The best gifts for 3-year-old boys and girls are toys and games that are educational, can stimulate imagination, and of course, are fun! As the tiny person in your life continues to grow and develop their skills, you might be wondering what kind of gift is appropriate for a 3-year old. Not a baby on the play mat anymore and moving towards pre-school, 3-year-olds are active, communicative, and headstrong. They are learning to engage more meaningfully with a wider variety of people as well as flex their cognitive skills. What kind of gifts will help them learn to co-exist in the larger community and exercise their creative spirit (and also help them burn energy because, YIKES)? So if you’re looking for gift ideas for a 3-year-old’s birthday or Christmas present– or maybe a unique toy for the toddler who has everything — well, you’re in luck!
What are the best kinds of gifts for 3-year-olds?
Rashelle Chase, an early childhood educator and KinderCare team member, explains that 3-year-olds “learn the best through play, and optimal learning happens when children are relaxed, engaged, and having fun.” Gifts for the 3-year-old in your life should help them build foundational skills, Chase says. She recommends gifts that are open-ended like blocks, Play-Doh, and dramatic play materials, as well as cooperative toys for building social skills and gross motor skills.
“Maybe it’s one of Dad’s old shirts or perhaps it’s a favorite costume, but dress up and make-believe never go out of style,” she says. “Combined with materials like play food and kitchens, dolls and stuffed animals, children can have a great time acting out endless scenarios.” For kiddos with siblings or who enjoy playdates, “cooperative toys and games help children develop social-emotional and executive function skills like taking turns, sharing, and cooperation,.” Then, there’s brain development. “Board games, memory games, and simple card games help children develop their working memory, math, and fine-motor skills,” she explains. And, let’s not forget those motor skills. “Trikes, balance bikes, scooters, and balls give children an opportunity to burn off energy while refining their gross motor skills by pedaling, balancing, negotiating space, as well as exercising hand-eye coordination,” Chase says.
With all these recommendations in mind, we’ve curated the best gifts and toys for the 3-year-old in your life. And P.S., there’s more! You’ll want to check out our picks for the best jungle gyms, playhouses, water tables, activity tables, outdoor play sets, and climber slides (whew!) too!
**Please note: All these picks are great for either boys or girls, but since some people like to search for gifts based on gender, we wanted to include some options!**
Best Gifts for 3-Year-Olds
Do you have a sick stuffed animal? They might need to visit the Vet. This portable animal clinic turns your tiny tot into a Vet that’s able to make housecalls in order to heal the sick teddys and toy animals everywhere. Through imaginative play, your child will develop empathy and social skills. This set comes with 15 pieces including 1 plush puppy patient, 1 puppy crate, 1 stethoscope, 1 brush, 1 syringe, 1 thermometer, 1 food bowl for the patient, 1 medical tray, 1 pair of tongs, 1 mirror, 1 hammer, 1 blood pressure cuff, 1 pair of scissors, 1 ear examiner and 1 pair of tweezers — everything your child needs to give their toys a little TLC. There’s even a little carrying case for your four-legged friend, and everything fits inside the case to make this toy perfect to take on-the-go. The doctor will see the next patient now.
Does your toddler always try to sneak a sip of your vanilla latte? Kids always want what they can’t have but now, they can — at least they can pretend. This Melissa & Doug realistic wooden coffee maker set comes with a coffee maker, 2 coffee mugs, 3 coffee pods, sugar, creamer, a spoon, ice cube, and a menu card. The set encourages imaginative and open-ended play. The play coffee maker features lids that open and close and a dial that can turn to indicate size settings. Ideal for ages 3 to 6, now your child can add this pretend play to their morning routine. There’s nothing like a cup of Joe while watching your morning cartoons, or so I’ve heard. One happy customer said, “I bought this on a whim for my three-year-old for Christmas, based on all the five-star reviews. It kept her and my two-year-old nephew entertained for HOURS on Christmas day. (Don’t even ask me how many cups of coffee they made for us!) At first, I thought it might not have enough bells and whistles, but I think the simple design makes it easy to play with and fosters more independent play. Another hit from Melissa & Doug!!”
This matching game promotes visual recognition and memory skills. It’s the perfect pre-school set with large, fun-shaped pieces, ideal for little hands. Match 24 cards to make 12 pairs of sparkly ice pops. This matching game helps your toddler increase their visual recognition and memory skills. Designed with the health of the children and planet in mind, this matching game is made with recycled paper printed with non-toxic environmentally friendly vegetable-based inks, just in case you have a kid that puts everything in their mouth. Be warned, playing this memory game may give your little one a sweet tooth. Who can resist ice cream? One reviewer said, “I used these as a party favor for my son’s party (as a means to avoid plastic). The game is extremely good quality, the box holds the perfect amount of pieces for a three-year-old to remember and the perfect size and weight for them to handle.”
This Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Toddler & Preschool Board Game is easy to understand and play. The game reinforces color learning, develops matching skills, strategic thinking, sharing and turn-taking, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills. There’s a lot of learning packed in one game, it’s no wonder that this game has won multiple awards including Parents’ Choice Award and Good Housekeeping Best Toy. So how do you play? Your hungry forest pals need help to find their acorns. Spin the spinner and pick up the matching acorn with your squirrel squeezer, placing it in your log. The first to collect 5 acorns, wins. “Great board game to initiate young players to the turns and rules, as it moves fast and it has very few rules. The aim of the game is to collect 5 acorns of the 5 different colors. Spinning the wheel allows to add a color acorn to one’s collection, picking one or two acorn of the color of one’s choice, stealing an acorn from another player (the children love the mischievous part of this) or lose everything in a storm. It flows easily and fast,” said one reviewer.
Old MacDonald had a farm but he didn’t have this Uno game. It’s the preschool version of the beloved Uno card game. The animals are out to play. Time to round up the cows, pigs, skunks, chicken, dogs, sheep, and farmer characters by their type or colors. When you’re down to one animal, shout “UNO Moooooooo!” One happy customer said, “My kids 2, 5 & 7 all enjoy this game. Great intro to the real Uno game, learning colors, animals, etc. I did notice that they got rid of the little brown fences that used to keep your pieces hidden from other players, so that is kind of a drawback when playing with the older kids (who cheat & look at your pieces before playing). But, what else is new? Everyone is making everything cheaper and with less pieces these days.” Your little one will grow up loving UNO just as much as you do. In a few years, they can graduate to the card game — that’s when things get real.
This nostalgic toy is back to entertain a new generation. Toss the colored balls into Mr. Bucket as he spins around on the floor spitting the balls back out! It’s a classic fun action game that will keep your little ones up and moving. With barely any instructions, kids can start playing almost immediately after popping open the box. Perfect for 3-year-olds and older. Even better, you can have up to 4 players which makes it a great group activity for playdates while promoting color matching and developing fine and gross motor skills. “My 3 year old loved it, even me. It’s a good physical exercise for kids as it rotates in all directions. playing this game includes running, jumping in order to collect the ball, that’s what a kid wants to do, especially during winters when there is not many indoor activities are there. I would highly recommend this game,” said one satisfied customer.
Little ones can learn to nurture their dreams and other people with this fun (and incredibly sweet) pediatric nurse role play set. It comes with scrubs, a syringe, thermometer, stethoscope, ear scope, and reusable name tag, plus a newborn patient with diaper that can be fastened on and taken off (might as well have them start practicing now, right?). It won’t be long before your tiny nurse or doc starts treating all their stuffed patients … and probably you, too. Bring on the Band-Aids!
It’s never too early to start inspiring a love of travel. The Bigjigs World Map Puzzle, available on chic kid retailer Scandiborn, is beautifully crafted to entice little ones to play and learn. From building problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination, to getting their first glimpse at the big world around them, this puzzle is big enough for little hands and challenging enough for growing minds. It’s suitable for kids as young as 3, but assembling the 38 pieces (over and over again) should keep them busy for the next few years.
Best Gifts For 3-Year-Old Boys
Looking to introduce your budding genius into the world of STEM? This super interactive firetruck is the perfect way to do it. Your LO will love using the kid-safe drill to screw and unscrew bolts to their heart’s content. But, there’s so much more: They can place the cute characters in the driver’s seat, add water splashes and flames to the truck, and open, move, and maneuver almost every part of the vehicle. This is an excellent toy for early exploration, all-around.
Parents rave about the entertainment value of Magna-Tiles; get a set that features your kiddo’s favorite Sesame Street Characters, and it’s a guaranteed win. This brand new set from CreateOn comes with 15 pieces for building Hooper’s Store and a grocery cart (complete with wheels!) for a pretend grocery shopping adventure. Double-sided tiles aren’t just fun for building, they’ll help your little shopper learn letters, colors, and healthy foods. Suitable for “kids” ages 3-99, you’ll find yourself building right alongside your tot. This is a great first Magna-Tiles set and introduction into the fascinating world of STEM activities.
Best Gifts For 3-Year-Old Girls
These paper dolls may have gotten a modern makeover, but they still have timeless appeal for mini fashionistas. The best part about this set is that your mini designer can color their own dolls and outfits to create their very own styles. The characters and clothes are on peel and stick paper that can safely adhere to (most) surfaces, like walls and counters, or the notebook that’s included. This set will provide screen-free entertainment while in a plane, on the road, or while inside on a rainy day.
What’s better than making murals with sidewalk chalk? Getting creative with ice cream-themed chalk, obviously. This sweet set comes with several yummy-looking chalk pieces, an entire set of plain and patterned chalk sticks, stencils, chalk stamps, an activity book, and more. Whether your petite Picasso is coloring on the driveway, a chalkboard, paper, or the double-sided sign that’s included, they’ll love seeing their masterpieces on display.
Best Gifts For 3-Year-Old Boy Who Has Everything
True story: The Toniebox is my all-time favorite toy/noise machine/ music player for my son. Place different magnetic characters on this innovative cube, and it’ll play a dramatic telling of your kiddo’s favorite stories, from the classics to popular Disney tales. But, there’s more: There are Tonies that play music, lullabies, white noise, nature sounds, and even a limited edition GoNoodle Mindfulness Tonie (pictured and available on shop.gonoodle.com) that guides little ones through their first meditations. You can also make your own recording with a Creative-Tonie, which is perfect for recording parents singing lullabies, grandparents reading bedtime stories, or toddlers making up their own tales.
Suitable for kiddos age 3 and up, the Toniebox is designed for children to easily use themselves (ideal for a newly autonomous toddler) with clever controls like tilting the box to fast forward, tapping it to skip, and two little ears that adjust the volume — and don’t worry Mama, there’s a headphone jack, too. Another bonus for parents: New Tonies make fantastic gifts from relatives instead of — you know — more stuffed animals. Tonieboxes come in a variety of colors and starter set options so you can get the fun started right away!
Micro Mini’s 3in1 Deluxe offers three rides in one box that supports toddlers and small children as they master balance and coordination. This lightweight gift is perfect for young children and grow with them as they grow (up to 75lbs). The scooter is built with non-marking wheels so it can be used indoors and out. The first stage of this scooter comes with a ride-on seat. Next, you can remove the seat for a stand-on scooter with a short O-bar. At the last stage, replace the O-bar with the T-bar to convert the scooter to the original Micro Mini Scooter. Minimal assembly is required (thank God). Simply attach the seat with the Allen key and you’re ready to ride! The scooter is available in all sorts of colors so if you have multiple children, they can each have their own unique scooter, so no one has to fight over which one belongs to whom. Perfect for strolls around the block or along the waterfront — this toy is a nice investment.
Kids have a way of refusing to wear/bring a jacket, and then — who would’ve predicted it? — getting chilly later on. But while they may fight you on having an outer layer handy, letting a cuddly stuffed animal tag along is something they can probably get behind. That’s why a Cubcoat is a genius gift for moody toddlers and know-it-all littles: It’s a cute plush friend that *magically* turns into a sweatshirt and back again. Choose from hoodie and zip-up designs, as well as a ton of different critters, for an unexpected gift that both kids and their parents will love. (Little sports fan on your mind? They’ll go gaga for the new Sports Collection.) And the best news yet? They’re available in sizes 2T – 9-10, so if it’s the only sweatshirt they’ll travel with, Mom or Dad can avoid one recurring battle — at least for a few years.
Turns out, some of the best gifts for 3-year-olds are actually kinda gifts for their parents, and that’s okay. At this age, it’s fun to dress tots up like teeny-tiny adults, so a preppy outfit that’s both practical and Instagram-worthy makes a great gift (especially if the kiddo in mind already has everything). So introduce Mom or Dad to trendy baby shop Ububba — and give Baby a taste of the bougie life — with this cute set that’s both comfy and fashion-forward. Featuring an oversized sweatshirt with an embroidered dino and a pair of shorts, it’s the perfect ensemble for the little guy’s next photoshoot (sunglasses optional but highly encouraged). As a bonus, this outfit is one they’ll grow into — not out of after a mere few months.
Best Christmas Gifts For 3-Year-Old Boys & Girls
Forget the lemonade stand, your little one wants to open up their own food truck. Let your tiny chef do it all with this food truck playset that comes with 20 removable pieces. With its two sides of interactive play, this playset has everything your child needs to take on the lunch rush. Greet customers, work the magical cash register that can read all the menus, prep orders on the light-up grill, and more. Through Smart Stages, this playset comes with three levels of learning so that the set can grow with your child. In stage one, your toddler can explore hands-on fun like the light-up grill, bell and more. They’ll love hearing their food truck talk back to them. In level two, your child will be prompted to find things on the truck introducing them to sizing and sequence. Finally, level three introduces pretend play and encourages them to use their imagination to take pretend orders and ‘cash out’ their customers. Make sure you stop by this food truck on your lunch break, I hear they have really tasty food. Don’t forget to rate them on Yelp.
Does your toddler have a green thumb? Well, do they like to play in the dirt? That’s close enough. This Little Tikes Go Green Cozy Truck offers a cool ride and pretend play activity for your little one. Kid or parent powered, this truck is easy to steer with front tires that spin 360 degrees which makes steering a breeze. Parents can push the kids around or remove the floorboard so the kids can scoot themselves. The truck comes with a drop-down tailgate, a removable trailer for extra storage, and a built-in tool rack. The best part is that this toy is made from 100% recycled plastic and can be recycled again when your toddler is done with it. There’s even cupholders to hold a few juice boxes or snacks. You’ve been looking for someone to gather up the leaves in the front yard, have your mini do it with their rake and shovel. Hopefully, they won’t charge you an arm and a leg.
Looking for a gift that won’t make the special kiddo’s parents cringe? (Or, maybe you’re the parent and you already have enough bright-colored plastic filling your home …) The Cam Cam Play Shop can inspire endless free play without becoming a household eyesore. Available at Scandibørn, purveyors of sleek, imagination-sparking playthings, the best part about this shop is its versatility. Little players can set up a cafe, grocery store, pet adoption center (with stuffed animals, of course), book store, or anything else their creative hearts desire. Add a cash register, and they’ll really be in “business”! And since it’s suitable for kiddos up to 9 years old, it will get years of play while making a lovely addition to any playroom, nursery, or — let’s face it — living room, where it’ll likely end up at some point or other. The Cam Cam Play Shop is available in white (pictured) or grey.