Buying gifts for toddlers can be a fun yet challenging experience. Toys need to be age appropriate so they will stimulate their interest and help with their overall development, but they also need to be safe and free from any hazards, such as choking. At three years old, children are discovering themselves and trying to make sense of their capabilities, and the right toys can help them as part of their natural growth.

It’s a natural worry that we’ll get it wrong somehow, so we’ve compiled some tips that will help you when looking for toys for a 3 year old boy or girl.

Check the guidance

All toys, particularly for toddlers, come with age recommendations to ensure they are appropriate for the toddler. This guidance is issued with a child’s safety in mind and should always be considered when buying gifts. Older children’s toys are likely to have smaller parts that can easily be swallowed, so take the time to read the label before buying.

Larger toys are best

When a toddler is able to pick something up, there’s only one place it is going – straight into their mouth. This can continue throughout the younger years until they fully learn that not everything can be eaten. Larger toys will prevent any choking hazards as they are generally too big to fit inside the child’s mouth.

Choose toys that encourage problem-solving

Like adults, children learn by getting things wrong and solving problems is one of the best ways to teach children how to learn from making mistakes. Toys that include pushing shapes through the corresponding holes, or coloured keys that open locked doors not only help with problem-solving but also hand-eye coordination and logical abilities, all of which are essential as they grow up.

Look at toys that promote activity

Toddlers are completely unaware of the importance of exercise and, since they have an abundance of energy, it would be worth using this to your advantage. Look for toys that promote and encourage activity, such as plastic golf sets, child-size basketball and hoop, tricycles, four-wheeled scooters and maybe even toy gardening equipment. If it can get them outside and enjoying the fresh air as well as getting exercise, it will be worth the investment.

Introduction to board games

As the child turns three, it would be beneficial introducing them to some simple board games that require adult participation from a parent, guardian or nanny. Games such as matching and counting encourage toddlers to use their memory, as well as teach them valuable skills such as listening, self-control and understanding how to play with others. Other benefits to playing these types of games include the development of language and communication skills, how to be gracious in victory and also how to handle losing games.

Children learn at a substantial rate and buying age-appropriate toys at the right time in their life will stimulate growth, knowledge and a desire to learn more. They’ll be raring to go by the time they’re off to school, even if you’re not ready for them to go just yet.