Updated on January 4, 2021 by Lyric Fergusson
There is a special kind of joy that radiates from children when they realize they made something work on their own. Remote control cars give toddlers that opportunity, as they learn how to coordinate the movements on the controller with the vehicle. Plus, it’s ridiculously fun to watch a toddler clumsily chase a car around the house or yard with wonder and surprise!
From simple, two-button starter RC vehicles to all-terrain stunt cars, here are my 11 favorite remote control cars for toddlers:
The Best Toddler Remote Cars for All Ages
(Most Entertaining — $$)
Why it’s great: This is an enviable remote control car among kids and adults! The stunt car does pretty amazing 360-degree spins, flips to drive on both sides, and tumbles up or down just about any terrain. It’s got a funky, bright design that matches the car’s personality.
This company recommends the remote control toy for kids ages 6 and up, but children as young as 2 have a total blast with it. The controls are a little more complicated and take some time to figure out. But any kid who sees how entertaining this remote control car is will be motivated to try it.
Keep in mind: This car does not come with batteries. It is also a little more complicated to control than other cars.
Good for: Slightly older toddlers or toddlers who have good motor skills.
(Best Dump Truck — $$)
Why it’s great: Something a little different than the typical remote control car, this fully functioning dump truck gets kids outside to play in the dirt (or, if you’re not into that, just dump Duplo Legos)! The bright yellow truck moves in all directions, lights up, and plays sounds. The truck is detailed and realistic in its movements with an operable truck bed, letting kids create their own mini construction zone.
Great for indoor or outdoor use, the dump truck is played with best where it should be—in the sand and dirt! This toy is easy to use and lightweight enough for a 2 or 3-year-old.
Keep in mind: The dump truck and remote require batteries that are not included. There is an on/off switch that helps to conserve energy. Although this vehicle is great in sand or dirt, it doesn’t work as well on grass.
Good for: Toddlers who love trucks and love to be outside!
(Most Educational — $$)
Why it’s great: You can’t beat fun and educational! Not only is this an awesome starter remote control car, it’s listed as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) toy that teaches young kids how to take apart and rebuild their vehicles. This toy is super engaging—it moves, plays sounds, lights up, and includes removable people. The pieces are chunky and easy to reassemble with the low-speed power drill, helping young children improve their coordination and fine motor skills.
This toy comes with either a fire truck or dump truck, along with a remote, a drill, a wrench, and two action figures, providing a wide age-range of fun to keep your toddler busy. Plus, it’s easy to use! Although a manual is included, most kids jump right in with no instruction.
Keep in mind: Buy lots of batteries! The vehicle, remote control, and drill all require batteries, and none are included.
Good for: Active children who love to tinker, chase, destroy, and rebuild!
(Most Realistic — $$$)
Why it’s great: This is a toddler parents dream! This ride-on remote controlled car enables you to give your little one the feeling that they are driving a “real” vehicle. And you’re able to choose to let your child drive manually or with you controlling it via the remote.
We found that our son would spend endless hours sitting in his ride-on car pretending to drive even when it wasn’t turned on and his little friends would ask their parents to come to our house just so they could sit in it! Additionally, you can connect it to your music so that your toddler can jam out while “driving”.
Keep in mind: This vehicle drives well on hard surfaces but not as well on grass and the included rechargeable battery doesn’t last more than about 1 hour.
Good for: Any aged toddler through preschoolers. Also a lot of fun for parents.
(Best Value — $)
Why it’s great: With simple controls and plenty of ways to interact, this is an excellent first choice remote control car for toddlers! This colorful car features honking, music, and headlights, plus three removable figures for your child to play with. The two-button steering wheel controller is fun and easy for young children to use as they make the car go forward, backward, left, and right.
Designed for toddlers 18 months and older, this remote car is fast, safe, and durable! The remote has a far range, too, which helps your child steer this vehicle around the house with ease. Liberty Imports offers quite a few vehicle options, including a train, race car, firetruck, airplane, and police car.
Keep in mind: Be sure to buy batteries, as they are not included. Both the car and the remote require batteries.
Good for: Young toddlers who crave entertainment and are working on coordination.
(Most Exciting for Indoor Winter Months — $$$)
Why it’s great: Okay… So this isn’t exactly a “car” but it functionally provides you, and your kiddos, with an amazing way for your tot to move throughout your home and entertain themselves for hours. The parental remote control allows you to run the show, or if you feel your little ones can take the reins they can control their car via a simple joystick all by themselves.
It spins 360 degrees, has built-in safety features, and is safe for little ones over 18 months. Moms and dads say the bumpers won’t scuff up your walls, it builds your kiddos motor skills, spatial cognition, and empowers them to fly throughout the house unassisted. If you have a couple of kiddos buy one for each so they can have the full-on theme park bumper-car experience.
Keep in mind: If your home has stairs be sure to secure a gate so that there are no unfortunate tumbles.
Good for: Toddlers needing an indoor ride-on remote control car.
(Most Fancy — $$$)
Why it’s great: This super beautiful luxurious vehicle isn’t that expensive. It’s another great option if you are looking for something more than just the standard remote control car. It has two scissor opening doors, functional headlights, and plenty of fun sounds that will allow your kiddos to feel like they are driving a fancy sports car just like the one mom and dad wish they had :)! It’s safe for toddlers of all ages and mom and dad can control it via the remote so there will be no unnecessary crashes.
Keep in mind: During winter months we simply take out the batteries and the kids play with it inside for hours in “stationary mode.”
Good for: Toddlers and parents who want to enjoy a super luxury ride.
(Most Kick-butt — $$)
Why it’s great: Honestly, what is better than a hot pink monster truck? I mean, this car is so cool, fast, and powerful that it will keep your tot engaged for hours. It’s great for off-roading so if your yard is anything like mine (dirt, rocks, cactus) it will have no trouble at all taking it on. It also works great indoors as the front wheels stick out a bit further than the bumper preventing head-on collisions with your walls. This is a bad-ass vehicle for kiddos who want to conquer the roads. If you aren’t into hot pink, here is a link to another (equally cool) option.
Keep in mind: The battery runs out quickly, so be sure to turn it off when not in use.
Good for: Toddlers wanting a seriously good off-road RC car.
(Most Fun At Night — $)
Why it’s great: This car is cool! Take the excitement of the remote control stunt cars and add an awesome, night-friendly LED light-up feature. It’s as fun taking in the firework-like display as it is doing the stunts!
On top of all the spins, tricks, and flips, the oversized clear tires and bubble windshield fill the room with colorful, flashing lights. The vehicle comes in two different colors and two frequencies, so more than one child can play at a time. A flexible antenna, USB charger, and on/off music switch for quiet play also makes this a parent-preferred toy. The company recommends this car for ages 3 and up.
Although this is the priciest car on the list, we think the excitement is worth it (and you can find it on sale)!
Keep in mind: It takes about 1.5 hours to charge this toy for about 20 minutes of playtime, although the company says this is half the charge time and double the play of many competitors.
Good for: High-energy kids who are stimulated by lights and sounds.
(Most Ingenius — $)
Why it’s great: Kids love trains and this really special sustainably-built remote control train empowers your little ones to not only watch his/her train go around the tracks but to CONTROL that train themselves. How? By an app on mom or dad’s phone. The app allows your toddler to control the speed and direction of the train building important spacial skills as they figure out how to best navigate around the wooden track. The Amazon listing provides a wonderful video explaining exactly how it works.
Keep in mind: It does require an APP so either you tot will need to borrow your phone/ipad or have one that is designated for such activities.
Good for: Toddlers who love trains.
(Most Feminine Vehicle — $)
Why it’s great: It’s nice to see a pretty pink remote control car! Many of the previous cars come in primary colors that are great for any child, but this Disney Junior Minnie Mouse Roadster is a little more feminine, mimicking Minnie’s vehicle from the Mickey and the Roadster Racers cartoon. With a very recognizable character at the wheel, children can easily relate to the show and take Minnie on their own adventures!
The two-button remote control is simple to manage, sending Minnie and her car straight or in circles. The durable design, easy operation, and best price on our list make this a great starter RC vehicle!
Keep in mind: This is another remote control car that requires batteries. None are included. The remote control only has one frequency, so using more than one car at a time can cause the signals to cross.
Good for: A first-time remote control car user who prefers a feminine flair.
FAQs about Remote Control Cars
1. Why let a toddler play with a remote control car?
Believe it or not, your child learns a lot from racing and crashing a remote control car. These vehicles teach young children about fine motor skills and cognitive development. They learn to use their mind with their hands, how to move an object in different directions, and cause and effect. RC vehicles also introduce toddlers to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) concepts, such as motion, speed, and experimentation (“What happens if I tell my car to drive over rocks?”) Plus, they are fun!
2. What’s the earliest age a toddler can use an RC?
This depends a bit on the child. The earliest recommended age is about 18 months old, but the best age seems to be about 3 years old. At 18 months, a child can stand and walk, push buttons, and react to actions or sounds. They usually enjoy interacting with a remote control car, but they might not use it as effectively as an older child. At 3, they have developed their fine and gross motor skills, so they will play with more challenging and complex toys. They also have a better understanding of what the remote control will do with the vehicle.
3. How long does a remote control car battery normally last?
This varies depending on the vehicle, its features, and the type of battery it uses. On average, a fully charged or new battery will last for about 15 to 20 minutes of consecutive play.
4. What are the key features to consider when buying an RC for a toddler?
Think about your child’s age, how they might use the car, and what features will intrigue them. Do you want a car with speed? Will sounds and lights attract your toddler or scare them? Do you want a vehicle in one piece or with many parts? Will more than one child be playing with more than one car at the same time—if so, make sure the vehicle offers a second frequency. Would you prefer a car with rechargeable batteries? Considering these things prior to buying the RC will help your child enjoy the vehicle more when they get it.
5. Can an 18-month-old use a remote control car?
Yes, there are safe and easy-to-use starter remote control cars that an 18-month-old can enjoy. These often are the vehicles with simple remotes that offer one or two buttons.
6. What are some safety tips for using remote control cars?
Remember that your child will be chasing the remote control car, so be sure he or she is supervised and in a clear area away from things they can fall on or break. This is a toy with a motor and batteries, so be sure that these things are not exposed to your young child. Many of these vehicles have several detachable parts, which could become a choking hazard, so again, supervise your child as he or she plays. Also, it is a good idea to avoid pets when your child plays with a remote control car, as they might aggravate your cat or dog.
Remote control cars can be a lot of fun if you can match the right kind of car with your child. Consider the age of your toddler and how complicated the toy is—older toddlers, or those with older siblings, will easily adapt to a more challenging remote control vehicle.
Think about your child’s likes and dislikes. Do they like to be outside? Do they enjoy tinkering with things? Do they often use the same toys when playing with siblings or friends? Are they excited about music, sounds, and lights? Some RC cars combine all of these features, while others are more simplistic. Choose what makes the most sense for your child.
Also, consider battery use and life! Do you prefer a rechargeable vehicle or one that uses batteries? Each option has pros and cons.
Once you determine which model is best, it’s just a matter of bringing it home, and your toddler will light up when learning to maneuver this new toy!
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