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If you are looking for the best wooden toys for three-year-olds to add to your son or daughter’s toybox or to give as a birthday gift, I’ve curated a list of wonderful wooden toys that will encourage three-year-olds to use their imagination, express their creativity and will nurture their problem-solving and social skills.
I must admit I am rather fond of wooden toys. Clearly, it’s a huge plus that wood is a sustainable, eco-friendly material. But it’s also how wonderfully tactile they are to touch and how beautiful they look.
I’ve based this list on toys that my daughter enjoyed playing with when she was three and on gifts I have bought for other three-year-olds that have been a big hit.
Most three-year-olds are well and truly fans of pretend play, so this is a time when you can really go to town with role-play toys, like fruit stalls, play kitchens and tea sets. They will also sit and play imaginatively with cars, trains, animals and other characters.
So I’ve put a big focus on role-play and make-believe toys in this roundup.
BEST WOODEN TOYS FOR THREE-YEAR-OLDS
This curation includes some of my favourite wooden toys for three-year-olds. Use it to find the perfect birthday or Christmas gift or simply to stock your child’s toybox.
1. MORNING COFFEE
Three-year-olds are fast becoming adept at mimicking what their parents do. So, this gorgeous wooden coffee machine set is spot on for three-year-olds wanting to imitate what their parents do every morning! It will make them feel ever so grown up as they make coffee and hand it around.
2. TIME FOR TEA!
Oh, the hours that my daughter spent serving calorie-free afternoon tea to her friends and family!! She had this exact Tidlo set of pretty cakes on a cake stand.
3. COOL ICES
My daughter was given this exact set of lollies and ice cream cones for her third birthday. She took great delight in handing ice creams and lollies out and would always stop to make sure that they were eaten.
This set was one that was played with for several years, so it’s a great buy if you’re looking for a wooden toy gift that has longevity.
4. PIZZA DELIVERY
Let’s stick with a food and drink theme and take a look at this wonderful wooden toy pizza oven set.
This is a great set for smaller spaces where there isn’t room for a toy kitchen. It’s also a wonderful addition to a toy kitchen for the child who seemingly has everything already!!
5. SETTING UP SHOP
Actually, this brilliant wooden pretend play shop also doubles as a theatre, so it’s a really great value purchase.
My daughter spent hours and hours playing with her shop, both by herself, with her friends and willing relatives.
There is room for nine sets of crates (see next idea on the list for crates) or to have a mix of crates and loose groceries for sale. Kids can also chalk on prices and decide when the shop is open or closed.
It’s super easy to turn the shop into a theatre, so easy that kids can do it by themselves. They can chalk up details of show times and the production they will be putting on.
Clearly, this is quite an expensive gift to buy. We bought it as our daughter’s main birthday gift and then asked grandparents and relatives to buy the crates, groceries and other accessories to kit out her shop.
In short, setting up a shop is a great way to create an opportunity for open-ended play that kids can pick up anytime it takes their fancy.
It’s also great for developing their social skills, and of course, there are educational benefits as well. What better way to get kids practising their numbers than asking to be paid for the groceries in their shop?!
6. SHOP STOCK
Tidlo has got all manner of wooden accessories for kitting out a shop. A great place to start is with these ready-filled crates of food and groceries.
7. GROCERY LIST
There are some great sets of wooden grocery toys around. I really like this set by BigJigs that has a really good selection of grocery staples.
Dollhouses can seem like a bit of an old-fashioned toy for kids these days. But in my experience, kids still love playing with them as long as the dollhouse is interesting enough to capture their imagination.
That’s why I love the Melissa & Doug Hi-Rise Dollhouse. It is bright and modern in design, open and easy for little hands to get in and manoeuvre stuff around. I love that it has an elevator (lift) for a really aspirational fun touch.
9. VAN LIFE
With festivals being a major part of life for many families, this retro wooden campervan is a great gift idea for a three-year-old to play with at home or take on the road when they head to a festival.
The van has a removable roof for easy access and comes with a surfboard and comfy mattress. It doesn’t come with any dolls. Your three-year-old could use other dolls you have to hand, or you could buy a Le Toy Van family of four.
10. TRAIN SET
A train set is practically a rite of passage for little kids. You can buy train sets for kids as young as 18 months, but I think it’s worth waiting until they hit three years old if you want to buy one that will get plenty of use for years to come.
This BigJigs Town and Country train set is brilliant because it has so much more to it than just a wooden train, tracks and train station.
There is plenty of scope for imaginative play and also scope to add more tracks to it if your child really develops a love for playing with trains.
11. TOOL KIT
My daughter used to get thoroughly engrossed in her wooden toy tool kit. I think the key is to find one that has plenty to do, lots of nuts and bolts to be screwed in, and nails to be bashed with a hammer.
This Melissa & Doug set has holes in the box itself, along with bits of kit for DIY enthusiasts to spend ages working on.
Toolbox sets are great for continuing to develop kids’ motor skills, along with flexing their ability to concentrate and see tasks through.
12. RABBIT DRESS UP
Dress-up wooden puzzles are brilliant for keeping kids engaged with a calm and creative activity. My daughter had a set of bears, but I couldn’t resist including this set of super cute rabbits.
WOODEN TOY BUYERS GUIDE
Here are some things to consider when buying wooden toys for three-year-olds.
THREE-YEAR-OLDS START THE YEAR AS TODDLERS AND TRANSITION TO PRESCHOOLERS
Three is a wonderful age for kids. On their third birthday, most still have vestiges of being toddlers, but as the year progresses, they become preschoolers and their interests change and develop accordingly.
Three-year-olds start to enjoy making up simple stories and get a taste for imaginative play and role play. So this is the time to make sure their toybox or playroom is stocked with toys that can help them bring their imaginary play to life.
NON-TOXIC WATER-BASED PAINTS
Always check the box to ensure that the toy is painted with water-based, non-toxic paint. There are strict rules on paint for kids’ toys, but it is always worth checking that the toy you plan to buy complies.
SUSTAINABLY SOURCED WOOD
Look for toys made from FSC-certified wood wherever possible.
FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council, an international organization that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC certification is a voluntary third-party certification system that verifies that the wood used in a product comes from responsibly managed forests that meet strict environmental, social, and economic standards.
FSC certification ensures that the forests are managed in a way that preserves biodiversity, protects wildlife habitats, and respects the rights of workers and indigenous communities. It also helps to combat illegal logging and deforestation, which are major contributors to climate change.
When you see the FSC logo on a product, it means that the wood used in that product comes from a forest that has been independently certified to meet FSC standards. Choosing FSC-certified wood products is a way to support sustainable forestry practices and help protect the world’s forests for future generations.
BEST TYPES OF TOY FOR THREE-YEAR-OLDS
A third birthday is a great time to start stocking up on pretend play toys. Puzzles and toys that encourage them to expand their cognitive skills, social skills and ability to collaborate are also a great buy.
It’s a good idea to invest in a big-ticket imaginary play toy at this stage because there are plenty of years ahead when it will get lots of use and prove to be a good return on your investment. So consider buying a pretend play shop, kitchen or theatre.
Hello, I’m Luci, founder of Mums Make Lists (Est. 2011). Over the last decade or so, I have combined my experience as a mum, journalist and shopping editor to create useful guides and lists of ideas and inspiration to make it easier for busy parents to plan and host kids’ parties and find great gifts. Plus I create beautiful party printables, from invites to party games. Read more.