Train sets are one of the best kinds of toys for children, firing off their imagination as they build stories in their heads about what is happening on the railway.
There are many different types of train sets, with different features being suitable for different age groups. When looking for a train set that is suitable for a toddler, you must ensure that there aren’t any small pieces and that the parts are safe to be held in little hands.
A set that is easy to put together and easy to pack away is essential, as many children only play with certain toys for a short while before wanting to move on to the next Toddlers love playing games. In fact, playing and sleeping is their chores throughout the day. They need a frequent nap as compared to normal people. In case you are looking for an alternative bed for your kids consider buying the best nap mats. In this guide, we will review five of the best train sets for toddlers today.
Best Train Sets For Toddlers
1. LEGO DUPLO Town My First Train Set 10507 – Best Overall
LEGO DUPLO is one of the best-known names in toys, and so the quality of this train set is assured. It’s fully compatible with all other LEGO DUPLO and LEGO sets, which means the possibilities for creativity are virtually limitless. Figures are included (a train driver, a child, and a goat) to help the set come alive.
Hours of fun can be had as your child build, changes, and rebuilds the train and track to their heart’s content The set also includes enough bricks to build a station with a ticket window, a fueling pump, and a signal. The track is not electrified, and is only compatible with DUPLO trains, but is also very safe for little hands to play with.
- Compatible with all other LEGO brand sets
- Long track, over 68” by 29” when fully assembled
- Train has sound effects built in
- Only two human figures included, so the train is never full
2. Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set – Best Wooden Train Set
This set features a wooden track complete with bridges with 100 track sections and supports. Lots of accessories are included, such as trees, two cranes, and wooden people. Instructions are included showing how to lay the track out in four different ways, or you are free to build to your own design. The set includes two trains – a six-piece freight train with cargo, and a four-piece passenger train.
A suspension bridge and a five-way switch for sending trains in different directions completes the set, with all the pieces being well-made and sanded to a smooth finish.
- Plenty of pieces to build many layouts
- Two different kinds of train to allow for imaginative play
- Interactive accessories (cranes, raising bridge, switch, etc.)
- Compatible with other wooden train sets
- Elevated tracks may be a little unstable and require rebuilding after being knocked
3. WolVol Compact Train Set Tracks for Kids – Best Electric Train Set
This is a multi-level train set with a working traffic light. Once built, the battery-powered train will drive itself around the track between the levels. Fun to watch and portable, the traffic light produces sounds while the train runs. Ideal for those with limited space, the brightly colored track is sure to be a favorite with children of all ages.
- Not too large – can be taken on car journeys and easily stored
- The sounds, colors, and automatic movement make it interesting to watch
- Can be tricky to put together
- Few options for altering the layout of the track
4. Railway Pals Destination Discovery Train – Best Thomas Train Set
Thomas & Friends are some of the best-known trains in the world, having their own story books and TV shows, and many other products featuring their images. This set includes the green train, Percy. Made from plastic, the track pieces clip together and can be arranged in many different ways. Nine track activation points are set off as Percy rolls over them, playing an assortment of sounds from music to phrases, and including educational content to teach children letters and numbers.
The set is compatible with other Thomas & Friends sets, and using different trains on the track triggers a different response from the activation points.
Switches, a cargo loader, and pieces of cargo complete the set, and Percy has a few things to say himself if you press his bumper.
- Easily recognizable character train
- Simple to put together with flexibility in design
- Plenty to see and do, with lots of accessories
- Train is not motorized and needs to be pushed around the track
5. MOTA Classic Holiday Christmas Train – Best Christmas Train Set
There is something about the holiday season that brings steam trains to mind, and the MOTA Classic Holiday Christmas Train continues this tradition. Battery powered, the train features lights and sounds, and with the addition of mineral oil (not included), real smoke is produced too. The track can be laid out as a 50 inch circle, which is ideal for circling a Christmas tree, or as a 50 inch by 57 inch oval.
- Looks fantastic, and the sounds and smoke really set it apart
- Easy to clip the track together
- Recommended to be assembled by children 8 years and over, or by an adult
- Great for toddler spectating, not so good for play due to small parts (3+ years recommended)
6. KidKraft Bucket Top Mountain Train Set – Best Train Set for Imaginative Play
The KidKraft set features Bucket Top Mountain, a plastic molded mountain that doubles up as the top of the storage bucket the set is supplied in. The track and train are both wooden, while many of the accessories are either plastic or a combination of the two materials. The set includes a fire truck, an airport, a police station, and more. With so many accessories and a long track, the opportunities for imaginative play are exceptional.
- Lots of accessories
- Easy clean up and storage
- Compatible with other wooden track sets
- Cars are attached to the train with magnets, and sometimes become disconnected in play
7. Brio My First Railway Beginner Pack Wooden Toy Train Set – The Safest Train Set for Toddlers
This train set is made from high quality materials and subjected to a multitude of tests to ensure its safety for your child. Bright colors are found everywhere, including on the “Rainbow Bridge”, and the track is designed to be just the right size for an inquisitive toddler. The track and train are compatible with all standard size wooden sets, so as your child grows, the set can grow with them.
- Extremely durable, can withstand rough play
- Compatible with other wooden sets
- Ramps at end of tracks allow play to continue without needing the track to loop
- Train only has one car to attach to it
Things You Must Know Before Buying Train Sets for Toddlers
Children learn a lot through playing, and a train set is a great way to encourage imaginative play. All children are different, and can be at vastly different skill levels, even at the same age. Only you know your child well enough to know what they are capable of.
Some train sets require a lot of assembly, and may be tricky to put together. If you are happy to assemble the train set and monitor its usage while your child plays, then almost any set is fine.
If, however, your child finds it difficult to put the pieces together – remember, little hands are not as strong as yours are – you may find yourself spending as much time with the set as your child does.
Plastic vs Wooden
The majority of train sets these days are made from either plastic or wood. Plastic is easy to clean and firm enough to resist rough play, but it can be hard to clip together component pieces. Wood is normally easier to build as the pieces connect like loose jigsaw parts, with a tab dropping easily into a hole.
Plastic trains often have extra battery-powered features, for example lights and sounds, whereas wooden trains are normally just pieces of shaped wood with wheels on. That is not to say that all plastic trains have these extra features, just that they are more likely to have them than their wooden counterparts. But remember – simpler wooden trains have fewer pieces to break!
The Size of The Track
When purchasing a train set, some consideration must be given to the amount of space it will occupy. Will it be used in the child’s own room? Or is it more likely to spend time in family living areas? Is there floor space available for it to use, and will it soon become an annoyance?
Furthermore, are there pets in the household that might take a particular interest in a small moving object? Cats are notorious for attacking self-driving battery powered trains!
Only one of our reviewed sets is small enough to set up and use on the back seat of a vehicle, so if portability and on-the-go entertainment is a requirement, your options may be limited. If the set is to be used as expected in a traditional manner, the only limit will be the space you have available.
A large proportion of train sets are compatible with other train sets of a similar nature. For example, virtually every wooden set will be able to be connected to any other wooden set. All LEGO and LEGO DUPLO sets will work together, and all Thomas sets will work with other Thomas sets.
The Thomas & Friends trains are known to work well on other non-Thomas wooden sets too, so a certain amount of cross-compatibility is possible.
Although there is no compulsion to buy any particular set, it may be wise to buy one that is compatible with other toys your child has.
Assembly & Flexibility
All of the sets include instructions on how to put the tracks together, and as previously noted some types of track are easier to clip together than others. Some tracks only have one configuration, while others can be assembled in multiple different ways. For the optimum play experience, a flexible track that is easy to build is the ideal combination.
Additional assembly may be required for items such as buildings that are included with the set, and for installing batteries into trains, signal, and so on.
The Holiday Train takes this a step further and requires the addition of mineral oil in order to generate smoke, and so the assembly and set up of the train is entirely unsuitable for small children. It is extremely important that you bear this in mind when choosing a set for your toddler.
When children engage in imaginative play, they can become lost in their own world for hours on end. This is all great for the child’s development, but can cause a nightmare for the parent if it involves a train set that won’t be quiet!
Fortunately, many of the sets include switches to turn off any lights or sounds that may become problematic. But be warned – once the child discovers how to turn them back on again, your peace may well and truly be shattered!
Best Investment In Your Toddler
While each one of these sets has different reasons for being the best for your child, the one that you choose can only be down to your requirements for it. The Thomas & Friends set is the only one that includes sound effects intended to directly educate your child with numbers, letters, and colors. That does not mean it is the only one worth considering – all the sets will increase the manual dexterity of the child, and increase their understanding of how the world works.
Push along sets will work as long as your child has energy; battery-powered motion will work as long as the batteries last. Wooden sets will generate less noise, both directly from the toy and from any accessories. The LEGO DUPLO set is the best overall set, as it gives opportunity to rebuild every single part of the set, right down to the train and carriage. It is expandable and compatible with other LEGO and LEGO DUPLO sets, and as such can be easily added into an existing array of toys. What’s your favorite train set for your toddler? Comment below!