Cool 4 year old birthday gifts are so much fun to buy because at this age, kids are really, actually playing with toys and games for longer than a few seconds. They’re great at independent play, they’re past the put-everything-in-your-mouth stage (yay!), and they’re a lot more sure on their feet.
Kids might even be interested in the same activities and games that adults are interested in now too — good news for those of us who were never that big on tummy time. So here are some of our favorite gifts for 4 year olds, from the zillions of options out there.
($27 at Olliegraphic)
With Olliegraphic’s super cute customized plates, bowls and even placemats, kids always know just which seat at the table is theirs. Bonus for parents: No more sibling fights! And if you want a custom superhero outfit to match? Well obviously you can have that done from our sponsor, Sew Plain Jane.
($16 at Amazon)
Plenty of LEGO kits are still about open-ended play, and not just building something specific on the box cover. We are so happy to share this set of LEGO brights, which offers new colors kids love, like purple, turquoise, and lime green. The set of 300 bricks also includes four sets of little eyes for building whatever creatures 4-year-olds can dream up.
($42 at Beatrix NY)
If you know a cool 4-year-old heading off to preschool, surely this shark backpack will be a huge hit. We love Beatrix’s cartoony but not babyish menagerie of characters and how well the packs are made. If you need one that’s big enough for folders and workbooks, check out their Big Kid Packs too.
($225 or $245 with Adventure Pack, on sale at Primo Toys)
For a truly awesome splurge, this new coding toy ranks among our favorite educational tech toys of the year. It’s designed to get kids learning the basics of programming — even before they can read — by using coding blocks on the control board to direct this little wooden robots movements. Plus, it’s just fun.
($59.99 at Nutcase)
With so many kids biking and scooting at this age, there’s nothing like a shiny new helmet to keep them safe and stylish all at once. We’ve always had good luck with Nutcase’s Little Nutty Helmets designed just for kids, with a spin dial on the back to make sure it’s snug and secure.
($35 at bonjour petit )
A tea set is always a perfect birthday gift for a 4-year-old, and yours will be so excited to pour invisible tea for their favorite stuffed animal or doll or grandparent or imaginary Mad Hatter with this version from French toymaker Moulin Roty. While there are a ton of less expensive plastic tea sets out there, we’re just smitten with this version in a fun red ceramic with playful polkadots and a cute valise for storage.
($50 at Nike)
The 4-year-olds we know have incredibly strong opinions about their favorite colors. If it’s blue, purple and yellow — at least this week — the design-your-own option on the Nike website is an awesome, if indulgent way to put all those colors together and make a kid’s day.
($39.95 at Apple)
We love toys that blend tactile play with technology, and Play-Doh has done it masterfully. Kids use the character stamper to make their own colorful friends that they then scan into the app to create a virtual playworld full of creatures with distinctive personalities.
******* About our sponsor
If you’re looking for a fun, wildly affordable birthday gift for a kid of any age, Sew Plain Jane is a wonderful mom-run business making handmade superhero capesour kids love. With basic capes starting at just $4 (yes, really!), they can be customized all kinds of ways to suit your super kid.
And don’t miss their brilliant DIY cape decorating kits that make for fantastic birthday party crafts that become the coolest take-home favors.
Special Offer:Cool Mom Picks readers save 10% on orders at Sew Plain Jane with code CoolMomPicks10 through 4/10/17.
($49.98 at magic cabin)
We’re big fans of puppets as a birthday gift for kids of any age, which help them develop creativity, imagination, and collaborative play skills. This easy-to-use doorway puppet theater is a favorite for getting the show on, with clever details like a pocket window for the name of the performance or time of the next show. Add a puppet or two to make it a really special gift.
($8.99 at Amazon)
Brian Stosuy and illustrator Amy Martin’s wonderful new board book was included among our picks for fantastic picture books that inspire a love of the arts in children. It introduces the youngest kids to the complexities of music and all the ways we describe it. And it’s so charming and beautiful, you’ll want to hang onto it even when your child moves onto chapter books.
($100 at Tegu)
Tegu makes sustainably sourced hardwood block sets that we adore, especially because they smartly connect with safe embedded magnets. While there are tons of simple block options from the company, one of our favorite kits introduces us to kid-powered Magnetron, who can be configured in endless ways. Plus he (or she?) is compatible with all the other Tegu blocks, giving you endless possibilities.
($79 at land of nod)
We are so taken with these awesome little soft playsets that are so great for kids who get bored in the back of the car or on a long plane ride. The rocket ship is filled with astronauts, robots and aliens ready to play — then scurry back to their home quickly when it’s time for playtime to end.
($28.99 at Amazon)
Boogie Boards LCD writers are such great ways to encourage drawing, doodling and even handwriting practice — just draw, then wipe away the screen and start again. Kids love it, and there’s no risk of accidentally drawing on your upholstery with the stylus. Ahem.
(prices vary…but not cheap)
Sometimes a special birthday calls for an extra-special gift, especially from doting grandparents or godparents or aunts and uncles who want to splurge on something major. Australia’s Tutu du Monde creates the most spectacularly gorgeous dress-up clothing we’ve ever seen anywhere, whether she wants to be a flapper, a butterfly fairy, an ABT soloist, or a life-saving surgeon princess. Let’s just say that no one will be stuffing these stunning clothes in a dress-up bin when playtime is over. Also, keep the tulle away from cats; trust us.
($42 at My Sweet Muffin)
What could be a better gift for a 4-year-old than one the child’s parents are grateful for too? Exactly! That’s why as parents ourselves, we give a big thumbs-up to this storage bag that seals lots of toy trucks, blocks, bricks and other tiny toys shut…but opens up to become a playset all its own.
(prices start at $69, Dolls ‘N All)
Prolific preschool artists will be so delighted to find a character from their imaginations transformed into a one-of-a-kind custom doll made by a real artist. And your child will only appreciate it more as the years go on, which means you may want to consider whether it lives on a high shelf, or next to your kiddo in bed each night.