We hope you love our recommendations! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.
We all remember the days we spent as children playing dress-up, pretending to be doctors and creating fantasy worlds with our Barbies and other toys.
Whether they are a fireman, doctor or always copying mum, there is no doubt about it, children love role play. While their imagination does most of the hard work, finding the right role playing toy can help direct your child's creative energy into play that supports their development.
From fashion shows to doll houses to building and playing in Lego worlds, children have been engaging in role play forever. There are a huge number of toys that take pretend play to the next level, delivering all the imagination and creativity of regular role play with added components for cognitive and skill development.
The best toys will encourage children to let their imaginations run wild while having an educational element built in such as role playing that encourages social skill development or improves vocabulary.
The right toy will entertain your little one for hours and give them endless possibilities for creative pretend play. We're sure the perfect role play toy is on this list but if you're looking for more inspiration for great children's toys, check out our list of the best robot toys or the best travel toys.
Kidadl's Top Pick
While all of these toys for pretend play come highly recommended, if you're short on time, we've picked out the best option based on price, ease of use and educational value.
1.Leapfrog Count Along Till
Your child can stock up on colours, numbers and counting skills with this great play shop for children. This 20 piece kids' shop talks, sings and counts and has life like scanning sounds so your child will feel like they are really at a till. The toy till comes with numbered buttons and toy money that are used to teach early mathematical skills with the help of fun songs. The toy shop comes with eight food items that correspond with buttons on the touch screen to teach your child colours and vocabulary. Your child will have hours of fun with this toy supermarket till and you'll be satisfied knowing they are gaining cognitive and social benefits along the way.
- Price: £16.99
- Age: 2+
- 3 x AAA batteries required
Best For Budding Medical Professionals
2.Hersity Kids Medical Playset
This great toy lets your child experiment with being a medical professional with all the equipment for them to feel the part playing doctor, nurse and dentist. The kids' doctors set comes with 35 medical pieces including a blood pressure cuff, reflex hammer and much more. The toy also includes a medical professional dress up outfit so your little one can look and feel the part. Parents will love that this toy packs away into a super useful carry case. Your child will get comfortable with doctors, nurses and the dentist, getting them ready for visiting the real deal while they have loads of fun.
- Price: £19.99
- Age: 3+
Best Classic Role Play Toy
3.Hasbro Gaming Classic Operation Game
Role playing toys don't get much better than the classic family favourite, Operation by Hasbro. This toy will give the whole family hours of fun as they use this set to remove Cavity Sam's 12 funny ailments. Your child can also play doctor alone and develop their hand-eye coordination and dexterity along the way.
- Price: £120
- Age: 6+
- 2 x AA batteries required
Best For Pizza Lovers
4.Play-Doh Stamp 'N Top Pizza Oven
This great toy kitchen set runs on pure imagination and will have your child ready to open their own pizzeria. The kitchen comes with five Play-Doh colours that will meet all of your child's pretend cooking needs. You child will be able to make custom pizzas over and over again with a range of pizza tools from pepperoni moulds to a cheese grater to make the perfect pizza for everyone.
- Price: £19.99
- Age: 3+
Best For Introducing Chores
5.Little Henry Children's Toy Vacuum Cleaner
This toy vacuum cleaner comes highly rated and is a perfect toy cleaning set for the child who loves to help with cleaning up. Your child will be busy cleaning for hours and once all the hard work is done, the kids' hoover accessories can be neatly stored inside. We especially love this toy hoover for its life like vacuum cord fit with a reel in handle.
- Price: £20
- Age: 3+
- 4 x C batteries required (not included)
Best For Children Who Love Cooking
6.KidKraft 53402 Vintage Play Kitchen
You'll quickly have a chef on your hands with this bestselling kids' play kitchen from KidKraft. This kids' kitchen is fitted with a toy microwave, oven, fridge and plenty of storage space for all your child's play food sets. The working knobs on the oven will help develop your child's fine motor skills and the sink will have them washing up like a pro, ready to take one chores as they get older. This sturdy roleplay toy is built from BPA-free plastic and will be perfect for years of making toy food.
- Price: £208.48
- Age: 3+
Best For Dress Up
7.Melissa & Doug Fire Chief Dress Up Costume Set
Let your child's imagination run wild as they bring their dreams of being a firefighter to life in this great dress up costume from Melissa & Doug. The costume comes with all the firefighting essentials including a bright red jacket with reflective trim, a helmet and fire extinguisher and a bullhorn that makes sounds. Plus, this kids' role play toy includes a reusable name tag for your child to personalise. They'll really be feeling the part with this great dress up kit and they'll be learning about emergency services along the way.
- Price: £19.99
- Age: 3+
Best For Animal Lovers
8.Battat Dalmatian Vet Kit
Animal lovers will have a ball learning to look after their favourite fluffy friends with this super cute dalmatian vet kit. The kit includes a soft dalmatian and all the essential toys any budding vet needs such as heartbeat and blood pressure tools and needles for administering medicine. The kit's chunky pieces make it perfect for tiny hands to grasp easily and the kit neatly packs away into the carry crate, perfect for keeping your house mess free.
- Price: £31.99
- Age: 2+
Best For Pretend Tea Parties
9. LeapFrog Musical Rainbow Tea Party
This super cute rainbow tea party brings awesome educational features to the classic children's tea set. This set includes nine pieces that will teach your child sharing, shapes and manners. The toy kettle has nine learning songs and 80 sounds and phrases that will keep your child and their friends entertained during their pretend play tea parties. When your tea lover tips the teapot, they'll see the 'tea' move. As they enjoy tea and cake, your child will be learning about counting and when playing with friends, they can practise social skills like sharing food and patience.
- Price: £22
- Age: 1+
- 2 AA batteries included
Best For Budding Builders
10.JCB Workbench And Tool Case Playset
This JBC toy tool kit and workbench contains all the tools your budding builder needs to make all of their construction dreams come true. The kids' tool set includes a battery operated drill to have your construction enthusiast feeling like a bona fide builder during pretend play.
- Price: £20
- Age: 3+
- 2 x AA batteries required (not included)
Kidadl Best Buys selects the top parent-recommended products across the web for families of all ages. If you liked our suggestions for best role play toys for children then why not read our suggestions for the best microscopes and mud kitchens for children.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
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