• Gifts for babies and kids

The 33 Best Gifts for 3-Year-Olds

The Learning Resources Smart Snacks Shape-Sorting Cupcakes shown against a pink background.

When kids reach the age of 3, the gift-giving game changes. Many children in this age group are likely to know what they want. Lots of them will have more interests, opinions, and language to express their excitement than they had in the past. But that doesn’t negate the thrill of a good surprise. “Often the idea of receiving a gift is what’s exciting for them, not necessarily what the gift is,” said Heather Singh, director of educational programs at the Thinkery , a children’s museum in Austin, Texas, at the time of our interview.

Three-year-olds are ready for toys that foster lots of imaginative play, Singh said. So open-ended playthings that inspire storytelling and creative engagement are better than one-trick ponies. Toys and costumes that allow for role-playing and board games that encourage group interaction will nurture 3-year-olds’ developing social skills. And many kids at this age are ready for speedier, sleeker movement toys—like scooters and trikes—that reward their growing physical confidence.

We’ve included toy suggestions from Singh and other educators. And members of our staff added the kind of memory-making gifts that have gone over best with the 3-year-olds in their lives. If you’re looking for more gift ideas for kids, check out our guides to the best gifts for 1-year-olds , 2-year-olds , 4-year-olds , 5-year-olds , 6-year-olds , 7-year-olds , 8-year-olds , 9-year-olds , and 10-year-olds , as well as wonderful stocking stuffers for kids . (We also have guides to gifts for tweens and teens .) Since kids vary widely in their personalities, interests, and development, we advise that you take these age recommendations with a grain of salt. And please share your own best ideas in the comments below.

Cooperative counting games

The Count Your Chickens! Board GameCount Your Chickens! Board GameCount Your Chickens! Board Game, showing the board set up for play.

Count Your Chickens Board Game

In this beginner board game, all of the baby chicks need to be returned to the coop.

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Cooperative board games—where players work toward a common goal, instead of competing against one another—are ideal for 3-year-olds who are learning to follow directions, take turns, and work as a group. The Count Your Chickens Board Game  is a hit with preschoolers and parents at Toybrary Austin , our local toy-lending library in Texas. In this game, players team up to bring a mother hen’s chicks back to the coop. It’s simple and, just as importantly, fast (perfect for a 3-year-old’s attention span). Once you’ve all mastered the art of chicken reunions, check out The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game , another great cooperative board game for beginners. (We offer more ideas in our guide to the best board games for kids .)

—Caitlin Giddings

Dotty art supplies

presents 3 year olds

Do-A-Dot Art Rainbow Dot Markers

These oversize markers create a fun trail of big, vibrant dots.

It’s hard to go wrong with a gift of novel art supplies. My son got a set of Do-A-Dot Art Rainbow Dot Markers when he was 3 (and just embarking on a now-years-long obsession with rainbows). The sticks are easy for little hands to grip, and the colors are vibrant enough to look bright both on cardboard boxes and on regular paper. I like that they have the special feel of paints but with less mess and effort. You may want to pair them with a ream of paper or some add-on art supplies, like scissors and a glue stick.

—Kalee Thompson

A-to-Z sports

presents 3 year olds

B Is for Baller: The Ultimate Basketball Alphabet

This hoops-themed alphabet book features an all-star NBA lineup.

I’m not sure which my son learned first—what the alphabet is or who the NBA greats are. B Is for Baller: The Ultimate Basketball Alphabet is an ode to pro basketball. Each letter of the alphabet presents an opportunity to explore the mythology of a current or former NBA star. For example, “T is for Three” depicts the Golden State Warriors’ sharp-shooter Steph Curry firing a three-pointer from one side of the Golden Gate Bridge to the other. Since this book came out, in 2018, two more have been added to the series. G Is for Golazo: The Ultimate Soccer Alphabet features athletes from the pitch, including Brazil’s Marta Vieira da Silva. S Is for Slugger: The Ultimate Baseball Alphabet highlights Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, among other baseball figures; in this book, “P” stands for “Pioneer” because Johnson was the first woman to pitch in the Negro Leagues .

—Lara Rabinovitch

A sturdy puzzle

A half-complete Melissa & Doug Safari puzzle.

Melissa & Doug 100-Piece Safari Floor Puzzle

The jumbo-size pieces of this floor puzzle easily fit together to create a 4-foot long safari scene.

As a preschooler, my son loved the challenge—and reward—of a good puzzle, and the Melissa & Doug 100-Piece Safari Floor Puzzle was one of his favorites. The large, durable pieces were easy for him to manipulate on his own (and hard to lose), and the result was a grand masterpiece that stretched across the floor. My son loves wild animals, so this particular theme—with giraffes, an elephant, and a rhinoceros in the savanna—appealed to him. If a 100-piece puzzle feels too intimidating, start with one of Melissa & Doug’s 48-piece floor puzzles, instead ( dinosaurs and the solar system are two options).

Guessing game

The Petit Collage What Am I? Game.

Petit Collage What Am I? Game

In this fun take on the game 20 Questions, each player wears paper glasses holding a mystery card. Then players take turns guessing the objects on their cards.

The concept of Petit Collage’s What Am I? Game is simple: Each player dons a pair of paper glasses and takes a turn tucking a card into the slotted nose bridge, making sure they don’t look at the illustration on the card. The bespectacled person then asks a series of questions to help them guess what’s on their card—there are 50 options in all, ranging from an ice cream cone to a sailboat to a turtle. My pre-reader daughter, who got the game as a gift for her third birthday, was able to play it right out of the box. And back then, we didn’t worry ourselves over leading questions or a little peeking. (Petit Collage recommends this game for kids ages 4 to 8. But younger children can enjoy a looser version, sans timer and maybe with a few extra hints.) Now my daughter is 5, and we still play. When I’ve given this game to a few of her peers, it’s gotten rave reviews. The quality of the game itself is also high, with thoughtful touches like a sturdy wooden timer and glasses sized for adults and children. There’s just something about seeing one another in floppy paper spectacles that brings connection and fun to even our punkiest moments.

—Hannah Morrill

Clever cupcakes

presents 3 year olds

Learning Resources Smart Snacks Shape Sorting Cupcakes

These cupcakes aren’t just pretend treats—they also come apart and double as a shape-matching puzzle.

Toys that pull double duty are my favorite for my two kids, and these Smart Snacks Shape Sorting Cupcakes deliver learning and fun in equal measure. Each confection pulls apart to reveal a different shape, with the tops matching the bottoms and the bottoms matching corresponding divots in the pan. My younger son enjoys the challenge of sorting shapes and identifying colors; my preschooler works these pastries into pretend baking games, picnic scenarios, imaginative shopping trips, and more. The set is nearly indestructible, and I find myself retrieving it during room cleanup every night—a surefire sign that it’s in the rotation for good.

—Ingrid Skjong

A musical book

presents 3 year olds

Welcome to Jazz: A Swing-Along Celebration of America’s Music

This interactive book introduces young readers to jazz music, including the sounds of such instruments as the tuba, drums, and clarinet.

I can do without children’s books that blare sounds, but I make an exception for Welcome to Jazz: A Swing-Along Celebration of America’s Music , by Carolyn Sloan. Although I initially thought my 2-year-old might be a tad young for a jazz primer, he took to this book immediately—from the vivid illustrations featuring a trio of cats learning the genesis of jazz to the 12 buttons that, when pressed, play the different musical parts of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” (A 3-year-old might be in an even better position to enjoy it.) My son loves hearing the deep double bass, the jangly rhythm section, the free-spirited scatting—and he’s learning the names of jazz legends like Billie Holiday and King Oliver. This is a musical introduction we can all get behind.

Superior sand

A bag of Relevant Play Mad Mattr, with pink, blue, and green clay in front of it.

Mad Mattr Modeling Dough

This soft dough can be molded, kneaded, and stretched. And it doesn’t dry out if it’s left out of its container.

Someone gave us a pack of Mad Mattr Modeling Dough , which has several advantages over Play-Doh for both kids and caretakers. It’s moldable like a dough and compresses into hard shapes, but it stretches out into a kind of soft sand. It’s not sticky, it doesn’t stain or get everywhere, and it doesn’t dry out, though it’s also less ductile than Play-Doh.

— Nathan Edwards

Sticky adventures

The sticker sheets and illustration pads that are included in the Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad: Jungle & Savanna.

Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad: Jungle and Savanna

These reusable stickers—depicting animals including a kangaroo and a rhinoceros—can be placed in scenic habitats like the Australian Outback.

When my toddler began showing an interest in stickers, I was delighted. What’s not to like about an activity that’s nostalgic, cheap, and doesn’t hog floor space? But when she began surreptitiously applying the stickers to random surfaces throughout our home—you can still see traces on our butcher block—I was less thrilled. Our solution: Melissa & Doug’s jungle-and-savanna-themed Reusable Sticker Pad . The oversize, 11-by-14-inch pad comes with 175 durable, cling-style reusable stickers that can be arranged and rearranged on five glossy scenic backdrops, as well as on your fridge, windows, or dishwasher—consequence-free. The stickers come in varying sizes, and my daughter usually needs a little help freeing them from their tightly arranged contact sheets (older kids may not have this problem). If animals aren’t your jam, Melissa & Doug makes these pads in lots of other themes, too, like this Make-a-Meal version.

— Ingela Ratledge Amundson

presents 3 year olds

Petit Collage Ocean Life Floor Puzzle

In this colorful, 18-by-24-inch floor puzzle, 24 sturdy pieces click together easily. This one is great for beginners.

It may seem as if most puzzles are created equal, but some of them stand out from the rest. Petit Collage’s Ocean Life Puzzle has 24 thicker-than-normal pieces that are easy for small fingers to grasp; the pieces also provide a bit of tactile feedback ( click !) when pressed into place. Then, when it’s destruction time, they separate cleanly, without sticking together. Perhaps best of all, every Petit Collage puzzle comes in a vibrant and sturdy box complete with a rope handle for carrying (other 24-piece designs include a world map and wild rainforest ). Crocodile Creek makes similar high-quality puzzles in stackable boxes that won’t rip or flatten; they were the hottest picks (and the first to disappear) during our neighborhood puzzle swaps.

A robo-bug brigade

A photo of the Hexbug Nano Nitro 5 Pack.

Hexbug Nano Nitro 5 Pack

These delightfully creepy robotic bugs scamper around on their own, but they require button cell batteries.

These thumb-sized, multi-legged robots are equal parts endearing and frenetic. Propelled by the sheer force of their (amusing) vibrations, they skitter around corners, scale small obstacles, and right themselves. They move surprisingly quickly. So if—like us—you live somewhere with actual big bugs that race across your floor (hello from Texas!), you might want to warn your family before you let a Hexbug loose. Once they’re in play, they’re a blast. For cats, the challenge is to chase them around. (Just use caution around pets who aren’t discriminating about what they swallow.) For kids, the fun is in creating obstacle courses and elaborate containment chambers out of anything you can find, like train tracks, shoes, and boxes. (Adults get to just sit back and watch the cats and kids entertain each other.) The only downside is that each critter in this Hexbug Nano Nitro 5 Pack requires an AG13/LR44 button cell battery . The first one is included, but it will need to be replaced fairly quickly if your household enjoys robot bugs as much as mine does.

A groovy board game

presents 3 year olds

Pete the Cat The Missing Cupcakes Game

Featuring characters from the popular Pete the Cat series, this game challenges players to sing, act, or perform so they can collect cupcakes for Pete’s birthday party.

If your child is a fan of this cool cat , then there might be some added excitement when you break out the Pete the Cat The Missing Cupcakes Game . But you don’t have to be familiar with the groovy feline and his friends (featured in this book and more) to understand or enjoy this cooperative board game. The object: Players try to collect 14 plastic cupcakes for Pete’s birthday party by working together on preschool-level challenges. Depending on where they land on the board, they may have to sing, perform an activity, or act out a word, à la charades. But if anybody lands on the dreaded Grumpy Toad space, a cupcake must be removed from the board. Eventually, all of the cupcakes are accounted for, everyone “wins” (there’s no way to lose), and the game ends with the whole group singing “Happy Birthday” to Pete. In our experience, the challenges are varied enough to keep the players engaged—when prompted, my son especially loves belting out his favorite songs. And the game tests memory skills (since you can’t repeat another player’s choices) and helps young kids associate images with words (reading is not required). More importantly, it encourages silliness.

— Barbara Kimberly Seigel

Alphabet in disguise

presents 3 year olds

Lakeshore Learning Alpha-Bots

These 2-inch letters can transform into individual robots.

Letters that are robots in disguise? Meet Alpha-Bots , a set of educational transformers from Lakeshore Learning. With these 26 colorful plastic letters, kids can twist, turn, flip, and lift the moveable parts to create robots, and then maneuver them back into their letter forms. Some robots may at first take more trial and error to manipulate, but that can ultimately help a kid develop spatial and fine motor skills—and it simply adds to the fun. Each robot can be looked at as a tiny individual puzzle, though collectively the robots might inspire creative play, too. My little one got a kick out of making the robots look like they were holding hands.

Pattern play

A child playing with Buggzle, a bug-themed puzzle toy.

Fat Brain Toys Bugzzle

This puzzle challenges young minds to fit colorful pieces inside a bug-shaped frame, following a series of increasingly difficult patterns.

Bugzzle is essentially a tangram (a puzzle made up of geometric pieces that can be arranged in different shapes) for toddlers. An early STEM toy that provides a soft, visual introduction to fractions, Bugzzle includes one sturdy bug frame, 18 semicircular plastic puzzle pieces, and 40 cards with increasingly difficult patterns to re-create inside the bug. Many 3-year-olds can become adept at remaking the patterns using the problem-solving skills and spatial reasoning that Bugzzle is designed to foster. For a more-traditional format, the Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards Classic Toy encourages the same critical-thinking skills as Bugzzle, using colorful wooden shapes.

Fun by the yard

presents 3 year olds

Little Tikes Gas ’N Go Mower

This toy lawn mower makes an entertaining popping sound when it’s pushed.

When my then-2-year-old son got his Little Tikes Gas ’N Go Mower —long before we had a yard of our own—I don’t think he knew about actual lawnmowers, but that’s beside the point. He loved to run through the corridors of our home, pushing it and delighting in its pop-pop-popping sound. Later, his younger sister, then 3, inherited the lawnmower, and the mysterious appeal of this toy proved to be enduring. I still don’t fully understand why kids feel compelled to mimic mowing a lawn—a task many adults actively avoid. But I love this piece of plastic because there are no batteries, assembly requires no tools, and it has provided years of imaginative play for my kids. We now live in a house that has a real lawn, and my daughter will spend hours on end “grooming” it.

— Lara Rabinovitch

A tower of buggy blocks

presents 3 year olds

Lakeshore Learning Don’t Let the Bugs Fall! Game

In this stacking game, players take turns removing bug-eyed blocks until the tower comes crashing down.

At age 3, my daughter loved every part of the Don’t Let the Bugs Fall! Game (a Jenga-style stacking game for kids): the die-rolling and calling out of the color rolled, the cautious removal of each block, and the dramatic collapse that signals triumph or defeat. She even loved to exhaustively rebuild the tower setup, which is objectively the worst part of actual Jenga. Admittedly, it can be difficult to play according to the exact instructions—you’re supposed to dislodge each bug-faced block one-handed, which is no easy feat. But after you develop some loose and forgiving house rules, the game is fun, fast-paced, and engaging for all ages.

Magnetic letters

presents 3 year olds

Magnatab A to Z Uppercase

This magnetic writing board encourages kids to trace the letters of the alphabet, with a stylus that pulls and clicks tiny beaded magnets into place.

At age 3, some kids begin showing interest in gripping a pencil and trying to form letters or numbers. The Magnatab A to Z Uppercase magnetic writing board is an early handwriting tool that’s fun, tactile, and even semi-addictive. Kids use the thick magnetic stylus to trace letters, pulling the tiny metal beads into place. The beads are encased, so they can’t fall out or get lost. Directional arrows help budding writers visualize where to start and end each letter. There is also a Magnatab for practicing numbers and shapes . For free-form magnetic drawing and writing, try this simple slate . (And you can purchase a replacement stylus , if yours goes missing.)

Iron chef junior

A Melissa & Doug Stainless Steel Pots & Pans Play Set

Melissa & Doug Let’s Play House! Stainless Steel Pots & Pans Play Set

This sturdy set of kitchenware provides the necessary tools to prepare a make-believe culinary feast.

My kids use this eight-piece play cooking set to make chicken soup with chocolate, grape spaghetti, and countless other pretend concoctions. Melissa & Doug Let’s Play House! Stainless Steel Pots & Pans Play Set works well as a standalone gift. But it’s also a useful addition to a toy kitchen, like the IKEA Duktig Play Kitchen (featured in our guide to the best gifts for 2-year-olds ). This play cooking set includes a colander, two wooden utensils, and its own vertical storage rack; since the pots and pans are made of stainless steel, they’ve lasted through my kids’ vigorous culinary sessions. (They’re even dishwasher-safe, but you can’t use them for actual cooking.) My son and daughter especially love that this cookware comes with a lid—once their pretend bibimbap or boeuf bourguignon is ready, they can surprise diners by removing it with a dramatic flourish.

A little big top

The IKEA Cirkustält, shown set up in living room.

IKEA Cirkustält

This circus-themed play tent creates a cozy space for kids to imagine, play, or snuggle.

IKEA’s colorful polyester Cirkustält offers long-lasting fun for a low price. The littlest kids may enjoy playing hide-and-seek inside or peekaboo from behind the curtains. Three-year-olds might like loading it up with mounds of stuffed animals, using it as a private place to play or rest, or turning the tent into a rocket ship. I can attest to this tent’s durability: We had one that lasted for at least five years, and there were many catastrophic rocket crashes during that time. IKEA’s Dvärgmås Play Tunnel , which we recommend in our guide to the best gifts for 2-year-olds , pairs nicely with the circus tent and was another hit with my kids.

Costume kits

A child wearing the Melissa & Doug Fire Chief Role-Play Costume Set.

Melissa & Doug Fire Chief Role Play Costume Set

Melissa & Doug’s costume sets offer an outfit and accessories for kids to fully embody their role as firefighter, construction worker, or doctor.

presents 3 year olds

Kids Costumes Superhero Capes Set

When they don these satin capes and matching masks, kids can easily transform into superheros and save the day.

My child’s peer group absolutely loves dramatic play and dress-up. One minute they’re doctors, the next minute they’re firefighters, and at some point they all splinter off into different versions of Spider-Man on a group mission to destroy the house. The costume sets from Melissa & Doug—like this Fire Chief Role Play Costume Set —don’t include caped-superhero options. But they do let kids take on lots of heroic, real-world career roles , like veterinarian or pediatric nurse. Each costume comes with accessories—hard hat, hammer, and saw for the construction worker; fedora, sunglasses, and decoder lens for the spy—that help set the scene for freewheeling imaginative play. If your kid is, in fact, particularly obsessed with playing a superhero, they may also love the five-piece Kids Superhero Capes Set , with Velcro closures and matching felt masks. And if they’re more inclined toward imitating royalty, consider these sumptuous velour ones .

A creativity station

presents 3 year olds

Melissa & Doug Double-Sided Tabletop Easel

This compact easel doubles as a chalkboard and a magnetic dry-erase board, and it can be folded up for easy storage.

Melissa & Doug’s Deluxe Double-Sided Tabletop Easel gives toddlers dozens of creative options for when they’re seated at the table or on the floor. On one side, there’s a chalkboard; flip the whole thing over and you’ll find a magnetic dry-erase board. The sturdy set includes a 50-foot roll of paper for painting and drawing, five sticks of colored chalk, a dry-erase marker and felt eraser, and 36 letter and number magnets that can be stored in the wooden base tray. It all packs down easily, so you can stow it anywhere or take it on a trip. (My toddler loves to sit outside on the ground with it and paint.) If you’re looking for a full-size easel, we like the KidKraft Storage Easel or the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel , both of which we recommend in our guide to the best gifts for 4-year-olds .

Plush puppets

presents 3 year olds

Folkmanis Snowy Owl Hand Puppet

Folkmanis puppets, including this snowy owl, are soft and well made, and they inspire endless storytelling and imaginative play.

May be out of stock

Puppets can be a great outlet for preschoolers to explore storytelling. When they were younger, my kids had a dedicated puppet basket, as well as this puppet theater . Yet I found that the individual puppets got way more use than the theater itself—my kids were more interested in private, imaginative play than in performing for an audience. Folkmanis makes a range of plush animal puppets: We were given a tiny praying mantis and a scaly three-headed dragon. But I think the Snowy Owl Hand Puppet was the most special one in our bin. It’s extra-soft and structured, with a head you can rotate using a plastic knob inside. After my older son got dive-bombed by a nesting owl—for real, and he was fine—we were able to embark on some extra-dramatic play with this thing.

Instructive instruments

presents 3 year olds

Eastar Kids Accordion

This kid-size accordion includes enough working buttons to play tunes like “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Liza Wilson, owner of the Toybrary Austin lending library in Texas, said that playing musical instruments—or even just playing with them—will help preschoolers explore sensory input in a way that’s creative and self-directed. The resulting sounds may be chaotic, but 3-year-olds can learn much more from real instruments than from simply pushing buttons or tapping screens to play pre-recorded songs. For 3-year-olds, small pianos and drums might be good choices. But Wilson said Toybrary’s Eastar Kids Accordion gets the most play. Kids love pulling on the bellows and pushing the vocal keys and buttons for harmony and bass. It’s a toy that can grow with a child as they progress from making creative sounds to learning actual songs—and, heck, even adults can have some fun fiddling with it.

We scream for ice cream

presents 3 year olds

Melissa & Doug Scoop & Stack Ice Cream Cone Playset

Built-in magnets make it easy to scoop and serve these pretend ice cream cones.

According to the International Dairy Foods Association , the average American devours 20 pounds of ice cream a year. Love for the stuff starts early, as illustrated by Melissa & Doug’s Scoop & Stack Ice Cream Cone Playset . Kids can spoon and serve with two magnetized scoopers, which have a satisfyingly realistic feel when you are doling out one of the four scoops of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and mint chocolate chip) to top off the two wooden cones. The flavors may be well edited, but the playful possibilities are nearly endless.

Bath-time builders

A child plays with the Lakeshore Learning water blocks.

Lakeshore Learning Design & Build Water Blocks

This bath-time set comes with 30 foam blocks of multiple shapes, sizes, and colors. And they easily stick together in water to create a floating city.

Move over, rubber ducky. These sturdy foam Design & Build Water Blocks cling together and float in water, so kids can build imaginative cityscapes in the tub, pool, or water table. The 30-piece set comes with a 7½-inch-square floating platform that provides a stable base for play. (Also included: a drawstring bag for storage between uses.) My 3½-year-old loves to create a town out of the blocks, position her favorite plastic figurines atop the foam towers, and then introduce a storm surge to the bathtub to see who and what can survive her relentless tsunami. She’ll stay in there constructing and reconstructing this scenario until the water grows cold—not too shabby for a kid who claims to hate bathing.

Creepy-crawly competition

A photo of the Peaceable Kingdom Snug as a Bug in a Rug! board game.

Snug as a Bug in a Rug!

Players practice counting and identifying shapes and colors as they work together to help all the bugs hide from three stink bugs.

This cooperative board game was my kiddo’s favorite at 3½, since it paired her two most beloved elements of play—matching and talking about stinky things. The object of the game is always the same: Help an assortment of bright, friendly faced bugs get tucked safely beneath the rug (the game board) before they’re encroached upon by three invading stink bugs. Snug as a Bug in a Rug! has three levels of play to choose from, with escalating degrees of difficulty (we usually played the middle version), so it can grow with the player. The whole game takes only about 15 minutes to complete, unless (as we did) you feel compelled to lovingly tuck each bug in with gentle words of reassurance about how safe and protected they’ll now be under the rug. We also liked to feign outsize horror in response to the stink bugs’ hideousness and odor ... which takes some of the sting out of the fact that we lost to them so often.

A doll for all

presents 3 year olds

Miniland Dolls

These award-winning dolls come in several skin and hair colors, as well as with inclusive features, such as a hearing aid.

For preschoolers, dolls can be an important tool for early social and emotional learning. The right doll can also help children build self-esteem and empathy by mirroring identity differences back to them in a positive light. Miniland (an award-winning toy and doll maker based in Spain, and a favorite among preschool educators) has made inclusivity a priority, and its dolls are a pick in our guide to the best dolls . The collection includes infant and toddler dolls with a range of skin colors and features, including dolls with glasses , with a hearing aid , and an award-winning doll with facial features common in children with Down syndrome . My preschooler loves this Miniland doll , which has Asian features; with a bob and blunt bangs, the doll even resembles her.

The anatomically correct dolls come dressed in simple one- or two-piece white cotton undies. To add to their wardrobe, you can choose from accessories including shoes, sweaters and overalls.

Pedal bike perfection

presents 3 year olds

Woom 2 Pedal Bike 14"

This lightweight pedal bike is proportioned just right for new, young bike riders.

After mastering the art of gliding on a Woom 1 balance bike (the upgrade pick in our guide to the best balance bikes , and a recommendation in our gift guide for 1-year-olds ), my 3½-year-old leveled up to this model—a real bike with pedals! It was the perfect entryway. Like all of the Austin, Texas–based company’s bikes, the Woom 2 Pedal Bike is thoughtfully designed for the needs of the youngest riders. This bike has a low standover height and weighs just over 12 pounds, so a small human can easily mount and operate it. The BMX -style riser handlebar puts kids in a comfortable upright position, so they can look around while cruising the neighborhood streets. Two hand brakes are suitably sized for little fingers. When my daughter was first getting started on the Woom 2, we removed the pedals and let her continue to push off with her feet and glide on the bike until she got used to steering and braking. Then we raised the quick-release adjustable saddle an inch or so and added the pedals. She soon had the basics down. It’s cool to see what kids can do when they have a bike that’s designed for them.

Note: In July 2023, Woom bikes announced a recall following 77 incidents of handlebar stems malfunctioning, causing cuts, bruising, and abrasions. New Woom bikes, and those made after 2021, are not affected. Do not use an older bike until you’ve checked to see whether it was part of the recall. If so, it can be repaired with a free kit provided by Woom.

Tools for toddlers

presents 3 year olds

Black+Decker Junior Power Tool Workshop

This kid-size workbench introduces children to the joy of power tools, including a hand saw.

Play kitchens are all the rage due to their encouragement of imaginative play and social-development skills. (See our guide to the best gifts for 2-year-olds for our favorite one.) But play workbenches deserve the same amount of love. A friend has the Black+Decker Junior Power Tool Workshop , and my daughter can’t get enough of it. She collects all of the small accessories, such as nuts, screws, and bolts, and loads them into the toolbox. But the coolest part is the attention to detail on the power tools: In addition to a working vise, the workshop comes with a miter saw and a drill, which function realistically and emit battery-powered sounds. The entire thing has more than 50 parts, including a flashlight, a phone, and everything else a kid needs to fall in love with home repair.

A modern dollhouse

presents 3 year olds

Hape All Seasons Kids Wooden Dollhouse

This modern-looking, multilevel dollhouse has six rooms and plenty of space for imaginary play.

Hape’s three-story All Seasons Kids Wooden Dollhouse is bright, gender-neutral, and open on all sides. My daughter loved that she could reach into any room from almost any spot to adjust the furniture and play with the wooden people (sold separately). I liked the extra furniture sets and accessories we could buy (including these pets ). This was a staple toy during her toddler and preschool years—until we got a puppy, who eventually devoured everything in the dollhouse, including the two families who lived there. (Note: The price of this dollhouse can jump as high as $200; you may want to look on Facebook Marketplace or in a local online parents’ group to see whether anyone in your area is selling a lightly used, pre-owned dollhouse.)

—Jackie Reeve

The swiftest scooter

A child shown riding a Micro Mini Deluxe children's scooter, while wearing a helmet.

Micro Kickboard Micro Mini Deluxe

This introductory scooter provides a stable, smooth ride, and it has an adjustable-height handlebar so it can grow with a child.

When she was 3, my second daughter received Micro Kickboard’s Micro Mini Deluxe  for Hanukkah. It’s Wirecutter’s pick for the best scooter for kids under 5 . And any doubts I had about giving such a pricey scooter to a preschooler were blown away once I saw how my daughter handled this one, compared with the cheaper models she’d borrowed from friends at the park. Other scooters were wobbly, clanky, difficult to steer, and laborious to propel. On this scooter, my daughter could zip and glide around with ease, deftly navigating turns by shifting her weight, and using the foot brake on the back wheel to slow down and stop. It comfortably fits kids up to age 5, so multiple kids can use it. (Tip: Extending the scooter’s handlebar to full height makes it convenient for an adult towing a tuckered-out kid home.) When the time does come to graduate to the next size up, we recommend the Micro Maxi Deluxe , as described in this ode .

—Courtney Schley

A classic red trike

A Schwinn Roadster 12-inch Trike, shown outside.

Schwinn Roadster Tricycle

This low-to-the-ground tricycle has air-filled tires that make it fast and fun to ride.

The Schwinn Roadster Tricycle , Wirecutter’s recommendation for the best low-rider tricycle , is built for confident pedalers who are ready to tear up some ground. Unlike other trikes’ plastic or foam tires, the Roadster Tricycle’s tires are air-filled, like a bicycle’s, making this a grippier and faster ride. The heftier build and low center of gravity (a riff on the classic Big Wheel ) give this tricycle the stability needed to handle faster, tighter turns, so it’s a thrilling ride for a 3-year-old. And with its shiny metal body, tassels on the handlebars, a bell, and a wooden deck in back (where a friend can hitch a ride), the Roadster Tricycle cannot be beaten for style.

—Kate Gammon

Adoptable animals

The Wild Republic Squirrel Monkey, a plush toy shown against a white background.

World Wildlife Fund Symbolic Species Adoptions

Through a donation to the World Wildlife Fund, you can “adopt” one of 135 animals, from an orangutan to a hippopotamus. The adoption kit includes a soft, plush stuffed animal.

Like many kids, my second daughter developed a full-blown fascination with animals at around age 3. In her case, it was monkeys, monkeys, and more monkeys. After amassing a sizable collection of monkey stuffed animals, a monkey necklace, and other monkey swag, she informed me that she was ready for a real, live one. Instead, with a $60 sponsorship, we “adopted” a squirrel monkey named Chestnut at our local zoo in Philadelphia . We printed and framed the accompanying adoption certificate, which states that my daughter is now Chestnut’s “zoo parent.” And we paired it with a stuffed squirrel monkey from Wild Republic , which offers dozens of stuffed creatures in both small and extra-large sizes. (It also has these beautiful birds , which make authentic bird calls and were produced in partnership with the National Audubon Society.) If you don’t have a similar program at your local zoo, the World Wildlife Fund’s Symbolic Species Adoptions kit provides adoptions for more than a hundred species. So it’s likely you’ll find whatever animal your kid adores, whether it’s a three-toed sloth or a pangolin . Each adoption comes with a stuffed animal, an adoption certificate, a photo, an information card about the species, and a reusable WWF tote bag.

We love finding gifts that are unusual, thoughtful, and well vetted. See even more gift ideas we recommend .

Additional reporting by Julie Kim. This article was edited by Ellen Lee and Kalee Thompson.

Meet your guides

presents 3 year olds

Caitlin Giddings

Caitlin Giddings is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Her work has appeared in Bicycling, Runner’s World, Lonely Planet, Outside magazine, and more.

Wirecutter Staff

Mentioned above

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  • For some children, a doll will be the most treasured toy they own. We tested 25 dolls to help you find one that feels just right for the kid in your life. The Best Dolls  
  • We subjected 13 balance bikes to a cadre of 2- to 8-year-olds and found that the adjustable Strider 12 Sport is the best balance bike for most kids. The Best Balance Bike  
  • We’ve compared 16 kids scooters over the past five years, and we are confident that the popular Micro Maxi Deluxe is a worthwhile investment in longtime fun. The Best Kids Scooters  
  • The Micro Maxi Deluxe provides a smoother, faster, and more satisfying ride than any other kids scooter. The Micro Maxi Deluxe Scooter is More Than a Toy. It’s Smooth, Efficient Transportation for Kids.  
  • After a dozen kids test-rode 12 tricycles, we’re sure the The Joovy TriCyCoo 4.1 is the best for most. The Best Tricycles  

Further reading

An illustration with the words: the most popular gifts for kids

The 100 Most Popular Wirecutter-Approved Gifts for Kids

by Wirecutter Staff

Here are the most-purchased Wirecutter-recommended gifts for kids so far this year.

Magna-tiles shown assembled in various structures against a blue background.

The 30 Best Gifts for 4-Year-Olds

by Kelly Glass, Caitlin Giddings, and Wirecutter Staff

Toys that encourage building, puzzling, role-playing, and creating will engage curious 4-year-olds.

The Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Small Rainbow, shown with its various nesting pieces.

The 28 Best Gifts for 1-Year-Olds

by Caitlin Giddings and Wirecutter Staff

Some of the best gifts for 1-year-olds are those that engage kids’ rapidly developing motor skills, sensory exploration, and boundless curiosity.

A Loog Mini Acoustic Guitar, shown on a blue paper background.

The 31 Best Gifts for 5-Year-Olds

Gifts that tap into art, science, sports, or construction are often great choices for 5-year-olds, since many of them are developing personal interests.

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51 toys and books that your 3-year-old won't be able to put down

presents 3 year olds

The best gifts for 3-year-olds provide plenty of opportunities to explore as toddlers grow and develop into more imaginative play.

Finally out of the " terrible twos ," many are entering school for the first time and interacting with friends. They’re becoming increasingly verbal and able to answer questions and follow directions. (Or not: There’s a reason people call them “threenagers.”)

What should I look for in a gift for 3-year-olds?

“Three-year-olds are getting to be more social and have ideas of their own,” said Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of “How Toddlers Thrive.” According to Klein, “ Open-ended toys such as blocks and building toys allow them to explore, discover and carry out their ideas."

They are deep in the “I’ll do it myself” phase, so they enjoy things that help them master the fine motor skills that might help them dress themselves, said Marie Conti, head of The Wetherill School in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, and a board member of the American Montessori Society.

From unique gifts for 3-year-olds to educational toys , we found tons of options for your little one. To quickly jump to the category you're looking for, click on the links below or keep scrolling to see all 51.

Bestselling gifts | Best toys | Educational toys | Arts and crafts and music toys | Pretend play toys | Stuffed animals, dolls and figures | Cars, trains and vehicles | Play sets | Books | Meet the experts

Bestselling gifts for 3-year-olds

Melissa & doug let’s explore light & sound camping lantern play set.

Melissa & Doug Let's Explore Light & Sound Camping Lantern Play Set

Melissa & Doug Let’s Explore Light & Sound Camping Lantern Play Set

This toy was designed to inspire hours of screen-free fun. They can change the color of the light in the lantern. Plus, it plays soothing noises like bird chirps, campfire sounds, ocean waves and more to help them feel like they're on a real adventure.

Kid Made Modern My First Arts and Crafts Library

Kid Made Modern My First Arts and Crafts Library

My First Arts and Crafts Library

Small craft pieces like felt, pipe cleaners and googly eyes encourage creativity and fine motor skills as kids create mini masterpieces.

Mudpuppy Puzzle Sticks

Mudpuppy Transportation Puzzle Sticks

Transportation Puzzle Sticks

This unusual puzzle lets 3-year-olds arrange sticks to form a picture, a different kind of problem solving than the usual notch-and-groove puzzle.

Kinetic Sand Sandcastle Set

Kinetic Sand Sandcastle Set

Sandcastle Set

“The sandbox is one of the most popular activities on our playground, for all ages,” Conti said. This magic sand is a perfect indoor version. It's sensory play at its best.

Kid O A to Z Magnatab

Kid O A to Z Magnatab

A to Z Magnatab

With a magnetic stylus, reinforcing the ABCs and their handwriting becomes an easy task. It's perfect for the young learner who is still practicing their penmanship.

Best toys for 3-year-olds

Candylab police car.

Candylab Toys - Candycar World Collection - Premium Handcrafted Wooden Car Toy - Police Car

Collection Police Car

The mod, wooden cars made by Candylab, like this handcrafted, wooden police car, are eye-catching and just right for little hands to scoot around. You can pair this with the wooden ambulance from the same Candycar collection for the perfect gift set for your little one to play pretend.

Bluey’s Bus + Mates

Bluey Bus + Mates, 2.5-3 inch Figures | Amazon Exclusive

Bluey Bus + Mates

Everyone’s favorite Australian dog and his friends get a kid-friendly bus for transport around Brisbane (or your floor). The Amazon Exclusive set includes all the six characters the bus can seat: Bluey, Bingo, Lila, Coco, Winton and Calypso. All figures can be posed to your tyke's heart's content, so they can make Bluey's imaginary world as realistic as possible.

Hape Mini Band Set

Hape Mini Band Instrument Set | Five Piece Wooden Instrument Music Set for Kids , Red

Mini Band 5-Piece Instrument Set

This set of instruments has everything your child needs to start a band — minus the drum set (aren’t you glad?). Your little musician's kit will include a tunable ukulele (available in two colors), a tambourine, a clapper, a rattle and a rainmaker. And not only will this set inspire your 3-year-old's inner musician, but, as the brand claims, it can help develop their auditory sense and ear-hand coordination.

Best educational toys for 3-year-olds

Educational insights design & drill patterns & shapes.

Design & Drill Patterns & Shapes

Design & Drill Patterns & Shapes

They'll develop fine motor skills alongside shape and pattern recognition with this toy drill board. Each set comes with five reversible board cards that they can follow, or they can use their imagination to get creative.

Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards

Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards

Pattern Blocks and Boards

The options are endless when it comes to the patterns and designs your child could make with these vibrant geometric blocks, but they can also build the patterns that are already included with the set. Their problem-solving skills and natural curiosity will also be tested by shapes like hexagons, trapezoids, rhombuses and more.

Magna-Tiles Downhill Duo

MAGNA-TILES Downhill Duo

Downhill Duo

Landing on The Toy Insider's STEM 10 list this year, budding speedsters can design their own magnetic race track using the kit's translucent pieces, all while exploring development logic skills.

Best building blocks and toys for 3-year-olds

Melissa & doug 100-piece wood blocks set.

Melissa & Doug 100-Piece Wood Blocks Set

100-Piece Wood Blocks Set

With 100 pieces, this wooden block building set is meant for fun and play. They'll get to use the colorful blocks and shapes to build their own architectural creations.

Tegu Robo Magnetic Wooden Block Set

Tegu Robo Magnetic Wooden Block Set

Magnetic Wooden Block Set

Conti is a big fan of wooden magnetic blocks like these for easy manipulation with less frustration. This block set consists of 14 differently shaped pieces made of sustainable (and gorgeous) hardwood, which have playful graphics painted on them with water-based, nontoxic lacquer.

Learning Resources Building Toy Gear Set

Learning Resources Building Toy Gear Set

Building Toy Gear Set

Encourage early STEM development and fine motor skills with this interactive gear set that really works. According to the brand, this set will help them start learning about sorting, grouping, counting — and even putting physics into play with the spinning gears!

Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 32-Piece Set

Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 32 Piece Set

Clear Colors 32-Piece Set

These magnetic tiles allow kids to create their own masterpieces and will captivate them for years to come. “Kids will play with those for hours,” Conti said.

Best arts and crafts and music toys for 3-year-olds

Play-doh fun factory deluxe set.

Fun Factory Deluxe Set

Fun Factory Deluxe Set

Little ones are unleashing their inner artist at this age, and this set lets them explore through touch and feel.

Loog Mini Acoustic Guitar

Loog Mini 3 String Acoustic Guitar

Mini 3 String Acoustic Guitar

Prepare for hours of music play with this mini guitar that's just right for little fingers. “Musical toys can form a big part of a 3-year-old’s day,” said educational toy expert Lauren Leisk.

KiwiCo Marble Run and Art Easel

Marble run + art easel.

The marble run behind this kid-friendly easel will let children create different paths for cascading marbles, while the easel can be used as a chalkboard or a white board, with built-in paint cups and a tray for art supplies. With this easel, the brand aims to help your child explore both engineering and art!

Best pretend play toys for 3-year-olds

3 bees & me dinosaur toy set.

3 Bees & Me Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls with Storage Box - 12 Large 6 Inch Reallistic Toy Dinosaurs & Case - Dino Gift for Kids Age 3-5 5-7 8-12

Dinosaur Toy Set

If they're into dinosaurs, they'll love this set that will help them play out all of the Jurassic-style scenarios living in their heads. This set includes 12 realistic dinosaurs of all kinds, as well as their names and fun facts about each, to keep your little archeologist immersed for hours.

Sarah's Silks Enchanted Playsilk

Sarah's Silks Enchanted Playsilk

Enchanted Playsilk

These real silk play scarves can be capes, wings, the roof of a fortress...it's the ultimate in open-ended play.

Melissa & Doug Sushi Slicing Set

Melissa & Doug Sushi Slicing Wooden Play Food Set

Sushi Slicing Wooden Play Food Set

If Japanese fare is more your child chef's speed, they can now “cut” sushi and then pick them up using (helpfully velcroed) chopsticks, thanks to this sushi "slicing" set.

Cadson Miniature Dyson Ball

Casdon Dyson Ball | Miniature Dyson Ball Replica For Children Aged 3+ | Features Working Suction To Add Excitement To Playtime

Miniature Dyson Ball Replica

Get them loving chores while they're still young. With a working suction and twisting and turning capabilities, this mini Dyson vacuum replica works just like Mom's and Dad's!

Great Pretenders Dragon Toddler Cape

Dragon Toddler Cape

Dragon Toddler Cape

This fun dragon costume is easy to put on and take off for 3-year-olds who want a quick change — or are quick to change their fancy. Don't let the scales or "armor" fool you; this reversible cape is made with a smooth, snuggle velvet, and there's a foolproof, kid-friendly Velcro closure at the neck.

Skip Hop Zoo Bark-Ista Coffee Set

Zoo Bark-Ista Coffee Set

Zoo Bark-Ista Coffee Set

Why should tea sets get all the fun? Baby can make their first "cappuccino" with this coffee set. With its 20 play pieces that include a "fill and drop" filter, as well as signal lights and realistic coffeeshop sounds, your tyke will have fun playing barista while potentially developing their fine motor skills. The drawer below opens to reveal doughnuts and other treats.

Melissa & Doug Super Smile Dentist Kit

Melissa & Doug Super Smile Dentist Kit With Pretend Play Set of Teeth and Dental Accessories-25 Pieces  Pretend Dentist Play Set Kit for Kids Ages 3+

Super Smile Dentist Kit

Kids may hate going to the dentist, but they won't mind playing dentist! Landing on Walmart's Top Toys list this year, the Melissa & Doug pretend play set comes with plenty of accessories to teach them about good oral hygiene.

Kiko+ Kaleidoscope Wooden Camera

Kiko+ Kaleidoscope Wooden Camera

Wooden Camera

This chic wooden camera features a kaleidoscope lens to delight 3-year-olds as they mimic their paparazzi parents. It's also available with a yellow lens.

Melissa & Doug Let's Play House Set

Melissa & Doug Let's Play House Dust! Sweep! Mop! 6 Piece Pretend Play Set - Toddler Toy Cleaning Set, Pretend Home Cleaning Play Set, Kids Broom And Mop Set For Ages 3+

Let's Play House Set

Whether your three-year-old wants to run the house or help you around the house, this cleaning tools set is the perfect set. With a broom, mop, duster, dustpan and hand brush, the set has all the tools to keep an (imaginative!) house clean and your toddler running around.

Best stuffed animals, dolls and figures for 3-year-olds

Paw patrol: the mighty movie 12-inch premium plush.

PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie, Skye 12-inch Tall Premium Plush Toy for Kids 3+

Skye 12-inch Tall Premium Plush Toy

Flying to store shelves just in time for the new "Paw Patrol" movie is set to hit theaters, this plushy Skye is ready for her next rescue adventure in her bright pink uniform with plenty of embroidered details.

Gund Magic Draw and Glow Panda

GUND Magic Draw and Glow Panda, Glow-in-The-Dark Activity Plush, Panda Stuffed Animal Toy with LED Pen, 11\"

Glow-in-The-Dark Activity Plush Panda with LED Pen

Make bedtime just a little more exciting by letting little ones draw in glow-in-the-dark ink. In the daytime, this whimsical bear has soft white and yellow fur with shimmering purple details. Your tyke can choose to cuddle or, using the included LED pen, draw all manner of fantastical shapes right on the bear. This activates the fur's glow effect, which, in the dark, illuminates your child's drawings. (Not to worry: They fade away after two minutes, the brand says.)

Mini Squishable Comfort Avocado

Squishable / Mini Comfort Food Avocado Plush 7"

Mini Comfort Food Avocado Plush 7"

Is the avocado your tyke's latest obsession? Take a gander at this one, which will never brown. This avocado is part of Squishable’s “comfort food” line, an unusual addition to the usual stuffed animal menagerie. It's also the smaller version of the full-size Comfort Food Avocado Squishable, which means that, at 7 inches, it's the perfect size for 3-year-olds to cuddle and play with. "This is an A+++ squish," said one reviewer.

Jellycat Medium Beckett Fox

Jellycat Beckett Fox Stuffed Animal, Medium

Jellycat Beckett Fox Stuffed Animal, Medium

This smooshable fox is ready to comfort and play with your preschooler. (In fact, these are made suitable for newborns and up.) You can choose between a 10-inch small or a 12-inch medium fox, whichever your tyke prefers for maximum cuddles.

Manhattan Toy Playdate Friends

Playdate Friends

Playdate Friends

These dolls are huggable, machine-washable and dryer-safe, and each comes with its own pet for extra fun. Harper, the little playdate friend featured here, not only includes a white built-in onesie and adorable bow, but she also sports a cute removable dress and shoes!

Slumberkins Alpaca Snuggler

Slumberkins Alpaca Kin Snuggler

Alpaca Snuggler

As they start school, toddlers may become more interested in cozy friends who give comfort. These therapist-designed snugglers come with a story to help with stress management. According to Slumberkins, "Alpaca teaches children to articulate their feelings, manage their anxiety and share their worries with others."

Best cars, trains and vehicles for 3-year-olds

Green toys car carrier.

Green Toys Car Carrier Set

Car Carrier Set

This car carrier helps with fine motor skills and imaginative play.

iPlay iLearn Fire Truck Play Set

iPlay, iLearn Kids Fire Trucks Toy, Boys Firefighter Play Vehicles, Fire Station Set, Ladder Truck, Toddlers Emergency Rescue Firetruck, Fireman Toys, Birthday Gifts for Age 3 4 5 Year Old Children

Fire Truck Play Set

The trunk that holds these fire trucks opens up and turns into a building ripe for rescue. Different types of trucks will please the most truck-obsessed preschooler.

John Deere Big Farm Tractor

TOMY John Deere Big Farm Tractor With Lights & Sounds (1:16 Scale), Green

Big Farm Tractor With Lights & Sounds

This tractor might not help much on the farm, but it will do just about anything a child could want, with lights and sounds for extra appeal.

Hape Super Cityscape Transport Bucket

Hape Super Cityscape Transport Bucket Set | Wooden Toy Train Set with City Scenes, Plane, Battery-Powered Engine, for Children 3+ Years

Super Cityscape Transport Bucket Train Set

Is your 3-year-old enamored with all forms of transportation? It’s trains, planes and automobiles all in one in this 80-piece set, which also features construction trucks and toys, a fire station and more. We also like that the two-piece storage bucket turns into part of the landscape. Plus, all the pieces can go back in the bucket when you’re done.

Best bath toys for 3-year-olds

Munchkin fishin' bath toy.

Munchkin Fishin' Bath Toy

Fishin' Bath Toy

The magnetic fishing rod can "catch" the set's three magnetic bobbing characters for endless "catch and release" fun.

Crayola Scribble Scrubbies Bath Set

Crayola Scribble Peculiar Pets Rainbow Tub Set

Scribble Peculiar Pets Rainbow Tub Set

For a more artsy bath experience, your 3-year-old can color in these little pets, then wash them off and start all over again.

Spin 'N' Sprinkle Water Lab Bath Toy

Yookidoo Spin 'N' Sprinkle Water Lab Bath Toy

Spin 'N' Sprinkle Lab Bath Toy

Every three-year-old has a little scientist in them. Allow them to channel their scientific urges with this water lab bath toy that creates double-chain reactions and effects.

CoComelon Splish Splash JJ Doll

CoComelon Splish Splash JJ Doll

Splish Splash JJ Doll

If your little one is obsessed with the hit show "CoComelon," they'll love having this JJ doll as their new bathtime companion. He comes with an inflatable floatie, swim trunks and a shark bath squirter, so he's ready for a dip in the tub!

Best play sets for 3-year-olds

Colorforms restickable play set.

Colorforms The Original Classic Set

The Original Classic Set

“They can fit easily in your tote bag the same way an iPad could,” Conti said of this restickable set. The play set includes 350 vivid reusable pieces, a design guide and a play board. Your 3-year-old will have a blast finding endless combinations, sticking the pieces to the board, any glossy surface or each other!

Bluey Hammerbarn Shopping Playset

Bluey Hammerbarn Shopping Playset, 4 Level, 22" Tall Playset with Working Lift and Trolley Return, Including Lights and 45+ Sounds

Hammerbarn Shopping Playset

"Bluey is everyone's favorite show, from preschoolers to grade schoolers to parents," The Toy Insider's editor-in-chief Marissa Silva says about this popular TV show about the titular Australian Blue Heeler and their equally beloved family. This four-story Hammerbarn shopping center allows the characters (and kids) to explore the environment and curb their curiosity.

Lego Build Me Emotions Set

LEGO Build Me "Emotions" Set

Build Me "Emotions" Set

This Lego set is said to help kids identify emotions and practice collaboration for social emotional development , something many parents are concerned about at this stage in their children's lives. How? The bricks not only come in a variety of colors and shapes, but each also has its own facial expression. The set also comes with a teaching activity card that guides parents, as well as eight double-sided character templates.

Haba Little Friends Townhouse Villa

Haba Little Friends Townhouse Villa

Townhouse Villa

A dollhouse gives toddlers room for creative play, as well as a space to work through issues around separation as they head to school. This one has an open design that lets kids play on all sides, so there’s no elbowing for a spot.

Best books for 3-year-olds

“the sun is late and so is the farmer,” by philip c. stead and erin e. stead.

The Sun Is Late and So Is The Farmer

The Sun Is Late and So Is The Farmer

As farm animals wait for the sun to rise, it seems to take a little too long. So they set off on a journey to the edge of the world to summon the sunrise. If your little one loves animals great and small, they'll love this tale, which, according to Publisher's Weekly, "appreciates creatures’ gentle ways and offers a quiet reminder about perceptions’ ability to mislead."

“The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster,” by Mo Willems

The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster!

The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster!

The pigeon first tried to ride the bus nearly 20 years ago. Now he’s ready for a roller coaster and can barely stand the excitement.

“Go Back to Sleep,” by Zoe Foster Blake and Mike Jacobsen

Go Back to Sleep

Go Back to Sleep

Finn’s parents just won’t stay in bed at night, so he’ll have to enforce their bedtime routine in this funny role reversal.

“Counting to Bananas,” by Carrie Tillotson and Estrela Lourenço

Counting to Bananas: A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book

Counting to Bananas: A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book

Banana is waiting for his turn in this (mostly) rhyming fruit-counting book that keeps counting animals instead. This fun counting book will make little ones giggle.

“Sylvie,” by Jean Reidy and Lucy Ruth Cummins

Sylvie by Jean Reidy

Sylvie the spider watches over the tenants where she lives beneath a fire escape. Not since “Charlotte’s Web” has a spider been such a kind friend.

“Brown Is Warm, Black Is Bright,” by Sarah L. Thomson and Keith Mallett

Brown Is Warm, Black Is Bright

Brown Is Warm, Black Is Bright

Brown is the color of leaves and black a dark puddle in this lyrical exploration of positive associations of black and brown.

Meet the experts

  • Marie Conti is Director of Regional Community Relations for American Montessori Society. She was the former head of The Wetherill School in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. Conti is based in Greater Philadelphia.
  • Tovah P. Klein , Ph.D. , is Director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development in New York, as well as the author of “ How Toddlers Thrive ." She focuses on young children's social and emotional development, as well as parents' experiences raising them. Klein is also an adjunct associate professor and teaches a year-long course on toddler development.

​​Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s other gift guides to find the perfect present for every kid on your list including babies , 1-year-olds , 2-year-olds , 4-year-olds , 5-year-olds , 6-year-olds , 7-year-olds , 8-year-olds , 9-year-olds and 10-year-olds .

We've been independently researching and testing products for over 120 years. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process.

The 35 Best Toys and Gifts for 3-Year-Olds, According to Experts

Everything they need for pretend play, for playtime with others and for outdoor activity.

gifts for 3 year olds

"Around age 3, children start showing more interest in playing with others, instead of just playing next to each other," says Jacque Bogdanov, PsyD, child psychologist and founder of ChildBehaviorClinic.com . "It’s a great time to introduce easy games that encourage cooperation and turn taking, like simple board games or matching and memory games. Their imagination is also growing, so they tend to enjoy toys that encourage pretend and dramatic play like play food and kitchens, dolls, and so on."

Don't forget those preschool energy levels, either! "Three-year-olds have a high need for physical activity and movement too," Dr. Bogdanov says. "Give them something to pedal or jump on that encourages gross motor development like bikes, trikes and scooters ."

With all this in mind, these are the best toys and gifts for 3-year-olds in 2023. Recommendations come from the Good Housekeeping Institute, which tests toys to ensure their safety and durability. Real 3-year-olds give their input, too, to make sure the toys are something they'll actually use and want. Some are even current or former Good Housekeeping Institute Best Toy Award winners. When all the testing was done, these were the faves.

Our Top Picks for the Best Toys and Gifts for 3-Year-Olds in 2023

  • Land of Dough Hand-Crafted Modeling Dough , $15 at amazon.com
  • Sneak! A Slide-and See Nature Book , $20 at amazon.com
  • Crayola Spill Proof Paint Set , $25 at amazon.com
  • LeapFrog Rainbow Learning Lights Mixer , $30 at kohls.com
  • Step2 Waterfall Discovery Wall , $60 at amazon.com
  • Yoto Mini + Starter Pack Bundle , $80 at amazon.com

Role-playing items that get their imaginations going, art sets that help them with their creativity and play sets featuring their favorite characters were clear favorites this year.

Looking for more recommendations for toys and gifts for 3-year-olds? Check out more of our gifts for kids :

The Best Toys and Gifts for 3-Year-Old Boys | The Best Toys and Gifts for 3-Year-Old Girls

Crayola Spill Proof Paint Set

Spill Proof Paint Set

Good Housekeeping testers were amazed at the way these semi-solid paints didn't drip or spill (though they did notice that if kids got the paint on their hands, they could make smudges that way). This set makes tapping into their creative sides even easier with eight paint colors, three brushes and activity sheets to paint on. Ages 3+

LeapFrog Interactive Learning Easel

Interactive Learning Easel

There are so many different ways to use this easel: There's a chalkboard on one side, a whiteboard on the other and the top even has clips to hold up paper for drawing with crayons or markers. But what kid testers really love the most was the interactive element, which offers guided drawing activities that kids can follow along with. There's also traceable magnets that help them practice letters and shapes. Ages 3+

Yoto Mini + Starter Pack Bundle

Yoto Mini + Starter Pack Bundle

This audio player is designed for preschoolers to be able to use by themselves; they just have to put a card in to start a story, song or podcast, and take it out when they want it to stop. Good Housekeeping testers appreciated its long battery life and small size, which makes it easy for kids to tote around themselves. The starter bundle comes with seven audio cards, but then you can explore cards with Disney themes , bedtime music , nonfiction tales from history — or even make your own from downloaded mp3s. Ages 3+

RELATED: The Good Housekeeping Parenting Awards

Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar Twist

Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar Twist

This toy will introduce preschoolers to the basics of coding without them even really realizing it! Each of the caterpillar's segments has a dial on it that kids can use to give it an instruction (turn left, go forward, etc.), then they can watch it follow the sequence they've programmed into it. Ages 3+

LeapFrog Rainbow Learning Lights Mixer

Rainbow Learning Lights Mixer

Kids really got into the pretend play with this one. “My son loved pulling apart the pretend butter and eggs and adding stuff to the bowl,” one parent tester said. But in addition to pretend baking, kids can use this to follow a recipe card, listen to instructions, press the buttons to make the paddle spin, practice counting (pressing the buttons from one to five) or practice colors (the mixer lights up in different ones). Ages 2+

RELATED: The Good Housekeeping Best Toy Awards

Mini Deluxe Scooter

Mini Deluxe Scooter

This scooter was designed with preschoolers in mind: It has three wheels to help keep them balanced, and the handlebars are height adjustable to keep up with them as they grow to age 5. Plus, it comes in half a dozen colors, so you can choose their favorites. Ages 2+

RELATED: The Best Scooters for Kids to Get Them Rolling


This book won over Good Housekeeping Institute testers with a clever gimmick: Each page has a poem about a different animal, then kids have to use a "slide and see" feature to reveal which creature it is. Testers also loved the unusual animal selections: This book introduced us to sea dragons and owl butterflies,” one reviewer said.

RELATED: The Good Housekeeping Best Kids' Book Awards

Fisher-Price Meditation Mouse

Meditation Mouse

With social-emotional learning a huge focus for children today, this toy can help kids regular their feelings. There are three modes of guided meditation: one for daytime relaxation, one for nighttime soothing and one three-step calm-down exercise. Ages 2+

Mickey Mouse Train Set

Mickey Mouse Train Set

Get Mickey, Minnie and Donald to their destinations on time with this Disney-themed train set. This set features Brio-quality tracks and pieces, but also includes the characters kids know and love. It comes with three figures and eight pieces of track and an engine and wagon along with accessories like a fence crossing, bench, tree and sign. Ages 3+

Replica Dyson Ball Vacuum Toy

Replica Dyson Ball Vacuum Toy

While colorful and cartoony cleaning toys are great, this one is hilarious because it looks so much like a real Dyson vacuum. Colorful balls swirl around, but that's not all: It even has enough real suction to pick up small pieces of paper , which you can empty through a removable dustbin in the back. Ages 3+

Melissa & Doug Top & Bake Wooden Pizza Counter Play Set

Top & Bake Wooden Pizza Counter Play Set

Order up! This set gets their imaginations firing as they add their favorite topping and pretend to cook the pizza in the oven. But they'll also practice sorting and counting — it comes with fake money — as they run their own pizza shop. Ages 3+

Waterfall Discovery Wall

Waterfall Discovery Wall

What set this water table apart from all the others was its space-saving design: Most of the features are aligned vertically to keep it to a smaller footprint. Kids can scoop and pour water and watch it cascade through the different features. It's also two-sided, so siblings can use it at the same time. Ages 18 months+

RELATED: The Best Water Tables

Heads Talk Tails Walk Game

Heads Talk Tails Walk Game

This family game takes the idea of a matching challenge to a whole new level. The object is easy: To match the correct animal heads to the body. But if you don't get the right combo, every player has to move like the animal body while making noise like the animal head. It's silly, it's active and it'll get the whole family laughing. Ages 3+

Little Genius Starter Kit

Little Genius Starter Kit

Our youngest thinkers are growing up with technology, so we might as well use our latest gadgets for educational play. Because touch is an important factor in early childhood learning, this Little Genius starter kit uses silicone sticks and rings to help your child create shapes, letters and numbers to follow the included games' prompts. All three games, ABCs, Costume Party and Stories can be monitored via a parent app to track learning progress. You could get it for iPads or Fire tablets . Ages 3+

Pop2Play Indoor Slide

Pop2Play Indoor Slide

It's made of cardboard, but this indoor slide is really sturdy enough to hold up to 50 pounds. And then when they're done sliding to their heart's content, the whole thing folds up flat for easy storage, so you can bring it out on rainy days and put it away again when the sun comes out. It also comes in Barbie, Baby Shark and PAW Patrol designs. Ages 2+

LEGO My First Fruit and Vegetable Tractor Set

My First Fruit and Vegetable Tractor Set

Kids will get a kick out of "growing" the pineapple, tomato and broccoli on this veggie-theme train — and it'll help their sorting and stacking skills , too. When they're built, the fruits and veggies have such vibrant expressions that they can be used for pretend play, too. In addition, DUPLO also offers a number train and an alphabet train , so kids can practice counting and sounding out letters. Ages 18 months+

The Block Set

The Block Set

This block set isn't the cheapest, but it has so many ways to expand their block play as they get older with pieces that thread, magnetic blocks, sticks that let kids build out structures horizontally, peg people to encourage imaginative play and more. The blocks come in bright, cheery hues and they all store away in one box. Ages 18 months+

Melissa & Doug Water Wow!

Water Wow!

You don't need any crayons, markers or paint to use these activity pads: Just fill up the included brush with water. When kids use the brush to "paint" water on the pages, the pictures get colored in as if by magic. There are also seek-and-find items that get revealed. They're small so they can be stashed for an easy on-the-go activity, and they come in lots of different themes. When the pages dry, kids can do it all over again. Ages 3+

Land of Dough

Land of Dough

These cups of modeling dough come in sizeable, 7-oz cups (and include a wooden scooper!), which is enough to make lots of projects, and they usually have some kind of design that kids get to squish around after they open it for the first time. What the Good Housekeeping Institute's kid testers really loved was the smell, and parents appreciated the thought put into the eco impact, like using plant-based dye and paper packaging. On the Land of Dough website, you can find lots more designs, and even smaller, 3-oz tubes. Ages 3+

Rainbow Pebbles FunPlay Activity Set

Rainbow Pebbles FunPlay Activity Set

Math and art go hand-in-hand with the Rainbow Pebbles play kit. Kids can copy the activity cards or create their own 3D projects and cater to their creative thinking — all the while learning colors, shapes, counting, patterning and beyond. Ages 3+

Headshot of Marisa LaScala

Marisa (she/her) has covered all things parenting, from the postpartum period through the empty nest, for Good Housekeeping since 2018; she previously wrote about parents and families at Parents and Working Mother . She lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn, where she can be found dominating the audio round at her local bar trivia night or tweeting about movies.

Headshot of Rachel Rothman

Rachel Rothman (she/her) is the chief technologist and executive technical director at the Good Housekeeping Institute , where she oversees testing methodology, implementation and reporting for all GH Labs. She also manages GH’s growing research division and the analysis of applicants for the GH Seal and all other testing emblems. During her 15 years at Good Housekeeping , Rachel has had the opportunity to evaluate thousands of products, including toys and cars for GH’s annual awards programs and countless innovative breakthroughs in consumer tech and home improvement. 

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The Only Gift Guide for a 3-Year-Old You’ll Ever Need

Portrait of Liza Corsillo

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$100 and up.

When we asked Milk Teeth co-founders Catherine Newell-Hanson and Rebecca Calavan about the kind of play their respective 3-year-olds are into at the moment, they responded almost in unison: jumping. “Jumping on the bed, jumping off the couch, jumping on us, jumping on the dog, jumping on the trampoline,” Calavan elaborated. Of course, 3-year-olds also enjoy running, riding a scooter , drawing, playing dress-up, playing with action figures, and building block towers to knock down. They are also getting more interested in talking at this age, whether that’s narrating pretend play or speaking in the voice their favorite doll or stuffy. “There’s so much language development that’s happening, so talking and having conversations is really important” — says Erica Hill , a consultant at the early-childhood-education research foundation HighScope . And that’s true whether you’re discussing the differences between two Hot Wheels cars or pouring them a cup of invisible tea in the bath.

To help you find the best toys that will give the 3-year-old in your life a chance to jump, chat, and otherwise indulge their many burgeoning interests, we talked to child-development specialists, toy buyers, and stylish parents about the toys they recommend. The 28 expert-approved gifts below are organized by price, so if you already have a budget in mind, you can use the table of contents to jump to that section. Otherwise, read all the way through to get the full picture of what makes an elder toddler tick.

Meanwhile, if you’re also shopping for children in other age groups, we have gift guides for 1-year-olds , 2-year-olds , 4-year-olds , 5-year-olds , 6-year-olds , 7-year-olds , 8-year-olds , 9-year-olds , 10-year-olds , 11-year-olds , and 12-year-olds — plus the meticulously curated Strategist Toy Store , filled with all our greatest hits.

Bluey and Friends Four-Piece Set

At 3, children will often express a preference for (or maybe develop an intense obsession with) specific characters from the books, shows, or movies you share with them. And action figures let them create their own little fan-fiction, screen-free. We featured this Bluey set in our list of the best Easter basket ideas , but it would also make a great birthday gift or stocking stuffer. Whether they’re nuts about Bluey or madly in love with Peppa Pig (like my 3-year-old niece) mini figures like this will keep them entertained in restaurants, in traffic, and in doctor’s waiting rooms.

Green Toys Tea Set

Newell-Hanson told us that her 3-year-old daughter’s current favorite toy is this Green Toys tea set that she loves to play with in the bath. The set, which includes cups, plates, and spoons for four, is both affordable and made of sustainable materials. It comes in two color schemes — primary red, blue, and yellow , or the pastels shown here — plus it’s food-safe and dishwasher-safe in case you want to go all-out the next time you play tea party.

Flybar My First Foam Pogo Jumper

Here’s a toy that will encourage (and channel) some of that jumping energy. The Flybar Foam Pogo Jumper has a wider, sturdier base than a traditional pogo stick, which according to child psychologist  Dr. Nicole Beurkens allows younger children to use it successfully. (It’ll still take many 3-year-olds a bit of practice.) It was originally mentioned in our list of the best outdoor toys , but it can also be used indoors and the foam base won’t mess up your floors.

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

This easy-to-learn game is ideal for 3-year-olds because it involves no reading and no dice with numbers to count — instead, there’s a spinner to flick on a colored wheel and matching acorns to pick up. According to Dr. George Sachs, a child psychologist and the founder of the Sachs Center in Manhattan, games like this “teach the skills of sharing, turn-taking, and handling frustration when losing.” Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel also teaches kids about colors and improves their fine motor control.

Kinetic Sand Sandisfying Set

Zahra Kassam, founder of the at-home Montessori program Monti Kids , says playing with this Kinetic sand set “is like bringing the beach to your home but less messy. It’s very sensory, creative, and peaceful.” Susie Allison, former teacher, mom, and creator of BusyToddler.com , also recommends it for 3-year-olds and their families. “It moves and molds, bends, and cuts in a way that is completely different from other sensory bases. It has a velvety smooth texture — it isn’t gritty like sand. It won’t get in your toddler’s eye like traditional sand will.” This set includes two pounds of red and blue sand along with ten tools and molds that kids can use to mix, marble, layer, or shape the sand in endless ways.

Crayola Sidewalk Chalk

“Don’t forget about playing outside,” says Dr. Roberta Golinkoff , a professor of child psychology at the University of Delaware and co-author of Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children . She stresses the benefit of cheap and easy outdoor games like hopscotch that adults can share with young children. Use this set of 64 crayon-shaped sidewalk chalks to draw your hopscotch court, or “just give it to them and let them go wild,” she says.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Building-Blocks Set

The 100 blocks in this set from Melissa & Doug can be used in a plethora of ways, from building tall 3-D structures to arranging flat, puzzlelike creations and anything in between. The nine different shapes included, made of smooth, vibrantly painted wood, help kids lock in their knowledge of primary colors (plus green). Jeannette Corey, director of the Bank Street Family Center , says that for young children “play should be as hands-on and open-ended as possible with lots of opportunities for creativity, curiosity, problem-solving, and cooperation.” She recommends giving kids simple building materials like blocks that will grow with them as they mature and become more sophisticated.

Plus-Plus BIG Tube

“Plus-Plus pieces are designed in Denmark and can be used to create anything from simple towers to imaginative robots,” says Stirling Kelso, founder of Half Pint Travel . They’re one of our favorite open-ended building toys ; in addition to the creativity and fine motor development involved in using them, “a tube of these repetitive shapes is a lifesaving distraction, especially on an airplane, or at a restaurant, because they’re versatile and require some concentration to pull apart and put back together,” Kelso says. In other words, he explains, “they buy you at least 15 minutes of freedom.”

Little People, Big Dreams: Prince

Books are a welcome (and foolproof) gift at any age. Children’s fashion designer Grace Lim , a mom of two, says her daughters adored every book they encountered in the Little People, Big Dreams series. As Lim explains, the books help kids “learn about people’s different stories and backgrounds and how each person went through such different adventures to become who they are.” She adds that the content is particularly great for this age, telling us her now-4-year-old daughter was able relate to many of the books’ scenarios: “She often said, ‘Me, too!’ while reading along.” The books are available in multi-book sets , collected stories based on occupation , or individually like this one that tells the story of how little Prince grew up to be PRINCE.

Niskite Bluetooth Karaoke Microphone for Kids

If, like Prince’s parents did, you have an aspiring pop singer in your home, publicist and mom of two Sonya Li Casino recommends this wireless mic that her son loves to perform with. When he asked for a real microphone, she got him this Bluetooth one that can connect to other devices. While fun, Casino does have a word of warning. “It’s also slightly obnoxious,” she says.

B. toys Kitchen Sink Play Set

Both Newell-Hanson and Calavan say they have gotten a lot of mileage out this colorful fake sink — that nonetheless be filled with real running water — from B. Toys. “It’s not an attractive item, and requires a towel, but it provides maximum toddler absorption,” says Newell-Hanson. The sink comes with everything a 3-year-old needs to get scrubbing; just add the H2O. Plus, the cups and plates change color in warm water.

Sarah's Silks Wings

Golinkoff says encouraging imaginative play and social interaction is a fabulous way to nurture any 3-year-old. Parents should ask their children what they want to pretend to be, she says, whether it’s a doctor, a princess, a flame-breathing dragon, or even a creative combo of all three. We featured these silk butterfly wings from parent favorite Sarah’s Silks in our guide to the best dress-up clothing for kids . The wings aren’t cheap, but their quality and open-ended nature mean they will last for years.

Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow!

Here’s an artistic toy that’s virtually mess-free: a set of reusable coloring books and included paintbrush-like pen that, when filled with water, magically makes colors appear on the page. As pages dry, the colors disappear, so kids can paint them all over again. Sarah Gregory , a mom to twin boys and a girl, calls them “so good” and explains that kids learn to “feel a mastery over them, which they hardly ever feel with anything else in their life.” Perhaps more importantly, she adds there is “instant quiet in our house when they get going on them.” They are also easily portable, making them equally great for use during car trips and at restaurants.

Super Smalls Daydream Queen Play Shoes

Super Smalls is another brand that was mentioned multiple times by the parents and educators we talked to for our list of the best dress-up clothing . The realistic-looking play jewels are among Backdrop cofounder Natalie Ebel’s (and her daughter’s) favorite pieces. These over-the-top toddler heels make getting into character easy and a lot of fun. Plus the clomping sound they make when a 3-year-old walks in them is hilariously cute.

Tonka Commemorative 1968 Mighty Dump Truck

This classic Tonka Truck was recommended in our guide to the best outdoor toys for winter , but it’s an excellent year-round toy both indoors and out. Jennifer Lynch, content developer at the Toy Association , loves this commemorative version because its metal construction is durable, while the extra-large wheels are rugged enough to roll over sand, icy snow, and shag carpet . And its nostalgic design will encourage parents and grandparents to play too.

VTech Switch & Go Dinos Blister The Velociraptor Dinosaur

“My kids loved Transformers ,” says Golinkoff, and while the action figures of our 1980s dreams still hold up in their own right, this VTech version modernizes the concept a bit. Pictured as a velociraptor that chomps and roars, it transforms into a rocket-launching rescue helicopter with a spinning propeller, searchlight, and an LCD screen. “Dinosaurs are good for girls and boys and great for make-believe,” notes Golinkoff.

BlissLights Sky Lite 2.0 LED Laser Star Projector

While it doesn’t project actual constellations, Casino says this LED star projector helps simulate the experience of a planetarium at home. Her son received it as a gift for his third birthday and it has been a hit since the moment he unwrapped it. “We love turning it on before bed and just watching the light show,” she says. “It’s really mesmerizing and relaxing.”

Rody Horse

Bouncing — a.k.a. jumping’s twin sibling — “engages almost every muscle group in a child’s body, especially the legs and core,” says Lily Balsen , a New York City–based yoga teacher whose clients range in age from newborn to 80. Not only does it foster balance and a sense of spatial orientation, she says, but “rhythmic movement is organizing for the nervous system, so it’s a great self-soothing and self-regulating mechanism. Also, it’s just plain fun! I’m a big fan of the bouncy horse.”

The Original PlasmaCar

PlasmaCars promote plenty of outdoor fun, getting kids excited and keeping them moving — without any batteries or even pedals needed. They are great for exercise and let youngsters burn off some of that famous (or infamous) energy. “We have carried this toy for years, and they always sell,” says Holly Magelof of the Dolphin Bookshop . And: “They’re durable enough to make great hand-me-downs.”

Clixo Rainbow 42 Piece Pack

Gregory likes the way that this Clixo set (another one of our favorite open-ended building toys ) combine magnets, origami, and building blocks to let kids “get creative by turning the pieces into creatures or using them to play games, like seeing how many different ways they can stack or shape them.” Because they are magnetized, Gregory notes the pieces can conveniently “live on a fridge, so kids can just pass by and fiddle with them.” She says they’re “a good sit-in-the-kitchen-and-make-something-cool-while-I-cook toy,” noting that “they don’t look terrible on the fridge and don’t take up much space.”


When toy historians look back at this era, Magna-Tiles will all but surely rank among the ten or 20 best toys of the time, and they’ll probably still be popular even in a hundred years. The magnetic shapes improve fine motor skills, spatial reasoning, planning, and, when a structure collapses, resilience. Once toddlers are hooked on Magna-Tiles, they can continue to add to their collection with a variety of expansion packs — making the imaginative possibilities endless. Also, they’re just great entertainment, even for adults. Maybe especially for adults.

The Nugget

Nugget modular play couches come in lots of bright colors and provide ample cushion for active 3-year-olds, whether they’re jumping up and down, wrestling a sibling, or trying out gymnastics for the first time. Newell-Hanson says the nugget helps her 3- and 5-year-olds with spatial skills (lots of fort building) and imaginative play. And it’s supporting a lot of their crash landings too, she says.

Toniebox Playtime Puppy Starter Set - Red

Parents and kids alike adore the Toniebox , an audio-only entertainment system that keeps little ones occupied without screens. It’s a smart speaker that plays stories and songs when you place a magnetized figurine, or Tonie, on top, and there are dozens of characters to choose from, including Blue’s Clues, Encanto , Peppa Pig , Miffy , and Paw Patrol.

You can also get blank “Creative-Tonies” that you can program with any MP3 file, which Vulture writer Kathryn VanArendonk used with her two kids, or record yourself, family members, and friends reading and telling stories. “People talk about life-changing toys, and this one really helped my younger child self-regulate when she needed to cool down but had dropped a nap, and both my kids loved it for bedtime,” says VanArendonk. A note: You have to buy the speaker (Toniebox) and Tonies ($12 to $15 each) separately, but this starter kit includes a figurine that’s preloaded with a compilation of popular children’s songs. You can also buy bundles that come with two, three, or five Tonies and save a few bucks that way.

BRIO World Smart Tech Sound Action Tunnel Travel Set

Lockhart says the train tracks at the preschool where she works are one of the most popular toys among 3-year-olds. Unlike so many STEM or STEM-adjacent toys, BRIO’s Smart Tech line really is age-appropriate for 3-year-olds; they can figure out how to play with this smart engine in a matter of minutes and might be inclined to integrate it with their other train sets. What stands out more than its educational value, though, is the sheer entertainment kids get out of setting up a train track where the engine will complete a route, turn around, and stop at the child’s prearranged transmitter arches.

Little Tikes Inflatable Jump 'n Slide Bounce House

“This bounce house is a near-permanent fixture in our backyard,” says Jamie Banks, a North Shore–based mother of three. The giant toy is perfect for getting pre-bedtime wiggles out and big enough to host group toddler hangs. It can even be used indoors, if you have a large-enough space.

ECR4Kids Birch Dramatic Play Closet with Mirrors

You can certainly buy specific dress-up costumes to help your 3-year-old channel the characters from their favorite books and movies or reuse old clothing instead of throwing it away, says Golinkoff. But if you’re looking for a gift with more wow factor, this dress-up closet will delight them while also keeping everything organized. It has a garment rod, four shelf compartments, and a built-in shatterproof safety mirror so they can practice lasso tricks, spell casting, princess waving, or robot dance moves.

Kid Trax Kids USPS Mail Carrier 6 Volt Electric Ride On Toy

If you’re looking for the ultimate big-ticket gift, consider this ride-on truck that toddlers with a mail carrier obsession will especially appreciate. We featured the shrunken USPS vehicle (with working headlights!) in our print holiday gift guide a few years ago. The truck goes up to 2.5 mph and comes with a mailbox and two toy envelopes for kids to deliver. It also has a working horn, opening rear door, and a radio so they can listen to music while they “work.”

The Strategist  is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best gifts for 1-year-olds  and   3-year-olds , the  best art supplies  and  dress-up clothes for kids , and the  best toy storage . We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

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Little girl holding wrapped present in front of holiday background

Three-year-olds are just too cute, and yes — they deserve spoiling. Whether it’s for a birthday, holiday or a milestone of theirs, finding something to buy (that they don’t already have, no less) can be an incredible feat.

But, it doesn’t have to be. We turned to a handful of child development experts who know the ins and outs of the 3-year-old age group to recommend wonderful gifts and toys for you to reference. Almost all of their recommendations are available at easy-to-shop stores such as Amazon , Target and Walmart .

After conversing with seasoned experts, we understood one thing about 3-year-olds: they’re always learning and on the move.

“Three-year-olds are pretty smart human beings who are defined by curiosity,” Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD , psychology professor at Temple University and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution — whose research centers on the development of early language and literacy, as well as the role of play in learning — told the New York Post. “They have mastered language skills to determine how the world works and, while we’re not interested in the slugs, bugs and worms that make up the ground, they are. They’re naturalists.”

With even more insightful knowledge about the 3-year-old age group in our in-depth FAQ section (including the ‘why’ behind their constant ‘why? why? why?’ questioning), you’ll have a better grasp into this adoring age, thanks to five childhood learning experts chiming in. Check out the expert-recommended toys below, and find toys for other age groups here: best toys for 1-year-olds , best toys for 2-year-olds , best toys for 4-year-olds and best toys for 5-year-olds .

Click to jump to a specific section:

General Toys

Creative toys, outdoor toys, musical toys, developmental & educational toys, puzzles & shape-sorters, blocks & building toys, cars, trucks & vehicles, push, pull & ride-on toys, stuffed animals & dolls, meet the experts.

  • Alice Cady, EdM , classroom teacher for 2- and 3-year-olds for 8+ years
  • Ali Mierzejewski , editor-in-chief at “The Toy Insider”
  • Caitlin Sanschagrin , occupational therapist specializing in pediatrics
  • Sonia Pruneda-Hernandez, PhD , Montgomery College acting education dean
  • Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD , Temple University psychology professor
  • Keri Wilmot , pediatric occupational therapist, also known as the Toy Queen
  • Claire Diamonstein , child therapist and parent coach at Family Therapy Center of Bethesda
  • Dr. Jacqueline Harding , international child development expert and author
  • Yesim Kunter , child’s play expert and independent consultant
  • Dr. Lauren Loquasto , Chief Academic Officer at The Goddard School
  • Heather Barnum , Senior Librarian at the New York Public Library

Soft Bowling Set

Toy bowling set

The pins and ball in this kid-safe bowling set are made from a soft material that won’t scratch floors or cause any injuries — and because the pins are numbered 1 through 10, they double as a counting and number ordering exercise for children.

Dr. Jacqueline Harding , a child development expert and author , recommended this toy for hours of indoor fun. “When you are three years old, getting moving is one of the main activities on your mind,” said Harding. “There is hardly any time to sit still when there is a big world to investigate! This bowling set is simply great fun and offers a chance to recognize and name numbers and colors.”

Aizweb Wooden Burger Stacking Toy

Aizweb Wooden Burger Stacking Toy

“Stacking and sequencing toys are a wonderful way to work on those fine motor skills as well as visual and sequencing skills,” Caitlin Sanschagrin , an occupational therapist specializing in pediatrics — specifically, feeding, sensory processing and regulation and neurodivergent-affirming care, told The Post.

What’s more, the addition of the imaginative play component allows your 3-year-old to serve your customers a burger makes playtime even more fun.

MindSprout Dino Blasters Kids Rocket Launcher

MindSprout Dino Blasters Kids Rocket Launcher

Take aim and grow those gross motor skills by launching these dinosaur rockets into the sky! “This helps work on coordination and strength by making them go sky high! ” Sanschagrin notes.

Plus, these interactive toys are just $20 on Amazon, making it a budget-friendly toy to snag.

Hape Gourmet Kitchen Wooden Pretend Play Kitchen Set

Wooden toy kitchen play set

“Play kitchens ignite children’s imagination and are such a great way to encourage unstructured, pretend play,” said Claire Diamonstein , child therapist and parent coach. “Adding play food to the set opens up even more opportunities for increased fun and creativity.”

Made from non-toxic materials that are easy to clean and easy to assemble, this kitchen set will delight any kid with hours of pretend play opportunities.

Educational Insights The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

Squirrel board game

“Educational Insights creates fantastic toys for preschoolers, designed to nurture and stimulate young minds,” said Diamonstein. “The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game is one of my favorites because it’s fun for the whole family. It’s easy to learn and makes a wonderful first board game for young kids. It’s also a great opportunity for kids to practice counting and color-matching skills while they play.”

This entry-level board game involves practicing color-matching skills and is interactive enough to keep young children engaged the whole time they’re playing. Plus, as an option for family board game nights, this is a toy that parents and siblings can also enjoy.

Learning Resources Primary Science Sensory Tubes (Set of 4)

Learning Resources Primary Science Sensory Tubes (Set of 4)

“These tubes are amazing and open ended! I add them to my sensory bins, fill them with items to shake, roll them, use them to mix in, and explore volumes with them,” Alice Cady, EdM, an eight-year classroom teacher of two and three-year-olds told The Post. She has an education doctorate degree from the University of Buffalo’s Early Childhood Research Center, with a focus on computational thinking in early childhood.

“You can fill them with counting toys to ‘fill and spill,’ fill them with natural items to observe, fill them with spices to smell or even use them to blow bubbles!” she adds. Each tube comes with dual openings and twistable lids and also leaves you the option to create your own sensory tubes to help with self-regulation.

Crayola Color Wonder Mess-Free Coloring Activity Set

Crayola Color Wonder Mess-Free Coloring Activity Set

“Crayola’s Color Wonder line is a great gift for kids, not only because of its affordable price point, but because it is a perfect, no-mess, creative art line,” Ali Mierzejewski, editor-in-chief at “The Toy Insider” and childhood play expert, told The Post.

The Color Wonder markers only show on the special Color Wonder paper, so it’s great for traveling on airplanes, roadside restaurant stops, or for kids’ independent playtime as well.

Chuckle & Roar Family Bingo

Chuckle & Roar Family Bingo

“Family game night is super important for kids during this age window for social development, and games geared toward preschoolers like this bingo set are the perfect way for families to play together,” Mierzejewski adds.

This game in particular, aside from having cute artwork, also provides four ways for kids to learn, so it’s packed with educational value in addition to fun.

LOYO Medical Kit for Kids

Kids toy medical doctor dentist play set

This 38-piece play set includes a plethora of pretend tools, costumes and a convenient storage box that let kids play doctor for hours on end. It also has specialized dentist equipment, as well as a large set of plastic teeth to brush and clean.

“Role play, or sociodramatic play as it is sometimes called, is perfect for developing empathy and understanding the perspectives of other people,” Harding said. “Imaginative play with super-fun toys like a medical set does wonders for confidence and self-esteem.”

Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set

Play-Doh kit

In addition to six containers of colorful Play-Doh, kids get a Fun Factory toy for pressing the Doh into different forms, as well as over a dozen cookie-cutter style shapes for creating animals and other objects.

“The world of creativity and imagination is at their fingertips with this flexible Play-Doh set,” said Harding. “Malleable materials can offer children deep emotional satisfaction as there are never ending ways to manipulate the substance, which is a rich source of sensory stimulation.”

Innorock Flower Garden Building Toys with Portable Storage Box

Toy flower garden

These stackable building toys let children design their dream bouquets (and give you a convenient box to store all the pieces when playtime is over).

“Children absolutely love this flower-building kit,” said Diamonstein. “It nurtures their creativity and enjoyment while enhancing their hand-eye coordination and problem-solving abilities. With so many interchangeable flower pieces, this kit definitely keeps kids engaged and entertained.”

Boogie Board Magic Sketch

Toy drawing board

Keri Wilmot , a pediatric occupational therapist who has over 24 years of experience helping children develop sensory and motor skills through play, recommended this doodle toy as a way to stimulate artistic exploration in kids. This kit includes four drawing tools and has a durable, water-resistant design.

“Three-year-olds are beginning to turn their scribbles into real pictures, and writing tablets can help foster their creativity without all the paper waste,” Wilmot said. “These boards are lightweight, portable and perfect for travel and trips to restaurants.”

WikkiStix Sensory Fidget Toy

Wikki Stix toy

Infinitely reusable and entertaining, these colorful bendy sticks let kids build characters, animals, plants and anything they can imagine, then take pride in their creations.

Diamonstein said these are a favorite at her office. “They offer endless possibilities for creative fun,” she said. “There are a million different ways to use WikkiStix. You can use them for crafting, in imaginative play, as a fine motor activity and even as a fidget tool.”

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Sock Puppet Kit

Hungry Caterpillar sock puppet

This puppet creation kit includes fuzzy socks, finger puppets and self-adhesive felt patches that bring characters from the classic children’s book to life — and let kids take a turn at telling their own stories.

Yesim Kunter , an independent play consultant who has worked as a designer for LEGO, Hasbro and Toys “R” Us, recommended this kit for 3-year-olds. “Storytelling tools like puppets are great for enhancing children’s imagination and creative thinking, and developing their language skills and future thinking,” she said.

Pretendables Nacho Set

Plastic nacho food toys

“This set allows kids to use their imagination and fine motor skills to creatively design their own favorite nacho combinations,” said Wilmot.

It includes a variety of pretend ingredients, condiments and serving trays, all in vibrant colors. Kids can practice designing dishes for themselves, as well as friends and family members, and start engaging with super rudimentary concepts of food preparation and sharing.

Kinetic Sand

Bag of Kinetic Sand

Made from natural sand and dyed a mesmerizing color, this hands-on toy encourages creative play and building. Since the sand particles stick to one another, this toy is also amazingly easy to clean up after and won’t stain hands or surfaces.

“Kinetic Sand is another favorite in my office because it can be used in so many different ways,” said Diamonstein. “Young kids love to play with it, create with it or just squish it between their hands. It’s also an excellent and versatile tool for sensory play and is a great addition to any sensory bin.”

Melissa & Doug Wooden Scoop & Serve Ice Cream Counter

Wooden ice cream shoppe set

“This delightful toy is made of wood and is wonderfully calming,” said Harding. “As parents, it is exciting to discover that playing imaginatively has an impressive brain-building result for our children. The brain relishes the opportunity to be creative with play activities like this!”

The set includes an array of ice cream flavors and toppings that kids will enjoy combining (with the option to pile all the scoops together into one mega cone). The pretend dollar bills and menu also give kids the opportunity to role play with their friends, parents or siblings.

Play22 12-Piece Kids Gardening Tool Set

Play22 12-Piece Kids Gardening Tool Set

“With summer fast approaching, I would recommend gardening and insect catcher toys that parents can easily purchase at dollar stores, Walmart, or Target,” Sonia Pruneda-Hernandez, PhD , acting dean of education and social sciences at Montgomery College —and doctorate of education with a concentration in early childhood education and higher education — told The Post.

She recommended items like a bucket, shovel, trowel and watering can. Specifically, the Play22 12-Piece Kids Gardening Tool Set is one she brought to our attention for fun outdoor play.

Micro Kickboard Mini Deluxe 3-Wheeled Scooter

Blue children's scooter

“The Micro Mini Scooter is the perfect toy because it offers a stable and fun ride to help young children hone their balance and coordination skills,” said Diamonstein. “It also boasts the remarkable feature of adapting to a child’s growth, allowing them to stay entertained and active as they gain confidence on the scooter.”

This scooter’s easily-adjustable handlebar lets kids set it at the most comfortable (and safe) height for themselves. Plus, some models have light-up wheels that add a real wow factor to this gift.

Kidoozie Sand ‘n Splash Activity Table

Children's activity table

“Kids love sensory activities to play with water, sand and all sorts of slimy goo,” said Wilmot. “An outdoor sensory bin is a great way to offer sensory play while containing any messes.”

This comprehensive kit includes enough sand and a variety of tools to let kids explore their creative side. The two-bin system — one for sand and one for water — provides a sense of beachfront playtime at the convenience of home. Plus, the snap-on lid can turn it into a functional table when not in use.

Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse

Kid's outdoor play cottage

Wilmot said that “playhouses are a perfect way to bring a child’s imagination outside,” and she recommended this model because offers plenty of room for hours of pretend play.

The cute little cottage has a mail slot, swinging doors and window frames and even a spot to hold up a flag on the front. All the pieces snap together for easy assembly, and once it’s built, it’s designed to be sturdy and safe. Also available in a cute pink and purple color .

Europa Kids Adventure Nature Explorer & Bug-Catching Kit

Europa Kids Adventure Nature Explorer & Bug-Catching Kit

“Parents can also add items for insect catching such as a net, magnifying glass and insect catcher,” Pruneda-Hernandez adds. The Europa Kids Adventure Nature Explorer & Bug-Catching Kit fits the bill at just $25, and one our expert recommends.

Do note that parents and caregivees should check and ensure that their 3-year old can easily hold and manipulate the items with their hands before use.

PlayVibe 40″ Tree Swing

PlayVibe 40" Tree Swing

Saucer swings are great toys to have outside. “From a sensorimotor perspective, they facilitate various body movements through space,” Sanschagrin says. “You can even work on developing eye skills by tossing a soft ball to the kiddo while they are swinging!”

Of course, 3-year-olds may not be able to catch it, but being able to use their eyes to track the ball while their body is moving assists that development, per Sanschagrin. “You can even do bubbles so that your kiddo is looking in all different directions while swinging, teaching their nervous system and body how to accommodate with these new movement patterns,” she adds. 

Piano Musical Mat

Piano Musical Mat

“Piano mats can be used for similar skills to the musical sets but on a gross motor scale,” Sanschagrin says. “See if they can imitate different walks across the keys to make similar rhythms and sounds.

According to Sanschagrin, it’s also great for sensorimotor skills being able to discriminate between the keys and for understanding the way the mat feels different then the floor as they move across this interactive toy.

Stoie’s International Wooden Music Set

Stoie's International Wooden Music Set

“Musical sets are a great way to facilitate those fine motor and bilateral coordination skills,” Sanschagrin notes. “You can practice different rhythms and see if your kiddo can imitate and join in!”

The Stoie’s International Wooden Music Set is less than $40 on Amazon, one that our expert recommends and is backed by more than 5,000 rave reviews. Plus, it includes a tambourine, a castanet, a hand drum, two hand bells, a maraca, a flute, a wooden block with a stick, a wood sounder with a stick and a chime bar with a stick.

Toniebox Audio Player Starter Set

Red Toniebox music player

Give kids a screen-free listening experience that sparks their imagination and offers them a wide selection of music and stories. “By placing different collectible characters from their favorite shows and books on top of the Toniebox,” Wilmot said, “kids will love being in control of choosing the songs and stories they listen to.”

This device can be a great way for kids to wind down before bedtime, and its built-in interactivity keeps kids feeling engaged. Plus, once you buy this, you can pick up additional Tonie figurines to give as gifts for future holidays. The starter set, shown here, includes a Playtime Puppy Tonie with 52 minutes of popular children’s songs.

VTech Kidi Superstar Jr. Karaoke Machine

Kid's karaoke machine

In addition to the 10 pre-programmed songs that kids can start playing at the push of a button, this karaoke machine lets you connect a phone, tablet or computer to it via Bluetooth and play any songs you want. The microphone has voice-changing technology, so kids can play around with sounding like a robot and experiment with delay effects. The adjustable mic stand lets older kids join in on the fun.

“Three-year-olds are learning to use their words to communicate,” Wilmot said. “Singing and dancing are not only great ways to get the wiggles out, but they can help kids improve their confidence, too.”

Loog Mini Acoustic Kids Guitar

Loog Mini Acoustic Kids Guitar

“Preschool age is the perfect time for kids to start discovering what they’re interested in — including music!” Mierzejewski shares. “This Loog Mini Acoustic guitar is great for kids this age because it’s easy for them to handle and gives the look of a real guitar.”

With the Loog Mini Acoustic Kids Guitar, 3-year-olds can start learning the basics with this three-string guitar, and even have a jam session with the grown-ups in their life who play, too.

Taimasi 33-Piece Kids Musical Instruments

Taimasi 33-Piece Kids Musical Instruments

“A variety of musical toys such as the kit above allows children to develop their fine motor skills and their hand-eye coordination,” Pruneda-Hernandez explains. “Kits such as the one above can also grow with the child.”

Whereas a 3-year old may enjoy using the maracas, a four-or five- year-old may be more interested in the xylophone or rhythm sticks. “The kit also allows for more than one child or for an adult to be involved in the musical play with a child,” she adds.

Right on the money, Cady also recommends this play bundle for musical fun.

Halilit Mini Orchestra

Halilit Mini Orchestra

“Open ended music toys, like the Halilit Mini Orchestra, all offer chances to experiment and jam along to rhymes, rhythms and favorite songs,” Cady highlights. For less than $35 on Amazon, this four-pack is perfect for 6-month-olds and 3-year-olds alike, thanks to its musical, take-around-with-you nature.

AMOSTING Color-Matching Mosaic Pegboard

AMOSTING Color-Matching Mosaic Pegboard

“This pegboard has so many developmental skills to facilitate,” Sanschagrin shares. “Fine motor for putting the pieces in, visual skills to put matching colors in the right spot and problem solving to identify which piece goes where and how to locate it.”

Not to mention, the AMOSTING Color-Matching Mosaic Pegboard she recommends is less than $20, comes in vibrant colors and is on-the-go friendly.

Ladybugs Garden Memory Game

Ladybug board game

Using five double-sided puzzle cards and 20 toy ladybugs, children work on their memory and recall skills in an intuitive and enjoyable way.

“Ladybug’s Garden Memory Game is a memory game that is fun for children and parents alike,” said Diamonstein. “The game offers an exciting opportunity for kids to practice taking turns and engaging in friendly competition.”

LeapFrog Slide to Read ABC Flash Cards

Children's flash cards

Over a dozen double-sided flash cards give kids a clever introduction to letters, letter sounds, words and sentences — all the essential language building blocks. The device also makes music and has sound effects to accompany the cards, which helps to keep children engaged.

“These electronic flash cards teach kids the underlying concepts of reading,” said Wilmot. By prompting kids to use their finger to follow the information on each card, Wilmot said this toy also “reinforces letter sounds and vocabulary.”

Magnetic Creation Station

Magnetic toy for kids

With 46 colorful magnetic pieces and a blank canvas (that doubles as a carrying case), this toy is an excellent way for kids to practice shape play and visualization.

Dr. Lauren Loquasto , Chief Academic Officer at The Goddard School, recommended this educational toy because she said it “challenges young minds with visual-spatial and geometric skills.”

“Engaging a child’s curiosity, children are challenged not only to replicate the images with the appropriate shapes but are then able to self-evaluate their success,” she said. 

Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Kids Microscope

Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Kids Microscope

“This introductory microscope is perfect for curious kids and will encourage them to discover new things,” Mierzejewski shares. “They can explore close-up looks at different objects around the house or that they find in the backyard.”

The beginner microscope has big and chunky dials for them to focus, so it’s easy for little hands to maneuver and perfectly sized for three-year-olds, too.

hand2mind Tactile Turtles Math Activity Set

hand2mind Tactile Turtles Math Activity Set

“This math activity set not only has the educational benefits of a learning toy, but also the developmental benefits of tactile play, so it’s a true two-for-one,” Mierzejewski adds. “It’s packed with tons of activities and facts for kids to learn about turtles, but also provides the tools for open-ended play as well.”

This STEM-based toy includes turtles of three different sizes, six colors, six shell textures and six belly shapes, adding to how it’s a wonderful sensory toy in addition to a learning-development aide.

Learning Resources Big Feelings Pineapple Deluxe Set

Learning Resources Big Feelings Pineapple Deluxe Set

“Social-emotional learning is so important for 3-year-olds, and this adorable pineapple is great for helping kids identify, recognize and communicate their emotions,” Mierzejewski notes.

Aside from being adorable and unique, this toy helps develops important coping habits and communication skills that will serve as an important foundation for mental health, too, according to Mierzejewski.

Montessori Peg Board Toy

Montessori Peg Board Toy

“For a three-year-old, the Montessori Peg Board Toy helps a three-year-old understand one-to-one correspondences, cardinality and subsitizing [the ability to instantly recognize the number of objects without actually counting them],” Cady highlights.

Be sure to note that pegs are choking hazards on this one, but they make ones with larger pegs as well, if highly concerned.

TOOKYLAND Hammer & Nails Game

TOOKYLAND Hammer & Nails Game

“Hammer and nail toys are wonderful toys to expand creative play as well as fine motor skills like precision and bilateral coordination,” Sanschagrin adds. “Visual skills can be used by trying to match a visual model and example.”

Not to mention, a 3-year-old holding a hammer in their hands help improve their critical thinking skills, like how to allow for a certain piece to firmly grasp the included board.

Melissa & Doug Farm Wooden Cube Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Farm Wooden Cube Puzzle

“Cube puzzles are a fun way to address in-hand manipulation and fine motor skills as well as problem solving and visual skills,” Sanschagrin adds. “The borders along the outside of the puzzle can help give spatial reference while in the process of building the puzzle.”

To better help your 3-year-old learn about common farm animals they’ll find in preschool and kindergarten, we approve of this affordable toy that’ll keep your little one engaged for hours, too.

Upbounders Fun Outside 48-Piece Floor Puzzle

Upbounders Fun Outside 48-Piece Floor Puzzle

“This puzzle features families of mixed races and ethnicities, encouraging diversity, inclusion, and representation,” Mierzejewski highlights. “This Black-owned company was founded by a mom who wanted her son to feel represented in the toys he played with, and now it expands that offering to all kids.”

Even better, parents can build along with their kids as they piece together this puzzle that stresses the importance of playing together and kindness.

Mudpuppy Kindness 4-in-a-Box Puzzle Set

Children's puzzles

With four puzzles picturing different colorful settings and made of large, easy-to-grasp and easy-to-connect puzzle pieces, this box set is an excellent introduction to the kind of game that can grow into a lifelong hobby. It also gives parents opportunities to help kids figure out shape-fitting skills in real time.

“Puzzles are great at keeping young kids busy and entertained, with the added bonus of building their cognitive and fine motor skills,” said Diamonstein. “I love sets like this one because it includes four distinct puzzles, each offering varying levels of difficulty, allowing kids to advance as they conquer each puzzle.”

ThinkFun My First Rush Hour Brain Game

Children's car puzzle toy

Kids practice all the fundamentals of setting up and playing games with this car-themed shape and color matching board game. It includes 15 puzzle cards of easy, medium and hard difficulties, so kids won’t outgrow this toy right away.

“This brain teaser for young kids helps them to learn about following instructions even just by setting the game up,” said Wilmot. “Activities like this one include cards that are graded, where kids can experience success and build to more challenging problems by starting off simple and getting more complex.”

Battat Lock & Learn Activity Cubes

Battat Lock & Learn Activity Cubes

“Shape sorters have so many developmental benefits for kids this age, including fine motor skills, shape and color recognition, introduction to cause and effect and experimentation, and more,” Mierzejewski lists. “This set of activity cubes stands out because it is brightly colored and engaging — and kids can stack the cubes as well, in addition to just sorting the shapes, opening up more possibilities for open-ended play.”

Plus, there’s much variation with this Amazon toy. With four nesting cubes, three numbers, three letters and seven fun shapes, your 3-year-old will praise this stackable toy over and over again.

Melissa & Doug Mix ‘n Match Wooden Bear Family Dress-Up Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Mix 'n Match Wooden Bear Family Dress-Up Puzzle

“The Melissa & Doug Mix ‘n Match Wooden Bear Family Dress-Up Puzzle is great for three-year-olds,” Cady recommends. Not to mention, we recommend nearly any toy from the brand as they’re (1) adorable and (2) always a hit with our nieces.

“This puzzle sorter helps build upon self-help skills and pushes toward dramatic play,” she adds.

Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Beads Educational Toy

Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Beads Educational Toy

“The Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Beads Educational Toy is wonderful for three-year-olds and older,” Cady shares. “It helps develop fine motor skills, patterning, counting and sorting.

For less than $20, you won’t find a more interactive or colorful toy, either. With an included play box, it’s especially perfect for neatly storing in your playroom.

Dreampark Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles (6-Pack)

Dreampark Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles (6-Pack)

“Small puzzles are great for spatial orientation and fine motor skills,” Sanschagrin notes. “Having smaller puzzles makes it less overwhelming to see when your puzzle is ‘done'”

You can downgrade this activity by taking a picture of a completed puzzle and let your three-year-old use that visual model to complete the puzzle, she recommends.

“Thank a Farmer” by Maria Gianferrari

Thank a Farmer book

Heather Barnum, Senior Librarian in the Reader Services division of the  New York Public Library , recommended this book for 3-year-olds. It’s an excellent way to introduce children to the farms and farmers that grow and produce all the food they love to eat.

“Vibrant illustrations connect foods and sources,” said Barnum, “while a simple refrain, ‘Thank a farmer,’ repeats from page to page and slightly more detailed, but still child-friendly, information is shared.”

“Kicks in the Sky” by C. G. Esperanza

Kicks in the Sky book

Vibrant colors, active imagery and an intriguing artistic style make this storybook engaging for little ones. The story centers around everyday items that can become fantastical, inspiring kids to get excited about the world around them.

“A fun-filled, joyful, and magical read-aloud rhyming story,” said Barnum, “‘Kicks in the Sky’ will make readers want to lace up their sneakers and dance along through the psychedelic illustrations.”

“Spidey and His Amazing Friends” by PI Kids

"Spidey and His Amazing Friends" by PI Kids

What better way to play than with everyone’s neighborhood-friendly superhero?

“This set is awesome because it features look-and-find activities so kids stay busy,” Mierzejewski notes. “Plus, this Marvel-based story will deeply engage your little one, especially if they’re fans.

“Beyonce: A Little Golden Book Biography” by Lavaille Lavette

"Beyonce: A Little Golden Book Biography" by Lavaille Lavette

“This book is just one of many celebrity biographies that will be available from this line,” Mierzejewski shares. “Parents will love sharing their love of Bey with their little ones and the nostalgia of the Little Golden Books that they had as a kid. It’s the perfect inspiring story for young readers.”

Not to mention, it’s a super fun gift for the Beyoncé-loving parents in your life.

“Milo Imagines the World” by Matt de la Peña

"Milo Imagines the World" by Matt de la Peña

“Providing children books with pictures that include diverse people is critical,” Pruneda-Hernandez notes. “Regardless of the age, children should be able to visually see people in books that look like them and those that are around them.”

That said, our expert shares that “Milo Imagines the World” by Matt de la Peña as one of her favorite books for 3-year-olds.

“Carmela Full of Wishes” by Matt de la Peña

"Carmela Full of Wishes" by Matt de la Peña

“Another one of my favorite books that I still keep in my own home for nieces that visit is ‘Carmela Full of Wishes,'” Pruneda-Hernandez shares. It also is wonderful to promote diversity and representation, infused with a unique hopeful tone that’ll help spread optimism to your three-year-old.

“Too Many Tamales” by Gary Soto

"Too Many Tamales" by Gary Soto

“One of my personal favorites is ‘Too Many Tamales’ because it brings back memories of my childhood,” Pruneda-Hernandez shares. Not only does it help explain numerical quantities and living in abundance but it’s also available in Spanish, so it’s especially ideal for ESL students.

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle Felt Learning Toy Set

"The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle Felt Learning Toy Set

“Other books that I recommend are books include Eric Carle’s ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar,'” Pruenda-Hernandez adds. And, according to Sanschagrin, we love a good storytelling set!

“You can incorporate so many interactive activities to engage with this Felt Learning Toy Set bundle, Sanschagrin adds, also recommending Carle’s best-selling read. “My favorite is putting the pieces away from where I’m reading the story and have the kiddo do a silly walk to go find the corresponding stuffed item.”

This way, you’re adding movement which can regulate their nervous system in a way that increases their ability to focus on the book or story, according to Sanschagrin.

“Melissa & Doug Poke-A-Dot: Who’s in the Ocean?”

"Melissa & Doug Poke-A-Dot: Who's in the Ocean?"

“My occupational therapist heart adores these Poke-Dot books,” Sanschagrin adds. “It’s an interactive way to talk about animals while using that index finger to poke each dot.”

Much like reusable bubble wrap, this interactive book can help develop fine motor strength and coordination. Not to mention, our nieces deem this one of their favorite books to pull out of the bookcase.

KIDWILL Toolkit for Kids

Tool kit for kids

Get young ones interested in working with their hands at an early age with this wooden play toolkit. It includes easy-to-follow instructions so kids can use the provided wooden pieces to create different toy models in an engaging way.

“This comprehensive building kit can inspire children to get busy building their own models, [which is] great for developing early strategy skills,” said Harding. “Children can begin to think and plan ahead or just go with the flow. Another great feature is that all the bits and pieces can be popped away neatly in the transportable toolbox.”

LEGO DUPLO Classic Heart Box Building Toy Set


With 80 easy-to-grab pieces, this block set is a wonderful way to inspire kids to explore building and nurture an interest in LEGOs that they can enjoy for years to come. The pieces in the set can be used to spell out a heart-warming message of love, too.

“Virtually anything from the world of LEGO DUPLO can provide endless hours of fun and serve as a wonderful toy for a three-year-old,” said Diamonstein. “For a child inclined toward open-ended creativity, this brick set provides a canvas for free play, imagination and construction, all while enhancing fine motor skills.”

Ravensburger Bluey 35-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

Bluey the dog puzzle

Watch kids bring the popular animated children’s show to life with this large jigsaw puzzle that features Bluey and her family. The pieces are made to be extra durable and can be used over and over again as kids improve their shape-fitting abilities.

Wilmot recommended this puzzle because, as she said, “three-year olds can improve their visual spatial skills and motor planning while putting together scenes from their favorite show.”

hand2mind Numberblocks

Numberblocks toys

This intuitive counting toy encourages young kids to practice fundamental math skills in a way that lets them focus on having fun.

“Numberblocks are a really popular show for preschoolers that helps teach kids about the concept of simple addition, subtraction and counting,” Wilmot said. Parents and older siblings can also engage with the characters to create learning and developmental opportunities for youngsters.

Magna-Tiles Downhill Duo 40-Piece Set

Magna-Tiles car racetrack toy

After building their own custom racetracks, children can race cars down them and learn first-hand some pretty elementary principles of physics. With 40 magnetic pieces, this set lets kids think creatively about how to make the toy cars gain speed, and it’s a smart buy for siblings because it allows multiple tracks to be built at the same time.

“ Magna-Tiles are classic building toys that connect to each other to create structures using magnets,” said Wilmot. “The Downhill Duo set introduces fun roads that can be added to the blocks for added competition and problem solving.”

John Deere Build-A-Buddy Tractor Toy & Screwdriver

John Deere Build-A-Buddy Tractor Toy & Screwdriver

“Kids love to mimic what they see grown-ups doing, and this little tractor is a great way for them to get their hands on some power tools in a very kid-friendly way,” Mierzejewski highlights. “The battery-powered drill and large, chunky screws are easy for preschoolers to maneuver and the Johnny Tractor’s face is so adorable!”

Sanschagrin also recommends this toy, as it’s great for cause and effect, executive functioning, motor planning, and bilateral coordination. “They can play around with spatial relationships outside of their body as well, like focusing on how far the car is from the wall rather than themselves as the reference point,” she adds.

CreateOn Sesame Street Coloring with Elmo Doodle Tile Set

CreateOn Sesame Street Coloring with Elmo Doodle Tile Set

Kids can not only build with their favorite Sesame Street character, but they can also color with this set!

“Since there are multiple activities, kids will stay busy for awhile,” Mierzejewski says. “The kid-safe magnetic building pieces are fun for kids to construct with, helping them to hone their spatial awareness, motor skills and more.”

Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Solid-Wood Building Blocks

Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Solid-Wood Building Blocks

Children’s blocks that allow for a variety of uses in play make great toys, and this Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Solid-Wood Building Blocks is recommended by our expert.

“Blocks should not just be squares but come in a variety of shapes to include spheres, rectangles, triangles and squares so children can build in many different ways.” Pruneda-Hernandez recommends. “Blocks not only provide children the opportunity to enhance their fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination, but allows them to problem solve and begin to use their critical thinking while building.”

Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! 100-Piece Deluxe Building Set

Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! 100-Piece Deluxe Building Set

“Building sets that not only have blocks, but gears provide opportunities for cognitive development and opportunities to test hypothesis, make wonderful toys,” Pruneda-Hernandez recommends. That said, she recommends the Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! 100-Piece Deluxe Building Set for an engaging, well-varied bundle that’ll keep your 3-year-old as busy as a bee.

Magna-Tiles House Set

Magna-Tiles House Set

Building toys are a staple toy for toddlers. And, Magna-Tiles can teach 3-year-olds spatial relationships, problem solving, bilateral coordination and creative play.

“The open-ended-ness expands their imagination on top of the motor skills developed,” Sanschagrin adds. “You can even practice working on emotional regulation if the structure they build doesn’t work out (i.e. falling down or can’t figure out how to build how they want) by talking through different strategies for calming enough to solve their problem.”

Picasso Tiles 120-Piece Bristle Lock Tiles STEM Building Set

Picasso Tiles 120-Piece Bristle Lock Tiles STEM Building Set

“Bristle Lock Tiles are similar in their skill building as the Magna-Tiles, however they require more strength,” Sanschagrin explains. “There’s also more flexibility for tile assembly rather than depending on the magnet attraction.”

Additionally, this toy adds an interesting sensory aspect with different textures to explore.

VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels 4-in-1 Zig-Zag Raceway

Car toy raceway

“Kids who love cars, trucks and vehicles can use their problem-solving skills to modify the tracks on their own, using one of four builds, then race to see whose car is fastest,” said Wilmot.

The multiple setups give this toy excellent replay value and encourage experimentation. Plus, this gift offers kids an opportunity to play with siblings and friends, which makes the toy doubly engaging.

Melissa & Doug PAW Patrol Rescue Mission Wooden Dashboard

Melissa & Doug PAW Patrol Rescue Mission Wooden Dashboard

This interactive dashboard from Melissa & Doug provides ton of tactile and imaginative play for preschoolers.

“They’ll love to pretend to drive as they move the steering wheel and engage with all of the other interactive features,” Mierzejewski adds. “Plus, it’s PAW Patrol, so it’s a guaranteed hit for your little one.”

CatToys Construction Vehicle (2-Pack)

CatToys Construction Vehicle (2-Pack)

“My recommendation for vehicles for three- and four-year olds are those that allow them to experiment with,” Pruneda-Hernandez says. “Bulldozers, excavators and dump trucks all can be used in many different ways, providing young children opportunities to experiment, explore and manipulate with their hands.”

For a two-pack that’s less than $30, it’s a wonderful unisex toy as well, especially for sandbox play.

Beestech Construction Toys (4-Pack)

Beestech Construction Toys (4-Pack)

Contrary to popular belief, vehicles do not have to have sounds or need to be battery operated. 

“Vehicles without batteries should be durable to be used indoors and outdoors in dirt or sand,” Pruneda-Hernandez shares. “Vehicles provide children more opportunities to use their imagination to make their own sounds.”

Not to mention, parents, teachers or caregivers can enhance the play opportunities by interacting with the child while they play. Pruneda-Hernandez recommends that the adult gets on the floor or grass, play with the child and converse with the child during play.

Pull-Back Animal Toy Cars (6-Pack)

Pull-Back Animal Toy Cars (6-Pack)

What better way to work on grading muscle force and motor planning than a pull back toy car?

“Your three-year-old will get to think through how their movements will impact the future of the car’s path,” Sanschagrin adds. Oh, and they’re quintessentially adorable.

Radio Flyer Deluxe EZ Fold 4-in-1 Stroll ‘N Trike

Radio Flyer Deluxe EZ Fold 4-in-1 Stroll 'N Trike

“A durable tricycle that will last for several years and can even be passed down to another child is my recommendation,” Pruneda-Hernandez says. “For children just turning three, parents or caregivers should be able to push the child when taking the child out for walks.”

However, the push handle should easily come off when children no longer need that support. Tricycles build children’s gross motor skills, too, according to our expert.

Retrospec Cub Kids Balance Bike

Retrospec Cub Kids Balance Bike

Three words: balance, coordination, and body confidence.

“Balance bikes offer a chance for children to rely on their own sense of balance to navigate the use of a bike,” Cady explains. “Without pedals, children can focus on balancing and coordinating both sides of their body while using the bike, building skills and muscles to have eventual success with a future two-wheel bike.”

Yvolution Y Velo Balance Bike

Yvolution Y Velo Balance Bike

Sanschagrin also recommends balance bikes for 3-year-olds, namely the Yvolution Y Velo Balance Bike that comes in a wealth of vibrant colors.

“Balance bikes are great beginner bikes to work on bilateral coordination — using both sides of your body, arms and legs to work together in a coordinated manner — as well as core strength and overall balance,” she adds. “This is a great way to introduce beginner bike skills!”

Kid Trax Unicorn Quad Ride-On Toy

Kid Trax Unicorn Quad Ride-On Toy

Push button ride-on-cars are so much fun (and, are ones that’ll keep your 3-year-old entertained for hours on end.

“They help develop those bilateral coordination skills by steering correctly and even hand strength by maintaining that push button to GO!” Sanschagrin explains.

Little Tikes Cozy Coupe

Little Tikes Cozy Coupe toy car

“I really like the Cozy Coupes because they do have a push option for parents but they also give the kiddo the option to use those feet and develop leg muscles and overall gross motor coordination,” Sanschagrin says.

Of course, parents and caregivers all need a break from time to time, so having the option to push your 3-year-old around the neighborhood when they need a little rest is a great option to have. “It also can help with their body awareness for when they are climbing in and out of the car while maneuvering the door,” she adds.

Sloth Warmies

Sloth stuffed animal

While other stuffed animals are nice to hug and to hold, this Warmies doll can also provide warming or cooling relief that can help children relax. The doll can be warmed up in the microwave or chilled in the fridge or freezer, depending on what feels best for your child.

“Great for kids to develop social connection, empathy and soft skills,” said Kunter. “It is scented with natural lavender to sooth and calm children.”

Disney Princess Royal Collection 12-Piece Shimmer Fashion Dolls

Disney Princess Royal Collection 12-Piece Shimmer Fashion Dolls

“Disney toys are always wildly popular, but they are this year especially with the Disney100 anniversary celebrations,” Mierzejewski adds. “Classic fashion dolls allow kids to engage in creative storytelling and imaginative, open-ended play, and these allow kids to do so with their favorite Disney characters!”

At a great value, kids can build up a whole Disney squad to create their own adventures.

GUND Audrey Flamingo 12″ Plush Stuffed Animal

GUND Audrey Flamingo 12" Plush Stuffed Animal

“Stuffed animals that are durable, easy to wash, and do not have parts that may become loose or fall off are the best purchases,” Pruneda-Hernandez explains. “Children may become attached to a stuffed animal and may want that toy at all times since it may provide them comfort.”

The stuffed animal or doll is going to depend on the child and, if a child becomes attached to a stuffed animal or doll, the child may keep that toy for many years. “”I still have a koala from my childhood that I was attached to and I just turned 50 this year,” she adds.

Viral Toys Dinosaur Weighted Stuffed Animal

Viral Toys Dinosaur Weighted Stuffed Animal

“I love weighted stuffed animals for my kiddos that I work with,” Sanschagrin shares. “It can offer deep pressure as a tool to regulate and calm themselves, especially when they are feeling anxious.”

What’s more, the weight can also provide good feedback for where their body is in space, essentially helping them feel ‘ground’ to the world. It’s also perfect for imaginative play.

Squishmallows 10″ Hanna the Purple Hippo

Squishmallows Hanna the purple hippo doll

Squishmallows can also offer a safe sensory experience.

“The texture often encourages squeezing of the toy which can also offer similar deep pressure benefits as the weighted animals,” Sanschagrin adds. “They make for great comfort items and sleeping companions.”

An FAQ on the 3-year-old age group, from experts

play background

Ahead, our team of child development experts provide insight into the 3-year-old age group and what defines playtime at this stage.

For more, check out our expert-backed guides to the best toys for 1-year-olds and 2-year-olds and 4-year-olds .

What child development skills come to light among 3-year-olds?

Three-year-olds are like 2-year-olds in the sense that they’re moving, but they’re noticing more, according to Hirsh-Pasek. Ahead, she details all of the wonderful learning stages three-year-olds — generally — are up to in age.

  • They can tell a story well and can run pretty fast (though skipping is far away).
  • They are much more coordinated, with their body proportions more formed.
  • They are very conversational and particular. If a three-year-old boy wants milk out of a dinosaur cup, he’s usually referring to a specific cup that you should know about.
  • They can live in fantasy worlds they create, as well as line up toys and tell a story with them.
  • They’re “not bad” toward the end of the third year but “great” as they move toward year four.
  • They are glued to characters like Elmo who serve as conversational agents for them.
  • They’re pretty dexterous and can put small pieces into large puzzles.
  • They’re interested in putting crayons on paper.
  • They like when you read stories to them and can talk about the characters in a book in finer detail.
  • Their scribbles are becoming more sophisticated and symbolic. To them, things stand for something else: the rocks symbolize the tower they want to build; the drawings begin to turn into family portraits. They start to symbolically represent, and that’s one of the best human development skills — the move toward language and symbolism.

What are the best toys for 3-year-olds?

Of course, every 3-year-old has a different imagination and a different view of play. However, it’s most important to find a toy that suits their needs as they’re becoming more curious by the day.

“I highly recommend toys that allow children to explore, use their imagination and will enable them to hold or use their hands easily,” Pruneda-Hernandez says. “Children should not become frustrated with toys that may not be age-appropriate such as providing a 3-year-old with a fifty-piece puzzle.”

What’s more, parents, teachers and caregivers should always review the manufactures age range for a toy. “Three-year-olds may put toys or items in their mouths, so toys with small pieces that children may swallow are inappropriate,” she adds.

There’s a multitude of evidence recognizing the importance of play in children. According to Sanschagrin, at age three, one of their primary occupations is play which is a massive facilitator of their learning.

“Toddlers are much more likely to absorb new information when using the modality of play. Play is also a great way to process emotions that they might be unable to express or even understand. It encourages creativity and even problem solving!” Caitlin Sanschagrin, an occupational therapist specializing in pediatrics — specifically, feeding, sensory processing and regulation and neurodivergent-affirming care

Overall, staple toys for the 3-year-old age group would include building toys (like Magna-Tiles and LEGO), shape sorters, drawing and coloring toys (like MagnaDoodle), and open ended pretend play toys (like Little People sets), per Sanschagrin.

How do toys facilitate learning in the 3-year-old age group?

“Toys introduce kids to the foundations of storytelling, coding, creativity, dexterity and more thorough fun and engaging play patterns, so they spark curiosity for a future love of learning,” Mierzejewski explains. “Through play, 3-year-olds can develop their motor skills, start to learn the basic concepts of STEM skills, flex their imaginations, and start to role-play what they see adults doing through pretend play.”

During this age, kids can also start to establish physically active and social-emotional habits early that they will carry with them as they grow.

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50 Of The Best Gifts And Toys For The 3-Year-Old In Your Life

Three is the age when memories start for children, so go make some good ones with a fun, thoughtful, and even educational prezzie.

1. A two-sided  Learning Resources "Big Feelings Pineapple"  so kids can learn  emotions (as well as their opposites) and express their big feelings (and little ones too). Adult bonus to this gift? You can store all the parts inside the pineapple! 

Child model playing with yellow pineapple toy with different faces

Promising review: "I got this as a birthday gift for my 3 year old nephew. He loves it." — Amazon Customer

Get it from Amazon for $8.90 .

We've also got you covered with recommendations for under-$15 parenting products with five-star reviews , BTW.

2. A 14-piece, nontoxic  Hape wooden tool box and accessory play set  to lightly and gently hammer home the basics of building and repairing while fine-tuning those hand-to-eye skills. This prezzie will pay dividends when they're older and you need help with actual projects! 

Child model playing with colorful wooden tool kit

Includes: wooden tool box, hammer, screwdriver, wrench, three sets of screw and screw caps, board connector, two gears and plastic nail. It may also be one of the toys that'll make the kids put down the iPad .

Promising review: "My son got this for his 1st birthday and has loved it so much. Very durable and cute! He is now almost 3 and it's still one of his favorite toy sets. It's also now my go-to gift for kid's friends bdays." — Monica

Get it from Amazon for $19.97 .

3. A  Lego Duplo car wash set  that'll have your kiddo squealing "ka-chow!" with delight upon discovering they can build their very own Lightning McQueen and Mater and then push the toy cars through the "car wash."

Lego Duplo car wash set

This set comes with drivable models of Disney and Pixar’s Lightning McQueen & Mater from the Cars movies, plus a brick-built car wash with a movable washing arm, and a spinning tuning table for kids to carry out repairs using the wrench.

Promising review: "My nephews love their Lightning McQueen and Mater. Hopefully they will have more characters to play with soon." — SeniorGhostlyElectrolyzer

Get it from Lego for $29.99.  

4. A three-chord Loog Mini acoustic guitar so little punk kids can learn the entire Ramones catalog. Comes with flashcards of chord diagrams and full access to the Loog Guitar app. Hey! Ho! Let's go!

Child model playing a red, three-string guitar with note codes scattered about

Promising review: "Great product!!! I got it for my three-year-old daughter and she loves it!!" — karen gonzalez

Get it from Amazon for $98  (available in four colors).

5. A Plus Plus Big construction building set  packed with 15 "shapes" to construct the featured animal or anything minds can imagine and little hands can, well, handle. A big bonus to this gift? All the sets work together! 

A triptych image of PlusPlus penguin, flamingo, and giraffe sets

Promising review: "I got these for my 3-year-old for a seven-hour flight and two weeks of road tripping and she absolutely loved them! She played with them all the time and never got bored with them!" — Meetmow

Get it from Amazon for $11.99+ (available in multiple styles from animals to figures to a Christmas tree). 

6. A super-realistic four-piece  Schleich Shiba Inu playset  which makes the ideal gift for the little dog-lover in your life who's not quite ready for that real pup yet. Plus, think of the memes you can make with these tiny toys! 

Dog toys with bed and bone

Promising review: "I am a grown woman who, nonetheless, collects figurines of cute animals. I got the Shiba Inu mother and puppy set. Both figures are adorable and a great addition to my collection. I like the Schleich brand in general because their figurines are fairly realistic and whoever paints them does a competent job. I expect to keep these guys on my display shelf for a long time." — Lauren Votava

Get it from Amazon for $9.99+ (available in two other animal types).

7. An Educational Insights "Design & Drill" Bolt Buddies fire truck  that teaches the concepts of construction and engineering with a working but still kid-safe drill. Plus the eco-friendly packaging that turns the box into a play set is a bonus gift to Mother Earth.  

Child model playing with plastic red fire truck toy

Note:   requires three AAA batteries (not included).

Promising review: "This Design & Drill Bolt Buddies Fire Truck has many layers of fun. My daughter loved to attach the wheels with the drill, put stickers on the truck, drill the bolts and use the fire and water attachments in different ways, configure and seat the firefighters and dog and use her imagination to 'drive' the truck and be a hero. The 'splash' drill bit is fun and I love that the firefighters' heads and hats are interchangeable and that they have different expressions. It's a nice-sized truck that can endure some heavy play. The box can be turned inside out to build a cool play set, and as a parent, I love that all the pieces can store inside the truck." — N. Min

Get it from Amazon for $29.99 .

8. A two-sided, A-frame art easel with chalk board, magnetic dry erase board, storage, and paper feeder for aspiring artists who are still experimenting with their preferred mediums. Plus it's a great way to teach kids about writing "thank you" notes!

Two kids using the blue easel with shelves below

Promising review:  "Very nicely made product! Took 45 minutes to built but well worth the minutes and looks awesome too. Excited using it with my kid and being able to multitask all in one area with the chalk board, white board and painting being optimal without the layout mess.  Love that it has the built in clips to dry the painting also the storage area and the shelf to place extra paints.  Really recommend for a long durable product to use and/ or gift." — beauty4life

Get it from Amazon for  $149.99  (available in seven colors). 

9. A Red & Olive Mr. Beary + Beanie Set  handcrafted to be a "soft, durable, and timeless" best-stuffed-buddy for years to come. The best part? The matching hat that will fit kids ages 1 through 10!  

Child model with stuffed brown bear wearing yellow beanie

Red & Olive is a Peruvian- and American-blended family and a woman-owned business that supports woman artisans through flexible schedules and fair wages for their ethically, handmade dolls and hats. 10% of sales go to Starlight Children's Foundation benefitting seriously ill kids all across the United States.

The quality of this stuffie simply can't be denied! It doesn't feel mass-produced (because it's not) and has some weigh to it. We named ours Teddé (pronounced Teh-day) and we're looking forward to her being dragged everywhere by our daughter and being a part of our family. Plus, we can't wait to see them both in their matching beanies! 

Get it from Red & Olive for $88  (available with and without beanie).  

This little bear is so cute, it seems like something a stressed-out adult might even want.

10. A subscription to Little Spoon "Plates" balanced and preservative-free toddler meals (with plenty of hidden veggies) starting at under $5 a plate delivered directly to their door. What better gift is there than a well-fed child you didn't have to actually cook for? 

Split image of Little Spoon Meals and child model pulling faces with a stack of plates above his head

Plates will launch with over 15 different recipes — from chicken pot stickers with quinoa veggie stir fry and edamame to broccoli bites with sweet potato carrot poppers and green beans. Yum! 

Promising review: "We just got our plates and I’m amazed! My toddler is EATING. Something other than PB&J... he thought it was so cool to pick an animal out by the packaging, and he helped microwave it. Raving reviews from my toddler and I!" — Danielle 

Get a subscription from Little Spoon:  $120  (for 24 meals/delivery = $4.99/meal) to $52  (for 8 meals/delivery = $6.49/meal). Digital and physical gift cards are available in amounts from $50–$500. 

11. A lightweight but durable  Ten Little recycled backpack  made from (you guessed it) 100% recycled materials, with side pockets for water bottles and juice boxes and plenty of room for lunchboxes, toys, and extra clothes. Plus you can hide another present inside! 

Ten Little's Everyday sneakers are amazing so I'm super psyched for their take on your little boo's first backpack! 

Get it from Ten Little for $32  (originally $36; available in three colors). 

12. A Polly Pocket unicorn party play set  with over "25 surprises to discover" including a stream of confetti (so watch out). It's like the gift that keeps on giving! 

Child model playing with pink and purple plastic unicorn play set

Promising review: "This is a perfect birthday gift! While yes cleaning up confetti is annoying, for a kid on their birthday the confetti is so special and fun! My daughter absolutely loved this set! Perfect for a kid into unicorns! Great price for a unique gift that looks like it cost more!" — Drbananakins

Get it from Amazon for $26 .

13. A wooden climber triangle set that'll blend in effortlessly with your farmhouse decor and entertain your budding climbing enthusiast for hours at a time. It also will make an excellent fort when they're a little older! Plus, it folds up for easy storage. Win-win-win-win!

split image showing the triangle set with the slide and with the rock climbing wall

The set includes Pikler Triangle and reversible rockwall/slide ramp and is recommended for little ones age six months to six years.

Promising review: "The best purchase we've made in a while! Our daughter loves to climb, slide, and use the Pikler as a fort (with a blanket on top). If you're thinking about buying this, do it! Hours of fun for littles!" — Lauren M.

Get it from Piccalio $349 .

14. A Hand2mind Numberblocks MathLink Cubes activity set  based on the award-winning BBC series that actually makes learning numbers and math fun (and musical) in the best possible way (kids learn, parents enjoy it too). 

Child model playing with stacks of Numberblock toys

"1-2-3-4-5-Numberblocks!" is a theme song that I hear multiple times a day and have still somehow not tired of. Why? Because my kid loves it and so do I. Maybe it's the catchy tunes, maybe its the British accents, but this show gives every number a personality (some of my favorites include 8, 13, and 15 but you'll have to watch to find out why). So it's no surprise that the toys based on this show are just as fun and educational. I wish I learned about numbers and math this way instead of through flash cards and times tables. Lucky kids!    

Get it from Amazon for $19.99 .

15. A durable metal  Big Dig sandbox digger crane with 360-degree rotation for serious backyard, beach, or playground excavation projects. No permit needed! Just a great prezzie the kiddies will, um, totally dig! 

Split image of child models playing with yellow digger in sand and a closeup

Promising review: "I don't write reviews often but we have had this for two days and my boys (3 and 5) woke up at 6:30 a.m., ate breakfast and got dressed and hustled outside on a gloomy rainy mid February morning in Seattle to play with this. They normally fight over whose turn it is, but instead they have been taking turns and playing like civil humans for an hour already. Best toy ever, bought a second one already so they don't have to share because there's only so long siblings can go before someone throws down." — Rk

Get it from Amazon for $45.60+  (available in two styles).

16. A Playmobil "1.2.3 Aqua Splish Splash" water park for cranking up some indoor or outdoor aquatic action. The best part of this prezzie is that it includes three figures to float down that lazy river.   

Blue and red plastic Playmobil water toy

I've never been disappointed by Playmobil sets or figures! Their elegant simplicity leaves plenty of room for imagination! 

Get it from Amazon for $56.69 .

17. A sleek and dare we say stylish  Radio Flyer toddler/kids helmet  with an adjustable chin strap and interior to grow with your child's noggin up to the age of five. And yes, you still have to buy them a new gift every year. 

Child model wearing red Radio Flyer helmet with white stripes

Promising review: "Exactly what I was looking for in a helmet for my little guy. It feels like a quality helmet and looks great! My toddler loves to wear it. I would recommend this to anyone." — BorbaR67

Get it from Amazon for $21.49+  (available in two colors and styles).

18. A "Silly Poopy's Hide & Seek" game (from the makers of What Do You Meme?) that actually involves hiding a fake plastic poo that talks and gives clues to its whereabouts.

You know when your brain tells you, "This might be a bad idea!" but your gut tells you "Nah, this is going to be hilarious! Maybe." Luckily, my gut was right this time. Silly Poopy is beyond silly and not poopy at all. It is indeed a poop-ton of fun for the whole family thanks to its infectious song that sounds like it was taken straight from a 1970s game show. Best of all, my kid loves it and hopefully, this is the only poop he tries to hide around the house.

Get it from Amazon for $12.99 .

Check out " 36 Parenting Products If Your Baby Didn't Come With A Rule Book " to see some other unique finds!

19. A Bluey Mega Bundle Home & BBQ playset  that packs four different rooms of fun in the Heeler house plus the barbie in the backyard! The best part is that the set combines the family figure four-pack (cue theme: Mum! Dad! Bingo! Bluey!) with the BBQ and home sets.  

Rear or play set house with four figures

Promising review: "My kids love this Bluey house. It was cheaper to buy this set than the house on its own with the separate barbecue and family sets. My kids play with it all the time and they can be a little rough on the toys. They’ve held up extremely well although we’ve only had the set for a couple weeks. Mine was packaged in a separate box so the contents were hidden (which was great since my kids always come with me to the door)." — jmb

Get it from Amazon for $49.99 .

20. A big, 'ol, 111-piece, made-in-the-U-S-of-A tin of real maple wood Lincoln Logs  that were actually invented by the son of Frank Lloyd Wright and not by our 16th president. So you're giving the gift of American architectural history as well! 

A large round green tin filled with Lincoln logs

Promising review: "A great gift-able tin that offers easy clean up (everything goes right back in the tin). You will be surprised how much kids love a simple toy like this. They will put down the video game and actually build something in real life.  Plus, it adds a little nostalgia when parents or grandparents remember playing with the same toy as children. Very happy with this purchase." — Amazon customer

21. A screen-free  Storypod starter set  with classic stories, music, and read-along audiobooks that encourages active-listening and participation with the cute little "craftie" characters. Use the app to create your own stories too! 

Storypods in blue and white with various

Just place one of the "smart figurines" aka Crafties or one of the read-along books on top of the Storypod. That's how kids will be able to access "classic and original stories, music, and learning topics." They can also record their own stories or listen to recorded messages from family members through the Storypod app with up to 100 minutes of space. 

Promising review: "This is a very original toy. My kids (3 and 6) are enjoying it so much! You can hear to the stories and music in English and Spanish when you place the yarn figurine on top of the speaker. The volume doesn't get very high but I think that is on purpose so that the children can hear their stories without disturbing others in the same room. They can also play with the figurines while they are hearing the content because the audio keeps going once you place the crafty on top of the speaker...The audiobook is also very cool. My kids were able to read along while they heard the story and at the end they answer the questions pressing the buttons that light up in colors. It also has other functions that you can set up in the app. Any member of the family who has the app, can record what they want on their cell phones and when you place the owl (or other Craftie) on the speaker you can hear what they recorded. That is so cool! I really recommend this toy, so you can keep your kids off of the screens for a while." — Ani 

Get it from Amazon for $99.99 .

22. A flower garden building activity set  so budding horticulturists don't rip up flower beds or track dirt inside the house. Instead, kids will build dishwasher-safe bouquets that look as pretty as a flower no matter the season.   

Colorful plastic flower toys

Promising review: "My grandson loved this. He is 3 and loves to build and loves anything to do with gardens and yards. This combined both. He played with it for hours! Very easy to interlink and when they are finished playing it all goes in the carry case." — alison Colburn

Get it from Amazon for $23.99 . 

23. A box of 72 mini dinosaur toys because sometimes gifts aren't about the quality but the quantity and what kid doesn't love a whole mess of thunder lizards? 

72 plastic dinosaur toys

Also great as cake toppers and party bag favors! 

Promising review: "HI, we were quite amazed at the variety of dinosaurs included in our pack. We expected the usual three but got quite a variety of dinosaurs and we got three or more of each. The colors were fantastic. Bright vivid blues and greens and purples. The size was relatively small which worked well as my daughter used them as homemade Valentines for her friends. Overall, we were very happy with our purchase." — H. Bowen 

Get it from Amazon for $9.99 .

To see some other inexpensive goodies, check out our roundup under-$10 parenting products with a ton of five-star reviews !

24. A LittleHippo "Ready to Rise" children's trainer/alarm clock  that "uses colors and facial expressions to teach your kids when it's time for bed and time to wake up." Imagine getting a full eight hours of sleep? Best gift ever! 

Children's clock with three different digitally-colored faces

Promising review: "I love that this compact little device serves so many purposes! It serves as a clock, alarm clock, sound machine, nightlight, and sleep trainer all in one! My daughter loves that the 'face' on it goes to sleep when it’s bedtime and the green light lets her know it’s morning and time to wake up. We do not use the alarm clock feature yet, but the nightlight component turning from yellow and then to green lets her know that morning is approaching and also when it’s the 'right time' to get out of bed in the a.m.! Everything about this device is easy to set and I love the option to lock the device once all of the settings are selected. Cute and functional addition to our daughter’s room!" — Amazon Customer

Get it from Amazon for $49.99+ (available in four colors). 

25. A kids selfie camera with 32GB SD card, 8 mega-pixels, 1080P video and nearly 8,000 5-star reviews on Amazon! But the real gift here is not having to surrender your phone to future social media superstars of the world. 

Reviewer's photo of toy cameras in blue and purple

Promising review: "My daughter is three and got this for Christmas and she absolutely loves taking pictures on it. There’s a little bit of a learning curve but overall she really loves it." — Keta

Get it from Amazon for $33.99+ (clip the coupon on the product page to save 10%; available in five colors). 

26. A bean bag toss game for kids  to develop the most important hand-to-eye-skills necessary for backyard good times. Folds up for storage and easy portability (like indoors).  

Reviewer photo of zoo animal bean game with colorful bean bags and carrying case

Promising review: "I needed something that would keep my three-year-old busy while I cooked dinner in the kitchen. This thing is amazing. It fits nicely in my small kitchen, and I can even toss the bean bags with him while I cook. So we are interacting, he is entertained, and not tugging on my leg every few seconds. It also provides him something that he can do on his own. You can stand it up, or lay it down, and it provides two different levels of difficulty.  It folds up really small and comes with a carrying case, so we can easily take it with us on vacations and such! I'm pretty happy with this purchase." — Jose Martinez 

Get it from Amazon for  $14.99+ (clip the coupon on the product page to save 11%; available in four styles). 

27. A rocket bath toy so kids who hate bath- and shampoo-time and their beleaguered parents who can't abide by a dirty child can finally come to some sort of daily detente.  

Gray, orange, yellow, and teal plastic rocket bath toy submerged and spraying water

Get it from Amazon for $16.99+ (available in two colors and in sets). 

28. A 12-pack of durable and sustainable all-natural pure beeswax crayons that are nearly unbreakable and even come with a money-back guarantee. You better bee-lieve it!

An open box of large, multi-colored crayons with some spread in a circle on a table

Promising review: "So I bought these worried about my 2-year-old potentially eating a crayon and having that toxic kind of stuff in her system. But, I really should have been more worried about my dogs eating crayons which so far they've snagged one and a half of these babies with no health problems for them after, so I'd say that's a major win. What's also fantastic about these crayons is that they are the perfect size for little hands. My daughter just loves to color with them and they color as smooth as Crayola and they're not all plastic and waxy like the crayons you get at the dollar store. So I'd definitely recommend these to anyone with a toddler, just watch for sneaky dogs. They'll gobble them up." — Cassandra S.

Get it from Amazon for $22.95 .

29. A glow-in-the-dark fort building kit  to flex their future architect muscles by building huts, igloos, rockets, tunnels, and any other not-so-secret hiding spots.

reviewer photo of their child standing inside of a fort

Promising review: "My 4 year old grandson loves these. He can easily manipulate the parts putting together and taking apart. He is always making something with his. He loves that they glow in the dark." – Tracey R. Pierce

Get it from Amazon for $34.99+ (available in two styles). 

30. An 18-piece Fisher-Price "S'more Fun" campfire play set that trades all the danger of wood-chopping, roaring fires, and grizzly bear attacks for kid-friendly wood accents and soft fabric. Plus no marshmallow and chocolate stains!

A felt set of campfire items including pair of bear hands, a log on fire, an ax, and s'mores

Promising review: "My daughter is almost 4 and has recently gotten into building tents and forts out of pillows. We used my phone to 'make a fire' but I wanted to get her something cute she could play with instead of my phone. This fits the bill and is affordable. It’s cool that you can cut the firewood with the felt ax. The marshmallows are double-sided, one side is uncooked and the other is cooked. It’s also nice that the mat for the fire can double as a picnic pad too. The material seems very durable as well. The box that this comes in is cute and doubles for storage as well." — Christie

31. A Play-Doh Kitchen Creations "Rising Cake Oven Bakery" play set  that even Paul Hollywood might approve of ( might ) for aspiring young bakers. Plus you can give a firm handshake for a job well done as a bonus gift! 

Child model playing with Play-Doh bakery set

Includes five Play-Doh colors. 

Promising review: "This is a great Play-Doh set. Super adorable, LOVE how you can fill the pan with 'cake batter,' then lock it into the stove and use the lever to make the cake 'rise.' The kids are thrilled with it. Couple of things to note: Make sure the cake pan is locked into the oven by sliding its lower edge under the notches. After pulling the lever, you need to put it back into its original position BEFORE trying to open the oven door. Don't force it or it could break. Also note that the set will need additional Play-Doh if you want to make any color of cake other than pink. It comes with enough pink Play-Doh to make a cake but not enough of any other colors to make a cake. That wasn't a problem for us, we have PLENTY of Play-Doh..." — elise

Get it from Amazon for $14.99 .

32. An inexpensive and  inflatable animal sled  they'll be begging to take out on the snowy town every snow day from here on out.

a child model sitting atop inflatable polar bear snow toy

Promising review: "My daughter absolutely loved this sled! It worked perfectly, inflated easy with a pump and did not get any tears or holes while using it. My daughter really enjoyed the polar bear design!" — Julia

Get it from Amazon for $14.99+ (available in three animal styles: polar bear, bunny, and dinosaur). 

33. A 3D-printed  moon lamp , AKA, the coolest nightlight ever. Your little one will be lulled to sleep each night by its warm, ambient glow (or by trying to find faces, footprints, or any other details on its realistic surface). 

reviewer photo of their child in bed with the moon lamp lit up on the side table

Promising review: "My 4 year old granddaughter is very much in love with the moon and now with her moon nightlight. It looks lovely on her nightstand. It had a choice of a bright white glow or a yellow glow." – gina

Get it from Amazon for $16.99+ (available in four sizes and three colors).

34. A light-up "LeapFrog Pick Up and Count" vacuum with bouncing balls to mimic the colorful debris that your *actual* vacuum picks up in your kid's play area (I'm looking at you, Legos and Barbie shoes!). This'll really get the "get your toys off of the floor" message across, but in a fun and playful way!

A child model playing with a green plastic vacuum with multi-colored discs

Promising review: "I bought it for my son's birthday. So far so good. He's obsessed with the vacuum cleaner. This one seems to capture his attention!" — Miss t

Get it from Amazon for $27.97+  (available in two colors).

And if you like the sound of that, here are some other  products that'll keep kids busy and your house mess-free , along with some  organizational products for parents .

35. A pair of GeoSafari Jr. binoculars  designed for inquisitive toddlers and preschoolers that want to be able to look at birds, planes, treetops, and other high-up things up close!

A child model looking through the binoculars

Promising review: "Santa brought these for my 3-year-old son. By far his favorite gift. The colors are adorable. The binoculars are easy to hold. My son wouldn't put them down on Christmas Day. We took him to see deer and the look on his face when he spotted the "kid" deer in his binoculars, absolutely priceless. recommend these to anyone with young children." — Amazon Customer

Get it from Amazon for $11.99 .

36. A  Learning Resources "1-2-3 Build It!" robot factory  that'll help tots develop impressive motor skills as they create new robo-buddies.

Reviewer's image of primary colored robot toy

Promising review:  "My 2-year-old nephew loved this gift. The pieces are large but fit securely together. And once together it can take a bit of abuse. He was rolling it all over the floor and into things. And the rearrangement ability of the pieces makes it a new robot when you change them around. Great learning toy and so much better for them than looking at a screen." — BB-O-Matic 

Get it from Amazon for $17.49 .

37. A sturdy and inflatable  "Bouncy Pals" unicorn hopping toy  kids that can't sit still will adore . Not only will it keep 'em busy and help get their jitters out, but it'll also improve balance and even strengthen their legs and core. If only they would introduce inflatable unicorns to adult aerobics classes...

Split image of child sitting on white unicorn with rainbow horn and pink hooves and snout toy

As one reviewer notes, it's technically an alicorn (due to the wings) and not just your run-of-the-mill unicorn. You just leveled up on your mythical creature knowledge.

Promising review: "It was super easy to inflate, came with an extra 'plug,' and is cute enough to give a T-rex a cavity. The material is VERY sturdy…reminds me of what you would make an inflatable raft with…really tough! My granddaughter loves it, even just to sit on and watch tv. The cover is easy to clean (by hand, allow to air dry) and not difficult to put back on and zip. I’m pretty sure it will be around for a long time!!!" — Athena L.Stallman

Get it from Amazon for $29.99+  (available in two colors).

38. A wooden puzzle equivalent to playing Tetris but in tactile form that'll ~exercise their brain~ without any screen time.

The wooden puzzle

Reviewer's say this is a great toy for all ages — from 3 to 12.

Promising review: " This puzzle has been a huge hit with my 4-year-old and 6-year-old grandsons. Each was able to play with it in a unique and challenging way. The quality is great and it is light weight as well so it is easy to store and get out." — BoiseMom

39. Nontoxic Disney Princess nail polishes perfect for when little divas are in the mood for a mani-pedi day.

The nail polish set

Promising review: " My 4-year-old LOVES these nail polishes! And I love not having to worry when she gets them all over my fingers and toes ...I just quietly peel it all off when she isn’t looking and then I’m ready for her to do it again. Very fun and kid-friendly. And, of course, everything is better when it’s covered in princesses! We highly recommend." — Tiffany Lund

Get it from Amazon for $16.99 .

40. A rainbow-colored saucer swing guaranteed to add a pop of color to any room and become the kiddo's fave ~hangout~ spot in the playroom or yard.

Reviewer's two kids on the swing

Promising review: "This swing is awesome! It super sturdy. I have a 5-year-old (almost 6), 4-year-old, and 2-year-old and they all fit nicely on it together and it’s tons of fun! Was easy to put together, took 15 mins if that." — RALPH

Get it from Amazon for $39.99+ (available in two sizes).

41. A set of Crayola Scribble Scrubbie pets that can be reused over and over again (unlike one and done sets). This will keep budding artists busy coloring the cute pets, scrubbing them, and coloring all over again.

Reviewer's photo showing three animal figures colored

The Peculiar Pets set includes: 1 Dragon, 1 Narwhal, 1 Yeti, and 1 Unicorn toy, 1 sparkly scrub tub, 1 scrub brush, 9 washable markers, 1 standing play mat, and an instruction sheet.

Promising review: "My daughter LOVES coloring, stickers, drawing, etc. so when I saw this prior to her fourth birthday, I thought she would enjoy it. It was a HUGE hit and it will regularly keep her occupied for an hour or so at a time coloring, cleaning and coloring again (with only minor help when asked for more help cleaning and drying). Even my 6-year-old son who doesn't usually color or draw will join her periodically and seems to enjoy it. The markers are short and skinny, great for small hands." — a.b.

Get it from Amazon for $22.10+ (available in two styles).

42. A Tutu Du Monde dupe tulle dress with layers of ruffles to give any young royal that luxe look on their birthday without spending nearly $200 for a dress.

Reviewer's photo showing two children wearing the dusty pink tutu dresses

Promising review: " Love, love, love, this feather ballerina dress. My daughter's birthday is coming up, and I ordered this product hoping that it fit and will arrive before her birthday. The dress arrived way earlier than expected, and it fit my three year old, who is going to be turning four, perfectly!!! This is a very beautiful dress and is good quality. The dress stretches, and the fluff of the dress is amazing, not itchy at all. I ordered the dress in the size for 2- to 3-years old, and I would definitely recommend this dress!!!" — Diamond

Promising review: " It’s soooo much fuller than I thought and absolutely ADORABLE!! Oh my gosh I am In LOVE!! And so is my 4-year-old!!"— Lashawnda M.

Get it from Amazon for $12.43+ (available in sizes 6 months–9 years and in 23 styles).

43. A Melissa & Doug magnetic calendar to help kiddos keep track of the week, date, weather, and special events. They'll look forward to updating it every morning.

The magnetic daily calendar

Promising review: " My 4-year-old love love loves this! He gets excited to change the magnets every morning. I had some magnet strips and made additional magnets for activities (preschool, zoo, library, grandmas house). I am really happy I bought this and it has helped teach him months, and days of the week. Determining the weather is fun too. One day we came home after school and he couldn't wait to change the weather from sunny to raining. I highly recommend this for preschoolers, it's a lot of fun." — Hammyg3

Get it from Amazon for $19.59 .

44. An LCD writing tablet that'll encourage little Einsteins to practice their numbers and letters. Added bonus: They might even consider trading their iPad for this cool gadget.

The blue writing tablet with an LCD screen

Promising review: " This tablet has entertained my 4-year-old grandson, for hours at a time. He loves that he can erase at will, and that the drawings are multi-colored. I highly recommend this item for 18 month old and up. I bought a pink one for our 18-month-old granddaughter, and she too is just enthralled with it, and the 'power' she has to erase, create, erase, create! They loved them so much, that we bought another set of two different colors, so that they would have them at home as well as at 'Grammy's.'" — Kindle Customer Red Heart

Get it from Amazon for $19.99+ (available in four colors) — clip the coupon on the product page to get 10% off this price.

45. A rechargeable  karaoke microphone  boasting four voice effects, 30 classic songs from yesteryear, plus the ability to connect via Bluetooth because, let's be honest, all they really want to sing is their favorite Moana tune.

reviewer photo of them holding a kids' karaoke microphone

Promising review:  "My cousin informed us that this karaoke microphone was THE favorite gift for their 4-year-old, beating out everything that Santa brought. The 11-year-old loves it, too! Mom and Dad did complain that I didn't add in earphones and Advil because they used it so much!" – Betty Jo

Get it from Amazon for $29.99 (available in six colors). 

46. An adorable  Skip Hop unicorn backpack that'll make their I-don't-want-to-get-on-the-school-bus temper tantrums so much more ✨magical✨!

reviewer photo of their child wearing the unicorn backpack

Promising review: "I bought them for my 3 year old toddlers and they fit perfectly with a little room to grow. They are sturdy and super cute. I love that they have a name badge inside." – Chippy g

Get it from Amazon for $19.89 .

47. Nontoxic Disney Princess nail polishes perfect for when little divas are in the mood for a mani-pedi day.

Promising review: "I bought this for my 3 year old and it was a really big hit! Gave her the "big girl" experience without a huge mess. It dries fast, has little to no odor, and is safe for children." — Justine Potter

Get it from Amazon for $15.99 .

48. And, for matching bling, a Disney Princess necklace activity set with more than 30,000 5-star reviews (!!!) that'll make any child feel like true royalty.

The princess necklace activity set

My preschooler is OBSESSED with making these necklaces and I love that it keeps her off the screen. She totes her creations around in the adorable carry case and enjoys making mommy (and daddy!) wear them.

Looking for more ideas like this? Check out our toddler products you'll want to buy immediately .

Promising review: "Got these as a birthday gift for my toddlers friend. Really was a huge hit! Easily doable and fun for a 3-year-old. They made matching bracelets and wear them constantly." — Toto22

49. A large castle tent with sheer drapes and starry lights for an enchanting hideaway that'll impress even the most hard-to-impress princess on your list.

The pink tent with lights and stuffed animals inside

Promising review: "Bought this for my granddaughters 3rd birthday and she loves it, actually she sleeps in it at night in her bedroom. Well made, easy to set up and great quality that will have many years of use." — maryellen Enwright

Get it from Amazon for $35.95 (clip the coupon on the product page to get 5% off this price).

50. A Dyson Ball toy vacuum with ~working suction~ because believe it or not, kids this age actually *enjoy* cleaning the house.

Yellow vacuum with a grey handle and colorful balls in the clear cylinder

Promising review: "My grandson is almost 3. And is a vacuum nut. He loves it. It’s June. Bought it last October. He plays with it and his other toy vacuums a lot but this one he plays with the most." — Kindle Customer

Get it from Amazon for $19.99+ (available in three colors).

The reaction you're hoping for (and will most likely get) from the 3-year-old in your life...

For more toy and gift ideas for different age groups, check out these guides....

Best Toys And Gifts For 1-Year-Olds

Best Toys And Gifts For 2-Year-Olds

Best Toys And Gifts For 3-Year-Olds

Best Toys And Gifts For 4-Year-Olds

Best Toys And Gifts For 5-Year-Olds

Best Toys And Gifts For 6-Year-Olds

Best Toys And Gifts For 7-Year-Olds

Best Toys And Gifts For 8-Year-Olds

Best Toys And Gifts For 10-Year-Olds

Best Toys And Gifts For 12-Year-Olds

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18 best gifts and toys for three-year-old girls and boys

From educational toys to wooden playsets, these top-rated gift ideas will capture their imagination on their third birthday, article bookmarked.

Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile

<p>We cast our net far and wide to find gifts for every type of toddler</p>

We cast our net far and wide to find gifts for every type of toddler

Our Top Picks


If there’s one thing three-year-olds go crazy for, it’s ice cream, and the geniuses at Leapfrog have created the ultimate sweet treat with its toy ice cream cart. What this toy lacks in cool wooden Scandi aesthetics, it makes up for in colourful likeability, with more than 200 funny sounds, melodies and phrases, which had our tester hooked.

Le Toy

Made from FSC-certified wood, this imaginative and educational toy will keep young ones occupied for hours on end. This garage has everything motor fans could need, built using a multi-level with two spiral ramps made from composite wood and a working lift set which transports the vehicles through the three levels. There’s also a petrol pump to refuel the included car and helicopter, and helipad for necessary landings.

EDX Education whizzy dizzy

This activity toy from EDX Education is certainly unique. Promoting healthy active play both indoors and out, it’s effectively a park roundabout to be used at home. A sturdy base with swivelling platform, our active three-year-old took no persuading to hop on the whizzy dizzy. By pushing and pulling the rotating steering wheel our little tester spun around much to her delight. Not only does it provide an upper body workout, it develops hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills, too.

Tonies starter set

If you’re trying to steer your young ones away from screen time but want a gadget that’s going to be deemed worthy of your three-year-old’s attention, we believe we’ve found the answer with Tonies. The toniebox device is a child-friendly audio player that is geared towards independent play for pre-school children.

Tender Leaf

Before the big birthday arrives, we’d suggest planning ahead and assembling this toy kitchen, as it took us an hour to put everything together, but it was worth it to see our tester interact with it. A toy kitchen has almost become a house essential when there’s a pre-schooler inhabitant, as it is the pinnacle imaginative role-play toy.

Smart Games roboflex

You can always rely on Smart Games – which has been creating educational toys for more than 25 years – to come up trumps on some fun, independent learning. Turning three is a great time to put little minds to the test, and our little reviewer loved getting creative and making her own colourful crazy robot combinations. New from the brand is the genius extendable flexible bar pieces, magnetic at each end, simply stretch out and connect to make weird and wonderful arms, bendy bodies, or extensions for googly eyes.

Djeco play dough hairdressing workshop

Kids can channel their inner hairdresser with this creative set from French toymaker Djeco. The concept is super simple, and somewhat addictive in its therapeutic nature, as you push the dough through the holes at the top of the figures’ heads to mimic hair. Our stylist enjoyed creating various hair styles, with a penchant for chopping at her peril.

Liewood Sebastian fishing game

Playing this with our three-year-old tester felt pleasingly nostalgic as the magnetic rod caught its next object. While this may be a classic game, it’s safe to say it’s had a makeover since our day, and this version from Nordic brand Liewood is a lovely example.

‘Ten Minutes to Bed: Where’s Little Unicorn, a magical lift-the-flap book', published by Penguin Random House Children’s UK

From Ladybird’s best-selling bedtime series, Ten Minutes To Bed Where’s Little Unicorn , is a gift for both three year olds and their parents as it helps with the taxing bedtime routine. A magical lift-the-flap book, our little bookworm loved discovering what character was hiding under the flap. At the end of the story, they reach a magical rainbow where readers will find Twinkle the unicorn tucked up ready for bed, which should encourage readers to follow suit. While we can’t promise a full night’s sleep, we’re sure it’ll be a bedtime favourite.

Bluey dance and play plush toy

Bluey has become a household name across the globe. But perhaps unlike most animations, the series is not only loved by kids but parents, too. Our Bluey fanatic was over the moon to be dancing along with her favourite character.

Stych pointelle pink smile pyjamas gift bag

A one-stop-online accessories shop for girls, Stych is full of shiny and bright wonderment, with some fabulous gift finds. If you’re looking to gift a practical present but want it to leave a lasting impression, say hello to the pointelle pink smile pyjamas gift bag.


Inspiring imaginative play, the Lilliputiens Little Red Riding Hood Magnetic Theatre is such a sweet and well-thought-out creation. If your enthusiastic pre-schooler loves “putting on a show”, this is just the ticket. Kids can create their own theatre production of Little Red Riding Hood , using the four characters included: Little Red Riding Hood, Grandmother, the wolf and the hunter.


Baby and children’s brand Mori has pulled at our heart strings, with an adorable new collaboration with the much-loved world of Peter Rabbit.


While 1,000-piece puzzles may be a way off yet, curious toddlers love making sense of objects and thrive off problem solving, making the humble puzzle a fabulous gift idea. And they don’t get much better than this example from Danish family interiors brand Oyoy Living.

The Little Green Sheep

Not only will a tepee become a standout feature of a child’s bedroom or playroom, it will also enable young imaginations to run wild, and we’re here for that. At just shy of £100, this is a considered gift for a three-year-old but, given the hours of play generated, we think it’s worth the wonga.

presents 3 year olds

Another great option from one-stop online accessories shop Stych is this rainbow heritage-print hair gift set, which is not only useful but utterly adorable, too.

Janod Small Wooden Bear Stilts

A sweet take on the classic stilt, this gift will provide plenty of giggles. Our tester took no time in making herself taller and clowning around the house – simple, old-fashioned fun. The stilts are made from FSC-certified wood, and the bottom of the feet (or paws) feature anti-slip pads, which are great for solid surfaces.


Turning three often means little ones are on the move much more, and many parents might be looking at purchasing their child’s first scooter.

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While you may have heard the term “threenager” being thrown around, three is an undeniably lovely age. This pre-school era is a precious time where little personalities start to shine, their interest in hobbies is piqued, and their independence soars.

It’s understandable that before the confinements of “big school” kicks in, parents want to honour and protect these toddler years, and with that brings a new level of pressure when it comes to celebrating their offspring’s third birthday with a gift they’ll cherish.

When it comes to choosing a gift for a three-year-old, it’s important to consider their newfound independence; from next-level energy and improved attention to the ability to play on their own and their enhanced imagination. The key to the perfect present is honing in on these new developments, from active outdoor toys , to games that require concentration and role play.

There’s no shortage of gifts out there to please any three-year-old recipient, but how did we whittle down to our selective round-up? A present that sees them beyond the evening of their third birthday, offering longevity and capturing their attention, got the thumbs up from us.

Now may or may not be the time you consider a tablet , and while screen time can be a child’s and parent’s best friend, we prioritised gifts that’ll allow kids’ creativity to take centre stage. We cast our net far and wide to find gifts that provide plenty of fun to see little ones through these treasurable pre-school years.

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How we tested.

A selection of the best gifts for three-year-olds that we tested for this review

Over a prolonged two-week ‘birthday’ period, our three-year-old tester tried a variety of gifts, covering a wide range of prices. Together, we scrutinised the quality, how durable each gift was and whether it could withstand the pressures of ‘passionate’ preschool play. We’ve considered sustainability, developmental benefits, longevity of use, and, most importantly, whether it left our tester coming back for more.

The best gifts for three-year-olds for 2023 are:

  • Best gift for three-year-olds overall – Leapfrog scoop and learn ice cream cart, £46.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best screen-free gift for three-year-olds – Tonies starter set: £71.95, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best wooden toy for three-year-olds – Tender Leaf Toys home kitchen: £130, Kidly.co.uk
  • Best STEM toy for three-year-olds – Smart Games roboflex: £24.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best battery-powered toy for three-year-olds – Bluey dance and play plush toy: £40, Argos.co.uk

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Leapfrog scoop and learn ice cream cart

  • Best: Gift for three-year-olds overall
  • Dimensions : ‎45cm x 40cm x 22cm
  • Requirements : 3 x AA batteries, self-assembly

The ‘magic’ ice cream scoop recognised the colours and flavours being picked up and enabled our tester to serve up all sorts of combinations. With a variety of ‘flavours’ in different colours, little ones can also add sprinkles, sauce, whipped cream and syrups.

We love the discreet learning elements, as children will develop colour recognition, numbers, patterns and matching as they follow order cards to build ice cream combinations for six animal customers.

It’s worth noting you’ll need 3 AA batteries, which aren’t included.

Le Toy Van le grand garage

  • Best: Gift for motor fans
  • Dimensions : 53.5cm x 40cm x 42cm
  • Requirements : Ready for use

We love how this set encourages little ones’ imaginations, alongside developing skills such as dexterity and fine motor skills. But what impressed us the most is the quality, crafted using durable wood from sustainable sources and decorated using child-safe paint, it’s sure to stand the test of time… if our tester is ever willing to share it with anyone else.

EDX Education whizzy dizzy

  • Best: Energy burner
  • Dimensions : 58.2cm x 55cm x 16.3cm

Our young tester soon took control of the steering, speeding up and slowing down as she played, and looking rather chuffed with her efforts. Brilliantly sturdy, it encourages independent play and will certainly keep active young ones coming back for more. Handling up to 45kg, we see it getting years of use and being a go-to garden toy.

Tonies starter set

  • Best: Screen-free gift
  • Dimensions : 12cm x 12cm x 12cm
  • Requirements : Wifi

In the starter set you’ll get a toniebox, a creative-tonie, which has 90 minutes of space for you to upload online audiobooks, music or even recordings of your own stories and messages, and a charging dock. Encouraging a love of audio learning and reading, our tester enjoyed adjusting the volume using the rubber ears, swapping stories by placing the Tonie figurines on top of the cube, but most of all she just loved listening to Chase’s adventures (of Paw Patrol fame) with four different tales to listen to.

If you’re looking to encourage sleep (and who’s not), the brand just launched its sleepy sheep night light Tonie (£34.99, Tonies.com ), which operates in the same way as any other Tonie character, but produces a warm glow plus 90 minutes of sweet melodies, plus you can record and play a personalised goodnight message.

We were impressed by the vast offering of stories to choose from, including the hugely popular Peppa Pig and The Gruffalo , and even Disney classics. But at £14.99 a pop, we’d suggest going for their favourite character to garner the most interest. It’s also worth bearing in mind, though, that you will need to connect to wifi initially, but once you’ve placed on the tonie, the story is downloaded and ready for story-time action.

Tender Leaf Toys home kitchen

  • Best: For budding chefs
  • Dimensions : 52cm x 23.5cm x 65cm
  • Requirements : Self assembly, screwdriver required

This charming option has got everything budding chefs could wish for and more, complete with three clicking rotating oven knobs – a favourite feature for our tester – two hobs, a Butler-style sink with taps, and some cooking utensils. In fact, we found this toy kitchen went the extra mile, providing plates, a kettle, a tea towel, and even a baguette and baking tray to pop in the oven.

We love the sustainable materials used, which go towards meriting the price tag, as it’s made from rubber wood and plywood, which shows in the quality of this product. While this toy kitchen can hold its own against heavy-handed mini chefs, we’re dubious about the longevity of use, because it’s rather dinky, measuring just 65cm tall, meaning our chef spent a lot of time kneeling on the floor instead.

Smart Games roboflex

  • Best: STEM toy
  • Dimensions : Unspecified
  • Requirements : Assembly

Develop fine motor skills and colour and shape recognition, as mini builders work their way through the included poster, which provides robot designs to copy. This 12-piece set can be combined with all other SmartMax sets, so that’s the next present sorted too.

Djeco play dough hairdressing workshop

  • Best: For creativity
  • Dimensions : 21cm x 7cm x 6cm (box size)

You’ll get two pots of dough (one yellow, one orange), two head figurines and matching pushers, and a pair of child-friendly scissors. A fun, yet creative way to develop fine motor skills… while a future career path may be questionable, the enjoyment is undeniable.

Liewood Sebastian fishing game

  • Best: Classic toy
  • Dimensions : Fishing rod measures 30cm long and largest piece measures 5.6cm x 8.5cm x 1cm

Beautifully presented and made from 100 per cent beechwood, this set comes with eight animal faces, in a variety of pink and brown hues, all tactile to the touch. The magnetism was magical for our little tester, and while incredibly straightforward it’s entertaining and a classic toy you’ll want to pass down the generations.

Ten Minutes to Bed 'Where’s Little Unicorn, a magical lift-the-flap book’, published by Penguin Random House Children’s UK

  • Best: For book-lovers
  • Dimensions : 21.8cm x 21.8cm x 1.6cm
  • Requirements : N/A

Bluey dance and play plush toy

  • Best: Battery-powered toy
  • Dimensions : 33cm x 33cm x 17.78cm
  • Requirements : 4 x AA batteries (included)

Known for her awesome moves, little one’s can wiggle along as she hops on one leg, dances, and waves her arms in the air. There are over 50 phrases, which keeps it exciting, and four songs, plus there are three of her favourite games to play ­– statues, dance mode and copycat, which all kept our mini tester occupied. Batteries are included, so you play can start straightaway – a real bonus.

Stych pointelle pink smile pyjamas gift bag

  • Best: Practical gift
  • Dimensions : Available in sizes three to eight years

Beyond your run-of-the-mill kids’ pyjamas, these have been lovingly crafted using an organic cotton blend – we love the pastel pink with neon cuffs, and our little tester took no convincing to don the super soft teddy-ear towelling headband. Presented in a reusable cotton gift bag, it makes a practical yet pretty present.

Lilliputiens Little Red Riding Hood magnetic theatre

  • Best: For role play
  • Dimenions : 25cm x 12cm x 22cm

The compact box magically transforms into a theatre, as the characters come to life on the podium with the help of the two magnetic wooden sticks, which are poked through the back of the stage.

Our tester loved gliding the characters along the stage, and making her own (somewhat convoluted) adaptation. There are reversible scenes to assist the storyline, and the beautifully illustrated scenery, means this looks lovely out on display.

Mori Peter Rabbit pyjamas

  • Best: For Peter Rabbit fans
  • Dimensions : Available for ages three months to six years

While gifting a toddler a pair of pyjamas may seem a lacklustre present, our tester loved spotting the mischievous rabbit, who blends beautifully with an enchanting all-over botanical print.

The pyjamas have been crafted using Mori’s signature super-soft blend of organic cotton, and our tester took no convincing when it was time to get ready for bed.

Oyoy the world puzzle

  • Best: Cool design
  • Dimensions : 60cm
  • Requirements : 32-piece jigsaw to be assembled

With large pieces, this sweet jigsaw illustrates the whole world, and its many wonderful wild animal inhabitants. Parents will appreciate the calming muted colours, too. Our tester loved that it forms a circle, and it comes in a handy decorative storage box with a handle, which makes the clean-up a game in itself.

The Little Green Sheep kids’ tepee play tent, grey

  • Best: Den for three-year-olds
  • Dimension : 143cm x 113cm
  • Requirements : Self assembly, no tools required

The design of this tepee is understated, coming in grey or cream colourways, with a stylish scalloped entrance. This means it’s unlikely to be out of date in six months’ time when your child no longer likes spaceships or unicorns, for example. The five wooden poles provide a sturdy structure, and allow for plenty of playing room inside for a few small children.

Our little tester loves nothing more than gathering all of her soft toys for a tepee party, but equally it makes for a serene space for bedtime reading. We also love how easy it is to assemble and take down, and it comes with a handy cotton travel bag.

Rainbow heritage-print hair gift set

  • Best: Hair accessories

Created using Stych’s in-house-designed print, the bow headband makes for great partywear (perfect if you’re facing a deluge of third-birthday parties), while the matching bow scrunchie will get plenty of use. Presented in a reusable cotton gift bag, it makes a practical yet pretty present.

Janod small wooden bear stilts

  • Best: Wooden toy
  • Dimensions : 12cm x 10.5cm x 15cm
  • Requirements : Ready to use

The bear faces are adorable, but we also love that the stilts grow with your child, thanks to adjustable rope handles, so you’ll certainly get a few years of use out of them. Plus, the sweet wooden design looks nice on the shelf when playtime’s over.

Banwood scooter, cream

  • Best: For longevity
  • Dimensions : Handlebar height adjusts to 70cm, 75cm and 80cm; scooter deck size: 29.7cm x 9.6cm
  • Requirements : Attach basket, and put scooter together, minimal effort

We just love the detailing of this three-wheeled option from Banwood. Coming with a gorgeous wicker basket, it provides all the childhood nostalgic feels, but it’s also a pleasure to ride.

As this is a lean-and-steer scooter, it’s a natural process for little ones when learning the ropes. When scooting commences, it’s comforting to know our pre-schooler is honing in on her coordination, balance, and fine motor skills while getting from A to B.

Sturdy and stylish, the scooter’s handlebar can be adjusted to three different levels as your little one grows (up to 80cm), so there’s longevity in the design, too. We also found the rubber grips provided a firm hold, while the wide anti-slip foot deck with footbrake helped build our tester’s confidence.

Not quite sold on this design? Check out our full round-up of kids scooters

The verdict: Gifts for three-year-olds

While it may not be every parent’s choice – the sound effects aren’t actually that grating, honest – Leapfrog’s scoop and learn ice cream cart ticked so many of our boxes. It’s educational, interactive and relatively affordable. But, most importantly, this set captured the attention of our three-year-old tester and had her coming back for more.

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