Once they’ve outgrown a pushchair, a trike or bike is usually a toddler’s first official set of wheels.
But in recent years, scooters have sky-rocketed in popularity for children – as evidenced by the rows of them parked at nursery school gates!
A scooter is easier to ride than a first bike but allows a bit more momentum (ok, speed…) than a trike, so it’s a brilliant buy for a toddler who’s not quite up to walking everywhere, yet considers herself too cool to ride in the pushchair.
Is my child ready for a scooter?
Scooters with three wheels don’t require the same degree of balance and control as two-wheeled models, so they’re perfect for toddlers and young children. She’ll find it easier to get to grips with scooting if she’s steady on her feet and walking well.
Do you need one?
Yes! A scooter might not be on your radar as an essential bit of kit for your tot, but it’s an ideal accessory for toddlers who are growing in independence.
Whether you take it to the park for outdoor fun at weekends or use it every day to help make the walk to nursery a little easier, a scooter is a great way to encourage exercise.
Whichever scooter you go for, choose one that’s light enough to carry home from the park – or compact enough to fold and pop in your pushchair basket – when little legs get tired of scooting, as they inevitably will.
How much should you spend?
You can spend anything from a tenner to over a hundred pounds on a scooter, but whether it’s worth shelling out for an expensive one depends on your lifestyle.
A less expensive model is all you need if you’ll be using it in the garden or for occasional walks and trips to the park.
But if you plan to let your child scoot beside you when you’re walking older siblings to school, invest in something robust yet lightweight that will withstand daily use.
How long will it last?
That all depends on how old your toddler is, as well as how tall he is and how much he weighs.
Some scooters are suitable for use from 12 months – we’ve included one of those in this Big Test – but others are designed for children over the age of three years.
Broadly speaking, you can expect to get at least a year or two of use from a scooter, and longer if you choose an adjustable one that grows with your child through various stages of development.
If you plan to pass the scooter on to a younger brother or sister in the future, it’s worth spending a bit more on a durable model that’s built to last.
What about safety?
Whichever type of scooter you choose, always make sure your toddler wears a helmet when she’s scooting.
Even at a cautious pace, taking a tumble off a scooter could do serious damage, so a helmet is essential to protect her head in the event of an unexpected bump.
Features to look out for...
Handles: A scooter with a height-adjustable handle will fit your child through different stages of growth. Check how easy it is to adjust, and if you’ll need to hunt for a screwdriver first.
Wheels: Light-up wheels will help your child be seen by traffic – handy if you plan on scooting to school or nursery in the dusk. Remember that your child won’t see the wheels when she’s scooting, so don’t pay over the odds for this feature unless you really need it.
Seat: Some of the scooters we tested have the option of adding a seat. That’s a handy feature for younger toddlers who tire easily, but older children will want to progress to a ‘proper’ scooter quickly.
Folding mechanism: A scooter that folds is a wonderful thing; it’ll take up less space in the car, and some fold small enough to fit in the shopping basket of your pushchair. Check it’s easy to collapse but sturdy enough to withstand repeated folding and unfolding.
Brakes: Toddlers will use their feet to stop the scooter, but a brake is a useful feature for older children who might get up quite a speed. Make sure the brake is simple enough for your child to use safely.
Helmet: A helmet is a must – encourage your child to scoot safely, and never leave home without one!
Our real-mum testers:
- Suzanne Deller: 31, from Edgeworth, is mum to Harry, 24 months. I’m looking for a compact scooter that won’t add to the stuff cluttering up the hallway.
- Setareh Hardman: 34, from Lancaster, is mum to Parisa, 30 months. I need a sturdy scooter for a petite toddler – ideally one I can stash under the buggy when not in use.
- Chelsea Morgan: 26, from Runcorn, is mum to Reggie, 36 months. I’d like a lightweight scooter that’s easy to carry when my son gets tired.
Here's what they thought...
This cleverly designed scooter is easy to convert from a ride-on toy to a first scooter which adapts to your child’s needs as she grows.
There’s a seat for extra support until your child finds her feet (at around 18 months) – brilliant for growing legs that tire quickly – and an O-bar handle to help her scoot with greater control.
Replace it with the T-bar once she’s whizzing away confidently (around three years).
Suzanne: Harry got the hang of this scooter straight away. I wasn’t sure what he’d think of the ‘O’ style handlebar, but he’s finding it really easy to steer.
It doesn’t fold, but it’s really light and easy enough to carry. This has been our favourite.
Brilliant value for money, the range of play positions ensure you’ll get years of use out if it, and it’s really sturdy so has plenty of hand-me-down potential.
Setareh: It’s super smooth on all types of ground and the steering is very efficient, which made it easy for Parisa to find her balance and scoot along happily.
She was improving after each go and quickly gained confidence – and speed! I love that it’s so compact – it fits easily in the car and under the pushchair. I think this is a quality product that will stand the test of time and grow with my child.
Chelsea: I was really excited to test this out as I’d heard lots of good things about it from friends. It’s so easy to put together; we literally had it built and in use within seconds.
Adjusting it between modes was a bit trickier. My son absolutely loves this scooter. It’s so easy to use and very sturdy. You can see it’s a quality product as it has wheel suspension and gives a really smooth ride.
This three-wheel scooter has a rear brake and snazzy LED wheels that light-up when you scoot – and they don’t require batteries.
It’s cleverly designed to help teach your little one to lean their weight to control the direction of the scooter.
The wide foot plate and adjustable handlebars help make this easy to manouevre. And when little legs are tired of scooting, it folds small enough to stash in your pushchair’s shopping basket.
Suzanne: The handlebar is easily adjusted, and the scooter itself can be assembled with just one click.
It’s light enough to carry and compact enough to pop under the pushchair. It’s simple to steer and the light-up wheels are great for extra visibility.
I thought Harry would struggle with such a grown-up looking scooter, but the clever design makes it easy to use. Because of that, Harry seems to build up a good speed.
Setareh: Parisa really liked the look of this scooter. The wheels glide smoothly over all surfaces, although it performs best on smoother ground.
The steering is a bit loose so this makes it slightly harder to balance as it’s very responsive to bumps and a bit wobbly at times.
It folds flat and it easily fits under my buggy with the flick of a button. I love that taking it out and about is a breeze.
Chelsea: The Union Jack design isn’t my cup of tea but that’s the only negative thing about this scooter.
It’s really light and when my little boy got tired I was easily able to carry both him and the scooter back to the car.
I was very impressed that it folds in half – perfect for taking with you on the go. Reggie loved the flashing wheels – a great safety feature that I really valued.
This versatile three-wheel scooter converts from a ride-on toy and walking bike, to a scooter, suitable all the way up to age nine, so it’s excellent value for money.
It’s super-adjustable so you can fiddle around with it to suit your child’s exact stage of development. The adjustable T-bar handle means it’ll grow with your child. In scooter mode, we love that there’s a footrest to help prevent scuffed shoes – genius.
Suzanne: A big hit! It took a while to build. It’s heavy and doesn’t fold, so I wouldn’t want to carry it far. It also takes up quite a bit of space but as it’s heavier and sturdier than others, I feel Harry is really safe using it.
The light-up bell is a fun extra and comes with a USB charger, rather than batteries. Great value for money – it’ll last well past Harry’s toddler years.
Setareh: We love this scooter! It’s fab on rough terrain; the rubber wheels glide effortlessly and the seat acts as suspension, bouncing up and down over the bumpy ground.
It’s a good alternative to taking the buggy out – no chance I’ll end up carrying a tired toddler and a scooter! There’s a knack to steering it but after a couple of times it’s really easy. It’s a versatile and well-made product that’ll grow with your child.
Chelsea: This looks seriously impressive. I was very pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to build. My little boy was zooming up and down the living room within 15 minutes of opening the box.
There are three modes and he really enjoyed the walking bike mode. The scooter mode is really easy for him to use.
The lockable wheels came in really handy on long country lanes, ensuring he didn’t end up in any bushes!
This lightweight aluminium scooter has a height adjustable handlebar and a wide, non-slip deck. Three wheels give extra stability so it’s a good choice for tots over three who aren’t totally confident on wheels.
The light-up wheels were a big hit with our testers, and the quick stop brake makes slowing down and stopping safe and easy. There’s a sporty look and feel to this scooter, and it’s lightweight yet robust and sturdy.
Suzanne: Our two-year-old is a little too short to be able to use this just yet; the handlebar doesn’t adjust low enough for him to play on it safely.
However, it really does look like it would be a brilliant buy for an older (or taller) child. It’s sturdy but lightweight and the three wheels give it plenty of stability. If you’re buying a scooter for an older child, this is well worth considering.
Setareh: No assembly required – a bonus! The light up wheels make this really appealing. It’s sturdy and smooth to ride on all types of surfaces.
It’s a little weightier than other scooters but that helps Parisa to balance – she’s quite speedy on this!
The steering is smooth and not too light, just responsive enough for a small child to control. It’s also easy to dismantle at the touch of a button, so it’s easy to transport.
Chelsea: A real hit in our house. We’ve taken it everywhere with us, even to the zoo.
It’s light to carry but still feels sturdy and safe. It folds in half so it’s ideal for popping in the car on a day out.
The handle bar is adjustable and my very tall 3 year old will still get years of use from this. Brilliant value for money – it looks and feels much more expensive than £40.
Cleverly designed to help two-to four-year-olds learn and develop their sense of balance, this three-wheel scooter has a patented steering system which allows you to turn the front wheels whilst simultaneously tilting the deck in the direction you want to go.
We like the adjustable, removable handlebars. And we love the exchangeable decks, allowing you to colour customise it or give it a new lease of life for a younger sibling!
Suzanne: This looks better suited to older children. Harry managed just fine, but it didn’t seem to appeal to him as much as the brighter, more tactile scooters.
It’s easy to build and adjust, folds quickly, and it’s fairly light, but unfortunately Harry didn’t seem to find the seat as comfortable and he didn’t want to play with it for all that long.
I think I’ll end up carrying it more than he’ll actually ride it.
Setareh: A lovely bright scooter. The colours are bold and really appealing to kids. It feels very sturdy.
The steering is quite different to other scooters as you need to turn it rather than lean into it. I think it’s easier for an older child to manoeuvre and gain confidence scooting about.
My daughter wasn’t as fast on this one. It’s easy to dismantle and handy to transport in the car or pop under the buggy.
Chelsea: Really easy to assemble in minutes. The fact that it’s customisable is amazing for a child like mine who has a new favourite colour every day.
The handlebars are so easy to remove. It’s very study and feels very safe and secure, so it’s ideal for a child who’s a bit nervous about using a scooter.
My son is very tall for three but he still has plenty of room to grow with this scooter.
This chunky scooter has four large wheels so it offers lots of extra support for developing coordination skills.
As your child grows, you can convert it to a two-wheel scooter. The lightweight PVC wheels are durable and offer a smooth ride.
It folds easily so it’s a good choice if you’re short on storage space or have a small car boot. It has a rear footbrake, easy grip handles and an anti-slip footplate.
Suzanne: Our two-year-old isn’t quite ready for this – the handlebar is slightly out of reach so he can’t use it safely.
However, it’s really sturdy for the price, and doesn’t come across as a budget option. It’s quick to assemble, with just a couple of pieces to click together, and light enough to carry easily.
The lean and steer functionality seems simple to pick up, and ideal for a three year old’s first scooter.
Setareh: The scooter doesn’t require any assembly. I wasn’t expecting much from this because of the price.
It’s a bit flimsy and looks like a budget product. The design and colour isn’t unisex and the wheels are made of plastic so you only get a smooth ride on a very even surface.
Because it doesn’t roll smoothly, it requires much more effort from the rider. The handle bars can’t be adjusted, so it’s best for older children.
Chelsea: I really love the look of this scooter. It’s simple, stylish and affordable but quality hasn’t been compromised.
It’s sturdy and chunky yet surprisingly light. We built it in no time. It doesn’t fold but removing the handlebar is effortless so you can pop it in the car or store it at home with ease.
The tilt movement requires a bit of practice but once he mastered the technique, my son found scooting a breeze.