Each year it seems there are more and more options for gift ideas, but knowing where to start when it comes to a three-year-old can get a little tricky. After all, this is when they’re really starting to understand how it works! Luckily, our carefully curated gift guide has the lowdown on the best toys and games for your three-year-old. Scroll down to see what made the cut.
Habbi Habbi Reading Wand & Bilingual Books
To be able to bring the gift of a second language to our kids, and doing it without using a device with screens? Sold. The Habbi Habbi Reading Wand and Bilingual Books are wonderful for kids to learn a new language. Every inch of the books are tappable and interactive: the images, the text, even the white space! This instant feedback helps to hold any child's attention longer. The starter set comes with a Reading Wand and four board books, and you can choose from English-Spanish or English-Chinese.
Available on habbihabbi.com, books start at $17.99, wand at $49.99, $99 for a complete set.
Block Set from Lovevery
This beautiful wooden block set from Lovevery features 70 heirloom pieces in a rainbow of 18 different colors and comes delivered in a wooden box that doubles as a pull car. This eco-friendly set is made to last, with solid wood blocks made of sustainably harvested FSC-certified wood and finished with non-toxic water-based finishes. This set is just as educational as it is lovely, encouraging little hands to stack, roll, count, sort, categorize and connect, keeping them happily occupied during the cold winter months and beyond.
Available on lovevery.com, $90.
When puzzle pieces are lost in the black hole of "under the couch,’" it might seem easier just to let them go. The Body Puzzle Pack from Banana Panda is deserving of a thorough search. Each pack contains six floor puzzles with large pieces perfect for tiny fingers, each one representative of an educational portrayal of a different system of the human body, including the muscular and skeletal systems, all of which can pique kids' interest for years to come. With thick quality, it resists the destructive skills that toddlers are known to possess.
Available on amazon.com, $21.99.
A fun toy that acts as an electronic, but requires no batteries? Yes, please. Not only that, but the Zoomigos Monkey with Banana Zoomer is kid powered and helps with some pretty important skills amidst all the fun, including fine motor skills and the concept of kinetic energy. Kids can even collect more Zoomigos friends (including Alligator, Fox, Dog and Elephant) and create fun racing games together.
Available on amazon.com, $8.27.
The Kindi Kids are big-eyed, bobble-headed dolls designed to spark creative play and possibly your toddler’s appetite. Each doll comes with food-themed accessories, and your little one can collect all four of the dolls (Donatina, Peppa-Mint, Jessicake and Marsha Mello) as well as their accessory kits, such as Fun Supermarket and Fun Shopping Cart.
Available on amazon.com, $14.99-29.99.
Geosafari Junior Ladybug Garden
Getting kids to engage with the world is important, and teaching small lessons about nature and our environment is a great way to divert attention towards something meaningful. The GeoSafari Jr. Ladybug Garden is the perfect way to bring nature to your young explorers, letting them be up close and personal with the life cycle of a ladybug. The garden comes with a mail-in certificate for ladybugs, and it lets kids watch the creatures grow from larvae to adults, all the while inspiring an appreciation for nature.
Available on amazon.com, $21.99.
Among the sound-effect-producing, digitally-connected toys, sometimes it’s nice to give a gift that evokes the appreciation and love for simpler things; toys that encourage imagination and stand as a reminder that many of our most favorite toys were hand-stitched or created by someone we loved. Cinnamon Annie Dolls, created by StepStiches on Etsy, offers lovable hand-sewn dolls reminiscent of the original Raggedy Ann dolls. With beautiful hand-created clothing and important updates to those dolls of long ago (like a choice in skin tones and the availability of a male doll), these dolls are unique and memorable. Bonus? There's free shipping.
Available on etsy.com, $49.
Powell's Book Club Membership
What better way to promote healthy reading skills and excitement about reading than with a book club membership? Powell’s City of Books offers Boox: Books in a Box, a picture book subscription service that “delivers a thoughtfully curated box to your doorstep every eight weeks,” and each box has two hardcover books and a collection of other fun goodies.
Available on powells.com, $39.95.
Blocks are a necessary toy in any toddler’s arsenal, but most blocks come with the frustrating ability to be scattered to all corners of the house. Enter Playmags 3D Magnetic Blocks, a set of 100 blocks in a variety of colors and shapes that stick to each other and offer boundless new opportunities for block engineering. When play is over, there they are: still stuck together and easily stored for next time.
Available on amazon.com, $49.
Play-Doh Compound Variety Pack
Play-Doh has been on the market since 1956 and has always been available in a variety of colors. This year, the company has unleashed the Play-Doh Compound Corner Variety 6-Pack, which includes Slime, Cloud, Krackle, Stretch and Foam. The different types give your little one every opportunity to squeeze, stretch and squish their way through play time.
Available on amazon.com, $14.99.
Who would have thought that crochet fruit could be so adorable and also educational? This unique gift idea offers a new angle on play food and provides a chance to learn colors and shapes as well as counting skills and object recognition. The fruit sets come with an apple, pear, orange, peach, plum and watermelon, as well as three slices of watermelon and two cherries. It might be the only toy that looks great enough to put into a bowl and set out on the table.
Available on etsy.com, $45.
Felt sticks to felt, and that principle gives kids the chance to create their own forest scenes in endless ways through this Forest Felt Wall. Each package contains a 3X5’ felt blue background, 12+ leafy shapes, 8+ animals, four clouds and four forest part labels (emergent, canopy, understory and forest floor), and two command strips to hang on the wall.
Available on etsy.com, $62.
Stylish Balance Board
Balance is something that takes practice, but there’s no reason that practice shouldn’t be fun (and surprisingly stylish). The Milliard Wooden Waldorf Balance Board is sturdy and solid enough for every toddler (it can hold up to 220 pounds!), and it’s small enough to be enjoyed indoors or outdoors, easily transportable.
Available on amazon.com, $59.99.
Moon Phases Puzzle
A toy rarely resembles a piece of art, but you won't mind leaving this Moon Phases puzzle from the Wooden Toys Store out once your child is done playing with it. Important to the development of hand-eye coordination, sorting skills and fine motor skills, puzzles are a critical component of a three-year-old’s toy box. As an added bonus, this puzzle also teaches the phases of the moon.
Available on etsy.com, $30.
Wooden Sensory/Busy Board
Three-year-olds want to get into everything, especially anything that is locked, tied, snapped or buckled. Happily, this wooden sensory/busy Board offers all that and more, with the convenience of easy travel as well. This is the kind of toy you want with you at a restaurant, or in the car or while waiting in a waiting room; it inspires concentration and quiet time. Which might just be exactly what you need on the long car ride back from Grandma’s house.
Available on etsy.com, $66.
Carry and Go Track Table
A train track and race track all in once, and it’s completely portable? The Carry and Go Track Table won a National Parenting Product Award for a reason. It’s made of durable double-wall plastic and comes fully assembled, but best of all, it has an easy carry side handle for simple transport from place to place.
Available on amazon.com, $39.99.
Of all instruments, the ukulele can be the easiest to learn, and it’s an especially thoughtful instrument choice for younger musicians. The ++++ is fully playable and also easily tuned, offering kids a nice introduction to rhythm, tone, and strumming, among other music techniques. It’s a quality product, a nice toned-down version of pricier ukes made for adults, and the whimsical colors (blue/green and red/yellow) encourage and inspire your rock star toddler.
Available on amazon.com, $25.78.
Radio Flyer's New Fleet
Radio Flyer’s wares always look sleek and perform well—two new members of their fleet are no different. The Little Red Roadster and Tinker Truck both offer the classic and lovable red Radio Flyer look. The Tinker Truck is an interactive toy that works fine and gross motor skills, acting as both a push walker and a ride-on toy to grow with your child, with a slew of fun activities right on the truck itself, including sliding and clicking numbers and pop-up buttons. The Little Red Roadster has a steel body with classic finishes, as well as rubber tires for a quiet ride, and the design works motor skills while teaching kids how to steer.
Available on radioflyer.com, $44.99-59.99.
Beautiful Bird Wings
It’s a brand new way to learn about birds while inspiring imaginative play and creative dramatics. These translucent-fabric bird wings encourage young minds to soar. The set features elastic shoulder and finger looks, making this simple costume a snap to take on and off. Choose from Macaw, Magpie or Blue Jay; each features beautifully printed plumage details and is almost four feet in wingspan.
Available on hearthsong.com, $17.98.
The classic rocking horse just got an upgrade. At 18 inches high and holding up to 100 pounds, this Sven rocker is the perfect size for the toddlers in your life who just need to ‘let it go’ and rock to their heart’s content. Soft and plush like a stuffed animal but durable enough to last, the Disney Frozen 2 Plush Sven Rocking Horse is sure to be a winner in your home.
Available at amazon.com, $99.99.
— Laura Holloway
All images courtesy retailers.
At the time of publication, all items were available for purchase.