Wooden toys have been popular forever, but over the last several years they have definitely seen a spike in popularity. I never used to have much of a preference between wood vs. plastic – after all, there is plenty of plastic stuff that is high quality, and plastic allows you to do more from a toy design perspective. So what are the benefits of wooden toys?
Are they higher quality? How does the cost compare to non-wooden toys?
What about durability?
We did a bunch of research around wooden toys and it’s pretty clear that there are in fact a lot of great benefits, including some you probably haven’t thought about.
Let’s get into it.
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Benefits of Wooden Toys for Babies, Toddlers, & Kids of All Ages
In no particular order, here are some of the primary benefits of owning wooden toys (vs. plastic or any other type). One of these may even surprise you.
Benefits of Wooden Toys: Durability
To us, this is the most obvious benefit of a wooden toy because it’s something that’s apparent right when you start playing with one.
They’re solid. They don’t break when you throw them or drop them.
Let’s be honest – kids (especially younger kids) aren’t exactly the most gentle when it comes to playing with toys. Our kids are always chucking things across the room, despite our best attempts to stop them
Wooden toys can withstand a lot of action, and even if they get scratched up, they can be repainted and restored.
The Look and Feel
There’s something about wooden toys that you don’t get with plastic toys. They have a certain weight, density, and texture about them where you can just feel the quality.
Isn’t it satisfying to touch and hold a well-crafted wooden object?
And even aside from the feeling of a wooden toy, they have a timeless appearance that is somehow simultaneously classic and modern. Regardless of what your play room or baby’s nursery looks like, a wooden toy will simply “fit in.”
To us, this is one of the best reasons to go wooden over plastic.
Benefits of Wooden Toys: Cost
This may seem surprising and a little bit counterintuitive if you’ve ever shopped for wooden toys. They typically cost more, right?
When looking at cost, you need to consider the long term. A plastic toy often breaks over time. If it gets bent or breaks, it’s pretty much headed for the trash.
And let’s not forget about batteries! If you have several toys that require batteries, they can easily eat through an entire pack of batteries in a matter of months.
A wooden toy can last decades and doesn’t require a single battery. It can be passed down to other younger siblings, and even get passed down across generations.
All of that considered, wooden toys are actually more cost effective in the long run.
They’re Environmentally Friendly
Wooden toys are environmentally friendly for some of the same reasons explained above.
Plastic toys, once they break or are done being used, get thrown away and are not biodegradable in the same way that wood is.
Wood is a renewable resource and can be recycled. And that assumes that you even decide to throw away a wooden toy (which, for the reasons explained above, that may never be necessary!).
Therefore, if you want to do your part and not contribute to the vast landfills around the world, wooden toys have a distinct advantage over plastic toys.
Benefits of Wooden Toys: Safety
When it comes to infants and toddlers, toy safety is extremely important. The one thing you always have to watch out for is choking hazards.
Plastic toys tend to have smaller pieces or are more likely to be broken (which could leave behind smaller pieces), which can be a choking hazard.
Due to the durability of wooden toys, you simply don’t have that same issue. Of course, you should still read packaging warnings of any toys (wooden or plastic) to see if it’s suitable for infants/toddlers.
Common Wooden Toys
You can find just about any generic toy in wooden form, but here are some of the more common ones:
- Wooden play kitchens
- Play kitchen accessories
- Doll houses
- Block sets
- Most toys by Melissa & Doug
There’s so much more out there, but these were the ones we’ve seen and played with before.
Are there any drawbacks of wooden toys?
With all the obvious benefits of choosing a wooden toy over a plastic toy, we thought it would only make sense to talk about the downside of wooden toys. Fortunately, there aren’t too many drawbacks.
Cost – If you’re on a budget and don’t feel you would benefit from the long term durability of a wooden toy (i.e. your kids are older and you’re not planning to pass the toys down to anyone else), the cost of wooden toys may not be worth spending.
They’re heavier and harder – This is obviously part of why wooden toys are durable, but it also means that your kids could potentially get hurt more easily. For example, if one kid throws it at another kid, it’s probably going to hurt more than a plastic toy.
There are a lack of ‘characters’ – If your child is into Barbie, PJ Masks, etc. you’re not really going to be able to find wooden toys. Most toys related to TV shows and movies are plastic.
Overall, that covers our research on the benefits of wooden toys for babies, toddlers, and kids of all ages. In our opinion, wooden toys are awesome, but we still like to do a mix for our kids.
For things like a play kitchen, doll house, and many other accessories, wooden toys are great. When it comes to playing with figurines (e.g. toys related to TV shows or movies), it’s hard to avoid plastic.
What are your thoughts on wooden toys? Do you actively avoid plastic toys and try to buy wooden wherever you can? Leave a comment below!