Check out our big list of the best toys and gifts for 3 year olds, according to parents.
A whole new world of possibilities opens up when you're shopping for kids who have finally figured out (mostly) not to put everything into their mouths! This is a great year to upgrade your playroom or expand your picture book collection.
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Tim Ponisciak: These magnet tiles are endless fun for kids. Kids can try to make what they see pictured on the box, or they can let their imaginations run wild and build anything they can dream! This set comes with a lot of pieces so it is a good toy that can be shared by multiple kids.
Learning Resources Doctor Set
Erin P.: This is a great pretend play toy with lots of fun pieces that may be familiar to your little one from visits to his or her doctor's office! It is so fun to see what they remember and imitate when you return home. This toy has the added benefit of possibly relieving some of the stress and fear that may surround visits to the doctor!
Faber-Castell Gel Crayons
Amy S.: Are my kids the only ones who hate using regular crayons? At least in the hands of my 3- and 5-year-old boys, basic crayons seem difficult and unsatisfying to use. They’re always breaking and it’s tricky for younger kids to lay down vivid color. These gel crayons, however, are super fun to draw with. The colors are rich and vivid, and with a just a light touch they go down smooth and thick. The neon colors have a beautiful translucent quality. The chunkier body of these crayons makes them fairly easy for little hands to manipulate. Yes, they’re more expensive than a 24-pack of Crayolas, but they’re also way more exciting to use.
Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks
This block set is equipped with built in magnets which means they won't fall down as easily and are perfect for little curious hands. The blocks allow for pattern recognition, problem-solving, and imaginative play as your little one grows.
Erin P.: You may have had these growing up, but they withstand the test of time. Lincoln Logs are the perfect building toys for 3 year olds, and older siblings will enjoy playing too! With technology nowadays you can go online and find more designs to challenge your child to build.
Crocodile Creek Playground Ball
Kelly R.: This ball is high quality, adorable, and the perfect size for little hands and feet to practice throwing and kicking.
LEGO Duplo Playground Set
Vanessa M.: When we go to our local library, my almost 3-year-old makes a beeline for the table that has this playset. LEGO Duplo is the perfect building toy for young preschoolers! The large blocks are easy for tiny hands to put together, and the little people are great for sparking imaginary play. I know what will be under the Christmas tree for my little guy this year....
Erynn: These sticky blocks make for hours of open-ended play in our house, and first attracted the attention of our then-three-year-old who is now seven and still takes these out from time to time. For our current three-year-old, these blocks have created everything from a car to a castle to a robot, making them a seriously fun toy that never loses its appeal.
Spin N Sort Spout Bath Toy
Age 9+ months
Vanessa M.: Cool new bath toys make great gifts for 3 year olds! Stackable cups, an automated spout, and spinning suction cup gears allow kids to create different water effects for endless bathtime fun.
Teach 'n Tag Movi
Brigitte Nohra Miller: Fisher-Price Teach 'n Tag Movi is an ideal companion to get your kids moving and learning. With three different modes of play and six different stimulating games, this cool little robot introduces your kids to high-tech toys they will love and learn from.
Magnetic Drawing Board
Erin P.: We have gotten so much use out of our magnetic drawing board. The kids can write or draw on it and then use the knob to wipe the screen clean. It is a great car toy, and has also been a perfect toy for our son to use while waiting during our daughter's gymnastics class. Since it's quiet and travels well, we generally keep ours in the car nowadays for times such as these. (Personal confession: I used it quite often to doodle possible names when we were expecting our third baby!)
Kids Tool Box
Kelly R.: My kids both loved having a little tool set at age 3, and still played with it years later. Whenever my husband or I would fix something around the house, my son would grab the toolbox and come running to help.
Erin P.: Our son received this easel for his third birthday, and it has been a huge hit in our house. One side has a chalkboard and the other side has a white board. Our son's favorite feature is the paper-roll holder for painting large pictures.
Green Toys Helicopter
Jennie Utsinger: We love everything made by Green Toys, but the helicopter is one of my son's favorites! Made from 100% recycled plastic milk jugs, it withstands crashes and is a great size for flying around. It's also dishwasher safe, so easy to clean.
LeapFrog Fridge Phonics
Erin P.: Our son was a little young for this toy when he first received it as a gift, but I think that three is the perfect age for little ones to enjoy and start to learn their ABCs with this magnetic letter set. It's great that it's magnetic so it can provide some entertainment for your toddler while in the kitchen.
Lisa R: If you don't mind a little screen time and your child is already obsessed with your smart phone or tablet, then they'd probably love a subscription to ABCmouse. A favorite educational website with age appropriate learning games and activities to keep kids entertained while secretly giving them a jump start on preschool.
Erin P.: This is such a great toy for building fine motor skills and visual thinking skills. It includes 50 design cards and many brightly-colored magnetic blocks. Children look at a design card and use the magnets to construct the design that they see. Our son is so proud when he completes a challenge! All of the pieces and cards can be stored in the sturdy wood carrying case, so this is a great toy for playing at home or on the go.
Hape Alphabet Puzzle
Kelly R.: This high quality puzzle is fun for teaching letter recognition and working on dexterity. The unique chunky design of the pieces makes them great for toddler hands, and allows them to stand up on their own for endless arranging and simple word spelling. The puzzle is crafted with child safe paint and wood sourced from sustainable forests.
Boogie Board Tablet
Erynn: If your little one loves to draw, you can take their art anywhere with a Boogie Board. These LCD-screen tablets let kids color then erase with a click. They're ultra portable and mess-free, ideal for those times when you need to distract your toddler when eating out or riding in the car!
Kelly R.: This creative hands-on book is a great quiet time activity for young kids. It is filled with interactive components (zippers, buttons, buckles, etc) for fine motor and sensory play. The entire book zips closed to safely contain all of the pieces, making it a perfect toy for car or plane rides!
Kelly R.: Squigz are silicone building toys that use suction cups to stick to each other, to the windows, to a table, to your forehead...you get the idea. They make excellent mold-free bath toys because they don't take on water, and also work great for entertaining kids on airplanes or road trips.
Crate&kids Toddler Sleeping Bag
Erin P.: Although many 3 year olds are not quite ready for sleepovers, sleeping bags can be great fun for playing at home! Think: forts, tents and pretend trips!
Sarah Calamita: If you have a 1-5 year old, this is the best gift! Pair with some fun fake food (Melissa and Doug has great produce, boxed goods, pizza pie, ice cream scoops and cupcakes). Hours of entertainment!
Hape Wooden Tool Bench Toy
Alexandra F.: We got this tool bench for my 2-year-old because he and his 4-year-old brother love playing with their toy tool sets so much, and it has been THE biggest hit. It will honestly keep them (and their older siblings and cousins!) entertained for so much longer than most toys, and the set is really well made and super easy to put together.
Sand and Water Table
Brittany Kozielski: Water tables are great gifts for 3 year olds that encourage active outdoor play. This combo sand and water table will give your kids a fun outdoor activity all summer long! My nine year old still enjoys playing with the same table she got when she was three. The little umbrella will help to protect them from those very sunny days.
Uncle Goose Blocks
Brigitte Nohra Miller: This dinosaur cube set is perfect for all little dinosaur fans. The cubes feature different dinosaurs and each side displays different information such as name, foot print, skull form, period of existence and geographic area. This set is a great example of the power of learning through play! These eco-friendly cubes made from sustainable basswood are hand crafted and printed using non-toxic and child-safe inks.
My Very Own Name Personalized Book
Molly Weber: This book is all about the reader. Each page is a letter of their name, first and last, and is spelled out using animals whose names start with the same letter. Not only does it help them begin to learn how to spell their name, it helps to make them feel special and unique. I received this as a gift for my daughter and love the story behind it and the customized aspect.
Melissa & Doug Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles in a Box
Bubby and Bean: Great for fine motor skill and brain development, these wooden puzzle sets feature four separate, 12-piece jigsaw puzzles that are stored in a wood box (makes for easy clean up!) Each puzzle piece is shape-coded on the back which allows for easy sorting.
Strider No-Pedal Balance Bike
Age 18 months to 3
Alexandra F.: We got this for our toddler when he was about 18 months old, but he has gotten much more into it since he turned 3. I love that it is both sturdy and lightweight, as it makes it easy for him to maneuver and has helped him get comfortable with being on a two wheeler. I am hoping this will help him learn to ride a bike more easily than his big brother and sister, who never had the benefit of a balance bike!
Silky Soft Swords & Shields
Alex Fung: My two youngest boys are only a couple of years apart, and starting when each of them was about 3 years old, all they ever want to do is "battle". Of course, they are happy to use any objects they find on hand for their battles, but these foam swords are my preferred choice. They are really soft and silky, and unlike some of their other impromptu choices, no one gets hurt when they use them to battle!
Melissa & Doug Wooden Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter
Alexandra F.: I cannot overemphasize just how much my 3- and 5-year-olds love this toy. They played with it pretty much the entire day they got it, and the day after that, and the day after that, and have kept playing with it every day since! It is just so much fun for them to "scoop" and prepare ice cream treats for our entire family all. day. long. They love food toys and pretend play generally, but this has been, by far, their most used pretend play toy.
Alexandra F.: If you’ve got a truck lover in the family, consider investing in some high-quality Bruder trucks. They are super detailed and very well-made, and interactive features like doors and hoods that open, beds that tilt, etc make them extra fun toys for 3 year olds. My truck-loving toddler has a LOT of trucks, but these are hands down his favorites, and the only ones that haven’t broken from regular use. They are pricey, but I’ve found good deals at discount stores like T.J. Maxx, and they are a worthy group gift, too.
PAW Patrol Upholstered Chair
Tim Ponisciak: Get your Paw Patrol loving kids a chair that they can sit in while watching their favorite show! This chair is the perfect size for a three year old, and will make them feel big and important! It is comfortable and has all of your favorite pups (except the often overlooked Tracker)!
Dinosaur Race Car Track
Kristy Pepping: My nephew is big into dinosaurs so after doing some research, I found this great toy. It is basically a race track that comes in sections. What I liked about it is it can be put together in several different ways making various track options. So kids can be creative about which design they choose and don't always have to use the same track design. It also comes with two cars.
Electronic Dance Playmat
Kristy Pepping: I got this as a gift for my twin nephews for a birthday and it has been a great gift! The dance mat can easily be rolled up and stored away. It comes with five fun songs that are activated when the child stands on one of the animal photos. It requires three AA batteries.
Primary photo: Ryan Wallace on Unsplash
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