Train tables provide lots of fun and challenges for children as they try to figure out the best possible layout of their train tracks that will easily fit in into the dimensions of the table. While certain mommies and daddies do not agree with the use of train tables as it severely limits the imaginative and creative abilities of children by using only the space that is available, it does provide for a means to establish children’s critical thinking and divergent problem solving skills. As such, it remains, to this very day, a very popular activity not only for kids but also for adults who are fascinated with trains and the ecosystem upon which these trains thrive. And if you think it’s about time you get for your child his very own set, here are the 8 best train tables for you to consider.

What to Consider When Buying a Train Table

Train tables are like any other play set that come with so many features that can be quite overwhelming for the absolute newbie. Good thing, however, we have listed some of the most important things you need to consider when buying a train table for your kid.

  • Quality of the materials used 

Without question, you should always go for products with quality construction and design. Most train tables are made of wood so you can always look at it as a piece of furniture. As much as possible you should go for solid wood as these provide exceptional strength and durability which means you and your kid will be enjoying your platform for many years. The only downside to solid wood construction is that it tends to be priced a bit higher than other types.

You can also choose those that are made of fiberboards, particle boards, or even plywood. Their main draw is that they cost a fraction of the price of a solid wood, particularly a hardwood. Another thing that’s going for these engineered wood products is that they are rigorously tested for strength and durability that meets both national and international product requirements.

There are also some manufacturers that incorporate a mixture of plastic and metal in their wooden designs.

  • Size of the train table 

Technically, the size of the train table is dependent on the size of the room where you are going to put or assemble it in. Ideally, you would want a piece of furniture that stands in the center of the room with plenty of space around it so you and your kid can easily walk around. This helps ease the application of designs and the placement of other accessories on the play set. You will also have to consider the different accessories you are going to place. Some manufacturers can provide you with different sizes for the same model or variety of train table. At least, you’ll have the size to your liking.

  • Inherent design of the table 

Most train tables come in a standard rectangular form, although it is not unusual to see other shapes like square and circle. Some would even be shaped in an oblong. The thing is that it is not really the shape that matters but what are already included in the furniture.

Most come with printed landscapes to help kickstart the mini railroad building project. Some also include starter sets that include toy trains and accessories like tracks, buildings, bridges, train stations and depots and others. If you already have these things then you might want to just go for a simple design. If not, you may want to go with a product that already includes a starter set. Many come with specific themes, too. It can be a favorite kiddie train TV show, a mountain scenery, or even the wild west.

Some also come with lids that can be used not only to cover the train table but also as additional surface for children’s activities like drawing, doodling, painting, and even solving some puzzles and building some craft toys. There are also those that have integrated storage compartments which is simply perfect for organizing the different elements of the play set.

  • Branded vs. unbranded? 

We have already said that there are plenty of train table manufacturers out there. Most of those that produce high quality ones come from North America and Europe, although it’s not uncommon to find exceptional ones from Asia and other parts of the globe. However, it is really best to go for a brand that is well-recognized in the design and manufacture of high quality train tables rather than risk getting one from a company with no known reputation for such things. For starters, you can always trust on Step2, KidKraft, Fisher-Price, and Imaginarium to provide you with great kiddie play furniture.

Benefits of Train Tables

It is a well-established fact that young kids love playing with toy trains. With Thomas the Tank Engine and other kid-friendly train characters, toddlers and preschoolers can whip up their imagination riding and driving one of these famous vehicles of our time. Now, what’s a toy train set if there is no landscape for it to run through and around? That is why getting a train table is a must. Here are some benefits of train tables.

  • Enhances children’s problem solving skills 

It may not be readily evident but you can look at these play sets as oversized LEGO blocks that children will need to piece together to form a continuous loop around a central ‘village’ or structure. You can see that kids will have to use their power of logic to place different sizes and shapes of tracks to produce a mini railway system for the locomotive to run on. They will be asking themselves where to put the mountain, the forest, the bridge, or even the train depot and station. These are questions that require some answers. And this is the very essence of problem solving. This is inherently magnified in cases where you have plenty of accessories and too little space. Kids will have to solve this problem by making sure that each piece gets into the train table without necessarily causing chaos or derailment once the locomotive is up and running.

  • Empowers their creativity and imagination 

Children playing with train sets will have to use their imagination in coming up with unique designs and layouts for their play sets. This is where some parents are quite apprehensive about play sets that already have built-in layouts. Instead of encouraging children to come up with their own unique railway design, all they have to do in such cases is to follow the suggested layout. In situations where the train table allows for some input from your kid, you can expect your child to come up with really crazy ideas about how to place the different pieces together. In fact, it is not uncommon to see elements of a roller coaster in the setup since this is viewed by kids to be really fun.

  • Fosters the more effective use of psychomotor skills 

Without a doubt, piecing the different train set components requires exceptional mastery of psychomotor skills. Kids’ fine motor skills must be well-developed so they can place even the smallest elements into its correct place. More importantly, children will require their spatial motor coordination so they can accurately place such pieces within a tiny space. Playing with train sets will help enhance the development of these psychomotor skills.

Safety Tips for Kids and Train Tables

Like all play sets and kiddie stuff, safety is a paramount concern. Here are some safety tips for kids and train tables that you may have to observe so your child can make the most out of his or her play time.

  • Make sure that the train table is placed in a room that has ample space to move about. If you place it in an area where your child can barely move around the platform, there is a tendency your kid will be bumping into things. If you can secure a minimum of 3 or 4 feet on all sides of the train table, then that would be great. Otherwise, if it simply is too large for the room, maybe you need to relocate it to a bigger area or you buy a smaller table.
  • Choose train tables that have rounded or smooth tapered edges rather than sharp ones. If you happen to purchase furniture with an unusually sharp edge, you can cover this with a cloth or even a foam material. It would be better if you can sand it off, however.
  • Even if your kid has wooden toy trains instead of electronic versions, it is important to keep it clean always. For wooden blocks, you can clean them using a damp cloth that has been dipped in a solution of water and soap. Alternatively, you can use cleansing wipes to sanitize the wooden pieces before storage. For electronic versions, you may need to ensure electrical safety at all times. Make sure the batteries and chargers are all UL certified. You don’t want to start fires in your home because of a defective battery and charging system.
  • If you see any piece or component of your train table or even toy trains that is already damaged or broken, make sure to apply an immediate fix. This is especially true for wooden pieces as splinters can cause cuts among children. If it can no longer be repaired or fixed, sometimes it makes more sense to discard it and replace it with a new one rather than risk injuring your kid.
  • Teach your kid to take care of his or her train play set. It is also important that they know how to pick up their toys and to store them in their respective places. This helps keep his or her play room generally clean and tidy, minimizing if not eliminating the risk of falls and resulting injuries. Providing your kids with toy boxes or compartments should come in very handy.

Building play train sets can be a lot of fun. If you have to choose the right train table for your child, make sure to consider the quality craftsmanship, its size and design, and the reputation of the manufacturer. Only by doing so can you ensure that your child will be able to further hone his or her problem solving skills, imaginative and creative abilities, and psychomotor development. Additionally, like all playthings and stuff that kids use and play with, it is equally important to keep these train tables in pristine condition so they will be safe to play on. And with the 8 best train tables we’ve shared, you can now start embarking on a wonderful journey of train management with your kid.

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Selina Marie
Selina Marie is our head of content for MyKidNeedsThat.com, mum of two and a self proclaimed toy geek. When she isn't juggling the madness at home, on a school run or baking her world famous blueberry muffins, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest toys and fun for our readers!

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