The 38 Best Gifts for 3-year-old Boys of 2023

Our top picks from Fat Brain Toys, Magna-Tiles, Paw Patrol, LeapFrog, and more

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Reeves International The Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane

The Spruce / Katie Begley

If your little boy has tons of energy and is curious about everything, finding a toy that can get and hold his attention is no easy feat.

"Boys this age typically enjoy everything and anything hands-on—your typical trucks and cars are great, but there are so many more options nowadays, including dress-up costumes (fireman, police outfits, pirate, etc)," says etiquette expert Karen Thomas.

We tested and researched the best available toy options, considering recommended age, complexity, and educational value. With this in mind, our favorites range from STEM skill-building Magna-Tiles to the Reeves International Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane, a sand, dirt, and snow toy that fosters fine motor skills and keeps little ones engaged for hours.

Here are the best toys for 3-year-old boys.

Reeves International The Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane

5
Sand toy digger

Reeves International

 

If you're looking for a highly interactive and cool toy for a 3-year-old boy who loves construction gear, you've found your winner. This excavator can have them digging in the sand at the beach, gravel at home, or nearly anywhere in the backyard.

This digger comes with a seat and crane that swivels 360 degrees and two handles that will help your little ones work on both their fine and gross motor skills as they dig away, according to our tester. "Our 3-year-old loved this toy, and we loved how much it engaged his muscles and imagination. If you are looking for a beach toy that will wow a construction-loving kid, this is the perfect gift," they shared.

Price at time of publish: $50

Reeves International The Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane

The Spruce / Katie Begley

Just Play Disney Junior Mickey Mouse Funhouse Treasure Adventure Pirate Ship

Just Play Disney Junior Mickey Mouse Funhouse Treasure Adventure Pirate Ship

Just Play

Sail away with Mickey and his friends with this adorable pirate ship from Just Play. Based on the Disney Junior Mickey Mouse Funhouse series, the play set includes seven figures, a spyglass, three "water" balls, a treasure chest with three pieces of shiny treasure, and a slide, perfect for hours of collaborative and imaginative play.

Price at time of publish: $54

Magna-Tiles 100-Piece Clear Colors Set

4.8
Magna-Tiles Clear Colors

Courtesy of Amazon

These cool building blocks of sorts let kids dream up whatever they want as they magnetically stick together. While they come with a hefty price tag, your kid will spend hours with these as they work on their STEM skills, which will help them learn in the math and science fields. These tiles are also durable, so they will last your family for years to come.

Our tester loved that this toy encourages creative play while also teaching patience. "This toy was entertaining enough to hold the attention of our two toddlers for at least an hour every time," they shared. It's perfect for independent play or a bonding activity for the whole family since it appeals to so many ages.

Price at time of publish: $120

Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 100-Piece Set

The Spruce / Danielle Directo-Meston 

Hess Trucks 2022 Flatbed Truck with Hot Rods

Hess Truck 2022 Flatbed Truck with Hot Rods

Hess Truck

Celebrate the season with the 2022 version of the iconic Hess truck. This iteration features a flatbed truck with two hot rods with cool flames painted on the side. The first Hess truck was introduced in 1964, creating a legacy of high-quality toy trucks, perfect for playing with siblings or starting a collection.

Price at time of publish: $42

Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set - 24 pc.

4.8
Squigz

Fat Brain Toys

 

Squigz are designed for kids ages 3 and older, but don't be surprised if your child is still playing with these when he's in elementary school. This starter set comes with 24 pieces in eight different shapes, and both joining them together and unsticking them (they pop loudly) is incredibly satisfying. They're made from dishwasher-safe, BPA-free silicone, which our tester loves, and additional sets can be purchased separately if your kid needs to go big with his creations.

Our tester loved the opportunities for play, saying "This single set can be a great bath time toy, an activity while making dinner (our son loved sticking these to the fridge), or a fun way to improve fine motor skills during free play time."

Price at time of publish: $27

Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set

The Spruce / Shannon Wells

Mudpuppy Robotics Lab Kaleidoscope

Mudpuppy Robotics Lab Kaleidoscope

Mudpuppy

Spin around this cute kaleidoscope from Mudpuppy to reveal silly robots, mix-matching heads and bodies before peaking inside for a gorgeous display of light and colors. The affordable toy makes a great travel companion for long car rides or plane trips and offers two forms of entertainment for little ones.

Price at time of publish: $8

Educational Insights Design & Drill Activity Center

4.5
Educational Insights Design & Drill Activity Center

Courtesy of Walmart

Power up the fun with this great activity set. The handy little man will love his own power tools. It comes with a reversible power drill with three drill bits, a hand screwdriver, a combination wrench, and 120 colorful plastic bolts. The workspace is a sturdy activity board with holes in it, which the bolts can be driven into for a variety of patterns, pictures, and other creations. They can use one of the 20 accompanying activity cards to aid in their design or freestyle all by themselves. Our tester loved all the different ways to play with this set, adding to its overall value. "Even our 21-month-old had fun sorting and play-counting the bolts as well as using the power drill to screw the pieces into the board," they said.

Price at time of publish: $40

Educational Insights Design & Drill Activity Center

The Spruce / Danielle Directo-Meston

SmarterKids STEM Bendy Builders

SmarterKids STEM Bendy Builders

SmarterKids

Spend hours building figures, shapes, and structures with bendy builders from SmarterKids. The set includes 295 pieces of twisty tubes, wooden stabilizers, and plastic connectors. Use the idea guide for inspiration or just let your imagination run wild. The handy storage bin keeps everything in place for easy cleanup.

Price at time of publish: $120

Prextex Cartoon R/C Police Car and Race Car Radio Control Toys

4.3
Pretex Pack of 2 Police Car and Race Car

Courtesy of Amazon

These little remote control cars are a perfect gift for 3-year-old boys with a need for speed. The pack comes with two vehicles—a police car and a race car. Each also comes complete with not one but two, removable action figures. The cars have flashing headlights and make lots of great sounds that will delight your little ones. Don't worry about rough play, because our tester confirmed these are super durable and long-lasting.

Price at time of publish: $50

Prextex Cartoon Vehicles

The Spruce / Danielle Directo-Meston

Paw Patrol Rubble 2 in 1 Transforming X-Treme Truck

Paw Patrol Rubble 2 in 1 Transforming X-Treme Truck

Paw Patrol

If you're 3-year-old loves Paw Patrol, he'll flip over this transforming truck featuring construction-master Rubble. The 2-in-1 truck transforms to reveal an excavator, a crane, and other interactive toys. Different actions reveal lights and sounds, sure to excite toddlers as they explore and play.

Price at time of publish: $45

KidKraft Ride Around Train Set and Table

4.3
Kid Kraft Ride Around Train Set and Table

Courtesy of Amazon

All aboard for fun! If you’re looking for a big gift that’s going to be a big hit, you’re on the right track with this train set and table. It comes with 100 pieces for an amazing array of adventures, perfect for sharing. Included is everything from wooden train tracks to trains, airports, helipads, trees, people, street signs, police cars, and more. When they're done playing, cleanup is no problem with the included storage bins. They’re so much to see, do, build, and imagine, according to our tester. "The track is easy to work with and can be set up in multiple ways, which creates more opportunities for play. My son and his pals have now spent countless afternoons coming up with new play scenarios using the vehicles, animals, and people that populate this train set," they shared.

Price at time of publish: $180

KidKraft Ride Around Town Train Table

The Spruce / Sarah Vanbuskirk

LeapFrog Clean Sweep Learning Caddy

LeapFrog Clean Sweep Learning Caddy

LeapFrog

While it's hard to imagine, this Toy of the Year Finalist from LeapFrog proves that sweeping and mopping can be tons of fun, even for toddlers. The singing caddy swishes and spins as your 3-year-old dunks his mop and gets to work. Play on your own or follow directions from the caddy while sneakily learning colors and fostering fine motor skills.

Price at time of publish: $30

Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow

4.2
Stomp Rocket The Original Jr. Glow Rocket Launcher

Courtesy of Amazon

He’ll be soaring high when he receives a Stomp Rocket. The kit comes with one stomp launcher and four rockets. Kids simply run, jump, and stomp as hard as they can on the soft launch pad and send the rockets soaring up into the sky. Rockets can reach heights of up to 100 feet depending on how hard you stomp, and our tester can attest to how exciting it can be. Even better, these rockets glow in the dark, which makes them great for day or night. 

Price at time of publish: $20

Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow Rocket

The Spruce / Danielle Directo-Meston 

Adventerra Games Hungry Bins Board Game

Adventerra Games Hungry Bins Board Game

Adventerra Games

Get the whole family together to play the Hungry Bins board game to improve kids' memory and teach them important lessons about recycling. Little ones find tiles with a matching symbol then place them in the correct bin. They can challenge their skills as a solo competitor or play against siblings or parents for an engaging, educational family game night.

Price at time of publish: $30

Fat Brain Toys Shape Factory

Fat Brain Toys Shape Factory

Fat Brain Toys

Learning the basic colors and shapes will be fun with this Fat Brain toy. The puzzle has large pieces (great for small hands to grab) that have to be fit into the appropriately shaped slots. This is fun and also teaches important motor skills.

Price at time of publish: $37

SoaPen Hand Soap Pen 3-Pack

SoaPen Hand Soap Pen 3-Pack

SoaPen

A gift for 3-year-olds and their parents alike, the SoaPen makes washing your hands into a fun, artistic activity. Carry around the small pen in your purse or pocket and when it comes time to wash, kids paint all over their hands with the SoaPen, get your hands wet, and wash off the paint-like soap.

Price at time of publish: $18

Ryan’s World Vending Surprise

Ryan's World Vending Surprise

Ryan's World

This vending machine from the popular YouTube channel, Ryan's World, is perfect for kids ages 3 and up. The machine is full of toy juices and snacks, and inside each package is a fun surprise. Your little one might find slime or even a fruit-shaped eraser. There are 16 surprises in all, and the machine has lights, sounds, and the voice of Ryan himself.

Price at time of publish: $65

Melissa & Doug Farm Cube Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Farm Cube Puzzle

Melissa & Doug

Complete six puzzles in one with this cube puzzle from Melissa & Doug. The 16 durable wooden cubes come together to create cute farm animals including a cow, a duck, and more. Three-year-olds practice their problem-solving skills as they build and take apart the puzzles again and again.

Price at time of publish: $16

PJ Masks PJ Seeker

PJ Seeker

Courtesy of Amazon

Get your kids the PJ Masks PJ Seeker, which is based on the popular show, and they can pretend to chase villains like Luna Girl, Romeo, and the Night Ninja. The large trailer can fit four vehicles in the detachable carrier and three figures in the front cabin. Note that it only comes with Catboy and the Cat-Car; others are sold separately. It has flashing lights, sounds, and even a searchlight for nighttime expeditions.

Price at time of publish: $55

Playmobil Duck On Call - Mobile Operations Center

Playmobil Duck On Call - Mobile Operations Center

Playmobil

Playmobil's line of toys aimed at preschoolers, Duck Call, includes this engaging play set, perfect for toddlers to spring to action in case of an emergency. With the help of included figures, Polly and Freddie, little ones use the slide to respond quickly to calls, catch burglars, search for bad guys, and more.

Price at time of publish: $45

Melissa & Doug Fire Chief Role Play Costume Set

Melissa & Doug Fire Chief Costume

Courtesy of Amazon

Fire up his imagination with this fire chief dress-up set. He can jump into hero mode by donning this dapper uniform. It comes complete with a bright red jacket, sturdy helmet, official-looking badge, and reusable name tag, so he’ll look just the part. Even better, it also comes with accessories that include a fire extinguisher and a bullhorn that makes sound effects. (Note: The bullhorn requires two AA batteries, which aren’t included.) Both of them fit into the jacket’s built-in utility belt, so he has everything he needs to save the day right at his fingertips.

Price at time of publish: $36

PlasmaCar Ride On Toy

The Original PlasmaCar

Courtesy of Amazon

Is it sorcery? There are no gears, batteries, or pedals on this ride-on car, but with enough practice, kids can get themselves up to a speed of 6 miles per hour. It has a weight limit of 220 pounds, so some adults can even take it for a spin. Kids won't realize that all the twisting and turning have a sneaky benefit: developing key motor skills like core strength and hand-eye coordination.

Price at time of publish: $100

Little Tikes Jump 'n Slide Bouncer

Jump 'n Slide Bouncer Inflatable Bounce House

Amazon

Every parent of a 3-year-old knows: Tire them out, and bedtime is a breeze. Add bouncy fun to the mix, and you are the parent of the year. This bounce house is made to be puncture-resistant and includes a high-pressure blower for constant inflation during use. Slides and safety mesh make for easy on-and-off and parental supervision.  

Price at time of publish: $310

Little Tikes EasyScore Basketball Set

Little Tikes EasyScore

Courtesy of Target

Basketball is such a classic game, and this set has everything to get started. The hoop adjusts to six heights (2.5 to 4 feet) and has an oversized rim, so little ones can make shots. The set also includes a kid-size, soft basketball that they can easily grip.

Price at time of publish: $36

The Day the Crayons Quit

The Day the Crayons Quit

Courtesy of Amazon

You can never go wrong with a book as a gift for a 3-year-old boy. This favorite follows the day the crayons quit! Besides sparking imagination, your kid (and you!) will laugh along at all the hilarious protests these crayons make. Available in hardcover or a board book, any child will get a kick out of this clever read.

Price at time of publish: $10

Munchkin Fishin' Bath Toy

Munchkin Fishin' Bath Toy.

Courtesy of Amazon

Let’s face it: 3-year-old boys can be a sticky, messy sort, so bath time is a frequent necessity. This bath toy comes with a magnetic fishing rod made for little hands and three adorable sea critters that float. He can reel them in over and over again—no bait required. This game also works well in a swimming pool, in the kitchen sink, or even on dry land, and it promotes hand-eye coordination. Of course, don’t forget that children this age must be supervised in the bathtub and near water at all times.

Price at time of publish: $10

Little Tikes 3-Foot Trampoline

Little Tikes Trampoline

Courtesy of Target

Three-year-olds get the wiggles frequently, but with a trampoline, they can bounce them out. This model was created for kids ages 3 to 6 and can safely hold up to 55 pounds. (It's meant to hold only one kid at a time.) There's a stability bar to help with balance, and the jumping space is 3 feet wide, offering plenty of room to move.

Price at time of publish: $80

Melissa & Doug PAW Patrol Rescue Mission Wooden Dashboard

PAW Patrol Mission Wooden Dashboard

Amazon

Pretend play is at max with this wooden dashboard. Your three-year-old can steer his way while listening to the realistic sirens and horn, crank up the turn signals himself, or shift gears like he's watched you do all along. The three windshield mission cards inspired by PAW Patrol make for a more exciting play.

Price at time of publish: $70

Blockaroo Magnetic Foam Building Blocks

Blockaroo Magnetic Foam Building Blocks

Amazon

Every kid needs a set of building blocks, and this set is a great option with some unique features. The blocks are made of foam, and they're magnetic. So parents won't have to hear the crashing of hard, wooden blocks. Plus, the 360-degree rotating figures let kids create imaginative designs.

Price at time of publish: $45

Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Beanbag

4.6
Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Beanbag

Courtesy of Pottery Barn Kids

If you're looking to skip the toy route for a gift for a 3-year-old boy, a bean bag chair is a smart buy. It gives him a space to read a book or watch his favorite show. Or it's even a place for parents to sit while he is playing on the floor. This one from PB Kids can be personalized and comes in an array of colors, so you're sure to find something that fits.

Price at time of publish: $149

Sesame Street Love to Hug Elmo

love-to-hug-elmo

Courtesy of Walmart

Sesame Street's famous red monster is still a go-to holiday gift for the preschool set. "Love to Hug" Elmo, who speaks both English and Spanish, lives up to his name. After a belly squeeze, he'll lift his arms for a hug. And when kids do embrace him, he responds with kisses, songs, his signature giggle, and phrases such as "Hugs, please!"

Price at time of publish: $37

Simplay3 Carry and Go Durable Track Table for Toy Cars, Trucks, and Trains

Carry and Go Durable Track Table for Toy Cars, Trucks, and Trains

Courtesy of Kohls

Traditional train tables can be fun, but they also require a ton of real estate in a bedroom or playroom. This portable, two-sided alternative weighs just under 7 pounds and has a carrying handle, so it can be easily moved between a table and the floor. It has two sides: One has classic figure-eight train tracks, and the other is a race track with obstacles for toy cars and trucks.

Price at time of publish: $50

Kinetic Sand Beach Sand

Kinetic Sand Beach Sand

Courtesy of Amazon

Kinetic Sand is all the rage, and it is easy to see why. This fun sand lets kids (and adults) craft castles and other designs with no need to worry about a sandy mess being left behind. The sand all magically sticks together, so cleanup is a breeze. The sand will never dry or harden, so you'll get a lot of miles out of this 3-pound pack.

Price at time of publish: $13

Kinoo Magic Wand

Kinoo Magic Wand

Kinoo

Kinoo's smart wireless magic wand talks, glows, plays music, and responds to your 3-year-old's movements and gestures as they engage with the included movement books and posters. This set from the brand also includes access to the Kinoo magic app, where parents can download new activities, and the Kinoo Connect app where kids can video chat with friends and family while playing entertaining and educational games.

Price at time of publish: $99

Hot Wheels Jurassic World Dominion Clash ‘N Crash Track Set

Hot Wheels Jurassic World Dominion Clash ‘N Crash Track Set

Hot Wheels

Travel to prehistoric times with this Jurassic World play set from Hot Wheels. Built the track and watch the included car speed past the dangerous Giganotosaurus with the motorized booster. Add more vehicles, tracks, and elements to make the perfect introduction to the iconic car toy brand for your toddler.

Price at time of publish: $59

Clixo Tiny and Mighty Set

Clixo Tiny and Mighty Set

Clixo

The magnetic, flexible building toy, Clixo, can create both 2D and 3D shapes, combining the power of origami with convenient magnets. This tiny and mighty set includes nine pieces to make endless creations, designed for kids ages 3 and up. Plus, the lightweight pieces snap together for compact, easy storage.

Price at time of publish: $18

Papaton Shadow Puppet Theater

Papaton Shadow Puppet Theater

Papaton

Upgrade nightly story time with this shadow puppet theater from Papaton. The kit comes with a folding screen, smartphone stand, 20 fairytale characters, and 12 props to tell hundreds of interactive stories that the whole family will love. Many of the characters come from classic fairy tales so you have an easy place to start. Then, let your imagination run wild as you create your own tales.

Price at time of publish: $70

Bluey Dance and Play 14" Animated Plush

Bluey Dance and Play 14" Animated Plush

Bluey

If your child loves watching Bluey on TV, they'll love singing and dancing with the adorable pup in real life with this animated plush. Bluey says over 55 phrases, dances along to four songs and plays three games perfect for toddlers. Littles ones will love interacting with the soft plush that doubles as a cuddle toy during bedtime.

Price at time of publish: $50

What to Look for in a Gift for a 3-Year-Old Boy

Recommended Age

Check the age recommendations on a gift’s packaging, as this is a good judge of how safe and engaging a toy will be, says Kristin Morency Goldman, senior adviser of strategic communications for The Toy Association. However, remember it’s just a guideline based on average maturity, motor skills, and cognitive development. Toys labeled 3+ may contain small parts that pose a choking hazard, says Morency Goldman. If your child is 3 but still mouthing toys, it is best to skip these options.

Complexity

Books, wooden toys, and other single-function toys can be lots of fun. But also consider a gift with more than one function. Toys that light up, make noise, move, or have interactive features tend to hold a child’s attention for longer periods of time.

Educational Value

Toys don’t have to recite numbers and letters to be educational. There are plenty of traditional toys—pretend play sets, balance bikes, puzzles, building blocks, memory games, and more—that help your toddler develop all of the important physical, language, and cognitive skills they’re working on, says Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in South Overland Park, Kansas.

Any type of toy that requires children to use their hands can help encourage hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, says Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist in New York City. Toys commonly beloved by 3-year-olds, such as Legos or building blocks, also foster imagination by providing children with objects to construct structures of their choice and create imaginary worlds.

Educational gifts may also include experiences or classes that expand their worldview. "Gift cards or certificates for experiences are also a great way to allow for a great experience for everyone in the family. Examples include outings to a zoo, local play place, etc.," shares Thomas.

Pretex RC Police Car Toy Set
The Spruce / Danielle Directo-Meston
FAQ
  • What types of gifts are developmentally appropriate for 3-year-old boys?

    When selecting toys for 3-year-old boys, choose ones that help develop and improve their skills. There are many toys that focus on motor skills while others focus on imaginative play or storytelling. Some toys, such as board games, help build their social skills and encourage group interactions. You'll also want to select toys that have longevity. Children learn and grow at such a rapid pace at this age, so the toy will need to keep their interest for a longer period of time.

  • What types of gifts are popular with 3-year-old boys?

    Gifts that spark imagination and open-ended play are always great options for 3-year-olds. Typically, the most popular gifts among 3-year-old boys include items like kinetic sand, Play-doh, ride-on toys, themed play sets, costumes, and more. Bath time toys also work well for swimming, so they'll hold your child's attention for longer. Otherwise, this list has great recommendations for hot toys on the market now.

  • What types of educational gifts are appropriate for 3-year-old boys?

    Select toys that develop your boy's mental and physical skills at this age. Encourage the use of toys like puzzles, interactive books, or even a call-and-chat learning phone that's filled with appropriate educational tools for young boys. You can also look for brands that produce toys designed to aid children in their education. Fat Brain Toys allows you to shop by age and select toys for 3-year-olds that help build memory, visual-spatial skills, and creativity.

    Thomas also recommends books and toys that promote manners and social skills. "Enforcing kindness, civility and politeness are my favorite!" she reveals.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was written by Julia Fields a lifestyle writer for The Spruce covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays since October 2021. Before that, she covered similar topics including toy reviews, product round-ups, expert-focused articles, and more.

Expert advice was provided by etiquette expert Karen Thomas.

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