The Best Garbage Truck Toys for 2-Year-Olds

Last Updated on October 24, 2022 by admin

A few years ago in my hometown, a photo of 2-year-old and his garbage truck driver heroes went viral. The toddler was posing for a photo with his local drivers and his new toy garbage truck when he became overwhelmed with emotion and started crying.

The image resonated with me, too: Big trucks are the absolute coolest thing there is for many little toddlers, and garbage trucks and recycling trucks may be the most exciting of all. They’re impressive because of their hoisting ability, and they feel a bit friendlier than other trucks because they visit your home each week.

If you have a two-year-old who gets excited about the weekly visit of the garbage truck, here’s what I’d suggest when looking for in a garbage truck toy:

Tips for Buying a Toy Garbage Truck for a 2-Year-Old

Skip the battery-powered garbage trucks.

It’s true that given the option, many children will gravitate toward the toys with buttons first. But I’d say most parents agree that battery-powered toys are generally more annoying and more likely to break than their non-battery-powered counterparts. My own 2-year-olds loved making their own sound effects for vehicles — even when those vehicles’ electronic sirens were blaring at the same time.

Smiley faces are optional.

I think the more realistic the truck is, the more fun it is for kids. My kids didn’t need smiley faces on their trucks to give those trucks personalities or even make them talk. Given the choice of a more realistic truck or a friendlier looking truck, they tended to pick the realistic one to play with.

Make sure the parts can move.

The one big no-no when it comes to buying toy trucks of any kind for kids is non-moving parts. Please don’t buy a toy garbage truck that doesn’t actually open to accommodate garbage. It will just be a source of frustration.

Avoid pull-back and remote-controlled truck toys.

Younger kids just want to push their toy trucks around the floor/ground. They don’t need the trucks to rev up when they’re pushed, they aren’t going to understand the pull-back-to-wind-up thing, and they definitely won’t appreciate remote control cars that actively discourage kids from pushing them along. In my experience, all of those things can be fun for older kids, but just frustrate younger kids (and parents who don’t want them to break the toy).

Consider cleaning / mud / dirt.

Garbage truck toys may not naturally get as dirty as toy construction trucks such as bulldozers and diggers, but its’ a good idea to anticipate a toy truck getting dirty. That’s another good reason to avoid electrical components on a toy truck.

Check the size before you buy.

Don’t rush through when you’re shopping. Toy photos are all standardized to the same size on web sites, and you wouldn’t be the first one to assume that you were buying a medium sized truck only to find that it’s a miniature toy truck upon delivery. Scroll through the photos until you see one with a kid in it for scale.

Toy Garbage Truck Suggestions for 2-Year-Olds

Toy vehicles for 2-year-olds tend to come in three categories:

  • The small, handheld vehicles that often come in sets with tracks and have few moving parts – I go over options for these in more detail in my post on miniature vehicle sets for 2-year-olds
  • The medium-sized trucks that kids push along as they crawl in the dirt – these tend to have more detail and moving parts and can actually carry/move actual dirt or garbage
  • Larger trucks that are designed for sitting and scooting or functional digging (such as the crane-type diggers that you operate with handles and levers)

The second category (medium-sized trucks), is usually the best gift choice for most people who want to buy for a 2-year-old, because 2-year-olds love this size, and the prices fits most budgets and occasions. Here are some great options.

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The Collector’s Choice: Playmobil

Playmobil recycling truck / garbage truck, $38

This is the truck that the 2-year-old in the viral photo I mentioned earlier was pictured with.

In case you’re not familiar with the brand, Playmobil has been around for years has a reputation for quality. I don’t often recommend Playmobil on this site because the sets all come with tiny parts that aren’t toddler-friendly. That said, if you remove the tiny accessories and put them away for when your kid is older, this garbage truck can be a good choice. I noticed in the Amazon reviews that many people bought the truck for 2- and 3-year-olds. One of the main perks of buying into a brand like Playmobil is that you can expand your Playmobil collection over time, eventually creating your own little city with compatible-sized people and accessories. (My own kids have always preferred Lego to Playmobil when it comes to miniatures and city-building, but they have definitely played with Playmobil toys a decent amount over the years.)

Toddler-Specific: Little People

Fisher Price Little People Recycling Truck, $15

This truck breaks several of my rules because it has batteries and isn’t very realistic. But I wanted to include this because Little People is a really popular line of toys that’s wide-ranging, and affordable. As I wrote in my post on miniature toy sets for 2-year-olds, Little People has many fun components that are all cross-compatible, so you could switch up the garbage truck driver with any other number of characters. These vehicles do have what I consider to be annoying music, but you can remove the batteries. Plus the truck does have the ability to actually scoop “trash,” which can be one of the most fun parts of running a garbage truck.

Beeps and Boops: Matchbox

Matchbox garbage truck, $35

I realize that I just told you to avoid the electronic trucks with buttons, but my friend received this for her daughter’s first birthday and it was the hit of the party. Matchbox typically only makes smaller toy cars, but they’ve made a few exceptions, and one is this Amazon exclusive dump truck.

The Cartoon Fan: Blippi

Blippi recycling truck, $25

My kids were too old to get into this character, but Blippi seems super popular with toddlers these days, and the line of Blippi-driven trucks that are available on Amazon and at Target are all well-reviewed. This including this garbage truck.

Larger Than Life: Lena

Lena giant garbage truck, $98

I’m not as familiar with this brand, but it has some solid reviews on Amazon and seems to be made in Europe (which means it has to perform to rigorous safety standards). The main standout feature of this truck is that it’s much larger than the other push-along trucks listed here. This is another brand that was technically designed with the age-3-and-up crowd, but if you have an almost-3-year-old or a 2-year-old who is particularly gentle and fastidious, this could be a good purchase.

Simple and Affordable: Battat

Battat garbage truck, $

This is another toddler-friendly toy vehicle line that’s very affordable — and this one requires no batteries (yay). My kids’ Battat cement truck was often ignored because all it did was spin with a crank, but I think they would have liked this one because it comes with two plastic garbage pails that can be loaded into the back of the truck. The lever dumps the imaginary garbage from the cans into the back of the truck. The downside of this toy is that apparently if your kid uses actual stick or paper or whatever in the cans, the contents of the truck won’t actually dump out of the cans but will remain there (I got this hot tip from one of the Amazon reviews).

Recycled – Green Toys

Green toys truck, $20

If you want to go the eco-friendly route with your toy trucks, your options are somewhat limited. I couldn’t even find a wooden garbage truck for 2-year-olds that was available at major U.S. retailers when I searched online. It makes sense: Toy trucks are more likely to get wet and dirty than things like wooden puzzles or shape sorters or stackers, and plastic is easier to clean. Plus, toddlers still enjoy throwing their toys across the room, which makes plastic an ideal choice for them in many cases. With that in mind, this Green Toys garbage truck is made of recycled milk jugs and is machine washable. It doesn’t come with garbage cans, which I think is a downside, but kids can still sort the garbage and dump it back out.

Garbage Truck Miniature Set

Lego Duplo Garbage and Recycling Truck set, $16

I love Duplo toys for toddlers, and this cute little set it no exception. It’s compatible with other Duplo blocks, and kids can pretend to take the garbage out to the can and have the little truck come pick it up. There are three different colored bins for trash, compost and recycling.

Garbage Truck Scooter / Ride-on Garbage Truck

Little Tikes Garbage Truck Scooter. $50

You can’t tell from this photo, but this little ride-on scooter has a working garbage bin on the side! It also has a working horn. I think that makes this a great purchase for a 2-year-old.

Battery-Powered Ride-On Garbage Truck

KidTrax Ride-on truck, $219

It’s difficult to deny the excitement that a motor-driven ride-on toy can spark in young kids, even though I think it’s rare to find a powerwheel-type toy that works as intended a few years after purchase. If you have the space and the budget to buy a battery-powered ride on toy for a garbage-truck-loving 2-year-old, this KidTrax truck has 4.6 stars on Amazon and has a shape-sorter in the back for kids to add and take out their “recycleables.”

Garbage Truck Books

These aren’t technically toys, but they make a great gift (or a great addition to a themed gift). Here are a few books that got great reviews on Amazon and seem geared toward younger kids.

The Wheels on the Garbage Truck Board Book, $6
Count the Garbage Trucks! I Spy Garbage Truck Book for Kids, $9 paperback book
Trash Truck hardcover storybook, $14