Plastic toys can really, truly be awesome (See: the Hot Wheels iD track, or Juno the baby elephant). But wooden toys for kids are often more thoughtfully made, using fewer materials and better design, and do that thing that plastic toys — with their lights and sounds and fart noises — do not: encourage kids to fill in the gaps by using their own imaginations.
Wooden toys also tend to feel more personal, more special, than their plastic counterparts. In a world filled with plastic — some 33 million tons dumped just in 2014, according to the Environmental Protection Agency — a wooden toy feels novel, old-fashioned, and more eco-friendly. Is it really more sustainable, though? Probably not. Unless those wooden toy blocks are hand-carved, unpainted driftwood that will find a second life in a cockroach farm, 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. Plus, babies, toddlers and kids alike will be challenged to engage in more creative and open-ended play when they’re given wooden toys that lack the bells and whistles of their plastic playmates. Here are some of the best Amazon has to offer.
The Best Wooden Baby Toys
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.
These little balls roll around, get their tumble on, and help kids learn about textures and sounds.
One ball is full of three smaller balls that rattle. Another one has a mirror inside. And the third has soft padding. Kids learn about sounds and textures while they play.
Babies make the penguin wobble, and hear all kinds of kooky sounds.
Not only is this one damn cute penguin, it promotes the development of motor skills as babies move it around and hear it make tinkling noises.
Nice looking and fun to boot.
This muted wooden sensory toy will give baby something to shake and chew on, encouraging the development of their fine motor skills.
The Best Wooden Toys for Toddlers
A gorgeous bamboo balance board that gives kids a workout and doubles as a toy bridge or a house or a boat.
Toddlers can hone their sense of balance on this board. And when they’re done, the board magically becomes a slide. Or maybe a bed for their dolls.
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.
Kids love to play with “real world” toys, which help them make sense of the adult world around them. And they love to bang on stuff. Combine the two with these dope tool kit.
Get your little chef properly prepped with this wooden pasta set.
Wooden foods are a dime a dozen, so get your kid something truly special in the form of this maple wood pasta set. It will hold pride of place in any play kitchen.
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.
All the blocks your kid could ever need.
These beautiful wooden blocks are ideal for open-ended pretend play, which experts recommend for toddlers.
The Best Wooden Toy Cars
A (mostly) wood car that's also a showpiece of design.
The seven inch long car has real tires, ABS plastic rims, and metal axles that give its wooden body extra oomph. By playing with toy cars, kids exercise gross and fine motor skills by, simply, moving them around.
This wooden toy car is sturdy enough for little hands to wheel it around.
This wooden toy car is made from beechwood and has articulated doors and hatches. It’s made from one solid block of wood, so it’s durable and hardy.
The Best Wooden Dollhouse
For kids who love playing house with dolls.
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.
The Best Wooden Toy Blocks
These next-level wood blocks encourage exploration and discovery, all good things that all parents want.
Kids use these blocks to help learn about patterns and structures, plus they discover how things work. They grab the blocks, thus promoting dexterity.
Your budding engineer or architect will dig these magnetic wooden blocks.
These simply beautiful and beautifully simple magnetic wooden blocks let kids build whatever they want, however they want. Open-ended play? Here you go.
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 goal here is simple: Stack the wood blocks and balance them as long as possible.
Kids build their own post-modern wooden masterpieces by stacking these blocks, thus also working on their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
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