They’re one of the oldest forms of child entertainment, and for good reason. Rockers, as well as their slightly more advanced cousin, the seesaw, provide simple yet engaging activity for children of all ages and backgrounds. Not only is rocking a great way to practice fine motor skills like grip and balance, but it provides the exercise that is essential to a child’s ongoing physical development.
The best rockers, teeter totters, & seesaws for toddlers are the ones that can effectively balance durability with affordability, while also being able to capture the interest of even the most choosy toddlers and kids.
Fortunately, we’ve done the leg work on this one and are ready to present you with our narrowed-down list of the top toddler rockers and seesaws of the year. Later, we’re going a bit deeper into the subject with our Seesaw Buying Guide, where we will reveal our top pick in 2023.
Animal Adventure – Plush Unicorn Rocker
When it comes to toddlers, you can never really go wrong with a unicorn. It seems that there is something universal in the magical nature of the unicorn … something that kids of all genders and backgrounds are simply drawn to. It helps when the unicorn is soft, comfortable, and attached to a durable set of wooden rockers. This turns a simple plush unicorn into a vehicle of adventure and excitement, not to mention a great way to give your toddler the much needed exercise and stimulation that they need.
The Animal Adventure rocker is well built and sturdy, but we wonder if the rocker bars should be a little bit longer to help prevent tipping. The over-excited toddler might just be able to tumble forward in this if they are really going for it.
One of the coolest things about Animal Adventure is that their rocker is available in many more varieties than just the noble unicorn. In fact, the Amazon listing has over a dozen different animals, including Clifford the Dog, a blue triceratops, a peacock, and many more. This is a great way to get more specialized yet still matching gifts for the young siblings in your family. It looks like the price varies slightly by which animal you get, but the construction is basically the same on each one of them.
What We Like: This comfortable and affordable rocker is available in a number of different animal varieties
What We Don’t: Big kids and older toddlers should be careful about not rocking too aggressively or this might tip forward
The Original Toy Company – Crocodile Rocker
This basic yet perfectly constructed Crocodile-shaped teeter-totter has three different seats and a maximum weight capacity of 100 pounds, which makes it the perfect backyard toy for a family with more than one toddler in it. Alternatively, take this thing to the park and watch as the kiddos swarm over it, laughing at its goofy crocodile face and being delighted by the simple yet exciting rocking motion.
The one-piece hard plastic construction means that this is going to be one of the longest lasting toys that you can get, even if you leave it in the yard season after season. With this kind of plastic, some color fading will occur with extended sunlight exposure, but you won’t have to worry about cracking or splitting for quite some time.
One of the benefits of a one-piece plastic rocker over a plush rocker is how much more easy to clean they are. A simple towel and some warm water will get this thing clean in no time, and a quick pass with an antibacterial wipe is a fast way to make it safe after it has been used by a bunch of different kids, like at a birthday party.
No assembly required here, which means big fun right out of the box. Some users have reported receiving a croc-rocker without any eye or teeth decals, but we can confirm that the manufacturers are happy to send these out if it happened to you.
What We Like: One-piece hard plastic construction makes for a durable, easy-to-clean backyard toy
What We Don’t: A bit smaller than expected upon unboxing , but the perfect size for a toddler
Little Tikes – Blue Rocking Horse
The incredible simplicity of the toys made by Little Tikes is one of the biggest reasons that we have come to respect them so much as a company. Their toys rarely feature small or moving parts, and are usually made of hard plastic that is as durable as it is easy to clean. This is certainly the case with this delightful Blue Rocking Horse.
One of the things that they really get right here is the singular wide-cut rocker panel, which is significantly wider than the other rocker bars on our list and leads to a greater side-to-side stability. The steep angle of the front and back curve are also effective at preventing this rocker from tipping over the front end. While this is not something that would normally happen in the course of toddler rocking, a more rambunctious child might just be able to do it on some rockers. Not this one!
Unlike some of the other seesaws, the Little Tikes rocker has a well-defined high-back seat. This is great for keeping the toddler in place, and makes it nearly impossible for them to tumble backwards out of the rocker.
One thing that we noticed from a fresh out-of-the-box Little Tikes rocker was some rough machine edges along the bottom of the rocker bar. This is simply a small crease of sharp plastic, but it should be removed with sandpaper or a razor blade if you plan on using this on delicate wood floors. It can also pose a slight cut hazard to your child, so a brief inspection is a good idea.
What We Like: A well-executed take on a classic toddler rocker design
What We Don’t: Some rough plastic machine edges on the bottom of the rocker
Lifetime – Ace Flyer Airplane Teeter Totter
We’ve got it hand it to Lifetime Products on this one. Their Ace Flyer Teeter Totter has got to be one of the coolest playground toys that we have ever seen, and is impressively constructed even for a company with a reputation like Lifetime’s. Known for their unmatched fabrication prowess (everything from bikes to kayaks) Lifetime is now taking a crack at playground equipment, and it looks like they’re doing just fine.
The most amazing thing about the Ace Flyer (other than the fact that it is shaped like an airplane!) is that it is mounted on two different axis, meaning that it “teeters” and “totters” in more ways than just one. Both front-to-back and side-to-side motions create a truly realistic flight experience, and the increased dimensions means that this can seat up to seven children. That’s a lot of kiddos!
Adjustable heights are a clever way to make this teeter totter work on different kinds of surfaces, not to mention for toddlers who just keep getting taller and taller.
The biggest drawback here is that the Ace Flyer is not cheap. In fact, it is the priciest thing on our list, but when you take a good hard look at what you’re getting, it’s hard to argue that you’re still getting a heck of a deal.
What We Like: Amazing plane-shaped teeter totter that tilts both front to back and side to side
What We Don’t: More expensive than the other rockers on our list
Simplay3 – Two-Sided Rock And Roll Teeter Totter
It never hurts to have seats for a few more kids! This four-seat hard plastic rocker is a great way to entertain a whole group of toddlers, whether they are all yours or you are sharing this awesome rocker with the neighborhood playground for an afternoon. They’ll love pretending that they are sharing an ocean adventure or perhaps a jungle river expedition. The natural front to back rocking motion only adds to the excitement, not to mention helps teach balance and coordination especially in younger toddlers.
Now most of the rockers on our list share the quality of being essentially worthless when tipped over, but remarkably enough, the Rock and Roll Teeter Totter does not have this disadvantage. Flip this baby over and you have a fully functional three-step bridge that is perfect for any playroom. You’ll have to see a picture to know exactly what we’re talking about, but it is no doubt this 2-in-1 versatility that has made this one of the highest reviewed products in its category.
One-piece construction means that there are no moving parts or choking hazards. The double-walled plastic is going to be super easy to clean, and it seems to be sturdy enough to be able to stand up to the elements if left outdoors.
This one is kind of in the middle of the road when it comes to price. It’s not a budget-pick by any means, but it is also not going to cost as much as some of the larger and more involved kits, like the Lifetime Ace Flyer that we looked at earlier.
What We Like: 2-sided play; can be used either as a teeter-totter or a play bridge
What We Don’t: Low-to-the-ground design means limited range of motion
SLIDEWHIZZER – Kids’ Outdoor Seesaw
While we would be happy to give these guys points for no other reason than how fun it is to say SLIDEWHIZZER, we like to think that we’re a bit more professional than that. We wanted to get a real feel for how this seesaw stacked up to the competition, and we are delighted to say that it lives up to its delightful name.
This is a steel-frame seesaw that is powder-coated for rust and weather resistance. Translation: one of the strongest and longest lasting seesaws that you are likely to find. Stronger than plastic but not that much heavier, steel-framed rockers are a good option for parents who are looking to get a lot of mileage out of their playground equipment.
There is more assembly required with this seesaw than with the one-piece molded plastic varieties that we have looked at thus far. Fortunately the assembly instructions are not nearly as complicated as you would expect them to be. We had this thing together in just under an hour, but no doubt a parent with a simple ratchet set might be able to get it done much faster.
One of the more common complaints about this model is that there can exist some sharp edges on the inside of the bolts. These can cause scrapes and scuffs on the toddlers’ legs, so if you see any of these you might want to grind them down or wrap them in foam tape.
What We Like: Powder-coated steel frame is both durable and weather resistant; a great outdoor toy
What We Don’t: Metal bolts can be sharp-edged and might need to be wrapped or capped
Fat Brain Toys – Teeter Popper
It is always nice to see a toy that is going beyond expectations to release something that is simultaneously familiar and exciting … old and new. Fat Brain Toys has done just that with their Teeter Popper, a curved rocking toy with a series of suction cups along the bottom. The basic concept is a small, one-seated personal rocker that makes delightful popping sounds as it rocks back and forth across hard floor surfaces, such as tile, wood, or vinyl plank.
There is no right way to play with the Teeter Popper, which is one of the reasons that we think so many different kids are going to appreciate it. Whether they are sitting in it, lying across it, or riding it like a skateboard, the Teeter Popper offers endless hours of unstructured entertainment, not to mention a comfortable place to sit that can absorb some of that fidgety energy that toddlers are known for.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, but the Teeter Popper was the winner of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA) Best Toys for Kids Award in 2014.
One thing to keep in mind is that the suction cups on the Teeter Popper are pretty strong, which means you can expect some loud popping sounds when your toddler is going at it.
What We Like: A unique but inexpensive single-seat rocker with a fun twist
What We Don’t: Makes a lot more noise than traditional rockers and seesaws
Primer: Why Rocking & Seesawing Is Good For Your Toddler
Shopping for kids’ toys these days isn’t what it used to be. You can’t just run out and buy first toy that you see, or the most affordable, or even the easiest to assemble. Getting the right toy for your kid or toddler means carefully considering everything from the safety level of their construction materials to the physical or educational benefit that is provided.
The good news about rockers, seesaws, and teeter totters is that they are not just a sure-fire way to keep your kid entertained for a while. In fact, they provide essential training in both balance and physical coordination, two things that will help prepare your toddler for a lifetime of active play and hobbies.
For younger kids, the benefit of rockers is even more amazing. According to two studies, the actual motion of rocking is able to improve both sleep quality and memory development in both animals and infant humans.
Buyer’s Guide: How To Shop For Toddler Rockers, Seesaws, & Teeter Totters
Now that you’re sold on why a good teeter totter should be the next toy to grace your toddler’s playroom or backyard, you are ready to learn a little bit more about the way that these toys are put together. Afterwards, we’re going to reveal our top pick for the best rocker or seesaw of 2020.
For the purpose of our review, we compared these toys by a number of different factors, including construction materials, durability, seating capacity, and much more. Now we’d like to share some of the things that we learned along the way.
Rockers vs. Seesaws / Teeter Totters: What’s The Difference?
Before we go any further it might be useful to take a few moments to go over the specific differences between rockers and seesaws. Thus far in our review we have used the terms somewhat interchangeably, but the difference is actually quite important in deciding what kind to get for your own child.
- Rockers are generally one seated and intended for use by a single child. Usually these are targeted for young toddlers who are just learning how to rock, and have weight limits of less than 50 pounds. Rockers are a great way for young toddlers to practice their grip, balance, and overall coordination while getting some much-needed exercise in the process.
- Seesaws, also called Teeter Totters, feature a minimum of two seats that are on different sides of a plank or long frame. This plank is attached to a balance rail in the direct center, causing the plan and the two seats to be able to move up and down with minimal physical effort. But let’s be honest, if you don’t know how a seesaw works, then you should stop reading and take your toddler to the nearest playground. They’ll show you how it’s done.
One of the more simple ways to differentiate between rockers and seesaws is that rockers are generally one piece, while teeter totters feature moving parts and are generally more complicated in design and construction.
Recommended Age Limit
The products on our list vary in their recommended age limit. Some of the single-seat plastic rockers, like the Little Tikes Blue Rocking Horse, are clearly designed for younger toddlers who are just getting their feet under them. While a child does not need to know how to walk in order to have fun on a plastic rocker, they need to be old enough to hold their head up and use their arms to grip the handlebars.
If your child is still too young to keep themselves seated on a rocker, then you should consider starting with a Baby Bounder or Baby Swing, both of which keep the baby strapped inside of a padded seat on their backs.
The weight limit on each one of these rockers and teeter totters should be payed attention to, as exceeding this limit can make them unsafe. Plastic rockers have a danger of collapsing in upon themselves, while steel-frame seesaws can be bent out of shape beyond repair.
Keep in mind that some products are advertised with a total weight limit, which would include both of the children together, not just the weight of a single child.
Number Of Seats
The number of seats is going to depend on which style you get. Rockers are usually one seated, though there are a lot of rocker / seesaw hybrid styles that can have more than one seat. For instance, the Crocodile Rocker by the Original Toy Company can seat up to three, but because it is constructed out of a single piece, it is still considered to be a rocker.
If you’re looking for a seesaw that has enough seats to keep the whole playground happy, then look no further than the Lifetime Products’ Ace Flyer, which can seat up to seven children at once.
However many toddlers you are responsible for, make sure that you are paying close attention to the recommended weight limit for the specific model of rocker or teeter totter that you choose. When to many children pile on at once, the chances of injury go up significantly.
- Molded Plastic is one of the most common construction materials that you are going to find on rockers, especially those made for younger children. In this case, “Molded” simply means that every toy is cast from one mold, usually with two sides being fused together. Sometimes, this can lead to a rough machine line where the two halves were brought together, but it is rarely an issue. The benefits of molded plastic is that it is both durable and easy to clean. This is helpful for situations where multiple children are going to be using it and you’d like to disinfect it frequently.
- Wood is becoming more and more popular for children’s’ toys because in most cases it does not contain the same synthetic materials and harmful chemicals that some of the cheaper plastic toys might contain. Wood also provides a classic look that some aesthetically-minded parents might appreciate for the nursery or play room.
- Plush Frame rockers are a lot like the hold stuffed horse rockers of yesteryear, except they don’t just make them in horse-style anymore. Whether it’s a unicorn, dinosaur, or Scooby Doo, plush rockers for toddlers come in dozens of different styles and varieties, so chances are high that you will find one that your own kid simply adores.
- Metal Frame seesaws are a necessity for many playgrounds simply because of how large they are. At this size, plastic would not make much sense, though thick wooden planks are common for the crossbars on metal frame seesaws. Not only is metal stronger than all of the other materials, but it tends to be more weather resistant and long-lasting.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)
Q: What’s The Difference Between A $30 Rocker And A $150 Rocker?
A: The truth is that you don’t really need to spend that much to get a great rocker for your toddler. After all, it is not that complicated of a product and most manufacturers are able to make at least one model that is super-affordable yet doesn’t compromise on quality.
Generally speaking, the only time that you will be paying significantly more for one of these rockers or teeter totters is if they are either deluxe models or intended for a lot more children.
Q: Can A Child Play By Themselves On A Rocker Or Seesaw?
A: Rockers are much better than seesaws when it comes to solo play, for reasons that might be obvious. However, there are some rockers out there that can be used by one child but have more than one seat. This kind of rocker is a good thing to have because it is appropriate for both solo play and for that next playdate with the kid next door.
Conclusion: The Best Rockers, Seesaws, & Teeter Totters for Toddlers & Kids
The best rockers and seesaws for your own toddler are going to depend on both how old they are and what kind of play that they are into. We hope that our buyer’s guide provided you with some of the information that you needed to make a decision for yourself, but in the case that you’d like someone to make the call for you, let us give it a shot.
Our top pick for the best rocker for toddlers is going to be the Animal Adventure Plush Rocker. While our team took a look at the Unicorn version of this toy, there are over a dozen other animal varieties to choose from, which is one of the main reasons that we think this will be one of the most universally loved rockers to have hit the scene in a long time.
We feel like seesaws and teeter totters are kind of in their own class separate from rockers, so we figure, why not? Let’s create a top pick for that as well. If you haven’t already guessed, it’s the Lifetime Ace Flyer. Not only is it shaped like an airplane, but it can tilt on two different axis, which provides a level of fun that no seesaw has reached before.