Updated on October 14, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
Since rocking horses have been a classic playtime object since the 17th century, many parents still seek them out for their toddlers out of nostalgia. But as with most other classics, today’s toy companies have come up with innovative new ways to carry on this time-honored tradition.
We’ve reviewed some of the best modern rocking horse toys on the market and summed up their pros and cons for you to examine. We hope this guide helps aid your family on your upcoming rocking horse purchase!
The Best Toddler Rocking Horses For Ages 1, 2, 3 & 4
(Best budget option — $)
Why it’s great: This basic plastic rocker is a classic Little Tikes product and a great budget option to introduce your toddler to their very first rocking horse toy. While this plastic rocking horse is a very basic toy, parents can download the corresponding Little Tikes Play Big Skill on Alexa-enabled devices that allows your child to go on interactive adventures. It is perfect for younger toddlers ages 12 months to 3 years of age with a maximum weight limit of 50 pounds. The rocking horse is designed with a special seat back to keep children from falling forward or back. The rocking base includes ample room for children to rest their feet, and the handlebars are perfectly positioned for young toddlers to hang on.
Keep in mind: Some parents found the plastic to be rough or even damaged in some places. Because some products have quality control issues such as sharp edges and uneven seams, check the product before giving it to your toddler.
Good for: Families seeking a good deal on a basic rocker to introduce the rocking horse concept or who simply want a smaller and cheaper option that is hard to damage. Also, due to its price and durability, this model is popular with preschools, play centers, and households with many young children.
(Best modern take on a classic rocking horse — $$$)
Why it’s great: Toddlers and children ages 2-6 will love this advanced, interactive rocking horse by Radio Flyer! The Radio Flyer Champion Interactive Horse Ride-On toy can walk, gallop or trot – and makes different sound effects based on level of play. This high quality rocking horse also comes with a brushable mane, comb and carrot accessory for further imaginative play. In addition, this horse features a built-in saddle and stirrups, as well as a safety frame with Radio Flyer’s special EZ climb step for easy mounting. The horse’s springs are also covered for further protection.
Keep in mind: Assembly can take quite a while to complete, and a few parents received items with missing or defective pieces. If purchasing as a Christmas present, you may want to order early and assemble ahead of time!
Good for: Parents looking for a fun and innovative rocking horse that brings this classic toy into the 21st century.
(Best sound effects — $$)
Why it’s great: This rocking horse features a soft, huggable body and a mouth that moves along with the included interactive sounds. Pressing the horse’s right ear results in 6 different phrases and sound effects, and pressing the horses left ear plays a special tune. In addition, as a 2-in-1 rocking horse toy, the Rockin’ Rider can be converted from a rocker to a roller easily and without tools! These features along with a very reasonable price make the Rockin’ Rider 2-in-1 Pony Ride-On a fantastic rocking horse for toddlers of all ages.
Keep in mind: Some parents said this rocking horse was a bit smaller than they expected, and there were a few complaints regarding battery life and technical issues with the audio mechanism.
Good for: Parents looking for a fun and interactive rocking horse that is plush enhances their child’s imaginative play through music and sound and can be converted to a rolling toy for older children.
(Best plush animal rocker — $$)
Why it’s great: B. Toys Loopsy Wooden Rocking Sheep is built for toddlers ages 18 months and up. This adorable plush rocker combines the durability and classic look of a wooden rocker with the comfort and creativity of a cuddly animal. The rocker’s base and handles are natural hardwood, while the sheep body is soft and squeezable. It is the perfect size and style to make an adorable accessory to any toddler’s room or playroom without being an eyesore. While there is no electronic interactive element, a small wooden ball inside the sheep body produces a “clippity-clop” sound when the toy is rocked. Rodeo Rockers also has a complete collection including a classic horse option, a zebra, and a unicorn.
Keep in mind: Some parents encountered minor quality control issues upon arrival of the toy. When possible, check for flaws before giving the toy as a gift.
Good for: Toddlers who love animals, and parents looking for a rocking horse with a small footprint or who enjoy a minimalistic look for their child’s toys.
(Best bouncing toy — $)
Why it’s great: Featuring a soft plush cover, the iPlay, iLearn Cow Hopping Horse is an adorable way to play! While not a traditional rocking toy, these bouncers have become a popular alternative to imaginative animal play that also helps develop gross motor skills, encourages active play, and boosts hand-eye coordination. The ears can be grasped as handles for greater stability. Best of all, this soft rubber cow bouncer is made of environmentally-safe high-quality materials and contains NO U.S.-banned phthalates or heavy metals and conforms to multiple safety requirements. It is inflatable and comes in multiple varieties (zebra, cow, horse or dog) and several colors (brown, yellow, black, or white & pink)
Keep in mind: A few parents had issues with the toy arriving punctured or had trouble with the toy not staying inflated or even popping. Others had minor issues with the fabric cover arriving stained or with a broken zipper.
Good for: Animal lovers, active children and parents who want to decorate their child’s playroom with a fun, bright-colored toy.
(Best for girls — $$)
Why it’s great: The Animal Adventure Real Wood Ride-On Plush Rocker would make a wonderful addition to any toddler bedroom or playroom. This precious imaginative unicorn rocker will be a great hit with toddler girls of all ages! This horse arrives assembled and ready to go, making it the perfect birthday or Christmas gift. Parents appreciate the quality of this combination wooden and plush rocking horse. It is designed for children 3 years of age and up and has a maximum weight limit of 75 pounds. The plush material can be spot cleaned, and movable reins along with embroidered details add an extra special touch.
Keep in mind: Several reviewers noted that they received the wrong animal with their order. A few parents found the rocker to be so lightweight that there were concerns about their toddler flipping it. In addition, the rocking range is shorter than parents expected.
Good for: Parents searching for an adorable pink version to this childhood classic.
(Best wooden horse — $$)
Why it’s great: The Labebe Wooden Rocking Horse is a sweet and simple modern wooden take on the original rocking horse design. The high-quality wood is solid and smooth, with an impressive maximum weight of 150 pounds! The seat is designed with a special high back to prevent slips and falls. This 2-in-1 rocker can can be converted into a rolling toy without tools, and the corresponding wheels are wrapped in rubber to reduce scratches and noise.
Keep in mind: Some parents said the rocker was smaller than expected and was easily outgrown by their older, stronger toddlers who could then tip it over.
Good for: Families who prefer wooden and eco-friendly toy options and who appreciate minimalistic design.
FAQs about toddler rocking horses
1. What are the benefits of a rocking horse toy?
While it may seem like such a simple toy, the benefits of playing with a rocking horse are many. Riding on a rocking horse activates your child’s imagination, encourages creativity, and helps them develop their gross motor skills, balance and coordination. In addition, the rocking motion can be soothing, making it a relaxing way to help your child calm down.
2. What is the earliest age my child can safely use a toddler rocking horse?
In general, toddlers can safely ride on a rocking horse toy with supervision once they can walk. The typical age range that children enjoy playing with a rocking horse toy is from 12 months to around age 3 or 4. But check your specific rocking horse’s manufacturer instructions for more specific guidance on age restrictions for that product.
3. How long will my toddler’s rocking horse last?
Depending on the materials used, a toddler rocking horse can last anywhere from a few years to a few generations. Rocking horses that have added plush materials will eventually get dirty and become a gathering spot for dust, stains, or even dust mites. On the other hand, rocking horses made of pure wood should be able to last long enough to be passed down to other family members if desired.
4. What price can I expect to pay for a toddler rocking horse?
While the price will vary depending on the quality of the materials used, the average price that you can expect to spend on a toddler rocking horse is around $60-120. This may be lower or higher, depending on the manufacturer. Some rocking horse toys are made with plastic and are fairly inexpensive. Other rocking horse toys have added plush animal seats, interactive electronic elements, and other more costly features.
As an inevitable rite of passage for generations, the purchase of your toddler’s first rocking horse will hopefully lead to many hours of active and imaginative play.
If your toddler is at least 1 year old and can manage themselves and their surroundings well, you can probably safely assume they are ready for a rocking horse. Look for an option that is durable and that you and your toddler find enjoyable to look at and play with on a daily basis. Happy rocking!
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