Last updated: August 5, 2021

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Many still know it from the waiting room of the paediatrician: the rocking horse. Many will also be familiar with it from the fairground, especially the youngest children are fond of the popular rocking animals on the children's carousel. Fortunately, rocking animals are also available for the home, so the little ones don't have to miss out on this great fun in the comfort of their own home.

Rocking animals are available in numerous models and designs and often offer additional interesting features, so that it is easy to lose track of them all. In the following, we provide useful tips and valuable information in our rocking animal guide for interested parents, grandparents, friends or relatives who want to bring a smile to their children's eyes with a rocking animal.




Summary

  • Rocking animals have been one of the most popular activity toys worldwide for generations. While the rocking horses of yesteryear were mostly made of wood, rocking animals today come in a wide variety of designs.
  • Among other things, they promote the sense of balance and fine and gross motor skills, support social behaviour and even strengthen children's core muscles when rocking.
  • Fun is not the only focus here: rocking has a calming effect and provides a cosy sense of well-being. In addition, activity toys also stimulate children's imagination and can promote attention as well as concentration.

The Best Rocking Animal: Our Choices

Rocking animals: buying and review criteria

Before buying a rocking animal, there are a number of factors to consider. Of course, it is not only the look that plays a decisive role, but it is also important to pay attention to important safety aspects.

In the following, we would like to go into more detail about the most important purchase and evaluation criteria and explain which factors should be considered when buying a rocking animal.

Model/design

Of course, the design or model always depends entirely on personal taste or the child's preference. While in the past there were mainly rocking horses, nowadays the selection leaves nothing to be desired.

Bear, donkey, duck, caterpillar, fox, dragon or unicorn, rocking animals are available in almost all variations.

From pets to zoo animals to unusual fantasy animals, there is a huge selection.

For the little technology fans, there are cars, motorbikes and even aeroplanes with the appropriate soundscape as rocking animals.

You can also find one or the other Disney character as a rocking animal, so there are no limits to the imagination when it comes to design.

Material

There are many different materials that are used to make a rocking animal. Where in the past mainly only wood was used, today plastic or plush are also used. What exactly are the advantages and disadvantages of the respective types of material is shown in the following table:

Material Advantages Disadvantages
Wood easy to clean, easy to wash, robust and durable for many years, natural raw material can splinter, can be sanded and repainted again if necessary, higher risk of injury, more expensive to buy
Plush / textile / fabric low risk of injury, cuddly and comfortable, usually very attractive signs of wear after a certain time, not suitable for allergy sufferers, not easy to clean
plastic washable, low weight, outdoor use possible, washable, cheaper to buy signs of wear after a certain time, become brittle

The choice ultimately depends on personal preferences and it is important to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of material.

Rocking animals differ for the different age groups mainly in safety aspects. While especially for the youngest children high safety precautions are taken, such as a backrest, a padded seat, a tether strap, etc., the focus for older and older children is on other aspects, e.g. non-slip treads, an anti-tipper or also an appropriate seat height.

Age of the child characteristics of the rocking animal
Babies and toddlers up to approx. 2 years seat with back and side rests, safety belt, handles, padded headrest, safety bar, average seat height approx. 20 - 30 cm
Children from 3 to 4 years non-slip treads, anti-tipper, stable handles, average seat height approx. 40 - 50 cm
Children from 5 years non-slip treads, anti-tipper, higher own weight and carrying capacity, average seat height approx. 60 - 80 cm

Load capacity

The load capacity of a rocking animal also depends on the age of the child. As a rule, however, you can assume that even the smaller rocking animals can carry an average weight of around 20 to 30 kilograms.

Some models even have a maximum load capacity of up to 100 kilograms.

The exact load-bearing capacity or maximum load-bearing capacity is stated by the manufacturer in each case. Rocking animals for children up to 5 years of age can lift an average of around 50 kilograms.

Safety

Of course, the safety aspects are very important when buying a rocking animal. These vary according to the age of the children.

Every rocking animal should be equipped with an anti-tipper and a stable stand.

For babies and toddlers, other safety criteria are in the foreground than, for example, for a rocking animal for a 5-year-old child. Of course, attention should also be paid to the right seat height and size of the rocking animal.

For the youngest children, it is very important that the rocking animal is equipped with a safe seat with side and back rests as well as a safety bar or safety belt. For children from about 1.5 years, stable handles and non-slip footrests are recommended.

Care/cleaning

For hygienic reasons, a rocking animal, like any other children's toy, should be cleaned regularly. In the course of time, dirt and grime accumulate and thus provide an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. For this reason, the toy should be cleaned from time to time.

Depending on the material, you can use a damp cloth and wipe the rocking animal thoroughly. In the case of plush rocking animals, the cover can often be easily removed and then conveniently cleaned in the washing machine.

Rocking animals: Frequently asked questions and answers

Of course, everyone wants only the best for their children and informs themselves more precisely about the details before buying. To make the purchase decision a little easier, we have listed some of the most important questions and answers about rocking animals below.

What is a rocking animal?

A rocking animal is an activity toy for children from about 9 months, which is usually equipped with runners for rocking. Whereas in the past there were only simple wooden rocking horses, today there are numerous models and different types of animals available - from donkeys and giraffes to cute rocking elephants.

Schaukeltier-1

Nowadays, most rocking animals consist of a wooden frame covered with soft plush and equipped with solid, rounded wooden runners
(Image source: Łukasz Szczepanik / pixabay).

In contrast to the past, rocking animals today are more of a mix between a rocking horse and a plush toy.

What types of rocking animals are there?

As a rule, rocking animals are divided into two categories: Rocking animals with a seat, safety belt and backrest for the youngest children and rocking animals without a backrest. Furthermore, the activity toys for the very young are usually more padded all around and also offer more overall support during use.

Art Features
with seat, safety belt and backrest can be used from approx. 9 months, a soft side border ensures a stable and secure hold, promotes the child's development, usually equipped with stable handles, safety belt is adjustable in size, light weight, so that even the smallest children can move the rocking animal independently
without backrest suitable for larger, already stable children, rocking animals are somewhat larger and heavier, higher load capacity and better stability, larger rocking radius, can usually be used for several years

The following also applies to rocking animals for very young children: The baby should be able to sit upright independently, before that it is not recommended to use a rocking horse. Babies do not really enjoy using a rocking horse until they are about 9 or 10 months old.

Who is a rocking horse suitable for?

As soon as a baby can sit independently and has a relatively stable musculoskeletal system, it can be placed in a rocking animal. This is usually the case when the little ones are between 9 and 12 months old. Rocking animals are available in different designs for different age groups; the age recommendations can usually be found in the manufacturer's specifications.

On average, interest in a rocking animal lasts until about primary school. Horse-loving girls often want a rocking horse that is as lifelike as possible, with mane, saddle and bridle. In such cases, children often continue to play with their lifelike playmate beyond primary school and enjoy the imaginative play.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a rocking animal?

The rocking animal is a very popular toy with children, which of course, like any other toy, has its advantages and disadvantages. Below we present some interesting facts:

Advantages
  • trains the organ of balance
  • rhythmic movement has a calming effect
  • promotes imagination and dexterity
  • can be used indoors and outdoors
  • supports social behaviour
  • promotes the child's motor development
  • provides well-being and good mood
  • can promote attention and concentration
  • durable toy
Disadvantages
  • sometimes expensive to buy
  • can usually only be used for a limited time
  • possible risk of injury if used unsupervised
  • requires some space

Of course, the fun factor should not be overlooked: most children are completely infatuated with their rocking playmate and remain loyal to it even when it is only a decoration in the children's room.

How much does a rocking animal cost?

The costs for a rocking animal are quite individual, depending on the equipment, load capacity and model. Basically, you can buy a simple rocking animal for the little ones for about 40 euros, but of course there are hardly any upper limits. Most models have a price range between 50 and 80 euros, which often includes a sound effect or additional features.

If, for example, the rocking animal is equipped with extensive additional functions or offers a particularly large load-bearing capacity, which of course increases the duration of use enormously, the toy may well cost over 100 euros. Of course, there are also handmade rocking animals made of solid wood, which can cost between 200 and 400 euros.

Type costs
Simple rocking animal from approx. 40 euros
Rocking animal with additional features from approx. 50 - 80 euros
Handmade rocking animals from approx. 200 - 400 euros

Alternatively, of course, there is always the option of buying a second-hand rocking animal, for example from regional classifieds or similar.

What additional features are there (music/sound/with wheels)?

Many rocking animals offer other interesting features that might be of interest:

  • Music/sounds: Some rocking toys play sound effects and children's songs, for example, or imitate animal or motor sounds.
  • Castors: Additional castors are attached to the runners, making the toy much easier to transport and move.
  • Height-adjustable stirrups: Many swing toys are equipped with height-adjustable stirrups, making it possible to use the swing for a longer period of time.
  • Combination model: There are rocking animals that can also be converted into a slide or see-saw, for example.

Despite all the additional features, safety is of course paramount and should always be the top priority when buying.

What alternatives are there to a rocking animal?

There are alternatives to a rocking animal that provide similar fun and also offer advantages for the development of children's motor skills:

Alternative Description
Seesaw A seesaw is a type of bouncy swing for indoors and outdoors, it is usually made of wood or plastic. Manufacturers usually recommend its use from the age of 3 or 4.
Bouncy animal A bouncy animal is similar to a bouncy ball and is inflatable. It is made of robust plastic and can be loaded up to 200 kg in some cases. The bouncy animals are also available with a plush cover, for example.

Conclusion

A rocking animal not only provides great fun, but even offers many advantages for the child's development. The equilibrium organ is trained and also the motor development as well as the dexterity is promoted. It supports social behaviour and also encourages children's imagination.

Furthermore, the rhythmic rocking triggers a sense of well-being and puts children in a good mood. A rocking animal is thus an exciting activity toy and arouses attention. It is therefore fair to say that a rocking animal is definitely a worthwhile toy that even the youngest children will enjoy most.

Image source: Agsararattananont/ 123rf

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