What makes shopping for a 3-year-old so tough? Well, mostly the fact that this is the first year you absolutely cannot phone it in. (She is definitely not just interested in the wrapping paper anymore!) Don’t worry, though. We have some suggestions to make your life a little easier…well, minus the whole potty-training part.
1. Joytrip Kids Digital Camera
So you snapped a super cute photo of your threenager, showed it to him and then realized two weeks later that the very same child is an evil genius who can unlock an iPhone and take 1,000 photos of the inside of his mouth. The good ol’ digital camera is a “tech” toy (we think, but we also just collectively aged) and it is not modeled after your phone, so it won’t trigger weird mom guilt. Just be prepared for your kid to want to photograph everything. (Christ, I’m pooping! I won’t say cheese!) All jokes aside, this particular product takes quality pics and it is practically indestructible.
2. Melissa & Doug Magnetivity Play Set
Imaginative play is the name of the game at age 3 and beyond, and the Magnetivity play set is loved by many a parent and child because it provides all the creativity and role-play potential of the standard doll house, but it’s condensed into a smaller package. After all, there are only so many big toys you can have in your home, let alone under a tree.
3. Lincoln Logs
Lincoln Logs are still just so smart and cool. Your 3-year-old can build a tiny house that actually looks like a house—and best of all, a Lincoln Log structure can withstand a huff and a puff, so it’s a pretty badass way to play architect.
4. National Geographic Balance Stepping Stones
Your soon-to-be preschooler might be fairly sure-footed (and perhaps a little too confident), but when it comes to gross motor skill development, these stepping stones are great for a wide age range. They’re low to the ground and soft, so you don’t have to worry about your toddler twisting an ankle, yet still a perfect prop for 7-year-olds who want to play “The Floor Is Lava!”
5. Aurora World Stick Pony
If you have or know a 3-year-old, you have probably seen firsthand how small props can go a long way. Doesn’t matter if you call it a stick pony or a hobby horse, your little one is very likely to find it exciting. It might even slow her down a bit as she tears through the house during those stir-crazy winter months.
6. Qaba Toddler Tricycle
Think your babe is ready to upgrade to something with pedals? When it comes to finding a good trike, the decision-making process can be daunting. This one is comfortable and durable, and reviewers say it is appropriately sized for a pretty wide age range (2 to 5).
7. Little Tikes T-ball Set
Hooray! Your child can hone her hand-eye coordination and get out her threenager aggression without wielding an actual baseball bat. T-ball has stood the test of time because it is toddler-tested: safe and fun.
8. Eezy Peezy Monkey Bars Climbing Tower
It’s a big-ticket item, yes…but it might save your sanity on those days when the weather is truly frightful (and your couch is so delightful?). Plus, by age 3, all kids just really need to climb!
9. Cra-Z-Art Creative Artist Studio
It might not all be fridge-worthy (did we say that out loud?), but if your little one has an affinity for art, you should definitely scoop up this artist studio set. It includes pastels, watercolors, markers and more—all for the same price you’d pay for just one of those items. Best of all, it’s neatly packaged in an oh-so-fancy briefcase so you don’t have to come up with new ideas for crayon storage.
10. FurReals Walkalots Big Wags Kitty
A cat that walks, meows and has all the charm of a real pet—and none of the responsibility that you might regret. Your child can nurture this kitty, but you won’t have to change the litter box.
11. PAW Patrol Rescue and Transport Vehicle
No 3-year-old’s wish list would be complete without something related to Paw Patrol. This rescue vehicle is oversized, but that’s because it has a fully functional elevator—and storage for all the other Paw Patrol knickknacks you picked up along the way!
12. Step2 My First Snowman
Do you wanna build a snowman? Even if your tot hasn’t seen Frozen, the answer to that question is probably “Yes!” If you don’t get a white Christmas this year (or if you do but prefer to simulate snow-day fun while seated next to a radiator), indoor snowman assembly is a festive activity for little and big kids alike.
13. Toy Vacuum
A kid who likes to clean sounds like a blessing and probably is—but not at age 3 and not at the same time as you. Do you break that tender heart by insisting that you can vacuum better on your own? (Watch the cord!) Nah. Sometimes you just need a sophisticated form of deceit. This kid vacuum says it has real suction, but we’re more excited about the realistic sound and style.
14. Melissa & Doug Floor Puzzle
If you’re gonna do a jigsaw puzzle at age 3, it has to happen fast—but the finished product must be sprawling and spectacular too. Melissa & Doug floor puzzles walk that fine line with ease.
15. Jumbo Foam Building Blocks
These soft foam blocks are great for building “the tallest tower ever!” And they are very good at cushioning a fall when your child decides to climb said tower. Plus, they’re so big they even make for a good stuffed-animal bed, or tea party table, or…yup, these blocks are full of potential, just like your babe.
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