The holy grail of toddler toys?
More than a few parents would say they’ve found it, and it’s a wooden train set on a table.
These train tables are loved for years, starting around age 2: That’s usually when tots start to get into imaginative play, can figure out how tracks fit together, and have fallen deeply in love with old-timey steam engine trains.
Some new 2-year-olds will still be more interested in throwing and crashing trains than running things in a dignified manner, and most wooden train sets are suggested for ages 3 and up due to small parts. But you could consider getting a train table now; they’re also good for dollhouses, cars, and other vehicles.
But if you have the room and you like the idea of keeping more toys off the floor, read on.
How to Choose a Train Table
Three things set train tables apart from other activity tables and play tables:
- an edge along the surface to contain tracks and parts
- a height ideal for standing toddlers
- a large surface area that can fit a big set of wooden tracks
When evaluating train tables for 2-year-olds (and older tots, too), here are your deciding factors:
1. Quality. A train table will stay in your home for years. Your toddler will probably climb on it, and eventually, you’ll want to re-sell it or give it to a friend, so pick a sturdy one.
2. Size. Most train tables around the same size — at least 30 by 40 inches — but they do vary. Consider where you you’ll put it. Your tot will need full access to all sides for an optimal choo-choo experience.
3. Design. Whether you choose a table that looks more like a toy or a lovely piece of furniture will probably depend on whether it’s headed for the play room or the living room. Also, the painted landscape tops can be fun, but some feel that a blank top encourages more creativity.
4. Storage. Some tables come with built-in storage, others come with optional storage, and some don’t have any included – but there’s nothing stopping you from sliding a few of your own bins underneath.
5. Brand. Most wooden train sets are compatible with most wooden tables, but maybe you’d rather choose a train set first and pick a table to match. If so, head over to this post on the Best Wooden Train Play Sets to get started. Remember: many wooden train sets have small parts that you’ll have to put aside until your 2-year-old is less likely to see how they taste.
Where to Get a Train Table
If you’re handy with woodwork or know someone who is, a train table might not be terribly difficult to make. There are plenty of DIY train table options online, especially on Pinterest (I like this one).
I also found several “activity tables” that could work as train tables but look great in your living room (they’re on the expensive side).
But if you want to buy a table that’s just for trains, I’d suggest checking Craigslist first. There were a lot of train tables listed in my area, and many of them came with full train sets. (I got a now-discontinued Learning Curve Thomas table on Craigslist for $40 from a nice man who lived nearby.)
If you don’t feel like risking weirdos and bedbugs on Craigslist, let’s check out the new models.
Train Table Suggestions
I put a long, sortable list of options in a chart at the bottom of this post, but I thought I’d give you some general guidance first. If I were buying new and had an unlimited budget, I’d probably get a Nilo table or fancy one that looks like a coffee table and buy the trains separately. But there are also plenty of great options below.
The Toddler Choice – If you’re new to the wooden train scene, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Putting faces on trains makes them irresistible to kids. Thomas the Tank Engine enjoys a godlike status among most toddlers who have seen the TV show. The Thomas brand is pricey, but once you start collecting the trains, it’s an easy place to direct family and friends for gift ideas. (That said, you can easily use Thomas trains on other tables.)
Best Train Table with Train Set Included – Buying a table and train set together can be a great value, but the higher quality sets are usually sold separately. Jessica at Play Trains recommends the Bigjigs set as the best train set-and-table combo.
The Eco-Friendly Choice – I love PlanToys‘ environmental and socially responsible mission, and their unfinished table looks nice. The Amazon reviews on the table were somewhat mixed.
The Heirloom – If you’re looking for a quality, American-made solid wood table, check out companies like Little Colorado, Beka, P’kolino and plenty more. Sort the list at the bottom of the post by the “made in” column.
The Non-Table – Remember, if you decide that a train table is too much, you can start with a Learning carpet. There’s also a full line of Thomas the Train “Take and Play” toys. This under-the-bed-trundle is another nice alternative.
Train Table Comparison Chart
A note: All of these prices came from Amazon and include any significant shipping charges. The prices listed here might change over time. Pay attention to the cost of the storage bins; some pics show the bins but the bins are sold separately. Many of these are affiliate links, which means that a small percentage of anything you buy after clicking these links will be sent back my way.
|Picture||Brand||Table||H (in)||Lbs||L (in)||W (in)||Storage||Made of||Made in||Price||notes|
|Melissa and Doug||Train Table with train||17.75||40||33||50||small drawer||wood (particle board)||China||$260||includes 130+ piece train set|
|Tomy||Chuggington Wooden Railway Let's Ride the Rails Playtable with Playboard||17.5||53.4||33.5||49.5||none||wood||China||$250|
|Click for image||Choo Choo Track and Toy Co||Train Table||18||33.5||49.5||none||wood - oak||USA||$249|
|Fischer Price||Thomas Wooden Railway Play Table||18.5||39.2||53.5||storage rack under table||wood||China||$240|
|Sodura||Birch Wood Modern Kids Train Table||17||43.8||36||48||trundle drawer $75||wood- birch||USA||$231|
|Little Colorado||Play Table||19||36||49||2 drawers $198. 8H x 23W x 33D||wood - Baltic birch plywood||USA||$220||unfinished model is $187|
|Imaginarium||Mountain Rock Table||15.75||54||32.5||47.75||small drawer||wood||?||$215|
|Tag||Activity Table||18||30||24||36||inner cubbies: 9x4x6"||wood||USA||$208|
|Kidkraft||Metropolis Table||26.8||82||32.9||46.9||drawer||wood (with either honey or espresso finishes)||China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand||$200||includes 100 piece train set, bridge, tunnel|
|Kidkraft||Super Highway Train Set||55||none||wood||China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand||$186|
|Plan Toys||Toy Play Table||15.8||52.4||35.4||48.6||toy drawer 48.6 x 15.8 x 35.4 inches||wood - rubberwood||Thailand||$180||rubberwood is a sustainable by-product of the latex industry's harvesting of trees used for natural rubber production|
|Bigjigs||Train Table (with Services or City train sets)||12.6||35||28.7||50.3||wood||Southeast Asia||$172||includes 56+ piece train set|
|Jonti Kraft Kydz||ACtivity Table||17.5 (incl lip)||34||44||$750 table includes 3 |
|P'kolino||Little Modern Activity Table||16||28||23||32||under lid||wood - solid wood poplar and plywood with basswood veneer||U.S., Canada, China, Taiwan and India||$166|
|Kidkraft||Airport Express||15.8||50.2||32.7||46.5||small drawer||wood||China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand||$161||includes 100 piece train set including tunnel|
|Beka||Train Table||20.25||39||32||49.5||trundles $98.50 ea. 18X29-1/2X9||wood - hard maple with 2-piece birch top||USA||$159|
|Kidkraft||Waterfall Mountain||16.1||42||34.2||48.8||3 plastic bins included||wood||China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand||$148|
|Kidkraft||Round Table (Dinosaur or City Explorers)||15.2||23||42||42||two plastic bins included||plastic||China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand||$145||includes 95 piece train set|
|Kidkraft||2-in-1 Activity Table||16||2.2||23||25||under tabletop||wood||China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand||$140|
|Click for image||Beka||Mini Train Table||20.25||25.5||35||wood - hard maple with 2-piece birch top||USA||$130||Shorter legs available upon request for an additional $10|
|Kidkraft||Natural||17.5||56.5||35||49.5||trundle drawer $75||wood||China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand||$125|
|Imaginarium||Train Set with Table||15.8||26.8||31.8||30.5||none||wood||?||$113||includes 55 piece train set|
|Maxim||Wooden Activity Table with 45-piece Train Set and Storage Bin||16||45 (total)||30.5||32||bin included||wood||China||$112|
|Melissa and Doug||Activity Table||16||62||32.5||50||small drawer||wood (particle board)||China (Wikipedia)||$109|
|Kidcraft||Ride Around Table||16.2||43||34.5||49||plastic bins included||wood||China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand||$108||includes 100 piece train set|
|Little Tikes||Easy Adjust Activity Table||12 adjusts to 18||34||24.5||43||4 bins||plastic||USA||$100|
|Maxim||Railroad Wooden Activity Table with 50 Pc Train Set Compatible with Thomas the Train||19.25||20.6 (total)||24||32||none||wood||China||$83|
|Step 2 (plastic)||Deluxe Canyon Road Train & Track Table||16||30||23.875||44.875||under lid||plastic||USA||$80||Includes small 3-piece train set|
More Wooden Train Resources
- Play Trains – A full list of the pros and cons of getting a train table
- Wooden Train Reviews – A detailed chart listing of all major wooden train sets
- Play Trains – Guide to wooden train sets
- Play Trains – Guide to wooden train tables
Phew! That’s all I got on train tables for 2-year-olds, but if you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.