Which wooden toys are best?
Hands-on play develops a child’s imagination, eye-hand coordination and conceptual skills—and nothing says hands-on play better than wooden toys. Toys made of solid wood are especially long lasting because they stand up to the abuse kids dish out. Wooden toys last so long that some of the classics are handed down from generation to generation, connecting your child with family history.
If you are looking for a toy for your child that doesn’t beep, flash or whirl, try a classic wooden toy that is great fun to play with and environmentally sound, too. If you want to unleash your child’s imagination, take a look at the Melissa & Doug Wood Building Blocks With Wood Storage Tray.
What to know before you buy a wooden toy
Wooden toys are safer than plastic and metal toys because they have fewer parts to break. Look for wood toys that have rounded corners, are smoothly sanded and are made of wood that doesn’t splinter or chip.
Wooden toys outlast nearly all other kinds of toys. Because there is so little to go wrong, they last for generations and often become nostalgic pieces. Only consider toys made of solid wood that is smooth overall and has rounded corners.
Wooden toys encourage open-ended play. Because they are so simple, kids need to use their imaginations, something they don’t do much of with toys that have rules and instructions. For example, a 60-piece set of wooden blocks can be put together millions of different ways.
What to look for in a quality wooden toy
Blocks: The simplest of all wood toys are blocks that come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and themes. Classic wood blocks come in 26 pieces, one for each letter of the alphabet. Blocks that are meant to be put together in prescribed ways are called building blocks and call to mind classic wooden toys such as Lincoln Logs. Wooden building blocks may come in sets as dramatic as the Montessori 253-Piece Rainbow Stacking Game that develops kids’ cognitive abilities along with their eye-hand coordination and makes for a great birthday party game.
Educational: There are many different educational toys made from wood. Some involve structured play, such as alphabet toys, counting toys, puzzles, mazes, stackable rings and wood beads.
Pretend play: This is a huge category of wooden toys that includes dolls, dollhouses, playhouses, toy kitchens, workbenches and more.
Baby play: This category is among the simplest of wooden toys and is best personified by a small wooden cutout of an animal that is pulled along by a string, such as a duck that waddles and quacks.
Vehicles: Some of the most popular wooden toys among kids are cars, trucks, planes and trains. These vary in size and design according to age group. The vehicles go from very simple to very detailed as a child grows older.
How much you can expect to spend on a wooden toy
Inexpensive wooden toys like blocks and vehicles cost anywhere from $5-$50, depending on quality. Wooden toys that cost between $50-$150 are bigger and better in all ways. Above $150 is where you will find incredibly well-made wooden toys with a lot of detail.
Wooden toy FAQ
What types of wood should you look for?
A. Avoid any wooden toy made of particleboard or engineered wood or is labeled MDF. Manufactured woods are made by gluing together wood scraps, sometimes with toxic adhesives unsafe for toys. After that, it’s a matter of choosing hardwoods such as birch, maple and oak or softwoods such as pine, spruce and fir.
What about splinters?
A. Well-made wooden toys are treated to prevent splintering, splitting and chipping. Check to see that all surfaces are sanded and all corners are rounded. Some wooden toys are coated with paint or polymers as a shield against splintering.
What’s the best wooden toy to buy?
Top wooden toy
What you need to know: This 4-foot-tall dollhouse has four levels, eight rooms, a staircase and a hand-operated working elevator.
What you’ll love: This 54-by-52-by-14-inch dollhouse is so big that several children can play with it together. At the top level is an attic nursery or playroom for your child’s littlest dolls. This wallpapered room has a crib, high chair, alphabet blocks and even a little kitty friend. The rest of this play house is scaled to fit all fashion dolls up to 12 inches tall, including Barbie, Disney Princess and more. This dollhouse comes fully furnished with 34 decorating pieces kids can rearrange endlessly.
What you should consider: The average assembly time is about two hours.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top wooden toy for the money
What you need to know: This classic multipurpose wooden toy is safety rated for newborns 3 months and up.
What you’ll love: The movable rubberwood balls are splinter and chip resistant. The wood pieces are strung together with elastic that allows kids to squish this toy into different shapes that always return to their original form. This toy’s bright wood balls and interconnecting wood dowels are covered in nontoxic paint for kid safety when teething. This classic wooden toy keeps young kids engaged on several different levels.
What you should consider: Do not put this wooden toy in water. Clean it only with baby-safe teether wipes.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: These 60 smooth, sanded hardwood blocks with rounded edges unleash your child’s imagination more than toys with rules and directions.
What you’ll love: Because the blocks stack instead of link together, there are unlimited ways your child can put these blocks together. These blocks enhance play with other toys, like building a house for a small doll. The blocks fit neatly and snugly into the crate, turning it into a solvable puzzle of its own.
What you should consider: The box does not have a lid.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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