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Though pull toys may seem like something from your childhood—or even your own parents’ formative years—there’s a reason these toys have stood the test of time. Push toys help babies learn problem-solving skills, since they can grab the string to pull an out-of-reach item closer. And there is a perfect option for every age from as young as six months to as old as four years old.
These toys also require coordination and the use of large muscles that help fine-tune the motor skills babies need to master the art of standing and eventually walking. Plus, today’s pull toys are tons of fun. There are options abound, from artful wooden varieties to singing and dancing animals.
Here, the best pull toys to entertain your toddler.
Best Overall: PlanToys Wooden Dancing Alligator Push and Pull Toy
Dimensions: 4.92 x 4.45 x 11.02 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended age: 19 months and up
Alligator "dances" when pulled
Can be difficult to pull on hardwood floors versus carpet
Plan Toys has always been an advocate of green living. In fact, 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. 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 get a kick out of this low-tech toy, too, 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.
Best Budget: Cubbie Lee Zebra Wooden Push & Pull-Along Toy
Dimensions: 6 inches tall | Material: Wood | Recommended age: 1 year and up
Easy to grip handles
Can be bought separately or as a set of three
No added sounds or movements
This wooden pull toy is crafted from sustainable wood and is 6 inches in height. The Zebra Wooden Pull-Along Toy meets the highest standard in toy safety and comes with a five-year warranty. Designed for little hands to hold and pull along behind them, this toy is ideal for the new walker. The easy-grip cut-out section allows a baby to manipulate the toy's movement by pushing it. And the wheels permit him to navigate around obstacles, while he explores along his walk. This zebra is recommended for ages twelve months and up.
One reviewer raves, "The zebra pull-along toy is sturdy, colorful, and just the right size for toddlers. Its smooth action and safe cord length make it an excellent choice for any young child."
Best Musical : VTech Pull and Sing Puppy
Dimensions: 4.21 x 7.87 x 6.69 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended age: 6 months to 3 years
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
Dimensions: 13.11 x 18.11 x 19.88 inches | Material: Wood | Recommended age: 1-3 years
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
Dimensions: 5.31 x 13.88 x 8 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended age: 1-3 years
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
Dimensions: 17 x 4 x 7.75 inches | Material: Wood | Recommended age: 18 months and up
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 ages 18 months and up who will love linking their train cars before taking off.
Best 2-in-1 : Janod Pure Pull-Along Snail
Dimensions: 8 x 3.5 x 8 inches | Material: Wood | Recommended age: 1 year and up
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
Dimensions: 11.77 x 17.4 x 12.76 inches | Material: Rubberwood | Recommended age: Not listed
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 ages 3 and up 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
Dimensions: 8 x 5.25 x 5.5 inches | Material: Wood | Recommended age: 1 year and up
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
Dimensions: 9 x 5.5 x 7.5 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended age: 1 year and up
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
Dimensions: Not listed | Material: Wood | Recommended age: 3 years and up
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 (it's recommended for age three and up), 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
Dimensions: 11.8 x 5.12 x 9.45 inches | Material: Wood | Recommended age: 1 year and up
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.
Best for Dog Lovers: Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Lil Snoopy
Dimensions: 4.92 x 7.99 x 7.56 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended age: 1-3 years
Dog moves when pulled
Suitable for various ages
Can flip over easily
A non-battery-operated puppy recommended for ages 12 months to 3 years, 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.
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? 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?
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.