Mother and Baby

The best ride-on toys for toddlers 2021

toddler ride on toys

We’ve never met a child who doesn’t love to play on a ride-on. Once they can safely sit up confidently, your little one will enjoy sitting on it while you gently push them around. This toy will really come into its own once your child's legs can reach the ground and they can propel themselves forward.

They’re great for the winter and summer alike, as they’re a brilliant way for a toddler to burn off excess energy (although if you let your tot use one indoors, make sure the wheels are clean first so you don't end up with tyre marks all over your floors!)

Is your toddler ready for a ride-on toy?

You’ll need to follow the minimum age and maximum weight guidance for the toy to ensure your toddler can play safely, and also so it’s appealing and appropriate for their age and stage of development. Check they have the physical capabilities needed to use the toy properly and safely at the moment – and that their legs can reach the ground.

Can a toddler ride-on toy be used as a walker too?

Many ride-ons can be converted to a walker. This extends the age range that it can be used from, offering better value for money if your little one is still young enough to get the benefit from a walker. Even when they're older, occasionally converting it from a ride-on to a walker and back again can spark their interest in playing with it more.

The best ride-on toys for toddlers 2021

Choose a ride-on toy for your toddler that will encourage your little one to exercise, develop balance and coordination and, best of all, have fun! 

Best ride-on Cosy Coupe

One of the most familiar and recognisable ride-on toys for toddlers, you'll be hard-pressed to find a toddler who hasn't jettisoned around the playground in one of these. It's been a favourite for generations for good reason - well-built, with hours of imaginative fun to be had. Your little one loves to copy you, so set them off on a road to adventure in this little car just like Mum or Dad. 

Age grade: 18+ months

Review: "Worth the money, well built, my daughter loves it and has so much fun in it. Highly recommended to other families to buy for their child."

Best ride-on tractor

Bring your little one's farmer dreams to life! A ride-on toy tractor is a perfect gift for little ones who love spending time outdoors. With authentic black and yellow colours, iconic JCB logo, black wheels, a red squeaky horn, and a handy storage compartment, this toy truck is the perfect addition to park up in your toddler's toy garage.

Age grade: 3 years

Review: "This product came ready built with just the steering wheel to easily slot into place. It’s even in a great box covered with tractor pictures which my grandson loved. He is 17 months old and played with it happily for over an hour. Perfect!"

Best ride-on Mercedes Benz

Give little ones a taste of life in the fast lane with this officially licensed Mercedes-Benz Ride-On Car! Easy and fun for little ones to drive - all they need to do is perch themselves on the seat with their legs dangling over the sides and use their feet to drive along. It's a great way to inspire imaginative play, develop spatial awareness, and improve their balance and coordination.

Age grade: 2+

Review: "Bought this for my grandson for Christmas, and I can't believe how brilliant this car is...he loves it. Bought for a great price, excellent value for money. This car is great, even plays music so, so happy."

Best ride-on unicorn

Magic is in the air with this rock and ride unicorn. Your baby will adore riding along to three sing-along songs and 10 different melodies. This toy also encourages mobility, motor skill development and curiosity. 

Age grade: 18-36 months

Review: "I bought it for my youngest's first birthday and very glad we did - she loves it. It's great that it can be used two ways, and my daughter also likes to hold the handles facing the unicorn and use it as a walker, so 3-in-1! It feels nice and sturdy and good seat size. The music and lights etc are fab too. And best of all the price was great. I bought the Fisher-Price musical pony and princess for my eldest's first birthday a few years ago, and although nice, it was more expensive and not as good."

Best ride-on bumble bee

We love a Wheelybug. They're suitable for ages one to three and are handcrafted from wood with a sponge covering. They come in a variety of designs, and this bumblebee is simply cuteness overload.

Age grade: 1-3 years

Review: "What a lovely, beautifully made toy! Colours are gorgeous, finish is sleek and durable. I especially appreciated the small size. Got it for my baby when he was just over 12 months and didn't walk yet. Wasn't sure if this would be completely safe for him but I didn't need to worry. He instinctively knew how to sit/move and hold onto the toy. Six months on, he walks but still really enjoys riding on his bee and chooses to play with it most days. Despite that, the quality is so good that it looks completely brand new. I think this toy would stay in family for generations! Highly recommended."

Best ride-on Scuttlebug

You'll have seen these at all the soft play areas in the UK - little ones take to them like a duck to water, but do keep an eye on your child when they're on the smaller side, as toddlers can topple off very quickly (speaking from experience!). They're lightweight to use and in bright colours, as if your toddler needs any more reasons to love it. 

Age grade: 1+

Review: "Perfect toy for toddlers. Easy to carry around because its foldable and not heavy at all. Even bought another one for my friend's child. She absolutely loved it too. Highly recommended."

Best first ride-on car

Cheap, cheerful and available in a range of colours, the Hillington bike will see your little one racing around in their first-ever car. A whole host of activities are embedded within this little bike, including a secret compartment for bottles or treats, a telephone, a tombola and cheerful spinning flowers.

Age grade: 1+

Review: "I bought this for our granddaughter's 1st Birthday which is a few weeks after Christmas. It made up well with no problems, I like that it's sturdy and has the bit at the back so it won't topple over. It's very colourful, has the stickers and musical toys on it too. I think she will like it when she she gets a bit more mobile as she has only just started crawling at the moment, 2 more months and it will be a good present. Very pleased I bought it."

Best ride-on ladybird

Is your little one fascinated by insects and animals? This cute ladybird ride-on encourages exercise, develops balance and most of all, allows your little one to have some fun indoors and outdoors. The bright and cheerful colours are sure to be a hit, and the Wheelybug is made to withstand pushing, pulling, cuddling and any other toddler activity!

Age grade: 1-3 years

Review: "My 2-year-old loves this! She whizzes around in the kitchen every morning. It is really good quality and well made. My friend had bought it for her daughter, and I'd never heard of it until then, so I had to get one for my daughter too for Christmas. Sometimes it pays off paying that little bit more for a good quality product."

Best ride-on pirate ship

This robust plastic ride-on ship holds lots of appeal for pirate-themed playtime. It’s easy to manoeuvre and climb on and off, with plenty of extras to keep little hands occupied. Pirate figures are included, and it plays fun noises – which didn’t drive our grown-ups crazy! Reviewers loved the storage hatch below deck.

Age grade: 1.5-4 years

Review: "This little boat is great. I bought it for my nephew's 1st birthday in August last year, and he plays with it a lot and loves riding on it and hiding all his toys under the seat. Really well made, and the sounds of the anchor dropping etc are also fun. Well worth the money."

Best ride-on balance bike

This minimally designed bike is a great starting point for a toddler learning how to steer and balance on three wheels with no pedals. It can double as a baby walker for little ones learning to take their first steps safely, with balance and strength at the core of its design. The bike is also suitable for outdoor activities if you're looking to go on a fun family bike ride.

Age grade: 1-2 years

Review: "This is a great quality balance bike. It feels strong and sturdy, but at the same time, it is very lightweight, and it is a great size. It is easy to assemble as it comes in three pieces, so I could just put them all together, and it is not time-consuming to build. I also really like the colour, and I know my grandson is going to have lots of fun using this balance bike."

Best ride-on tricycle

How adorable is this puppy inspired bike? Balance is a key skill for any toddler, and this little contraption will help develop your baby's motor and coordination skills, as well as their overall agility. The steering limit design prevents any falls, and the curvate seat ensures your little one is supported and comfortable.

Age grade: 10-36 months

Review: "Very cute bike design, now referred to as riding the woof woof bike. It has a very solid frame and is well built with a smooth seat and rounded handlebars. It has quiet wheels and can be used for a little one from 10 months to 3 years old. That said, there aren't any pedals for them to get caught up in it's just a cute scoot and balance bike."

Best ride-on lion

This converts from an activity unit to a walker and ride-on toy. There are lots of light and sound features, including songs and fun phrases, plus light-up buttons that help teach numbers and colours. Reviewers enjoyed ‘feeding’ the balls to the lion, but it appealed most to those under 18 months.

Age grade: 9 months-3 years

Review: "This one’s a head-turner. It’s fun, bright and attractive with plenty of buttons and bright lights, plus volume control – hurrah! It wasn’t too difficult to assemble, but it would have been helpful to have an Allen key supplied. Alex isn’t the biggest talker, but he instantly started chatting to the lion and enjoyed feeding anything he could get his hands on into its mouth."

Best ride-on train

With four play modes – sit-down play, walker, pull-along wagon and ride-on train – this is packed with features to keep little ones occupied, including letter blocks, light-up piano keys, a turning book and beads and cogs. It can be a bit tricky to steer, but it’s much more than a ride-on and excellent value.

Age grade: 12 - 36 months

Review: "We have a love/hate relationship with this. Alexander loves it and spent ages playing with the activity centre, but we considered ‘losing’ the batteries after five minutes. It’s very loud and flashy. He's a bit small for riding it, but it’ll grow with him, so it’s good value for money."

Best ride-on Buggly Wuggly

How cute is this little guy? Buggly Wuggly has a comfy and sturdy, ergonomic seat to ensure a smooth ride for your toddler, plus the eyes light up different colours and when pressed you'll hear fun sounds. The lift up the seat reveals secret storage for your tot to safely keep their belongings in.

Age grade: 12 months - 3 years

Review: "May not be as colourful, all bells and whistles as some high-end ride-on toys but very safe and easy for little ones to get on and off. Rests for feet so that they don’t get entangled when they are pushed. Seat easily opens and the horn and lights also easy for little hands. Overall good value for money and a sound ride on toy."

Best ride-on police car

Wee-oww, wee-oww, wee-oww. Your mini officer will be excited to patrol around your garden to ensure there isn't any trouble from the neighbour's cat. With features like an ignition switch, petrol cap and 360-degrees steering wheel, this is a hard toy to resist. 
Age grade: 18+ months

Review: "My grandson absolutely loves this car. The only reason I gave it a 4 for the easy to assemble is because I need his dad strength to put it together, if I had been on my own he would have had a long wait. But I’m over joyed with my purchase and I definitely would recommend it."

Best ride-on mini Vespa

Does your child love to explore? Whether it's with you on holiday, in the local park or even your back garden, they'll love riding around on their own iconic Italian-inspired scooter. 

Age grade: 18+ months

Review: "Bought this at Christmas for my then nearly two-year-old. It’s now been three months, and she still absolutely loves it! The battery power lasts very well, and it’s a sturdy little Vespa. It’s a little noisy, but that doesn’t stop her jumping on it daily."

What other functions do ride-on toys have?

Some children will be perfectly content with scuttling around on the ride-on itself, others will enjoy having lots of buttons, gear sticks, sounds and lights to keep them occupied. Some ride-ons feature a removable panel with buttons for music and lights for stand-alone use. And while your little one might love a beeping horn or engine noise, you might find it annoying, so check if there’s a volume or mute button.

Where will you use a ride-on toy?

Think about whether you have enough space inside for it to be played with. And have a look at your floors too: smooth, hard flooring is best – if you’ve got thick-pile carpet, even the strongest toddler is going to struggle to get about. Most ride-ons are designed for gentle dry-weather outside use too, so check whether the wheels look easy to clean. 

Make sure your toddler ride-on toy is robust

Toddlers aren’t the best drivers, so it needs to be robust enough to cope with being crashed into walls and furniture on a regular basis. Avoid thin plastic components which can snap easily.  

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  • Author: Sophie Knight Sophie Knight
  • Job Title: Contributing Editor

Sophie is a journalist and mum of one, and previously edited motherandbaby.co.uk before moving on to write about family cars for Parkers.co.uk - now Sophie is Commercial Content Editor for M&B, Closer, Heat, Empire, Yours, Garden News, and WhatsTheBest.co.uk 

She is passionate about raising awareness around postnatal depression and is a Mental Health First Aider.

Sophie studied History at the University of Sheffield and has been in journalism for 16 years. 

Other contributors

Emily Thorpe - Digital Writer

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