A round up of gifts for three-year-olds.
Credit: Courtesy: Amazon, Schleich®

20 Great Gifts for 3-Year-Olds, According to Parents Who Know

updated Oct 27, 2023
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Wondering what to get the three-year-old in your life? One thing we’ve learned from watching our small kids at play is that at this age, children are still super open minded. They can imagine themselves in all kinds of roles and storylines. So it’s important to try not to get caught up in gender or other stereotypes when searching for toys for kids

We’ve used many of the toys on this list in our home, and we talked to parents of other three-year-olds as well to get a feel for what kids enjoy playing with. Here’s what we recommend.

What to Look for in Toys for 3-Year-Olds

Most three-year-olds are now ready to play with toys that have small parts, but you know your child best. If he or she still tends to put things in their mouth, stay away from toys that are choking hazards. 

Many three-year-olds are becoming more interested in pretend play and social play; a lot of the toys we included are ideal for both of those. Three-year-olds are also incredibly active, so look for toys that help them burn off some of their energy. Many kids are starting to kick and throw, and they may be recognizing letters, numbers, and letter sounds. 

Quick Overview

Our Top Pick

We have to give it to Magna-Tiles. They are the ultimate building toy and especially fun for three-year-olds because they stack together easily, so they aren’t as frustrating for young kids as some other building sets can be. This 100-piece kit is the master starter set, and well worth the investment.

Gifts Under $20

1 / 6

Toy figurines like these animals give three-year-olds a springboard to create their own play world. Often the simplest toys are the most fun and have the most longevity. Like all Schleich animals (they are the gold standard), this set is sturdy and ready to stand up to rough and tough play. —Alicia

2 / 6
was $18.96

Three-year-olds are full of questions, often ones that are increasingly complex and difficult to answer. Fuel their curiosity with this book instead of fumbling through an answer or turning to Google. We have this book, and it makes for interesting storytime, too. —Alicia

3 / 6

This gorgeous vehicles book is an Apartment Therapy parent favorite. It's got pop-ups, pull-out tabs, spinning wheels, and is overall incredibly engaging, for both little kids and parents! —Cambria

4 / 6
was $39.99

Many three-year-olds are very excited to clean, so I recommend leaning into that real hard and getting them this mini Dyson replica toy vacuum, which is a big hit with kids. When they're older and don't want to actually vacuum, you can remind them of their youthful enthusiasm for the chore. —Cambria

5 / 6

Dot markers are a fun way for three-year-olds to create without needing the precise fine motor skills that traditional coloring requires. In conjunction with a dot marker coloring book, they’ll have a blast with these markers. —Alicia

6 / 6

If your three-year-old grandchild has a favorite doll or stuffed animal, they’ll enjoy pushing them around in this stroller. It’s lightweight, foldable for storage, and also comes in denim and red. My two kids played with this exact stroller for years. —Cambria

Gifts $20 – $40

1 / 7
Uncommon Goods

These multi-use silicone stamps can be used with play dough, washable paints, or even actual cookies. (Yes, the silicone stamps are dishwasher-safe.) The set comes with a stainless steel cookie cutter, a wooden stamper, and 15 silicone animals stamps that include a dog, a cat, deer, sloth, zebra, and hedgehog. among others. They're great for craft-loving kids. —Cambria

2 / 7
Melissa & Doug

If we’re being honest, a spray bottle alone is enough to occupy a three-year-old for hours, but you’ll get so much more in this set. My daughter has had this set for years, and it’s still a favorite. I often find her “cleaning” the windows or offering to pitch in with household chores. —Alicia

3 / 7
Uncommon Goods

It doesn’t get much more charming, quaint, and fun than Goldilocks and the Three Bears toy house. The small set is perfect for little hands, and it even comes with a Goldilocks & The Three Bears Book. They’ll enjoy acting out scenes from the book as they read. —Alicia

4 / 7
was $34.99

Kinetic Sand play sets can provide hours of fun. Kids will love that it comes with a crane, a dump truck, and brick molds. Parents will love that it comes in its own contained carrying case, making clean-up easy. —Alicia

5 / 7
was $42.00

Writing and coloring on a vertical surface can help build the strength kids need to properly grip a pencil. This one has a blackboard, a magnetic whiteboard, and it includes a clip to hold paper. It comes with chalk and dry-erase markers that you can store in the easel. —Alicia

6 / 7

Play stores and cash registers are as fun as they are educational. They introduce kids to the concept of money and give them a chance to mimic what they see in daily life. This one from Hape includes push buttons and a scanner. —Alicia

7 / 7
Uncommon Goods

If you have dinosaur lovers in your midst, these dress-up capes will delight the crap out of them. —Cambria

Gifts $40+

1 / 6
Fat Brain Toys

Magna-Tiles are the ultimate building toy. They’re especially fun for three-year-olds because they stack together easily, eliminating some of the frustration for kids who are still learning to build. This 100-piece kit is the master starter set. Most magnetic tile brands can be used interchangeably if you already have other brands at home. —Alicia

2 / 6

This train set from Hape is an excellent starter train set. It comes with a lot of pieces, so it's a good value for the money, and it's compatible with other wooden train rail brands when you're ready to expand the set. — Cambria

3 / 6
Uncommon Goods

Air forts are the newest trend in play forts. They blow up with a box fan, which means they’re easy to set up and compact to store. This starry night version is one of the coziest. Grab a book and snuggle in! —Alicia

4 / 6

In a world where screen time is inevitable, it may seem like a box that only plays sound would be boring to kids. However, my daughter and nephew both enjoy listening to their TonieBoxes. I like knowing that she can only listen to a predetermined set of stories or songs. Another screen-free, parent-recommended audio player option is the Yoto Audio Player, which you can read all about in our write-ups here and here.—Alicia

5 / 6

Lovevery play kits aren’t cheap, but they’re worth every penny. My daughter has played with all of the three-year-old boxes, and many of the toys and books have become long-standing favorites. Kits are delivered every three months, and they’re designed to meet kids exactly where they’re at developmentally. —Alicia

6 / 6

What kid doesn't love the thrill of being on two wheels? This balance bike is the perfect starter bike for three-year-olds. It's tough, durable, and will help give them the physical skills and confidence to move on to bigger bikes! —Alicia

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