Best Gifts for 3 Year Olds
Three-year olds love to imitate, are active, and need to learn basic social norms. That's why pretend-play is a big deal. While dramatic play at this stage is still fairly simple - kitchen play mostly, there is a lot a child is learning and discovering through imitative acts. They are picking up hundreds of words associated with each unique activity. They are strengthening fine and gross-motor skills - small, precise movements and large sweeping movements that help them discover and navigate their world. At this age, they are also learning about basic social norms and their place in a social context.
Kitchen play. Among the best gifts for 3 year olds are dramatic play toys like kitchen play toys where three-year-olds learn while they play (words associated with making and having a meal, how a meal is prepared, what happens in a kitchen, different kinds of food).
Puzzles are also a good choice for developing problem-solving skills in coordination with fine and gross-motor skills, while simultaneously commanding memory and concentration skills to assemble the pieces. Puzzles are great brain food. Just keep the pieces large and the number of pieces to no more than 36 for most three-year-olds.
Games. Inviting children to play simple games like memory, picture dominoes, or spinner games go a long way in helping a child learn some social skills like playing by the rules, waiting for his turn, and so on. Again, keep it simple, pointing out the play and fun factor as well as a job well done for completing the game. Minimizing the need to win helps children enjoy the learning event versus worrying about the outcome. That comes much later.
Recommended Best Gifts for 3 Year Olds
The recommended best toys for 3 year olds are in no particular order and are representative of a line of toys that will challenge and delight your child in meaningful ways. What's important is to start with your knowledge of the child (likes kitchen play, tools) and to connect with a present interest that then serve as take-off point to learn other things (words, specific skills, social norms).
For a full line of amazingly fun and age-appropriate toys for 3 year olds, click here.
A note about chemical exposure: A child's brain develops rapidly in the first 5 years of their life. Studies show that this is a crucial stage to set children up for lifelong success. There are now research that show links between high exposures to certain chemicals (lead, mercury, BPA, phthalates, etc) and brain, behavioral and reproductive irregularities in young children. There are also findings that do not show the same links in adolescents and other older children, suggesting that vulnerabilities to chemical exposures are greater in the very young. It is for this reason then, that the recommended toys and gifts below are extremely low in chemical content or do not have any detectable levels for heavy chemicals, BPA, phthalates, PVC, and other suspect chemicals. They are completely safe brain food.