On the hunt for the most appropriate gift or toy for a 3 year old girl? You’ve come to the right place. We are parents that get nerdy about researching and testing toys, games and puzzles. We also take on board advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organisation, and so we’re pretty confident that the toys on our list will be just right.
She is (hopefully) about to move beyond the ‘terrible twos’. Thank goodness! She is now entering a magical phase of life where her fantasy and imagination take center stage. With this in mind, the best toys for 3 year olds will nurture these areas whilst providing a fun challenge for their increasingly skilled hands and fingers.
Our top picks of gift ideas for 3 Year Old Girls
At 3-years-old, your little girl is entering a wonderful phase of imaginative play. Toy kitchens provide an excellent way for her to lose herself in role play whilst providing a rich kinesthetic learning experience.
As toy kitchens go, the Hape Gourmet (check price on Amazon) is one of the most beautifully designed that we’ve seen. It is carefully crafted from wood and sports big red knobs, a movable tap, and opening doors. Hape is known for quality and tastefulness.
Why She’ll Love It: She can imitate mom and dad; a primary learning method for toddlers.
Our second choice
3 year olds live in a world of imagination and wonder. This gorgeous wooden playhouse (check price on Amazon) is perfect for nurturing this whilst developing their fine motor skills.
With carefully crafted rooms and accessories, your daughter will enjoy endless hours of intricate make-believe. It’s also worth mentioning that it is easily assembled and finished with non-toxic materials.
Why She’ll Love It: It’s clever design means she can easily access all the rooms.
Our third choice
If your little girl wants her very own animal family, she will love this plush toy set of a cat and her kittens. Magnets allow the kittens to attach to the mother’s side to give the appearance of nursing.
Aside from being a fun addition to your girl’s toy box, Nursing Nina Cat (check price on Amazon) provides an excellent opportunity for you to begin talking about the circle of life with your kiddo.
Why She’ll Love It: These stuffed animals offer plenty of free play inspiration. They’re also perfect for a good snuggle at bedtime.
Our fourth choice
The hugely popular Micro Mini (check price on Amazon) is a safe bet if you’re looking for a great first scooter. It has a quality, durable build and is stable and sturdy when it comes to handling. Available in many vibrant colors, the three-wheel scooter uses a smooth “lean-to-steer” mechanism which is highly intuitive.
(If you are new to scooters, then head over to our kids scooter guide.)
Why She’ll Love It: It’s low “deck” and simple steering is ideal for first-time riders, plus it looks great and there are lots of accessories to jazz it up further.
Our fifth choice
Melissa & Doug are amazing with their durable, non-toxic, wooden creations. This adorable ice cream counter (check price on Amazon) will entertain your toddler with each of its 28 different pieces. Your little one can build cones or cups with the colorful pieces of toppings, cones, and utensils. It even has a scoop and little $1 bills for their little fingers. The carrier also has a display area on top for their ice cream creation presentation show. Prepare yourself for a tummy full of imaginary ice cream as your little sweetheart serves you over and over.
Why She’ll Love It: She’ll love being able to make her own colorful creations and share them with her friends and family.
Our sixth choice
Oh, how little girls love to spin and twirl! These 100% silk rainbow Playsilk (check price on Amazon) pieces will take your little toddler into her sweet dreamland of rainbows and dancing fairies. Measuring 3′ by 9′, its the perfect size for either a flowing cape or the top of a hidden fortress. The possibilities are endless with this beautiful silk adornment. It can even hang as a canopy over her bed where it will be the first thing she sees every morning.
Why She’ll Love It: Her imagination will run wild as she finds new and different ways to have fun with this vibrant Playsilk piece.
Our seventh choice
Who says trains are just for boys? Little girls love choo-choo trains and this set is a beauty (check price on Amazon). A sturdy play table holds 120 different pieces for everything her growing mind will need to create her imaginary train village. She’ll be building bridges, connecting train cars, whistling train sounds, and even creating roads and construction project with all the pieces. This multi-functional train set and table even come with three storage bins that fit underneath it to hold all the pieces.
Why She’ll Love It: The endless possibilities of the scenarios that she can create will keep her strong, growing mind active and engaged.
Our eighth choice
Although you can’t put this doll in the dryer, it is machine washable, and that alone deserves a hallelujah from parents everywhere. At 12 inches tall, this Mali Doll (check price on Amazon) has beautiful detailing and a removable outfit.
You can purchase additional clothing for the doll from HABA, just make sure you buy designs that are in the proper size.
Why She’ll Love It: She’ll love engaging in the pretend-play that this toy lends itself to, and will be happy to have a pal she can take everywhere.
Our ninth choice
Although a bit on the pricey side, this wooden set (check price on Amazon) is beautifully crafted and colorful.
Built from wood sustainably harvested in Europe, the little dolls can be used in conjunction with additional block sets or as stand-alone toys.
They’re great for practicing color recognition, counting, and motor skills, as well as for growing that childhood imagination.
Why She’ll Love Them: Whether she is building her own block-town or stacking these peg-dolls on their included tray, she’ll love these colorful, minimalistic figures.
Our tenth choice
This magical unicorn toy is BIG. Big enough to be the centerpiece in any girls room, and to become a life-size playmate in fantasy fairytale role play. Melissa & Doug are known for quality toys and this is no exception. The unicorn (check price on Amazon) is sturdy and easily stands on its own legs. Shimmering, sparkling details help to create its undeniable wow factor.
Why She’ll Love It: It’s huge, cuddly, and sparkles!
Our eleventh choice
If you’re looking for a way to encourage a love of the outdoors, these junior binoculars are a great place to start.
Featuring a 2x magnification ability and eyepieces that are both comfortable and large, the GeoSafari Kidnoculars (check price on Amazon) is great at fostering a passion for science and exploration. It also has a breakaway strap so your kiddo can safely wear them around her neck.
Why She’ll Love It: While some parents report that this toy is not as durable as they had hoped, your daughter will get a kick out of using them for a bit of outside investigation.
Our twelfth choice
Your little one can work on her fine motor and problem-solving skills with the Animal Upon Animal (check price on Amazon) game from German toymakers, Haba. The object is to pile the animal figures onto the crocodile base without knocking the stack over. Whichever player is the first to have all their animals stacked up is the winner.
The gameplay is short, about 15 minutes, and it can be played with up to four people. It’s also an excellent opportunity to teach your tot about animal names and colors.
Why She’ll Love It: Even if her dexterity isn’t quite good enough to be able to stack the animals, she can always show you where she wants them placed on the pile. She can even use the pieces to engage in some fun pretend play.
Our thirteenth choice
Your little girl will get plenty of work on her fine-motor and hand-eye coordination skills with this toy (check price on Amazon). It’s simple yet challenging; she needs to thread the cord through the holes on the flower template.
The image comes printed on sturdy cardboard, so keep it away from water or beverages that could spill.
Why She’ll Love It: Although this game does require a fair amount of focus, she’ll be able to see the results of her work in the pretty blooming flower her efforts create.
Our fourteenth choice
Engaging in creative pretend play where she imitates adult behavior is one important way that your three-year-old learns social skills and empathy, and it often takes the form of playing “house”. Melissa & Doug strive to create toys that inspire imagination through hands-on play, and their Let’s Play House Cleaning Set (check price on Amazon) encourages kids to try their hand at sweeping with a broom, picking up messes with a dustpan and brush, getting rid of pesky dust with a duster, and cleaning floors with a mop.
The tools included in the set look just like their real-life counterparts, making it an ideal addition to her creative play that can also teach some basic life skills at an early age.
Why She’ll Love It: It will satisfy her natural developmental urge to engage in pretend play that mimics adult behavior
Our fifteenth choice
If you have a little Picasso on your hands, you’ve no doubt faced the conundrum of accidental marker streaks on the tabletop and art supplies scattered as far and wide as the eye can see. An easel with serious storage can go a long way in giving your three-year-old girl her own space to express herself, and Little Partners 2-Sided A-Frame Art Easel (check price on Amazon) checks all the boxes. It includes a dry erase board that’s magnetic, a chalk board, a top-mounted holder for a 17.5″ paper roll, convenient wells for her paints, markers, and other tools, and slide-out storage bins that are great for stashing unused art and cleanup supplies.
The real wood construction of this easel makes it extra durable, and there’s even an extra holding clip on the side where you or she can hang up a painting as it’s drying.
Why She’ll Love It: If she’s artistically inclined, it’s a space for her to stash all her supplies and express herself in a variety of cool ways
Our sixteenth choice
If you think coding sounds a little too complex for your three-year-old, we understand, but hear us out. Programming’s foundational aspect is pattern recognition, which is a skill that kids are refining at age three. Simple “coding” exercises like the ones offered by Fisher-Price’s Code-a-Pillar (check price on Amazon) help your little one understand cause and effect and use critical thinking, both of which are beneficial to her developing cognitive skills. She can use the easy-to-connect caterpillar segments to determine if her creation will travel right, left, or forward, creating her own movement patterns. The segments illuminate as their action is performed, helping her understand the connection between the action and the arrow image on the segment. There are even targets included, so she can start the code-a-pillar at one goal and work toward building him in a way that will reach the other.
Why She’ll Love It: She’ll have an element of control over the way the toy performs, and will enjoy putting it together in new ways to see what it can do and how to make it reach the goal
Our seventeenth choice
When kids express themselves creatively through music, they also gain confidence and cognitive boosts and may discover a passion that remains throughout their life. Simple starter instruments like the Hape Kid’s Wooden Toy Ukulele (check price on Walmart) give them an accessible tool for practicing a new skill. The ukulele is just the right size for your three-year-old girl, and as one of the easiest stringed instruments to play, it’s a perfect choice for a first instrument.
She’s likely to get better as she grows, but this sturdy uke is great for plucking out her first tunes, learning to strum, and finding her rhythm. The string ends are safely tucked away to avoid scratches, and the smooth wooden surface is splinter-free and features a fun red, orange and yellow pattern with musical notes,a treble clef, stars, and spirals.
Why She’ll Love It: It’s a new way for her to express herself creatively, and many kids find sensory audio play with musical instruments both satisfying and soothing
Our eighteenth choice
If cooking up something scrumptious in the play kitchen is at the top of your three-year-old’s to-do list, a nice set of pretend foods can make her creative play more exciting and involved. This set of solid wood fruits and vegetables from Plan Toys (check price on Walmart) encourages her to refine her small motor skills and engage in the kind of imaginative play that’s key to her social and cognitive development now. Each fruit can be separated into two halves with the wooden “knife” that’s included — they’re connected with soft Velcro, so she won’t struggle to “cut” the fruits and veggies.
There’s also a cool cutting board and serving tray with carrying handles. Included in this set are an apple, banana, carrot, cucumber, lemon, mushroom, orange, and pear, which are also great for teaching object and color recognition.
Why She’ll Love It: It’s an awesome addition to her play kitchen that makes pretend cooking feel more realistic and exciting
Our nineteenth choice
Kinetic sand is one of the most fun toys that’s emerged for kids in the past few years — the unique substance can be sculpted, molded, formed and manipulated to make all kinds of neat creations, but it doesn’t break apart or leave a mess like some clays and slimes. The Kinetic Stand Bake Shoppe Playset (check price on Walmart) features 16 fun bakery-style tools and molds that encourage your three-year-old to make and decorate her own cupcakes, cakes, and cookies.
There’s also a serving tray and a spatula which make a great addition to her pretend play. Pink and yellow kinetic sand are included with the set, but other types of kinetic sand can also be used here, and the tools could also easily be used with modeling dough.
Why She’ll Love It: She’ll be able to safely design her very own pastry creations, just like mom makes in the kitchen, with colorful and mess-free kinetic sand
Our twentieth choice
Using her huge imagination is a big part of your little girl’s development, and opportunities to dress up and play roles help her to understand differences and be more empathetic. She’ll love the opportunity to take on the role of her favorite Disney princesses with this Dress Up Trunk Deluxe (check price on eBay), which features the famous dresses worn by Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, and Aurora(Sleeping Beauty).
Also featured are 12 accessories including bracelets, rings, headbands, a choker, a customizable necklace, and a sheet of Disney stickers she can use for customization. All the dresses and accessories store neatly in the pink keepsake storage trunk, which adds a little bit of sweet Disney style to her bedroom or playroom.
Why She’ll Love It: She’ll have the chance to dress up as four of her favorite Disney princesses, complete with accessories
What to expect from your 3 year old girl
For your little lady, this year will be about role play and imagination. You’ll also a see huge development in her cognitive and social abilities.
Here are a few of things your little girl will start doing between the ages of 3 and 4 (see complete list):
Body, hand and finger skills
- Does rudimentary snipping with scissors;
- Begins to hop up and down;
- Tries roly-polies;
- Balances on one foot;
- Draws by herself;
- Can erect a tower of 10 bricks or more
- Becomes more independent;
- Negotiates with grown ups;
- Plays with imaginary friends;
- Uses the toilet by herself;
- May actually do what you ask!
- Sometimes plays with other children or in a group
- Can count to 2 or 3;
- Recognizes several colors;
- Loves listening to short stories;
- Answers simple yes or no questions;
- Talks in mini-sentences;
- Can match a few colors
The best gifts or toys for 3 year olds will help feed their imagination, be perfect for their little hands, and also give them the opportunity for joint play with other children. We’ve carefully chosen the products on this list to do all of these things.
Let us know how she enjoys them!