Best Toys For 3 Year Olds (4 Things To Look For)

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Three year olds love action. Their energy is boundless. One time they are riding their toy pony, and the next time you look, they are bouncing off the walls. This age is an exciting time for them but can be challenging for parents. Parents need guidance and help. These are the best tools to keep children active and have calm moments while learning and having fun.

Best Toys For 3 Year Olds

What are the best toys for 3 year olds? The best toys for 3 year olds are open-ended toys that encourage creativity and imagination. Also, toys that keep them active and channel their energy into something productive. Toys should also help them learn good character traits and develop cognitive and social skills.

What to Look For?

To get the right toys for your 3-year-old, you need to know what to look for. Don’t get distracted by the trends and bestsellers. Stick to toys that will support your child’s developmental needs.

Choose Open-Ended Toys

Open-ended toys can be used by toddlers in a variety of ways depending on their moods, interests, desire, and imagination.

Think wooden peg dolls, building blocks, construction toys, dress-up clothes or props, wooden animal figurines, etc.

These toys will give 3-year-olds opportunities to create scenarios, situations, and characters they base on reality. Role play and creative play foster imagination and creativity. It also promotes social interaction, develops language and communication, and even math skills.

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    Choose Toys that Encourage Movement

    At three, toddlers need an outlet to channel their endless energy. Toys that encourage physical activity will build strong muscles to improve fine and gross motor development, improve their metabolism, and enhance their quality of rest and sleep.

    Wooden balance boards, Montessori climbers, training bikes, and a ball among many other choices are great for physical activities.

    These toys are also great for social play where toddlers develop sportsmanship, teamwork, and good character traits.

    Choose Toys that Encourage Kids to Understand, Manage, and Express their Emotions

    Three year olds are mostly impulsive. They are either happy or angry. There is no in-between. They are prone to meltdowns and tantrums. This is because they are unable to completely process their emotions and express them the right way.

    One way of teaching them to be open to different feelings and acceptably express themselves is by using toys.

    Think plush toys, story books, dolls, play doctor kits, puppets, child-sized mirrors, sensory toys, etc. These toys should be able to help with:

    • Facial expressions
    • Eye-contact
    • Identifying and labeling emotions
    • Paying attention
    • Self-control
    • Expression of a variety of emotions
    • Using words to express feelings
    • Empathy for others
    • Positive self-image
    • Emotional regulation
    • Impulse control, etc.

    Choose Toys that Develop Cognitive Skills

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    Your toddler’s brain is still developing at three years old. It is a crucial age for their overall development. It is the perfect time to help and support them to build on their cognitive skills.

    We are talking about critical thinking, problem-solving, planning, attention span, literacy, language, math, and many others.

    Classic learning toys are best for developing cognitive skills in a three-year-old. Toys like counting peg boards, puzzles, building or construction toys, musical instruments,  busy boards, wooden abacus, and many others.

    Important Note:

    Toys are best played with you, other family members, and friends. Three year olds will learn better and develop into good individuals if they are supported by a loving community.

    Make sure that you spend quality time with your toddlers. Do not let the toys do all the work. Toys are more effective when parents are more involved in their children’s playtime.

    We don’t mean you have to hover. You can be involved by providing them with an intentional environment so they can play well. The most important element of playtime is your presence.


    How many toys does my 3-year-old need? There is no exact number when it comes to children’s toys. Research shows that the fewer toys you give toddlers, the more time they spend playing with them. You may buy more toys but do not give them to your kids all at once. Keep the toys organized and tucked away. Give them one or two toys at one time. Do not give them access to all their toys. Having too many options can be confusing and overwhelming for them. This will make them go from one toy to another. Order and organization are important for 3 year olds.

    Is it okay to let a 3-year-old play all day? At three, your toddler’s work is playing. It is how they learn about their world and others. It is how they develop mental, emotional, physical, and social skills. When teaching them academics, they learn better through play. But at this age, they need order and stability. This means you need to establish a routine for them. Do not just let them play all day without rules and boundaries. Make a schedule of activities for the day and stick to it. Schedule a time for play, rest, chores, family time, etc.

    How much time should I give my child for independent play? Toddlers need solo time for independent play. Give them at least 30 minutes to an hour for unobstructed independent play. Three year olds are ready for independence. If you feel that they need more time, you can always extend their time. Do not interrupt or interfere but always be available in case they need help and to make sure they are safe.


    The best toys for 3 year olds are open-ended toys that encourage creativity and imagination. Also, toys that keep them active and channel their energy into something productive. Toys should also help them learn good character traits and develop cognitive and social skills.

    When choosing toys, always look for educational value, not entertainment value. Don’t get caught up with fads and trends because most of the time, those toys will not do much for your child except consume time.