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Whether it's encouraging problem-solving or further developing their fine motor skills, there are plenty of kid-friendly toys that make learning fun and approachable. Especially if you're shopping for the perfect toy that'll keep a 3-year-old engaged.
According to Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in South Overland Park, Kansas, 3-year-olds often enjoy interactive options like playsets, trikes, and scooters. You can also give trains, craft supplies, and musical instruments a try as well.
Here, the best toys for 3-year-olds that are available online.
Tonies Toniebox Playtime Puppy Starter Set
If you're looking for a toy both you and your little one can enjoy, be sure to consider the Toniebox Playtime Puppy Starter Set. The audio system will play classic sing-alongs that'll entertain the 3-year-old in your life for hours.
The audio box is available in six colors and is made of a material that's soft enough to hold but durable enough to withstand any rough play. The set, which includes a charging station, features a collection of popular children's tunes, from Wheels on the Bust to Baby Shark and beyond, that'll be a treat for the whole family.
ETI Toys Original 101-Piece Educational Construction Engineering Building Blocks Set
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.
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.
"We like how the projects are rated by difficulty as it gives kids something to work on now and something to work toward."—Shannon Wells, Product Tester
Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set - 24 pc.
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.
"Squigz are deceptively simple and incredibly portable. This single set can be a great bath time toy or an activity while making dinner (our son loved sticking these to the fridge)."—Shannon Wells, Product Tester
ToyVelt 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. The set has 218 pieces in all and comes with plastic screwdrivers to do all the work.
"If he has all six dinosaurs out and he isn’t parent-directed, it quickly turns into a demolition derby situation, which is a blast for him. It should be noted that even though the dinosaurs feel flimsy, they’ve withstood all the crashes. "—Shannon Wells, Product Tester
Reeves International The Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane
Bring this to the beach, sandbox, or use it in your backyard. No matter where you use the crane, your kid will try and dig up whatever they can, all while honing those gross and fine motor skills. The toy rotates 360 degrees and can reach up to 33 inches—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.
Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit for iPad
The genius behind the Osmo Kit for iPad is that rather than 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.
KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen
This is one sleek, cool kitchen set. It has the look of granite countertops and a tile backsplash as well as tons of shelves to store pots and pans. Kids will love turning and clicking the stove buttons or doodling on the chalkboard exterior of the fridge.
Hide N Side Ball Pit, Play Tent and Tunnels
Need a toy your toddler can enjoy for hours? This ball pit just might be the solution. The pop up pit is easily portable whether you choose to set it up in the house, the backyard, or while on vacation. Kids will enjoy crawling through the tunnels, camping out in the tents, or trying to score a few baskets in the hoop. Just note: the balls are sold separately.
Dynacraft 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.
Ryan’s World Vending Surprise
Ryan's World Toys are inspired by Ryan ToysReview, a YouTube channel named for its young star who's become famous for his videos reviewing products. This operational vending machine has surprises galore. Simply insert a coin to receive a toy that might have slime or a toy figure hidden inside. The machine has bright lights and even features phrases from Ryan.
Kindi Kids Snack Time Friends, Marsha Mello
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.
Sesame Street Love to Hug Elmo
Most 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 put their arms around him, he answers with kisses, songs, and phrases.
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. 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.
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.
Baby Alive Happy Hungry Baby
This doll, which eats and drinks, 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.
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 good alternative. 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-inches, 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.
Hape Master Workbench
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.
Toomies Bath Foam Cone Factory Toy
Add some creativity to bath time with this clever cone factory set that uses bubble bath and water to help kids make ice cream confections in the comfort of the tub. This toy mounts easily to the bathrooms wall and includes three cones and a sprinkle shaker. Plus, besides the bathtub, this can also be mounted on a glass sliding door for when the temperatures rise.
What to Look for in a Toy for a 3-Year-Old
The age recommendations on a toy’s packaging is a good judge of how safe and engaging a toy is, says Kristin Morency Goldman, senior advisor of strategic communications for The Toy Association. However, keep in mind it’s just a recommendation based on average maturity, motor skills, and cognitive development. Toys labeled 3+ may contain small parts that can be a choking hazard to toddlers, says Morency Goldman. If your child is three, but still putting many things in their mouth, err on the side of caution, and skip these items.
The best toys for 3-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?
3-year-olds are in the process of learning so many new things. 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.