What do children like in toys?

What do children like in toys?

Toys are an integral part of childhood, playing a crucial role in the development of various skills and providing entertainment. While the specific preferences can vary based on age, cultural context, and individual personality, there are several common factors that tend to attract children to certain toys. This exploration delves into what children generally look for in toys, categorized by features such as interactivity, imaginative play, educational value, physical activity, collectability, familiar characters, sensory appeal, and social play.

Interactive Features

1. Engaging Response

Children are naturally curious and enjoy toys that respond to their actions. Interactive toys that light up, make sounds, or move when touched are particularly captivating. These toys can include:

  • Electronic Toys: Gadgets like interactive robots, talking dolls, and learning tablets.
  • Musical Instruments: Simple instruments such as xylophones, keyboards, and drums that produce sound when played.
  • Toys with Lights and Sounds: Flashing light wands, toy cars with engine sounds, and storybooks with audio features.

These interactive elements not only keep children entertained but also help in developing their cause-and-effect understanding and fine motor skills.

2. Feedback and Reward

Toys that provide feedback, such as applause sounds, rewarding lights, or congratulatory phrases, can enhance a child’s enjoyment. This type of positive reinforcement encourages children to continue engaging with the toy, fostering perseverance and a sense of accomplishment.

Imaginative Play

1. Role-Playing and Storytelling

Imaginative play is a critical aspect of childhood development. Toys that facilitate role-playing allow children to explore different scenarios and roles, which can be vital for their social and emotional growth. Examples include:

  • Dolls and Action Figures: These can range from simple baby dolls to elaborate action figures of superheroes and other characters.
  • Playsets: Sets such as dollhouses, pirate ships, or farm sets provide a backdrop for imaginative stories.
  • Costumes and Props: Dressing up as favourite characters or professionals like doctors, chefs, or firefighters encourages role-playing.

Through imaginative play, children develop language skills, social competence, and creativity.

Building and Construction

1. Creative Construction

Construction toys are immensely popular because they offer endless possibilities for creativity and problem-solving. Children enjoy:

  • Building Blocks: Classic wooden blocks or more sophisticated sets like LEGO.
  • Magnetic Tiles: These allow for easy construction and deconstruction of various structures.
  • Model Kits: These can range from simple snap-together kits for younger children to more complex models for older kids.

Building and construction toys help improve spatial awareness, fine motor skills, and cognitive development by encouraging planning and design thinking.

Educational Value

1. Learning Through Play

Educational toys that seamlessly blend fun and learning are particularly favoured by both children and parents. These toys can include:

  • Puzzles: Jigsaw puzzles, 3D puzzles, and logic puzzles that challenge and entertain.
  • STEM Toys: Science kits, coding robots, and engineering sets that introduce concepts in science, technology, engineering, and math.
  • Alphabet and Number Toys: Interactive books, magnetic letters, and counting games that teach basic literacy and numeracy.

Educational toys are designed to develop critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and foundational academic knowledge in an enjoyable manner.

Physical Activity

1. Active Play

Toys that encourage physical activity are essential for healthy growth and development. These toys can include:

  • Sports Equipment: Items such as balls, bats, and goal nets for various sports.
  • Ride-On Toys: Bicycles, tricycles, scooters, and skateboards.
  • Outdoor Play Equipment: Swings, slides, and climbing frames.

Active play helps children develop gross motor skills, coordination, and a love for physical exercise. It also provides an outlet for energy and promotes overall physical health.


1. Series and Sets

Collectible toys have a unique appeal because they tap into the joy of collecting and completing a set. Popular collectible toys include:

  • Trading Cards: Cards featuring characters, sports stars, or fantasy themes.
  • Figurines: Small figures from popular franchises or surprise blind box series.
  • Stickers and Albums: Collectible stickers that can be traded and pasted into albums.

The collectability aspect encourages social interaction, trading, and a sense of accomplishment as children build their collections.

Familiar Characters

1. Media and Pop Culture

Toys featuring familiar characters from TV shows, movies, books, or video games are always in high demand. These toys provide children with a tangible connection to their favourite stories and characters. Examples include:

  • Superhero Figures: Action figures and accessories from Marvel, DC, and other superhero franchises.
  • Disney Characters: Plush toys, figurines, and playsets featuring Disney characters.
  • Book Characters: Toys based on beloved characters from children’s literature.

These toys allow children to extend their enjoyment of their favourite media into their everyday play.

Sensory Appeal

1. Multi-Sensory Engagement

Toys that engage multiple senses are particularly appealing to younger children and those with sensory processing needs. These toys can include:

  • Textured Toys: Soft, squishy, or bumpy toys that provide tactile stimulation.
  • Bright Colours: Toys with vibrant colours that attract visual attention.
  • Soothing Sounds: Toys that produce calming music, white noise, or gentle sounds.

Sensory toys help children develop their sensory processing skills and can be particularly soothing for those with sensory sensitivities.

Social Play

1. Group Interaction

Toys that encourage group play and interaction help children develop social skills and teamwork. These toys can include:

  • Board Games: Classic and modern board games that can be played with family and friends.
  • Card Games: Simple card games for younger children to more complex strategic games for older kids.
  • Cooperative Toys: Building sets and collaborative games that require teamwork.

Social play is crucial for developing communication skills, empathy, and the ability to work well with others.

Age-Specific Preferences

1. Infants and Toddlers (0-3 years)

At this age, children are developing their senses and motor skills. They are drawn to:

  • Soft Toys: Plush animals and soft dolls that are safe to hug and chew on.
  • Rattles and Teethers: Toys that make noise and provide relief for teething gums.
  • Simple Puzzles: Large, chunky pieces that are easy for little hands to grasp.

2. Pre-schoolers (3-5 years)

Pre-schoolers are exploring their environment and developing basic cognitive and social skills. They enjoy:

  • Pretend Play Toys: Kitchen sets, doctor kits, and dress-up clothes.
  • Building Sets: Simple LEGO sets and wooden block constructions.
  • Educational Toys: Alphabet puzzles, counting games, and interactive storybooks.

3. School-Aged Children (6-12 years)

Children in this age group have more refined motor skills and cognitive abilities. They are interested in:

  • Complex Building Kits: Advanced LEGO sets, model airplanes, and science kits.
  • Board and Card Games: Games that require strategy, memory, and teamwork.
  • Sporting Goods: Equipment for sports like soccer, basketball, and cycling.

4. Teenagers (13+ years)

Teenagers often have specific hobbies and interests that guide their toy preferences. They might enjoy:

  • Advanced STEM Kits: Robotics, coding kits, and advanced science experiments.
  • Collectibles and Hobby Kits: Detailed models, collectible figures, and hobbyist tools.
  • Video Games: Consoles and games that offer immersive experiences and social interaction.


Understanding what children like in toys involves recognizing the diverse factors that contribute to their enjoyment and developmental needs. Interactive features, imaginative play opportunities, educational value, physical activity, collectability, familiar characters, sensory appeal, and social play all play significant roles in shaping children's preferences. By catering to these interests, toy manufacturers and parents can provide engaging, educational, and entertaining toys that support children's growth and happiness.

Share this post...

Previous post Next post