Kids who regularly use their imaginations to pretend play develop better social skills and vocabulary than kids who do not. Discover the best toys to encourage imaginative role-play, toys that are open-ended and battery-free.
Do you give your children pretend play toys and gifts?
Here are some top ideas to give you some ideas from new for 2023 to classics…
Happy toy and gift shopping!
2023 Top Pretend Play Toys & Gifts
Pineapple Soft Stacker Toy
Babies will sort, squeeze, shake, and stack pineapple rings to help encourage sensory, fine motor, and problem-solving skills in this fabric-covered stacker with a rocking base, squeezable rings, crinkle leaves, and fabric ribbons.
Go Tots Bus
Roll, stack, and hold the wooden bus and put the character discs in the bus for pretend play.
Ocean Sensory Bin
Scoop, sort, dog, and build in the soft sand and water beads. Comes with ocean animal toys.
Orijin Bees Fro Zizzy Bee Doll
This doll has curly hair, and the line of dolls comes in a variety of black and brown skin tones.
A darling plush kitchen that comes with a refrigerator, counter, and bear.
Playfoam Sand Sensory Set
This fun tactile sand set develops fine motor tools for stamping, digging, squeezing, molding, sifting, sorting, scooping, and molding.
Bluey fans will love this playhouse with lights and sounds that includes Bingo and Bluey and much more including a moving dancefloor.
Story Time Magnetic Play Scene
Open the box and find two backgrounds and almost 50 magnetic pieces to stick to the box and use to build your own stories. Be creative and tell stories!
Mama Guinea Pig and Hutch
When the mama guinea pig lights up, she’s ready to enter her hutch and have her three babies.
Primal Rock Jaw
Rock Jaw is in the primal form of a crocodile. Watch as his goo changes and stretch him up to three times his size.
Cafe Barista Coffee Shop
Pretend you are the barista with a coffee shop counter, expresso maker, drink dispenser, pay terminal, and much more. A fun pretend play experience for kids!
LEGO Friends Horse Trailer
Build a horse trailer for two horses that you can pull using the SUV which fits your three mini-figures. Horse-crazy girls will love playing and building with this new LEGO Friends set.
Imaginext Pirate Ship
Pretend play pirates with swords who capture prisoners in the ship’s hull. Or, launch cannons and make someone walk the plank.
Dinosaur World Road Race
Create a dinosaur track for your two dinosaur racecars.
This 698-piece set features an opening, lockable castle with 4 levels, 5 bedrooms, a celebration cake, an animal playground and a key plus Ariel, Moana, Rapunzel, Snow White and Tiana mini-doll figures, plus 5 LEGO animal figures.
Jurrasic World Raptor
This extra-large raptor is 9.1 inches tall. Its legs and arms move, too!
Rainbow Case with 5 Stuffed Animals
My kids loved these little soft toys. This one contains 5 plush toy animals in a colorful rainbow bag!
Paw Patrol City Cruiser Toy Car with Motorcycle
Do your kids love Paw Patrol? Then they’ll love Chase’s cruiser, which also launches a motorcycle and features lights and sound effects.
National Geographic Sea Otter Care & Nurture Set
Give your sea otter a check-up with this set that includes a stuffed animal, bag, stethoscope, bottle, syringe, clam, bandage cuff, and sticker sheet.
Playmobil Adventures of Ayuma Moon Fairy Spring
The Moon Fairies live near this magical spring. You can spin the middle of the lake to ear stars and points in this toy which is also a game. Includes two fairies and animals.
Let’s Explore Camp Stove
Anyone else want this for themselves because it is SO cute? It’s a 24-piece pretend play wooden camp stove with cookware and utensils. You can turn the nobs, reverse the grill and griddle, or adjust the flames.
Design & Drill Bolt Buddies Police Motorcycle
Use a real drill to build a police motorcycle and sidecar. Then, play with your police dog and police person. Great for fine motor skills and imaginative play.
Melissa & Doug Blue’s Clues Wooden Mailbox Play Set
Send and receive mail with the wooden postcard and stamps, envelope, and invitations to mail plus a double-sided puzzle and 10-piece wooden memory game.
Breyer Horses Unicorn Magic Stable
Carry around your six beautiful unicorns in their own stable! Then, let them graze and frolic and play!
Hot Wheels City
Store your cars in the parking garage and then speed down the side-by-side racetrack but watch out for the Robo T-Rex!
Star Wars Lola Droid Toy
Princess Leia’s droid has sounds and lights and can tilt her head from side to side.
Schleich Horse Club
A 20-piece playset that will inspire a 6-year-old girl’s pretend play and imagination!
LOL Surprise OMG Sunshine Gurl
An articulated 4.5 fashion doll called Sunshine Gurl with a box that can be a set and 20 surprises including an outfit, shoes, accessories, hat box, hair brush, garment bag, sticker, hanger, and doll stand.
Squishmallows Cheetah Fairy
My kids both love these BEST out of all other plush toys because they’re so soft and squishy.
Bakugan GeoForge Dragonoid 7 in 1
Battle Geogan Bakugan and use the 8 cards to power it up.
Wooden Stable Box and 8 Horses
From Melissa and Doug, this playset includes 8 horses, a stable, and a breed guide.
Super soft plush pound puppies are the perfect size and shape to hug and cuddle!
LEGO Friends Forest Camper Van and Sailboat
Get your LEGO Friends mini-dolls outside in nature with 3 dolls, a raccoon toy, a detailed camper van, a sailboat, and more!
Pretend Play Props for World Travelers
Use the 40 tickets, passports + stickers, 10 postcards + postage, bank card, ID card, luggage tags and map to play world traveler.
30 points of articulation, this collectible Masterverse figure comes with a sword.
Melissa & Doug Slice and Bake Cookie Set
Pretend to bake and serve your own cookies with this Melissa & Doug slice and bake wooden cookie set. It includes 12 sliceable cookies, 12 toppings, knife, spatula, cookie sheet, and kitchen mitt; cookies store in a durable dough tube.
LEGO BrickHeadz Pets Hamster
A 243 piece building set of adorableness!
Barbie Color Reveal
2 dolls, 3 pets, and 36 slumber party accessories! Reveal the dolls’ and pets’ looks with warm water.
Classic Pretend Play Toys *That Always Make Great Gifts*
Little People Surprise and Sounds Home
Little ones will love pretend playing with this fun home that makes sounds, songs, and phrases. Little People always has high-quality, fun toys, this one is no exception. A TOP pick to give as a gift.
Brio Railroad Starter Kit
We highly recommend the Brio wooden train sets — and this is a great way to get started with this kind of pretend play! My kids would put these together, take them apart, and play for hours with their Brio trains. I love that they’re making sets like this for the youngest children now, too.
Green Toys Dump Truck
I gave this as a gift to my chiropractor’s son and he’s played with it every day for months and months. Fill up the back, dump it out, repeat! Drive around on it! (He even sits on it.) This is an excellent, eco-friendly toy.
Paw Patrol Dino Rescue
Drive Zuma in his Dinio Rescue vehicle — and get a mystery Dino to play with, too!
Pick Up and Count Vacuum
Vacuum up the dust pieces and learn their colors while you count them!
Skyrocket Blume Doll
Water your doll and see who emerges from the flower pot! Who will you Blume?
Kindi Kids Mystabella
Meet Mystabella, a Kindi Kid who loves to create and comes with a magic reveal masterpiece. Dip your paintbrush into cold water, brush the canvas, and watch as a painting magically appears.
Timber Tots Tree House
ages 2 – 4
From Fat Brain Toys, encourage hours of pretend play with this darling treehouse home with two Timber Tots and 11 accessories.
Will your little ballerinas love this dress up wooden doll with 6 outfits? I know my girls loved these wooden dolls from Melissa and Doug!
John Deere Monster Tractor
ages 3 – 5
How cool is this? Motion-activated lights pop as you roll the tractor in any direction.
LEGO Friends Rescue Mission Boat
Build this a rescue cruiser boat with a crane, removable deck, and speedboat launcher. You’ll also get Olivia, Andrea, Mia, a whale, a treasure chest, and robot.
National Geographic Astrophysist Barbie
Barbie, the woman with a million careers, is now an astrophysicist dressed in a top with space-inspired print, has a large telescope swivels so kids can role-play a Star search, and comes with a Star map to find a favorite Star or discover a new Planet.
Road Rug Play Set
Spend hours of playtime on this washable activity rug with both town and country scenes and 49 wooden play pieces. The set includes 15 vehicles, 8 town buildings, 8 farm structures, 6 animals, 7 people, 4 traffic signs, bridge.
Trust me when I say Squishmallows are THE SOFTEST, CUDDLIEST plush toys we’ve ever owned. And we own like a million. My kids LOVE these and want all of them. 🙂 I’m highly, highly, highly recommending these amazing toys. There are different animals, too — a llama, a frog, a unicorn, a cow, … Which to choose?
Melissa and Doug Ice Cream Scoop Set
Kids will spend hours of imaginative play using this beautiful wooden 28-piece wooden ice cream set that includes scoops, toppings, cones, and $1 bills.
Green Toys Tea Set
Ready for tea? Here’s a toy that keeps on giving and provides years of fun.
Lock and Roll Rescue Truck Garage
Play and pretend with 3 wooden rescue vehicles, garage with locking color-matching doors, and keys — kids love turning the keys, opening and closing the doors, and playing with the easy to roll trucks. Big fun!
Prextex Plush Farm House
What an adorable soft farm playset. Includes a handle for easy carrying. Zips open and close for storage. Includes four plush horses., a farmer, and a hay.
Learning Resources New Sprouts Camp Out!
Pretend to camp anytime you want with this fun set that includes 2 logs with flame, a glow-in-the-dark lantern, fork, hot dog, marshmallow, chocolate bar, 2 graham crackers, and duffle bag.
Green Toys Cargo Plane
Made in the USA from recycled plastic, this is a popular, high-quality toy that stands the test of time– and that kids love!
Green Toys Build a Bouquet
Get creative with flowers! Stack the vibrant lilies, petunias, and daisies in the assorted stems to reveal colorful bouquet creations. Not only is this fun for pretend play, it’s great for fine motor skills and made from recycled materials.
Learning Resources Pretend & Play Calculator Cash Register
Older children need to practice learning about money including bills and coins, adding and subtracting! Great for math skills.
Play-Doh Doctor Drill n’ Fill Set
Using this pretend play toy, you can be the dentist with the classic Play-Doh Doctor Drill ‘n Fill set. A great gift for all kids but especially when you’re helping kids become comfortable with going to the dentist!
Hape Toys Garden Salad
How many hours will your kids spend playing with this beautiful wooden set of a mixing bowl, salad prongs, two dressing, pepper, bell peppers, lettuce, and more!
Take-Along Tabletop Farm
Isn’t this a darling wooden playset? It includes a truck, tractor, 2 trailers with magnetic couplers, bridge, barn with silo, grain house, trees, animals, and hay bales. This open-ended toy encourages independent play and motor skill development.
Fresh Mart Grocery Store
Imagine the years of pretend play with this sturdy wooden grocery store that includes a hand-cranked conveyor belt, a bagging area, card swipe machine, a realistic beeping scanner, and cash drawer.
Step2 Play Kitchen + Accessories
Seriously, a play kitchen is one of the best presents that will get kids to play and imagine for hours! Make a restaurant, cook dinner, … a kitchen was one of my own kids’ favorite toys for years. Highly recommended.
The Original AirFort
Quickly and easily inflate this roomy 4″+ tall fort with a box fan! Then play inside for hours!
Melissa & Doug Pretend-to-Play Wallet
ages 3 – 6
Learn about money with this pretend play wallet with money, coins, slots, and more!
Manhattan Toy Forest Friends Huck Hedgehog
Measuring 8.5″ tall seated and 16″ head to toe, this plush hedgehog toy features a smooth, stretchy main body with a weighted bottom and embroidered facial features.
Hatchimals Pixies Crystal Flyers
Hatch a flying fairy! Launch her from the base or lift her into the air, then use your hands to guide her – she’ll sense if your hands are high or low!
Playmobil Mission Rocket with Launch Site
Would your kids love to play with this rocket? It includes two astronauts, a transport container, a space capsule, and lights and sounds!
Air Hogs Super Soft Stunt Shot
Kids love this remote-controlled stunt car that does spins, wheelies, rebounds off walls, and more!
BFF Bright Fairy Friends
Unbox to reveal a surprise doll! Press your fairy doll’s necklace to make her fairy wings light up with multi-colored fairy lights. Each BFF Fairy Doll comes in its very own fairy jar home with motion-activated twinkle fairy lights. Activate the night light switch to use your fairy home as a night light for kids.
Barbie Dream House
My kids played and played with their Barbie Dream Houses — so I feel nostalgic in recommending this new model. It has a a slide into a pool, a working elevator, lights, and sounds — plus more!
Barbie Extra Fancy
Glam gown and fancy accessories plus a cute teddy bear.
Hot Wheels Track Builder Vertical Launch Kit
The innovative vertical track easily sets against a wall with 3M Command Strips so kids can race their cars up the wall. easy to set up and includes all the pieces needed to create 2 thrilling stunts.
NERF Fortnite Dart Blaster
This Nerf MicroShots Fortnite RL blaster is inspired by the rocket launcher used in the popular Fortnite video game. It includes 2 Official Nerf Elite darts and fires 1 dart at a time with hand-powered action (no batteries required).
The pink plane seats a pilot and 2 passengers with lots of fun details like TV screens on the seat backs (and working overhead compartments), a snack cart, 2 trays, a puppy and more!
Hermione Granger Doll
Hermione jointed doll is dressed in her Hogwarts uniform with a Gryffindor robe and personalized wand that fans can use to help the young witch cast spells and charms. See all the new Mattel Harry Potter dolls.
LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall
Ok, I admit it. I WANT this pretend play and building toy, too! But probably not as much as your Harry Potter kids do! (Debatable.) Use the 878 pieces to build Hogwarts Great Hall featuring house banners, movable spiral staircase, potions room, treasure room, and magic items.