"Your 3 year old is now able to reason logically (though he or she may not always choose to do so!), which means there's a new appeal in toys that require a sequence of sorting or fitting together – either by working out what goes where or by following a simple set of steps," explains MFM's Helen Brown, head of content delivery and author of Parenting for Dummies.


"Your child's improved dexterity also means they are also able to do much more fiddly-finger stuff: this is the age when fine-finger-control toys and kits that involve playdough, puzzles and (sprawly, splashy) painting and drawing come into their own."

Best toys for 3 year olds at a glance

Best educational toys for 3 year olds

  • Great for developing language skills: Tonies Toniebox, £79.95
  • Great for problem solving: Connetix 212-piece Rainbow Mega Pack, £180
  • Great for matching and sorting skills: Woody Treasures Cookie Time!, £15.99
  • Great for sorting and categorising skills: Jacques of London Noah’s Ark, £29.99
  • Great for early maths skills: Beebee + Bongo Little Ladybugs, £39

Best imaginative play toys for 3 year olds

  • Great for wannabe chefs: Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Busy Chef's Restaurant Playset, £16.99
  • Great for imaginative play with a difference: Melissa & Doug Barber Shop Playset, £34.99
  • Great for household role play: My 1st Years Personalised Kitchen and Washing Machine, £150
  • Great for learning about where food comes from: Great Little Trading Company Play & Store Wooden Toy Farm, £75
  • Great for playing shop: LeapFrog Build-a-Slice Pizza Cart, £59.99
  • Great for repeat reveals: Little Live Pets – Mama Surprise, £64.99
  • Great for food prep role play: Le Toy Van Blender and Wooden Toy Fruit Set, £39.95
  • Great for cooking role play: Bee Smart My Baking Cookie Set with Glove, £27.92
  • Great for problem-solving role play: Learning Resources Pretend & Play Doctor’s Kit, £34.99

Best character toys for 3 year olds

  • Great for wow factor: Imaginext DC Super Friends Ultimate HQ Playset, £109.99
  • Great for lights and action: Paw Patrol The Mighty Movie Skye’s Magic Movie Jet, £49.99
  • Great for TV show role play: Peppa Pig’s Wooden Playhouse, £79.99
  • Great for hugging close: Moose Toys Bluey Jumbo Plush, £19.99

Best transport toys for 3 year olds

  • Great for fine motor skills: Le Toy Van construction cars, £29.95
  • Great for imagination: The Adventures of Paddington Campervan, £29.99
  • Great for train-based imaginative play: Thomas & Friends Talking Cranky Delivery Train Set, £59.99

Best outdoor toys for 3 year olds

  • Great for balance skills: Hornit AIRO, £139
  • Great for hand-eye co-ordination: Early Fun All-Surface Swingball, £22.99

Helen continues, "But perhaps the biggest winners of all are toys that set the scene for a good session of imaginary play – especially if it involves acting out roles (doctor, cook, train driver, pirate). Your 3 year old is fast becoming a proper drama king or queen!

We’ve tested and chosen the best toys across a range of budgets that are particularly brilliant for 3 year olds. We've divided them up depending on which of our criteria they met – educational, imaginative play, character toys, transport themed and outdoor play. But across the board, they're great for stimulating brain and body development, problem-solving, practising social skills – and having lots of fun."

How to choose toys safely

  • Look for the CE symbol as this is used by manufacturers to show the toy meets all the relevant regulatory requirements
  • Also keep an eye out for the British Toy and Hobby Association's (BTHA) 'Lion Mark' – although this is a voluntary scheme, it means that the toy with this mark has met the BTHA's safety requirements  
  • Pay attention to the age suitability of the toy
  • Avoid toys with loose fabric, hair that sheds easily or small parts that detach easily as these can be a choking hazard
  • Check toys over time for sharp points or edges or signs of wear that are potentially dangerous

Here is our pick of the best toys for 3 year olds, as tested by children and rated by parents

Additional writing and product selection by Gill Crawshaw

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Best educational toys for 3 year olds

1. Tonies Toniebox, £79.95

– Great for developing language skills

Tonies toniebox being tested by a 3 year old child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L12cm x W12cm x H12cm | Batteries: Rechargeable, up to 7 hours of battery life | Awards: Gold – Best Tech Toy or Gadget, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

In the world of kids’ audio players, Tonies’ fantastic Toniebox is one of the best around. The screen-free speaker is perfect for both education and entertainment, with a range of features including volume limits and sleep timers available to give parents peace of mind.

The Toniebox is designed to be easy to use, with a soft casing around all the external components, and fun, if somewhat fiddly, controls that involve tapping and tiling the speaker. The standout feature though has to be the magnetic Tonies figures that provide the audio. With a library of audio from big brands like Disney and Horrible Histories, there is a Tonie for a wide range of interests. The fact that they are impressively detailed figures increases the play potential, giving them a life beyond the Toniesbox itself.

“My daughter has only recently turned 3 so her language is still developing but she has been very excited about this toy and enjoys singing with the songs,” said parent tester Marketa. “She would also play with the little figurines that came with the set (CoComelon, Gruffalo, Encanto and Tonies red dolly) – she would talk to them in her own language and pretends they are interacting. It is definitely a toy that keeps giving in terms of entertainment and engagement.”.

Available at: Tonie, John Lewis and Argos

2. Connetix 212-piece Rainbow Mega Pack, £180

– Great for problem solving

Connetix 120 rainbow pack tested by a 3 year old child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L41cm x W31cm x H9cm ‎| Batteries: None | Awards: Gold – Best educational/learning toy over £40, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Though they are expensive, these colourful construction tiles are an innovative and exciting way to play. The pieces come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes allowing for complex constructions while offering children great educational value for a range of ages by engaging problem solving and spatial awareness.

From counting the pieces and learning colours to finding the right piece for the particular build, there are an array of ways for children to improve their logical reasoning using the Connetix Rainbow pack. The strong magnets that connect each of the pieces allow for some impressive builds including towers and castles and, as an added bonus, the magnets make cleaning up easy and fun as the pieces stack up neatly.

Child tester Myles, 3 (pictured) has played consistently with his Connetix since they arrived, but as testament to the longevity of this toy, it has appeal long past the preschool years. Lucas, 12, who also tried the tiles out, said, “They allow me to be creative in an enjoyable way. They are easy to play with and I can't wait to play with them again"

Available at: Connetix, Amazon and The Kid Collective

– Great for matching and sorting skills

Woody Treasures Cookie Time with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L14cm x W18cm x H5cm | Batteries: None

This brightly coloured wooden opens up to reveal cookies include 2 gingerbread men, wafers and heart-shaped jammy dodgers.

It’s a nicely designed, durable toy that presents all sorts of play cooking and tea party possibilities. And as Tenisha, mum of our child tester Kady, 3 (pictured), pointed out, "You can match the shapes when putting the biscuits away in the box, too." As for Kady’s verdict? "I love these cookies. My teddies think they are amazing!"

Available at: Amazon and Woody Treasures

4. Jaques of London Noah's Ark, £29.99

– Great for sorting and categorising skills

Jaques of London Noah's ark with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L16cm x W16cm x H25cm | Batteries: None

This wooden ark has 2 decks, portholes, a removable deck-and-roof and a fold-out ramp. It comes with figures of Noah, his wife and 7 pairs (of course) of animals. There are shape-sorter slots for 3 of the animals on one side of the boat and for the birds in the roof windows.

It's a gorgeous take on a traditional toy (and it arrives beautifully packaged and hand-tied with ribbon). We like the elasticated ramp door and the charming animals pairs, although we do wish there were a shaper sorter hole for all of them.

Sammy, mum of our child tester Taran, 3 (pictured above), said, "Taran squealed in delight when he saw this. He instantly started singing The Animals Went in Two by Two and walking the animals over the drawbridge. He enjoyed putting the animals in pairs inside the ark and asked questions like, 'Why do the lions look different?', which sparked a good learning conversation."

Made with 100% FSC-certified wood and painted with non-toxic paint.

Available at: Amazon and Jaques of London

5. Beebee + Bongo Little Ladybugs, £39

– Great for early maths skills

Bee + Bongo Little Ladybugs with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: 18cm diameter (sizes vary) | Batteries: None

This sweet, hand-knitted Mummy ladybird has 12 little ladybird babies hidden inside her – which you can get out and play all sorts of lovely, tactile Montessori-style matching, sorting and counting games with, as each baby has a different number of spots and is a different colour underneath.

The toy is handmade by the women of the Cambodia Knits group, who work for fair wages to raise funding for their children's education, so although it's not cheap, some of your money will undoubtedly be put to good use.

"Sydney was very excited to see the ladybird," said Jessica, mum of our child tester Sydney, 3 (pictured above). "His imagination came to life! When I told him the ladybird opened up and there were maybe more inside, his eyes lit up."

Indeed, Sydney couldn’t wait to tell us: "Look, they have colours on them! Purple, orange, blue, green, red, yellow!" "It's surprised me as how many different ways Sydney could play with this, too," added Jessica. "It's a very big thumbs up from us."

Machine washable. Comes with play notes and a 100% cotton drawstring storage bag.

Available at: Beebee + Bongo

Best imaginative play toys for 3 year olds

6. Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Busy Chef's Restaurant Playset, £16.99

— Great for wannabe chefs

Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Busy Chef's Restaurant Playset tester picture and product shot

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for: 3+ | Size: L32cm x W34cm x H12cm | Batteries: None | Awards: Editor’s Choice, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Let your child's imagination run wild with this brilliant pretend-play kitchen. You use moulds, play-doh and imagination to create a feast of pretend food such as pizza, burgers, pasta and more. There are some really impressive interactive features too: the griddle automatically slides, and you can use the spatula to put food in the oven. Each piece is carefully designed to save on space (and plastic) but this small set still offers great play potential.

3-year-old child tester Ada (pictured) loved exploring the different creations she could make with this toy. Her mum Nina said “my daughter was able to be really creative, making up a whole plate of food, experimenting with different parts of the kitchen and really getting engrossed in her play.”

Nina also loved the learning and development opportunities the toy offers too, saying "my daughter was able to use the sliding griddle with ease and loved that she could pull down the handle independently. Her imagination skills were really impressive as she came up with her own ideas to create different types of food. She enjoyed using the knife to cut around these and really develop her hand and eye coordination."

Available at: Very and Smyths Toys

7. Melissa & Doug Barber Shop Playset, £34.99

– Great for imaginative play with a difference

Melissa and Doug's Barber shop toy being tested by a child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3 | Size: ‎H13.05cm x W10.05cm x D2.75cm | Batteries: None | Awards: Silver – Best toy for role play/pretend play, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Anyone in need of a haircut? Step into the role of a barber or customer with this fun barber shop accessory playset, which even comes with a wearable fake beard. This is a great set for pre-schoolers who accompany parents for hair cut or beard trim, or those who like to role play real-life scenarios. It also caught the eye of retailer John Lewis, which tipped it as one of the top toys for Christmas 2023.

The set includes accessories for interactive play, including a soft-bristled brush, play scissors, textured pomade in a tub as well as a wearable beard with adjustable straps. The set has two pretend shaving options: traditional with squishy shaving cream and brush, or the more modern method with pump shaving cream can and vibrating trimmers.

There is also a hand mirror that flips to stand for self-checking and a reusable double-sided activity card for added engagement. The shaving kit can be stored in a zipped bag and the whole can be placed into the larger cosmetics bag for on-the-go play and mobile visits.

Our testers found the simple nature of this screen-free toy appealing, with child tester Kian, saying "The barbershop set is really fun to play with! I can cut my hair just like my daddy does!" Freddie, 4 (pictured), asked "can I take it all to bed with me?"

Available at: John Lewis and Smyths Toys

8. My 1st Years Personalised Kitchen and Washing Machine, £150

– Great for household role play

My 1st years personalised kitchen tested by a little girl

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3 | Size: L90cm x W31.5cm x H74.5cm x | Batteries: None | Awards: Gold – Best Wooden Toy, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Make laundry day and dinner time a breeze with this pastel pink wooden toy kitchen, designed to encourage imaginative play.

A toy kitchen with added extras, it features a hob and oven with removable shelf and clicking dials. There is also a trendy Belfast sink with mock tap and plug hole, and utensil shelves. To add to play, there is a washing machine with a see-though door with soap bubble details and a cavity that clothes can be put in and taken out of on repeat.

The set comes with utensils including a spatula, salt and pepper shakers and a pastel-design pan set. There is also a clock with moveable hands to help with time-telling. The kitchen can be personalised with a name or phrase.

While our testers would have liked to see additional accessories such as toy food or laundry liquid, they agreed this was a beautifully crafted toy plastic-free toy with hours of play potential. They also felt it was built to last.

"Oooh!" That was the initial reaction of toy tester Ada-Grace (pictured) who spent a long time playing with it. Her mum Emma said, “She started to mimic the actions she has seen mummy do in the kitchen, such as cooking on the hob, popping pans in the oven, putting vests and bibs in the washing machine before pulling them back out to give them a good shake, and then stuffing them back in again! The quality of the wood is excellent, very well crafted, and it looks expensive too.”

Available at: My 1st Years

9. Great Little Trading Company Play & Store Wooden Toy Farm, £75

– Great for learning about where food comes from

Play and Store Wooden Toy Farm being tested by a child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3 | Size: L27.4cm x W87.1cm x H35cm; when closed L27.4cm x W24.5cm x H24.5cm | Batteries: None | Awards: Silver – Best Wooden Toy, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

This wooden animal-themed toy set comes in a clever self-contained carry set. The hand-painted set is designed as a traditional farmhouse with a roof you can lift to take animals in and out. There is a working winch on which children can move hay bales up and down, along with a chicken coop, duck pond, pig sty and a cow barn with doors that can open and close. There is also a fruit and veg market stall.

Once play is done for the day, the set can be folded up into its own carry case using the base and panels, so it can be carried around or neatly packed away.

The set is beautifully designed, but no accessories are included (you can buy both a tractor set and animal accessory pack separately). It is, however, a classic toy that is built to last.

Our toy tester Ernie, 3 (pictured), had fun with the set according to his mum Phoebe, who said, “The small world play potential is wonderful. A bonus for parents is that it all packs away easily and you can store everything inside the barn. It's a beautiful product and will certainly be pride of place on our toy shelf.”

Available at: Great Little Trading Company

10. LeapFrog Build-a-Slice Pizza Cart, £59.99

– Great for playing shop

Leapfrog Build-a-slice pizza cart being tested

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3 | Size: L22.4cm x W54.7cm x H67.6cm ‎| Batteries: 3 x AA (included) | Awards: Gold – Best toy for role play/pretend play, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Is pizza on the menu? The LeapFrog Build-a-Slice Pizza Cart serves up a slice of learning along with small world foodie fun, although it’s sure to make everyone in the family hungry.

Shaped like a street food pizza cart, more than 30 pizza-themed pieces are included in the set. Keen chefs can play by taking hungry customer’s orders and then follow instructions to create customised slices of pizza with their chosen toppings. There is even an interactive spatula that recognises the pizza slice by name, colour, and shape. Once the food is constructed, it can be baked by playing it inside the oven and turning the dial to ‘cook’ it. When the pizza is ready, it can be removed from the oven and placed in the takeaway pizza box. Players can then use the till to collect the money.

The playset also plays fun sounds and songs, combining pretend play with preschool skills by teaching counting, vocabulary, and Italian phrases.

Our child tester Rupert, 3 (pictured), said, "I like playing with it with grown ups and with my friends, it helps me learn new words and [helps] with my counting."

Rupert's mum Katie also praised the toy, saying, “It can be played with without the sound for free role-play and imaginative play and can easily be played with among a group of children or with children and adults together. Or this toy can be played with independently using the sound to follow the order instructions. It helps with learning words in Italian, learning colours and shapes with the various toppings, and learning about numbers and counting.”

Available at: Amazon and The Entertainer

11. Little Live Pets – Mama Surprise, £64.99

– Great for repeat reveals

Little Live Pets Mama Surprise with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L20cm x W30cm x H29cm ‎| Batteries: 6 xAAA (not included)

The bestselling Little Live Pets range has included many different sorts of interactive animal over the years but this little hamster is, in our view, one of their best yet. If you take her from her hutch and groom and stroke her and feed her (pretend) celery, she'll respond with cute noises.

"I like this toy – yes!" said our child tester Amelia, 3 (pictured above). "She sings to me and she's very soft."

But there’s more – carry on with your hamster cuddling and a heart will start to glow on her chest to show that she is ready to have a baby. So you pop her back in the hutch on her some paper nesting straw, shut the doors and wait – for the first of 3 little arrivals, each with their own little 'care pack' of accessories.

The wait for the birth may be a little long for some children but, if you can't spin the 'There’ll be a baby in the morning' message, there is a 'faster birth' button that shortens the wait to about 10 minutes. And once all the babies are born, you can repeat the whole process again.

Amelia’s mum Alena was very impressed. "The quality of this toy is superb," she said, "and Amelia loved playing with the hamster, talking to her and brushing her coat. She was a bit impatient for the babies but, once they came, she was thrilled!"

Available at: Argos and Amazon

12. Le Toy Van Blender & Wooden Toy Fruit Set, £39.95

- Great for food pre role play

Blender and wooden toy fruit set with child tester

Age suitability: 2+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L11cm x 14cm x H21cm (blender) | Batteries: None

This little almost totally wooden set includes 6 sliceable pieces of fruit (2 bananas, 2 strawberries, an orange and a kiwi), a knife and 2 tumblers with removable toppings, as well as the pretend blender and lid. Your child can use the knife to slice down the fruits’ Velcro centres before putting them into the blender and pressing the button.

Nothing turns or spins but our testers had no problems supplying the creative juices to create and put their imaginary smoothies into the wooden cups.

"It's beautifully made," said Stacey, mum of our child tester Emerson, 3 (pictured above with his little brother Elliott), "and I think you get a lot for your money."

“I liked cooking and chopping, blending stuff and mixing up fruit; the strawberry smoothie is my favourite," said our other child tester, Freddie, 3. "This is a perfect pretend play toy," said his mum Paige, "and I love it that it doesn't need lights, noise or any other electric component to be hugely enjoyable: it kept Freddie and his older sister busy for ages!"

Made with FSC-certified wood and child-safe water-based paints.

Available at: Le Toy Van and John Lewis

– Great for cooking role play

Bee Smart My Baking Cookie Set with Glove with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L28cm x W35cm x H5cm | Batteries: None

This is a lovely-looking, well-thought-out wooden pretend-baking set – it even has a pastry brush! There are 20 pieces in total, including a mixing bowl, rolling pin, spatula, whisk, 3 cookie cutters, 5 cookies, 2 'breakable' eggs and an oven glove.

Roxanne, mum of our child tester Evie-Rae, 3, was impressed by the high quality of the set and the child-friendly size and shape of the pieces.

"Evie-Rae and her older sister have spent ages baking each other cookies," she said. "It's keeping them so well occupied. I'm very pleased with this toy!"

Available at: Amazon and Bee Smart

14. Learning Resources Pretend & Play Doctor's Kit, £34.99

– Great for problem-solving role play

Learned Resources Pretend & Play Doctor Set with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L37cm x W3cm x H23cm | Batteries: 2 x AAA for toy phone (not included)

This good-sized, sturdy doctor's kit is stuffed with 19 (plastic) medical 'instruments', including a stethoscope, syringe, blood-pressure cuff, tweezers, phone and a fetching blue pair of doctor's specs.

It is pricey, to be sure, but it's also best set of ‘instruments’ we’ve seen (although a shame there’s a pic of a boy but no girl on the front of the case). We love the interactive stethoscope that you press to hear a beating heart, and the blood pressure cuff with a red dial that moves. This is a great kit to encourage role play that's all about identifying and then solving (imaginary) problems.

And, according to our 3-year-old child tester Isaac (pictured above), the phone, pager and stethoscope make very cool noises indeed.

Available at: Amazon and Learning Resources

Best character toys for 3 year olds

15. Imaginext DC Super Friends Ultimate HQ Playset, £109.99

– Great for wow factor

Imaginext DC super friends ultimate HQ being tested by children

Age suitability: 3-8 years | Best for age: 3-8 years | Size: L40.64 x W18.88cm x H61.72cm | Batteries: 3 x AA (included) | Awards: Silver – Best playset over £70, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

This vibrant and colourful playset is perfect for DC superhero fans with its array of fun interactive play features. There are lights and sounds that activate depending on where the figures are positioned, as well as multiple included vehicles for Batman. The Batwing is a particular standout.

The handle at the back of the set can be used move the Batwing and activate the disc shooter. What really stood out during our testing was the scale of the set. It includes 4 floors, stands at an impressive 61cm tall and even includes a lift to move figures between the floors. However, we must note the baffling omission of Wonder Woman, a key member of the DC Justice League. While the included Batman and Superman figures are nice, with attachment points across the set to allow for acting out different scenes, the lack of Wonder Woman does hold the set back, especially given the character's popularity.

Parent tester Sammy, who tested the set with their 5 year-old Taran, was particularly enthusiastic about the scale of the playset, “This is a big and impressive toy that definitely has an instant wow factor. Taran screeched with excitement when he first saw it! The Batwing was a big hit, as was the projectile launcher. It appears solid and well made.”

Available at: Very and Argos

16. Paw Patrol The Mighty Movie Skye’s Magic Movie Jet, £49.99

– Great for lights and action

PAW Patrol The Mighty Movie Skye's Mighty Movie Jet toy being tested by a child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L45.72cm x W12.07cm x H35.56cm | Batteries: 3 AAA (included) | Awards: Silver – Best Toy Vehicle, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Zoom Skye around on rescue missions with the Paw Patrol The Mighty Movie Skye's Magic Movie Jet, a paw-somely exciting toy that children will recognise from the latest pup-themed movie. This dynamic toy has already turned the heads of retailers Smyths and DreamToys, who tipped it to be a must-have toy for Christmas 2023.

Skye's Magic Movie Jet is taken from the film and has 360-degree rotating wings, two projectile launchers with projectiles, sound effects, movie music and synchronised flashing lights for playtime plane fun.

Also included is a Skye figure and helmet with translucent sections, and if you click the character into the jet the paws will light up. The jet also opens, to allow for imaginative play with the Skye character.

“I like when the bullets launch with the buttons. Skye's paws light up and I like the lights and sounds. I play with it lots and make it spin round and round and round!” Was the verdict from child toy tester Ollie, 3 (pictured).

His mum Jenna added, “It's slightly on the pricier side but with lights, sounds and twisting motion it's worth a bit more. Paw Patrol vehicles are always made to last.”

For Paw Patrol fans, this toy is one of a range of special merchandise sets released to mark the new movie that includes figures, playsets, and vehicles.

Available at: Amazon, The Entertainer and Argos

17. Peppa Pig Wooden Playhouse, £79.99

– Great for TV show role play

Peppa Pig wooden playhouse with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L25cm x W50cm x H65cm | Batteries: 5 x AG13/LR44 (included)

Made from FSC-certified wood, this open-fronted wooden house has 7 painted rooms and a hallway, all themed around the home of every small child's favourite cartoon pig. It comes with wooden Peppa and George figures and a selection of accessories and furniture including a bath, a light-up cooker and a bedside table that plays lullabies.

Our child testers were thrilled by its brilliant replication of Peppa's house – right down to Mr Skinny Legs in the attic and muddy puddles on the floor. And we love the 3 interactive pieces of furniture: how excellent that Mummy Pig’s computer lights up with the Happy Mrs Chicken game!

"Look, look, it’s just like Peppa’s house!" said our child tester Finley (pictured above) who's just turned 4. "And George has left his scooter on the floor! Wow, a telescope to look at the stars! Peppa, George! Your bath is ready!"

Do note that there are no Mummy and Daddy Pig figures (thought these can be bought separately) but in all other respects, as Finley's mum Donna said, "This is such a fantastic toy – well worth the money."

Some assembly required.

Available at: Very and Amazon

18. Moose Toys Bluey Jumbo Plush, £19.99

– Great for hugging close

Moose Toys Bluey Jumbo Plush with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L18cm x W21m x H46cm | Batteries: None

This big soft toy is made in velboa faux fur, in the shape of the popular CBeebies character Bluey. She's a great size for hugging, nicely stuffed and super-soft – ideal for snuggles with any little Bluey fan.

She's a bit of an old school soft toy – no buttons to press or noises – but our child testers were all in raptures.

"Bluey comes with us on most of our trips now," said Maeve, mum of our child tester Arlo, 3, (pictured above). "Arlo has her doing lots of different activities: playing in the garden, going for walks, even brushing her teeth. He also loves watching the show with her on his lap."

Available at: Amazon and Argos

Best transport toys for 3 year olds

19. Le Toy Van construction cars, £29.95

– Great for fine motor skills

Le Toy Van construction vehicles tested by a child
Le Toy Van construction vehicles tested by a child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3 | Size: L30.51cm x W21.69cm x H3.71cm | Batteries: None | Awards: Gold – Best Wooden Toy, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Is there a budding builder in your house? The Le Toy Van Construction Cars, a set of five wooden construction vehicles with fully functioning parts, will add hours of interactive fun to imaginative playtime.

The colourful and traditionally designed plastic-free set includes five wheeled construction vehicles as well as three traffic cones and a road sign. The vehicles have moving parts including a lifting, extendable crane, scoop, roller, digger arm, and tip-up truck. Crafted from eco-friendly materials, this is a durable set designed for longevity.

The wheeled toys are also designed to be pushed on standard wooden toy railway tracks, which is one of the many ways our toy tester Connor, enjoyed playing with them, saying, "They go so fast round my railway! The truck is on the rail road, and it is pushing the train because it’s broken.” He also added, “I love them because I can build things up really tall and can smash them and can make them go fast like whoosh and boom!"

His mum Emily was similarly enthusiastic, saying, “We already have a few Le Toy Van items and the construction set did not disappoint. Beautifully designed and built construction toys that are small enough to be easy to grip but chunky and weighty enough to know they’re good quality. The price is well worth what you receive and the durability of the product.”

Available at: Amazon and Le Toy Van

20. The Adventures of Paddington Campervan, £29.99

– Great for imagination

Adventures of Paddington Campervan playset tested by a child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: H13.8cm x W20cm x D11.2cm | Batteries: 2 AAA (not included) | Awards: Bronze – Best playset under £70, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Marmalade sandwich, anyone? This playset contains a Paddington figure and Bessie the Campervan, as seen in the Adventures of Paddington TV series. The campervan has a removable roof that allows for play inside the camper, and you can also fold the roof into a canopy for rainier days. The set comes with Paddington’s suitcase that contains a picnic cloth, toy cup of tea and marmalade sandwich. Bessie also plays two different sounds in Paddington's voice, as well as music from the TV show.

This is a sturdy set that should withstand a 3 year old’s play, and while it would have been nice to see more figures included to keep Paddington company, there is space to play with the figure inside the campervan.

Toy tester Grace, 4, is a massive fan of Paddington Bear and loved the playset, stating "I like taking him on adventures in his campervan. He has little food which is nice for him to eat. I want to play with him all day." Damian, 4 (pictured) who also tested it said, "I like it, I can drive it around and the roof came off so I can put more friends in."

Grace’s mum Kayleigh praised the imaginative potential that the toy brings, saying, “Paddington has so far been on picnics, camping expeditions and races in our house, and I'm sure they will continue to think up more fun scenarios for him.” She also thought the toy had longevity, adding, “Grace has played with it every day since it arrived, and I don’t see it losing its novelty any time soon.”

Available at: Argos and Amazon

21. Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Talking Cranky Delivery Train Set, £59.99

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– Great for train-based imaginative play

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3 | Size: 69.3cm x 132.7cm x 50.5cm | Batteries: None| Awards: Gold – Best Interactive Toy £40 and Over, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Bring Brendam Docks to life with this Thomas & Friends motorized train and track set that includes songs, railway sounds, and real character phrases from the Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go! series. The set features three familiar characters from the show, including Cranky the Crane, a motorized Thomas engine and a Troublesome Truck.

The set includes 14.5 feet of track round which Thomas can travel, and Cranky the Crane can spin 360 degrees and help to load and unload cargo pieces on and off Thomas and friends using a claw. Three pieces of cargo are included in the set, as well as a child-powered hopper. In a move that will delight all fans of the show, the characters recognise and talk to each other on the tracks. There are also 325+ songs, sounds and phrases to soundtrack kids’ imaginative play.

Thomas fan and child tester Chester Bear, 4, loved the set “My favourite part is Cranky, because he can pick up things with his claw. I want to keep playing with it and get another train track to make it bigger. I want to collect all the trains. It's my favourite toy.” Chester’s mum Kellie thought this was “A well made children’s classic toy that creates hours of fun which I am sure will be used for a long time.”

For big Thomas fans, this set can be connected to other Thomas & Friends track sets, to expand the railway play network.

Available at: Very, Amazon and John Lewis

Best outdoor toys for 3 year olds

22. Hornit AIRO, £139

– Great for balance skills

Hornit Aino balance bike with child tester Effie

Age suitability: 18 months to 5 years | Best for age: 3+ | Weight: 2.95kg | Max child weight: 30kg | Batteries: None

With its height-adjustable saddle and super-lightweight magnesium alloy frame, this sleek-looking balance bike with straight, grippy handlebars and air-filled tyres is smooth to ride and will last your child a good couple of years and hone their balancing and steering skills well before the big step up to a bike with pedals.

It's not cheap but it's built to last (and hand down to siblings) and has some top-notch features, including a padded stem, grip-taped footrests and a lifetime warranty on the frame and forks. And there's very little assembly: just tightening the screws with the included Allen key and pumping up the tyres.

"When Effie first saw this bike, she said 'Wow!', ran towards it and climbed straight on," said Emma, mum of our child tester Effie, 3 (pictured above). "She couldn't wait to show it off, shouting, 'My bike, look!' to anyone and everyone."

Emma was particularly impressed by the Hornet's light weight – "even Effie's Nanny could pick it up and carry it easily" – and the tyres. "They're a good width," she said, "and make the ride nice and smooth – Effie didn't seem to bounce around much at all when she went over bumps."

Comes in yellow, red, turquoise, pink, blue and white.

Available at: Hornit and Amazon

23. Early Fun All Surface Swingball, £22.99

– Great for hand-eye co-ordination

Early Fun All Surface Swingball with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L31cm x W39cm x H125cm | Batteries: None | Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

Yes, it's swingball for smaller people! The ball is bigger and softer (foam) and much easier to hit, and the bats are smaller and have nice grippy handles. "You have to chase the ball and it's really funny!” said our child tester Isaac, 3 (pictured above with his big sister). "I love playing with it with all my family and it doesn't hurt Daddy when it bonks him on his head."

We like the redesigned base, with balancing feet, which allows you to play on any surface, outdoors or in, and which also converts into a carry case to store the game in or take it with you. And the spinner really is as tangle-free as the packaging blurb promises.

Aimee, mum of our other child tester Rex, 3, was impressed with how easy it is to set up. "It was so easy to get going, which is great when you've got an impatient child. It's been wonderful to see Rex get so much joy out of this – and especially from beating Mummy and Daddy!"

Available at: John Lewis, Argos and Amazon


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