Best toys for 3 year olds in 2021
The best toys for 3 year olds include toys and dolls that will encourage their emotional development, to games that will challenge their newly learnt skills.
It’s at this age that you’ll notice a leap as they develop their fine and gross motor skills. They’ll also become more adventurous. Your child’s language skills will be improving every day, making it a good time to introduce them to letters and sounds.
Your child’s memory will also be improving. They may be able to remember the words and tunes of favourite songs or nursery rhymes. 3 year olds may also be able to count to 10 and recognise some colours. So any games that help practice these skills are a good idea – you’ll be amazed at just how much information you can obtain at this early, young age.
Dr. Amanda Gummer also advises that ‘holistic development’ is just as important as ‘learning things like letters and numbers. She told us, “Communication skills are key when in a group setting. So helping children develop their language skills so they can be understood and can ask for things when they are in a childcare setting is really beneficial. Social skills such as sharing and turn-taking are also important. Playing simple games and having play dates where children can practise sharing are great.”
What are the best toys for 3 year olds?
The best toys for 3 year olds will allow them to do something they absolutely love at this age – playing with others.
Child development expert and psychologist Dr. Amanda Gummer explained to us, “As children get older, their friends have a bigger and more important role to play and this starts with the transition around 2 or 3 years of age from parallel play to cooperative play. Children go from playing alongside other children with minimal interaction to playing with them, either competing with them or collaborating with them.”
A child’s imagination begins to really develop at age 3 too, so this will change the way that they play. You will start to see how they enjoy pretend or make-believe games and may even invent an imaginary friend. Dr Amanda adds, “As children start to get ready for school, playsets and dressing-up toys and other games that they can play with friends are great.”
Best toys for 3 year olds in 2021
1. Personalised Twinning Superhero Cape Superstar Rainbow
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £34
This personalised rainbow printed superhero cape with a matching mask is the perfect gift for any child reaching for the skies. A gorgeous present for any 3 year old, the great quality fabric means the cape will last for years to come.
No doubt you’ll notice a child show an interest in superheros at some stage – even if it’s just fleeting. What we love most about this superhero cape, however, is the fact that it isn’t branded. There’s no Batman or Robin type logo, for example. This makes it a much more classic, timeless choice.
2. Mud Kitchen
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £109.99
A mud kitchen makes messy, imaginative play easy and this one comes with a robust splash tub, refillable water butt and real working tap. You also get a starter set of mini stainless-steel pots and pans so your little garden chefs can get going right away.
A mud kitchen will keep messy play contained and you can add your old pots and pans to the mix to keep things fun and fresh. Suggested toys in the garden range at Jojo Maman Bebe include the Wooden table with sandpit inside and Plum sanpit with a canopy. The Mud Kitchen is ideal for sand as well as mud and has a top shelf that leaves plenty of room for ‘garden’ ingredients such as flower, grass and perhaps the odd wiggly worm or two!
3. Giant Road Jigsaw
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £8.99
This huge road jigsaw is one of Orchard Toy’s best-selling toys for 3 year olds and comes with 20 interchangeable road-themed floor jigsaw pieces. Kids can build tons of different roadways for their toy vehicles to journey through time and time again.
If you’ve got the space – either in the playroom or in a kid’s room – we think this make a fun addition to your play set up. While you can buy rugs that are completely rectangle in shape and display a similar track design, this puzzle is unique in that kids can put it together themselves. If your child is showing interest in puzzles and wants to try more, also check out the Galt Toys Alphabet Animals floor puzzle, which is a fun and colourful design.
4. Wooden dolls house
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £220
A doll’s house is arguably a staple in any child’s playroom. This smart wooden house, split over four floors and featuring working wooden shutters on the windows, is certainly the best on the market for your child’s toys to move into! A doll’s house is a perfect way to encourage imaginative play, storytelling and is a great way to develop a child’s communication and social skills.
‘I love the fact that this doll’s house has a beautiful wooden finish and isn’t garish like some of the plastic toy houses you can find online,’ says Gemma, mum to Oliver and Sienna. ‘I can’t wait for my kids to start collecting all the little miniature pieces to go inside – such as mini telephone, piano, beds, tables and chairs etc. It’s something that we’ll keep forever and pass down to the grandchildren one day.’
5. Petit Collage Fishing Around Wooden Fishing Game
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £11.16
This wooden game is great for developing dexterity in children and getting them to learn to focus to achieve their goal. Sure to keep children entertained for hours they can play on their own or in small groups, learning to take turns.
Mum and our consumer shopping expert Heidi Scrimgeour says: ‘I was surprised by how much my children loved these fishing games when they were smaller. Such good value for literally hours of fun! My top tip is pop away a spare set for when the fishing rods inevitably get lost.’
If you’re a fan of the Petit range you may also be interested in the Petit Collage Magnetic Play Set. An easily portable toy, it gives you the tools to decorate an animal treehouse scene.
6. Casdan Dyson vacuum cleaner
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: Yes | Price: £19.99
Anyone else have a 3 year old that just loves to clean? Children of this age love to copy the adults around them – and that includes mimicking the chores they see you do around the house. Get them their own little vacuum so they can potter to their heart’s content.
This Casdan Dyson vacuum cleaner is a replica of the Dyson DC14 – we wish it would actually work, but alas it only features spinning beans and has realistic sounds. Sadly, you’ll still need to use your own elbow grease should you want to keep your house looking tidy.
7. Learning Resources Smart Scoops Math Set
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £16
Hands up who wants ice cream? You’ll be hard pressed to find a 3 year old who isn’t interested in this ice cream toy. Scoop up early maths skills with this fun, hands-on, ice-cream themed sorting activity set. It supports a variety of early maths skills such as colour recognition, matching, sorting and counting within young learners.
‘I like the way all the pieces can be neatly stored inside the tub after use,’ says Jenny, mum to Logan and Becky. ‘While my kids thought it was just an ice cream game, it has an educational element to it, which I really love.’
For a similar game that builds on numeracy skills, you can also try the Learning Resources Super Sorting Pie game. This game develops colour recognition and develops counting skills.
8. Little Tikes Gas n’ Go plastic mower
Age Suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: None | Price: £26
Much like the trusty toy vacuum cleaner, a toy lawn mower is a staple when it comes to toys for 3 year olds. Many kids love to mimic what they see happening in the world around them through play, and this lawn mower will help them do just that. It’s a great garden toy that also improves gross motor skills like balance and coordination.
Kids can use it in the garden come summer time, and you can bring it inside come winter. ‘I love the way this toy encourages kids to get green fingered and take pride in the garden,’ says Lindsay, mum to Arlo. ‘I’m always gardening and my boy loves to watch and feel like he’s involved, and this toy is a great way to occupy him while I get to the hard work of pulling up weeds!’
9. AquaPlay LockBox
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £49.95
This bestselling toy is loved by adults and children alike thanks to the hours of good fun it provides young ones. Kids can splash around in the garden with this toy. It comes with a lock, lock gates, crane, a marina ramp, an amphibious truck and a transport boat with containers all included. It makes a great fit for any marine-loving 3 year old.
Kids who love to play with this AquaPlay toy may also like the AquaPlay Boatset Children’s Vehicles set, which comes with 7 toys including five boats/vehicles to include in the water. ‘My kids simply love water play,’ says Emily, mum to Bethany and William. ‘A toy like this is so versatile as when it’s not filled with boats or cars, it can also be used as a base for washing little dolls or filling with bubbles and maybe even a little bit of food coloring to make the water play even more satisfying.’
10. Wooden Teaching Clock
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £12.99
Toys for 3 year olds that help build number and colour recognition are a great way to help prepare them for pre-school. This wooden clock is also a fun way to help them learn to tell the time. There are a number of wooden toy clocks you can buy online at Amazon too, including the Jacootoys Wooden Shape Sorting Toy Clock and while there’s not that much difference in them, we’ve found that this Wooden Teaching Clock from Jojo Maman Bebe has the most luxurious finish we’ve found.
11. First Mosaic Pictures Craft Kit
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £6.99
The First Mosaic Pictures Craft Kit is a fun activity to encourage manual dexterity, colour and shape recognition. The trick is for children to match the foam tiles to the coloured shapes in the pictures and create colourful pictures. ‘Ever since she was a little girl my daughter has loved playing with foam and felt,’ says mum Emily. ‘I’ve found that anything involving sensory play is a great way to engage my kids and this craft kit balances a good amount of creativity with free, sensory play.’
For a great range of crafting toys, you can also try Hobbycraft.
12. Personalised Wooden Toy Kitchen Set
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £139
This smart wooden kitchen is a great way to spark a child’s imagination and encourage creative play between kids. This wooden toy kitchen comes with a clock, sink, oven dials and an opening oven door. You also get pots, pans and a set of utensils for the full mini kitchen experience. We think it’s a tasteful design that won’t look out of place in your living room scheme.
Google ‘wooden toy kitchen’ and a number of options will come up, however. While the wooden toy kitchen from Noths is one of the most aesthetically pleasing designs we’ve come across, we’re also big fans of the Little Town Wooden Kitchen Diner by Aldi.
13. SmarTrike Scooter T3
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £64.99
The T3 has two adaptable stages – a practice mode and a freestyle mode. This helps to improve your child’s skills in a fun, innovative way that allows them to get more fun out of the scooter as they become more confident. While the handlebar height isn’t adjustable, so it won’t grow with your child, it does make it a very sturdy and solid model.
14. Melissa & Doug Lacing Beads In A Box
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £12
Kids will love playing with these colourful beads in all different shapes and sizes. The design is great for colour and number recognition. Threading the beads onto the string will be a fun challenge for little ones as they develop their fine motor skills.
Beading can be popular for under 10s – especially in bracelet and necklace making kits. If you think your child is taking well to the process of threading, you can upgrade your game with a toy such as the Melissa & Doug Wooden Lacing set, which will encourage them to learn how to tie laces.
15. Personalised Pink Wooden Tea Set
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £28
It’s tea time! This cute yet durable play set comes with a teapot, 2 cups and saucers, 2 spoons and a tray. Plus, it can be personalised, which makes it even more of a lovely gift idea.
Set out a little table and encourage your child to seat their teddies and dolls around it and they can have their very own tea party. Add real food – such as fruit and biscuits, milk and juice – for an even more entertaining play session. While there are a lot of tea sets available online, we particularly like the personalised touch of this unique design.
16. VTech Toot-Toot Drivers Fire Station
Age Suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: Yes | Price: £29.99
There’s hours of imaginative play potential with this fire station toy for 3 year olds. This is thanks to the spinning fire pole, slide with flip-down flames, open and close windows, spinning disk, launcher, pop-up fire, lift, alarm and swinging flag. The track pieces are all interchangeable too.
‘My children always got hours of play from their VTech Toot-Toot Drivers Fire Station, as much as the sound sometimes drove me and my husband mad,’ laughs Gemma, mother of Oliver and Sienna. ‘The beauty of the Vtech range however, is that you can add to it as you go and make the track as big as you like.’
17. Learning Resources Playfoam
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £9
This non-toxic play foam is great for messy play, but it doesn’t stick to hands, hair, clothes or carpet. This means you can let little ones play for hours without worrying about where the foam will end up. Kids will love it and parents will no doubt be impressed with how long it keeps their children entertained – and the fact it doesn’t go everywhere!
‘This Playfoam makes a nice alternative to play sand and Playdoh,’ says Emily, mum to Bethany and William. ‘My kids didn’t know what to make of it at first, but soon got to grips with how easily it can be moulded and used to make a range of shapes. The foam dries if left out, which means they could keep their creations after making them too.’
18. John Lewis & Partners Wooden Rocking Cradle
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £35
A true classic, you can’t go wrong with a wooden rocking cradle. Kids will love playing dolls and putting their ‘babies’ to bed in the cot. No doubt 3 year olds will want to fill it with all their teddies and toys too. As it’s finished in wood it feels sturdy and durable and will stand the test of time. John Lewis & Partners also sells a very cute wooden dolls pram and wooden high chair to match the design that will keep kids entertained for hours. ‘I love the look of this wooden rocking cradle, which looks almost as good as the real thing,’ says Gemma, mum to Oliver and Sienna. ‘You do need room in your house to store them, but if your playroom is big enough or you want to dot them around the house – one at the dinner table and one in your child’s bedroom, for example – it is easy to fit them into your home’s interior.’
19. Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £82.09
One of the best toys for 3 year olds and older kids, the Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit is great for encouraging imaginative play, critical thinking, letter recognition, phonics, construction and vocabulary.
A holistic approach to early learning, it’s designed to take kids aged 3–5 on a hands-on learning adventure. The only downside is that the set requires you to have an iPad or Amazon tablet. It also means that kids will be using a screen, and some parents may prefer to delay this for as long as possible. Technology is the future, however, and early adopters may well benefit from 20 minutes daily play to developing computer skills.
20. Baby Doll Combi Pram
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £35
This toy pram is a bestseller and parents and grandparents have been impressed with its good quality and sturdiness. Kids will love pushing around a pram just like they’ve seen adults doing. The little basket underneath means they can fit any accessories they desire along with their toys into the pram for an adventure.
Vintage-inspired prams will always age well too. Argos also sells the Joie Junior Mytrax Pram but it comes in a much lighter finish and doesn’t have the same traditional styling as this Bay Doll Pram from John Lewis.
21. BRIO World Railway Starter Set
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: None | Price: £24.99
Children will have hours of fun playing with a train set. The different pieces and characters provided in this box will be great for helping to build their vocabulary. Storytelling and role play also promote personal, social and emotional development.
Mum and consumer expert Heidi Scrimgeour says: ‘Brio is one of the best toys money can buy. I particularly love that the sets are all compatible so you get real value for money. Start with this set and then add to your collection.’
You’ll find all the major supermarket – such as Sainbury’s and Aldi – sell wooden railway sets of their own, but we think Brio is one of the most classic designs around. Kids – and adults alike perhaps – will love collecting all the different trains and village people, buildings and accessories that accompany the set.
22. Paw Patrol Ryder’s Alphabet Pad
Age Suitability: 3+ | Batteries required: Yes | Price: £18
A great way to encourage their understanding of phonics through play, the Paw Patrol Ryder’s Alphabet Pad is an interactive first tablet and features in our round up of best toys for 3 year olds for good reason. It’s designed to help children recognise simple words and letters, listen and respond to commands.
Its colourful control panel lights up and asks kids to find a letter or an object to identify the first letter of a certain word. Choose from words such as apple, bone and orange to favourite characters such as Rocky, Skye, Zuma and the rest of the Paw Patrol clan.
23. Bloopies Fairies
Age Suitability: 3+ | Batteries required: Yes | Price: £17.99
All kids love to collect toys and Bloopies Fairies will open them up to the magical world of fairyland. There are 9 fairies to collect in the range as well as a special rare character. Inside each flower-shaped lantern there’s a fairy that lights up when it stands in the case. It also lights up when placed in water. And, each fairy comes with accessories including a wand, glitter pearl, skirt, two wings and fins. There is also a personalised accessory relating to their power and a special pearl that links to the sea world. To open the lantern you need a special key that comes with the set, which kids will no doubt enjoy discovering.
There are so many fairy-themed toys you can buy online. A couple of our favourites – aside from this Bloopies Fairies set – also include the Playmobil Fairy Island, which has a guideline of 4+ for slightly older kids, and the Galt Toys Fairy Dress Up set.
24. Mathlink Cubes Number Blocks
Age Suitability: 3+ | Batteries required: None | Price: £18.99
Little kids are like sponges absorbing information all the time. Three years old is a great time to nurture their enthusiasm for numbers. If they are already fans of CBeebies animated series Numberblocks, they’ll love this. Using the Mathlink Cubes they can build their own Numberblock towers from 1 to 10. They can also use the character cards to take part in a maths learning games. If they’ve watched the TV show, they may even sing along as they play too.
‘My kids love watching Numberblocks on TV and this set makes a great accompaniment to the show,’ says Emily, mum to Bethany and William. ‘They love to find different ways to build up the blocks and play with different colour and faces. This makes for great learning and fun play.’
25. Hornit AIRO Magma
Age Suitability: 3+ | Batteries required: No | Price: £139
Weighing just 2.95kg, this Hornit AIRO Magma bike has a lightweight frame. It can glide along like a pocket rocket and provides a great base for 3 year olds to develop their balance. With its sleek and tough magnesium allow frame, the AIRO features grip-taped footrests that are contoured into the frame. This makes freewheeling over bumps, through puddles and on grass as stable and reassuring as possible. While it may be quite an investment, it does make a lovely toy for a 3 year old.
We’ve also included a balance bike in our guide to toys for 2 year olds. We’ve found that once kids master the art of the balance bike there will be no stopping them. They’ll find the transition from balance bike to real bike with wheels that bit easier.
26. Geomag 134″ Magicube Polar Animals Building Set
Age Suitability: 18m+ | Batteries required: No | Price: £20.29
3 year olds love to build and this game is a great introduction to the wonderful world of magnetic Magicubes. Part of Geomag’s innovative toy building system, there’s a wide range of Magicube toy sets to choose from. You’ll find themes such as dinosaurs, fruit, animal friends, river animals, transport, insects and more including this ‘Polar Animals’ set. Inside the box you get 8 magnetic cubes and 2 cards with building combination ideas designed to develop creativity.