Not sure what to buy for your 3 year old boy? Look no further! This article has the top 15 best toys for 3 year old boys in 2020.
It’s tough to find the right toys these days, especially the best toys for 3 year old boys who are looking for constant stimulation and interaction from their toys. It can be difficult to find good toys for 3 year olds these days because of the shift toward technology and away from toys that are not electronic.
Many toy stores have closed down and there is less of a focus on finding good, developmentally appropriate toys that don’t promote violence or other overwhelming topics. Luckily, we have done all of the research on what toys are the absolute best picks for your money and have created a list of popular toys for 3 year old boys that any toddler will love.
What is in the review?
When shopping for hot toys for 3 year old boys, parents should be aware that not all toys are created equally. Toys do not last long. Others are fun and exciting but they don’t really do what most parents really want their child’s toys to do, which is to promote their development and learning. That’s why we not only included popular toys for 3 year old boys, we also included the best educational toys for 3 year olds.
Children are constantly developing mentally, socially, emotionally and physically. They should have toys that meet their age and developmental stage and provide learning opportunities for children through play. The toys on this list promote language, cognition (brain development), motor skills, social skills, and life skills. So whether you are simply looking for a birthday gift for a special boy in your life or are searching for your own son, the toys on this list are sure to please!
Why is it better?
- Promotes Cognitive Development
- Teaches Life Skills
- Easy Set-Up
- Encourages Imagination
The Lineup At A Glance
Top 15 Toys & Gifts for 3 Year Old Boys 2020
1. LeapFrog Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart
Does your little boy love ice cream? This ice cream cart is sure to be a sweet treat for your child while teaching them sequencing and stimulating imagination.
- Promotes Learning
- Ice Cream Falls Off of Cones
- Tips Over
We just adore the design of this portable ice cream cart made just for kids! It comes with a magnetic popper that allows children to pick up the ice cream with the scooper and apply it to the plastic cones.
It comes with a set of inserting recipes and when your son chooses the right flavor combinations from the recipe, a prize will pop out. If there is no recipe inside, the toy will tell your child which item they chose.
Some parents are not the happiest with the size of this small cart, saying that it is too small for bigger children and that it tips over easily. However, the benefits of this toy far outweigh the negatives. In fact, it’s one of the best toddler toys 3 year old boys can receive.
This toy promotes many different kinds of learning at once. Most importantly, it encourages imaginative play. It also teaches children sequencing skills such as which order the ice cream scoops go in to fulfill the recipe. It promotes fine and gross motor skills since the cart can be pushed around and has upbeat music, just like the ice cream man!
Need more evidence? Here are some parent reviews:
“I can’t say enough good things about this. I had no idea what to expect. My 2 year old and 3 year old really into it! The features are so neat and really help build their comprehension skills, colors, counting and allows them to use their imagination with playtime. It’s such a great learning toy! It’s excellent quality, as well. I would definitely buy it again. And the price was great too!”
“Perfect Birthday Gift for 3 year old boys! Great LeapFrog Quality. Nice size as a toy and a gift.”
2. COLORTREE Ride-on Forklift Construction Truck
Little boys love big trucks! This replica of a forklift truck also works as a scooter
- Develops Motor Skills
- Confusing Instructions
- Could Be More Sturdy
Is your son like big trucks? We know most 3 year old boys are fascinated by construction trucks and this replica of a forklift will captivate the attention of your toddler for hours at a time.
Not only does this truck look like a real forklift, but it is also designed to actually mimic adult construction so your little boy can use his imagination to pretend that he is really working. It is also multi-functional and can be used as a scooter in addition to the forklift truck.
This ride-on toy also helps with your child’s development. It is recommended that 3 year olds have toys like this that require them to push with their feet to aid in their motor skill development.
The only bummer about this awesome toy is that it has confusing instructions and that the screws came out after a few uses. Of course, if you are struggling to put this together, there is support from the company you can call in for.
Overall, this is a great toy that will please your 3 year old’s need for stimulation and will promote his imagination for several years before he outgrows it.
Here’s what parents have to say about this ride-on forklift:
“This was a Birthday present for my grandson. It’s still his favorite toy. He’s on it all the time”
“It’s a nice size and functions. Flimsy and screws came out after only a few uses. Confusing directions as well. My son loves it though!”
3. LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book
Want your 3 year old boy to learn to read? This 100 Words Book disguises learning reading skills as fun!
- Promotes Language Development
- Easy for Toddler to use
- Pages are Slick
Most parents have heard of LeapFrog and know their reputation for teaching children language and reading skills. If you don’t already have a LeapFrog book, you should definitely get one. This is one of the best learning toys for 3 year olds.
Little boys will love interacting with this toy, pressing on an item on a page and getting an explanation from this talking book. The pages are extremely responsive to touch, making it easy for toddlers to entertain themselves for hours. It also has Spanish and English/Spanish settings.
This book does not require a computer connection or to be synced to WIFI. It runs solely on AA batteries, making it easy for parents to set up.
Some parents complain that the pages are a bit thin compared to your typical board book and tend to be a bit slick and hard to grip. Others state that this book is a bit loud, even on the lowest setting.
The good definitely outweighs the bad here, especially since this is a toy that kids can use on their own without your help. Overall, this is one of the best toys you can buy for your child, getting them ready for learning to read and write. Little boys will love building their vocabulary while having fun “reading”.
Parents love this toy:
“This book is a wonderful learning book for a child. There are so many pictures on each individual page to learn from. My grandson learned his first word specifically after repeating it from this very book. The articulation is the words when repeated aloud from the toy to the child is unlike any other toy I’ve heard. I’m extremely pleased with my purchase & I highly recommend it for your child. It’s also a rather large book, too!”
“My kid loves this deal. I love that it also has a Spanish option. Tons of noises and words.”
4. Fisher-Price Little People Wheelies Loops ‘n Swoops Amusement Park
Do you have a little 3 year old thrill seeker? For kids who love imaginative play, this is a fantastically fun roller coaster toy that will satisfy your toddler’s need for speed.
- Encourages Imaginative Play
- Has Roller Coaster Sounds
- Only Comes With 2 Cars
- Requires some assembly
Fisher-Price really is a trusted toy company that designs their toys with child development in mind. Little boys will love sending cards down two different tracks while fine-tuning their motor skills and using their imagination.
This popular toy is about 2 feet tall and though it doesn’t require batteries, you can add 3 AA batteries to add sound to your child’s experience. There is also a bit of assembly required, which takes about fifteen minutes or so.
You probably do want to keep a close eye on your child while they play with this toy. There are pieces and parts that could end up broken if your child is left unattended for too long.
The bummer about this toy is that it only comes with 2 cars! Real roller coasters have a lot more than that so you may want to purchase additional cars so your child can have a more exciting time.
Here are some parent reviews:
“I first saw this toy at a 2 year olds birthday party that my son was invited to. It entertained a group of 8 toddlers as almost the only toy…Both my 2 and 3 1/2 year olds enjoy it. And since at least 2 kids can play at a time, it works great for us. We only wish I had gotten it for them when they were a little younger.”
“The product was ordered for my 4 year old and 20 month old daughters because they love the one at the pediatricians so much…I ordered four additional cars as this toy only comes with two cars. As soon as it arrived, my husband quickly put it together, claimed his car, and all three gathered around it and had a blast…”
5. Step2 Great Creations Art Center
Is your child a budding artist? This art desk has plenty of storage space, lots of workspace, and has many functions to inspire the artist in your little boy.
- Large storage compartments
- Develops Cognitive Skills
- Assembly Can Be Tricky
- Doesn’t Come With Art Supplies
It’s nice to have a space to create art, especially with Step2’s Great Creations Art Center. This art desk has a whiteboard for dry erase markers that double as an easel. It also has a chalkboard on the back and space to store coloring books, crayons, and other art supplies.
The bummer is that this desk does not contain all of the art supplies that are pictured but the photo does give us inspiration for storage for all the art supplies that are already lying around your house. With this desk you can store all of your child’s art supplies right in the place they will be using them the most.
This toy develops cognitive skills, inspires creativity, and aids in the development of both fine and gross motor skills. It can be tricky to assemble and most parents complain that there are no holes for the screws that are included. Apparently, you are supposed to screw them right into the plastic.
Overall, this toy is a fantastic solution to all those art supplies that are strewn about the house and will give your child a “desk” to do their work at, the inspiring imaginative play of important life skills. It’s definitely a winning toy for any 3 year old boy.
Don’t believe us? Read what these parents have to say:
My son absolutely loves this thing! He draws all day long. Quite a few storage areas on here to hold different things. Cleans easily
My son LOVES this. He plays with it every day multiple times a day. Definitely, worth the cost and space, it consumes.
6. LEGO DUPLO Steam Train Set
Is your 3 year old boy obsessed with trains and building things? This DUPLO train set is a perfect combination of building and a remote-controlled train your child will spend hours loving.
- Develops Fine Motor Skills
- Is Remote Controlled
- Not Compatible With Other Duplo Trains
- Some Trouble Going Over Bridge
Lego is a trusted brand, designed to inspire creativity, fine motor coordination, and cognitive processing. This adorable steam train set is no exception. It comes with a track that must be put together, a train that takes 4 AAA batteries, as well as a conductor figure, a little girl figure and a squirrel.
The way these train works is unique, reading the color of the blocks as it goes along. Yellow blocks cause the train to make a “choo choo” sound, blue fills the tank with gas, green changes the train’s direction, and red stops the train. This teaches children basic coding and sequencing skills.
There is no start button on the train. You simply push it in the direction you want it to go on the track. This train is also Bluetooth enabled and there is an app that goes with it that you can download so your child can use your phone or tablet as a remote control.
The only complaints about this train are that the batteries are drained rather quickly and sometimes the train struggles to go over the bridge. Although the company says this train and track will work will older DUPLO sets, many users report that this is not the case.
Still, this truly is a fantastic and high-tech toy that will teach your 3 year old boy the beginnings of basic physics.
Check out these parents’ experiences:
“This train is awesome. Filled with surprises right and left. Alongside of the cargo train set 10875 it’s the most interactive DUPLO set we own and also an astounding price for what you get, well worth the cost. It is great for all ages. Design is intuitive…”
“My grandson loves loves loves this train. He loves that it lights up and it also moves on the hardwood floors. He is 3 and he can build the tracks and train himself (he did need help with the train roof)…Great 3 year old gift!”
7. Little Tykes EasyScore Basketball Set
Do you have a future athlete on your hands? This basketball hoop by Little Tykes will allow your 3 year old boy to slam dunk until his heart’s content.
- Adjustable Hoop Height
- Sturdy and Durable
- Hard to Click the Hoop Into Place
- Requires Sand to Weigh Down
This toy will get your kids running around outside, which is a great thing in today’s world where so many kids only play indoors. It will also help your child develop their fine and gross motor skills while they are having fun slam dunking on the oversized rim that makes it easier for them to score. Kids can play alone or with other kids, making this a perfect outdoor toy for any 3 year old boy.
This is such a simple toy and yet it’s one of the best out there! With adjustable height, this basketball hoop will adjust until your child is 5 years old, and possibly older depending on your child’s height. This is also one of the cool toys for 3 year old boys.
It comes with an adjustable hoop, base, a junior-sized soft rubber basketball, and a user manual. To use, it does require some assembly.
Some parents complain that the hoop does not snap into place easily but the company recommends standing on the inside of the hoop until it clicks into place. You have to fill the base with sand in order to weigh it down properly so children cannot push it over.
Here are some praises from parents about this hoop:
“My nearly 3 yr old just received it for Xmas and loves it, even our 12 year old son is getting in on the action! Luckily, we have other small balls around!”
“My son loved this basketball set. I loved how easy it was to set up and how easy it is to adjust the height of the hoop as he grows. Also the ball that came with it is nice and thick. Note: you cannot fill the base with water, it is not watertight, you need to fill it with sand!”
8. Kididdo STEM Construction Vehicle Set
Does your child love to build things? This construction set isn’t just about construction vehicles. It actually has tools for your 3 year old boy to take these trucks apart and put them back together!
- Promotes STEM
- Comes With Tools
- No Extra Screws/Bolts
- Smaller Than Pictured
If your 3 year old boy is always pretending to fix things or put things together, then this playset is a perfect fix. It comes with 3 vehicles; a dump truck, a cement mixer and a digger. It also has a real electric drill, interchangeable drill bits, and a screwdriver. The vehicles come fully assembled but are made to be taken apart and put back together.
We recommend sticking close to your child while using this set since there are multiple screws and bolts that are removable and easily lost. Many parents complain about the fact that there are no extra screws or bolts so you don’t want to lose them.
This toy is designed to promote STEM development, which is developed in science, technology, engineering, and math. The sooner kids get started on learning these skills, the better for their development. It also develops fine motor skills and cognition.
So, if you’re looking for a great gift idea, give your little boy something they can take apart and then put back together again.
Here are some parent reviews of this construction set:
“Gave this as a gift for a three year old. He really loves it. Love the carrying case as well, so he can throw all the little parts in it if he wants.”
“Great product, well made. Had a small issue with one of the pieces and it was promptly taken care of. Hours of fun for a 3 year old with some help.”
9. SnowCinda 3 Pack Walkie Talkies
Is your 3 year old boy obsessed with cell phones and tablets? These walkie talkies will satisfy their craving for technology while teaching them the basics of radio communication.
- Promotes Social Skills
- VOX function (no push talk)
- Requires 4 AA batteries each
These walkie talkies are designed with kids in mind. They are smaller and lighter than most walkie talkies making it easy for kids to carry them around. Channels can be locked by adults so that younger users cannot accidentally skip to the wrong channel.
It is recommended that you use this item with your child and teach them how to use them before allowing them to play autonomously. Using them is pretty simple. Your child just has to push the talk button and start talking.
The walkie talkies also work as a flashlight and have 22 channels to minimize the likelihood that anyone is listening to your conversation. They have a 2-mile range as well, which is much more than a 3 year old will actually need.
These walkie talkies promote communication skills, language development, and socialization in children. They are a great idea for 3 year old boys who have older siblings and work well for practical uses as well on camping trips, field trips, or day trips to crowded places.
You’ll be surprised at how much your child loves these. Each walkie talkie runs on 4 AAA batteries.
These parents have nothing but good things to say:
“I’m so excited to have these for our kids. We have 3, so this 3 pack was perfect. I also love that each is a different color so that they know what color belongs to what kid. They work great & they have had so much fun with them. This would be perfect for a Christmas or Birthday gift!”
“These walkie talkies are AMAZING!!! My 3yr old son..my husband and myself have a great time while using them. Very crisp and clear sound..perfect size! No static whatsoever. One of the most incredible gifts I have bought my son…”
10. Set of 3 Rescue Costumes
These adorable costumes are fun and come with accessories that make each costume seen more real. This is a must-have for 3 year old boys who love to pretend.
- Promotes Life Skills
- Easy Off and On
- Issues with Handcuffs
- Accessories are Cheaply Made
Does your little boy love to play pretend and dress up? This set of 3 rescue costumes is the perfect fit for children that love to make-believe. Each costume in this set is centered around rescuing people and includes a police officer, fireman and ER surgeon costume.
Children can easily get in and out of the costumes since they are designed with velcro closures, making it easy for your child to switch from police officer to fireman at will. The accessories that come with each costume are thoughtful as well, making pretending even more fun.
The doctor’s costume comes with a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, medical scissors, and a syringe. The fireman costume comes with an axe, fire extinguisher, as well as a working radio. The police officer costume comes with a pair of handcuffs, a whistle, and a working radio.
Parents give their warning about the handcuffs, which tend to get stuck and the key may not work but if you remove the handcuffs from the set, this is an amazing toy that will allow your little boy to shift between three different rescue careers and will inspire imaginative play that promotes life skills.
Still not sure? Here are some parent reviews:
“Our little guy loves to dress up and these were perfect. Very well made and the accessories are the cutest!!”
“I really appreciated the thoughtful accessories to each costume. My kids (2 and 5) love everything!”
11. Coogam Wooden Tetris Puzzle
Want your child to develop their brain and their fine motor skills while still having fun? This “Tetris” style puzzle is fun for all ages and will challenge your 3 year old boy for hours at a time.
- Develops Cognition
- Instructions not in English
- Shape Guide Inappropriate for Young Kids
This colorful and fun puzzle featuring all of the shapes from the classic game, “Tetris” is challenging for children of all ages and adults. It is made of solid wood blocks in bright colors that can be put together in puzzle form or used as blocks to form other shapes.
The colors and design are perfect for sparking the imagination of children and parents report that their children tend to spend much longer with this puzzle than they do with other toys.
The only issue that parents have with this handy puzzle is that it comes with a guide that shows kids how to use the shapes to make different objects. One of these objects is a pistol, which isn’t too horrible but at age 3 most parents don’t want their children worrying about things like guns. So, you may want to hide the guide or cut out that particular shape before giving it to your 3 year old.
It is still an amazing toy that will give your child’s brain a challenge. For the price, this puzzle is a must-have for your 3 year old.
Here are some reviews:
“Of all the things I got my 3 yo, son, for Christmas, this little puzzle has been played with the most. He loves it. It can be put together multiple ways, but you can get it wrong so you need to think to shift things around to get them to fit…”
“My grandson opened this on Christmas Day and looked at it kind of funny. I asked what he thought and he said: “this is like one of my iPad games, only this is REAL”! He loved dumping it out and making it all fit again. The colors are bright and the wood is very smooth…”
12. Taker Toddler Musical Instruments
Is your child a budding musician? Your 3 year old boy will love learning to play 17 different percussion instruments with this set.
- Includes 17 Instruments
- Adjustable velcro wrist bands
- Bag is cheaply made
- Some parents
We all know 3 year olds love making noise! So why not give them some instruments to make noise with and direct their energy into an activity that will develop motor skills and cognition?
This music set features 16 percussion instruments that your child will love to play! Whether he is just making noise or learning the fundamentals of music, musical play will lead to his brain development.
The carrying case for all 23 pieces is a nice touch, making it easy to clean up and clear out of the way when your child is not using it. This set is safe for young children and designed for use for children 3 years old and up.
This set contains a xylophone, maracas, bells, a tambourine, shakers, a wood sounder, a triangle, and a harmonica. Your little boy will love making music with you!
Still not sure? Check out these reviews:
“I really love the variety with the harmonica being my favorite (reminds me of a musician my friend used to adore). As a pre K teacher, I’m really excited to use this for my music unit and the kids are also enthralled.”
“Good gift for future musicians.”
“This would be the most adorable gift for any toddler!! I love, love that a majority of the instruments are wooden and that they are extremely colorful and cute. We got these for my daughter’s 2nd birthday and they were by far the favorite!! So many fun options. 100% recommended.”
13. Li’l Gen Dinosaur Toys & Sound Book – Gift for 3 year old boys
Boys just love dinosaurs! This is the perfect gift of learning about these majestic creatures with hands-on, verbal, and reading cues that are sure to teach your 3 year old.
- Develops Language
- Teaches About Dinosaurs
- Not All Figures Are Realistic Colors
- Book Drains Batteries Quickly
Looking for a gift for your 3-year-old boy that will teach as well as encourage imaginative play? This dinosaur book and figurine set is the perfect inspiration for any young boy.
This set comes with a pack of 12 dinosaurs (each about 7 inches long and 4 inches tall), a corresponding book with sounds the dinosaurs likely made and narrated by a dragonfly from the Jurassic period, and a prehistoric play box to store everything in between uses.
Parents report that the dinosaurs are high quality but some parents don’t like that not all of the dinosaurs are realistic. Some of them are painted in neon colors. Another complaint is the number of batteries for the toy since the book tends to run through them rather quickly.
Despite its issues, this fun dinosaur set encourages creative play, directs learning, and stimulates the imagination in children. It also helps them with pre-reading behaviors and gets them excited about reading. This is a fantastic purchase for any 3 years old, making it a fantastic gift for your little boy.
Don’t believe us? Here is some evidence:
“Such a fun toy! Everything about this product was perfect for them. The box it comes in is great to the colors of the dinosaurs and then the book! This kept my boys occupied for hours. Perfect for any dinosaur lover.”
“I was looking for something for my 3 year old grandson – he has so many cars and trucks. He has recently been interested in dinosaurs. It’s the perfect gift, I was pretty entertained by the book which gives a different sound for each of them and says the pronunciation of the different species…Can’t wait to hear my grandson attempt them…The storage box is sturdy and the dozen dinos are a hit!”
14. 100th Anniversary Lincoln Logs
Remember playing with Lincoln Logs as a child? Now your child can experience the joy you remember from your childhood with this “100th Anniversary” set.
- Promotes Cognitive Development
- Sturdy wooden blocks
- Poor Log Variety
- Need Additional Sets to Build Houses
Does your 3 year old boy love to build things? This set of wooden Lincoln Logs will spark his imagination and give him the tools to create a log cabin according to the instructions or to create whatever he can dream up with his imagination.
One of the best parts about childhood is learning how to build with blocks. All children should have at least one set of blocks in the house and these wooden Lincoln Logs stand up to the challenge.
This set features 111 wooden pieces in a commemorative 100th Anniversary tin. The tin is only about half full with blocks leaving room for additional sets should you choose to buy them. Many parents suggest that purchasing additional sets will allow for more fun and creativity with these unique blocks.
This is basically a tin full of entertainment for little builders. So go ahead and grab a tin and watch them unleash your child’s creativity.
Still not convinced? Here are some words from parents who bought this toy:
“Awesome toy. Nice to find real wood toys made in the US!! Love that. A classic toy.”
“Overall, I think Lincoln Logs are a good toy for young children to have and this set includes a lot of pieces to get you started. It’s nice to have a tin to store them in too. The price seems fairly reasonable for wood toys and, once my kids start using these a lot, we will most likely purchase some of the other sets to make more buildings. We definitely recommend this set if you have young children who like to build!”
15. AppleRound Pack of 4 Sports Balls (With Pump)
Trying to get the toys for 3 year old boys off of the electronics and out into the world? This set of 4 balls will get your son excited about playing sports!
- Promotes Motor Skills
- Gets You Child Outside
- You Have to Pump Balls Up
- PVC Smell is Strong at First
We have all heard parents tell their children that they are “too little” to play football, soccer, basketball or dodgeball. With these balls, even toddlers are big enough to play!
Each ball is great for children ages 2-5 and so they are a bit smaller than the average-sized ball. Each ball is 5” across, making them the perfect size for small hands.
Playing with different types of balls is an important part of developing gross motor skills and a fantastic opportunity for you and your child to play together. Plus, this is a toy that will get your little athlete outside and away from electronics for a little while.
The set of balls is extremely inexpensive and comes with a small hand pump. Many parents say that their balls have lasted multiple years, while others say that there are defects in some of the balls and they don’t last. Either way, for about $10 you are introducing your child to four different sports and working on those motor skills at the same time. It’s a great deal.
Here’s some more information from parents:
“These balls are awesome … worth every penny and then some. They are made with the same materials as the actual sports balls. They also have the same sport’s integrity as the full-sized ball, only smaller for smaller hands.”
“My sons love sports, so any kind of ball he can get his hands on he’s in heaven. This sports ball set of 4 is perfect for him. The size of the balls is all within his developmental size. He can hold them perfectly in his hand and manipulate them to his liking. All the balls carry grip. The set includes 4 sports balls and even comes with a pump.”
How to choose the toys for 3 year old boys
There are many factors to consider when choosing the right toys for your 3 year old boy. Some of the most important factors are how easy a toy is to set up and use, whether your child can play by themselves with a toy, how long a toy will last, what skills the toy is helping your child learn, and of course, the price.
Parents don’t always have the kind of time they need to research and find the best toys that help their toddlers to reach developmental milestones while also being fun and entertaining. So, we did the job for you and now you can easily choose a toy from this list knowing that it hits all the key points.
The toys on this list have been carefully chosen based on the recommendations of experts in developmental psychology to help your 3 year old boy develop important skills to prepare them for preschool and life. You will find indoor and outdoor toys, toys that encourage reading, and of course, every toy on this list inspires the imagination of young children.
1. Ease of Use
Parents are always busy trying to get things done around the house and when you have a toddler around it isn’t always easy. That’s why it is important to know how much effort you will have to put into a toy as a parent.
Ease of use takes into account:
- How much assembly is required to put the toy together or get it ready for use by your child
- How much supervision is required while a child uses the toy
Extremely Easy: No/minimal assembly required. Easy to remove from packaging. Does not require constant parent supervision of child during use.
Moderately Easy: Some easy assembly required. Does not require constant parent supervision of child during use.
Easy: No assembly required. It does require constant supervision of the child during use. Challenging: Requires extensive assembly and constant supervision of children during use.
We are sure you are wondering what every parent wonders when they consider buying a particular toy for their child – how long is this toy going to last? It’s no fun when you purchase a toy only to have it break right away.
We have gone through the reviews of each of the toys on this list to determine how durable each toy actually is. We do take into account that some items may have manufacturing defects or problems and so the following scores are based on an average of
the number of complaints about the toys not lasting or having problems.
Obviously, we have only included products that are at least moderately durable on this list:
- Extremely Durable – This is a product that is expected to last a year or more
- Durable – This is a product that is expected to last from 6 months to a year
- Moderately Durable – This is a product that is expected to last for less than 6 months.
- Not Durable – This is a product that is not expected to last long
All of the toys on this list were chosen as much for their popularity as their design to address fundamental skills that are developing in children at this age. Developmental skills that are appropriate for 3-4 year old children can be found here.
We have labeled each toy with the appropriate skill(s) that are addressed. All of the toys on this list will spark your child’s imagination and creativity. Additionally, each toy will be labeled with the top one or two developmental skills that the toy helps your child develop:
- Language – Reading, Speaking
- Cognitive – Thinking, Awareness, Playing Pretend, Math
- Gross Motor – Large movements (like running)
- Fine Motor – Small movements (like coloring)
- Social – Emotional development and interactions
- Life Skills – Toys that encourage thought about life skills (like pretending to be a doctor)
We understand that price is extremely important to you when purchasing toys. You want to make sure that you are getting the most toy for your money. We made sure to choose only toys that we consider to be good deals but tried to cover awesome toys at all price points.
The toys on this list are priced between $11 and $120, making them affordable for most parents who are looking to purchase toys that will aid in their child’s cognitive development while also entertaining.
You will find the following price ranges next to each of the toys we have reviewed:
|$$||Between $20 – $50|
|$$$||Between $50 – $100|
Frequently Asked Questions
Children are constantly developing mentally, socially, emotionally and physically. In order to stimulate this development, parents should limit the time their child interacts with electronics. Electronic toys offer passive entertainment rather than interactive play, which is the type of play that actually stimulates the development of important life skills.
Toys that encourage creative, interactive play will help your child to develop the types of skills that parents want for their children, skills that will help your child be ready for preschool and for life. All of the toys on our list were carefully chosen for their ability to stimulate cognitive (brain) development while at the same time allowing your child to imaginatively play and have fun.
The main skills a toddler should be developing at age 3 are skills like social interaction, cognition (thinking), life skills (imagining adult world situations), language, and motor skills.
Offering toys that encourage interactive and imaginative play will help your child develop these skills.
There is no specific age at which a child automatically shifts from needing constant supervision to playing autonomously. Instead, it is a slow progression based on the needs of each individual child as well as the comfort of the parent. At age 3, most little boys want to do more things on their own without the help of adults. However, they still need pretty constant supervision, especially if they are playing with toys that have smaller pieces or parts.
We recommend that you do not allow your child to play by themselves with any new toy until you have first examined the toy to make sure it is safe, read the safety regulations that come with the toy’s manual, and observed your child actually playing with the toy.
Even if your 3 years old can safely play by themselves, it is important to only allow them to do so for short periods of time. Check-in often to make sure that your child is doing okay and don’t rely on electronic devices like TV, tablets or phones to entertain your children for long periods of time. Children do need constant looking in on and so a lot of the toys on this list are designed to keep your child entertained and busy while you work nearby on something else. That way, they can build their developmental skills while you get things done.
Just don’t forget to check back in fairly often to make sure they are playing with their toys in a non-dangerous fashion and remember that all children are different. Some require a lot more supervision than others and that is perfectly normal.
To check for toy recalls.
Items like wooden blocks, board games, clay, art supplies, sports equipment, puzzles, musical instruments, push-along, bikes and trikes, shape sorters, and life skill toys all develop motor skills.
Fine motor skills are developed by activities that require fine, tight movements. Some examples of this are putting together a puzzle, learning to play piano, and creating something using clay.
Gross motor skills are developed by activities that require larger movements. Some examples of this are throwing and catching balls, jumping rope, or riding a bike.
For a complete list of classic toys that develop motor skills.
Yes! This is very normal. Think about it. When you are a child you may not fully understand how a toy is supposed to be played with. Children are fantastic at using their imaginations and so when they are handed a new toy they simply try their best to figure out what to do with it and then go for it.
If your child already knows how a toy is supposed to be used but then finds another use for it, that is actually a sign of ingenuity and creativity. You should be proud that your 3 year old boy is clever enough to come up with his own use for an item.
A parent was recently telling us about his son using the Lincoln Logs commemorative tin as a drum and using the longer Lincoln Logs as drumsticks. That dad was actually pretty proud of his son. After all, his child invented a drum out a block set. That is pretty clever!
As long as the way your child is using the toy is not dangerous or harmful to him or others, then there is absolutely no harm in allowing your child to think outside of the box and play imaginatively with a toy that was intended for another purpose.
Absolutely! You will find several of the toys on this list that can help with that. The walkie-talkies are a fantastic social building toy for any age level and can be used by 3 year olds with their friends, family members or siblings.
The set of 3 costumes also brings kids to think about how a police officer, fireman or doctor would interact with others.
The Scoop & Learn ice cream cart does the same thing, allowing children to think about how an ice cream man would behave.
Also, remember that any toy can develop social interactions if you play with your child or if they have other children to play with. Toys are fun to play with by yourself but most toys are even more fun to play with if you have a friend.
To ensure that your child gets all the social development they need, be sure to schedule plenty of playdates for them and get in there and play with some of these toys with your 3 year old boy too. Nothing beats playing with an awesome toy with a parent who loves you!