward being demanding as well. Their emotional control is improving.
4-year-olds tend to focus more on winning when playing games. Keep this in mind when playing family board games! This is a great opportunity for kids to begin to learn how to lose gracefully. This will take some time! It’s ok to sometimes let your child win (and even to bend the rules now and then). But make sure not to let them win every time.
By the age of 4, children are becoming immersed in pretend play and story-telling. They are also interested in exploring the world around them.
While temper tantrums are likely less frequent, major life events (i.e. the birth of a sibling) can still affect your child’s moods and behaviors.
4-year-olds have moved away from “parallel play” and have developed real friendships. Four year old are more immersed in their friendships than previously, and some kids may have identified a “best friend.” Sharing and turn taking are skills that 4 year olds are more capable of, and their play should reflect this.
Your 4-year-old knows lots of things! It’s important not only to focus on the “academic” stuff – like letters and numbers. Kids are also learning how to ask questions and seek and process information about lots of subjects.
4-year-olds can have very vivid imaginations, and will often jump back and forth between reality and make-believe. You can help your child harness this awesome ability by having available some basic pretend play toys (capes, masks, figurines). You’ll be amazed at how creative kids can be!
You might also notice your child wanting to play at real world roles (such as playing house, working at a store, etc.). With just a few props kids can accomplish a lot of deep play if they have the space to do so.
The Role of Play in Learning
Roberta Golinkoff is a leading researcher in children’s play, and serves as the Director of Child’s Play, Learning, and Development Laboratory.
Golinkoff explains that children learn through play, and that “playful learning” encompasses both free play and guided play. Free play is entirely child directed, whereas guided play involves some scaffolding and direction on the part of adults.
In the last two decades, children have lost an estimated 8 hours of free playtime per week.
This focus away from play in early childhood is of concern to many educators who recognize the significant social, emotional, and cognitive benefits that children derive from play.
In her work, Golinkoff and her colleagues study the link between learning and play – both free and guided.
Their research suggests that children need more time both in free and guided play, and that guided play can be a considerable asset in terms of harnessing children’s ability to thrive academically.
For detailed information on the body of research between play and learning in early childhood, you can read more here.
Can I buy purely fun/entertainment toys too?
Of course! Who am I to stop you! Think of it like this – sometimes, we all just want a little fun. And the list of best toys for 4 year old boys recognizes this.
Entertainment toys are like dessert – it’s ok to indulge once in awhile! But just like you wouldn’t make sugar the foundation of your child’s diet, I would suggest that you don’t make the hyper-stimulating entertainment items the basis of their toy collection.
If you have a solid collection of high quality, basic toys for your child, I think it’s fine to sprinkle in a few purely “fluff” toys now and again. Just don’t overdo it, and be willing to part with these items once they’ve used up their shelf life.
Why is this list for boys? Why not girls?
Honestly – this list is for both! The toy list was designed this way because people are often searching for “boy toys” and “girl toys” and I wanted readers to be able to easily search for this post.
However, both boys and girls can be encouraged to play with any item on the list! The “Best Toys for 4 Year Old Boys” is really “The Best Toys for any Pre-schooler who likes this stuff!” (That’s just not a popular Google search. Ha!)
Follow your child’s preferences and instincts for play. My strong recommendation is that you encourage your child to follow their interests and help them discover a sense of themselves by promoting free play. This is not gender specific.
It’s true that there may be some toys that boys tend to gravitate toward, and others that girls tend to gravitate towards. But your child may surprise you with their interests, and it helps to be open to following their lead.
How much is too much?
As much as we want our children to have a variety of toys to play with, we can easily reach a tipping point of too much.
Having too many toys doesn’t benefit you, your home, or your child. In fact, having an excess of things is an underlying cause of the distractibility and inability to focus we see so often in young kids.
For a child to have a rich, immersive experience in play, a level of sustained focus is needed. Having too many choices can dramatically reduce a child’s ability to focus deeply in any direction, which actively works against their ability to play alone.
Kids can become paralyzed by too many choices. You may see this in the child who says they have “nothing to play with” while they are standing in a room full of toys. This child may simply be overwhelmed by the chaos of the environment, and therefore unable to choose what to do.
Having too many things can cause a child to become entitled as well as overwhelmed. We don’t want this for our kids, and yet sometimes we promote this by our own behaviors (buying too much with too little thought).
When choosing toys for your child, consider the following in order to avoid the issue of too much:
Does my child have a similar toy already?
If your child has 5 special trains, he does not need 15 more (In fact, the original “special trains” will become less special the more you add to the mix)
Strive for a mix of high quality toys, rather than lots of low quality items.
Higher quality toys will likely cost a bit more, but this should be counterbalanced by the fact that you will own less stuff overall.
For every new toy that comes into your home (particularly around the holidays, birthdays, etc.) consider donating a toy to charity.
Another good option is to sell (or give away) toys on FB Marketplace, or various FB groups. There are always lots of people looking for second hand toys, and people will come right to you to get rid of the items you no longer need.
If family and friends are asking for gift ideas, you can always suggest activities vs. items!
Think children’s museum outings, playspace gift cards, a movie night, etc. Children and adults need experiences, not just things.
Make sure that you have a storage plan for your toys.
We love the IKEA Trofast Storage system (shown below)! The bins can be rotated in and out, and it’s very easy to organize your things.
Consider rotating toys in and out of the playroom, or your child’s room.
Having bins that can be put away and taken back out has the effect of 1) Not overwhelming your child with everything all at once and 2) Giving the hidden toys a “second life” when they come back into rotation.
Where can I find second hand toys?
Toys can be expensive! And with a little work, you can find a lot of second hand toys that still have lots of life left in them.
If you’re planning to get second hand toys, just be sure everything is safe (no broken pieces that impact the safety of the toy) and give the toy a good cleaning before putting it into your rotation.
Here are some good places to score second hand toys:
Marketplace is an AMAZING resource for second hand toys! You can search for what you’re looking for (i.e. dollhouse) and find people in your area looking to sell the item cheaply (sometimes even giving it away for free).
When using FB Marketplace, you can arrange for “porch pickup” which means you won’t have to go into a stranger’s house. People will often agree to meet in other locations, such as at a local coffee shop parking lot.
Thrift Stores such as Savers and the Salvation Army, as well as local consignment shops, often have great deals on used kids toys.
Yard sales are a great option for second hand toys. If you’re looking at baby products in particular, make sure you’re not picking up items that are either expired or recalled.
Is there a way to check for recalls?
Yes. Safe Kids Worldwide provides a comprehensive list of monthly child-related recalls collected from the major federal agencies. You can even sign up to receive recalls by email. Check out their Product Recalls page.
Can I buy toys designated for a different age group?
Possibly. Some kids are advanced in certain areas, and can handle toys meant for older children. You want to make sure that you’re not getting a toy that is too developmentally complex for your child, as not to frustrate them.
Always make sure that the toy is safe for the child. You wouldn’t, for example, want to let a 2 year old play Marble Run, due to the serious choking hazard of marbles.
How can I ensure toys aren’t toxic?
Great question! This can be tricky. When buying new toys, here are some things you want to try to avoid:
- Bisphenol A
Plastic toys are what we usually think of as being unsafe for kids, but stuffed toys can also be full of synthetics and PVCs as well.
So, how can you play it safe?
Here are a few tips on what to look for when toy shopping:
- Smell the toy! Does it have a noticeable strong smell? This can indicate a concern about the materials being used.
- Wooden and organic products are a good way to go to avoid toxic chemicals
For more detailed information on how to choose kid-safe toys, NYMetroParents has a good post on the subject.
I hope you enjoyed the post! If you have a favorite toy appropriate for a 4-year-old boy, please let me know in the comments!
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Excellent choice of toys. A child is in preschool age when he reaches 4 year old and hence it is important to buy toys that introduce him to letters numbers and basic language skills. It is also good to include simple puzzles and educational toys that encourage brain development and learning.