Mother and Baby

12 of the best games for under five-year-olds

Best games for under five-year-olds

Toys and games are finally back out fulltime at home with schools and nurseries open to all children again, yay! Options for weekend entertainment are still very limited though, so now would be a great time to freshen up the toy shelf with some fun new games.

Related: The best board games for kids

What games are best?

With a huge reliance on screen-time for home learning, getting back to basics with a family game or two away from screens is a welcome change. The golden oldies are often still the best, so we have picked some classics with a twist for you and also some that don’t take too long to complete.

How can my toddler join in?

Games that cover more than one age group are fantastic for siblings to join in the fun, but are quite hard to come by as they are often too tricky for tots. We have done the hard work for you though and found some lovely multi-age options to keep your children entertained together. You might even be able to sit down with a cuppa!

Why are games good for my child?

Fun games that sneak a bit of learning in without the child noticing are fantastic for their development. Plus, they'll make you feel like you deserve a huge pat on the back for good parenting. Anything involving letters or numbers are a great way to get youngers ready for school, but games that get them using their fingers to strengthen them ready for gripping a pencil are also beneficial. 

If you are looking for some simple games to play with a younger baby, have a look here for some brilliant games to boost their development.

Best toys for kids under 5-years-old

A gold award winner at the 2021 Mother&Baby Awards, this fantastic lotto game is great fun for all the family. Simple enough for a toddler to join in, older siblings will also enjoy this easy matching game. The cards are relatively robust for rough handling and the box is a compact size for easy storage on the shelf.

It was tested by mum, Phillipa, who said, “My little one is entertained for a good length of time playing with this game and she matches the cards to the boards independently if there is nobody available to play with.”

For children aged three and over, Ravensburger’s twist on the classic board game ‘snakes and ladders’ will be a massive hit. We love that one side is a simpler version of the game for younger ones with colours instead of numbers. For older ones, the game helps build number recognition confidence. For up to four people to play at once, the counters are Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig, George Pig and of course, Peppa Pig.

Sorry if Baby Shark is stuck in your head on a loop now, but sometimes we have to give in to the crowd-pleasers! This fun fishing game by Cardinal helps to build finger strength and improve hand-eye coordination. For up to four players over the age of four, the aim of the game is to catch your coloured fish first. We thought we better warn you though that it also spins and plays the wonderful song: doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo!

We love the simplicity of Kipod’s puppet game. All you need is a torch or a lamp, a wall and the six clever bracelet puppets for lots of giggles. It is recommended for three years and above, but younger ones can join in by watching and guessing the animals. Better still, it is easy to pack for a camping trip, though your neighbours might wonder what on earth you are up to with all the laughter.

We love the authentic-looking bingo spinner on this fun game. Suitable for ages three and over, you can make it more difficult for older ones with numbers and stick with colours and shapes for the younger ones. Match the numbers to your game card to win. We have been practising our best bingo caller voices, a cup of tea…three!

Another simple option for lots of giggling fun. The winner avoids the crocodile’s chomp when they press a tooth down. For ages four and over, it’s so funny to watch your child’s surprised little face when it snaps. It’s also a great game to learn how to take turns before moving onto something more complex.

Dobble is the ideal card game for a mixture of ages. Recommended for three years and over, this number version will have your little one recognising numbers in no time. The cards fit into a circular tin that is small enough to pop in your bag to whip out if your children get restless in a restaurant waiting for their food. How excited are you that this might actually be an issue again soon? If your children enjoy card-based games, there are lots more options here.

The same concept as Pop up Pirate, but instead you have to put flags into a castle and the loser makes the dragon pop out of the wall. Aimed at children aged three and over, up to four people can play at the same time with different coloured flags. The dragon’s happy face is so cute as it shoots out of the turret.

The squirrel squeezers are incredibly adorable and have the bonus of building up finger strength! The aim of the game is to steal or lose an acorn while filling your tree stump with the correct colours. Aimed at children aged three and over, the whole family will enjoy this fun game.

This beautiful wooden skittle set could be played in the garden or set up in the kitchen on the hard floor. Adding a competition element can encourage older ones to write and keep a score sheet too! Each skittle has a different, loveable ‘Hey Duggee’ character on it ready for the wooden ball to knock them down. Aimed at children aged three and over, the whole family will have hours of fun playing this classic game.

A game that involves headgear is always a winner with little children and let’s face it, their parents too! The idea is to take it in turns and guess what or who, is on your headband. Competing against the clock, the winner is the player that gets rid of all their chips first. We love that it helps to expand kids vocabulary without them even noticing. Suitable for ages three and over, we love that toddlers can join in too, and would recommend that they be on a team to begin with. 

If the idea of facing another indoor game is sending you crazy, why not set up the ultimate sports day outside? This kit includes beanbags to balance on your head, sacks for a sack race, eggs and spoons for the egg and spoon race and rope for a three-legged race. Four people can join in the fun and it can be adapted easily to include tiny tots. We love that you can get in some sneaky training in ready for the parent race at school!


Ailsa is freelance writer and mum to three children under the age of seven. Having recently graduated with an MA in Journalism from the University of Lincoln, she loves to blog in her spare time under the name of The Lincolnshire Mummy and drink far too much tea!

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