Buying the best toys for 3 year olds is tricky. They’re old enough to let you know if they like something or not, but too young to truly tell you what they want. So when you’re on the hunt for the best gifts for 3 year olds, we don’t blame you for needing a bit of guidance.
According to the CDC, by age three, your child can play make believe with toys, work buttons and moving parts, build towers with more than six blocks, and climb and run. He or she can usually ride a tricycle, too. Your child will likely engage in pretend play, name colors and understand the idea of counting and what numbers mean. You want toys that foster his or her development.
To help you out, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite toys for three-year-olds, focusing on toys that grow with them. There’s plenty on this list to satisfy even the pickiest of preschoolers.
Best Toys for 3-Year-Olds
We absolutely this gorgeous and modular set, which lets kids build entire towns.
The possibilities for open-ended play are endless. Kids can use this set, and others in the product line, to create a track or a building using the same pieces over and over.
If you don't have the space for a massive toy kitchen, get this spectacular little pizza oven instead.
This set isn’t just fun. It helps kids with cognitive development and fosters endless open-ended play. Kids can pretend to be master chefs, making you the ultimate pies. The set includes a pizza counter, pizza paddle, rolling cutter, delivery box, prep instructions, a reusable menu, cheese shaker, felt sauce, cheese, wooden crust, toppings and play money.
Play-Doh never gets old and what's better than a play fire truck that lets kids create pretend water to put out blazes?
The best part of this toy is the water cannon. Kids can load it with Play-Doh colors, then crank the handle on top of the toy truck to squeeze out water.
Like other interactive toys, Cubby responds to voice and touch. But unlike others, when you put him in sleep mode, he turns into a cuddly sound machine.
Therein lies Cubby’s genius. When he’s down for the night, he won’t suddenly jerk awake. But when he is awake, he’s damn near adorable, cooing, and blinking, and eating.
Kids have a great time, while secretly learning, as they play fetch, plus hide and seek, with with these two puppies.
Introduce kids to STEM with these cute dogs, which teach kids screen-free coding. Kids code the dogs to play fetch, play games, or chase each other, and the toys double as fun interactive pets.
It's art-fueled imaginary play at its best: Kids color the animals, wash them off, and start all over again.
If rhinos aren’t your thing, choose from other members of the animal kingdom. Kids decorate them with washable markers, rinse them off, and get going again.
Little guys and gals arrange these easy-to-connect segments to create endless combinations, which send the Code-a-pillar in different directions depending on the configuration.
As entertaining as it is educational, kids have a blast deciding which way to send the toy and love its colorful lights as well as its music. It’s durable and gives kids a fine motor skills workout.
Sure, Lego gets all the attention, but Playmobil sets are just as great. This set is specifically designed for little hands to hold and maneuver.
Little builders create a countryside landscape with a bridge, and horse-drawn carriage, plus critters galore.
Powered by a tangible programming language made of colorful blocks, this Montessori and Logo Turtle-inspired toy makes programming accessible to children before they can read or write. Each coding block is an action so you can place the blocks on the board to tell Cubetto where to go.
Cubetto improves planning skills and makes kids think about future choices by teaching cause and effect. Little ones love the hands-on, high-quality parts.
Children draw pictures, shapes, letters and numbers, and lo and behold, the tablet glows in the dark!
Not only is this simply a killer toy, it’s also great for travel. The stylus is the “pen” and the tablet is the “paper.” You press a button and erase your kid’s masterpiece so they can start over again.
This three-in-one ride-on toy goes from a wagon for early walkers, to ride-on toy, to a scooter.
Not only is this toy mad cute, but when kids press the button, they hear sounds and flip on the headlights. Best of all, it grows with your kid, so you get three mobile toys in one.
An educational gaming system for your preschooler, the LeapFrog Rockit has four sides of colorful, light-up controls that include a switch, spinner, dials, buttons and D-pad.
Kids grow and hatch eggs and care for them until they become adults, and along the way, work their way through puzzles and build math and literacy skills.
Introduce kids to coding with this easily programmable mouse, which lights up and makes sounds that are much more enjoyable than those made by a real rodent. The possibilities for play are endless as it can be programmed up to 40 steps. Children can create a maze with blocks or other toys and program this colorful guy to make it to the end.
Parents love the price and kids have fun building, estimating, measuring, and learning. It’s a great first coding toy that gets children excited and keeps them occupied.
Kids learn their letters by using them to make fun objects and creatures, including snakes, tigers, or rabbits.
This crafting kit includes letters, a glue stick, eight crayons, yarn, googly eyes, cupcake wrappers, flowers, sticks, and stickers.
You get an activity table loaded with Play-Doh, so kids can make whatever they want and you can store it when they're done playing. The table has two compartments on each side to keep everything in one place. You get eight cans of Play-Doh, as well as 25 tools.
The thing about Play-Doh is that while it definitely is a great toy for open-ended play, it also gets messy. That’s why this table is the perfect solution. It keeps everything contained.
This is a durable, sturdy, and fun HD video and still camera for kids, with the bells and whistles they've come to expect from mom and dad's phone.
Kids can use it on land or in the pool. And it even has special effects like time lapse, stop motion, burst mode, fast- and slow-motion and frames.
This wonderful tabletop easel includes a dry-erase board and chalkboard, a built-in wooden paper roll holder, a 50-foot-long paper roll, a dry-erase marker, five pieces of colored chalk, an eraser, and 36 letter and number magnets.
This easel is made from wood, and is pretty much timeless. Kids learn their letters and numbers, and get to engage in open-ended creative play.
Kids need to eat their veggies. Help them out with this sorting set, which helps develop color recognition and sorting skills. The set includes 25 foods, five baskets, and stickers to label them.
Kids sort the produce by color, and put the veggies into the corresponding baskets. And who knows? They might even want to eat an actual eggplant.
When your kid starts begging you for a pet, get this fake cat instead. Kids can take it for a walk, and give it treats, as part of pretend play.
The cat poops. Oh yes it does. And it purrs. But unlike a real cat, it won’t scratch your couch or need an actual litter box.
With these binoculars, kids use sight and sound to explore what's around them. It's STEM learning, in the great outdoors.
These focus-free binoculars have triple magnification and audio amplification. They encourage kids to engage in scientific exploration in their own backyard. Or park. Or wherever.
With this toy, kids mix and match facial features to create the weirdest-looking people possible, and use those faces to express their own emotions.
Yes, this game is a hoot. For sure. But while stacking and assembling bizarre features, kids also learn about color-matching, and critical thinking. All the pieces are made from high-quality, non-toxic, food grade ABS plastics and come with a case which stores all the pieces. Which means less mess for you.
Transformers are perpetual crowd pleasers. Why? Because, duh, they transform! Kids can convert bots to vehicles and back again in one very easy and seamless step. They can play with the transformers in either bot or vehicle mode. And this set includes Boulder the Construction-Bot, Blades the Flight-Bot, Heatwave the Fire-Bot, and Chase the Police-Bot figures.
These convert easily from one mode to another, so kids don’t get bored. They’re sized just right for little three-year-old hands.
There's no disputing the developmental benefits of art. And this set is pretty amazing. You get a double-sided kid's art easel with a large dry-erase white board and chalk board, plus a molded-in bench and art desk for unlimited creativity.
Your next Jackson Pollock or Georgia O’Keeffe can create their masterpiece with this art center. It has a ton of storage space for kids to organize crayons, finger paints, blocks and other art gear.
Kids devour ice cream. Now, they can use this great set to learn numbers and colors, plus practice running their own business.
Your Ben and Jerry can push their cart around to build their gross motor skills. They can practice counting by scooping ice cream and remembering orders. And they can count to ten along with the ice cream cart by pressing the syrup pump or coin button. Best of all, no cavities.
OK, so yes, they look perhaps more than a little creepy. But. All the bits and pieces are interchangeable, meaning kids can create, mix and re-mix their own unique crate creature pal.
These Crate Creatures make nutty electronic sounds when their tongue is pulled or their arms and legs are removed. Kids can mix and match body parts between this dude and other Crate Creatures to make whatever weirdo creation they want. Did someone say, pretend play?
Scooters are a must-have for kids, and this is the best starter scooter out there. It's stable, and has an adjustable T-bar accommodates children as they grow.
The Micro Mini scooter is easy to use, it’s ultra-stable, and comes in a slew of great colors. The handlebar is adjustable, so it grows with your kid. It has a low-to-the-ground deck and stable steering, which are both ideal for pre-schoolers who are just getting started. Just don’t forget the helmet!
Find us a kid who doesn't love pizza (OK, fine, there's probably one out there somewhere). This Calico Critters set lets kids change the direction of the building to change the size of the room and front garden, and it includes pizza making tools and ingredients, allowing for even plenty of pretend play.
Kids can pretend to run their own pizzeria with this intricate set. It includes pizza making tools and ingredients, featuring everything they need to make the perfect slice. And they can set up the pizzeria however they want. It’s pretend play at its finest.
It's never too early to teach kids to love animals. Flutter Friends are birds that interact with kids, and when he or she pets the hummingbird's head or back, your kid will unlock over 40 realistic hummingbird sounds.
Your kid taps the bird, and it moves and makes sounds. Kids can tap the head once to turn it on, tap its head twice to activate different sounds and tweets, and tap its head three times to unlock musical tweets. Kids learn cause and effect. And you don’t have actual bird turds to clean up.
This ingenious Cubebot is a puzzle, an action figure, a robot and a transformer.
We can’t say enough good things about this wooden toy, which is inspired by Japanese Shinto Kumi-ki puzzles. The robot is made from wood and elastic and can be positioned to hold dozens of poses. And then, it folds up into a perfect cube.
This indoor trampoline is a great way for your three year old to burn off all that energy.
Kids can grab the handle for added stability, and all that movement also helps them build balance, and coordination. Just make sure they don’t use it without adult supervision.
You get 25 pieces, including Suzie, a tent, sleeping bag, campfire pit grill, cooking tongs, and dinner gear.
Three year olds can act out storylines as they take their Calico Critter family camping. Through manipulative play, kids can help develop fine motor skills and dexterity.
All kids love Legos, and this is a fantastic starter sets that lets superheroes battle each other.
You get Spider-Man’s garage and motorbike, and Hulk’s laboratory, plus a wrench, briefcase, spade, and a flexible spider web. So sling away. The set helps kids master basic construction skills.
Teach your kids about all the great foods out there, with this handy and fun set.
Not only does this set teach color and number recognition and sorting, but wait for it: It helps your picky eaters learn all about great nutrition in pretend play.
This is a set of 120 wooden blocks in various shapes and colors, encouraging young kids to put together patterns on five boards.
This toy not only makes math fun (seriously), but it helps build spatial awareness and lets kids create linear patterns, sort blocks by color, count pieces, and let their creativity fly free.
A perpetual crowd pleaser that lets toddlers play hoops or score goals, while an animated scoreboard encourages budding athletes.
You get a complete sports center that also features 50 songs, sounds, and phrases, and it teaches your kids shapes and numbers.
You have limitless possibilities with this interconnecting gear set, which dips your kids' toys into engineering and mechanics in a very fun way.
With 100 pieces, you can build bridges, creatures, vehicles, whatever your mind thinks up. This set helps develop fine motor skills and problem solving, while also not making any noise.
A great option for kids who love physical activity, this board encourages them to find their center of gravity.
Kids balance from side to side, and figure out that staying put is actually not all that easy.
This set helps your child be part of the food prep process, and it's made from 100 percent recycled plastic.
This 18-piece meal set inspires young chefs to whip up succulent meals using a cheese stamp, a sauce cutter, dough tubs, and myriad other necessities. Pretend play at its best.
The magic of Legos never fades, or gets old, and that holds true for this intricate Duplo house.
Young kinds can spend hours putting together this three-level house and car, made of 69 pieces. They’re colorful, durable, and wildly inventive.
The gold standard in tricycles features a seat that grows with the child and a durable solid steel frame.
You get a smooth ride thanks to the handlebar grips, and a covered storage bin so kids can tote along their favorite must-haves. The weight capacity is 49 pounds.
Another tried and true favorite that lets kids create everything from castles to forts to cars.
These magnetic tiles encourage three year olds get a solid sense of shapes, colors, numbers, and putting things together.
Urgent care takes on a new meaning with this 19-piece set of medical tools and gadgets.
There’s a cell phone for emergencies, of course, and even an electronic stethoscope that lets your listen to someone’s heartbeat.
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