Birthday Presents for Children: Gift Ideas for 3 Year Olds

Not sure what toys to buy for a three year-old? Read on for some tips and suggestions from the Good Toy Guide experts!

 These are some examples of toys that a child of this age may enjoy, but please remember that every child is unique and has a preference for different toys and brands.

Favourite Character Toys

Children at this age often have a favourite story or television programme, and using this favourite imaginary world as a starting point for choosing toys is great, but do make sure the toys you buy are good toys in their own right and are not just popular because of the characters they are associated with.

The Pip Ahoy Lighthouse Playset has lots of interactive features and accessories, including the Rubber Duck boat which children can play with at bath time. This set is a great way to set fans of Pip Ahoy off on imaginative small world play!

More playsets for 3 year olds

Tricycles / Balance Bikes

Trikes and balance bikes are brilliant for this age group, strengthening gross motor skills and core stability. Children can struggle to learn to ride a bike in one go but introducing them to a trike or a balance bike first breaks the skills required for proper cycling into smaller steps, so they can learn to pedal and steer or balance and steer before having to coordinate all three skills together.

Strider Bike UK have a great range of balance bikes, and their Strider 12 Sport is perfect for 3 year olds with it’s super light frame, mini grip handlebars for small hands, and a seat that can be easily adjusted as the child grows!

More balance bikes and trikes for 3 year olds

Arts & Crafts

There are lots of arts and craft toys for 3 year olds and they vary from painting and modelling to drawing and sticking. As children’s concentration spans at this age are still relatively short, look for kits that are either quick to make or that can be completed in separate phases over a few days.

Messy free play is wonderful for experimentation and sensory stimulation. We particularly like the Primo Finger Paints set because the wide opening pots let children dunk their fingers straight in the paint, but there is also a paint brush included in the carry case for slightly less messy artwork.

More arts and crafts for 3 year olds


Jigsaw puzzles are great for keeping children engaged when there is no one else to play with and promote sills such as problem solving, logic and strategy. As 3 year olds are now learning to play with other children puzzles can also help with cooperative play and turn taking.

The Big Number Jigsaw from Orchard Toys has 20 sturdy jigsaw pieces so is a little more challenging for 3 year olds, and can also begin to introduce them to numbers and counting.

More puzzles for 3 year olds

Tech Toys

Gadgets and toys that interact with tablets are increasingly starting to feature in play time.

Tiggly Shapes is a 2014 Toy Award runner-up and is a lovely interactive toy for little ones, which will help develop their creativity and motor skills!

If you are thinking of buying a tablet for a child, have a look at our tablet comparison guide for more information on features – such as parental controls and content – that are key when considering a tablet for a child.

More tech toys for 3 year olds

Outdoor Toys

Balls, play houses, climbing frames, and other outdoor toys are great for encouraging children to play actively outside and burn off some of that energy. Instilling an active approach to life can help children develop a healthy body and mental attitude that will stay with them into adulthood.

Swings are one of the most popular childhood toys, and the TP Toys Forest Acorn Growable Swing set, combined with their 4-in-1 Quadpod, is brilliant for this age because both the seat and the frame can be adjusted as the child grows (up to around 5 years+, depending on the child).

More outdoor toys for 3 year olds

Toddler Time at Branciforte by Santa Cruz Public Libraries

Page updated: December 2015

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