How to Find the Best Toys for 3-Year-Olds

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Picking the perfect toys for your 3-year-old toddler is simpler than it might seem as long as you follow certain guidelines and safety rules. In addition, it’s important to choose toys that are fun but also educational to boost your children’s abilities and support their development.

In today’s guide on how to find the best toys for three-year-olds, you’ll discover many useful tips and tricks, as well as some of the best toys available on the market that you should consider purchasing.

My Bottom Line Up Front

Choosing the best toys for your three-year-old toddler isn’t complicated, but it involves a bit of effort, basic research, and thinking on your part.

First, make sure the things you’re about to buy are age-appropriate toys and ensure they will teach or develop the necessary skills your child needs to know. Finally, the best types of toys are those that make toddlers feel excited and engaged while also developing their bodies and mind.

How to Find the Best Toys for 3-Year-Olds: Main Guidelines and Tips

Best Toys for 3-Year-Olds

Here are my best tips and guidelines that you should consider when searching for the best toys for your 3-year-old toddler.

Opt for Versatile Toys That Your Kid Can Use in Different Ways

Allow your kids to do what they love most, and that’s playing with their toys in several ways by pulling parts out, putting them back together, building all kinds of shapes, and more. Open-end toys will enable your toddlers to engage in many fun games while using that very same toy. Interlocking blocks are the best example I could provide.

In fact, building blocks are still very popular even in the digital era because they’re highly versatile. Your little one can use them to create buildings, roads, cars, animals, spaceships, and many other things. These types of toys will develop a child’s creativity and imagination.

Focus on Toys That Improve Problem-Solving Skills & Encourage Exploration

Through play, kids develop or learn new skills, and the right kind of toy allows them to improve their personal abilities. Whether they do it independently or with guidance from your part, your toddlers will benefit from playing with educational and fun toys that boost their imagination and their need for exploration.

It’s a great way to learn logical thinking and problem solving, both of which will come in handy later in life. In addition, through educational toys, children learn all about the way different items fit together and fine motor skills, spatial abilities, and eye-hand coordination.

Let me give you a few examples to clearly see what I mean: buy puzzles, blocks, paint, clay, play-dough, coloring crayons, shape sorters, and other art materials for your kid to play with.

Buy Those Toys That Your Children Can Play with as They Grow

I was very disappointed one time when I offered my niece a beautiful and colorful toy just to see her playing with it for a couple of minutes and then forgetting all about it.

If you’re lucky, your child may play with it for a couple of days before tossing that toy away. Therefore, opt for those types of engaging toys that can be used and appeal to your children during different developmental stages.

A few examples could be action figures, animal toys made of plastic, simpler dollhouses, dolls, stuffed animals, and all sorts of toy vehicles like trains and trucks.

Opt for Toys that Boost Your Toddler’s Imagination and Creativity

Around the age of three years old, kids are able to engage in pretend play, taking different roles such as the one of a princess or a king. Both their creativity and imagination can go through the roof if they’re allowed and encouraged.

Your child will benefit a lot from playing with toys that enable them to create different stories and engage in all kinds of activities.

Pretend play is so useful around this age due to the fact that it builds literacy skills, widens the child’s vocabulary, teaches toddlers how to place events and facts in a logical sequence properly, and boosts problem-solving abilities.

Some of the most effective toys that target the imagination of your little one are costumes and dress-up clothing, plastic plates and food, dolls, stuffed animals, accessories that mimic real-life items, action figures, and many other amazing choices.

Buy Toys That Mimic Real Things or Allow Your Kid to Play with Safe Grown-up Items

Once they turn three, little kids know how to press the buttons of the remote control or how light switches work. They are also a lot more interested in playing and exploring real things such as their parents’ mobile phones because they want to feel capable and big, just like their mom and dad.

Skills like spatial relations, fine motor skills, and problem-solving are all developed by toys that resemble real products. Therefore, you should opt for toy musical instruments, dress-up clothes, plastic or silicone key chains, toy phones, plastic food items, and child-sized dustpans, brooms, brushes, and mops.

Encourage Your Little One to Stay Active through Toys

After the age of three years old, toddlers suddenly become much stronger, more independent, and more confident in the power and stability of their own bodies. For that reason, they begin to do all sorts of funny and exciting physical tricks.

During this time, it’s essential to support your little ones by encouraging them and showing them how much you appreciate their efforts.

In that case, you should search for those toys that will engage your kids in improving these new abilities while also helping them develop new physical skills. For example, toy balls, plastic bowling sets, tricycles, toy wagons, crawling tunnels, and toy gardening tools are all great choices as gifts for your three-year-olds.

Offer Your Kids Toys That Prepare Them for Reading and Writing

If you want to encourage your toddlers’ reading and writing abilities, you should buy them kid-friendly books, coloring crayons, fingerpaints, art supplies, and magnetic alphabet letters. Real-life things such as restaurant menus, furniture catalogs, and lifestyle magazines could also do the trick.

I remember I discovered that I knew how to read when, at only 4-5 years old, I read the titles written on the cover page of the newspaper my grandpa was reading at the time. He was so surprised and happy, and his reaction was a confirmation for me that made me feel like I’ve achieved something essential in life.

Choose Toys That Enable Cross-Generational Play & Interaction

Girl Playing With Yellow and Orange Plastic Toy Car

These types of toys will develop your toddlers’ speech and communication abilities. Moreover, it’s a great way to spend some quality time with the entire family and create precious bonding moments.

Cross-generational play can be done with family members and relatives or with friends. Either way, your little one will have a lot to gain from it.

Board games involving multiple teams or multiple players will teach your toddlers how to cope with losing the game and how to win gracefully.

Avoid Potentially-Dangerous Toys

Here’s a brief list of toys you should avoid:

  • Toys filled with liquids – regardless of how colorful or appealing a toy filled with liquid might be, you should totally avoid it because many of those contents are made of toxic substances and chemicals. And, toddlers love to put toys in their mouths;
  • Toys that have detachable metal parts – stay away from toddler toys that are made of detachable parts, especially those made of metal such as keys, magnets, bolts, and screws since they are all choking hazards. Some of these elements might even lead to blocked arteries or infections;
  • Items with strings, shard edges, and chords – toddlers like to chew on their toys, play with their hands a lot, and throw their tiny palms up in the air. If a small child throws a toy that has sharp edges slips, it might hurt your kid, cutting his or her skin or poking them in the eyes. Likewise, toys with chords might become strangling hazards.

How to Find the Best Toys for 3-Year-Olds – My Top Choices

Here are some of the best toys for three-year-old toddlers. They’re listed in no particular order, but I’ve chosen them based on their educational potential, popularity, and customer reviews. 

Toys for Problem-Solving Skills

Sea Life Puzzle
  • Simple and colorful puzzles – as a child, I used to collect puzzles; I loved doing them so much, and, once in a while, I would take them all out and lay them on the dinner table. My parents were kind enough to eat somewhere else for a couple of days so that they leave the finished puzzles on the table;
  • Wooden blocks – back when I was a child, there were no such things as Lego blocks, but I remember I had a set of chunkier and colorful wooden blocks, and I was trying to play with them and build castles and such. I must confess I wasn’t great at it, but these toys develop a toddler’s fine motor skills and critical thinking as well as imagination and creativity;
  • Stack and roll cups – besides stacking them one on top of the other, you can also place two cups together to create small plastic balls. Also, smaller balls can be inserted inside larger ones for greater fun, just like Russian nesting dolls.


Toys for an Active Toddler

Rocking horse
  • Rocking animals – my favorite would be rocking horses;
  • Kid-friendly garden kit with wheelbarrow and cart – this type of set will keep your little one occupied and engaged for hours;
  • Play tunnels and tents – this is a great option that will allow your toddlers to consume their energy and have lots of fun; I wish I had this toy as a child;
  • Hopscotch rugs – I remember we used to draw hopscotch directly on the ground, outside, on the sidewalk, with chalk, but this kind of rug looks much better, and it’s a lot safer to use;
  • Push walkers – push toys such as wagons and other alternatives are great for younger toddlers who’re still learning how to walk with confidence and gain more upright stability.


Toys that Boost Creativity

Siblings Sharing Their Toy to Each Other

Some of these toys can be included in more than one single category. For instance, building wooden blocks will boost your toddlers’ creativity and imagination while also developing their problem-solving skills. Here are some other examples of creativity-boosting toys for toddlers:

  • Playdough;
  • Puzzles;
  • Pretend play costumes;
  • Kid-friendly musical instruments;
  • Puppets;
  • Gardening sets, etc. 

How to Find the Best Toys for 3-Year-Olds – FAQs

Question: Should You Buy Toys That Make Sounds and Are Colorful to Your Toddlers?

Answer: Numerous toys for toddlers come with many buttons that make different noises, lights, sounds, music, and more. Sellers call them developmental toys due to all their different functions. Unfortunately, they might not be the ideal choice for your toddler because your child might get confused by all those features.
Moreover, when a toy is more complex and has too many functions, kids become lazy since they don’t have to do anything at all, and their creativity won’t be developed properly.

Question: Are There Toys that Can Make Your Kids Smarter?

Answer: Pay attention to these claims because many marketing strategies focus on fake or exaggerated promises that could be appealing to those businesses’ clients.
So, proceed with caution because not all toys have been proven to boost your toddler’s intelligence. In fact, simpler items that you may have around the house, such as pillows, buckets, bowls, and other items, could sometimes be the most inspired choices for learning tools.

Question: What are the Best Toddler Toys that Support a Proper Physical and Mental Development?

Answer: There are numerous great choices out there:
Magnetic letters and numbers that you could use during bathtime and encourage your child to place those elements on the ceramic tile in the bathroom;
Brainiac toys such as the Dado cube, which is a STEM-focused toy that improves coordination, fine motor skills, creativity, self-esteem, and finger dexterity;
Basic kid-friendly robot engineering comes with safe gears and machines, all of which will entice your child’s mind.

Bottom Line

It might feel very overwhelming to pick the perfect toys for your three-year-old toddler but believe me, it’s actually pretty easy and delightful when you do your research and follow the guidelines I’ve provided in this guide.

Your little one is the joy of your life, so it’s normal to want only the best for them, which is why I was very careful when I wrote this piece, trying to include all the important aspects for your child’s child development and safety.

Pick toys that are engaging and colorful as well as educational. Choose those things made of natural or non-toxic materials. And just play with your toddler, having fun together.

Find more toys to support their development by readings these guides below:

How to Find the Best Toys for 4 Year Olds

How to Find the Best Toys for 12 Year Olds

Greatest Themed Toys Guide for All Ages in 2022

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