Last Updated on December 6, 2022 by admin
Wooden train sets are a classic gift for a young child. In my experience, 2-year-olds love them, but so do older kids. Wooden train sets are one of just a small number of toys that stand the test of time, and may even be passed down to the next generation. (My kids played with my husband’s old Brio train set.)
However, choosing a wooden train set for a 2-year-old is complicated by the fact that almost major brand of wooden toy trains is technically suggested for ages 3 and up. There are a few wooden train sets on the market designed for ages 1.5 and up, but these might not be as interesting to your kids for the long-term like the other sets could be.
In some cases, the 3-and-up label might be due to choking hazards. Even sets that don’t seem to include any choke-able parts may not have passed the stress tests that are required legally before a toy can be marketed to kids under 3. (For more on that process, check out my post on small parts warnings.)
However, I think most wooden train sets are suggested for 3 and up because of the fine motor skills required to construct and operate the tracks and trains. For example, Brio openly advertises itself as being safe for all ages. However, a vast majority of their railway sets are still suggested for ages 3 and up.
That said, from all the reviews I’ve heard firsthand from friends and read online, wooden train sets and tables can be a big hit with 2-year-olds. They can even ultimately reach all-time-favorite-toy status.
Article Outline / Shortcuts
- Wooden Train Sets Designed for 18+ Months
- A Toddler-Friendly Wooden Train Set Alternative: Kullerbu
- The Best Wooden Train Sets from Brio (Sibling Safe)
- Other Fun Wooden Train Sets (Technically Suggested for 3+)
- The Best Plastic Train Sets (totally safe for toddlers)
- How to Choose a Wooden Train Set
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The Best Wooden Train Sets for 18+ Months
If you’re shopping for a young 2-year-old or a soon-to-be 2-year-old, you might be interested in one of these sets, which are geared toward kids ages 1.5 and up. Again, these might not be quite as exciting or detailed as the ones for slightly older kids, but they’re definitely simple enough for younger toddlers to use and are also guaranteed to be choke-hazard-free.
Brio Sibling-Safe Wooden Train Sets
Brio has been in the toy business since 1884. Their classic wooden trains are heirloom quality. They pride themselves as being one of the most expansive lines of wooden train sets available, with dozens of themed options that are all compatible. Brio states clearly on their web site that all of their wooden railway sets are “sibling safe” and free of choking hazards, which makes them a standout in the wooden train category.
A Fun, Toddler-Friendly Train Set Alternative: Kullerbu
This isn’t technically a train set, but it has a lot of the same appeal: Kids can build their own track and then roll a wooden ball down it. It’s essentially a toddler-friendly wooden marble run (and most marble runs are definitely not toddler safe as the marbles can look like a yummy snack). What makes these sets even more fun is that there are little vehicles that can transport the balls back to the launch point. For example, the one shown here is farm themed, and the tractor takes a little round pig and a little round sheep for rides around the track. These Kullerbu tracks from Haba are high quality the price reflects that, so if you want something a little more affordable, check out the next section.
Other Fun Wooden Train Set Options (All Technically for Ages 3+)
Hape, an international toy brand that values quality and sustainability, has a full line of train tracks and trains designed for the 3+ crowd. This cargo loop train comes with a crane that kids can use to load and unload cargo from the train cars.
Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway (Fisher Price)
These wooden train sets are based on the decades-running show Thomas and Friends, which tends to be a big hit with toddlers.
The Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway sets are now manufactured by Fisher Price. They still seem to be high-quality and well-reviewed. All of the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway sets I saw are technically recommended for ages 3 and up, so they can’t make the same safety claims that Brio makes. That said, they do seem to be good quality in my experience.
Melissa and Doug
This American company started out specializing in wooden puzzles, and now makes a wide range of toys (mostly wooden), including a wooden railroad set. The expansion options are much more limited than Brio or Thomas & Friends, but it’s a nice, affordable set from a reputable brand.
Maple Landmark Name Trains
Maple Landmark makes its popular NameTrain locally in Vermont. You can customize your order, and the price is based on how many letters you need. The train is completely made of wood grown in the U.S.
Maple Landmark NameTrain, $46 for 4 letters
Maple Landmark NameTrain
These trains are especially popular for younger kids who are learning to recognize letters.
KidKraft specializes in more affordable wooden toys and furniture for kids. They offer lots of train table and train set combos that get pretty good Amazon reviews. These sets are less durable than some of the top tier brands, but can be a good choice — especially if you want a table included.
Orbrium is a brand that focuses exclusively on wooden trains and sells them entirely on Amazon. I couldn’t find out a lot about where the trains are made or their company values, but they seem to be a popular, affordable choice based on the reviews.
Maxim Enterprise is another long-time manufacturer of wooden train sets for kids.
Ikea has a line of affordable, modern wooden train tracks and trains.
Bigjigs has an expansive collection of wooden trains and many train table combos, and they all seem to be very popular.
Tenderleaf is a relatively new wooden toy maker, and the Wild Pines train set is a really beautiful option if you can afford it.
The Best Plastic Train Sets for 2-Year-Olds
Yes, this is a post about wooden train sets. However, if you just want a simple train set toy and don’t whether it’s made of wood, you might consider some plastic sets. They’re generally less expensive and have more bells and whistles.
The Lego brand designed for toddlers, Duplo, also makes a train set with tracks. I haven’t actually tried these trains myself, but the reviews are really strong — just like other Duplo products (and I consider myself a Duplo superfan). My only hesitation is the fact that these trains are motorized instead of manual, meaning kids essentially push a button and then watch the train run on its own .
Playmobil toys are typically suggested for ages 3 and up because of small parts, but there is now a 1-2-3 line available for the 18-month-plus crowd that’s choke hazard free. This train comes with a simple loop of track and it isn’t motorized, which is nice because most 2-year-olds want to push vehicles manually
How to Choose a Wooden Train Set
Here are the major factors that go into choo-choosing a train set. (Sorry.)
Do you want to buy a bundle or buy individually?
Some people want a train table that comes with an entire set of tracks, trains and accessories. Others ease into it with a starter set that has a few engines and a simple circle track. You can even go smaller and just buy a few individual wooden engines, which can get pricey at up to $15 each (especially for certain brands).
The all-in-one deals seem simpler and are usually more affordable overall, but if you’re looking for an heirloom quality set, you might opt to build a collection over time. If you definitely want to buy a train table along with the train set, check out my full train table post.
Would your kid like their trains to have faces?
Some kids love the characters of Thomas or Chuggington. Other kids (or their parents) prefer a more realistic look, or don’t want to commit their toddler to a certain TV character.
I’ve seen it argued that the faces encourage more imaginative play and storylines, but my own 2-year-old had no problem creating personalities for any vehicle, face or not. It comes down to personal preference and budget. (The branded characters typically cost more).
Do you want to build a big collection within a single brand?
If you think you’ll be in the train phase for the long haul and want to build a big collection within the same brand, some definitely have more options. For example, brands like Brio and Thomas have all kinds of expansion options.
That said, most of the wooden train tracks out there are compatible with one another, and plenty of other companies provide universal tracks and connectors if you end up with multiple types of wooden train sets.
Problems with incompatibility are mostly caused by trains being too large for tunnels or not taking curves or hills as well as the same-brand trains.
Are you concerned about small parts?
Sure, all of these sets have small-ish parts. But only some of them have parts so narrow that they could potentially be choked on by a toddler. Click here to read more about choking hazard warnings. Even if your own kid is old enough,