As children, we look up to the adults in our life as a source of inspiration. We see how the adults in our lives behave and we mimic them—sometimes not always for the best. For some reason, children want to grow up so fast, but that isn’t always a bad thing!
By introducing your children to toys that they can ride, you’re introducing them to a whole new level of fun. Unlike when we were kids, ride on toys aren’t nearly as expensive as they once were, and more families are introducing their children to a variety of the best ride on toys for kids.
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In this guide, we are going to provide you with so much information about a ride on toys for kids; you’ll want your little one to have a massive car collection that mimics the car collection of Jay Leno or Jerry Seinfeld!
Kids Ride On Toys 101What Are Ride On Toys?How Are These Ride On Toys Powered?Push/Pull Powered ToysPedal Powered ToysBattery/Electricity Powered ToysGasoline Powered ToysThe Different Types Of Kids Ride On ToysBenefits Of Kids Ride On Toys1. Helps To Develop And Define Gross And Fine Motor Skills2. Encouraging Physical Activity3. Encourages The Desire To Explore4. Develops Sense Of Balance5. Encourages Independent Playtime6. Encourages Playing With Others7. Increases Spatial Intelligence8. Boost Confidence9. Encourages Creativity10. Social And Emotional DevelopmentThings To Consider When Choosing A Ride On Toy1. Safety Features2. Balance Test3. Battery Powered Vs. Manually Powered4. Toys With Longevity5. Classic Ride On Toys That Never Go Out Of Style6. Choose The Right Size7. Match The Child To The ToyThe Best Kids Ride On Toys Per Age GroupBirth To 2 Years Old2 To 4 Years Old5 To 7 Years Old8 To 13 Years Old14 Years Old And UpKids Ride On Toys Wrap Up
What Are Ride On Toys?
Before we get into the meat of this guide, you may be wondering what exactly is a ride on toy. Well, it is as the name implies—a toy that a child can ride. Sometimes the child will have to sit or stand to play with it, but it is still a ride on.
Some examples of these toys include:
- Rocking Horse
- …and much more
A ride on toy can be a lot of fun for your child; there’s no doubt about that. However, the amount of fun is dependent on a few things like how will the toy be powered (manual, gas, or electric). With gas or battery powered ride on toys for kids, the fun only lasts as long as there is ample supply of power.
How Are These Ride On Toys Powered?
If you’re considering getting a ride on toy for your child, there are different ways that these toys can be powered:
- Push/Pull Powered
- Pedal Powered
- Battery/Electricity Powered
- Gasoline Powered
Push/Pull Powered Toys
These types of toys are powered when the kid uses their feet to push them forward. Think along the lines of the Flintstones and how their cars work. The momentum that is created by their feet helps them move forward.
The same can be said for toys that need to be pulled, like wagons. With these toys, they have a lower center of gravity which is important because it prevents instances where your child topples over and potentially getting hurt.
Pedal Powered Toys
Toys that uses pedal power, like tricycles and bicycles, uses the momentum that is created from a pedal action. These toys are going to get your child moving faster, but they also require a lot more energy than push/pull toys need.
These are great choices if your child has a lot of energy that needs to be burned off.
Battery/Electricity Powered Toys
If it isn’t pedal powered or a push/pull type toy, then the most common ride on is going to be battery operated. According to many, these types are the best ride on toys for kids because they look like an adult car—sometimes are as detailed as the full-size car.
These toys are great because they can get their imagination working and they can pretend to be like their parents. Although, some parents may frown upon this because it’s just another way that their child is growing up faster than they’d like.
Gasoline Powered Toys
You probably don’t want to get your children these particular types of toys until they are older or at the very least with your guidance and supervision.
The Different Types Of Kids Ride On Toys
Now that you know how these toys are powered let’s take a look at the different types of ride on toys. We do want to point out that when you’re choosing a ride on for your child, you should make sure it’s age appropriate.
You want the child to be able to benefit from the toy (more on the benefits of these ride on toys later), but also you don’t want them to get hurt while trying to use the toy.
The different types of ride on toys for kids include:
- Sleds and Wagons – These toys can be carried by older children or parents. The kids can share the ride with each other by taking turns pulling or pushing the sled or wagon around. This is a great toy for toddlers who are learning how to walk. When your children are using these toys, you’ll want to make sure they are being supervised, so that they don’t get hurt by fall out/off or getting ran over. Hey, sometimes kids can get pretty reckless when they’re playing!
- Rocking Toys – These toys are simple things like rocking horses or cars that have a rocker bottom. These toys move when the kid pushes the chair in a rocking motion.
- Foot Powered Toys – These toys are for kids who aren’t able to use pedals yet. These toys are ones that they use their own feet to move around. Think along the lines of the Little Tikes cars—the orange and yellow ones that you may have had as a child. These toys can also include scooters and skateboards, but these are more geared toward older children for safety reasons.
- Pedal Toys – These are the toys that we usually think of when we hear the term “ride on toys.” These are the bikes with training wheels, tricycles, and big wheels. These toys require skilled coordination between pedaling and steering so they can safely navigate the yard and avoid any obstacles. These toys require adult supervision, especially when the kid is attempting to learn how to ride without training wheels. Also, we recommend that appropriate safety gear is worn during this time.
- Motorized Vehicles – These toys are your miniature cars, trucks, planes, and the like. Kids can sit inside the toy and steer it while it is powered by either electricity (battery) or by gas (though gas powered toys are geared for older kids). These toys can reach impressive speeds, especially for a child’s toy, so again, we impress upon you that your children are always under adult supervision when playing with these toys.
Benefits Of Kids Ride On Toys
Before we go into detail about these toys, you may be wondering if these toys can add any value to your child’s life. To that, we say yes, of course! There are a great number of benefits of giving your child one of these toys.
In a person’s life, we only start to thrive when we take small steps. The small steps we are talking about means growth and developmental activities that take place early on in their childhood.
For this reason, psychologists recommend that you choose toys that are appropriate for the child’s development. The toys you choose should encourage growth in their motor skills, cognitive, emotional, and social skills.
This is where cars for kids can come into play. But, we should also point out that kids ride on toys aren’t just cars, it can be scooters. Dirt bikes, ATVs, and even pedal cars. These playthings aren’t just a great source of fun for the kids, but it also fosters a sense of freedom and the ability to make choices. Of course, the benefits of these toys range depending on the age group.
Here are some awesome and enlightening benefits of buying kids ride on toys:
1. Helps To Develop And Define Gross And Fine Motor Skills
Ride on toys for kids help children develop the ability to grasp things like steering wheels, handlebars, joysticks, and other devices that will maneuver their cars around. Some of these toys have fully functional parts like doors that open and close, switches and buttons that operate lights and horns.
Some of the nicer electric cars for kids will have dashboards that mimic a dashboard in a real car. You may even find cars that encourage your children to push with their legs and steer with their arms and hands.
All of these activities will help your child have a better understand of how their bodies work and that their brain is the command center that controls their movements.
2. Encouraging Physical Activity
Pedal cars for kids, for example, isn’t going to go very far if your child doesn’t use their leg muscles to push the car. The same goes for bicycles, skateboards, roller skates, and even scooters for kids also requires leg muscles. These toys help to tone and strengthen various muscles in their legs, which goes a long way as they grow up.
Why even electric ride on toys for older kids can encourage children to increase physical activity and exercise more. Don’t believe us? Even with a motorized ride on toys for kids, where you think they aren’t doing anything but sitting there—they are doing some exercise.
They are using arm muscles to steer the wheel and avoid “road” hazards. They are working on keeping control of the toy, regardless of the terrain. These small actions are helping them understand what happens when they do something.
3. Encourages The Desire To Explore
Although some of these ride on toys for kids can be used inside, most of them are going to be used outside. When they’re outside, they can explore the area and let their imagination run wild. In these toys, they can move faster and better.
They can appreciate different terrains, and then use their critical thinking and deductive skills to choose which path they’d prefer to travel—smooth or bumpy, wet or dry, sand or pavement.
This is an excellent benefit for kids who have a natural curiosity about their environment. Toddlers can be independent of their parents and don’t need to have their hand held as they venture forth into the corners of the yard yet undiscovered—at least for them. For kids, ride on toys can stimulate their sense of wonder and even imagination!
4. Develops Sense Of Balance
Bikes, scooters, pogo sticks and skateboards are great toys to help strengthen your child’s ability to have good balance. These toys can also help kids that are interested in sports that require balance, such as roller skating, surfing, ice skating, and even skiing.
Of course, as with most toys, parents worry about their children getting hurt while on these toys because most instances, when the kid is first using the toy, they aren’t going to have the balance they need to stay upright. Parents can reduce the risk of getting hurt while using these toys by using age appropriate safety gear like elbow and shoulder pads, and of course a helmet.
Rule of thumb, before getting one of these balance toys, make sure your kid can stand and walk, first.
5. Encourages Independent Playtime
As part of your child’s development, it’s important that your little one understands that they can (and should) play by themselves now and then—especially if they are an only child. You can give your kid the sense of independence with a ride on the toy because they can go off and explore on their own (with your supervision).
By riding on these toys alone, they can flip the switches, turn the lights on or off, go wherever they want to, and just explore. The best part is, they can do what they want without the interference of another kid because most of these ride on toys for kids are intended for only one child at a time.
6. Encourages Playing With Others
Yes, we said that these toys are great for encouraging independent play, but they are also great for helping children understand how to play with others. Remember, ride on toys for kids aren’t just vehicle type toys. See-saws, merry go rounds, and 3-man rockers are in this group of toys too.
As you’ll notice, these toys require more than one child for the toy actually to work. But, we don’t want to discredit the group play that goes along with riding bikes with other kids or even sharing their motorized toy car and the like. In that sense, not only do the toys encourage group play, but it also reinforces the lessons on sharing and patience.
7. Increases Spatial Intelligence
Many psychologists that specialize in childhood development will tell you that they feel toys help develop a child’s spatial intelligence. What this means is that it helps them understand space and the things that can be found in that space.
So, when kids play with a ride on toy, they are learning about the space around their car. For example, if they are riding through the grass and they see a hole, they will be able to decide when to turn the wheel, so they don’t fall into the hole.
Now, they aren’t going to understand that this is spatial intelligence at work, it is still important for them to understand and master it. Another toy that works on their spatial intelligence is that toy was they must sort the shapes by putting them in the matching hole.
8. Boost Confidence
When a child can have the opportunity to explore their surroundings without their parents, they are going to have a better chance of building positive self-esteem and confidence in themselves.
This is because they know that they can do it without their parent’s help. They feel triumph and a sense of accomplishment when they can navigate treacherous terrain (meaning bumpy or obstacle-laden) and make it out alive.
These things help the kids feel more confident about their decisions and themselves in general. It is that confidence that they need to be able to excel at different things in life.
Many people believe that children who develop confidence early in life are going to fare better as they get older. You can help boost their self-confidence as well by giving them plenty of positive reinforcement by way of praises and rewards when they are deserved.
9. Encourages Creativity
Sometimes there’s nothing more heartwarming than seeing your child’s face light up when they are allowed to play with their ride on toy, be it one of those push cars for kids or a rocking horse. To them, these toys can transport them to anywhere in the world—or any place in their dreams.
With these toys, they can play make-believe, which is necessary for their creativity and their imagination. They can pretend that they are running errands like mommy, they are race car drivers or truckers like daddy. This make-believe helps to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
10. Social And Emotional Development
Kids Ride on toys can help your child develop their emotional and social skills. For them, it’s exciting to live out their dreams. Being able to act out their dreams can do amazing things for their emotional well-being. They’ll feel better about themselves, and that can help them interact better with other children. These things are all perfect for their childhood development.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why it is beneficial for your child to use some ride on toy. The next step is learning a little more about these toys and trying to figure out which toy is right for your little one.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Ride On Toy
After reading through the benefits of giving your tyke a ride on toy, now you’re presented with the fun task of trying to pick what kind of toy is right for your youngster. However, if you’ve noticed, there are a bunch of options to choose from.
But sometimes you can simplify things by choosing a rocking toy for younger children or an electric motorcycle for kids that are quite a bit older and have better control and balance. The bottom line here is that the toy should be beneficial for the child as they grow up.
So, what things should you be considering when you’re looking at one of these riding toys?
1. Safety Features
Perhaps the most important thing that needs to be considered is how safe the toy is going to be. Let’s be clear; all toys pose some risk like falling, toppling, or even running into other objects. However, there is good news!
You can minimize the chances of your child getting hurt when using the toy by learning about the safety features and safety precautions you could take before buying the toy.
Basic ride on toys usually don’t require brakes because they are stationary or they move at a slow enough pace where the child can stop on their own.
However, with bikes, motorized cars, or scooters, they should have some safety gear—be it a seat belt, handbrakes, or a back pedal brake. With the toys that have the ability to pick up speed, you’ll certainly want to invest in a helmet and safety pads.
2. Balance Test
As another bit of safety advice, you should want to make sure that the toy you choose for your child is one that they can play with without toppling over. For example, if your child hasn’t mastered the art of balance, you’ll want to choose a toy with a low center of gravity
The wheels or rockers of the toys should be spaced far enough apart so that the toy can support the child’s weight and giving them enough support while they’re playing. You could try out the balance of the toy by pushing the toy from the side.
If it tips, then you know it’s not a safe toy if it stays upright, then you’re good. If you have the ability to test the toy out with your child before you purchase the toy, like in a toy store or if someone you know has a similar (or the same) model, you can perform a supervised test run.
3. Battery Powered Vs. Manually Powered
As we mentioned before, you can choose a toy that your child moves by their volition, or they use other methods of moving the toy, like a battery or gas. The self-propelled toys can tip over or wobble if the child hasn’t mastered how to balance themselves while steering yet.
On the other hand, motorized vehicles only require the child to be able to steer themselves away from obstacles. Even still, with these motorized toys, the kids are going to need supervision so they don’t run into anything (or anyone) or they don’t tip over because they ran over terrain that is uneven.
4. Toys With Longevity
When you’re looking at a ride on toy, you may be drawn to the latest model of power ride on toys for kids, which is probably going to cost a pretty penny. While you may want only the best ride on cars, for your kids, you want to make sure they are going to play with it for a decent amount of time, instead of being stored in the garage after a couple of weeks
Then again, there are some of the toys that are on the market isn’t going to be made to last and they could break within a very short amount of time. You can avoid this from happening to the toys you get your children by focusing on a toy that will build skills while they are playing with them. Remember, a good toy is both entertaining and educational! Well, at least to some degree.
When a kid is fond of a toy, it’s usually because they are drawn to the style and color of the toy, but also how well the toy functions and keeps their attention.
5. Classic Ride On Toys That Never Go Out Of Style
When consider getting your kids a ride on, you can’t go wrong with a classic; they are classics for a reason after all. With that said, a ride on doesn’t mean it has to be complicated with all sorts of bells and whistles to keep your child entertained.
For example, small kids have always loved being pulled around in wagons. Rocking horses are popular with kids who enjoy playing make believe and love the cowboy themed play. And who can forget the timelessness of a tricycle or even a bicycle?
6. Choose The Right Size
Ride on toys should be stable, but they should also be the right size for the children who are going to be playing with it. This means they should fit into the toy, if it is a riding car or something similar, and they can touch the floor comfortably.
Also, when purchasing a car or something like that, there should be enough room so that their knees don’t touch the steering wheel. In an ideal situation, you’re going to want to make sure your child is going to have enough room to grow with their toy. However, they grow like bean sprouts, so if you can get a year or two out of the toy, then that’s great!
7. Match The Child To The Toy
While you may want to get your child one of the most popular monster truck ride on toys for kids, you really should be focusing on matching the child’s skill level with the toy. This means the toy should appeal to the child, but also should match their skills.
For example, kids that enjoy going fast, they would do well with a self-propelled toy like a scooter or a tricycle. These toys are much better suited for an energetic child because it’ll burn that energy right up, whereas a battery operated kids ride on toy isn’t going to hold much appeal to them.
Another example, younger children tend to enjoy toys where they can pretend to be “grown up” like a motorized car, whereas their younger siblings are still in the make-believe cowboy phase and would find more enjoyment out of a rocking horse.
By identifying what interests your child and how they’ll want to play with the toy, you’re able to best choose the right ride on toy for that child.
The Best Kids Ride On Toys Per Age Group
Before you purchase just any old motorized car for your child, you have to take into consideration the age guidelines set by the maker of the toy. There’s going to be electric cars for kids of all ages. We have split up the age guidelines into five groups. In these groups, we have provided basic information about what to expect from each group. Granted, there is going to be some overlapping among the groups.
Of course, you should know that you should choose a toy that best compliments your child’s cognitive and physical readiness. Meaning if your child is capable of using a toy intended for older children, then that’s great—as long as you’re going to be supervising them to make sure they are safe.
Birth To 2 Years Old
Children under two years old do have some options by way of electric cars. Children this young are going to be smaller, lighter, and are still working to develop their motor skills. So with this in mind, most electric cars for children this small is only going to be one speed—slow.
Another feature that is going to be prominent with these toys is that there is a one-button operation. One of the good things about these types of toys is that it encourages the child to build their motor skills, hand/eye coordination, and their balance. Kids at this age are going to be able to focus on using their fingers to control the car, but also develop a sense of motion that is outside of their bodies.
2 To 4 Years Old
As your little tyke grows up and their motor skills and hand/eye coordination become more refined, you’re going to want to upgrade their toy. The choice of motorized cars for this age group are a bit more advanced, and there is a wider selection. The cars are going to be able to go a bit faster and have some bells and whistles like working radios, lights, foot pedal operation, and even realistic engine sounds.
Another noticeable difference of cars in this age group is the ability to go on different terrains. These toys can be used inside, but they can also be used outside on pavement, dirt, grass, mud and gravel.
Another notable feature in this group is that they are large enough to have a passenger (or two). These toys are great for children who have siblings, friends, or even beloved stuffed animals that they’d like to take around with them on their adventures.
5 To 7 Years Old
This particular age group is where we have the most overlap when it comes to motorized ride on toys. However, these toys tend to be at the higher end of the group. You can usually tell the higher end toys by the designs, options, and speed.
Electric cars found in this group tend to look more like realistic cars than the cars at the lower end. Many times, these cars look like the cars that we as adults can only dream of owning. You know, the ones like a Dodge Viber, Porsches, Ferraris, and Cadillacs. Many times these cars will be able to go faster than 5 miles per hour and have adult features like an FM radio, MP3 input, a horn, chrome wheels, and even a chrome exhaust.
As many options as there are for children in this age group, it’s also the most difficult group because children around this age are moving away from the toy car version and may want to use go-karts and buggies instead. If your child is closer to 6 or 7 years old, you may want to skip this group and go directly to the next age group.
8 To 13 Years Old
Typically people think that motorized cars are reserved for younger children. However, older children can still enjoy the toys—although they’ll probably want something with more oomph! This is where they move from the electric powered cars, and you see the gas powered ride on toys for kids like miniature ATVs, go-karts, and dirt bikes.
You should note that because the power source is going to increase with these cars, they are going to go much faster than the 5 miles per hour from the previous group. Not only will they go faster, but they are also going to have much more advanced mechanical features like a multiple gear transmission, disk braking systems, and even a suspension system.
14 Years Old And Up
Once your child reaches their early teen years, they are going to be more interested in driving your car rather than some electric toy. With that said, there are still some great options for children in this age range. Most cars in this group include go-karts and small vehicles that’ll let them race their friends or even do tricks.
Toys in this group are going to be able to support larger children—sometimes have weight limits as high as 160 pounds. Many toys in this class are going to be able to go faster and have much more impressive power when it’s in use.
Kids Ride On Toys Wrap Up
While most people think these ride on toys encourage laziness because they aren’t running around and burning off that candy bar or their access energy, but as we’ve learned, that isn’t the case at all.
Ride on toys for kids is a great way to foster a sense of independence in your child while reinforcing their imagination, spatial skills, cognitive abilities, as well as their motor skills.
As we’ve learned, a ride on toy is much more than just the Power Wheels that you remember from your childhood. They include bikes, tricycles, go-karts, wagons, and scooters. Even those rocking horses, see-saws and merry-go-rounds are considered a ride on toys!
There are so many choices of ride on toys available; you’d be hard pressed not to be able to find a toy that your child would love to have.
The key to finding the right ride on for your little one is to think about your budget (of course), but also keep in mind their size, their age, and how well they can handle themselves, meaning how good is their balance and coordination.
With these things in mind and a little bit of research, you can find the perfect toy for them.
We do want to stress the importance of ensuring your child (especially younger children) is supervised while they are playing with these toys, and that you have proper safety gear for them.
We all know accidents can happen, but when you take the extra step to keep your child safe, that little bit of peace of mind is worth everything