At the tender age of 3, imaginations are big, and attention spans are small. A plethora of toys to help them create, dream, and learn through play is one of the best ways to keep them entertained and away from the screens throughout the day. From pretend play and outside shenanigans to games and arts and crafts, there’s a little something for every child on this list of the best toys for three-year-olds.
Costumes and Pretend Play
Superhero capes can excite little ones with big imaginations, perfect for pretend play and dress-up. Boys and girls can harness their superpowers and save the day in these colorful capes. We like this set of 10 matching masks and capes because there’s plenty to share with siblings and friends, so your super squad of toddlers can take on the day and unleash their imaginations.
A classic pastime you probably had when you were young, a kitchen playset can keep the kiddos entertained for at least long enough for you to cook dinner or clean up. You’ll get to try your little chef’s creations if you’re lucky! These come in all different sizes and price points, but this set from Step2 features appliances, a coffee maker, realistic lights and sounds, and a 24-piece accessory set with dishes, utensils, cookware, and more. And be sure to buy a set of food to accompany this gift so your little one can start cooking.
Your little one can embrace the beauty of imaginative play with the Melissa & Doug beauty salon play set. This 18-piece set includes a hair dryer, hair straightener, hair spray, a comb, a brush, a lotion bottle, and more to create their own beauty salon.
Your little helper will enjoy playing with the Little People Big Helpers Home from Fisher-Price. With two floors and multiple rooms, there are plenty of places to explore, and songs, phrases, lights, and sounds make this home interactive and entertaining. It includes three figures (Emma, Jack, and their dog) and play accessories so your little one can help out around the house by feeding the dog, making the bed, and more.
Encourage beginning math and imaginative play with this calculator cash register from Learning Resources. The 73-piece set includes 30 pretend bills, 40 plastic coins, a pretend credit card, and an activity guide, plus the large buttons on the keypad are perfect for little hands. It encourages basic math and money skills while fostering their imaginations with pretend-play. And it’s solar powered, so no batteries are needed!
Have a little helper at home? This dust, sweep, and mop set from Melissa & Doug is perfect for hours of pretend play. The realistic wooden cleaning toys make them look just like Mom and Dad’s, plus these tools will also help strengthen your toddler’s sense of purpose, hone their fine motor skills, and spark their imagination.
Treat your little princess to their own collection of shoes, tiaras, and jewelry with this dress-up kit, which features four pairs of high heels, two crowns, two necklaces, two bracelets, four rings, two wands, and two pairs of earrings. It’s all the accessories a princess needs for pretend play and sharing with friends or siblings.
Not only is this great for pretend play, but it encourages children to learn the parts of the body. This set from Melissa & Doug includes everything you need for a pretend-play check-up, including a lab coat, mask, thermometer, reflex hammer, ear scope, syringe, and stethoscope with sound effects. Looking the part will spur plenty of imaginary play for your little one.
Get to work with this workbench for kids by Black + Decker! It comes with 75 tools and accessories, and features realistic action, lights, and sounds to make them feel like they’re in a real workshop. This workbench includes a miter saw, drill press, hammer, screwdriver, nails, screws, nuts, hand saw, wrench, and more — plenty of tools to spark their imagination and put those motor skills to work.
Bring home a bundle of joy and all the accessories needed to engage your little one’s imagination and foster their nurturing spirit. This set comes with a 13.5-inch soft body baby doll that features poseable arms and legs, locked-grip hands to hold her accessories, and eyes that shut for a nap, as well as realistic sounds so your child can experience what it’s like to care for a baby. In addition, they can create new adventures with their baby doll while playing with the stroller, chest carrier, portable crib, and play mat, or act out the baby’s meal with a bib, food container, spoon, and more.
Let them dream up something sweet with this ice cream playset to go along with their savory kitchen concoctions. This set comes with ice cream scoops, sprinkles, syrup bottles, a banana split dish, sugar cones, and more. Scoop up your favorite flavor, dress it up with toppings like sprinkles, and your kiddo can enjoy their pretend ice cream creations — and you can enjoy it without all the calories!
Put all that toddler energy to good use with a game of soccer in the backyard. Your future World Cup superstar will improve their motor skills while having fun with this kid-sized soccer net that comes with a soccer ball and pump.
You’ll get hours of playtime out of a swing set, and it’s a great way for your little one to exercise and perfect those gross motor skills while having fun. This particular swing set from Big Backyard also features a chalk wall for drawing or practicing the alphabet or numbers. And with two swings, a rock wall, a slide, and room for a sandbox, there’s plenty of playspace for friends and neighbors to enjoy. Find more options for backyard fun in our ultimate list of swing sets for toddlers.
This is on every kid’s wish list at some point, and the Schwinn Roadster tricycle is the perfect starting point for a petite pedaler. The low center of gravity makes it easy to ride, and the sculpted seat is adjustable for growing legs or other members of the family. Plus, the retro look will have your cutie riding in style.
Upgrade your backyard play area with this 40-inch saucer tree swing. Perfect for kids or adults — or both — with a 660-pound weight limit, this tree swing is one the whole family can enjoy. It comes with swing straps and climbing carabiners, so you can install it around a tree limb or a beam.
Imagine their excitement when they see a bounce house in their own backyard! The Little Tikes Jump ‘n Slide inflatable bouncer is great for birthday parties, holidays, or just because it’s the weekend. It includes a high-pressure blower so it can inflate and deflate in minutes.
This three-wheeled scooter will put a smile on your child’s face as they glide down the sidewalk. The wide, grippy deck is low to the ground, giving it a smooth and balanced ride that’s perfect for beginners, and the pivot-turning system is easy to learn — all you have to do is lean to steer and turn. Plus, this scooter grows with your child, featuring a height-adjustable stem and a weight limit of 100 pounds, so they can enjoy it for years to come. Don’t forget the colorful light-up wheels will catch their eye too!
Make learning fun with the Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit. The award-winning educational games with Osmo teach your preschooler how to recognize numbers and learn phonics, develop pre-drawing skills, identify social-emotional skills, experiment with colors, and develop problem-solving skills. It’s an engaging way to encourage your child’s creativity and cognitive development in a fun, stress-free environment.
This preschool educational game encourages creativity and imagination while helping them develop fine motor skills, problem-solving, and logical ability. The set includes 36 wooden pieces and 60 challenge cards your little one can follow to create different designs of animals, bugs, birds, and more. It’s also a game that will encourage family time as you help your child figure out the patterns on the challenge cards.
Get your kids up and moving while piquing their interest in STEM learning with a Stomp Rocket. This easy-to-use air rocket launcher can send foam Jr. Glow Stomp Rockets up to 100 feet in the air — plus, they glow in the dark so they can stand out against the night sky. Pair it with a Stomp Rocket Science book for STEM experiments using your Stomp Rocket.
This puzzle from Learning Resources will teach your child more than just the ABCs. In addition to letter recognition, your child will hone their matching skills and fine motor skills as they put the pieces of each puzzle together. Plus, the cute little graphics can spark conversation about what things start with each particular letter.
This musical toy makes big sounds with a small footprint, meaning more fun for your little one and less clutter for your home. This set combines a piano, drum set, and electronic xylophone for unlimited amounts of musical creation. Besides lots of fun, this toy will pique your child’s interest in music and develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Have a mini rockstar on your hands? They can rock out with this microphone, complete with flashing lights, so that they can perform their own concert at home. Your little one can wow the crowd (that’s you, Mom and Dad) as they sing along to the five catchy pre-recorded preschool songs. There’s also a fun voice changer that’s sure to make the kids giggle and a voice recorder and playback to capture all the perfect performances.
The TEMI Dinosaur Toys and Playmat is an Amazon best-selling item and is sure to take your kiddo’s imagination on a Jurassic journey. This set includes nine dinosaur figures and a dino park mat so their imagination can run wild just like the dinosaurs did. Not only do these action figures encourage pretend play, but also cooperation as they share with friends and family.
Combine fun and language skills with the talking hamster toy. This cute furball repeats whatever you or your child says in any language. Your little one can even teach it to sing their favorite song.
Help your little one develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination with this fun and fast-paced fishing game. As the game’s pond rotates and fish open and close their mouths, players will use their mini fishing poles to catch as many fish as they can — whoever has the most fish wins! Have the little one’s count their fish to practice their counting skills.
Make math fun with Count Your Chickens cooperative game. In Count Your Chickens, the chicks have flown the coop, and you have to help Mother Hen bring them back. Collect all the chicks, and everyone wins! While the game is played, your little one will learn counting, number sets, taking turns, visual recognition, and cooperation. This cooperative game means players work together and play against the game rather than each other, building confidence and encouraging inclusion.
Get their imaginations going with this 60-piece deluxe wooden train set. It has 125 inches of track that your child can use to create various railways while also challenging their spatial logic skills. The set also includes a magnetic crane that spins 360 degrees, a bridge, a truck, and an oil tank car. Plus, these tracks can connect to other popular toy train sets from Thomas, IKEA, Melissa and Doug, and Chuggington, making it easy to expand their train world.
Arts and Crafts
Use a brush or use your fingers. Whichever way you paint, the creations are endless with the colorful palette of Crayola washable paints. Crafts are fun and vibrant and can turn a rainy day indoors into tons of fun — plus, cleanup has never been easier with this washable paint. Don’t forget to put your little one’s favorite project on the fridge when it dries!
This is triple the fun with an art easel that features a chalkboard, a dry-erase board, and crate paper all in one. The Top Bright Wooden Art Easel includes adjustable height, anti-pinch hinges, and a non-slip foot cover design, made thoughtfully with kids in mind. The double-sided design is perfect for indoor or outdoor projects, which means more space for your child’s imagination.
Exercise and Coordination
Combine fun and excitement with physical development; you’ve got yourself the perfect toy for toddlers. Your little one can bounce until their heart’s content without realizing they’re working on their balance and coordination — not to mention getting a little exercise too.
Get ready for a wild ride with this toy, where your toddler can wobble, wiggle, rock, tilt, spin, and more. The Teeter Popper from Fat Brain Toys lets children play however they choose, sparking curiosity and imagination while improving core strength, balance, coordination, and gross motor skills. The fun popping sounds as they play will encourage more movement and more fun.
Good, old-fashioned fun never goes out of style, and the Playskool Sit ‘n Spin is a classic toy that has thrilled toddlers for years. Perfect for indoor fun, this toy will have your toddler twirling and whirling around with plenty of giggles. While it’s tons of fun, this also helps toddlers learn balance, coordination, and motor skills.