Last updated: August 5, 2021

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Children have a strong urge to move. When they are no longer crawling, they explore everything and romp around. Rocking on a rocking horse can not only bring your child joy, but also relax a restless baby.

With our rocking horse guide, we would like to support you in your decision and introduce you to the best rocking horses on the market. For this purpose, we have selected different types and summarised the decisive features of these models. We want to make your decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • Rocking horses are toys on which children can rock forwards and backwards. In this way, children's motor skills and especially their sense of balance are encouraged in a playful way.
  • There is an endless choice of different animals, such as rocking dinos, rocking unicorns or even rocking elephants.
  • Rocking horses are recommended from the age of 12 months, as from then on they are able to sit on their own. Nevertheless, there are also rocking horses with a protective ring, i.e. an arm and backrest.

The Best Rocking Horse: Our Choices

Rocking horses: buying and evaluation criteria

We would like to show you the variety of rocking horses on the basis of various criteria. The following criteria will help you decide which rocking horse is right for you:

In the following paragraphs, we will explain what the criteria are in order to help you make your choice.

Size

Not every child is the same size. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the seat height is adapted to the size of your child. With a rocking horse, your child should not be able to touch the ground with bent legs. However, with outstretched legs, it should be able to touch the ground.

Especially in the beginning, your child must be able to stop in order to correct the loss of balance. Therefore, you should make sure that the rocking horse is neither too big nor too small.

There are already rocking horses that have the option of extending the seat height. This gives you the opportunity to adjust the height over the years and adapt it to the size of your child.

The size of the child's room should also be taken into account when choosing a rocking horse. So make sure that the rocking horse does not take up the entire space of the child's room.

So consider both the size of your child to ensure safety and the size of your child's room when looking for the ideal rocking horse.

Material

When choosing a suitable rocking horse, you should look at the material. Besides the well-known wooden rocking horses, other designs are also possible. The following three materials are used for rocking horses:

  • Wood: The wooden rocking horse is a true classic that has already convinced many generations. The chic material not only offers visual advantages, but also impresses with its durability. The robust material is also easy to care for. However, we advise you to make sure that there are no sharp corners or even splinters sticking out.
  • Plush: The plush rocking horse impresses with its soft material. This means that the child can sit comfortably on the toy from an early age and hold on tight. Nevertheless, the material can wear off with frequent use.
  • Plastic: The lightweight plastic rocking horse offers the advantage that it is easy to transport. The material is well suited for the garden because it is weatherproof. Nevertheless, the plastic is susceptible to cracks and scratches. The easy-care material is available in a wide range of colours.

Accordingly, the different materials offer their advantages and disadvantages, whereby the wooden rocking horse impresses with its robustness. The plush rocking horse, on the other hand, offers a realistic and comfortable playing experience. The plastic version, on the other hand, is easy to clean and impresses with its weather resistance and endless choice of colours.

Design

After you have decided on the size and the material, you can start choosing the design. There are endless variations of rocking animals. Accordingly, your child does not necessarily have to be enthusiastic about horses to benefit from a rocking horse.

Instead, they can choose between these rocking animals, among others:

  • Rocking unicorn
  • Rocking dinosaur
  • Rocking motorbike
  • Swing
  • Rocking donkey

The list of designs is endless and ranges from different rocking animals to rocking motorbikes. The principle is the same for all designs, so your child can choose freely.

Sound

Many manufacturers offer rocking horses with sound effects. These sounds create a realistic play experience. The neighing, snorting and growling of the horse is imitated.

Sounds make playing even more varied.

Other rocking animals already have the option of integrated animal sounds. The sound effects are mainly triggered by pressing on the ear.

There are different models ranging from 1 to 4 sounds. So depending on which rocking animal you choose, it may have more or less sound effects.

The rocking horses with sound offer varied fun and make playing and rocking even more exciting.

Rocking horses: Frequently asked questions and answers

In the following, we would like to answer all the relevant questions about rocking horses. We have selected the questions for you and answered them briefly and compactly. After reading this, you will know all the essential information about the rocking horse.

Who is a rocking horse suitable for?

The rocking horse is a toy that is all about movement. It allows children to rock and sway. It is therefore suitable for children who want to train their sense of balance while playing and have fun at the same time.

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Rocking on a rocking horse develops your child's sense of balance and brings a lot of fun while playing.
(Image source: Tatiana Syrikova / Pexels)

Rocking horses are recommended from the age of 12 months, as they can sit on their own from this age. Nevertheless, safety aspects such as a safety belt or a backrest should not be neglected.

The popular rocking horse is not only suitable for the very young. Adjustable seat heights make it possible to continue using the rocking horse and adapt it to the child's size.

For older children, the plush rocking horses are particularly popular. The lifelike design creates a realistic play experience.

A rocking horse is suitable for both small and big children because of its versatility. This toy not only brings fun into your home or garden, but also helps your child learn to balance.

What types of rocking horses are there?

There are three types of rocking horses to choose from. We have summarised the three types and their characteristics.

  • Classic rocking horse: The classic rocking horse consists of two runners, a seat and footrests. Some models also have a seat belt or safety bar. The round shape makes it possible to rock.
  • Rocking horse with wheels: This type has wheels that allow it to move and rock. With these models, the wheels are simply folded down with a flick of the wrist.
  • Rockinghorse with backrest: The rocking horse with backrest is a type that is particularly suitable for small children or babies. The backrest allows your baby to keep their balance.

We have put together the advantages and disadvantages of the three types to help you decide.

Type advantages disadvantages
Classic rocking horse great fun, long-lasting, variety of material and design risk of scratches
Rocking horse with wheels varied play experience, different models high price
Rocking horse with backrest different models, offers balance even for the smallest ones, not only for playing but also for relaxing only suitable for babies, therefore not to be used for long

The advantages of the classic model are the high level of play fun and durability. The classic model is available in many designs. However, the runners can scratch the floor.

The rocking horse with wheels brings a lot of variety into the children's room and is also available in many different designs. However, you should be aware that this type is a more expensive model.

Rocking horses with backrests are especially suitable for babies, as the backrest allows them to keep their balance. The model not only brings fun, but also lets your baby relax. As babies and toddlers grow quickly, they will unfortunately also quickly outgrow this model.

How much does a rocking horse cost?

There is a wide price range between the different types of rocking horses. This can vary depending on the material, extras such as sound effects and size.

The price starts at around 40 euros, although these models usually do not include any special features. If you choose a simple rocking horse, the price will not be high. Models with wheels or other extras start at a price of 60 euros.

We have compiled an overview of the price range of the three different types of rocking horses.

Type price range
Classic rocking horse 40 to 100 euros
Rocking horse with wheels 60 to 250 euros
Rocking horse with backrest 40 to 90 euros

The price of the classic rocking horse is between 40 and 100 euros. In contrast, the price of a rocking horse with wheels starts at around 60 euros. The rocking horse with backrest can be purchased for 40 euros or more.

Even if you have a lower budget, it is recommended to choose a simple model without many extras.

What alternatives are there to a rocking horse?

There are different toys that train children's sense of balance just like the rocking horse. The two alternatives are the stand-up horse and the bouncy animal.

We will describe the two alternatives in more detail below. Especially with children's toys, it makes sense to look at the advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, we will also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives.

Standing horse

A standing horse is an almost life-size toy horse for children. It has strong legs so that children can easily sit on it. They have a soft coat and usually come with accessories such as a saddle and bridle. It is suitable for children from the age of three.

The standing horse comes with many advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages
  • promotes sense of balance while having fun
  • variety of sizes and colours
  • high carrying capacity
  • stability
Disadvantages
  • needs a lot of space
  • does not move

It not only brings a lot of fun, but also promotes the sense of balance at the same time. The variety of colours and sizes are further positive aspects. In addition, the stand-up horse offers a high load-bearing capacity and stability.

However, it should be noted that standing horses require a lot of space in a room and, unlike rocking horses, do not move.

Bouncy animal

A bouncy animal is a toy that is filled with air. Children can jump around on a bouncy animal and train their coordination and balance in a playful way. Bouncy animals come in different varieties, such as bouncy horses, bouncy bees or even bouncy unicorns.

The advantages and disadvantages of bouncing animals are also relevant when making a decision. Accordingly, we have summarised these in a table:

Advantages
  • trains motor skills
  • easy to clean
  • can be used both indoors and outdoors
Disadvantages
  • Air pressure must be controlled
  • only suitable from the age of 2

Bouncy animals also teach motor skills and are easy to clean. You can use them both indoors and outdoors.

However, you must check the air pressure regularly and it is only suitable for children from the age of 2.

Both alternatives are exciting toys to train children's motor skills and sense of balance. However, the rocking horse stands out with its durability and movement.

How can I restore my old wooden rocking horse?

Basically, a wooden rocking horse is restored just like old wooden furniture. However, since it is a toy for children, you should proceed with care.

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The chic wooden rocking horse is a real eye-catcher, especially in bright colours. You can also restore an old rocking horse in just a few steps.
(Image source: Ksenia Chernaya / Pexels)

Before applying the wood preservative, you can paint the rocking horse.

You can restore your old wooden rocking horse in just 6 steps:

  1. Disassemble: Disassemble the rocking horse to get good access to all parts.
  2. Sanding: The next step is to sand the wooden surface with an orbital sander or 220-grit sandpaper. Make sure that the varnish is completely removed and that sharp edges are rounded off.
  3. Filling: Now you can fill all cracks and other imperfections and then sand these areas again.
  4. Final sand ing: Now sand the wood with fine sandpaper. Use inlet primer to prime the wood before the final sanding.
  5. Assemble: Reassemble the rocking horse. Carefully check the safety and stability of the rocking horse.
  6. Apply wood preservative: To prevent the restored rocking horse from getting scratched again, you should treat it with wood preservative. Use a non-toxic product for this.

The most important thing is to check the rocking horse thoroughly, as it must be safe for children. If you have followed all the steps, your children will be very happy with the rocking horse.

How can I build my own rocking horse?

If you decide to build a rocking horse, wood is the best material to use. The step-by-step instructions are as follows:

  1. Preparation: First draw the rocking horse on a sheet of paper. Then transfer the drawing to two plywood boards of the same size. Use the remaining material for the tail of the rocking horse.
  2. Saw: Place the two sheets of plywood on top of each other and fix them with pneumatic nailers or double-sided tape. Now cut the wooden panels with a jigsaw or band saw.
  3. Sanding: Sand edges with a wide belt sander or sanding block and sandpaper.
  4. Drill: Drill holes in the two side pieces for the footrest later.
  5. Prepare the seat: Draw the seat on two sheets of plywood. Then glue the two plywood sheets together.
  6. Prepare the horse head: Draw the horse's head on a glue board. Alternatively, plywood can be used. Cut out the head with a jigsaw or band saw.
  7. Glue and dowel: In the next step, glue all the individual parts to the two side parts. Use dowels for more stability.
  8. Attach the support bar: Drill holes for the holding rod at the neck of the rocking horse and glue them.
  9. Treat the surface: Sand the whole rocking horse again. Remove any dust from the rocking horse. Now you can treat the rocking horse with hard wax oil by rubbing it with a cotton cloth. Sand off any excess wood fibres and oil the rocking horse again.

You should be aware that you need manual skills, as the rocking horse must be safe for your child.

Conclusion

Children have a lot of toys to discover, but a rocking horse brings many advantages due to its mobility. Besides the playful training of motor skills and especially the sense of balance, the child has a lot of fun playing. It is the ideal combination of play fun and learning.

The different varieties of rocking horses allow you to find the perfect rocking horse for your child. Whether you choose a model with or without wheels or even with sound effects is up to you. However, pay attention to the safety features, especially when your child is learning to balance.

Photo source: Białasiewicz / 123rf

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