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We researched the best pull toys on the market, considering each pick's recommended age, safety features, educational value, and weight. The PlanToys Wooden Dancing Alligator Push and Pull Toy earned our best overall spot for its sustainable design, which dances when pulled for adorable and engaging play for toddlers.
Here are the best pull toys.
Best Overall: PlanToys Wooden Dancing Alligator Push and Pull Toy
Alligator "dances" when pulled
Can be difficult to pull on hardwood floors versus carpet
Plan Toys has always been an advocate of green living. Their manufacturing processes demonstrate the three "R's": reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Made from a wood composite material manufactured from remnants of other toys the company makes, the Plan Toys' Dancing Alligator is BPA-free and made with child-safe water-based paint. This pull toy is perfect for small children who will love the clickety-clack sound the alligator makes as it strolls behind them.
Big kids will also get a kick out of this low-tech toy as it wiggles and moves when pulled (no batteries needed). It's a fair price for a good wooden toy that does much more than just roll. Users love that the materials feel sturdy and long-lasting and that the cord is long enough to pull without toddlers getting tangled up. One thing to note is the wheels tend to work better on carpet than hardwood.
Best Budget: Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Lil Snoopy
Dog moves when pulled
Suitable for various ages
Can flip over easily
A non-battery-operated puppy, this pull toy is a modern take on the brand's classic Snoopy. When pulled, the dog's head turns, the ears wiggle, and he also barks. 'Lil Snoopy even wags his tail! The well-thought-out design encourages the newest of walkers to develop their fine and gross motor skills.
Best Musical : VTech Pull and Sing Puppy
Lights up and makes sounds
Users found the string to be shorter than expected
Active toddlers will love dancing along to music as they pull along this musical puppy from VTech. As babies age six months and older begin to walk, they can push the buttons on the puppy to play different tunes and promote fine motor skills. The songs help young ones learn shapes, colors, numbers, and letters in a fun way that they can play with for hours.
Best Splurge : Hape Wonder Walker
Five activities in one
Doubles as toy storage
Easy to assemble
Difficult to turn
Splurge on this wooden Wonder Walker from Hape that combines five activities at once. Toddlers ages one and up can move the knobs, gears, and balls in between pushing and pulling their walker as they learn to walk. The design is sturdy and durable and the two-way movability makes it easy for toddlers of all ages to use without any tantrums. You can even fill up the walker with their favorite toys for added storage.
Best for Learning Letters: LeapFrog AlphaPup
Helpful for learning words and letters
Users found the string to be shorter than expected
Learning the alphabet has never been this fun. As kids ages one and up pull the pup along, they will listen to the ABC's as well as songs about words and letter sounds. The adorable pup has velvety soft ears that stand out from his plastic body and are smooth for little hands to feel. Press the buttons to hear three learning songs to learn phonics and early vocabulary.
Best Multi-Piece : Melissa & Doug First Play Wooden Rocking Farm Animals Pull Train
Two activities in one
Trains runs smoothly on carpet and hardwood floors
Suitable for variously aged babies and toddlers
Some reviewers found quality to be lacking
Toddlers will love taking apart and putting together their own pull toy with the Wooden Rocking Farm Animal Pull Train from Melissa & Doug. This set features six charming pieces: three linking train cars with wheels and a pull string and three wooden animals that fit inside in the train cars and rock back and forth when pulled. The multiple pieces add two elements to this toy designed for toddlers who will love linking their train cars before taking off.
Best 2-in-1 : Janod Pure Pull-Along Snail
Comes apart to form two instruments
Great for introducing toddlers to music
Can be difficult to put back together
Pull toys that feature other activities allow for growth with your child for years to come. This one from Janod doubles as a musical instrument. As a pull toy, the snail's shell spins while kids pull it behind them. Once removed, the child has a new drum and xylophone to make music with. The snail's antennae become drum sticks for even more fun. Kids will love learning to walk with this adorable snail then discovering new ways to make music.
Best Storage: Tender Leaf Toys Pull Along Bear Cart
Doubles as storage
This pull along toy doubles as a storage space for blocks, balls, or other toys for your little one to take on the go. Cleanup becomes fun for older toddlers as they pick up their toys and place them in the adorable wooden bear cart. The neutral design is a much more aesthetically pleasing option than other playroom storage ideas and still operates as a toy, making the high price tag worth it.
Best Design: Plan Toys Bunny Sorting Bus
Included blocks double as problem-solving activity
Suitable for younger toddlers
Small size may not be suitable for older kids
This adorable neutral pull toy has a timeless design that can double as minimalist playroom decor when not in use. The wooden bus has a precious bunny drive as well as stacking shapes for babies to play with. Older toddlers can try to fit the shapes into the corresponding holes on the bus for an early problem solving activity, while younger kids will love pulling along the whimsical toy as they learn to walk.
Best Classic: Fisher-Price Retro Chatter Phone
Moves and makes sounds when pulled
Phone cord is short
Remember the good 'ole Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone? This updo of a true classic has the same design as when it was first manufactured in 1961. The chatter phone's eyes roll up and down, the mouth talks, and the phone makes a ringing sound when the rotary is dialed. Great for new walkers who can pull the stable design alongside them, and then take a break when they want to make a call.
Best Handcrafted: WoodenFrogLV Sailing Boat Pull Along Toy
Toddlers can practice tying and untying the sail
Can be personalized
No additional sounds or movements
A crafted-to-order wooden boat pull toy built from ash wood makes a special gift for a new arrival. The wood dye used on this boat is made from renewable and biodegradable raw materials, and the uncolored boat parts are treated with linseed (flaxseed) oil. Additionally, the cords that mount the sail to the mast are made of linen and free of dyes. And while a baby may need some time to grow into this model, adding their name for personalization will make it a great decor piece until they're big enough to pull it.
Best for a Crawler: Hape Walk-A-Long Snail Toddler Wooden Pull Toy
Snail moves when pulled
Doubles as sorting or matching activity
May be too easy for older kids
The snail carries three brightly colored shaped blocks in its shell, inviting kids to advance their cognitive and strategy skills. As an added bonus, the shape sorter section of the snail can be removed from its base for sit-and-play action for the crawler. This toy encourages movement with its short string that's perfect for older infants who still spend time lower to the ground.
The PlanToys Wooden Dancing Alligator Push and Pull Toy earned our top spot because of the child-safe, sustainable, and durable materials that add to this toy's safety and longevity. The adorable design also "dances" when its pulled for hours of engaging and hilarious fun. For a more budget-friendly option, we recommend Fisher-Price's Lil' Snoopy. The adorable furry friend moves when pulled and makes interactive sounds sure to delight kids of all ages.
What to Look for In a Pull Toy
Checking and following the age label on toy packaging (or in the online description of a toy) is a must, says Kristin Morency Goldman, senior advisor of strategic communications for The Toy Association. “It’s so important to understand that age-grading isn't about how smart your child is—it’s safety guidance that’s based on the developmental skills and abilities of children at a given age, and the specific features of a toy,” she says. Be particularly mindful of toys labeled 3-plus, as these items may have small parts that pose a choking hazard.
In addition to checking for small parts, take a good look at the string length on the pull toy. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) says that cords should, ideally, be less than 12 inches long for children under 36 months. And any pull toys with cords and elastics greater than 12 inches long should not have any beads or other attachments that could tangle to form a loop, since this can pose a strangulation risk. Even if your toy meets these safety considerations, your child should always be supervised when playing with this type of toy.
Pull toys that are light enough to continually tip over, which could lead to frustration. On the other hand, though, the toy should not be so heavy that a young child cannot comfortably tote it behind them.
While all pull toys provide real benefits including coordination, balance, and gross motor skills, some of these toys promote additional learnings—like battery-operated versions that teach kids numbers, shapes, letters, colors, and more.
How do you fix a pull toy?
Pull toys are mechanically simple and oftentimes an easy fix if you have a seemingly broken pull toy and a sad child in front of you. The main culprit to an out-of-commission pull toy is a tangled string. Carefully trace where the string is caught, and you should be good to take the toy for a ride once again.
How do you make your own pull toy?
If you are in need of a rainy day craft, create your own pull toy, using cardboard, wood skewers, small wood wheels, string, and a glue gun. First cut out a template of an animal, or whatever shape you’d like the pull toy to be, and trace two of them onto the cardboard. Decorate as you’d like (paint, markers, colored pencils, glitter), then cut out the shapes as well as a 1-inch thick slice of cardboard as the bottom of the pull toy. Hot glue the pieces together. After trimming the wood skewers to the width you’d like the pull toy to be, slip on the wheels and hot glue into place. Finally, attach a piece of string or yarn to the front of the toy.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Julia Fields, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays. She's also covered similar topics in other roles, including toy reviews, product roundups, interviews with experts, and more. Additional research was done by Megan McCarty, a writer for The Spruce and MyDomaine with over 13 years of experience in both print and digital media. She regularly contributes to design-focused outlets such as Architectural Digest, Domino, House & Home, and Hunker.