This blog post is not about 'good toys vs bad toys.' It is all about bringing to light the qualities of wooden toys for babies and children, highlighting the features and benefits of baby wooden toys, and focussing on the 5 benefits that make them the preferred option for your little ones!
It is vital that any toys coming into contact with a baby or child are safe, especially as babies love to explore by putting things in their mouths! A lot of plastic toys contain chemicals and harmful substances such as BPA's and phthalates, whilst some may even contain traces of lead in the paint! Wood on the other hand, is a natural material which is safe for babies and some species of wood have even been found to contain antibacterial properties! Wooden toys are also durable and break a lot less often than plastic toys do, and tend to be easier to fix if accidents do happen. When plastic toys break, they often leave behind a sharp and jagged edge which is dangerous for babies and children.
2. Sensory Experience
A wooden toy is soothing and appeals to a baby's sense of touch as it is smooth, warm and tactile. Plastic toys tend to be cold and less appealing to the senses. Remember that babies in particular, (but toddlers and children too), experience toys with all of their senses so it's really important to make sure their toys appeal to, and gratify those senses in the best possible way - especially to their sense of touch!
Examples of great first wooden toys for a newborn baby would be wooden teething rings and rattles. As baby gets a bit older, simple wooden stacking toys are great for a developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, and then as baby develops into a toddler, a wooden pull-along toy is perfect to keep your little one running around for hours!
3. Quality of Play
Wooden toys lend themselves so much more to open-ended, imaginative play. As they tend to be more simple in design, with less distractions through things like sounds and lights, they're less 'formed', thus opening up a world of opportunities for your little ones! Imaginative play in early childhood is really important as it encourages problem solving, promotes language development and enhances fine motor skills, as well as building nerve connections in the brain. We have seen from our own son that as he has developed into a toddler, he creates 'characters' and voices for his wooden animals and toys, stacks and builds his wooden toys in different ways, and his motor skills were refined early on, from being introduced to wooden toys and sensory baskets from birth. Wooden toys for babies and young children allow the child to move the toys and make sounds themselves, in a way that battery operated toys do not allow for.
4. Aesthetically Pleasing
Here at Nature's Little Ones, you know that we believe sustainability can go hand in hand with aesthetics. Baby wooden toys are so much more aesthetically pleasing than plastic toys! We want our children to have lovely things and for the toys and materials that surround them on a day to day basis to be appealing to them in order for them to want to play with them and explore them. Just as we as adults like beautiful things, children also ought to benefit from aesthetically pleasing, lovely materials as well.
We found that the aesthetics of most wooden toys work so much better for us as a family in our own home as they fit into the communal areas that are shared with our son such as the living room, in a much more pleasing way than plastic toys do, enhancing our home decor and complimenting it with a calm, minimal aesthetic, rather than detracting from it.
Wood is an eco-friendly and sustainable material. This is perhaps the most important reason for choosing wooden toys for babies and children than any other. It is vitally important. As a naturally renewable resource, wooden toys are so much better for the environment, are recyclable and biodegradable.
The environmentally damaging nature of plastic toys is a fact that has even been recognised by some of the largest retailers in the UK such as John Lewis who, have vowed to stop selling Christmas crackers with plastic toys inside from 2020, and McDonalds who from 2021 will stop plastic toys being provided with their Happy Meals.
A different, but equally significant way in which wooden toys are sustainable is, that because they are build to last they tend to become 'heirloom toys.' Heirloom toys are those toys that are passed down through generations, and baby wooden toys lend themselves to this in a way that plastic toys do not. Wooden toys for babies and toddlers do not tend be 'throwaway' toys. They can be passed on to someone else whether as an heirloom or donated, and remain in a good useable condition for many years to come!