Got a little tyke that’s obsessed with cars? Then this car toy gift guide is for you.
Fire trucks, dump trucks, and race cars. When my son was little he loved it all. I spent way too much time learning way more than I ever wanted to know about cars. And playing cars. And watching cars. Luckily for you that means that I’m tapped into the mind of these little people who love cars and what they want for their next birthday/christmas present and put it into this car toy gift guide.
Remember—nobody needs 5 different Lightning McQueens. But every little boy needs at least one. Pretty sure that’s written in the fine print of the parenting contract that you signed at the hospital. To make sure you’re not in breach of contract… peruse the list below and fill in the blanks in your child’s car collection.
The Best Cars for Every Kid
Disney/Pixar Cars Die-Cast Radiator Springs Vehicles Gotta love the movie. Little matchbox die cast cars are awesome classic toys. These are a step beyond adding in the fun familiarity of the show.
Toomies Push & Go Truck This is perfect for a baby that’s learning to crawl and beyond. Push down the head of the driver, or simply push along and this truck will keep going for 3 feet.
Transformers Playskool Heroes Rescue Bots My son was obsessed with these toys all the way up until elementary school. They are action figures of the surprisingly wonderful kids show “Rescue Bots”, but they are great toys independent of any awareness of the show. They transform simply and easily, made specifically for young kids to play with frustration free.
Haktoys My First RC Cartoon Race Car Remote control cars can be a tricky toy to buy for a young kid. They are often too complicated to actually drive for little kids leading to tantrums (oh man, so many tantrums). This RC toy is great because it’s made specifically with toddlers in mind. Simple forward and reverse left driving with lights and sounds (that can be turned off) is perfect for any little driver.
Viking Little Chubbies Primary Set – 7 Colorful 2.75″ Vehicles These little cars were my absolute favorite when my little boy was young. The plastic is perfect for a baby to chew on. They are great in the bath. They’re machine washable. We took at least one of these little cars with us everywhere. They grow well for babies to toddlers. Wheels move—which is a must!
Playsets That Last
PLAYMOBIL Police Cruiser Playmobil is one of my very favorite toy brands. They build durable classic toys that get hours of imaginative play. They’re a toy that you build yourself similar to legos, but stay together making them playable even for young ones. This car is a favorite.
Disney Pixar Cars 3 Travel Time Mack Playset This playset is a great companion for any matchbox cars, but especially Mater and McQueen. The side of the truck folds open for lots of imaginative play.
Playmat Rug Cars gotta drive on a road. Driving 101. This rug gives plenty of road for your little driver to roam.
Fisher-Price Little People Wheelies Stand ‘n Play Rampway This playset is made for the little people wheelies cars but works great with any die cast match cars. There are multiple ramps so kids can play together. My favorite thing about it is that it’s thin and tall so it’s not going to take up a lot of real estate in your home.
KidKraft Mega Ramp Racing Set This racing playset carries more weight than some of the others. Has lights that countdown to the race. Elevator to get around the garage. They’ll love it.
STEM Car Toys—never too early to start
Take Apart Racing Car Toy Flex those future engineering muscles with this take apart car and tools toy. Complete with lights and sounds for your building pleasure.
LEGO DUPLO My First Cars and Trucks Duplos are some of the best toys out there for fine motor development, building skills, and imaginative play. This combination of cars and trucks is perfect for any little car lover.
ALEX Toys Little Hands String and Beep Stringing toys are awesome for fine motor development. They’re a great on the go toy that can keep little fingers and minds occupied wherever you need it.
Melissa & Doug Stack & Count Wooden Parking Garage Practice counting with this cute and sturdy little parking garage. Another great toy for fine motor development. Plus… wood. C’mon, who doesn’t love wood toys?
Melissa & Doug Nesting and Sorting Blocks Practice matching, colors, numbers and more with this nesting block toy. Build towers or spread on the ground to make a neighborhood of buildings.
Puzzles and More
Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Reusable Water-Reveal Activity Pad These little activity pads are a great on the go toy. Awesome alternative for markers/crayons in the car or anywhere that you don’t want your toddler coloring all over the walls the second your back is turned. Let it dry and repeat.
Melissa & Doug Vehicles Wooden Chunky Puzzle – Plane, Train, Cars, and Boats This puzzle is great because, not only is it a great beginning puzzle for those little minds and fingers to figure out, but the chunky blocks also work great as play toys independent of the puzzle base. Win win.
Melissa & Doug Magnetic Towing Game Another puzzle that doubles as a magnetic style fishing game.
Funrise Tonka Classic Steel Mighty Dump Truck Metal dump trucks are a classic for a reason. It develops fine and gross motor skills, imaginative play and sensory play especially coupled with sand/dirt.
Racecar Alphabet By Brian Floca I had this book memorized when I was young. Great illustrations, and words that help alphabet sound recognition.
The Very Best Car Books
Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go A classic that’s withstood the test of time. There’s a lot happening on every page which makes this book is a great one for the child to peruse alone or together with an adult.
Truck Board Book (Caldecott Collection) By Donald Crews This book has wonderful bright and bold illustrations of a truck’s trek through a big city, consequently another classic that everyone needs.
Cars Galore by Peter Stein Come for the bright graphics, stay for the Dr Suess-like rhyming scheme that makes this a parent and child favorite.
Cars (Disney/Pixar Cars) (Little Golden Book) I love all the little golden books, even the old questionable ones with antiquated gender roles… kinda. This one brings all the charm of the brand with the cars story that your kid loves. Certainly the vintage illustrations make this one a winner.
Cars and Things That Go by Stefan Lohr I love these I Spy-esque books that have densely illustrated pages. Perfect to hand a toddler as you buckle them into those carseats and will keep them quiet and interested for the drive.
Wow! Car Toys That are Extra Fun
Radio Flyer – Flyer 500 If you want to be the favorite parent, grandparent, aunt, person ever in the history of the world, buy this. It works as a little car roller coaster, a car to ride on it’s own through the house, and race track for match box cars. Add to that the classic radio flyer styling and the fact that it all folds up to store inside itself and you’ve got a guaranteed winner.
Melissa & Doug Fire Truck Indoor Corrugate Cardboard Playhouse (4 Feet Long) The best day of childhood was getting to play inside that discarded refrigerator box. Take that to the next level with this playhouse.
Melissa & Doug Fire Chief Role Play Costume Dress-Up Set Every firefighter needs the proper gear. Sturdy material and fun details that make Melissa and Doug the top of the toy industry in my book.
Step2 Whisper Ride II Ride On Push Car, Blue This stroller is the equivalent of a red hot sports car to adults. Women will love you, men will hate you, babies will drop their pacifiers and drool with envy. That, or you’ll just be able to take your toddler on enjoyable walks.
Little Tikes Cozy Coupe 30th Anniversary Car Classic. Durable. Affordable. Fun. ‘Nuff said.
Remember—your child takes their playing very seriously. It’s the work that they do to develop and grow. Hopefully this car toy gift guide has helped you find the tools (*ahem* TOYS) they need to get the job done because they are professional full-time players.