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Best Toy Excavators For Toddlers


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If you don’t understand the differences between construction vehicle diggers and toy excavators, you will feel overwhelmed.

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The Bruder is the best excavator toy.

The Bruder Cat Small Wheel Excavator is our pick. With moving tires and a working arm telescopic loader, this excavator is a great indoor or outdoor toy. It’s a great pick because it’s cheap and it’s quality is great.

It’s a good choice for children as young as three years old. There are no screws, glue, or batteries in this picture. It is made from high quality plastic.

The large lever makes it easy for little hands to raise and lower the arm. It’s ready to go play, it’s fully assembled. This looks like a real Caterpillar excavator.

Pros Ideal for kids ages 3 and up

  • Can be used indoors and outdoors
  • Extremely durable

A fully functional Cons Handle attached to a boom requires coordination and can pinch little fingers until a child learns how to use it.

The iLearn Construction site vehicle set is the best overall excavator set.

The iPlay, iLearn Construction Site Vehicle Set is a great solution for under $50 for parents who prefer a full set.

A toy crane, a cement truck, a steamroller, and a dump truck are also included in the package. You also get safety gear.

There are moving parts in all of the vehicles. The set is made from plastic and has interchangeable parts. It is ideal for group play due to the large range of vehicles, and can be used in the sand.

Many of the trucks in the set are no taller than 2 inches, so if you have specific size specifications in mind, keep that in mind.

Pros Complete construction site set

  • Encourages group play

The parts for the tractor are not as durable as other options.

The Cat Construction 7” combo set is perfect for little ones that want their construction vehicles to look like the ones they see in real life. The three-piece set includes an excavator, dump truck, and front loader and is designed to be a replica of authentic Caterpillar vehicles.

These realistic, functional trucks are made from sturdy plastic with working parts so your children can enjoy more realistic play.

They are ideal for children three to six years of age. The packaging is easy to open.

Pros Caterpillar vehicle replicas

  • 3-piece set
  • There are working parts that are safe for play.

Budget friendly options are not as durable as other options.

There is a mini excavator toy set.

The 11 in 1 Die-cast Construction Truck Toy Set is a compact option featuring 11 mini construction trucks that fit inside a larger truck. The portable set is perfect for the construction fan.

Along with 11 miniature construction vehicles that feature metal bodies and plastic moving parts, you will get eight little men posed in action as they work on the site. The pieces are designed to fit inside a larger construction truck for easy storage when playtime is over. There is a rating for this toy.

Pros Compact, space saving design

  • Large multi-piece construction site set
  • Mini vehicles feature moving parts

Plastic parts are not as durable as metal parts.

The John Deere Big Scoop is the best large excavator toy.

The John Deere Big Scoop 15” excavator is a nice sized functional excavator that is budget friendly and nice sized. This is a great choice for dirt.

The toy truck has rolling wheels and a toy arm.

Kids can use the large handle to operate the arm, but they will need to use their hand to scoop the bucket. This is one of the best toys for dirt play. It is an officially licensed product of John Deere. The rating for this truck is three to five years old.

The large size is ideal for fun.

  • Functional excavator

The Cons Scoop bucket needs to be manipulated by hand, not a lever.

Best Beach Excavator Toy: CAT Sand Set

If you’re looking for something a little cheaper than the John Deere Big Scoop 15” Excavator in case your kid forgets it at the beach, then the CAT Sand Set is for you.

It is about 11′′ long with elevated wheels for a smooth ride that won’t get stuck like smaller excavators in soft sand. Each time a child works the levered arm on the excavator bucket, it rotates 90 degrees to scoop up a chunk of sand.

It comes with a shovel and claw arm for multiple kids to play with at the same time. The toy truck is made of plastic. It’s held up well with young children, according to most parents.

If you’re not interested in the construction hat and additional sand shovel, this toy excavator comes with a dump truck and front loader.

The set includes a hard hat and shovel claw.

  • It is larger than many excavator toys and is intended for sand use.

If the product isn’t damaged upon arrival most reviewers think it’s well made for the price.

The best toy for toddlers is the VTech Scoop.

If you want a construction toy that is more interactive, then the VTech Scoop is for you. The toy is battery powered. The items are counted as they’re dropped in the chute and have audio for shapes, songs, and construction phrases.

Light-up buttons, songs, and a quiz mode can be found in this excavator toy. Children need to push the loader at the yellow handle and the arm will go up and down to catch the included pieces.

The toy is for children from 18 months to four years old. When not in use, pieces can be kept inside the excavator.

Pros Repetitive phrases for counting and colors

It is not an outdoor toy.

  • Doesn’t have the realistic construction toy look

Best Plush Excavator Toy: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

This plush excavator toy is sure to be a hit with your child. This doll does more than just look cute.

It’s 9 inches tall and soft to the touch.

When you press the back of the excavator, it makes engine noises and the headlights light up, but once it dies, this feature no longer works.

It’s a great way to encourage interactive reading experiences when read alongside the Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site books, and can serve as a wonderful sleep toy for little ones.

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Pros Safe for all ages

  • Features lights and noises

There is no way to change the battery so the lights and sounds don’t last very long.

  • Only one sound and arm doesn’t move

The best character excavator toy is the Mini Excavator.

What kid doesn’t love a dog? While not a classic character toy, it’s often one adults overlook, despite the educational Youtube channel for toddlers having over a billion views.

The show teaches kids all about community and science by going to different museums, farms, fire stations and more.

The Mini Vehicles come in two-pack sets and this one has an excavator with a shovel and a fire truck with a ladder. There is a character in each vehicle.

These aren’t true-to-life construction toys, but they are fun with moving parts and working wheels so your child can push these mini cars all over the house and make an affordable pick to bring to the playground or take on toss in a purse for on the go toys They are about 3′′ long and can double as a cake topper. The set is safe for children of all ages.

Target has an 8 piece set that makes sounds and music with a larger excavator.

Pros 2-pack vehicle set

  • Cars have moving parts and working wheels

Quality is equal to a Happy Meal toy so you’re paying for brand name.

You can build digger toys as well. The LEGO DUPLO Construction Set 10931 gives a unique challenge of construction of your dump truck and excavator which can be used for pretend play.

LEGO is rated safe for 2 year olds and up. Two construction workers, a rock, and working excavator toy parts are included in the 20 pieces.

The cabin rotates, and the arm pivots. Assembly is designed with little ones in mind so it is easy to do with them.

Pros supports gross and fine motor skills.

  • STEM aligned

Not ideal for sand/dirt as sand can get between the LEGO bricks.

Best Ride-On Excavators:

The Kettler CAT Ride-On is the best sit on a toy excavator.

The most realistic, fully operational ride on excavator digger toy with middle of the road pricing is the CAT Ride-On Digger.

It is safe for children as young as 3. It has four rolling wheels with treads that are made of rubber. The main digger base has a large digging shovel. The arm has two levers that can be used to scoop sand or dirt.

If you prefer, you can lock the arm into position and it has the most realistic features for a ride on an excavator. The oversized tread on the wheels makes them better for traction on sand. The bucket can be used with sand, dirt, and snow. Light assembly is required when the item arrives.

If you have a John Deere fan on your hand, you can purchase an excavator with John Deere branding instead of the other way around.

Pros 360-degree swivel support

  • Dual-lever control of arm and bucket
  • Enhanced wheels for better traction and smoother ride

Kettler brand customer service is very good.

The Big Dig is the most affordable ride on an excavator.

The big dig and roll is a ride-on excavator. The best functioning excavator that allows kids to sit on and roll around is not the most realistic excavator.

You will get a sturdy metal frame set with a seat and a working excavator arm.

The handles can be used to raise and lower the arm, and to adjust the bucket angle. The toy can dig to depths of 15 inches and has an arm extension of 33 inches. The toy is rated for over 100 pounds.

Pros Real life immersive experience

  • 360-degree seat swivel

It’s an easy fix if you replace the screw and bolt with a locking bolt because the bucket can fall off if you don’t.

The best ride on an excavator toy is for toddlers.

If you want the ultimate ride-on toy excavator, you need something that can make noises and lights up, just like a real one.

If a toddler decides they don’t want to ride the high back seat, parents can carry it home with a handle if they need to.

There is a weight limit of 45 lbs for this ride-on toy. As your child turns the steering wheel, the music is playing. A handle can be used to move the excavator arm. The cab moves. It shouldn’t take more than half an hour to complete the assembly.

Pros Working wheels, arm, and bucket

The list includes motion activated lights and music, but it has a shorter lifespan than others.

The John Deere Backhoe is the best pedal ride on toy excavators.

The most expensive ride-on toy excavator also has the most features. This one is powered by children walking the wheels and features pedals and a low frame like a tricycle.

John Deere branding as well as a front loader and excavator arm are included in the package. Both loaders have levers and the backhoe digger has a stabilizer foot.

The seat can be adjusted to fit your child. The front hood lifts for storage and the tires have a rubber tread. The weight limit is 50 lbs. It is recommended for children 3 to 8 years old.

Pros Fully functional backhoe and front loader

Pedal ride on design Cons Challenging to assemble

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Best Remote Control Excavators:

The Double E Remote Control Excavator RC Toy is the best.

The Double E RC Excavator is a replica of a construction vehicle. It’s safe for 6 years old and up and is affordable.

It has a digging arm that can lift and scoop heavy duty tires, a cab that rotates 660 degrees, and a rubberized tire.

You can use the remote control to operate as far away as 100 feet. The package includes the transmitter, battery pack, and a charging cable, but not the remote.

It has an 11 channel function that allows you to go forward, backwards, left, and rotate while making sounds and flashing lights.

Pros Runs on rechargeable batteries

  • 100ft range for remote
  • Works with sand and dirt

Fun for kids and adults, but may not last long.

The best RC toy for toddlers is Power Gearz Jr.

Big kids shouldn’t have fun. The first RC toddler excavator toy is made by Power Gearz Jr. It has a kid friendly remote control with two large buttons. It makes sounds and lights up.

From a safety perspective, the round, soft edges and flexible antenna is a good one. A construction worker can see in the truck’s seat, or be used as a pretend play player.

The remote control can reach 98 feet. It is safe for at least 24 months.

Pros Toddler appropriate remote control for independent play

There is no option to turn off sound or volume.

  • Can burn through batteries quickly
  • All plastic design

The best remote control toy for older kids is the LEGO Technic R 9800 Excavator.

When you can build it first, why not play with it? Children who might otherwise be bored with a traditional excavator truck can benefit from the LEGO R 9800 Excavator Building Kit. The 4,108 piece set will teach your child how to put the truck together and control it.

The excavator is fun for kids and adults. It has 2 smart hubs and 7 motor. You don’t have to worry about losing a remote or running out of batteries if you use the Technic Control+ app to operate your creation.

The forward and backwards drive, as well as the bucket, and even complete challenges, can be controlled via four screens. The toy is safe for children of all ages.

Pros Encourages advanced STEM learning

  • App-supported RC functionality
  • Realistic design
  • Can purchase replacement pieces from LEGO

The kit is cheaper to purchase than the individual parts.

  • Not suitable for all terrains

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Best Wooden Excavator Toys For Montessori At Home:

They are known for their wooden toys. There are two different construction sets.

The set comes with a classic dump truck and a wooden construction truck. It has a towing attachment, four wooden constructions pieces, and a road barrier.

The set includes a truck, flatbed trailer, and excavator that moves.

The wheels and buckets on the excavator are plastic, but it does scoop, lift, and tilt. It’s safe for children 3 and up and parents can enjoy the packaging.

Pros Painted wood construction

  • Functional pieces

Simple design Cons Plastic wheels and buckets

Best Quality Wooden Excavator: Indigo Jamm Digger Dave

The push along excavator from Indigo Jamm is an excellent quality and gorgeous.

The front loader bucket can be moved. Kids will enjoy using this wooden truck for pretend play and parents will appreciate it working on fine motor skills.

The digger measures in at nearly 7′′ tall and about 12.5′′ long, with a wooden driver on it.

Pros Plastic free

  • Made from sustainable rubber wood
  • Includes removable driver

Cons Brand isn’t as accessible in the US as it is in other countries.

There are vehicles with a wooden storage tray.

The mini excavator toy set is the best we could find. There is a wooden storage tray, 7 wooden construction vehicles, and a crane with construction pieces for lifting.

It’s the most comprehensive mini construction vehicle set for the price, and kids will love playing with it. The construction pieces are quite small and we would strongly urge parents to hold off on introducing them until they are at least 3 years old.

They are not the best quality in order to keep them affordable. If you prefer something a little nicer, then Le Toy Van’s mini wooden construction vehicle set is a good choice. There are five construction vehicles and two traffic cones. They use 80% rubberword and use cheap plywood, mdf, plastic, and steel for a more durable finish. All of their paints are non toxic.

Pros Comes with storage box

The construction vehicles and accessories are not the best quality.

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How to choose the best excavator toy

The toy excavators are a great way to spend time. Picking the right toy is more than just playing with it.


You want to make sure that the toy you buy for your child is appropriate for that age group. Younger children shouldn’t have toys with small parts that can easily come off.

You want to keep dexterity in mind with toy excavators as many require children to manipulate the scoop bucket

An older child might find an excavator that lights up and makes a lot of noise. Look for options that don’t rely on a single function or material for scooping and digging.

A toy excavator that can grow with a child through the years is something large, open ended, durable and manually operated.


The most durable and longest lasting metal construction toys have a price tag. Individual replacement parts are typically sold by these.

The rubberwood will be your most durable material.

Lead-free metals and paint are always looked for.


If you live in a cold climate and your child wants to use the excavator in snow, opting for something higher quality can be a safer option as cheap plastic can become brittle and snap in extreme temperatures.

If your child wants to use their toy excavator outdoors, be aware that water, humidity, and sunlight can cause stickers to peel and paint to chip more quickly.

It is always a good idea to double check the design of toy excavators.


The child needs to manually manipulate the options. More fine motor skill development, more open ended and imaginative play, and that parents don’t need to replace batteries are some of the pros of this.

This encourages a deeper engagement with the otys and encourages longer lasting play, compared to light up toys that just entertained.


Other options could be battery powered or remote controlled.

If parents want to turn off the lights/sounds for a period of time, we recommend looking to see if there is an on/off switch.

If the remote control is too complex for the child, keep an eye on the length of play.


It’s an awesome option for playground and backyards. The child sitting and pushing with their feet is what this style is about.

Some ride on excavators have lights and sounds, others are completely manual.

Sets vs. Single Items

Depending on the level of construction vehicle enthusiast you have on your hands, a single excavator or a toy may be the best choice.

You’ll only find toy excavators that are a single item.

If you want to see how interested your child is in construction vehicle toys, a set can be a good starting point.


There are toy excavators at every price point. It’s priority to say on budget.

If replacement parts can be purchased separately, that matters to you. For some people, the cheapest toy is the best. For others, they may want a more expensive one that sells individual replacement parts, like Bruder, so the toy lasts for a long time.

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FAQs About Toy Excavators:

What is a toy excavator?

Everything in the world of construction vehicle toys can look the same. A toy excavator has a boom, dipper, bucket, and rotating cab. Some excavators have wheels.

If you have a construction vehicle enthusiast on your hands, the biggest thing to look out for is whether they have strong feelings about a backhoe or a big excavator. An excavator is larger than a backhoe and can be used for more heavy duty construction jobs. A backhoe has wheels and is used in farming or lighter jobs.

Both of these versions are referred to as excavators. There are a variety of styles of toy them, including models made from plastic, wood, and metal.

Are excavator toys good for children?

Children can learn about the world around them through play with excavator toys. Beyond simply having fun, children of all ages and genders can begin to understand basic engineering concepts that relate to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Toy excavators teach a lot of skills and respect for construction workers.

Toy excavators are one of the more fragile construction vehicle toys and require some of the greatest skill in manipulating the bucket to make them work.

Benefits Of A Toy Excavator:

  • Respect for community and other industries
  • Pretend and imaginative play
  • STEM Learning
  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Language development
  • Opportunity to work on social skills and sharing
  • Learning to care for things

What skills do excavator toys work on?

There are educational and development benefits to using excavator toys. Children begin to learn about technology and engineering principles when they are in school.

Children are able to gain physical, cognitive and social skills. Children hone their gross and fine motor skills with the help of an excavator. As they work through the process of moving dirt or objects from one location to another by using the excavator, their ability to reason and solve problems is increased. This is important in developing their internal reward system and confidence.

If they have a construction worker or driver doll, playing with an excavator toy alone can help them develop social skills.

When playing in groups, children learn to take turns and play with other people.

Language skills can be built by playing together or by playing alone. A trip to the library to find some books to answer all of their questions is a great way to develop language and a love of literacy.

How do toy excavators work?

The boom arm is used to lift and scoop items up with the bucket. The wheels move when the cab is rotating.

The function of the toy excavtor can vary depending on the type. Some use a remote control, others use a battery powered one.

What brands generally make good toy excavators?

The best excavator toys are usually from brands like Bruder and LEGO since you can buy replacement pieces if the toy breaks.

John Deere and Caterpillar offer some of the more realistic and affordable options that are more durable than smaller brands.

How do you care for a toy?

It is possible to clean a toy excavator with a damp cloth.

You may want to use a Qtip or air duster to get into hard to reach nooks and crannies.

You want to keep any toy out of the water or the sun.

Which toy excavators are good for a sandbox?

The toy excavators are made for use in the playground. The wheel depth of the toy excavator and how hard it will be to clean the sand off after it’s been in the sand are two things to look for.

An air duster is a great way to clean sand from hard to reach places.

Some people don’t want to put plush excavators, Lego bricks, or RC powered models in the sand because they are more likely to get damaged or be more difficult to clean.

Before allowing your child to play with a toy outside, check with the manufacturer.

Can a toy excavator be used with other toys?

Yes! You can use toy excavators with other toys. Many excavators are intended to be part of a complete set. Pretend play can be made more exciting by using them with other toys.

Final Thoughts:

Toy excavators are a fun way for little ones to get hands-on play time and learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Bruder Small Cat Excavator is a great option for kids because of its realistic design and affordability. The LEGO DUPLO Construction Set is rated safe for 2 year olds and up, so we recommend it for toddlers.

The Kettler CAT Ride-On Excavator is the best toy ride. The toy excavator is powered by a child’s feet and has a crane arm. This option has one of the largest weight capacities of 75 lbs, as well as being realistic.

While the Indigo Jamm Digger Dave is the best wooden toy excavator, we know it’s not in everyone’s budget, which is why we love theMelissa & Doug excavator set which comes with a dump truck, loading car, and construction accessories.

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