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Best Overall: Button Art Mosaic Pegboard at Amazon
“Allows kids to express their creativity and create fun pictures.”
Best Active: Little Tikes 3' Trampoline at Amazon
“There’s a large surface for jumping and a handlebar on top.”
Best Pretend Play: LeapFrog Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart at Amazon
“It lets them scoop up their own delicious pretend treats.”
Best Princess: Disney Princess Dress Up Trunk at Amazon
“Includes everything that they need to dress up as their favorite princess.”
Best Tech: Game Smart Watch at Amazon
“Has capabilities that are fun, functional, and educational.”
Best Doll: Baby Alive Doll at Amazon
“Has over 80 real-life expressions, movements, and sounds.”
Best Wooden: Melissa & Doug Nina Ballerina at Amazon
“Dress up Nina Ballerina in six different outfits.”
Best Craft: Little Hands Paper Bag Monsters at Amazon
“Will provide tons of inspiration for puppet shows and other activities.”
Best for Bath Time: Crayola Color Bath Dropz at Amazon
“Use one at a time or mix them to create your own fun combinations.”
Best Overall: AMOSTING Button Art Color Matching Mosaic Pegboard
This activity set is as cute as a button. By snapping small, button-like “mushroom nails” into various pattern cards, kids create fun pictures. They just match up the color of the button to the color on the pattern card and watch as the images come to life. Once they get the hang of it, they can go freestyle and create anything they can imagine.
The set comes with ten different pattern cards, a pegboard, and 46 colorful buttons. If you’re wondering just where you’re going to keep all of those colorful little buttons, don’t worry—there’s a storage tray included as well. Parents say that it’s a great activity for developing motor skills and it's perfect for rainy or snowy days when you need a quiet indoor activity.
"This game doesn’t come with instructions, but perhaps they just aren’t needed, as 3-year-old Nova [my daughter] intuitively figured out exactly what to do. She enjoyed picking out the images, and after finishing her favorites, she opted to redo the tree and frog designs with the button colors of her choosing."—Sarah Vanbuskirk, Product Tester
Best Active: Little Tikes 3' Trampoline
She can bounce, bounce, bounce that energy out on this cute trampoline from Little Tikes that’s just her size. There’s a large surface for jumping and a handlebar on top so she can keep her balance while she springs up and down and all around. Designed for indoor use, it can hold kids up to 55 pounds.
Parents love that it’s easy to assemble and that it gives kiddos a fun form of exercise when playing outside isn’t possible. Online reviewers note that it’s well-made and a great energy burner for little ones who can't sit still. A few people noted that the foam handlebar can rip or tear with repeated use, but it can be easily repaired with some duck tape or tennis racket grip tape. Recommended for ages 3 to 6.
Best Pretend Play: LeapFrog Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart
This ice cream cart from LeapFrog can take your child's creativity to new and amazing heights. It lets them scoop up their own delicious pretend treats, all while they’re learning important things like colors and numbers. Fun and educational phrases and upbeat music set the stage. It comes with six order cards as well as a magic scooper, ice cream scoops, cones, and toppings. Kids will love pushing it around, taking orders and preparing treats for anyone they can find. Three AA batteries are required, but they’re included, so she can open up for businesses immediately.
Online reviewers give this toy extraordinarily positive reviews. They say toddlers love it and play with it for hours on end. Parents love that their kids are learning while they're playing and say it’s beyond cute to watch all the make-believe scenarios they come up with while using this cart.
Best Princess: Disney Princess Dress Up Trunk
Not all little girls dream of being a princess, but for those who do, this trunk is a dream come true. There are 21 pieces in all, including shoes, crowns, dresses, and jewels. It’s everything they need to transform into Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, or they can mix and match to come up with their very own looks.
Recommended for girls ages 3 to 6, the dresses fit sizes 4-6x. They can be used for hours of creative play and Halloween costumes as well. All of the pieces come in a beautiful storage trunk that’s just perfect for storing all of her royal attire.
Best STEM: Magna-Tiles 3-D Magnetic Building Tiles
This simple set of colorful 3D tiles lets little ones do some pretty cool things. There are no rules, but they offer the opportunity for open-ended play and plenty of creativity as they can be used to build all sorts of creations. The vibrant tiles snap together magnetically to create shapes, scenes, and anything else they can imagine, all while developing important skills that build the basis for science, math, and other learning.
This set has 100 pieces, which will allow your child to create plenty of 3D objects, but all Magna-Tiles work together, so you can combine it with other sets for double the fun (and even more pieces). Hundreds of online reviewers call Magna-Tiles are a "must-have for any playroom." They're a creative and durable building set that will last for years. "Given the amazing things we've built so far, they're worth every penny," enthused one mom.
"The pieces have thin magnets along the edges that snap together easily and make an ever-so-satisfying “clicking” noise. This makes it effortless for younger kids who are still developing their motor skills."—Danielle Directo-Meston, Product Tester
Best Tech: Game Smart Watch for Kids
Here’s some smart-looking wrist candy for her that’s actually a smartwatch made just for kids. It has a pretty impressive set of capabilities too that are not only fun and functional but educational as well.
From games to a calculator, a step counter and a calendar, it’s all there right at their fingertips on a handy little touch screen. It also has a built-in camera so they can take photos of whatever catches their eye and add fun special effects and borders to them too.
It runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery (included) and will run for about five to seven days after being charged. It’s a great travel toy and a fun way for them to learn to tell time. Plus, it’s just adorable to see a 3 year old checking her watch. Oh, and if pink isn’t her thing, it comes in other colors too.
"I loved being able to set time-per-day limits so I didn’t have to worry about the distraction of 24-hour access. Parents will also appreciate that unlike many tech toys, this watch isn’t noisy. All the games have various noises, and the watch makes a satisfying “whoop” when toggling between functions, but none of the sounds are super annoying."—Sarah Vanbuskirk, Product Tester
Best Doll: Baby Alive Real As Can Be Baby
Many little girls are fascinated with dolls. If you're looking for the perfect doll to give as a gift, the Baby Alive collection has an infant doll that looks like the real thing and boasts over 80 life-like expressions, movements, and even real-life sounds. Your little girl will love to feed her and will love that she makes a sucking noise. When the baby is called she will turn her head and even babble back to you. The doll comes with a removable outfit, hat, bib, blanket, pacifier, bottle, and instructions so mom and dad can figure out how to operate this thing.
"Despite the product name, it’s visually not the most lifelike doll, which is my only gripe. The doll definitely looks like a toy, with exaggerated eyes and eyelashes and smoothed-down everything else. However, my 3-year-old tester did not mind or notice this at all."—Sarah Vanbuskirk, Product Tester
Best Wooden: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Nina Ballerina Magnetic Dress-Up Wooden Doll
Tiny dancers will love this fun wooden doll dress-up set. Similar to a traditional paper doll, it allows them to dress up the doll, “Nina Ballerina,” change her clothes countless times and have all sorts of make-believe fun. This doll, however, is made of sturdy wood, as are her outfits, and they’re all magnetic to make dressing and undressing her a snap.
There are six outfits to mix and match with a slew of accessories too. In all, there are 27 pieces, including skirts, shirts, pants, a tiara, and shoes, of course. There’s also a wooden stand included, so they can easily show off all of their fashionable creations and spin Nina around the floor in dances they choreograph all by themselves.
"While the concept of playing with this set is simple, it actually involves more layers of thinking than you’d expect. It combines dress-up with dance as well as sorting, matching, and the implicit challenge of creating the best outfit, which gives the toy more of a game-like feel."—Sarah Vanbuskirk, Product Tester
Best for Bath Time: Crayola Color Bath Dropz
Rub-a-dub-dub here’s to fun in the tub! Bath time can be the best time with these Bath Dropz from Crayola. Just like their crayons, they brighten things up, but in this case, it’s the bathwater that's brightening up. This set comes with 60 tablets in a variety of colors. You can use one at a time or mix them to create your own fun combinations. They’re made in the USA with earth-friendly ingredients so you can feel safe they aren't doing harm.
Best Fine Motor: Kinetic Sand
Kinetic Sand is a cool way for kids to play with sand without making a big mess. This fun and educational toy will help hone their fine motor skills, sensory skills, and creative thinking. They can make a castle, play with it in a sensory bin or water table, or use cookie cutters and sand toys to make shapes. The ideas are endless and parents will also want to get in on the fun.
Kinetic Sand can be used both indoors and outdoors. Reviewers love it because it is easy to clean up and provides hours of entertainment. Many preschool teachers commented online that this is a must-have for this age group.
Best Game: Melissa & Doug Catch & Count Wooden Fishing Game
This adorable wooden game from Melissa & Doug is a great catch-all around, as it’s fun and educational. It comes with two fishing rods and ten numbered fish, all of which are magnetic. Kids can play alone or with someone else as they spin the worm then try to “catch” the fish with the number on which they land. (Instructions for other ways to play are included, too.) It’s great for learning numbers and building motor skills, and it’s also a whole lot of fun. When the fun is done, all the pieces fit into a mesh bag, making clean-up time a snap.
Customers say this toy reels in tons of fun. Some reviewers say the strings on the poles should be longer, and it may not stand up to rough handling from a toddler, but it's a huge hit with kids and it encourages counting, color recognition, and more.
Best for Travel: Melissa & Doug Water Wow! Reusable Color with Water Activity Pad
Traveling with a toddler can be tough if you’re not prepared. Luckily, these activity pads from Melissa & Doug are just the thing to have on hand to make road trips more fun for everyone. Three coloring books are included, each with a different theme (farm, ocean, and safari), and they're "mess-free" so you won't have to worry about cleaning the car afterward. Instead of using crayons or markers, kids use water-filled pens to bring these images to life and complete fun activities. When the “ink” dries, the colors disappear, and they can start all over again!
Parents say these books are a lifesaver on long trips. They're easy to stash in a diaper bag or purse and pull out when little ones need entertaining. In an online review, one happy mom wrote, “I bought these for road trips. It kept the kids engaged and they enjoyed them. They use them at the house, too. Great product!”
Best Overall: The Little Blue Box of Bright and Early Board Books by Dr. Seuss
You can never go wrong with a book for a child and a set of Dr. Seuss books—even better! This gift set includes four favorites for a reasonable price Hop on Pop; Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!; Ten Apples Up On Top!; and The Shape of Me and Other Stuff.
Best Overall: Candyland
Say goodbye to screentime with this classic board game that is a great first foray into board games. She'll fall in love with the candy-themed board and she doesn't need to know how to read to play along. This is a great gift for any family who wants to start a family board game night tradition.
Our writers spent 49 hours researching and testing the most popular toys for 3-year-old girls on the market. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.
Age appropriateness Most toys have an age recommendation on the packaging. Remember that this is just an estimate based on expected maturity and motor skills — a good guideline but not an absolute.
Complexity Sometimes simple toys are tons of fun, but toys with more than one function tend to hold kids’ attention longer. Look for toys that light up, move, make noise, or have some interactive features.
Type Think outside of gender norms when buying toys for 3-year-old girls. If you’re going to go with a doll, why not choose something like the computer engineer Barbie? Toys that introduce kids to STEM are also great.