There's an enormous range of ride-on toys available, but you need not overlook the traditional kind completely in favour of the more gadget-loaded styles, because a child's imagination is the only extra requirement here.
The Combi Car with digger front from Holtz Toys can be ridden as a digger or as a crane by exchanging the fronts. The Combi Car is made from beech wood with steel axles that will withstand outdoor as well as indoor use, but it should be stored dry. The handles on the digger and the crane (an optional extra) can be turned to operate a lifting mechanism. An add-on trailer is also available. The Combi Car measures 75cm in length and is priced 150. The add-on crane front is 35cm high and is priced 55; the trailer is 54cm in length and is priced 70.
Telephone 0845 130 8697
Baxter Bear sit 'n' ride (left) from Mamas & Papas has a solid wooden frame and wooden handgrips with a soft velour head. The padded seat cover is removable and there is a sound chip in one ear that plays the 'Teddy Bears'
Picnic' when squeezed and a crinkle scrunch texture on the other ear. There is also a pouch at the back of the seat for carrying around and storing toys. Baxter Bear is suitable for 18-months-plus and has a seat height of 25cm, priced 32.
Telephone 01484 438 220 www.mamasandpapas.co.uk
The Bebetrot from Cheeky Rascals has a steel frame and four wheels to provide extra stability for first-time riders. There are no pedals to complicate matters and the trike is suitable for 15- to 36-month-olds. The Bebetrot comes with a bright red frame and yellow and blue trim, has an adjustable seat and handlebars, and is priced 45.
Telephone 0870 8732 600 www.cheekyrascals.co.uk
The Trike by Pintoy at John Crane is made from rubber wood and painted in bright yellow, blue and red (see our cover) and has four natural wood wheels with non-skid trim. The trike measures 240(w) x 490(l) x 330(h)mm and is suitable from 18 months and upwards, priced 29.99.
Telephone 01604 774949
You can add some extra interest with ride-ons that give a modern take on an old idea. The Fimbles Fun Rider from Halsall (right) is made from hard-wearing plastic with a lift-up seat and storage compartment; a high back to help stability and a padded seat. The Fun Rider also includes a play phone, 'click-click ignition', a rear view mirror, a squeezy horn and a steering wheel that activates a Fimbles tune. This vehicle comes in bright yellow, blue and orange and includes an 'anti-tip' feature, priced 14.99.
Telephone 01253 775544 www.time4toys.com
Philippe Starck's Face design ride-on is part of the Big Collection of vehicles from e-niko. When this ride-on is stood upright it resembles a happy face with the handgrips as a moustache with a smiling mouth under them and the end part as a large turban or hat. When the ride-on is positioned for use its 'ears' become wheels and the eyes and face become the seat. Made from an extremely tough plastic with a textured sheen finish on the vehicle's back end, the Face measures 60 x 51 x 31cm and weighs 4.5kg. This ride-on is suitable for children from one year old and is priced 75.
Telephone 01768 210 121 www.e-niko.co.uk
Wheely Bugs from Hippy Chic are rounded shapes with a wooden base platform, four small wheels and a semi-circular bar to hold on to. The body part is made from a padded layer of sponge covered in an outer vinyl layer that can be wiped clean. The bugs come in the form of a bumble bee, cow, ladybird, mouse or pig and in two sizes. The small size measures 36(l) x 23(h) x 20(w)cm and is designed to suit one- to two-year-olds, priced 45.
The large size measures 45(l) x 30(h) x 26(w) cm and suits two- to five-year-olds, priced 55. Telephone 01278 434440.
An increasing number of ride-ons include features that allow them to be adapted to suit younger children as rockers, activity centres or shape sorters and this can prove useful in a nursery where you have a mixed age range playing together or need to double up on equipment occasionally.
The Little Tikes Rock & Scoot Zebra has a soft padded body and head with a toughened plastic base and four wheels. Used with the base the Zebra has a gentle rocking action that is suitable from a year upwards. When the base is removed children can use the Zebra as a ride-on. The Zebra measures 69 x 39 x 57cm and weighs 5.35kg, priced around 39.99.
Telephone 0800 521 558
The Full of Fun Maestro in the Bruin range from Babies 'R' Us is a 'five-in-one' activity ride-on that includes a static rocker for young children, with safety shoulder straps, a soft fabric covered, washable seat and a front play tray. A handle and footrests can be attached for older children, so that the Maestro can be used as a push along. Suitable from six months to three years, priced 49.99.
Telephone 0845 786 9778 www.babiesrus.co.uk
The Toddle 'n' Ride by Tomy can be used first of all as an activity centre/ walker with a handle bar to grasp hold of and three sturdy wheels to move along with. The walker can be converted to a trike ride-on with the activity board used as a trailer. The bike measures 39(h) x 30(w) x 45(l)cm and the walker measures 45(h) x 47(w) x 53(l)cm. Suitable for one-year-olds upwards, the Toddle 'n' Ride is priced 34.99.
Telephone 023 8066 2600
The Sit on Zebra and Sorter from Letterbox is made from painted wood with a plastic sorter box inside. The zebra comes flat packed and measures 44cm in height with a seat height of 19cm when assembled. Priced 39.99.
Telephone 0870 600 7878. www.letterbox.co.uk
4 Always ensure that ride-ons are only used by children who are old enough and at the right stage in their development.
4 Never allow under-threes to ride around unsupervised.
4 Only use ride-ons on a level surface and take up any rugs or indoor furniture that could cause an accident.
4 Carry out regular maintenance checks to ensure that joints and wheels are secure.
4 Try to store ride-ons adjacent to one another rather than in a big pile to avoid damage and undue wear and tear.