While we might struggle to remember back to our own toddler moments, if you have kids you know that toddler play time is some of the most enjoyable moments of parenting. Their curiosity level is at an all-time high, and the sheer joy upon seeing something new and exciting is unparalleled. One of the best toys for toddlers are train sets. There are a host of benefits to investing in a train set for your toddler.

Developing fine motor skills at a young age is hugely beneficial for the skills they’ll eventually need when learning to read, write, draw, and even manage a knife and fork. There is also quite a bit of problem solving involved with train sets, figuring out which pieces fit where and learning by trial and error.

When it comes to the “play” portion of the train set, the cutest thing in the world is hearing your toddler assign roles to the different actors on the set; they’re literally building a world and developing their vocabulary along the way. The beauty of a train set is it sparks imaginative storytelling and the story can be unique every time they play. If you’re reading this and you’re 48 with a massive train set in your garage and you’re also playing and being creative on the weekends, this is fantastic! We just hope you’re not neglecting the world and still managing an active social life. There’s nothing worse than a wayward conductor!

In this article, we’ll review ten outstanding train sets for toddlers, but first let’s talk about whether all wooden train sets are compatible.  

Are All Wooden Train Sets Compatible?

Are all wooden train sets compatible?

Compatibility in the train set world is a big topic. Similar to dating, we all want to be with someone we’re compatible with. Well, train sets are the same. If you’ve got a killer wooden train set that isn’t compatible with anything, you or your kid will be literally spinning around in circles for the foreseeable future.

The good news with modern wooden train sets is that most wooden tracks on the market are fully compatible with each other. Major suppliers understand that consumers will switch up their buying preferences, and as such, manufacture parts that are close or even identical to each other. Another cool feature with this industry overlap is you can add different switches or turnouts from a distinct group of suppliers and really create a unique set.

With this said, there are some tracks out there that will not cooperate. The worst is pulling the trigger on some additional wood pieces and getting home to an eagerly expectant child with wrong fitting parts. The crying fit you’ll face is worse than anything you can imagine.

Our suggestion to avoid this unpleasant situation is to photograph one of your parts and send it to the supplier to examine before purchasing. Or, if you’re purchasing in person, bring a part down to the shop. Train set sellers are a warm bunch; they’ll likely be more than willing to engage.  

The Best Train Sets for Toddlers

On to the trains, ladies and gentlemen! Be sure to take notes, because we’ve got 10 amazing train sets here for you today.

Orbrium Toys Wooden Train Cars for Kids

Wooden train set for toddlers by Orbrium.

The best thing about Orbrium is a host of complementary products can be purchased to add to this set. Displayed in a beautiful wooden frame, this timeless set includes a tanker, cargo car, magnetic tanker load, flatbed rail car, coal hopper car, coaches, engines, and 2X concrete I-beams loads. That’s a heck of a line-up! Each car is designed with distinct attributes and characters and painted in bright colors that are naturally attractive to kids.

One online commenter noted that her 2-year-old fell in love with this set at first sight. The magnets are strong, but not overly so, providing small kids the ability to understand how objects magnetically attract. The edges are rounded, safe for children of all ages, and the wooden frame doubles as a storage box.

Love it? Click here to buy now.

Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Talking Thomas & Percy Train Set

Thomas and Friends train set by Fisher-Price.

Fisher-Price is a brand we’re all familiar with; the iconic toy company was founded in 1930 and is now a subsidiary of Mattel. They’re known for their quality, first and foremost, and their creative flair and connection to kids. This train set certainly does not disappoint, featuring a motorized train and a TrackMaster track. Thomas & Friends is a widely enjoyed cartoon, and the motorized characters Percy and Thomas interact on the track with cargo cars loading and unloading around them.

The track switches are controllable, putting your little one in the engineer’s seat. If you already have other Thomas & Friends sets, this track connects seamlessly, transforming your living room into a railroad station. That might not be what you had in mind for a Saturday morning, but when Thomas & Friends are in the picture, good luck prying the kids away. This track weighs a manageable 5 pounds and is recommended for kids up to 6 years old.

To read reviews, click here.

BRIO World 33210 – Rail & Road Loading Set

Rail and Road Loading train set for toddlers by Brio.

We’re venturing into big boy and girl train sets here. The packing alone provides a good glimpse of what’s in store for your little one with this set. The Rail and Road Loading Set is loaded with an impressive 32 pieces. Among them are two magnetic boulders, a special crane car, a train, a flatbed, and two trucks. This set is designed for ages 3 and up, but if you have a super curious 1.5 or 2-year-old, you can try it out and see if they can handle it.

As with most BRIO products, their other train sets are fully compatible, so building on to it as your child grows isn’t an issue. On the safety side, BRIO has conducted 1,000 plus safety tests to ensure conformity across products. It’s by far one of the safer companies on the market. 

To learn more, click here.

Green Toys Train and Storybook Gift Set

Train and storybook gift set for toddlers by Green Toys.

Made for toddlers ages 2 and up, this is a fun set combining a storybook and a mini-train. It’s perfect for night time reading and connecting the story to something tangible in their hands. The main characters in the book are Kody and Dot, and the two get into all sorts of predicaments throughout this page-turner. As an adult, there’s nothing worse than a boring kid’s book, but don’t worry, that’s not the case here!

The train is made from recycled milk jugs and doesn’t include any external paints, dyes, or coatings. It’s brightly colored, and the open wagon is ideal for hauling cargo, while the caboose has a spacious interior plus a removable roof. There is nothing better than hearing a story and playing with the main character at the same time.  

To see pricing, click here.

LEGO City Cargo Train Remote Control Train Building Set

Lego remote control train building set for kids.

While not your typical train set, it’s a LEGO, so we’ve got your attention. The biggest toy company on the planet comes strong with this Remote Control Train Building Set. Anytime you combine Lego ingenuity with a remote control function, you know you’ve got a winner. This isn’t necessarily a toddler set as it’s designed for young kids between 6 and 12 years old. But again, if you’ve got a future Albert Einstein on your hands and he or she is 4 or 5, this might be the set to stretch their imagination.

This kit comes packed with an eye-popping 1,226 pieces. That’s a ton of pieces, and some are quite small. So do make sure to supervise your younger kids if you think they can handle it. Additionally, four cars, rail tracks, a forklift, and a control center are included. As we well know with LEGO, combining other LEGOs is no issue as they’re all compatible. 

Love it? Click here to buy now.

Tiny Land 60 Pieces Crane Train Set

Deluxe wooden train set for toddlers by Tiny Land.

Tiny Land not only offers the typical train set ingredients with this set, but throws in some cranes to really get the party started. As the title gives it away, the set comes with 60 pieces, full of trains, cranes, trucks and even a removable container and oil tank car. The track measures an impressive 135 inches, and cranes are magnetic. Again, teaching young kids about magnetic properties opens up their creativity and provides them a new context for how things come together and function.

This set comes with a handy storage box and is lead, phthalates, and BPA free. The track is expandable and can adapt to nearly any set-up your child desires. It also features a bridge, which is always a winning ingredient.

Ready to buy? Click here.

LEGO DUPLO Disney Pixar Toy Story Train

Lego Duplo Toy Story train set for toddlers.

Back to LEGO, and this Disney inspired set doesn’t disappoint. You might not be familiar with the hit movie Toy Story, but we can guarantee your toddler is. Recommended for toddlers from 24 months on up, the ratings on this set are through the roof. One happy mom commented that her twins are “nuts over this set” and LEGO is cheaper than the Disney store, which she presumably liked.

This DUPLO set comes complete with two figurines (Buzz Lightyear and Woody) along with a toy train, toy dynamite, a cool cactus, and a lasso. Kids can watch Toy Story and then reenact the scenes with the set. The entire set is easy to put together and really builds on honing those fine motor skills. 

To learn more, click here.

Melissa & Doug Take-Along Railroad

Take-Along Railroad by Melissa and Doug.

The colorful scenery on this track, a mountain tunnel, animals, trees, cabins, and a gondola (a gondola!) put this set in the Top 10. It’s sure to entertain even the most picky toddler or adult, for that matter.

So who are Melissa & Doug? Well, they’re real people and also parents of six. The couple are passionate supporters of the “power of play,” and their toys are world-renowned. Melissa & Doug toys are present in 130 plus countries and received the prestigious 2018 Good Housekeeping Best Toy Award. The set is great for kids between 3 and 5 and contains 17 total pieces.

Love it? Click here to buy now.

KidKraft Figure 8 Train Set

Figure eight train set for toddlers by KidKraft.

The number one thing any kid wants from their train set is the ability to move their train in a complete circle. Who in their right mind would build a train set in a straight line to nowhere? Most folks want a journey and an eventual return back to the station. For all those in this camp, the figure 8 is a natural choice.

The best thing about this set from KidKraft is you traverse in a complete figure 8, all the while passing under a tunnel and taking in each circle’s scenery. With 38 total pieces, toddlers build out the scenes of each circle with everything from trees to a gas station, farmhouses and even smiling townspeople. Townspeople tend to smile quite a bit, so this is an added touch that is sure to delight.

To read reviews, click here.

Hape Music and Monkeys Toddler Railway Train

Musical monkey train set for toddlers by Hape.

You’ve got a winner on your hands if you manage to combine music with your set. Hape has pulled this off beautifully with a jungle-themed railway set and a xylophone melody that plays as the trains push around the track. Appropriate for ages 18 months and up, monkeys pop up to complement the journey as the trains advance. Seeing your child’s first reaction upon seeing one of these monkeys is priceless. Fair warning, it can be scary for some, so be sure to accompany them along that first ride.

The set weighs about 2 pounds, so your toddler will likely be able to move it around as needed. The trains come as tigers, lions, and elephant cages, and the monkeys are concentrated into one area on the track. Hape is known for its creativity, and this set is one of many that your child is sure to love.

To learn more, click here.

To Sum it Up

If this article prompted you to begin thinking about transforming your basement into a train station, that wasn’t the point. We understand – train sets are exciting and can be fun at any age. But the point of the article was to highlight the best train sets for toddlers, and we covered some amazing options, all of which will bring a smile to your little one’s face.

Wooden train set pieces, in general, are compatible. Still, we recommend photographing the pieces and either sending them to a manufacturer or store or bring them down in person before purchasing additional wood pieces. As we mentioned, the crying fit that could ensue by arriving back home with faulty pieces is drama you’ll want to avoid.

Lastly, whichever set you buy should serve as the base to build from. If you’re looking for additional components, go with a brand that is likely to have those. And do be sure to record all this toddler playtime because the years go fast, and you’ll be longing to return to this time when little Johnny is a teenager and just wrecked your new BMW.

Pssst….looking for more toy inspiration? Check out Lego Display and Storage Ideas next!