The Best Farm Toys for the Littlest Animal Lovers
When it comes to toddler toys, toy farm sets are “moo”-st-haves (an animal pun straight out the gate—or should we say “barndoor”—was non-negotiable, of course). They not only ignite your little one’s imagination, but also tap into the nostalgia and timeless appeal that these pretend play wonders bring to the table. These adorable miniature farms aren’t just about cute animals and colorful barns; they also bring a whole host of benefits to your curious tot’s development. From fostering imagination and creativity to enhancing fine motor skills and promoting cognitive growth, toy farm sets offer bountiful learning opportunities for tractor-obsessed tykes.
Michelle Felder, LCSW, founder and CEO of Parenting Pathfinders (and mother of two) appreciates the opportunities farm toy play can afford toddlers when they’re taking on different roles like a farmer, veterinarian or tractor driver. This exploration of different roles and occupations “is important for young children because it broadens their awareness of the world, encourages curiosity and can help them to develop a sense of the diverse roles that people play in society and the impact that these roles have on others,” she says.
Keep reading for our picks of the best farm toys for your shopping consideration, as well as our chat with Felder about the enriching experiences toy farm sets can offer, from the joys of imaginative play, where little ones can create their own stories and adventures, to the opportunities for sensory exploration and language development as they interact with farm animal sounds and names.
Animals will have a stable place in your kiddo’s play repertoire from a very early age, starting with the plush loveys from their baby years. As they get a little older, though, into late infancy and early toddlerhood, they’ll begin honing fine motor skills, and petite, fits-in-the-palm-of-their-hand farm animals and their barnyard digs are perfect toys to match these developmental milestones. Thankfully, there’s an impressive number of toy farm sets on the market that are as educational as they are entertaining. These sets offer a myriad of learning perks, from teaching about animal care and farm life to fostering hand-eye coordination and dexterity.
Ready to get shopping? E-I-E-I-let’s go!!
To kick off our roundup of the best farm toys for toddlers, let’s start with this extraordinary playset from iPlay, iLearn that goes way beyond just featuring chunky, easy-to-grab-and-mouth farm animals. It offers an entire farm experience, complete with a charming farmhouse, a rustic barn, sturdy fences, a versatile tractor trailer and even a smiling scarecrow. With hands-on play and pretend planting, your kiddo can role-play with the adorable boy and girl farmers, caring for the animals, driving the tractor and tending to the fields—really, the opportunities for diverse types of play are endless.
- High-quality ABS material
- Sensory-rich shapes, sounds and textures
- Interactive doorbells and animal sounds
- Music is loud, some parents say
What sets this farm toy set from Battat apart is its open-ended, free-range nature, allowing kiddos to shepherd animals, to and fro, as they wish. They can use the included mini green and orange troughs to pretend to feed and care for the animals, and use the farmer’s tractor to transport the animals to playdates (or, rather, neigh dates) with neighboring farms—immersing themselves in the world of farming, creating their own frontiers and storylines is the name of the game here! Best of all, the set is compatible with Battat’s popular Big Red Barn.
- Tiny figures are easy-to-hold
- Great to practice counting and matching
- Lacking diversity
We get it, primary-colored playthings aren’t exactly versatile, nor totally aesthetic all the time. But this super-cute collection from Buzy Puzzle starts with a cargo trailer hitched to a tractor in blue, yellow or natural dark wood. You can personalize the dozer with your child's name, in fine-point script, and leave it at that—but we love the other accessories you can bundle into the toy farm set: a set of five animals, a windmill, a little barn (which the seller notes as a “hangar”) or all three to make the most robust custom farm toy combination. Since it’s a la carte, the more pieces you purchase, the bigger the price tag—but for a milestone birthday or holiday gift, it’s certainly worth it. Who knows, this custom farm toy might even become your go-to nursery grab for a new baby or an heirloom baptism gift.
- Water-based paint; non-toxic
- Promotes fine motor and social-emotional skills
- Logo is printed onto every product
Unlike traditional wooden barns with static animals, this unique toy takes farm play to a whole new level of excitement. Designed for little ones as young as 12 months, it combines the joy of a tumble toy with educational benefits. Have your mini drop the chunky, double-sided animal or farmer coin into the open slots at the top. As they watch the disks tumble down, the characters coming alive and they ping-pong down, they’ll be fine-tuning hand-eye coordination and dexterity, while also developing a keen understanding of cause and effect. And given the likelihood of this popular Melissa & Doug toy becoming a staple in their daily routine, you’ll want to make sure they can cart it easily from room to room, scene to scene. The built-in carrying handle has that covered! Whether it's a playdate at a friend's house or a trip to Grandma's house, the sun never has to set on this friendly farm set. Speaking from experience as a parent, I can promise loads of fun for the whole family—especially ones who grew up watching Plinko on The Price Is Right.
- Sensory-rich features
- Compatible with other GO Tots play sets
- Disks can get stuck, some parents say
- Better suited for younger toddlers
This delightful toy set takes your amateur agriculturist on a whimsical adventure with its array of multiple play points—it not only sparks imaginative, pretend play, it also introduces valuable educational concepts, it also offers lessons in counting, opposites, animal sounds and colors. Your child can guide the horse through an obstacle course, let the cow graze on its favorite patch of grass, bring the pig in for a bath after it’s splish-splashed in a muddy puddle or perch mama hen cozily next to her soon-to-be hatchlings. A spinning silo teaches cause and effect as it turns, a swinging-window hayloft lies in wait for exciting drops (if you haven’t witnessed it with your little one already, get ready! Toddlers love putting things into containers and dropping things down portals) and a big-red barn door button triggers lively songs, animal sounds and encouraging phrases. Be warned, though—the earworm tunes have serious staying power!
- Equipped with 45+ songs, sounds and phrases
- Great tactile and sensory features
- Lightweight, easy-to-manipulate animal figures
- Other figurines/animals sold separately
Don’t get us wrong, we love the look of a chubby silicone farm animal (as a mom of three, aged 15 months to 6 years, I can confidently say that we’ve accumulated dozens of these friendly figures over the years), but a much more life-like toy can be cool, too! Featuring seven farm favorites—horse, pig, cow, goat, sheep, rooster and goose—each boasting an impressive level of detail and scale, the oversized and highly-detailed Jumbo Farm Animals from Learning Resources offers a unique opportunity for children to learn about different creatures in a tactile and engaging way.
- Included activity guide gets conversations started
- Animals are dishwasher-safe
- More suitable for older toddlers
- Barn setting not included
This set may be small, but it packs quite a punch in the playtime department. This beginner building toy strikes the perfect balance between simplicity and creativity, and makes an excellent choice for pint-sized builders who are just starting to hone their construction chops. And the MVP highlight here? At just under $10, this set beautifully integrates with other LEGO Duplo farm toys. You can milk (sorry, we just had to!) even more imaginative possibilities by combining sets and letting your kiddo expand their barnyard universe tenfold. Win-win-win!
- Comes with simple instructions and picture story
- Not realistic
To help streamline your shopping and highlight the best farm toys for toddlers, we considered a list of criteria when sourcing products, including age appropriateness, educational value/payoff and safety. We searched for toy farm sets made with non-toxic materials, with rounded edges and no small parts that could pose a choking hazard, and engineered with sturdiness to stand up to rigorous play (after hours upon hours of clucking with chickens, mooing like cows and galloping like horses, these toys are bound to take some licks!). Products that provided exceptionally-stimulating and engaging experiences for toddlers earned high marks.
We referenced stage-based play/toy recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and consulted with a parenting and child development specialist to see which farm toy sets best aligned with the cognitive and social-emotional milestones toddlers reach in their early years. We also read user reviews to get the lowdown on how these products work for families, never considering anything less than an average 4-star rating.
Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.
Your tiny rancher will reap a plethora of educational benefits with the right farm toy in-hand—but before we can speak to the enrichment value proposition, we need to cover off on some important characteristics to prioritize in these toddler toys, first. As you begin shopping, remember to keep these features and product touchpoints in mind:
Safety. Look for farm toys made from high-quality materials that meet safety standards. Smooth edges and sturdy construction ensure worry-free playtime for your precious little ones. Felder also encourages parents to think about the mouthing habits of toddlers. “Whether the farm toys you choose are soft and cuddly, sturdy, big or small, they’re likely to end up in a toddler’s mouth, so be sure to choose toys that are made from materials that are non-toxic and don’t include detachable parts,” she says.
Age-Appropriateness. Look for farm toys with chunky animal figures that are easy to grasp, manipulate and even chew on (thank you for that, Ms. Felder!). Toys with buttons, levers and simple cause-and-effect features are fantastic for younger curious minds. These toys allow them to start recognizing different animals and imitate farm sounds, preparing them for language development. As your little one grows, weave in toy farm sets that encourage imaginative play and fine motor skill development. Farm sets with movable gates, barn doors and fences allow them to practice their dexterity and hand-eye coordination. And once they’ve mastered those early learning skills, it’s time to mix in some farm animal figurines, farmers, tractors, etc. they can use to act out their own farm stories and nurture their creativity.
Educational Value. Look for toys that encourage open-ended, pretend play and allow your budding imagineer to explore their creativity and problem-solving skills. In playing with farm animal figures and farm-themed playsets, kiddos develop language skills. They “might talk about the animals, what they look like, their actions and feelings, or explore how different characters interact with each other,” explains Felder. “Imaginative play with farm toys encourages toddlers to create stories, which can help to develop their narrative skills and ability to express their thoughts and ideas,” which is a cornerstone to preschool and kindergarten prep. As are exercises in emotion. “Farm animal toys can also provide toddlers with opportunities to explore a range of emotions, as they use the animals to express the sounds or behaviors that can be associated with feeling happy, sad, mad, or scared,” shares Felder. “It tends to be easier for children to express intense emotions through pretend play, particularly when the character expressing the emotion is an animal.”
Shared fun. Felder notes that the best way to maximize the educational and developmental benefits of farm toys is to join your child—at the table, on the floor, with your phone set aside—but refrain from giving them instructions on how to play. Instead, follow their lead and “ask engaging, open-ended questions such as “What do you think the farmer should do today?” or, “Can you show me how the animals talk to each other?” or, “What should happen next?” to encourage storytelling, support their language development and foster a genuine connection.” In the same vein, introducing new words to describe the animals your toddler is playing with, in more complex detail, is a great way to continue leveling-up their language skills. Rather than simply saying cow, Felder suggests “labeling it as a white cow with brown spots, or instead of a plain-old pig, refer to it as a pink pig or a pig with a curly tail.”
As the grownup showing up for a day at the farm, consider layering in other toys and materials to promote cross-themed play and open the door for a more expansive and imaginative experience. Speaking about her own children and their love of farm toys at a young age, Felder mentions that they would “paint pictures of different scenes on paper or cardboard boxes (like scenes of a farm, a grassy field, a playground or even outer space), and once they were dried, they brought the animals into the scene.” Thoughtful tips like these make for great family bonding and sibling dynamics, as well. Older children can architect the settings, climates, out-of-the-box props and platforms, while younger children (including toddlers) bring in the chatterful cast of characters.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.
Michelle Felder, LCSW, MA is a parenting and child development specialist, psychotherapist and parenting coach with over 20 years of experience working with children, families and educators. She is the Founder and CEO of Parenting Pathfinders, which provides therapy, coaching and workshops to parents and caregivers with the goal of helping them to mindfully navigate the challenges of raising children and supporting their emotional and mental health.
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