Make a Push and Pull Toy – Guide for Parents

A wooden DIY pull toy

Push-pull toys are made for young children. They help children when they become more mobile and start to explore and walk around their surroundings.

These toys are designed to be pulled along a smooth surface or pushed on the ground. There is also a handle or cord that kids can pull on such as a walking trolley with blocks or a toy stroller.

They may have parts that make sounds as it is pulled.

How do they work?

Push and pull toys move either by pulling the toy using a string or cord; they can also move when pushed on the ground. Kids hold the end of the cord and pull the toy in a straight line.

When the toy is pulled, the wheels begin to turn because it has a chassis and axels that makes a specific part move.

How to make a push and pull toy

To make a push and pull toy. You need the following:

  • Wheels (plastic or metal)
  • Axles
  • Chassis
  • String (8 – 15 inches)
  • Color pallet

Before you start, you need a design. Usually, a child’s toy would be the shape of an animal, vegetable, even a mineral.  You could also choose to have one that make sounds.

Don’t forget the string length standard, the pull string must be 24″ in length or shorter, safe, thick, and light. Also your design should be appealing to your child as you don’t want to spend time making a toy they won’t like.

When you have made your design, get all the materials you need i.e. wheels, axels, a chassis, and string.

Glue your design to the body of the toy; the material you are working with will determine if you need to drill holes for the wheels with a drill press. Connect your wheels using the axles.

If you want your toy to make sounds, you should purchase a voice box and record what you want on it. The voice box can be fixed on the body and attached to the pull string so it makes sounds when it is pulled.

How to make wooden pull toy

When you want to make a DIY pull toy with wood, you need:

  • A design (on paper)
  • Scrap wood
  • Scroll saw
  • Spray mount adhesive
  • Drill press
  • Natural wood finish
  • Nontoxic color finish

To make a wooden pull toy you need a design, could be an animal, car, vegetable or anything your kid likes. You could create one yourself or obtain a design online.

Attach your paper design to the scrap wood using your spray mount adhesive.

Then you make a rough cut out using the scroll saw. Make sure you follow the lines of your design.

After cutting out your design on wood, remove the paper design from the wood.

The next step is to drill any needed holes on the wood with your drill press. You’ll need holes for the wheels or, if you are making an animal design, ears and other springy or movable parts. Take note of the right spaces to attach these parts safely.

Attach your wheels and other parts like your steel axles. Your wheels should have a bright color, preferably a primary color because of its attractiveness to children.

Use your nontoxic finish with natural wood finish for the body parts and wheels.

The last thing to add is your string. Fasten your string securely to the toy. Also the string of your pull toy shouldn’t be longer than 24 inches or less and at least 1.5mm thick. Make sure there are no knots, beads or hoops on the string.

Age for push and pull toys

When your toddler is around 15 and 18 months, they may start to pull toys behind them while walking. In addition to all of the physical growth and learning happening at their age, pulling toys when they walk is a sign of their cognitive development.

Best surface for playing with push and pull toys

The best surface for a push-pull toy (in the shape of a car, animal or vegetable) is a smooth texture like a cardboard. The toy moves faster on cardboard because it is the smoothest surface. This means that the wheels on the toys are not getting as much friction or resistance to the surface because it is smooth and does not keep it from slowing down.

Safety concerns

It should be noted that there are some safety concerns when playing with these kind of toys.  During play time, children can suffer strangulation if they become tangled in long cords or strings. They might even get cuts or stabbing wounds caused by sharp ends or exposed nails on the handles. Also, cuts from thin strings or cords that can cut through the skin are not uncommon.

Safety tips before you buy

Ensure there are no long cords, sharp edges, exposed nails or thin cords on the push-pull toy. Inspect any rigid handles on the push along toys, verify that they are solid, won’t come off easily and have no sharp edges.

It is also important that removal or loss of a handle will not reveal a sharp point or edge, and the cover is not small enough to choke on.

Attach any crossbars on handles to the bar leading from the toy.  Nails should not be used to attach them because they could form a sharp cutting edge.

Ensure axles are properly attached to the toy and the wheels firmly attached to the axles.  When you remove a wheel or an axle, confirm it does not have a sharp point that could pierce the skin.

For safe usage

For children 18 months old or younger, establish that the pull string is shorter than 22cm.  This is the standard length because strings longer than this can form a loop and become a strangulation risk.

For children aged 18 to 36 months old, cords that are longer than 22cm should not have beads or other attachments that could tangle to form a loop or noose.

Any string or cord attached to a toy should be at least 1.5mm thick to avoid cuts to children


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