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The Best Toddler Ride-On Toys for Kiddos on the Move

Riding toys are a great way to help toddlers get the zoomies out. Here are our favorite ride-on picks.
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By Yasmine Maggio, Contributing Writer
Updated October 23, 2023
toddler riding a ride on toy
Image: Baghera/Pottery Barn Kids
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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. But which ride-on toys are the best for this age group? We’ve determined the best ride on toys for toddlers of all ages—but first, let’s take a look at how you know your little one is ready for some big wheels.

When is it time for a toddler ride-on toy?

How do you know it’s time to shop for ride-on toys? Just because your toddler is on the move—or reaches a certain age—doesn’t mean it’s time to break out these bigger, faster toys. In fact, it’s more important to pay attention to where your child is developmentally to determine if they’re ready to safely play with a toddler ride-on toy.

There are certain skills your little one should have before playing with a ride-on toy. 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.

Best ride-on toys for 1-year-olds

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.

Overall best toddler ride-on toy

Little Tikes Cozy Coupe
Image: Walmart
What We Love
  • Timeless, durable design
  • Interactive features, like a key that turns
  • Wheels spin 360 degrees for easy cruising
Things To Consider
  • Steering wheel doesn't move the tires
  • Some assembly required

First up on our list is this classic car that's been a top-rated toddler ride-on toy for decades. The timeless play vehicle earned a spot in our Best of The Bump roundup of the best toddler toys for several reasons, like its clever design and interactive details. 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. Plus, fun features like a friendly face on the front, a turnable key and a steering wheel that really turns guarantees loads of fun for your little one at any age. Our product tester, the dad of a one-year-old, highly rated this ride-on toy across several categories, like enterainment, durability and skill-building. He also gave it top marks for its value, telling us that it's "an excellent choice for birthdays, holidays or another big present occasion. It's definitely the kind of toy a child will be able to use and enjoy long-term, not something that'll wind up forgotten at the bottom of a toy chest with pieces missing." We wholeheartedly agree!

Age rating: 18 months to 5 years | Dimensions: 29.5" (L) x 16.5" (W) x 33.5" (H) | Weight: 17.3 lbs. | Weight capacity: 50 lbs.

"The Cozy Coupe has been around for decades, and it's not because parents are dissatisfied with its performance! The plastic is solid, the pieces all come together sturdily. I think my daughter will stop playing with this when she physically no longer fits inside, and it'll still be good to pass on to another child."

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Smart car

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn 3-in-1 Smart Car
Image: Walmart
What We Love
  • Functions as a walker, bouncer and scooter thanks to its three different modes of play
  • Introduces your little one to the alphabet, counting, opposites, colors, and Spanish words
  • Easy to assemble
Things To Consider
  • The steering wheel does not actually steer

This top-rated ride-on toy for one-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 | Dimensions: 26.4" (L) x 9" (W) x 16.1" (H) inches | Weight: 8.4 lbs. | Weight capacity: 42 lbs.

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Ride-on dog

What We Love
  • Functions as a walker, ride-on and scooter
  • Handle is adjustable to grow with your child
  • Features a headlight, songs and fun sound effects
Things To Consider
  • It can be difficult to switch the toy to its different modes

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 | Dimensions: 22.75" (L) x 13.5" (W) x 20.5" (H) | Weight: 5.4 lbs. | Weight capacity: 44 lbs.

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Dinosaur ride-on

Little Tikes Go and Grow Dino
Image: Target
What We Love
  • It can be used indoors or outdoors
  • Its weight capacity of 50 pounds can accommodate larger toddlers
  • The seat is adjustable to grow with your toddler
Things To Consider
  • There are no sound effects

For a more traditional ride-on experience for a one-year-old, opt for this sweet little three-wheeling dinosaur. 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 | Dimensions: 20" (L) x 8.75" (W) x 13.25" (H) | Weight: 6 lbs. | Weight capacity: 50 lbs.

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Puppy ride-on

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Stride-to-Ride Puppy
Image: Amazon
Buying Options
Amazon|$59.99
What We Love
  • Features more than 50 sounds and noises that introduce your child to the alphabet, numbers, shapes and more
  • Three modes of play: sitting, walking and riding
  • Wide wheelbase provides a sturdy support for wobbly walkers
Things To Consider
  • Might be too small for taller toddlers

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 | Dimensions: 23" (L) x 8.5" (W) x 13" (H) | Weight: 7.9 lbs. | Weight capacity: N/A

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Lady bug ride-on

Prince Lionheart Wheely Ride-On Toy for Kids
Image: Amazon
Buying Options
Amazon|$89.99
What We Love
  • Cushioned body can be easily wiped clean
  • Wheels roll backwards, forwards and sideways for easy scooting
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors
Things To Consider
  • Expensive
  • Not adjustable (but does come in a larger size for older toddlers)

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, pig, hedgehog, cow and lion, but we’re particularly partial to the lady bug.

Age rating: 18 months to 3 years | Dimensions: 16" (L) x 10" (W) x 12" (H) | Weight: 4.6 lbs. | Weight capacity: N/A

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Best ride-on toys for 2-year-olds

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

Radio Flyer Scoot About Sport
Image: Amazon
Buying Options
Amazon|$39.99
What We Love
  • Features under-seat storage for your toddler to bring along their favorite toys
  • Functional front steering
  • Ergonomic design provides a clear kick-path for toddler’s feet
Things To Consider
  • On the smaller side

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: 1 to 3 years | Dimensions: 34.7" (L) x 51" (W) x 38.5" (H) | Weight: 3.7 lbs. | Weight capacity: 42 lbs.

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Wooden bee ride-on

B. Toys Wooden Bee Ride-On Boom Buggy
Image: Target
What We Love
  • No assembly required
  • Wheels rotate 360 degrees, for easy scooting in every direction
  • Higher weight capacity insures this is a toy that will grow with your child for years
Things To Consider
  • Handlebar is not adjustable

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 | Dimensions: 17.5" (L) x 9" (W) x 12.75" (H) | Weight: 6.4 lbs. | Weight capacity: 88 lbs.

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Bulldozer ride-on

Mega Bloks CAT Build n’ Play Ride-On
Image: Amazon
What We Love
  • Seat lid opens for easy clean-up
  • Not just a ride-on: It also has four different building surfaces for block construction
  • Blocks are compatible with other Mega Bloks
Things To Consider
  • Doesn’t come with many included blocks

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 | Dimensions: 11" (L) x 18" (W) x 11.4" (H) | Weight: 3.4 lbs. | Weight capacity: N/A

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Thomas ride-on train with track

Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Ride-On Train with Track
Image: Amazon
Buying Options
Amazon|$164.99
What We Love
  • Train works both on and off the track
  • Comes with a rechargeable 6V battery
  • Easy to operate and steer
Things To Consider
  • Can only be used indoors
  • Expensive

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. The push button makes it easy for young toddlers to operate—but with a max speed of two miles per hour, you don’t have to worry about your little one taking off too fast.

Age rating: 1 to 3 years | Dimensions: 17.5" (L) x 27.75" (W) x 13.25" (H) | Weight: N/A | Weight capacity: 40 lbs.

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Old-school ride-on

What We Love
  • Large rubber tires can handle any type of terrain, indoor or outdoor
  • Sturdy metal body
  • Mud guards and bumpers help keep your toddler safe from any accidents
Things To Consider
  • Expensive

This classic speedster 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: 2 to 4 years | Dimensions: 16" (L) x 34" (W) x 15" (H) | Weight: 17 lbs. | Weight capacity: 44 lbs.

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Best ride-on toys for 3-year-olds

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

Power Wheels Star Command Base Transport Vehicle
Image: Walmart
What We Love
  • Wheels can handle any terrain, from gravel to grass
  • A true two-seater, making it a great option for siblings
  • Parent-controlled, high-speed lock helps keep younger drivers safe
Things To Consider
  • Does not come with seat belts
  • Expensive

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 Pixar 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 | Dimensions: 32" (L) x 49" (W) x 33" (H) | Weight: 60.1 lbs. | Weight capacity: 130 lbs.

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Swing car

Freddo Swing car
Image: Maisonette
What We Love
  • Meets all US, Canadian and European safety standards
  • Weather and water resistant
Things To Consider
  • Some assembly required

This classic toddler ride-on toy 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 6 mph and it can be used as an indoor or outdoor ride-on toy. A perfect way to satisfy older toddlers’ need for speed!

Age rating: 3+ years | Dimensions: 12" (L) x 27" (W) x 15" (H) | Weight: 10 lbs. | Weight capacity: 110 lbs.

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Balance bike

Mima Zoom Balance Bike
Image: Saks Fifth Avenue
What We Love
  • Puncture-proof foam tires
  • Bike seat and handlebars are adjustable to fit your child perfectly
  • Chrome-plated hubcaps prevent any toes or fingers being injured in wheel spokes
Things To Consider
  • Expensive

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.

Age rating: 2 to 5 years | Dimensions: 15" (L) x 33" (W) x 23.6" (H) | Weight: 7 lbs. | Weight capacity: 110 lbs.

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Ride-on unicorn

PonyCycle Pink Unicorn, Small
Image: Amazon
What We Love
  • Available in larger sizes for older children and different styles (including a pony and a zebra)
  • Wheels have been updated for a smoother and more stable ride
  • Interior steel structure guarantees a product that will last
Things To Consider
  • Expensive

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 | Dimensions: 13.8" (L) x 29.5" (W) x 30" (H) | Weight: 17.8 lbs. | Weight capacity: 55 lbs.

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Wiggle car ride-on

Ride on Wiggle Car by Lil’ Rider
Image: Amazon
What We Love
  • Largest weight capacity on this list
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors
  • Helps to develop and refine gross motor skills including balance, coordination and steering
Things To Consider
  • Cannot be used on hardwood

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 | Dimensions: 13.5" (L) x 30" (W) x 16" (H) | ** Weight:** 8.9 lbs. | Weight capacity: 150 lbs.

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How we chose the best toddler ride-on toys

We get it—the amount of toys out there can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to decide which ones deserve a spot in your playroom (or garage, in the case of ride-on toys!). But that’s where we come in. To streamline your decision-making process, we do the bulk of the research for you so you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through online retailers. We choose products based on quality and durability, value, style and, last but definitely not least, safety. This way you can count on getting the best bang for your buck, while also having a dependable and safe product that will meet your and your child’s needs.

To decide which products are the best options on the market, we leverage our familiarity with leading toy brands to make sure items are from reliable manufacturers. We read user reviews to get the low-down on how these products work for toddlers and families, and typically don’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating. And since many of us are also parents, we rely on our writers’ and editors’ experience using these products with their own families.

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.

Sources

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.

Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial process.

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