Tips and Info

Choosing a Camera for Your Kid: Toy Cameras

If your kids are interested in exploring photography, they’re going to need something to take pictures with. It doesn’t have to be their own camera, necessarily. A phone or tablet works fine, or you might have an old or extra camera lying around somewhere. But if you really want to encourage your kids to learn more about photography, or if they really enjoy taking lots of pictures, it can be helpful to get them their own camera.

There are cameras designed and marketed specifically for kids, and they’re an obvious choice when you’re looking for a camera for your child. (Pictured above is the one my 3-year-old had for a while.) As with anything, there are pros and cons to this type of camera. 


Perfect for little hands

Kids’ cameras are designed specifically for little ones. They’re the right size to fit in small hands; they have large buttons, simple controls, and a digital screen instead of a tiny viewfinder; and they usually come in fun colors. They also tend to be less expensive than a true digital camera.

Instant prints

A lot of them have an “instant print” feature using thermal printing (no ink!) Load a roll of thermal paper (similar to receipt paper) into the camera, and the pictures your kids take will print right away. These prints aren’t exactly museum quality, and they do fade, but it is fun for kids to have little prints of their pictures. Plus, there’s no ink involved and the paper rolls are pretty inexpensive.


Some kids’ cameras also come with games. This could be a pro or a con, depending on your preference. Many of these cameras can double as handheld video games, and many of them also have “filters” or effects kids can have fun adding to their pictures.



These cameras are designed to be toys. They’re not going to produce high-quality images or prints, and many of the models you can find on Amazon are cheaply made. The first camera I got for my son only lasted about four months before it quit working (despite many good reviews.) It was great while it lasted—my son was able to use it independently and he liked the little pictures it printed—but now I feel like I wasted money on a cheap piece of plastic.

Better for younger kids

Since these cameras are basically toys, they can be great for young kids but will be less appealing to older children. Kids will quickly grow out of them, especially if they want to keep learning about photography as they get older.


It’s hard to find one of these cameras without the games. When I was shopping for a camera for my son, I wanted him to have a camera that was just for taking pictures. Games can be distracting and keep your child from using the camera for creativity, but it was almost impossible to find a small camera designed for young kids that didn’t include all sorts of extra features.

Cameras to Consider

Vtech KidiZoom

This one shows up on a lot of lists as one of the best cameras you can get for your kids. (There are a few different Vtech KidiZoom models.) I’ve seen this recommended by a few people I know, and I even considered it for my son. The Vtech brand makes a lot of popular toys for kids, and this camera seems to be decently well-made. All models come with games and fun filters, and the “PrintCam” model can print pictures as they’re taken.

Vtech KidiZoom Camera (popular, but doesn’t print)

Vtech KidiZoom PrintCam (instant black & white prints on thermal paper)

My First Camera

These cameras are a little on the expensive side, and I haven’t tried them myself, but I think they look like a great option. This company makes simplified tech items for kids. There are a few different camera models to choose from, depending on your budget and the features you want. The things I like about these cameras are that they’re small with simple buttons, and they’re designed to be cameras (not video games.) One of the models even has the instant print feature.

MyFirst Camera

MyFirst Camera (mini)

MyFirst Camera Insta (instant thermal prints)

Final Thoughts

Don’t buy a cheap, unbranded toy camera from a Chinese company on Amazon. I normally wouldn’t have, either, but it really looked like a decent option based on the specs and customer reviews. There are a lot of different versions out there similar to the one I bought. My recommendation is to steer clear of these, or buy at your own risk! After my son’s camera quit on us, I ended up buying him a used digital point-and-shoot camera instead of another kids’ camera.

My next post in this series will be all about point-and-shoot digital cameras, so stay tuned for more on that later!

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