Gift Guides

Gifts for 3 Year Olds That Aren’t Toys

Gifts for 3 year olds that aren't toys
Photo by cottonbro on

Practical Gift Ideas for Preschool-Aged Kids That Aren’t Toys

What is a good gift for a three year old? I found myself asking that question this year when my son turned three. It was followed by a second question: What could I buy my son that was not a toy? 

There are several reasons why I was looking for gifts that aren’t toys for my son. First of all, he has way too many toys already, the majority of which go untouched until I try to get rid of them.

Additionally, I know that my son will get more toys from family and friends on his birthday and other holidays. We really don’t have a large house with storage space for toys which we know will quickly become clutter. 

But most importantly, I do not want my son to expect tons of toys and gifts at every holiday. I want him to appreciate all of his gifts, even if they aren’t toys.

Something that I love about this three year old age is that my son gets excited about little things that we as adults may take for granted. There is nothing better than seeing the joy on his face from something so simple as getting to watch the garbage truck drive by our house or getting to help mommy make cookies.

I know this stage won’t last forever, so I am going to try to hold on it for as long as I can. So, for his birthday this year, I decided to buy him gifts that were not toys, but are functional, practical items, most of which he will be able to use daily. I have also added a few non-toy gift ideas that my son received from other family members that are good gift ideas for toddlers and preschoolers as well.

I don’t really like to buy a ton of toys for my own kids, but it is different to buy for other kids. I personally try to give one present that is a toy, and one present that is more practical. Sometimes though it can be really tough to know what to get for a child at any given age. So, I decided to share the non-toy gifts that have been put to good use at my house.

Whether you are looking for non-toy gift ideas for your own child, or maybe you would like to buy practical gifts that you know the parent of a three year old will appreciate, these are some suggestions that have turned out to be my own three year old’s favorite gifts that aren’t toys.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Electric Toothbrush and Kid’s Toothpaste

  1. Electric Toothbrush and Flavored Toothpaste- The electric toothbrush was my son’s favorite birthday gift this year! The best part about giving him this electric toothbrush is that he is excited to brush his teeth. It is never an argument-it makes him want to brush his teeth because he thinks it’s fun! He also loves the flavor of the Crest Strawberry Toothpaste. I am so glad that my son enjoys brushing his teeth, because oral health is so important for children.

    Please be sure to supervise your children and assist them with teeth-brushing, teaching them to spit out toothpaste so that they don’t swallow it, and only using the recommended amount of toothpaste based on your child’s age. For guidelines from the American Dental Association, you can read more here.

Slippers and Pajamas

  1. Slippers and Pajamas- This is another gift that is also a necessity. I don’t know why, but it seems like we can never have enough pajamas. My son gets excited about picking out his pajamas every night. This year for his birthday, I bought him these Paw Patrol slippers. He absolutely loves them and can’t wait to put them on in the morning when he wakes up. He looks adorable in these things! These slippers are plush and feel so soft and comfortable.  My son doesn’t walk; he runs, hops, and jumps, but these slippers have held up perfectly.

Water Bottle

3. Water Bottle- We all know by now how important it is to drink enough water throughout the day, especially when it’s hot outside or after physical activity. What better way to get kids excited about drinking water while also ensuring that they are choosing water over sugary drinks? Their own special water bottle, of course! Having their own personal water bottle to take with them on outings will help them remember to drink water throughout the day.  Sometimes it is a struggle to get my son to drink water throughout the day, but he loves drinking out of his water bottle and will usually drink more water when he gets to use the water bottle instead of a cup.

Bed Sheets

  1. Bed Sheets- My son is really into heavy equipment and construction vehicles, so we bought him these sheets. He has recently transitioned into his “big boy bed,” so we decided to get him some special sheets to help commemorate the big move. We decided it was time to transition him into the bed because we needed the crib for our second child and we were not going to buy a second crib. We used the move to the “big boy bed” as part of the whole being a big brother deal. He wasn’t getting kicked out of his crib, he was getting to move into a big new exciting big boy bed with cool construction sheets.  These milestones are meant to be celebrated!


  1. Shoes- Toddlers and preschoolers play hard! Running, jumping, climbing, sliding-they are rough on shoes. My son always needs news shoes (and good ones aren’t cheap). I think that shoes make an excellent practical and useful gift. If you pick shoes that have your child’s favorite characters on them they will definitely be a hit! My son recently became obsessed with Toy Story. His aunt bought him these Toy Story shoes from Amazon and he loves to wear them. He can’t wait to put them on when it’s time to go outside or leave the house. These were a perfect non-toy gift!

Gardening Kit

  1. Gardening Kit- We decided to start a family garden in our backyard. We built it ourselves and my son enjoyed watching and “helping” my husband create the garden bed. He then got to help plant the seeds and water them every day. He loves checking on the garden every day and watching the plants grow. He also enjoys eating sweet peas right off the plant! The gardening kit is a gift that can instill an appreciation for a new hobby, taking care of living things and watching them grow. Naturally, my son also loves to use the tools to dig in the dirt. The gardening kit is a great gift for preschoolers!

Hats and Sunglasses

  1. Hats and Sunglasses- In addition to sunscreen, hats and sunglasses can be utilized to help protect kids from the sun. However, not only are they useful in protecting kids from the sun, they also make great gifts! My son loves to wear his hats and sunglasses outside. He thinks they are the coolest thing ever (and they make for super cute pictures, too)! Some younger toddlers might not like to wear sunglasses or hats. My son refused to wear them until he turned two, but after that he never wanted to go outside without them. Sunglasses can also be helpful on sunny day car trips. Sunglasses and hats are fun but also useful gift for kids.

Magnetic Letter Board

  1. Magnetic Board- This is a great gift for a preschooler because they may be starting to learn their letters. You can find other types of magnets aside from letters. My son loves cars and trucks, so he has various transportation vehicle magnets that he likes to play with on the board in addition to the letters. We are working on using the letters to spell out his name. These magnetic letters can be a fun way to foster learning in preschool age children. I didn’t like the smaller magnetic boards that came with letters because I wanted a slightly larger whiteboard that could be hung on the playroom wall. So, I just bought a regular magnetic whiteboard and magnetic letters separately. 

Kid’s Beach Chair/Kid’s Camping Chair

  1. Kid’s Beach or Camping Chair- If your family loves spending time outdoors around a fire pit in the backyard, camping, or hanging out at the beach, your child will love this little chair! The perfect size for my three year old. Now, my son is not usually one to sit, but he loves having his own personal chair so much that it is one of the few ways we can get him to actually sit for a few minutes. The chair was especially nice to have at the beach because it comes with an attached canopy to provide some shade. 


  1. Books- A love of reading and learning is the best gift you could possibly give any child. As a teacher, I value education and recognize how important it is to read to children, beginning at an early age. Reading with your child can help develop language and vocabulary skills, and prepare them to become better readers in the future. In fact, this study shows the difference in how many words children have heard before they enter kindergarten based on how often they were read to.

Books not only help develop skills necessary to set children up to be better readers in the future, they can also teach social skills and valuable life lessons. Books can be used to help parents discuss major life events with their children including potty training, becoming a big brother or sister, and even the power of positive thinking, emotions, and anger management. Using engaging books to show children that reading is fun is definitely the best gift you can give your child. 

So, there you have it. The best non-toy gift ideas for three year olds that are actually useful and practical. Yes, kids love toys, but they never need as many as they end up with and very few actually provide value or entertainment for an extended period of time. So, if you are looking for some gifts that are not just toys, I highly recommend any of these ideas as they have already been tested and approved by my own wild little three year old.

Non-Toy Gift Ideas for 3 Year Olds

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