With a wooden toy, there’s no technology to hamper the imagination or overstimulate the mind and senses. In fact, part of the appeal of many wooden toys is that the magic is created solely by the individual. In the right hands, a random pile of wooden shapes can be transformed into anything at all.
Look for specific types of wood
The best woods for toys are hardwoods such as poplar, birch, beech, maple, oak and walnut. These types of woods don’t chip or splinter as easily as softer woods.
Check for age recommendations
As with any toy, when considering one made of wood, it must be age-appropriate and safe for the child. No smaller pieces for younger children, no toxic paints or glues, and the complexity level needs to be appropriate, as well.
Basic wooden toys such as puzzles or tops can be purchased for under $10. From $20 to $50, you can find engaging options like train sets, musical instruments and games. Between $100 and $200, you can purchase impressive, fully immersive toys such as large dollhouses, pretend tool benches and kitchen sets.
How to clean
If manufacturer’s recommendations aren’t available, use a mild, nontoxic or natural cleaning solution such as white vinegar diluted with water. Using a dampened cloth, wipe down the toy with the solution. Allow the toy to air dry, but be aware of prolonged exposure to the sun, as it can damage the wood.
3 wooden toy recommendations:
KidKraft’s Majestic Mansion Dollhouse
Our take: A massive eight-room dollhouse roughly 4.5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. $160.99
What we like: This wooden playset has more than 30 pieces of furniture, accommodates dolls up to 12 inches tall and features a working elevator that can be moved up and down by the child.
What we dislike: The assembly can take several hours to complete, but for some, that only enhances the toy’s appeal.
Manhattan Toy’s Skwish Classic Rattle and Teether
Our take: A wondrous wooden and elastic toy ingeniously constructed to allow it to rattle and flatten, yet it always springs back to its original shape. $15.99
What we like: This toy is designed to promote clutching motor skills. It’s manufactured using splinter- and chip-resistant rubberwood and painted with water-based nontoxic paint.
What we dislike: While this is an award-winning toy with no recall notices, some parents aren’t comfortable allowing their infant to play with it.
Melissa & Doug’s Standard Unit Wood Building Blocks
Our take: A box of 60 wooden blocks filled with a wide assortment of shapes and sizes for building imaginative structures. $69.99
What we like: This set is designed to encourage creativity, introduce early math concepts and help develop hand-eye coordination. The natural-color hardwood blocks are sanded smooth for safe play for children ages 3 to 8.
What we dislike: Some of the blocks are not of uniform size. In rare instances, this could cause frustration, but for most structures it’s not a huge issue.
Types of wooden toys
Wooden toys come in all shapes, sizes and themes. To purchase something that engages your child, pick something they like. To help you out, we’ve broken down the many types of wooden toys into just six broad categories to make it easier for you to find one for your child.
Baby toys: Any toy that’s safe for babies and toddlers fits in this category. These toys are typically designed to help with your child’s development in a number of ways.
Puzzles: Puzzles include any wooden toy that requires solving. These can be simple or complex puzzles. They help develop problem-solving skills and, in many instances, shape-recognition skills.
Vehicles and figures: Whether it’s a somewhat realistic-looking train or a fanciful elephant on wheels, the wooden toys in this category promote imaginative play.
Blocks: Creating something out of a pile of random shapes is an excellent way to help foster your child’s creativity.
Playsets: A life-size playset (for a child, at least) such as a kitchen, a grocery store or a workbench is the perfect way to gently slip real-life skills into play time.
Games: Games are beneficial to individuals of all ages. They help develop social skills and teach the importance of following rules.
Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews, a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.