The 10 Best 3 Year Old Boy Gifts
10. Melissa & Doug Monster Plush
9. Yookidoo Submarine Spray Station
8. Paw Patrol Look-Out
7. Melissa & Doug Learn-To-Play Piano
6. Schwinn Easy Steer Tricycle
5. Little Tikes Gas 'n Go
4. Learning Resources Fishing Set
3. Little Tikes EasyScore
2. Kidoozie Pogo Jumper
1. Power Wheels Ford Lil' F-150
The Quest For Great Gifts For Three Year Old Boys
The mind of a three year old boy is more complex and nuanced than most people without intimate knowledge of children could imagine. Youngsters at this age are curious, playful, and energetic, at times ready to explore new places and things yet also lent comfort by the known and familiar. A three year old boy can often spend long stretches of time on his own, absorbed in solitary play activities without the need for external input. But of course young children also look for attention and support.
When searching for a gift for a child turning three -- or already in his fourth year of life -- consider both the general attributes and abilities of kids of this age (more on that below) and also think carefully about the individual child for whom you are shopping. While some gifts may be almost universally appropriate for three year old boys, others might be absolutely perfect for the specific child on your shopping list.
Many three year old children have an impressively developed sense of imagination and will take to role play and make believe activities with zeal. You can facilitate this imaginative play with gifts that encourage a child to assume the role of a doctor, a fisherman, a veterinarian or an explorer. Look for kits complete with costumes and accessories and that allow a child to engage with their pretend play both physically and mentally. These gifts are also great for fostering interaction both between a youngster and his peers or with his parents, siblings, or caregiver.
Other boys this age are highly active and physical and are never happier than when in motion. Most young children still lack the fine motor skills for most sports activities though, so choosing a gift that's both enjoyable and relatively easy to play with is imperative. Consider classic options like diminutive basketball hoops that can be lowered for easy access or oversized bowling sets that make it easy for a child to feel a sense of accomplishment.
If your intended gift recipient is a musically inclined, by their third birthday they should begin to play more with genuine instruments rather than with toys approximating instruments. There's no need to buy a young child a Stradivarius violin, but a three year old should at least be given a compact piano with real notes or a guitar that can actually be tuned and played.
And keep in mind that young children love to imitate the people they see most often. Consider giving your child (or the child for whom you are shopping) items like a play kitchen or a little lawn mower so they can emulate their parents safely.
Gifts To Avoid For The Three Year Old Boy
Just as there are a plethora of great gift ideas for three year old boys, there are also plenty of items that should be avoided for kids of this age. Spending a few minutes thinking about those inferior gift ideas can help the good ideas stand out even more clearly.
A three year old boy is generally out of the oral stage of life and can be trusted not to place random objects in his mouth. However a momentary lapse in thought can see a three year old boy inadvertently putting something in his mouth nonetheless, so toys with smaller pieces are still best avoided. This is also true of toys with long strings or cords which could be a strangulation hazard.
Powered riding toys are popular with many families, but are actually not a good idea for children still under the age of four or five; these devices require more spatial reasoning, faster reaction times, and better overall judgment than many kids of three yet possess. (And in fact some of these units have even been known to present fire safety issues.)
Also resist the urge to buy stereotypically male toys, such as a football or a toy weapon; a youngster has an entire lifetime to be pressed into expected roles and deserves freedom from such limitations while still so young.
Mental And Emotional Milestones Of The Three Year Old
Between the ages of three and four, a child is often said to be in the so-called Magic Years. This post-toddler, preschool age is a unique time in life; the individual is yet free of any meaningful responsibility but is also possessed of a mind that can be effectively tuned to specific tasks and activities. And of course this age is also filled with an imaginative -- "magical," even -- approach to play and interaction.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists a number of concrete milestones that most boys will meet during the time between a third and fourth birthday; knowing these can help you process behavior as it happens and can help you look out for anything your child does that seems abhorrent and that warrants extra attention or intervention.
A three year old boy should display a degree of self sufficiency including dressing and undressing with minimal help, the ability to wait for his turn during a meal, play activity, or a sport or game, and he should be able to communicate his wants or needs using clear language. (Keep in mind some children can do this before the age of three, while others won't master some skills until they are nearly four.)
A three year old boy should also have a rapidly developing sense of empathy and compassion; his emotional maturity may be far from complete, but a child of this age should be able to show affection when appropriate without any external prompting and should respond properly to the emotions of others. This means an attempt to comfort and console the person who is clearly upset and the ability to laugh along with the person in high spirits.
On the physical side, a three year old boy should have a good enough sense of balance to run and jump without falling over (or without falling often, at any rate) and should be able to go up and down stairs with ease. He should also be able to kick and throw a ball, though likely without much accuracy for some time yet. Many three year olds can reliably pedal and steer a tricycle, which makes for yet another fine gift idea.