Toddlers love ride-on toys. As they should. They get their first sense of freedom, and can experiment with movement and balance.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission advises that toddlers, meaning kids between the ages of one and three, get ride-on toys that are self-propelled with no pedals or motors. The ride-on toys should have a stable base that does not tip over and if wheels are involved, there should be at least three of them evenly spaced. All edges should be smooth, with no sharp points, and they should be unbreakable so no parts can come off.
See more: Best Toys for 3-Year-Olds
Most of all, just use your common sense, meaning, supervise your kid when he or she is zooming along on the ride-on. Because despite all our best efforts, falls happen. Here are some of the most popular ride-on toys for toddlers.
Like the rocking horses of yesteryear, this sheep mimics the style of a classic wooden rocking horse with a soft, plush exterior.
Cons: This ride-on toy is pretty basic, but you do hear the clip-clop of its hooves as you ride it. It’s powered by kids, not batteries. And it helps improve balance and build strong motor skills.
Cons: It rocks. That’s it.
Kids love them some Paw Patrol, and this ride-on toy will be a hit. It has handlebars to activate sounds and tunes, a removable walkie-talkie that activates sounds in the dash and a rotating hose that clicks and promotes tactile play. Plus, there's underseat storage for all their kiddie swag.
Pros: Great for kids one and up, this Paw Patrol ride-on bring Adventure Bay home. Kids have to use their feet to move themselves forward, so they burn up plenty of energy.
Cons: It’s suitable for younger kids only.
Of course, one of our favorite brands makes what is perhaps the most perfect of ride-on toys, with some caveats. The rubberized wheels won't damage your floors. And your kid has to propel him- or herself forward, which is great for developing muscle strength and balance.
Pros: First of all, can this ride-on toy be any cuter? But beyond its looks, we love it because it’s sturdy, it’s solid, it makes kids work for their fun, and it’s made of tough, durable wood. It’s suitable for kids 12 months to three years.
Cons: While the toy is a solid choice, it won’t grow with your child. The height is not adjustable. And some parents have said their kids’ legs got caught in the back wheels.
We're always on the lookout for breakout toys that are both fun for kids and easy on the eyes. Meet the Wishbone, which is ideal for fostering a sense balance, coordination, and independence.
Pros: This wooden ride-on toy is multifunctional, going from a rocker to a ride-on with basically zero effort on your part. The wood dents easily, so it’s definitely not meant to be used and abused, and is better for older kids. It’s meant for kids ages one to five.
Cons: The price. And it’s not as durable as its plastic counterparts.
This could be the most gorgeous ride-on toy we've ever seen. Good for kids one and older, it helps kids make sense of balance and their motor system.
Pros: The front two wheels move freely in all directions allowing omni-directional steering that is intuitive for young children. The two back wheels allow forward and backward movement, letting the kid glide around seamlessly.
Cons: Although it’s suitable for kids up to 50 pounds, it’s definitely of limited interest to children as they get older.
This cute little truck greets your kiddo with a smile when they decide it’s time to hit the road. The driver’s door opens and closes easily so getting inside is simple. The floorboard is removable so as soon as they are big enough to touch the ground you can let them motor themselves around.
Pros: The ride-on’s tailgate drops down and has enough space to toss a few toys inside. The steering wheel spins, but does not turn the car, so there’s no chance of tipping over on a turn. Plus, it honks. Good for kids 18 months to 5 years old, up to 50 pounds.
Cons: Some parents have said that putting it together can be a pain, especially if the holes don’t line up correctly.
Created by an industry leader, this animal themed ride-on is perfect for a toddler getting his or her first taste of balance.
Pros: The fun design of this ride-on toy will keep your little one busy for hours. It has an adjustable seat so you can raise it as they grow, ensuring their feet are always firmly on the ground. Three large wheels will easily roll over any small obstacles, not causing any sudden stops, and the over-sized back wheel has a wheel guard to ensure nothing gets caught. The steering wheel has a controlled turning radius so ensure no sudden sharp turns. It’s good for both inside and outdoor play. Suitable for kids one to three years old, and up to 50 pounds.
Cons: Until your child has good motor skills, there is always a chance they can fall off and hit the ground, so it’s best used on padded floors and grassy yards.
From the same people that made your wagon when you were a child, this ride-on is loaded with features to keep little ones mesmerized.
Pros: There are 17 different interactive features on this ride-on car, which means even when they are not riding it, kids will still be entertained. There is an underseat storage compartment and the horn makes sounds. Best of all, it’s simple to assemble right out of the box, so no headaches for mom and mad. Good for kids one to three, and up to 42 pounds.
Cons: It’s hard to find any negatives for this ride-on. The one complaint that some parents had was the fact that the horn does not make multiple sounds. Cry us a river on this one.
The rocking horse is a classic toy that has been enjoyed for generations, but big wooden ones are not particularly safe for toddlers. This one is great for developing motor and balance skills.
Pros: This ride-on toy has very few parts, so there’s little chance of your kid pulling something off and putting it in their mouth. The low seat and large base lower the chance of tipping over to virtually nil. The seat back comes up high to make sure that no heads or backs get banged by even the most rambunctious of riders. Plus, the handles have an easy grip surface on them. Good for kids one to three years old and up to 50 pounds.
Cons: With no adjustable seat, this toy is only good for a limited time frame. Once they have outgrown it, away it goes.
Pros: The steering wheel honks and turns like a real car, but you, the parent, gets to decide where it heads. There are two cup holders, perfect for sippy cups, and underneath the hood there is enough storage for toys. The handle is designed with parents in mind. It’s tall enough for most adults to not have to stoop over when pushing kids around, plus it has a cup holder for you too. When you are traveling the handle folds up for easy transport. Good for kids 18 months to four years old and up to 50 pounds.
Cons: The wheels, contrary to what the company says, are loud. Quite loud.
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