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Choosing a play vehicle for a child

The benefits of playing with vehicles of all sizes are well documented by doctors, psychologists and physical therapists who work with kids. Playing with these toys enhances areas like:

  • Cognition: Kids learn cause and effect relationships through vehicle play. One child rolls into another child's vehicle and causes a mock-crash, a memory everyone will be sure to remember and be cautious about during the next play date.
  • Fine motor or hand skills: Small hand-size cars improve hand dexterity and hand-eye coordination as your child rolls those cars along an imaginary track or road.
  • Gross motor and whole body skills: Push and pedal and ride on vehicles give kids a workout by improving strength and coordination of arms and legs while simultaneously steering.
  • Speech, language and concepts: Kids learn about parts of vehicles. Younger kids learn from vehicle play how to understand and talk about concepts such as go/stop, fast/slow, on/off, up/down and smooth/bumpy.
  • Imagination: Vehicle play encourages independence and creativity listen carefully to hear the pretend trips and places kids are going when they play with vehicles. Playing with vehicles lets kids take on different roles, too, from parent to taxi driver to car racer.

Collectible play vehicles


Age appropriateness Collectible cars have wheels and potentially other small parts so it's best to wait until kids are 3 or older before they can play with a collectible car. If it's a truly collectible car that needs to be taken care of, children 8 and up can handle that responsibility.

Whether your child is a monster truck fan or a miniature vintage hot rod fanatic, he or she can build up an impressive collection for display or play. Protect collections in durable carrying and storage cases designed for the specific brand of collectible vehicle.

Radio control vehicles

Age appropriateness Even children 3 years of age can handle remote controlled vehicles, which have a wire that attaches the controller to the vehicle. That way they won't lose the pieces and it's a gentle way to play with RC toys. Children at around 6 to 7 years of age tend to flock to RC vehicles, mostly the wireless radio-controlled vehicles that go faster and farther.

Pedal and push vehicles

Age appropriateness At around ages 4 to 5, kids tend to fantasize about being airplane pilots, police officers, doctors you name it, they'll imagine it. It's a great time to introduce pedal and push vehicles to get their creative juices flowing, as well as their arms and legs for physical activity.

You can't beat the fun that toy wagons, big wheels, mini-coups and cars offer children. There's also a healthy dose of exercise, as kids use their arms to push and pull or feet to scoot along. Perfectly sized pedal and push vehicles will get your child in the driver's seat safely and securely. Why not let them feel a little bit like an adult and learn the rules of the sidewalk early on by pedaling down the block?

Electric ride on play vehicles

Age appropriateness Because of the complexity of the vehicle and the size and speed of many electric ride on toys, it's best to wait until your child is 8 to ride a 12V or 24V model. At that stage, they will have more control over their gross motor skills and body coordination to allow them to control their steering and behaviors while behind the wheel.

Once your child is ready to ride, make sure you choose the right model vehicle in which to invest. From jeeps and trucks to licensed luxury cars complete with LED lights and realistic engine sounds, you'll have your child riding in style from an early age.

Ride on vehicles come in three voltages 6V, 12V and 24V. There are higher voltages that are more appropriate under the ATV and dirt bike category. Here are the differences:

  • 6V ride on toys have a battery life of about an hour and reach a maximum speed of 3 mph.
  • 12V ride on toys have a battery life of 1 to 2 hours and a maximum speed of 5 mph.
  • 24V ride on toys have a battery life of 2 to 4 hours and a maximum speed of 6 mph.