Essential Toy Box For 3 Year Olds

Which toys for 3 year olds are most worth your time and money?

Read on to see which toys are essential members of your family's toy box. We've used our extensive toy experience (over a decade!) and customer feedback to create a resource for parents that cuts through the noise. These are consistent customer favourites that build essential life skills like creativity, emotional intelligence, problem solving and grit. No fluff allowed!

What Do 3 Year Olds Need Out of Their Toys?

Your child’s imagination really takes flight now, and will flourish and develop rapidly over the next few years. Fuel this incredible time with toys that promote imaginative play, which just means anything that helps kids “make believe”. Your 3 year old is developing emotional intelligence (empathy, expressing emotions and a desire to help and nurture others) as well as their brains, so look for toys that support all aspects of developing into a whole, happy human. 

Top Considerations

Open Ended Imaginative Play. Toys that are fueled by your child’s imagination (not batteries) help develop creativity, problem solving skills, language skills, emotional intelligence and more, making them awesomely educational. 

“Open Ended Imaginative play” just means it’s a toy that needs a child’s imagination to breathe life into them and can be used in many ways. For example, blocks can be a castle one moment and a set of animal enclosures the next. Your child’s baby doll can be in need of some nurturing today and an enthusiastic tea party guest tomorrow. Lots of possibilities means lots of learning opportunities. These kinds of toys have amazing play value, as they can be played with for many years. 

Emotional Intelligence. Our kids need just as much focus on developing their hearts as their brains to live a full, rewarding life. Choose toys that encourage nurturing play (like dolls, cooperative games and stuffed animals) Or, help your child learn about the spectrum of emotions humans have with books that show a variety of characters and points of view.

Top Picks for 3 Year Olds

Maileg

Ignite your 3 year old's imagination with these adorable mice with heartwarming personality! It's a busy world - lots of lights, noises and flashy gadgets competing for (and diluting) our attention and focus. Bring storybook whimsy to everyday moments with your child with toys designed specifically to help children explore the pure and simple joy of imagination. Whether it’s a mouse tea party, tucking baby mice in teeny beds or going on a wild camping adventure, Maileg toys invite boundless imaginative play. 

Most kids instantly gravitate to imaginative and nurturing play with these mice, so Maileg toys are an excellent choice for supporting Creativity and Emotional Intelligence development in your kiddo. 

Top Picks for 3 Year Olds

Building & Construction Toys

The ultimate educational toys, blocks and construction toys have endless imaginative play possibilities. What will your 3 year old build? A fairyland? A parking garage? A castle? An animal hospital? It could be anything. 

Construction play builds problem solving skills (how can I make my tower more stable?), creativity (what can I create next?) and spatial awareness (how can I make the picture in my mind a 3D reality?). Play figures and vehicles make excellent additions to blocks and can really bring the whole scene to vibrant life. 

Top Picks for 3 Year Olds

Stuffies & Dolls

Bring comfort to your 3 year old, boost imaginative play and develop emotional intelligence. These toys are awesome for building creativity - kids love to dream up wild adventures for their stuffies and dolls from tea parties to imaginary quests. And watching your child tenderly kiss their favourite stuffie or doll’s boo boos all better is perhaps the most heartwarming thing you’ll ever see (and an incredible way for them to practice nurturing). 

top picks for 3 year olds

Dollhouses & Play Structures

A great dollhouse can spark your kiddo’s imagination for years of play and nurtures everything from creative thinking to emotional intelligence to language development. Whether acting out everyday scenarios like cooking and putting the kids to bed or being transported to a magical forest land, playing with these toys will help your child act out their dreams, feelings and fears and create a miniature world all their own.  What stories will your child tell? 

Top picks for 3 year olds

Loose Parts Play

Grapat toys excel at promoting imaginative open ended play. Place the pieces in beautiful patterns just for the fun of it, or create a magical land for your play figures to navigate. Or sort into gorgeous little piles of colourful treasure. Use the pieces as "money" in a play shop. Pretend it's food for your dolls. Make a treasure trail to tempt a fairy or a unicorn…your kiddo will come up with tonnes of ideas of what these loose parts can be. Loose parts play is also an incredible opportunity for slowing down, focusing on the elements at hand, and sinking into the present moment. This is mindful play that encourages focus and patience. 

top picks for 3 year olds

Houseplay

Practicing being an adult is super important kiddo work! When your 3 year old makes a soup for you with play food, fixes the book shelf with their pretend tools or hosts a tea party for their stuffies and dolls, they are developing a tonne of skills. Creativity, emotional intelligence, language skills, problem solving - you name it, house play does it!

When your child dreams up a new recipe (sushi soup anyone?) they are building their creative skills. When they blow on that soup to cool it down for you, they're practicing their nurturing skills. When they’re fixing that shelf, they’ll try out some new words they overheard a few days ago. When they realize they don’t have enough tea cups for everyone at the party, they’ll problem solve by having their guests share. 

More Top Collections for 3 year olds

Looking for more beneficial toys to build your child's skills and create fun family play opportunities? We have so many incredible educational toys for 3 year olds. Here are some more favourite collections:

Play Figures for 3 year olds

Your 3 year old will create their own little worlds with these imaginative play all stars.

Books for 3 year olds

See the world from new perspectives and instill a love of learning with books.

Vehicles for 3 year olds

Vehicle enthusiasts love creating all kinds of stories with their cars. A perfect match with block play.

Favourite Brands for 3 Year Olds

These top toymakers excel at creating engaging, skill building toys that 3 year olds love to play with. These toymakers are committed to toys that encourage healthy childhood development.