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Best Ride-On Toys for Young Children Aged 9 - 12 Months and Upwards

Updated on January 14, 2012

Many parents choose a ride-on toy for their child's first birthday, or as a gift for Christmas when a child is around one year to eighteen months old. If you are thinking of purchasing a ride-on toy for a small boy or girl, then it is a gift that is likely to be loved and frequently played with. My own son (now nearly three years old) has always enjoyed ride on toys - he was an early walker, mobile a good couple of months before his first birthday. Even now, he makes a bee-line for the ride-ons at our local playgroup, although he has now learned to pedal and so prefers the trikes. Ride on toys are fun and exciting for little children - they have their very own vehicle and the world is their oyster- well, perhaps not the world, but the living room or backyard at least. Fun is important, but not the only advantage to a ride-on - these toys promote better motor skills, help to develop coordination and burn off energy as well!

The majority of first ride-on toys are designed for the use of children between the ages of 1 and 3 years. Some are suitable from 18 months upwards, and a few can be used right up unilt the age of 5. A 12 month old child is unlikely to be able to manoeuvre a ride-on independently, but will probably enjoy being pushed about. Often, a ride-on toy for the youngest children will have a 'parent' handle attached to the back, to make it easier to do so. All children develop at different rates, but an 18 month old child is likely to be able to push his feet and move alone - by this time he will have developed much better coordination skills and motor skills. (Although I will just add that my son, at 18 months, was rather short for his age and thus did not have legs long enough to reach the floor on some ride-ons.)

This article details some popular ride-on toys for young children - all would make an ideal gift for a birthday.or Christmas.

V-Tech 3-in-1 Learning Zebra Scooter

The V-Tech 3-in-1 Learning Zebra Scooter is an amazingly versatile toy. Not only can it convert from a walker to a ride-on, but it can become a beginner's scooter as well. This toy has received 5 star ratings from previous purchasers on Amazon, which portrays excellent customer satisfacttion. Aside from the physical play the Learning Zebra promotes, it also has light-up electronic buttons on the zebra's mane which stimulate and aid a child's learning of colors, animals and habitats. Also included is a flashlight, walkie talkie and compass which interact with the mane. V-Tech Learning Zebra also plays music and has a horn.

The conversion from the walker to ride-on to scooter is incredibly simple. Bascially, the only change required is the repositioning of the seat. This can be altered quickly, with no fussing or tools needed. All in all, the Learning Zebra is a really wonderful, multipurpose toy which looks very cute and friendly and is sure to appeal to toddlers.

Little Tikes Push and Ride Racer Car

Winner of the 1998 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, this simple ride-on is very popular with young children and parents. Little Tikes are a well known, reputable and trusted brand, and products are made in the USA.

One of the most appealing features for this ride-on car is that it can be used as a walker for children from as young as nine months. The high handle at the back is easy for little ones to grasp onto as they being to gain more confidence during those first early days of exploring. When your child is ready to progress to sitting on the car, the low seat makes it easier for toddlers to get on and off unaided. This may also be a good choice if your child has short legs that may not reach the ground on higher ride-ons.

Another good feature on this car is the high-backed seat, which provides a degree of reassurance if you are concerned about your little one falling backwards off the toy.

Radio Flyer Classic Tiny Trike

The Radio Flyer Classic Tiny Trike makes a wonderful first ride-on toy for a young toddler. It is made from wood and metal, to a very high standard, and is aesthetically pleasing. The trike is more-or-less designed in the style of a traditional tricycle except that it has no pedals and has four wheels for extra stability and safety. The seat is padded and the metal chrome handlebars have ergonomic handgrips for comfort and easy grasp. The decorative tassels will delight young children, as will the ringing bell.

The Radio Flyer Tiny Trike is suitable for ages 12 months to 3 years. The trike is low to the ground, which is safest for small toddlers, and will provide hours of fun.

Fisher Price Fire Truck

The Fisher Price Fire Truck Ride-on has a lot going for for small children. Not only is it a fun fire truck on which your child can scoot around the house or garden, but it is has a back handle that your little one can use to hold onto if not yet ready for riding. The handle can also be used as a parent handle for pushing untiil your child can go it alone.

The interactive features of the Fire Truck will delight young toddlers. The truck features two little people figures in the front window - firefighters Cheryl and George. The dashboard is interactive and there are buttons to press to listen to rescue songs, sounds and phrases. Cheryl and George move to the music. Flashing lights add to the entertainment.

The Fisher Price Fire Truck is suitable for children between 1 - 3 years. The seat is solid and stable for little ones, and is raised at the back helping to prevent backwards falls. This truck also has one of the most popular features found on ride-on toys - an under-the-seat storage compartment . Storage areas are always a huge hit with toddlers who love to load up their stuff and cart it around.

All in all, this is a stimulating and fun ride-on toy which will not fail to delight young children.

Little Tikes Spray and Fire Rescue Truck

This ride-on toy from Little Tikes is a fire truck with an appealing, smiley face which little ones will instantly warm to. The feature which sets it aside from other ride-on toys is the real water squirting facility. The truck has a large water tank, which can be removed from the toy when desired. The water squirting action makes this a really fun outdoors toy for the summer months - your child can indulge in imaginative fire-fighting play to his or hers heart's content. You can also use the truck indoors - without the water, of course!

The Little Tikes Spray and Rescue Truck has received great reviews. In my opinion, the very youngest children may find the truck more difficult to manoeuvre than some of the other ride-ons - because of the closed in sides little legs and feet cannot straddle the truck in the same way as alternative toys. As a mother of a young child myself, I know that my own son could not manage this style of ride on as early as the less enclosed options - for some reason he could only go backwards for quite a while. Of course, slightly older children should not have a problem, and on the flip side of the coin children really do love being able to 'get inside' their vehicle.

The Little Tikes Fire Truck is suitable for children from 18 months to 5 years.

Little Tikes Cozy Coupe With Opening Doors

The Cozy Coupe is one of Little Tikes most popular styles and has been around for many years - three whole decades, in fact. These ride-on cars (pictured right) are all variations of the same design - the original style, the police car, the fire truck and the princess car. Designed for children aged between 18 months and 5, they will provide years of enjoyment and will last longer than the ride-ons which are only produced for children up to 3.

The front wheels are set on casters which rotate 360 degrees, and there is a parent handle attached to the back for pushing your child if they have not yet mastered the art of doing it for themselves, or if you want to take a speedy trip round the neighborhood. A new feature is that the floor is now removeable.

Perhaps the best feature of the Coupe for a young child is the real, working doors - your little one can climb in and out, just like in a real car! The car includes an 'ignition switch' and an open-and-close gas cap.

Easy to operate controls
Easy to operate controls

Battery Operated Thomas the Tank Engine for ages 1 - 3

Thomas the Tank Engine is one of the most popular children's characters - boys in particular are besotted with him. Little ones will love this familiar ride-on. This is another very safe and stable ride-on toy, with a high back for extra security.

The toy is suitable for ages 1 - 3. The obvious difference between this toy and the other ride-ons detailed on this page is that Thomas is actually battery operated and can ride along at speeds of up to 2mph. It is suitable for indoor or outdoor use, on grass or hard surfaces.

Although a battery operated toy will not encourage the same physical activity or coordination of the do-it-yourself versions, small children are sure to be excited by this toy. The controls are simple and easy for children to operate independently. It will take a while longer for them to work out the steering, especially if they are at the lower end of the age spectrum, but this is certainly a gift which will bring hours of enjoyment during the precious early years.

Comes with a 6 volt battery and charger.


The Wheelybug is a toy of exceptionally high quality. Wheelybugs are cute and loveable, and come in several friendly guises. Pictured right is the ladybird, though you can also choose from the lion, bee, mouse or cow. Wheelybugs are best used indoors - the wheels are not really geared up for outside use. Also, the wheels are fixed on casters, which glide and rotate in all directions. This helps to prevent the Wheelybug getting stuck and trapped in corners. The comfortable, polyurethane seat is easy to keep clean.

Wheelybugs work best on wooden or tiled floors. They will also work on carpet, but will not glide so well and will be much slower. On wooden floors, the Wheelybug can travel as fast as your child wants, spin round and provide your child with immense fun. The Wheelybug will also remain fun for your child as he or she grows older. They are suitable for children from aged 12 months to 3 years or more (small size). However, many parents prefer to opt for the larger size if a child is 18 months or more. The youngest children will probably be happier pushing the cute characters around and falling in love with them before they progress to actually riding.


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