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Best First Train Sets For Young Children

Updated on January 29, 2012

Every child should have a train set. After all, this is one of the most traditional toys you can find - they have been around for many generations and are still going strong. Both boys and girls alike are fascinated by trains and railways, and most of the popular sets today can be expanded and extended, thus making them into an even more exciting toy. I have seen children occupied for hours with some wonderful train sets. The great thing is that they can be kept and passed down as most train sets do not really date.

Which set should you choose, though? There are some excellent choices on the market, both push-along and battery powered. It can be a tough decision to make, particuarly as it is a toy designed to add to over time, so I have pulled some of the best out of the bag.

Melissa and Doug Train Set
Melissa and Doug Train Set

Melissa and Doug Train Set - Excellent Value and High Quality

This wooden train set by Melissa and Doug is an excellent discovery. Melissa and Doug also produce alternative beginner's train sets, such as the basic figure of eight sets for which you can buy accessories. However, the set pictured here really does stand out from the rest with regards to value for money. You will get everything you need in this box - almost 100 sections of wooden track for making great layouts, plus 30 accessories. Accessories include a passenger train, freight train, suspension bridge, a fiveway switch, trees and road signs, a roadhouse engine shed and two magnetized cranes which raise and lower cargo. Children love cranes like this, and it is a great addition to the set.

This set comes at a fantastic price considering how much is included, and Melissa and Doug are a company which produce durable toys of a high quality. The Melissa and Doug track should also fit with Thomas and Friends and Brio (and most other wooden train sets), should you wish to mix and match.

Brio First Wooden Train Set from 18 months +
Brio First Wooden Train Set from 18 months +

Brio - Old Time Favorite

Brio is definitely the leader when it comes to trains, especially when it comes to reputation. A wooden set is a great choice for a young child, and Brio produces high quality, durable toys that are made to last. This is a Swedish company which is well-known around the world.

Brio's My First Train Set (pictured right) has the very youngest of children in mind - it is designed for 18 months +. The tunnel is fabric instead of wood and the track is simple. This is ideal for younger toddlers to begin with - the advantage is that the set is perfectly compatible with the original Brio components for slightly older children, so it is easy to combine the sets together as your child grows, without starting again.

The original wooden Brio series is designed for children aged 3 years plus (because of small parts including magnets) though it will certainly interest younger ones. There is a simple, starter set with a train and figure eight rail track, yet the beauty of Brio train products is that you can add other sets over time, building up a fantastic collection which will provide hours of fun. Also, many of the cheaper wooden tracks which can be found both on-line and in stores will fit with Brio tracks and trains. There is an entire collection of engines to choose from - some are push-a-long with magnets to attach the carriages; some are motorized (my son, 3, prefers the motorized engines). You can add tunnels, stations, bridges and so much more - the Collapsing Bridge adds a bit of excitement to any imaginative game playing and the Mountain Adventure Figure Eight Set provides a bit of scenery to a basic starter set. The tipping waggon is a good choice, as is the Adventure Tunnel - every decent train set should have a tunnel!

Thomas and Friends Wooden Train Set

I don't think there can be many small children around who don't love Thomas the Tank Engine. The Thomas and Friends Wooden Train Set is an ideal choice for a younger child as they will embrace the idea of Thomas and the other characters with enthusiasm. Once you have the figure eight starter set, there is a massive range of accessories which will go with it to improve play quality - you can choose from cranes, bridges, speaking stations, a dairy farm and even a recycling center. There are numerous character trains to collect, and some even speak - a feature which will certainly delight a young child. The scope for imaginative play is endless, and your child will also gain cognitive skills by learning to lay out the track in different ways. As with the Brio sets, you can purchase additional track to make this train set as big and as complicated as you choose.

Duplo Train Set

Duplo is perfect for the younger child. The Duplo Legoville Deluxe Train Set is a great choice and is designed for children from two years upwards - it comes with a motorized engine, 30 track pieces, 3 figures, a conveyor belt and a crane with loading functions. Additional track sets can be purchased to expand the set, as can the Legoville Switch Track. And if your child has other Duplo sets, then they can all be played with together, providing greater play opportunities. Duplo produce a good range of other Legoville products, and added together you can create one large, happy community.

Duplo also produce a push-a-long train set and a basic My First Train, in additional to the Legoville Deluxe version mentioned here. This is a very simple set, created for young toddlers of 18 months +. It is a perfect starting point for a small child.

Playmobil 1,2,3 Train Set - ages 18 months +

This is a simple and durable set, designed for children of 18 months plus. It is a very basic design, with an inexpensive price tag. This train set will please the very youngest of children, yet will not have the lasting appeal of any of the other sets which can be expanded upon and added to. The track is circular, and the engine runs on batteries. Children can have fun interlocking the track pieces, and little people are included for imagination value.

Playmobil have a large range of sets in the 1,2,3, series. Collecting other sets will mean that your child can include the train set along with others to increase play value.

Bigjigs Wooden Train Set

In our house, we have a large Bigjigs raiilway set, with a bit of Brio track and accessories thrown in. Bigjigs resembles Brio in a lot of ways, yet is less expensive. It is a good quality product and we have been very happy with it - we have the red Brio Mighty Locomotion with several wooden carriages to go with it. The picture on the right shows the simple figure-of-eight starting set, but we also have an expansion pack plus lots of little extras such as a turntable, bridges and a tunnel. Bigjigs is definitely good value for money - it comes recommended from us.


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    • doubleklm profile image

      doubleklm 6 years ago

      I have to say when my kids were younger, they were Brio fanatics. Needless to say, mom and dad had made a huge investment in several Brio sets and accessories. The local store in town used to run Brio shows and we never missed a one. The kids would play for hours at a time. Our living room would be covered with these elaborate train track layouts. I used to love watching them play with these.

      Nowadays, from what I hear, my nieces little boy is into the Thomas the tank engine sets. I guess it's a matter of preference so no matter what the train of choice, I agree there is nothing better than a train set for a child!!

      Enjoyed your hub!! Voted Up!!