Updated on May 29, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
What child of the 80s and 90s didn’t grow up playing with Matchbox or Hot Wheels racing sets? Today’s parents remember them fondly and want to pass down this time-honored tradition to their own children. Here are some of our favorite options for modern takes on this childhood classic especially for toddlers.Please note: due to unusually high demand, a lot of these products are selling out fast! 🙁
The Best Toddler Racing Tracks
(Best Budget Option – $)
Why it’s great: Parents appreciate that this wooden racing set is made with high-quality wood and non-toxic paints. They also love that it is the perfect compact size and design for open toy storage such as in a Montessori-style playroom. This small size also makes it perfect for tabletop play or for younger toddlers who still primarily play sitting down. No assembly is needed, and no batteries are required. The 4 brightly colored cars encourage sharing and cooperative play. Reviewers found the playset to be durable and of good quality.
Keep in mind: Some parents were worried by the small size of the cars, although the manufacturer states they have passed all American and European safety standards. And although most of the playset is wooden, a few reviewers were disappointed that some plastic elements were still used for this racing track.
Good for: Families who take a minimalist or Montessori approach to their children’s toys and enjoy eco-friendly play options.
(Most Educational – $$$)
Why it’s great: This compact tabletop racing set features 8 exciting challenges for kids to discover and solve as they learn through play. The complexity of the course makes this racetrack ideal for older toddlers ages 3+ and helps develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. According to reviewers, no batteries are required to use this playset and the initial assembly is simple. Although plastic, the manufacturer boasts of the non-toxic and high-quality materials used. Parents love that their toddlers can play with this racing game for hours and not get bored.
Keep in mind: Some parents felt that the cars were too small for their younger toddlers. A few encountered issues with certain elements of the game falling off or breaking after frequent use. Some reviewers also mentioned their dislike of the distracting noises generated during some parts of the challenge course.
Good for: Parents looking for a challenging racetrack game for older toddlers that encourages problem solving.
(Best for Durability – $$)
Why it’s great: The Top Bright Car Ramp is a favorite for many families looking to take a minimalist approach to toys. This simplified ramp racetrack also features a gas station and parking garage for additional interactive play. Its basic design makes it ideal for younger toddlers to master, although the vehicles are on the smaller side. Parents appreciate the BPA-free plastic, sturdy wood and non-toxic paint used to create this product. These quality materials should last your family for many years to come. Best of all, the dual racing element of this track encourages cooperation and communication as children learn to take turns or play together.
Keep in mind: Many parents felt that although advertised as suitable for younger toddlers, the cars are simply too small to be appropriate until age 2.
Good for: Families seeking a sturdy and fun racecar toy for toddlers 2 and up that will last for many years.
(Best for multiple children – $$$)
Why it’s great: Parents and toddlers love this 3-foot tall Little People racetrack! Kids as young as 18 months love the exciting sound effects and interactive phrases, and most parents found this racetrack easy to assemble. This playset is ideal for more than one child to play with as they learn to be patient and take turns (The Take Turns Launcher releases just one car at a time). Cars take a different path each race, leading to a variety of fun surprises as they exit the slides. Another bonus is that parents can purchase and use additional cars – any Little People Wheelies cars will work, and some families enjoyed using their Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars also.
Keep in mind: A few parents noticed missing or broken pieces when unboxing their playset. Some mentioned it takes a while to put together.
Good for: Parents of twins or multiple children close in age, as well as families who enjoy hosting many playdates.
(Most Unique / Best Theme – $$)
Why it’s great: Featuring the same type of flexible, bendable track as the Magic Tracks, this dinosaur-themed racing playset offers a unique twist! This set also comes with several accessories including several dinosaur figures, 2 slopes, 3 obstacles and a turntable. A bridge and tunnel can even be created with the slopes. Parents love the wide variety of creative options that can be assembled with this fun track and found this set to be a great value. In fact, many reviewers purchased this dinosaur racing set as an expansion for their Magic Tracks. Your toddler will enjoy building their own dinosaur world!
Keep in mind: CAUTION: This product is not recommended for children under 3 years of age. Long hair and other objects can get entangled in the motorized vehicle wheels. Like the Magic Tracks, some families encountered issues with the longevity of the car or the batteries. A pack of rechargeable batteries should solve this problem!
Good for: Dinosaur lovers and creative toddlers!
(Most flashy – $)
Why it’s great: This exciting glow-in-the-dark racing set promises hours of fun! Although simple enough for toddlers to master, older children will also enjoy this unique racing track. These colorful tracks bend and can be configured in all sorts of ways. This playset can also be extended by purchasing additional cars or track sets for even more elaborate play. Many families commented how they enjoyed building all sorts of different shapes and obstacles with their Magic Tracks. Parents also love that this track is easy to put together and that their children can remain deeply engaged in creative play for long periods with this toy.
Keep in mind: CAUTION: This product is not recommended for children under 3 years of age. Long hair and other objects can get entangled in the motorized vehicle wheels. In addition, a few reviewers encountered issues with a faulty car or found that their batteries drained more quickly than expected.
Good for: Toddlers to enjoy with their older siblings or parents for hours of engaging fun.
(Most interactive – $$)
Why it’s great: This elaborate playset features hours of interactive fun via music, sound effects, lights and buttons. Ideal for toddlers as young as 18 months, one or more children can play with the Smart Wheels garage at once. Reviewers found that their toddlers enjoy playing with this toy for hours on end and appreciated that additional sets and cars can be purchased to expand the play experience. In fact, many reviewers noted that even the Go! Go! Smart Animals playsets are compatible with this garage. Other toy cars like Matchbox and Hot Wheels can be used as well.
Keep in mind: Some parents found the volume of the sound effects to be disruptive, and a few had trouble with pieces of the track not always staying together.
Good for: Parents wishing to engage their younger toddlers with an interactive and expandable first racing track set.
FAQ’s about Toddler Racing Tracks
1. What are some key features to consider when buying a racing track?
Some features to consider are ease of assembly, ease of use, vehicle compatibility and number of interactive elements. Many parents also look at the quality of the materials used which has an impact on the overall longevity and durability of the product as well as the safety. Small pieces that can break off, toxic plastics or toxic paints could all render a toy unsafe.
2. What is the earliest age my child can play with a racetrack?
Most manufacturers recommend 18 months as the youngest suggested age, but it depends on the development of your child and the features of the racetrack – namely the size of the cars. Younger children who are still putting everything in their mouths should not be allowed to play with racetracks that come with tiny cars. However, most of the racetracks made specifically for toddlers come with much larger vehicles and can be safely played with at any age.
3. Are racing track toys good for siblings to share?
Racing track toys are a great option for children of all ages to play with together. Toddlers as young as 18 months can easily grasp the concept of rolling a car along the tracks or watching a car fall down various ramps, and older children enjoy racing their younger siblings or rebuilding racetracks into new configurations. Learning to enjoy a racing track toy together encourages the concepts of positive cooperation, communication and sharing.
4. How long will my toddler’s racing track toy last?
With the right quality of purchase, your toddler’s first racing track toy should last them many years to come. Plastic and wooden sets alike can be sturdy, durable options to endure much abuse and many hours of play over the years. These toys should be able to be shared and enjoyed by many children and by any siblings who come along later. Who knows – your toddler may even end up passing down their first racecar toy to their own children someday!
As a veritable rite of passage, your toddler’s first racing track is sure to create many happy memories and hours of fun family playtime. With so many options to choose from, the perfect racing track for your family is just a click away.
And as your child grows, this toy is one that can easily grow with them. Whichever playset you choose, you can look forward to years of fun with your first toddler racing track purchase!