As parents, we all want to provide our little ones with toys that are not only fun to play but are also safe and educational. With so many great toys to pick from, it can be tough to choose the best early years toys for our children.

That’s why as part of this year’s Baby & Pre-School Awards, we’ve scoured the market and tested numerous toys to bring you our top picks.

The toys in this category have been assessed based on their ability to engage children, promote their learning and development, and meet safety standards, among other criteria.

We have split the category into four sub-categories to reflect the different types of toys available to children in their early years. These sub-categories are: ‘Best Outdoor Toys’; ‘Best Toys to Support Education/Development’; ‘Best Licensed Toys’ and ‘Best Classic Play Toys’.

We hope that this list will help parents make informed decisions when purchasing toys for their children and provide them with hours of fun while promoting their growth and development.

Best Outdoor Toys


Scuttlebug Beetle

(RRP £24.99), from Mookie Toys

About the product: The Scuttlebug is a revolutionary foot-to-floor ride-on. The simple 3-step folding system allows the Scuttle Bug to be folded and unfolded in seconds. This popular red and black beetle Scuttle Bug is lightweight and compact, allowing it to be easily carried and stored when not in use. The 3 wheel design is stable and allows loads of fun and freedom. Specifically designed wheels allow a smooth and quiet ride both indoors and outdoors. This safe, reliable and durable ride-on helps develop balance and steering skills. Minimal assembly is required.

Our tester said:

“We love the Scuttlebug, as it’s so easy and compact. It’s sturdy and feels durable; however, you do need to support your child on it. You can fold it away easily so that it doesn’t take up too much space. Perfect for trips to the park. It’s great value for money and makes a perfect gift.”


Micro Air Hopper

(RRP £44.95), from Micro Scooters

About the product: The Micro Hopper delivers twice the fun. Inflatable hopper for hours of up-down bouncing action. Smart ride-on for toddlers who like to be on the move. With a unique ergonomic design that means kids are improving their balance and coordination as they play. Hopper’s inflatable main body connects simply to a lightweight chassis with 360-degree non-marking PU wheels. Lightweight and easy to transport so it can accompany the family wherever they go. One-of-a-kind fun for one-of-a-kind kids. In short, the Hopper is a versatile 2in1 toy. Kids will never get bored as they can choose between being a Hopper and a ride-on toy.


Sand and Water Play Table

(RRP £140), from My 1st Years

About the product: Get kids a little closer to nature with this personalised sand and water play table. Crafted from wood, this double-sided picnic table is great for groups to enjoy together, as the lid lifts to reveal a world of fun beneath. This multifunctional bench helps little ones to develop their fine motor skills, cognitive growth and social interaction as they work together with others through imaginative play. Personalise this sensory table with a mini-mess maker’s name too!

Highly Commended

Fisher-Price My First Trampoline

(RRP £39.99), from Sportspower

About the product: If your toddler is a little bundle of energy, then they will love tiring themselves out on the Fisher-Price Sportspower Toddler Trampoline!  Thanks to its spacious jumping mat, padded safety surround and stable handlebars, your little gymnast can enjoy hours of jumping fun on this trampoline. Easy to construct, it also comes with non-slip feet for added stability and peace of mind. It is the perfect screen-free way to encourage active play!

Best Toys to Support Education/Development


Fat Brain pipSquigz

(RRP £19.99), from Fat Brain

About the product: Fat Brain pipSquigz are a set of three Fun Little Suckers for ages 6 months and up.

Perfect for the pram, highchair, bath, and anywhere travel, with super-suction, each vibrant silicone shape can be tugged, pushed, shaken, and pulled.

Or, push and stick the shapes together for new play experiences.

Babies delight in the versatile movement, sound and texture they offer. Paediatricians note sensory integration as a crucial developmental milestone for infants. pipSquigz are right on target:

The wavy ridges, bumps, and debossed, smiling face stimulate the fingers. The “just right” rattles and the POP of the suction cups thrill the ears. The brilliant colours mesmerise the eyes while the soft, BPA-free silicone invites sore gums to be soothed. pipSquigz is an all-in-one sensory learning experience! Not to mention, they’re also wonderfully portable and completely dishwasher-safe.

Our tester said:

“These sensory, tactile toys are fab! They’re perfect for encouraging children to explore new sounds and textures. Great for taking out and about – for instance to restaurants and when on public transport. Highly recommend!”


Little Smoby Activity Table

(RRP £44.99), from Simba Smoby Toys

About the product: Introduce your little one to a world of colour, movement and shape with the Little Smoby Activity Table. Get your child up on their feet while learning skills through explorative play. Each table features a variety of interactive stations to help develop your child’s motor skills, balance, and hand-eye coordination. The table features a shape sorter with four, an abacus for counting, squishy horns, a ball launcher, a rolling bar toy, a mirror and a curling slide.

Joint Bronze

TP Active-Tots Pikler Style Wooden Climbing Triangle & Slide – Fsc® Certified

(RRP £169.99), from TP Toys

About the product: The Active-Tots range is here to transform your child’s indoor space into a beautiful active play area. The Climbing Triangle offers endless climbing fun, while the Slide can also be used as a bridge or flip it over as it turns into a ladder for a climbing adventure. The Wooden Climbing Triangle & Slide will inspire confidence, and stability and improve strength from an early age all while enhancing gross motor development.

Joint Bronze

Farmhouse Sorter

(RRP £36), from My 1st Years

About the product: Encourage a little animal lover to keep learning with this interactive farmhouse shape sorter set. The bright colours, textures and shapes will all aid a child’s fine motor and cognitive skills as they learn about different shapes, colours and nine different farm animals. Keep a little one endlessly entertained and personalise the roof of the house with a child’s name to add a personal touch to their playtime.

Highly Commended

Big Feelings Nesting Fruit Friends

(RRP £15) from Learning Resources

About the product: Lift the top of the Big Feelings Nesting Fruit Friends toddler toy to find the surprise fruit friend nested inside. Keep going until you discover them all! Each of these 5 colourful nesting fruits (pineapple, pear, lemon, strawberry and grapes) has 2 different contrasting expressions that help children build social and emotional learning skills as they learn about feelings and facial expressions through fun play and discovery.

Best Licensed Toys


Alphablocks Phonics Fun

(RRP £24.99), from Trends UK

About the product: Learning to read is easy when you’re having fun! Play along with 26 alphabet characters as they come to life and make words! Sing along with some of your favourite songs! 4 Activities: Meet the Alphablocks, Hide-and-Seek, Word Magic, and Let’s Sing

Our tester said:

“Great fun! Good for helping youngsters learn their letters and sounds. Children will recognise the characters from the TV and will be able to sing along to the songs they already know! Helps with developing motor controls, too. Would definitely recommend it. Love the bag to keep the blocks in.”


Sesame Street Potty Time Elmo

(RRP £34.99), from Just Play

About the product: Endorsed by potty training guru, Amanda Jenner, Sesame Street Potty Time Elmo is an interactive, 100% recycled fill, huggable plush encouraging healthy habits for children aged 18m+. Kids can role-play with Elmo, giving him his sippy cup when he asks for a drink and helping him get to his potty with realistic sound effects. Elmo makes potty training fun with phrases like, “Don’t forget to flush!” When Elmo has success, he entertains kids with a happy potty song!


Gabby’s Dollhouse – Gabby’s Purrfect Dollhouse

(RRP £79.99), from Spin Master

About the product: Play inside your own Dollhouse world with Gabby’s Purrfect Dollhouse, standing over 61cm tall, it’s packed full of exciting features including sounds, a working cat-a-vator and over 15 accessories! With its colourful details and cat-inspired shape, it looks just like the one in the Netflix show and it’s perfect for letting imaginations come to life as you play out endless cat-tastic adventures with Gabby and Pandy Paws.

Highly Commended

Minnie Mouse Glam & Glow Playset

(RRP £49.99), from Just Play

About the product: Easily portable, this toy includes a 6-inch Minnie Mouse doll, and 10 adorable outfits and accessories, which kids can use to create different looks. The magical light-up Minnie Mouse bow at the top of the trunk, reveals different colours and patterns when pressed and unveils a secret vanity mirror when pulled upwards. Little fashionistas can even accessorise their own outfits with wear-and-share jewellery and use the mirror to check out their super glam looks! 

Highly Commended

PAW Patrol Lookout Tower Playset

(RRP £54.99) from Spin Master

About the product: Get ready for action with the PAW Patrol Lookout Tower Playset. Celebrating PAW Patrol’s 10th anniversary, the playset features the iconic lookout tower, along with Chase’s police cruiser and two Chase action figures, Hero-pup & Off duty Chase. Explore imaginations and develop fine motor skills as you ride up the working lift for your mission briefing, then slide down the slide to hop into your vehicle and use the vehicle launcher to burst into action!

Best Classic Play Toys


Warmies Selection

(RRP £19.99 each), from Warmies

About the product: Warmies® are fully heatable soft toys that can be heated in a microwave to provide hours of soothing warmth and comfort. These luxuriously soft plush designs are gently scented with relaxing lavender and can be reheated time and time again. Warmies® are weighted, warming, scented and super cuddly, making them an ideal gift for all ages!

Our tester said:

“We love the Warmies selection! There really is a character for all members of the family – not just the youngest! It’s also brilliant that it doubles as a warming product that is safer than a hot water bottle. Plus it smells so lovely and fresh. We would certainly recommend.”

Joint Silver

John Deere Build a Johnny Tractor

(RRP £19.99), from Tomy

About the product: Inspire your young farmer’s imagination with the Build-A-Johnny Tractor farm toy. This 16-piece set has 2 ways to play: a free-rolling tractor toy or a buildable set. Use the battery-powered drill to take apart Johnny Tractor. Take off the wheels, lift open the roof, and then piece your tractor toy back together again for building fun. Made from chunky parts, the Build-A-Johnny Tractor farm toy is easy for little hands to assemble. The Build-A-Johnny Tractor farm toy comes with a power drill, 2 bits and 13 Johnny Tractor toy pieces.

Joint Silver

Stickle Bricks Fun Tub

(RRP £22.99), from Flair GP

About the product: The perfect first construction toy for toddlers. Combining a variety of different coloured and shaped bricks, children can stick, stack and construct. Doubling as a handy storage container, it’s perfect for little hands with big imaginations! There’s no telling where new ideas can lead, dreaming up bigger and better creations you can all put together, take down and start over. Suitable for ages 18 months and above.


Baby QBoids Construction Set

(RRP £39.99), from Engino

About the product: Teach toddlers STEM skills at an early age and equip them for later life!! It teaches 2 building skills, the first is to be able to stack blocks on top of each other, and the second is to build them sideways. The system encourages preschool children to develop their cognitive, social and motor skills through fun and creative play.

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