Our Top Picks
"In the set is everything they need to build 12 different toys."
"Stick them to one another to build whacky creations."
"You can build and rebuild six different multicolored dinosaurs."
"Dig in the sand or backyard with this "real life" excavator."
"Kids ages 3 to 5 are encouraged to use both technology and the compatible game mat to physically practice different skills."
"It roars, and also has an accelerator that little ones can use to move gently forward—the maximum speed is just 2.5 miles per hour."
"With this Amazon membership, parents will receive one age-appropriate STEM toy each month related to a concept."
"Comes with a key to help kids find hidden presents like articulated figures, mix-and-match characters, and treasures of all kinds."
"Kids will love taking her outfit and shoes off and on, as well as playing with fun details like her marshmallow ponytail holders."
"Elmo can speak English and Spanish, and lift his arms to ask for an embrace."
01 of 19
ETI Toys Original 101 Piece Educational Construction Engineering Building
STEM (which stands for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math) is where it’s at when it comes to education today, and it’s never too early to start building the foundation. This construction set does just that while kids are having nothing but fun, making it one of the best toys for a 3-year-old.
In the set is everything they need to build 12 different toys plus limitless creations of their own design. It contains blocks in a variety of sizes and shapes, screws and nuts, plates, wheels, connectors, two wrenches, and an idea sheet. All of them come in a nice, sturdy storage box to keep them all together when their creations are deconstructed. The pieces are easy to assemble, and kids can build anything from cars and trucks to animals and buildings. It’s all about problem solving, creativity and trial and error, but most of all fun.
Our tester noted: “My son loves to travel with it to his grandmother's house, and he carries it himself.”
02 of 19
Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set - 24 pc.
If you are looking for a toy for a 3-year-old this is a sure winner. Squigz are crazy little doo-dads made of silicone rubber that come in a variety of shapes. Each has suction cups on its ends and can stick to and stack on one another to build amazing creations. They can also be stuck to windows, doors, refrigerators, high chairs, bathtubs or pretty much any solid, non-porous surface to make all sorts of gravity-defying patterns and designs. The award-winning toy lets their creativity drive how it’s used.
To remove Squigz, you simply pull and off they come with a “pop.” And don’t worry, they won’t leave a mark.
Squigz are a great way to develop fine motor and problem-solving skills and are a lot of fun to share with a friend or sibling for collaboration. This starter set contains 24 Squigz, and additional sets can be purchased to up their building power. Our tester noted: "squigz are deceptively simple and incredibly portable."
03 of 19
Dinosaur Take Apart Toys
Take them back to prehistoric times with these take-apart toy dinosaurs. While the pack of six dinosaurs (featuring a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Brontosaurus, and a Triceratops) comes preassembled and ready for play, the real beauty of them is that kids can take them apart then rebuild them over and over again.
It’s a great toy for 3-year-olds who like to know how things work and much better that they take apart these dinosaurs than, say, your toaster. The set has 218 pieces in all and comes with kid-friendly screwdrivers to do all the work. No batteries are needed, just their hard work and problem-solving skills.
04 of 19
Reeves International The Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane
If you are looking for a really cool gift that will keep them entertained for hours this excavator does the job. Bring it to the beach, sandbox, or use it in your backyard. No matter where you use it your kid will try and dig up whatever he can as he hones his gross and fine motor skills.
The toy rotates 360 degrees and can reach up to 33" long—basically, it does a solid job digging and what kid wouldn't want to try that. This toy is suitable for children ages 3 and up and can hold 110 pounds.
Looking for more gifts? Check out our guide to the best gifts for 3-year-old boys.Continue to 5 of 19 below.
05 of 19
Osmo - Little Genius Starter Kit for iPad
The genius behind the Osmo kit for iPad is that rather simply getting stuck behind a screen, kids ages 3 to 5 are encouraged to use both technology and the compatible game mat to physically practice different skills. They might try forming letters with sticks and rings, dressing a doll using cardboard pieces, creating squiggle pictures (that can then be animated), and solving problems as they listen to stories.
06 of 19
Lion King 6 Volt Cub Simba Plush Ride On
Lion King fans will be able to create their own jungle adventures using this plush, ride-on Simba toy, best for kids 3 and up. Naturally, it roars, and also has an accelerator that little ones can use to move gently forward—the maximum speed is just 2.5 miles per hour, so it will be easy to keep watch as they cruise around. At the end of the day, Simba can be put back into his "jungle den," an open, four-sided storage spot that may just become a popular kids' hideout as well.
07 of 19
STEM Club Toy Subscription
Many experts believe that for kids to do well in areas like computer programming, science, and robotics, they'll need to get comfortable with STEM material, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.
With this Amazon membership, parents pay a subscription fee and receive one age-appropriate STEM toy each month related to a concept such as counting, building, or cause and effect. Some reviewers report that the price is affordable considering the quality of the toys, which include domino mazes, marble runs, and, for the older age group, an electric circuit kit.
08 of 19
Ryan's World Super Surprise Safe
Ryan's World Toys are inspired by Ryan ToysReview, a YouTube channel named for its 7-year-old star who's become famous for his videos of unboxing and reviewing products.
This safe was created in the unwrapping spirit and comes with a key to help kids find hidden presents like articulated figures, mix-and-match characters, and treasures of all kinds.Continue to 9 of 19 below.
09 of 19
Kindi Kids Snack Time Friends
Made by the creators of Shopkins, the colorful, glittery Kindi Kids dolls are aimed at preschoolers. Marsha Mello comes with a cake pop that can be fed to her, as well as a realistic-looking babycino with marshmallows that move up the straw. Kids will love taking her outfit and shoes off and on, as well as playing with fun details like her marshmallow ponytail holders.
Want to read more? Check out our guide to the best toys for 3-year-old girls.
10 of 19
Sesame Street Love to Hug Elmo
3-year-olds are excellent huggers, so why not let them practice their skills on this fun version of Sesame Street's beloved red monster? "Love to Hug" Elmo can speak English and Spanish, and lift his arms to ask for an embrace. When kids do put their arms around him, he answers with kisses, songs, and phrases.
11 of 19
If you're stuck inside on a freezing day, your preschooler will love getting a movement break on an inflatable, ride-on bouncer. Occupational therapists also love these toys because they allow children to work on coordination, balance, and core strength. This toy also opens up lots of opportunities for imaginative play (who wouldn't want to feed and care for a unicorn?) but if you do need to stash it away, it can be deflated and easily reinflated using the included pump.
12 of 19
Nickelodeon PAW Patrol, Mighty Pups Super Paws Lookout Tower Playset
You might need to KonMari your kid's toys before ordering this fabulous-but-giant playset, which stands almost three feet tall and will be a guaranteed hit on Christmas morning. Kids will stay busy for hours playing with the elevator, zip line, and six vehicle launch areas (note that the set only includes the Chase vehicle and pup, but others can be bought separately). Just like on the show, the tower has lots of flashing lights and sound effects, including Ryder's famous control-tower missions.Continue to 13 of 19 below.
13 of 19
Hape Happy Villa Kid's Wooden Doll House Set
A dollhouse is a perfect gift for any 3-year-old. It sparks imagination, pretend play, and they are just so cute to look at. This wooden set by beloved Hape doesn't take up too much real estate at home. Many reviewers say their kid plays with this for years to come, so it's a smart investment and has a long shelf life.
14 of 19
Play-Doh Stamp 'n Top Pizza Oven Toy
This detailed, pizza-themed Play-Doh set comes with a pretend oven that stamps and spins the pizza crust, as well as a cheese grater and molds for creating different toppings like vegetables and pepperoni.
A pizza pan, cutter, and stand are also included for children looking to play restaurant and show off their masterpieces. You'll start with five cans of standard-size Play-Doh, so you won't need to worry about running out anytime soon.
15 of 19
Baby Alive Happy Hungry Baby
Dolls can help teach children to be nurturing, and this one, which eats, drinks, and messes up her diapers, needs quite a bit of TLC. She also says more than 50 different phrases including "Baby stinky!" and "More, please!" and opens her mouth wide when kids feed her from her special spoon.
The set also comes with a feeding tray, bib, bowl, sippy cup, comb, two packets of doll food, and two diapers. You'll likely run through the food and diapers quickly (just like with real babies!) so plan accordingly and order extra.
16 of 19
Intex Playhouse Jump-O-Lene Inflatable Bouncer
Instead of having them bounce off the walls with all of that three-year-old energy, this inflatable castle gives them a royally good alternative. It’s a great way for kids to bounce their sillies out and get in some awesome exercise at the same time. While it can be used outside as well, it’s perfect for playrooms and those days when going outside just isn’t an option.
It measures 69" x 68" x 44", so it’s big enough for a couple of little jumpers (it can hold up to 120 pounds), but not so big that it takes up an entire room. It also has reinforced net sidewalls to keep them from bouncing out, and a side door that they can crawl through to get in and out. Let the bouncing begin!Continue to 17 of 19 below.
17 of 19
Master Workbench by Hape
It’s hammer time! This award-winning wooden building set gives kids the opportunity to build and fix things on their own. Along with the nifty tool bench that serves as both a workspace and storage compartment for all the tools, it comes with 32 different pieces including a hammer, screwdriver, wrench, and saw. Then there are nails, screws, nuts, and bolts for getting down to work. Once they get the hang of the tools, they can even take apart and rebuild the entire tool bench.
Gender-neutral colors make this a great toy for girls or boys, and it’s a great size (21.6" x 11.1" x 31.8") for smaller spaces. The height of the bench can also be adjusted.
18 of 19
OUTREE Kids Pod Swing Seat Hammock
They can swing into fun with this awesome pod that can be used indoors or out. Part hammock, part swing, it’s a fun place for kids to curl up with a book or get active and soar into the air. It’s particularly great if you don’t have a lot of space for an entire jungle gym or just want to add a fun, active component to your child’s bedroom or playroom.
Easy to assemble, everything you need to hang it is included. It can hold up to 170 pounds so they’ll get years of use from it. It’s also lightweight and easily portable so you can move it between locations or store it anytime you want. Most importantly — this pod will definitely get kids’ nod of approval because it’s fun.
19 of 19
TOOMIES Bath Foam Cone Factory Toy
Bath time might be both of your favorite times a day, but your toy selection can get a bit stale over time. Add some creativity to your routine with this clever cone factory set that uses bubble bath and water to help them make ice cream confections in the comfort of their own bath.
This toy mounts easily to your bathrooms wall and includes three cones and a sprinkle shaker. Plus, besides the bathtub, you can also use this outside mounted on a glass sliding door for when the temperatures rise.
Products Tested by The Spruce
How We Tested
Our reviewers spent 21 hours testing one of the most popular toys for 3-year-olds. To get the most thorough feedback, our testers took this toy home to and had their own kids play with it. We asked our reviewers to consider this toy’s most important features — from its safety to its educational value — and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in a Toy for a 3-Year-Old
Safety While three-year-olds are quick learners, some still tend to put toys in their mouths — which is why you should consider safety when shopping. Make sure the toy you’re considering is approved for toddlers, and double-check that there are no small pieces that could be a choking hazard.
Engagement The best toys for three-year-olds are ones that keep them engaged. If they figure out a puzzle too quickly or blaze through all the features of a toy, they may get bored. Consider how engaging a toy will be when you’re shopping — is there more than one way to play? Will it encourage them to be creative? Will it get old quickly?
Educational Value Three-year-olds are in the process of learning so many new things: walking, talking, sharing, fine motor skills, and more. For this reason, many toys for children this age encourage them to learn new things while having fun. Consider educational value when shopping for toys — just don’t sacrifice entertainment along the way.
Test Results: ETI Toys Original 101 Piece Educational Construction Engineering Building (Best Overall)
What We Like
What We Don't Like
No hard copy of figures and instructions
This toy was a major hit with one of our tester's kids. “They loved it,” she gushed. “They really enjoyed creating different things like robots — and they would play with what they built afterward.” The toy's durability was also a plus. “The storage box the pieces come in is very sturdy,” one tester noted. “My son loves to travel with it to his grandmother's house, and he carries it himself.” However, our testers did wish this set included a physical copy of the figures and instructions in addition to an e-book.