- Best toys for 3-year-olds: under $20
- Best toys for 3-year-olds: $20–$50
- Best toys for 3-year-olds: $50–$100
- Best toys for 3-year-olds: over $100
- Best educational toys for 3-year-olds
- Best outdoor toys for 3-year-olds
By the time your child turns 3 years old, they’re likely to have a say in what toys they want, whether it’s for a birthday, the holidays, or just because.
Choosing age-appropriate toys regardless of the type is important because it helps foster your child’s development in all the right ways.
At age 3, children’s pretend play is in full bloom. They are incredibly imaginative and love to mimic the adult activities of their parents.
They also enjoy any activity that fosters their newfound social skills. Any toy that encourages role-playing coupled with activities that include counting and early literacy skills is beneficial for this age group.
Three-year-olds are also keen to expend energy in as many ways possible, which is good for you because it means naps and bedtimes are more likely to play out smoothly. Toys that encourage movement, like trikes, bikes, and scooters, are also great for fostering physical development.
Just like we do when we need parenting hacks and go-to advice, we consulted other parents first for their trusted opinion. There’s really no better way to look up the lowdown on toys than consulting parents who’ve been there and done that.
To create this list, we asked parents of preschoolers between the ages of 3 and 4 which toys their children played with the most. We also considered the age-appropriate guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). And, of course, online reviews filled in the gaps when we wanted more scoop.
Whatever the occasion may be that inspires your toy search, we bet you’ll love these toys as much as we do. Without further ado, here are the best toys for 3-year-olds on the market today.
Best toys for 3-year-olds: under $20
Plus-Plus Big 15-Piece Tube
Three-year-olds love to build their own imaginative creations and this toy allows them to do just that. It contains 15 big pieces, all in different colors, and can be stored in the plastic tube that it comes in.
Little Treasures Matching Letter Game
Foster your child’s understanding of the world around him as well as how to spell each familiar item. It encourages memory skills, strategic thinking and more all with fun flashcards that feature everything from animals to clothing items.
Fisher-Price Little People Community Helpers Figure Pack
Little hands love the Little People toys by Fisher Price! In addition to encouraging your child’s fine motor skills, these toys help foster pretend play. And with other sets that represent superheroes, movie characters, and even the cast of “The Office,” you’ll likely find a set that will spark your child’s imagination!
Kindi Kids Snack Time Friends
This fun baby doll comes with two snacks that your child can feed to her as well as removable clothes that can teach her how to put on a dress and shoes. The doll and her cast of friendly characters even have their own series about their adventures on YouTube.
Best toys for 3-year-olds: $20–$50
BIRANCO Flower Garden Building Set
This fun gardening kit is made of BPA-free and eco-friendly materials that are safe for tiny hands. It includes colorful flowers that your child can place into various arrangements to help encourage fine motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination. It’s also a great way to teach your child about the different parts of a flower and how they grow.
VTech KidiZoom Camera Pix
If your child continually steals your phone to take pictures, get them their own camera! Foster the creativity of budding photographers with the KidiZoom, which is designed for small hands. This camera is made for preschoolers, yet it takes actual photos. It also takes selfies, videos, and has four built-in games.
Kinetic Sand Construction Site
Kinetic Sand is a huge hit with kids this age who love sensory play, but adults often lament the mess it can leave in its wake. Enter this fold-up construction site, which also acts as a self-contained sandbox for your child’s creations. It’s a great gift for kids who love to dig their hands in!
Fisher Price Code-a-pillar Twist
This toy is much more than cute, moving caterpillar friend — it’s an educational toy that teaches your child how to put actions in a sequence, and the code-a-pillar performs them. It has fun lights, shapes, and phrases that your child will love to play along with.
Best toys for 3-year-olds: $50–$100
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Puppet Theater
Let your child’s imagination run wild as they act out their favorite stories with this puppet theater from Melissa & Doug. Keep in mind that the puppets aren’t included, so you’ll need to buy those separately.
Barbie 3-in-1 DreamCamper
This toy takes pretend play to so many exciting new levels, encouraging young minds to explore what it means to travel and live life on a day-to-day basis. It comes with 50 play pieces, so every time your child plays it’s a new and exciting adventure.
Loog Mini Guitar
This is more than just your average play guitar. The all-wood, beautifully-designed Loog Mini comes with flashcards, an app, and free Zoom lessons to make it easy for anyone to learn real songs right away.
The guitar features the first three strings of a typical 6-string guitar, so your little one will be learning real chords. And, you can choose between 6 different colors to find the perfect gift for your budding musician.
6KU 3-Wheels Kick Scooter
With two wheels in the front and one in the back, this scooter is a stable option for little ones new to scooting — especially if they’re keen to catch up to older siblings! With an adjustable handlebar and extra-wide, light-up wheels, this scooter is sure to keep your 3-year-old rolling for years to come.
Best toys for 3-year-olds over $100
Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit for iPad
This award-winning toy teaches your children everything from shapes and colors to early math and reading skills. Using sticks, rings, cardboard costume pieces, and more, your child will play four interactive games that foster early literacy and math skills.
The Wondervan checks a lot of boxes: It’s a play house, play kitchen, play truck, and art station — all in one. It’s got a hefty price tag, but it’s a toy that will likely get a ton of use from kids of all ages, look great in a playroom, and stand the test of time.
Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 100-Piece Set
If you haven’t started your magnet builders collection yet, now’s the time to start! Kids love them because they can build incredible creations that don’t tumble like blocks. Parents love them because they’re easy to stack, store, and travel with. Pro tip: These make for great toys at restaurants and on airplanes because they stick to metal surfaces.
Hape Mighty Mountain Mine
From the classic wooden toy company Hape comes this new, award-winning toy. More than just a traditional train set, the Mighty Mountain Mine can engage your child on multiple levels. It combines easily with other Hape railway sets, or entertains just fine on its own.
Best educational toys for 3-year-olds
Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards
This classic toy teaches your child shapes, colors, and patterns by encouraging hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, and spatial awareness. The board is double-sided so there are several different patterns for your child to master with the corresponding blocks.
Learning Resources Smart Snacks Shape Sorting Cupcakes
This clever toy might just become one of the most popular choices in your playroom. Healthline Parenthood’s editor Saralyn Ward says, “We received these cupcakes as a gift when my oldest daughter was 2. She mastered the colors and shape-sorting when she was 3. Now, at 7, she still uses them when playing house. And when her friends come over, it’s always the first toy that is pulled off the shelves.”
Melissa & Doug Bear Family Dress-Up Puzzle
Not only will your child have fun with the mix-and-match fun of dressing the bear family for multiple occasions, but they’ll practice social-emotional cues by recognizing different facial expressions.
Fat Brain Toys Little Thinker’s Block Logic Puzzles
Spatial reasoning and problem-solving all are skills your 3-year-old will practice when playing with this toy. They’ll catch on quick with easy-to-understand color-coding — and will likely be solving these logic puzzles in no time.
Best outdoor toys for 3-year-olds
Strider 14x Sport Balance Bike
This Strider model takes balance bikes to the next level with a pedal conversion kit (sold separately). So, once your little one is comfortable and cruising, you can remove the footboard and put in narrow pedals, just right for little feet. Ward says, “Both my daughters learned to use pedals within a week of riding the Strider 14x! I swear by it.”
KidKraft Country Vista Playhouse
This gorgeous playhouse looks so fun that you probably wish you had one when you were 3 years old. It has pretend play features your child will enjoy, including a functional mailbox, doorbell, and a clock, along with decorative windows and a chalkboard that can display an ever-changing menu.
PlaSmart The Original PlasmaCar
The PlasmaCar is a multiple award-winner and a staple at child care centers everywhere. It’s a ride-on toy without batteries, gears, or pedals, and it gets kids moving, wiggling, and twisting for hours of outdoor fun.
KidKraft Backyard Sandbox
Every child deserves a sandbox to play in — and this one has everything your child needs to enjoy outdoor fun. It’s big enough for multiple kids and has a mesh cover that protects it from inclement weather or animals.
Three-year-olds are full of creativity and imagination, and they love to learn through play. There’s a perfect toy out there for every kid, at every price point. Armed with tips from other parents and our recommendations, you’ll have no problem finding a toy that’s just right!