Thinking about buying a model train for your toddler as a Christmas gift from Santa? or an electric train set for one of your kids as a birthday present? Or maybe it’s a ‘just because’ kind of thing. Well, this is the guide for you!
But first, why would you even buy a train set for toddlers or kids?
Well, not only are they just good, fun toys for kids, they also offer a lot in terms of early childhood development and growth. Spatial ability is a big part of a child’s early life and can help them succeed later in life. Spatial ability is the ability to reason with objects, places and things around you. Merging with traffic, catching a football, even playing Tetris are all good examples of what spatial awareness is.
But how is that going to help your child, you ask?
Everything about train sets uses spatial awareness. Got 10 pieces of track and they all need to connect to fit in a circle? Great problem-solving exercise to find out what pieces go where.
Need to find a way to fit all the red blocks and the 4 cows into one carriage to take them around the track? Spatial awareness again.
Train sets can help to be an integral part of a child’s early development period, but what model train kit should you buy? That totally depends on their age first and foremost!
Best Train set for 2-year-olds
Orbrium Wooden Toy Triple Loop Train Set
- Beautifully crafted solid wooden 100 pc train set. Very elegant and fun to play triple-loop layout!! Includes 2 very versatile 3-way track pieces for future expansion.
- Set comes complete with train engines and coaches, a bridge, city buildings, city vehicles (police cruiser, ambulance, cars and buses), road signs, trees, bushes, and figurines.
- 100% compatible with Thomas Wooden and Brio Railway System.
- Beautifully crafted with solid, premium wood. Durable, these trains and tracks can last for generations.
- Made from beautiful beech wood.
The Orbrium Wooden Toy Train set is the perfect train set for toddlers. All the pieces are large, wooden blocks that won’t pose a choking risk, and will feel super tactile in their hands.
This super cool set comes with 100 pieces that include all your train engines and coaches, city buildings, trees, road signs, and people!
This is a great learning train set as they can place specific animals with their specific carriages, and begin working on that spatial awareness.
Toysopoly 55pc Train Set
- 🔵 SUPERIOR VALUE, PREMIUM QUALITY: Made with REAL beech wood, all parts connect smoothly and efficiently. This bundle includes 55 pieces: 4 trains, 1 car, 1 red bridge, 3 destination + other...
- 🔴 COMPATIBLE TO ALL MAJOR BRANDS: Get better quality without having to pay for a name or brand! All pieces connect perfectly with Thomas Railway System, Brio, Mellisa and Doug, Kidkraft,...
- 🔵 HEALTHY CHILDREN ARE SMART CHILDREN: Active, happy parents make active, happy children. This train set will help spur your childs imagination and help increase EARLY LEARNING as well as...
- 🔴 PERFECT GIFT FOR TRAIN LOVERS and creative minds. This Pack will inspire creativity, hours of fun, smiles, and peace of mind for parents in need of FREE time. Priced at VALUE for MONEY. You...
- 🔵 YOUR SAFETY IS IMPORTANT TO US. All products are exhaustively and Independently Third-Party Lab Tested. Certified Non-Toxic our Engineering Learning Set is BPA-Safe, Lead-Safe and...
Similar to the wooden train set above, this wooden train track set comes with 55 different pieces, and are also large and chunky; perfect for small hands!
This one comes with everything you need to build a cute little town, including tons of train track they can change, build and problem solve with. It also comes with little wooden people, bushes, buildings, as well as a bridge.
Best Train set for 3-year-olds
LEGO Duplo Learn to Count Train Set
- Learning how to count is an important milestone in any child's life, and now your preschooler can have fun while learning with this popular number train set from LEGO DUPLO
- This number train set includes a buildable locomotive and three wagons, bricks decorated with the numbers 0 through 9, two child LEGO DUPLO figures, plus a cat figure
- Your toddler can build and rebuild the colorful number train building kit while role-playing with the DUPLO people and animal figures This educational toy helps with counting and number learning...
- LEGO DUPLO toys encourage building skills and imaginative play in toddlers and small children
- Locomotive with caboose attached measures over 3-inch (10cm) high, 14-inch (37cm) long and 2-inch (6cm) wide This number train set includes 23 pieces and makes a great educational toy for 2,3,4...
This one is technically suitable for ages 2 and up, but we’ve put it in the 3 and up category just because some of the pieces are a little smaller. This one comes equipped with a 23 piece train from LEGO, and features numbered blocks to help get a jump start on counting and spatial awareness skills like playing items in the correct places.
Because it’s made by someone like LEGO, you know the quality is going to be amazing and will be a staple in the toy box for years to come!
Fisher Price Thomas and Friends Train Station
- Works with Thomas & Friends Adventures, TrackMaster, MINIS and Wooden Railway engines (additional engines sold separately)
- Comes with Thomas & Friends TrackMaster Thomas, and his friends Thomas & Friends Adventures Percy, Thomas & Friends MINIS James, plastic Harold (additional engines sold separately)
- Multiple configurations of layouts to fit into any space
- Remove legs for Micro layouts to fit small spaces
- Holds over 100 engines (sold separately and subject to availability)
Fisher Price released a Thomas and Friends train set that is absolutely perfect for a curious mind! This set comes with more than 10 meters of track, a working crane, tons of locations from the show and different trains!
The best part about this set is the different configurations it can be set up in. Because it’s so modular, its something that can be taken apart and put back together resulting in hundreds of hours of fun.
Best Train set for 5-year-olds
Thomas and Friends Remote Controlled Railway Set
Moving into the 5-year-old trains, this one is a little more on the serious side than the bright-colored trains for younger kids. This fun train set comes witha ton of really cool track, including some elevatated piece that will let you run a motorized train track around it!
Lionel Thomas and Friends Train Set
- A TRAIN SET WITH A FRIENDLY SMILE – Join Thomas & Friends on an adventure through Soder Island in this new Thomas & Friends Ready-To-Play set; This makes a great gift for kids and train...
- SET INCLUDES – Battery-powered Thomas steam engine; Annie passenger car; Clarabel passenger car; 24 curved and 8 straight plastic track pieces; User-friendly emote control
- TRAIN SET FEATURES – Battery powered locomotive with authentic Thomas sounds; Moving eyes; Three interchangeable Thomas faces
- PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS – 50” x 73” Ready-to-Play track; This set is not compatible with Lionel G Gauge or any other G Gauge track systems
- BATTERY REQUIREMENTS - Requires six C cell batteries to operate train; Requires three AAA batteries to operate remote control; Batteries are not included with purchase of train set
Lionel Trains are a staple in the model train community. They’re known for producing high-quality models, and this Thomas and Friends train set is no different. Coming with 32 pieces of track, Thomas steam engine and a bunch of passenger cars, this will be a hit with any kid! This is in the 5 year old age bracket because it’s a little more involved. It comes with its own remote control for controlling not only the train, but also the bell and the whistle.
If you really want a piece that will get your child into model trains, this is the one that will do it!
Things to remember when buying model trains for kids and toddlers
There are a couple of things you need to remember when buying model trains for younger kids.
- First and foremost, make sure that there won’t be any choking hazards in there. Model trains are an amazing hobby, and early development tool, but can sometimes contain small parts.
- Make sure that the train, tracks and components are made with quality material. ABS plastic, natural woods or metal are the preferred choices for a non-hazardous material
- Consider price; model train hobbies can get very expensive, very quickly, so why buy something that your child might be bored of by next month? On the other hand, this hobby is very much a “more you spend, better the quality” type of deal. So if you want something that will stand the test of time, don’t immediately choose the cheapest option.
We hope that helped, and if you have a recommendation, please leave a comment below with your favourite train! If you want something a little different, take a look at our Christmas train guide here!
And if this is your first time reading about model trains, have a look at our Ultimate Model Train Guide to learn more about the hobby!
Peter has been building model trains for longer than he can remember. An avid fan of HO and O scale this blog is a creative outlet to allow him to dive further into other scales and aspects of the model train community and hobby.