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Toddler development

Best Toys for 3-Year-Olds 2024

Behold, toys that encourage creativity, play and gross motor skills!

Best Toys for 3-Year-Olds 2024

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Every three-year-old's world is exploding with creativity, play and gross and fine motor skills. They're hilarious little investigators who love engaging in the world around them. There's no better way to open their imaginations than to get them age-specific toys. If you're looking for some of the best toys for 3-year-olds, check out this vetted list.

What to look for in the best toys for 3-year-olds

Gigi Schweikert, Parenting Expert and CEO of Lightbridge Academy says it's important to be mindful of what's going on in your child's mind at this age.

"At 3 years old, children are developing a variety of skills including language and fine and gross motor skills," Schweikert explains. "Incorporating age-appropriate toys in play engages a toddler's overall social, emotional and cognitive development which is crucial for preschool readiness, future learning and overall well-being."

She suggests looking for toys that encourage skills like stacking, pushing and pulling, social interaction and cooperative play. In combination, this skillet stimulates learning with an emphasis on open-ended play, promoting creativity and imagination. Don't overly fixate on development, without considering one factor: your child's interests.

"It's important to consider their interests and hobbies when choosing toys," she says, to foster engagement and enjoyment.

Best toys for 3-year-olds 2024

Best overall

Toddler Busy Board

Esjay Toddler Busy Board, best toys for 3 year olds Merchant

Three-year-olds will love learning new skills and working on fine motor skills through this eight-page busy book. The activities are geared towards a range of skill levels, working on everything from dexterity to hand-eye coordination to imagination.

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The set includes a zipper, shoelace, belt, button, clock, calendar, shapes, threading, matching, hook and loop puzzles and more! What's more, the book is soft and portable, making it easy to use at home, outside, at restaurants or on trips.

Pros

  • Portable and compact design
  • Includes eight pages of activities
  • Good several age groups
  • Can be used like a board game
  • Removable pages
  • Less than one pound
  • Fun role playing

Cons

  • Depending on skill level, a three-year-old might master it quickly

Best budget

Melissa & Doug Water Wow!

Melissa & Doug Water Wow!, best toys for 3 year olds Merchant

Melissa & Doug is known for its educational and fun toys, and its Water Wow! books are a popular choice. Budget-friendly, these under $10 books can be reused repeatedly to keep 3-year-olds busy "coloring" with water. The four-page books are no mess, and all that is required to activate them is water.

Simply let each page dry again to start all over again! It's best for kids ages three to seven and can be popped into a backpack, travel bag or diaper bag on the go.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Reusable toys for 3-year-olds
  • Only needs water to "color"
  • Spiral-bound book contains 4 coloring pages
  • Available in a variety of themes including vehicles, sports and space

Cons

  • The pages could warp and there's no Paw Patrol design option

Best water table

Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Toddler Water Table

Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Toddler Water Table, best outdoor toys for kids Merchant

This water play table from Step2 has over 17,000 five-star ratings on Amazon and will have kids outdoors for hours! With bright colors, and interactive toys, what more could your little one ask for?

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It's durable, sturdy and suitable for multiple children to play with its features like a rainwall and waterfall at once. It comes with over a dozen accessories and holds five gallons of water. To drain it, simply pull the plug. It's a major upgrade from Play-Doh at the kitchen table.

Pros

  • Has over 17,000 five-star reviews on Amazon
  • Made of sturdy and durable plastic
  • One of the best toys for 3 year olds when warm weather hits
  • Made for multiple children to play with it at once
  • Has features like a waterfall included
  • 13 toys
  • Pair with an afternoon of flower garden building
  • Holds five gallons of water and drains easily

Cons

  • Requires assembly

Best rated

Little Tikes Easy Score Basketball Set

Little Tykes Easy Score Basketball Set, best outdoor for kids Merchant

Preschoolers love shooting hoops with this basketball goal that's the perfect size for them. Six adjustable heights can make the goal progressively harder as they age, up to four feet tall, and the set is good for kids 18 months to 5 years old.

Set it up in a playroom or next to a real basketball goal outside and watch your child learn hand-eye coordination and teamwork. The set comes with three small basketballs and the goal, which needs to be weighted by 40 pounds of sand, which is not included.

Pros

  • Good for kids as young as 18 months
  • Six adjustable goal heights, up to four feet tall
  • Teaches kids hand-eye coordination and teamwork
  • Ideal for indoors and outdoors
  • Has over 39,000 5-star ratings on Amazon

Cons

  • Some children might age out quicker than others depending on height

Best for bath

Skillmatics Seek and Splash Junior Bath Toy

Skillmatics Seek and Splash Junior Bath Toy, best toys for 3 year olds Merchant
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Keep kids entertained and their minds active while taking a bath with Skillmatics Seek & Splash Junior, a search-and-find game. Three-year-olds need to remember what's on the card and search for the right gems under the water.

The game helps with color and shape recognition, counting, sorting, sequencing and includes 48 colorful gems, 35 waterproof cards and one net bag to store it all.

Pros

  • Educational and entertaining search-and-find game
  • Includes 48 gems, 35 waterproof cards and a storage net bag
  • Good for multiple children
  • Helps with skills like color and shape recognition, sorting and sequencing

Cons

  • Works best for 3-year-olds in the tub, not the pool

Best swing set

Backyard Discovery Briarcliff

Backyard Discovery Beachfront Cedar Swing Set is one of the best outdoor toys for kids Merchant

Looking for a long-lasting swing set to last for multiple years and children? Say hello to Backyard Discovery's Briarcliff swing set. Thanks to its rot-resistant cedarwood base, children love playing with its features, which include two belt swings, a small deck with a canopy, an eight-foot slide and a rock climbing ladder.

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The entire set weighs under 200 pounds but is sturdy enough to hold multiple toddlers at once.

Pros

  • Perfect for preschoolers
  • Has features like a rock climbing ladder and eight-foot slide
  • Made from rot-resistant cedar wood
  • Strong enough to hold multiple children at once
  • Incudes a limited warranty
  • Budget-friendly
  • One of the best screen-free play sets on the market

Cons

  • Requires multiple adults to assemble

Best trampoline

Little Tikes 3-Foot Trampoline

little tikes trampoline, best toys for 3 year olds Merchant

If your toddler needs an outlet to get some movement out of them, this mini trampoline is a must-have. As a first trampoline, it's great for burning endless energy while working on gross motor skills and balance.

Best of all, it only weighs 13 pounds, can hold up to 55 pounds, and can easily be transported around the house or outside. With over 30,000 ratings on Amazon, this three-feet in diameter trampoline is a powerhouse. Check out our list of the best trampolines for kids.

Pros

  • Portable and easy to move, including outdoors
  • Holds up to 55 pounds
  • Only three feet in diameter
  • Only weighs 13 pounds
  • Kids loved this for rainy day play (according to our own tests)

Cons

  • Best for one child at a time

Best sports

Franklin Sports Kids Mini Soccer

Franklin Sports Kids Mini Soccer Goal Sets, best toys for 3 year olds Merchant

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Three-year-olds will love an introduction to soccer with this mini-soccer and goal set. The goal comes together quickly with corners that lock into place and it's easy to assemble and disassemble in seconds.

The set includes one easy-fold goal, one soccer ball and one pump, making it easy to set up. The goal is portable and can be used outdoors and indoors with one or multiple children.

Pros

  • Encourages movement and skills like hand-eye coordination
  • Easy to assemble or disassemble
  • Kit includes a goal, ball and pump
  • Can be used by multiple children at once
  • Physical coordination skills developed transfer to other areas of life
  • Most gifted on Amazon

Cons

  • Depending on your child's size, they might quickly outgrow it

Best luxury

Staplestein Stepping Stones

Staplestein Stepping Stones, best toys for 3 year olds

Well worth the splurge, Stapelstein's Stepping Stones will keep a toddler's body and mind active for hours. The set includes six stepping stones and a rainbow balance board and is available in pastel colors or brights. The elements are safe to stack, made from eco-friendly materials with no sharp corners or edges.

The stones are water-, saliva- and UV-resistant and can be used indoors or outside to play games like the Floor is Lava or build forts. The only limit is a child's creativity! Each stone is super light and can support up to 396 pounds.

Pros

  • Includes six stepping stones and one balance board for open-ended play
  • Encourages gross motor skills and imagination through a building block design
  • Educational play/imaginative play
  • Available in pastels or brights
  • Stones hold up to 396 pounds of weight
  • Durable and light and made from eco-friendly materials

Cons

  • On the pricier side, but it's worth it, especially since kids can play with them for many years

Best for travel

Melissa & Doug Take-Along Jigsaw Puzzles

Melissa & Doug Take-Along Jigsaw Puzzles, best toys for 3 year olds Merchant
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Make traveling in the car, plane or even dining at a restaurant easy with these Melissa & Doug Take-Along Jigsaw Puzzles. They come in three varieties—farm, princesses and vehicles—and are easy to pack.

Each pack has two 15-piece magnetic puzzles that stick to the board so no piece gets lost. The fold-out format fits nicely into diaper or travel bags and the pieces are coded on the back for easy sorting.

Pros

  • Portable and lays flat
  • Fits easily into travel and diaper bags
  • Educational toy activity book
  • Magnetic pieces keep everything together
  • Included reference pictures help guide children to play on their own
  • Each kit comes with two themed puzzles

Cons

  • Advanced puzzle solvers might not find them challenging after a few completions
This article was originally published on Mar 08, 2024

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