The toddler is 29 months old. He has always loved toys, the noisier and more interactive the better.
He’s a typical boy and despite my best intentions at introducing a variety of toys his firm favourite is his train, set since he was about 18 months old. Now I have to be honest and say I may have spoilt him a little by getting him 4 different sets. We’ve been really lucky and he was given a wooden Brio train set. This was his first set which we’ve added to and is his firm favourite. Next up was a Chuggington interactive set, then a Thomas the Tank Engine Trackmaster set, and finally a vintage Tomy Thomas set from a charity shop.
The Chuggington set didn’t last long. We bought it out of excitement and he was too young for it. The track frustrated him so we gave it away. The two Thomas sets are compatible but we’re really careful to rotate them so he doesn’t get bored. They take up all our floor space so Little Sis has no space to play and I’m constantly having to build tracks, watch ‘train crashes’ and try not to tread on anything important. Little Sis gets her revenge by pulling at the track and munching on trains, well she is teething!
A wooden train set is an essential, timeless toy for a boy (hopefully Little Sis will love it too when she’s old enough!). There are lots of things that are great – you can use electric or wooden trains, it’s easy to clean, doesn’t need batteries, there are lots of configurations of track, it’s impossible to break, great value for money, lots of compatible bridges, tunnels and extras, and it’s a great toy for firing my sons’ imagination. It really is the toy he can’t live without – it’s the first thing he asks to play with and a train always gets put in my handbag when we’re leaving the house. He even has some track in his bedroom in case he wakes up early!
There’s not much not to like. It might not be seen as very modern or challenging although I think it is. I love looking back at photos and seeing how the toddler has played with it; first a couple of pieces of track and now multiple, more complex tracks. He sometimes needs help setting it up, but this is actually a positive as it means he’s continually learning! Certain brands are expensive, and sometimes the connections don’t quite meet, but this can be a great inexpensive toy. All my photos show the toddler with his daddy which makes me feel it’s a bit of a ‘boys toy’ – great they have a shared hobby!
Playing with trains leads to lots of other things too – we’ve gone on trips on the underground to Kings Cross to see big trains; trips on heritage railways; colouring and drawing pictures of trains; we build train sheds from our Legos; we add people an animals to the track; read train stories and even play with train puzzles.
As parents we’re happy he’s happy. We’re not purists, only insisting on hand-crafted, ethically sourced, wooden toys. We have our fair share of noisy plastic toys but with his wooden train set we know he’s enjoying himself, learning, can’t hurt himself or break anything!
I’ve written this post as part of my application to be a Toyologist, I think we would make great toy testers!