Plastic toys can be awesome. But many modern parents are seeking out wooden toys, which tend to be more thoughtfully made, with fewer materials and better design. The real benefit of wooden toys for toddlers in particular is that they do that thing that plastic toys — with their lights and sounds and fart noises — do not: They encourage kids to fill in the gaps by using their own imaginations. While open-ended imaginative play can sound like a meaningless buzzword, wooden toy blocks or wooden animal toys can encourage kids to make up their own stories and use their imagination really do encourage more learning.
Wooden toys also tend to feel more personal than their plastic counterparts. In a world filled with plastic — some 33 million tons dumped just in 2014, according to the Environmental Protection Agency — wooden toy for kids feel novel, old-fashioned, and more eco-friendly. But don’t be fooled by their Instagram aesthetic and popularity, wooden toys are generally no more sustainable than their plastic counterparts. Unless those wooden toy blocks are hand-carved, unpainted driftwood that originated in your backyard instead of being shipped transcontinentally, your wooden block will have an environmental impact (and while, yes, it will biodegrade, thanks to the poor construction of your landfill, it will take decades to do so).
So, you might not lighten your carbon footprint with these wooden toys, but you’ll appreciate their more subdued aesthetic, and encourage your kid to use their imagination. Here are some of the best wooden toys for babies, toddlers, and kids.
The Best Wooden Toy Blocks
Blocks that teach geography and musical appreciation? Score. You get 50 blocks. One side of the block shows an image of an embossed record, while the other side shows the name of the state. When they're finished, kids can put it together as a puzzle. Win win.
The Best Wood Toys for Toddlers
The perfect wood toy for the aspiring musician. Toddlers can pound this gorgeous wooden bench or pull out the keyboard and xylophone and play a solo. Regardless, this wooden toy helps babies 12 months and older with their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Maybe even musical appreciation, too.
This portable stable slash barn is great for the animal lover on the go. While technically a stable, this fully assembled wooden playhouse is as great for horses as it is for pigs, sheep, and other farm critters. There are bars over the windows, holes over the stalls, and a hayloft.
From a walker to a wagon to a DIY baby carriage, this is several toys in one. Kids will love this because there are just so many things you can do with it (which means fewer things for parents to buy and replace). The clean design is the perfect blank slate for imagining new ways to play.
The Best Wooden Toy Cars
The Best Wooden Dollhouse
Pretend play is crucial to helping kids learn to solve problems. Plus, pretending to be someone else sparks their imagination. This dollhouse is four feet tall and has three levels. It has a wheeled base for easy mobility, plus two moveable staircases that can be clipped onto any floor.
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