The Best Toddler Ride-On Toys for Kiddos on the Move
As your little one reaches the end of year one and starts taking those first few tentative steps, you’ll have to level up to toddler toys to hold their interest. At this stage, tots love to push, scoot and walk. That means they’re likely ready to trade in rattles and tummy time toys for one of the best options for 1- to 3-year-olds: a toddler ride-on toy.
How do you know it’s time to shop for ride-on toys? The recommended age group for foot-to-floor ride-ons (the type of ride-on toy that your child has to move on their own) is 1 to 3 years old, says Lisa Lohiser, EdD, manager of early childhood development research at the Fisher-Price Play Lab. “Toddlers need to be able to walk independently and get on and off the ride-on themselves,” she says.
The major milestone that comes with a ride-on toy is scooting, Lohiser says. “Scooting on a ride-on helps toddlers develop the skills that eventually ladder up to riding a tricycle.” Why is a ride-on toy such a natural choice for this age group? There are a number of benefits these toys can provide, according to Lohiser:
● Problem-solving skills. Toddlers learn how to problem-solve through trial and error as they determine the best method to get on and off the toy independently.
● Gross motor skills. Toddler ride-on toys foster skills like balance and coordination as they discover how to scoot forwards and backwards.
● Spatial awareness. Toddlers are introduced to this important concept as they ride around their space and navigate obstacles.
Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite toddler ride-on toys for you to browse. Whether you have a 1-year-old who’s taking their first steps or a 3-year-old who can walk, run and jump, you’re sure to find fun ride-on toys your toddler will love.
In this article:
By the end of their first year, your little one has grown in leaps and bounds, both physically and developmentally. But it’s important to remember that they’re still developing new skills. So when choosing the best ride-on toys for 1-year-olds, remember to keep it simple.
“Starting around nine months, babies can sit and play with a ride-on toy, then use the walker handle to pull to a stand and cruise using the ride-on as support,” Lohiser says. At this age, bright lights, fun sounds and play options while little ones are either sitting or standing are important features to look for.
This top-rated ride-on toy for 1-year-olds features Fisher-Price’s Smart Stages technology, which is meant to grow with your child. Three settings introduce your little one to different developmentally appropriate concepts based on their age and stage. This fun ride-on car includes the ability to play while sitting or standing, and features a dashboard with more than 100 songs, sounds and phrases. Age rating: 9 to 36 months.
This is one of the best ride-on toys if you’re shopping for a first ride-on for baby to grow with. Your little one can start off using it as a walker to push and pull around their favorite toys. As they get older, the wagon can convert to a seat for ride-on mode, which is great for toddlers learning foot-to-floor motion. Once they’ve mastered their walking and motion skills, the ride-on toy easily converts to a scooter they can cruise around on. Age rating: 1 to 3 years.
For a more traditional ride-on experience for a 1-year-old, opt for this sweet little three-wheeling giraffe. A thick back wheel provides extra stability, while a wheel guard ensures little fingers don’t get pinched. This makes a great outdoor ride-on toy as well, and can easily be pulled or pushed by a parent or caregiver for little ones who aren’t quite ready to scoot on their own. Age rating: 12 to 36 months.
This puppy riding toy is perfect for your little rider. Its small size is a good fit for younger toddlers, and it features lots of other fun, age-appropriate activities like a shape sorter and oversized buttons. The puppy’s head and ears move as your little one scoots around, and the red nose lights up when pressed—an adorable and exciting extra! Age rating: 9 to 36 months.
If your little one is an animal lover, they’ll get a total kick out of scooting around on a Prince Lionheart ride-on toy. It’s made with a sturdy wooden base and a padded stainless steel handle bar, and comes in a variety of cute critters—there’s a bumble bee, lady bug, pig, hedgehog, cow and lion, but we’re particularly partial to the mouse. Age rating: 18 months+
By the time your little one is 2 years old, they may be ready for a toddler ride-on toy that allows them to ride independently. One that features their favorite characters is always a plus. At this age, an electric riding toy will feel like an exciting adventure and is a great option as long as your little one is supervised at all times. These are our picks for best ride-on toys for 2-year-olds.
Toddler Ride-On Toy
At 2 years old, most kids are ready for their first iconic red Radio Flyer! This mini scooting trike makes a perfect ride-on toy for 2-year-olds who aren’t quite ready to pedal a tricycle on their own. It introduces your little one to the concept of balance in a safe manner, with wide-set front wheels for stability and plenty of room for your toddler to kick their feet as they scoot. Age rating: 12 to 36 months.
Wooden Bee Ride-On
A favorite among toddlers, this classic wooden ride-on toy provides hours of entertainment. Four wheels on rotating casters allow your little one to scoot around anywhere they’d like, and really get moving too! Real wood construction with a comfy, brightly colored seat makes for a top-rated ride-on toy for toddlers. Let your little one choose from a bee or a zebra, then let the fun begin! Age rating: 18+ months.
Your toddler will feel like a real construction worker on this fun ride-on toy for 2-year-olds. The bright yellow construction vehicle comes with blocks that can be stored in the seat when not in use. Let your little one stack the blocks and then knock them down with the vehicle, or use them to construct something from their imagination. Age rating: 12 to 36 months.
Thomas Ride-On Train with Track
Your little one will enjoy endless hours of riding around this real-life train track. The Thomas train can be ridden on or off the track, and it features Thomas-specific sounds and phrases that will delight your little locomotive enthusiast. This is also a great option if you’re looking for outdoor ride-on toys. Age rating: 12 to 36 months.
This classic speedster from Pottery Barn Kids is sure to be a hit! Inspired by the sleek detailing of the Bentley Baghera car from the 1950s, this ride-on toy for toddlers is available in pink or gray. With premium features like real rubber wheels, a padded seat and a working steering wheel, the rad toddler ride-on is appropriate for indoor or outdoor play. Age rating: 1-3 years old.
By this age, your independent toddler probably wants to do everything “all by myself!” That’s why the best ride-on toys for 3-year-olds allow your little one to balance and move around on their own. These are our top picks.
Command Base Transport Vehicle
If your 3-year-old has never tried a Power Wheels vehicle, this is a great age to introduce one. This battery-powered ride-on toy features a theme revolving around the popular Disney movie Lightyear, with rugged tires and room for two to ride. There’s even an oversized storage area in the back so your little one can haul their favorite belongings. The truck goes 5 mph forward, or 2.5 mph in reverse. Age rating: 3 to 7 years old.
This cool-looking truck makes the perfect ride-on toy for 3-year-olds, but it can be used for younger kiddos as well. A removable bottom panel allows your older toddler to move and explore once they’re ready, or it can be included to allow parents to push younger kids. Fun features like a face on the grill, a real opening door and a steering wheel that really turns guarantees loads of fun for your little one at any age. Age rating: 18 to 36 months.
This classic toddler ride-on toys involves no batteries, no pedals and even no foot-power: Kids can kick their feet up and simply turn the wheel to get moving. The side-to-side swaying motion will have them racing around with glee. It can go up to 10 mph (rest assured this ride-on meets all US, Canadian and European safety standards) and it can be used as an indoor or outdoor ride-on toy. A perfect way to satisfy older toddlers’ need for speed! Available in pink and blue. Age rating: 3 to 12 years
When it’s time for your little one’s first balance bike, you can’t go wrong with this premium pick. Featuring rubber handles, rugged wheels and an adjustable bike seat, this ride-on option can be used either indoors or outdoors, and it teaches proper coordination without the use of training wheels. Choose from caramel accents on either a white or black frame. Age rating: 2 to 5 years.
If your 3-year-old happens to be obsessed with unicorns (we know quite a few who are), this is the ultimate ride-on toy. There are no batteries required—it’s powered by your kiddo’s movement alone. The head bobs up and down and the legs move in a galloping motion, just like a real horse! They can steer with the handlebars and control the speed that feels comfortable for them (there’s even a handbrake for a full stop). Good for indoor and outdoor use. Age rating: 3 to 5 years old
Wiggle Car Ride-On
This toddler ride-on is a favorite among little ones, providing a zany, crazy ride that wiggles and twists. Your kiddo can scoot along at first, then lift their feet and operate with the handle. With no gears or electronics, it’s a fun and easy ride that will test their motor skills, and it’s available in a variety of fun colors to match their style. Age rating: 3 to 8 years
About the experts:
Lisa Lohiser, EdD, is manager of early childhood development research at Fisher-Price’s Play Lab, where she provides insights into how kids learn and play and how to best support their development. She has a doctorate in education with a focus on learning and teaching in social contexts, as well as a Master’s degree in creativity and change leadership and a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
Plus, more from The Bump: