Natural Wooden Toys You'll Want to Keep Forever
Natural wooden toys aren’t a thing of the past. In fact, they’re more relevant than ever now and will never go out of style. These are truly are heirloom toys.
From an emotional, creative, and mental standpoint, these types of toys encourage kids to engage in open-ended play. Unlike the popular noisy, flashing, spinning plastic battery-operated plastic toys, wood toys allow for natural down-time. A tot’s thoughts aren’t jumping ahead to the next shiny object, and they aren’t seeking higher highs every time they get a new plaything. Simple toys allow for a natural progression to reading books, making up games, and daydreaming. Also, there’s something about the feeling of wood that’s innately soothing to humans.
If that’s not enough to convince you to at least try natural toys over factory made ones, think of the health risks associated with plastics and dyed cloths. Babies especially love to chew and taste their toys. Studies have shown that certain plastics may negatively affect health because phthalates are added to PVC (polyvinyl chloride) to make it soft and flexible. Phthalates have been linked to cancer, kidney and liver damage, harm to developing reproductive organs, and premature breast development in baby girls. Inhaling these chemicals can also worsen asthma in children. Of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton crops, seven are considered known carcinogens by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency… Yikes!
On top of all that, handmade wooden toys are simply beautiful. We’ve rounded up some of our faves for you:
With a choice of three woods (maple, cherry and walnut; or all maple) and personalization (or not), this fun and engaging rainbow toy encourages balance, problem solving, pattern recognition, and the development of fine motor skills in your tiny tots. You can buy this simple yet beautiful toy with the added joy of knowing that the folks at Little Sapling have planted over 80,000 trees over the years, and are working toward an even bigger giving-back goal.
Duck! Actually, we mean “push.” This super-simple yet sleek and sweet waddling wooden duck is a chic twist on an old favorite: the push-toy. When your toddler pushes a Chippewaddler, the smooth oak handle and stick propel the organic wooden toy forward. Practice motor skills and balance with this BPA free, organic, totally nontoxic toy. Every wooden walking duck toy is unique because of the grain texture and comes in a variety of color combinations. Cut and crafted in the Fox River Valley and assembled, painted and polished in the Chippewa Valley, these wooden duck toys are the product of a caring father-daughter team.
Fanny and Alexander’s toys and collectibles are made of Guatambu and incense wood, and better than that: no threatened wood species are used in their production at all. Their motto is “a nostalgic notion of play” and they show it off in their whimsical sense of craftsmanship and design. Founder Delfina Aguilar says she is committed to helping keep kids grounded: “It seems to me like most toys today are just...merchandise...they are movie-franchise spinoffs. I wanted to make old-fashioned, handcrafted toys, and then to create a world around that.”
This charming baby gym is an irresistible addition to any nursery or kiddie cave. The modernistic design and neutral appeal allows this gym to be a low-key and stylish addition to your home without the overpowering presence of plastic in bright colors, flashing lights, buzzing, and all that sensory overload. It aesthetically blends in thanks to the natural wood. This gym encourages babies to develop their hand-eye coordination by inviting them to reach and grasp for engaging yet unobtrusive objects within their view. Fashioned from local pine, each gym features rounded smooth-sanded edges and 100% cotton rope that connects the pieces and allows it to be fully adjustable. The Clover and Birch play gym is perfect for apartment or minimal space living, as it easily stores flat.
Moon Picnic is a family concept store where you can find some of the most wonderful children's designs from around the world: This solid Beech wood toy is made in Vietnam and it is capable of hundreds of expressions! It really is a wonderful way to for kids to learn about and discuss emotions with you. It’s easy for little hands to turn and flip the wooden face pieces to express their own emotions and those of their friends. It comes in a presentation box with a play booklet.
Each Kokeshi is made from Lathe turned solid Beech wood, meticulously hand painted to your custom order and sealed in nontoxic satin varnish for a smooth and tactile finish. There are so many delightful designs to choose from (mix-n-match) that there are endless possibilities for play and personalization. Becky Kemp says, “My work has long been inspired by a love for Nordic design and Japanese Illustration, sketching and painting since I was a child I carry a sketchbook in my pocket 24/7.” She also stresses that these Kokeshi dolls are great for “big kids” too!
There Baltic solid birch plywood dollhouses are sustainably produced, hand-finished, and boast an untreated natural surface (but no splinters… and you can simply seal them with beeswax or linseed oil to protect and enhance the pretty wooden surface, if you choose). Rock and Pebble also makes a Pear House. Both are the perfect size for playing with on a table with petite peg dolls.
Forget Hot Wheels! Here is a miniature heirloom toy vehicle that won’t end in a pile of plastic pieces. “The iconic shape, wood sides, magnetic canoe on top, beefy new tires, everything screams adventure, camping, and good old times,” says Candylab, which features other types of cars, plus campers and more. Candylab Toys was born out of the designers’ desire to revive the glamorous 60s American modernist vibe and carve it into contemporary wood toy designs. “As artists, designers and parents we draw on many influences, not least of which are our deep love of classic American Cars and the craftsmanship spirit of mid-century artisan furniture designers.”
Here’s Hanno! His powerful hardwood frame and elastic-band muscles can hold many poses and the durable wood limbs make him almost unbreakable. Hanno is named after a Greek voyager who is credited with discovering gorillas in the 6th Century BC, so he’s educational as well as awesome. Areaware, based in Brooklyn, makes all kinds of wooden animals, plus games and more – they employ a vast array of topnotch designers who love to think outside the box.
Cosmos is a set of timeless, magnetic, spaceship building blocks. Made to boost a kid’s creativity and inspire their spirit of exploration, these interchangeable wooden pieces snap together but offer a variety of possible outcomes: Build a planet, transform it into a UFO saucer, or assemble a unique sculpture. Cosmos is made of solid beech wood, and is finished with low VOC, 100% HAPs free and nontoxic paint. Huzi thinks toys should be “enjoyed today and treasured tomorrow.” We couldn’t agree more!
What are some of your favorite natural wooden toys? Share them with us!
Cover image via Fanny and Alexander Collectibles
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